Season 1 | EPISODE 2

How the Gospel Works in Everyday Life

50:48 · March 14, 2023

Patric Knaak is a former pastor and the Area Director for the Renewal Team at Serge—a team dedicated to helping ministry leaders and others rediscover God’s grace. In this episode, Jim and Patric talk about how normal, everyday challenges and situations can be profound opportunities to experience the fullness of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us. They explore the idea that the gospel isn’t just the door to a new relationship with God—but also the power that continually transforms us. Tune in to gain valuable insights into how you can apply the gospel, moment by moment, in your daily life.

Patric Knaak is a former pastor and the Area Director for the Renewal Team at Serge—a team dedicated to helping ministry leaders and others rediscover God’s grace. In this episode, Jim and Patric talk about how normal, everyday challenges and situations can be profound opportunities to experience the fullness of what Jesus Christ has accomplished for us. They explore the idea that the gospel isn’t just the door to a new relationship with God—but also the power that continually transforms us. Tune in to gain valuable insights into how you can apply the gospel, moment by moment, in your daily life.

In this episode, they discuss...

  • Why a Missions Agency Has a Renewal Department [11:17]
  • What the Gospel Has to Do With a Corrupted Computer File, a Fleeing Dog, and An Unhappy Birthday [11:53] 
  • The Shark and the Fin—Why We Need to Identify What’s Under the Surface of Our Sinful Behavior [18:43]
  • How Ongoing, Daily Experiences of God’s Grace Free Us to Enjoy Being His Child [31:16]
  • Being Redeemed As Pipes, Not Buckets – the Renewal/Mission Dynamic in Daily Life [40:43]

Thank you for listening! If you found this conversation encouraging or helpful, please share this episode with your friends and loved ones. Or please leave us a review—it really helps!

Referenced in the episode...


This episode was hosted by Jim Lovelady. Production by Anna Madsen and Sunny Chi. Music by Tommy Leahy. 

Our guest for this episode was Patric Knaak, Area Director for Renewal at Serge. 

𝑮𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒆 𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑭𝒓𝒂𝒚 𝑷𝒐𝒅𝒄𝒂𝒔𝒕 is produced by SERGE, an international missions agency that sends and cares for missionaries and develops gospel-centered programs and resources for ongoing spiritual renewal. Learn more and get involved at serge.org.

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Questions or comments? Feel free to reach out to Serge’s Renewal Team anytime at podcast@serge.org



Welcome to the Grace at the Fray—a podcast that explores the many dimensions of God’s grace that we find at the frayed edges of life. Come and explore how God’s grace works to renew your life and send you on mission in His kingdom.

[Music Down] 

Jim Lovelady 0:18 Hello, beloved! Welcome to the second episode of Grace at the Fray, the podcast where we share stories of gospel transformation from the world of Serge, for the life of the entire world.

So, last Saturday, while I was doing chores, my wife Lori called me while she was running errands, and she asked me to pick up our daughter Lucia from her activity over at the high school. She said something like this, “Can you go pick up Lucia at blah blah blah blah o’clock, and you’ll need to probably leave around blah blah blah blah o’clock to get her.” She said the real-time—it just went into my brain as blah blah blah. So I went back to my chores, and somewhere in the morning, I thought, I think I need to pick up Lucia right now. So I texted Lori, what time do I need to pick her up? No answer. I call her. No answer. So I’m getting mad. Was I supposed to leave at 11:05 to be there at 11:15? Or 11:15 to be there at??? I don’t know. Lori walks into the house and says, “You’re supposed to be getting Lucia!” And I thought, “Well, I, blah blah blah.”

So I’m rushing over to the school, and I realize that as I’m driving, my mind is trying to make an excuse for why I was late and a plan for why it’s not my fault. Okay, now, timeout. Here’s the question. What does the gospel of Jesus Christ have to do with this situation? And that’s what I want to explore today with my friend Patric Knaak. He’s the director of Serge’s Renewal team. So join me as we explore how the good news of Jesus Christ works itself out in our moment-by-moment lives. 

As we bring the gospel to the world, the gospel has an effect on us. And as the gospel has an effect on us, we can’t help but bring it to the world. 

Jim Lovelady 2:14 I love that you’re colorblind. How colorblind are you? 

Patric Knaak 2:18 Like, not completely colorblind. So I can tell that in the rug that there are different colors. 

Jim Lovelady 2:25 You can tell they’re different colors; you just don’t know what they are. 

Patric Knaak 2:29 Yeah, it’s much closer to that. So there’s stuff that might have a subtle stripe or pattern. And most of the time, I can’t see that. When I was a sophomore in college, I accidentally washed a pair of jeans with a red sweatshirt. And so, all the faded denim parts ran pink. 

Jim Lovelady 2:52 And you didn’t even know…

Patric Knaak 2:53 No! And everyone on my floor is like, “Don’t tell him! Don’t tell him!” So, it was seriously like a month later when Jennifer came to visit, and she’s like, “Why are you wearing pink jeans?” And I was like, “What are you talking about? These are just my jeans!” And she’s like, “They’re pink!”

Jim Lovelady 3:07 No one told me! 

Patric Knaak 3:08 Yeah. And the guys thought… they just fell on the ground laughing.

Jim Lovelady 3:14 They’d been holding it in for so long! 

Patric Knaak 3:15 I know. They’re all like, “Shhh! Don’t say anything!”

Jim Lovelady 3:17 He’s wearing the pink pants again! 

Patric Knaak 3:19 I would still be wearing the pink pants if Jennifer had not… 

Jim Lovelady 3:23 …if Jennifer didn’t save the day. Well, condolences, I guess. Colors are wonderful. Let’s talk about the gospel. Well, first, you are the second episode. 

Patric Knaak 3:43 Alright, I’m hoping to make it the first episode in a future series, maybe crack the top. 

Jim Lovelady 3:49 Congratulations, you got second place. But tell me who you are; tell me how you ended up at Serge and what you’re up to—how you head up the Renewal team. 

Patric Knaak 4:05 Yeah. So I am Serge’s Area Director for Renewal, which means I oversee the teams that do all of our teaching, training, and publications. And so we do those things internally for our Serge missionaries. We also do those things externally with other pastors and leaders. So I am, by trade, an ordained Presbyterian minister. So I went to school for a long time and then was a pastor at a church outside of Chicago for 8-9 years before I came to work at Serge. And I’ve been at Serge for the last 15 years, basically doing what I do now. And most of the time, the work we do is really focused on leaders because we know that leaders have an outsized influence on the congregations or organizations they lead. And so we invest heavily in leaders, and then we equip them, train them and resource them to invest in the churches, organizations, or ministries they’re involved with. 

Jim Lovelady 5:03 Yeah, it’s interesting how we are constantly on the lookout for leaders who want to go shoulder-to-shoulder with us. And I’ve loved how we just want to be here to help. You know, it’s not like we have an agenda for these churches or these leaders. It’s just, hey, we want to be a resource to you. How can that be of benefit to you? And it’s just been really fun to see how people really have… Church leaders and workers all over the world are going, “Oh, yeah. Can we participate in that? Can we make that happen? Can we do this Gospel-Centered Life Weekend? Can we do a Sonship Week? Can we get some of the New Growth Press material?” 

Patric Knaak 5:51 Right. And all of that started internally. We started to do that because our missionaries were dying on the vine. And so our founder, Jack Miller, he was teaching at Westminster at the time, along with Tim Keller and David Powlison, and Ed Clowney, you know, just some real heavyweight sorts of thinkers. And as we sent missionaries out, they were burning out on the field. And, as Jack was looking at that, talking with them, and teaching the courses, it was his a-ha moment. It’s not that they don’t know the gospel; it’s that they don’t know how to continue living out of it. And so that started this stream of teaching, and then the training and the publications. So we did that internally because we needed it. And, kind of to our surprise, other folks would come to us and say, “Gosh, we think we need that, too. Can we do this? Can we get a hold of this? Can we do….”

Jim Lovelady 6:39 It resonates with so many people how, when you go out into the world to share this good news that you have received and it’s changed your life, you go out, and you go, “Oh, wait a second….” You get beat up, and you realize that half the time you’re the one beating yourself up. 

Patric Knaak 6:57 Yeah. Well, it reveals need in a way that sometimes is easy to ignore or minimize. And so, as we take the gospel to other people, what we would say at Serge is the normative New Testament pattern: once you see it, you see it everywhere in the New Testament. It’s not just the gospel for you; it is the gospel through you. And it is in that taking it to other people that you really start to see, “oh, my heart is actually not as steadfast as I thought it was!” So one of the famous lines from one of our missionaries from years back was that “Going into missions is like pouring Miracle-Gro on all of your sins.”

Jim Lovelady 7:39 Do you remember who said that? I use it all the time.

Patric Knaak 7:44 I know, well, we all say it now. So we all own it. But it’s not that you become more sinful; you just start to see, oh my goodness, like there is so much going on below the surface that I wasn’t aware of. And so, I mean, our desire is to help every individual, every leader, every church, and every organization fulfill their part of the Great Commission. And to do that, to proactively be taking the gospel out there, it has to be at work in your life. We will never be good at taking the gospel to other people if we secretly think they need it just a little more than we do.

Jim Lovelady 8:19 Exactly.

Patric Knaak 8:20 “So, I’m here as the person who’s got it figured out, to tell you, the person who doesn’t have it figured out, what it’s supposed to look like.” And so we kind of invert that paradigm and say, “Well, I’m actually going to enter into a relationship with you and let you overhear me receiving and thinking about and applying the gospel in my life, and invite you into that process, you know, as it makes sense over time, in culturally appropriate sorts of ways.” And as that curiosity builds, the doors start to open to say, “Wow, you struggle with being a good parent? I struggle with being a good parent. Well, where do you go when you struggle? Well, this is what it looks like in my life, as a follower of Christ, to struggle with these things.” And so we start to unpack that as a way of inviting people in.

Jim Lovelady 9:08 Yeah, when Lori and I lived overseas, I didn’t have the phrase “being a missionary is like putting Miracle-Gro on your sins.” I didn’t have that phrase in my mind; I just experienced it. And I didn’t know what to do with it.

Patric Knaak 9:20 Right.

Jim Lovelady 9:21 Because I did have this subtle thing that I’ve been cultivating my entire life, raised in the church, this subtle thing of like, “I’ve got something pretty amazing. And that makes me pretty amazing. And you’re going to want this.” And when I went overseas, I was quickly confronted with, “Oh, I’m not amazing. I am—oh, my gosh—I’m a jerk. Oh, my gosh, I didn’t realize how ugly this heart was. But I didn’t know what to do with it. And when we came back to the States, and then when we moved to this area—I think we moved to the area about the same time you did, right?

Patric Knaak 9:56 Yeah. Probably.

Jim Lovelady 9:57 Lori started working in the home office. And we went through the Sonship program. And it was like, all this stuff that had been unresolved—confusion, conflict in my own heart—when I went through the Sonship curriculum, it was like, “oh, ohhhh.” Anyway, maybe we’ll share stories throughout this, but I’d love for you to walk us through when new missionaries come to the Sending Center during A&O Week.

Patric Knaak 10:33 Yeah—which is Assessment and Orientation.

Jim Lovelady 10:35 Right, right. Yeah. Yeah. We’re on the REN team.

Patric Knaak 10:39 Yeah. Well, the Kingdom of God cannot advance without acronyms. And so we at Serge—we’re doing our part!

Jim Lovelady 10:47 We are dominating. So you have this talk at the beginning of A&O week that…. Ever since I came on full-time, I’ve been trying to be a fly on the wall to listen in on that talk. And so, I’d love for you to walk us through that talk because it sets up a Serge paradigm: this is what we’re all about. And it’s also a really beautiful paradigm for life. So, give me a shortened version, and we’ll walk through it.

Patric Knaak 11:17 Sure. Yeah. Well, I tell everyone that we’re going to talk about what Renewal actually does later in the week, but at the beginning, it’s: why do you even do Renewal at Serge as a missions agency? Most missions agencies do not have a Renewal team or a Renewal area that focuses on this. And so we usually start, you know, by asking them, how would you define the gospel? Like, imagine that you’re a missionary on the field, and you’ve started to build some friendships and, you know, you’re having coffee or tea with someone, and they say, “Well, Patric, you’ve mentioned this word gospel several times, but I don’t know what that means. What is the gospel?” And so, I give them a little while to write down how they would answer that—just the bullet points. And then I usually, you know, this is another thing that we tend to do at Serge, I tell them a story from my life because we’re always looking at where the rubber meets the road. And as we experience that, we can go back and unpack the theology behind that. So I tell lots of different stories, but if I was doing it this week, this is the story I’d tell because this is what happened this week.

So, I’m getting ready to leave on a teaching trip. Things have been super busy with a crazy schedule. Of course, I’m getting ready for a big trip, so this is the week that the car is on the fritz and the dryer quit. And, you know, someone stole our IDs, and we have to cancel our credit cards. And so I’ve got all of that, and Jennifer is traveling for work. So, I’m just trying to take care of everything at home. And I just had a few windows where I could finish my teaching stuff for next week. And so I had done that, worked hard in those windows to get it all done; I felt really good about it. And then, like a day or two later, I went back to recheck it, and something had happened with a computer file, and it would not open. So I did everything, tried everything to recover it. And so, my response to that… Now, of course, when that happens to anyone, if it’s ever happened to you, it’s so annoying to have a file get corrupted or lost.

Jim Lovelady 13:27 Oh, it’s devastating. 

Patric Knaak 13:28 Yeah. So here I am, and I’m at home alone, just me and the dog. And I was so—now, I would have said frustrated, like, oh, I was very frustrated, but…

Jim Lovelady 13:40 I was very put out.

Patric Knaak 13:41 Yeah, as mentors, we teach people that you never let someone say they’re frustrated because frustrated really means, “Oh, I was mad as hell about this, but I know it’s not okay to be that upset….”

Jim Lovelady 13:54 …not okay for a Christian to say that.

Patric Knaak 13:56 Yeah, so I was frustrated! I was pounding on the desk. And I cannot believe this is happening. This is just absolutely… So that is going on, and even my dog knows how big of a sinner I am.

Jim Lovelady 14:11 He, like, runs away.

Patric Knaak 14:12 Yeah, like he’s in the room, and he hears me start to get going, and he’s like, I’m just going to step out of the office, you know…

Jim Lovelady 14:20 …for this temper tantrum.

Patric Knaak 14:22 So, I’m sitting there, and I do not have the time to get this done. How am I going to redo all of this? I cannot believe that this is happening. It also happened to be my birthday. And so, people are texting me for my birthday.

Jim Lovelady 14:36 Oh, happy birthday, by the way.

Patric Knaak 14:38 Yeah. And so the ding ding ding. I’m actually getting mad at the people who are… I’m like, leave me alone! Do you not understand what is going on in my world? Yeah. That would be the type of story I would tell, and then I’d ask the question: Look at what you wrote down to the question, What is the gospel? And how does that apply to the situation that I just described? 

Jim Lovelady 15:03 Right. In any given moment of our life, how does the gospel apply to that thing right there? 

Patric Knaak 15:11 Yep. Yeah. So that’s usually where people laugh a little bit. They’re like, “Hmmm, I don’t know, that is a good question.” So, that’s what we essentially do in the talk is then go back and unpack: here’s what’s going on, not just in my heart, but here’s what’s going on biblically for the rest of those things. So, I’d say one of the first things you need to do is just to understand or be sure we have a common understanding of: what do we mean by the gospel? And I would say it’s not that Christians don’t know what the gospel is, but either they don’t apply it thoroughly enough—it’s just kind of a surface-y thing—or they don’t apply it consistently. They really think of the gospel as God’s message for salvation for people who are not yet Christians. And then once I become a believer, you know, it’s not that the gospel is irrelevant, but then I need…

Jim Lovelady 16:05 …discipleship. 

Patric Knaak 16:06 Yeah, spiritual formation, you know, growing in maturity with, you know, all of those things. And really, at Serge, what we would say (because we think this is what Scripture says) is: No, No—gospel before you get saved, but gospel after you get saved as a believer. Because the gospel is not just the gate you walk through to enter a relationship with Jesus; it’s the path you walk along to grow in your relationship with Jesus. 

Jim Lovelady 16:32 Yeah. And that was something that was fresh to me because growing up in youth group in high school, college ministry, or student ministry, becoming a campus minister—it was all about getting good enough to where, and honing my message, just so that my life will be a testimony. And it’s so subtle because our life should be a testimony. So that’s what makes this little tweak so spectacular when you go, okay, well, what does it mean for my life to be a testimony? It doesn’t mean becoming an amazing person, an amazing communicator, an amazing Christian, an amazing missionary, whatever, so that you can present from on high, essentially… 

Patric Knaak 17:25 Yeah, to have a perfect example—that’s a great job description—but that’s Jesus’s job description. We’re the people who are supposed to be down pointing at Jesus and saying: Him, what He has done, you know, where He leads. So we just want to explain that it’s gospel before you get saved, gospel after you get saved. And when we say gospel… you know, the gospel is so theologically rich! I mean, volumes and volumes, just to unpack it. But in the broadest sense, we mean everything that’s involved in God’s plan of redemption, from Genesis 3 all the way to the end of Revelation.

Jim Lovelady 18:02 Everything Jesus is; everything He has done. 

Patric Knaak 18:05 Yeah. And so, in the broadest sense, you know that that’s true. But it’s also true in an individual sense. And so, the coming, living, dying, rising again of Christ, to pay for our sins, to secure reconciliation with God, the Holy Spirit coming and dwelling in us, the new relationship that’s possible—so, it is all of those things at the same time! And we’re saying that’s not just the message of salvation/conversion, but salvation/growth, and salvation/completion. 

Jim Lovelady 18:38 Yeah, it actually has to do with your story of the computer!

Patric Knaak 18:43 It does, yeah! So, this is how I would start to turn the corner with that. I’d say: So, if you’re going to present the gospel to someone, it’d be very common to have a kind of… So sin, so we have a problem, we’re, you know, alienated from God. And you know, that is worthy of condemnation, death, eternal separation. So that’s usually the starting place, and then what’s God’s response to our sin? Everything that Jesus is and has done, Old Testament, New Testament, everything that has led to salvation. And then once we enter that relationship with God, once we see His response to our sin, what’s our response to Him? Repentance and faith, leading to love. And what does that look like? How does that work itself out? So on the sin thing, we want to be sure that we really understand what Scripture is talking about when it talks about sin—it’s not just outward, observable actions; but also our inner motivations, our inner dispositions, that give rise to the outward actions. And so, sometimes, we will use a little analogy to talk about what it looks like internally and externally. Let’s say you went swimming on a beach, and before you got in the water, you noticed a fin out there, swimming around the lagoon. None of us would be too excited to go out there. And why wouldn’t we? Well, what are we afraid of? The fin?

Jim Lovelady 20:05 We know what it’s attached to! 

Patric Knaak 20:06 Yeah, we know what it’s attached to, and it’s that under the surface, there’s a shark. There is a man-eating machine, if you will, that is underneath there. And, under the surface is really our hearts, our fallen nature; the fin is our external actions. And for a long time in my Christian life, I interpreted holiness as keeping the fin in line without paying attention to what was happening under the surface. And so, Jesus doesn’t just come to help us manage the fin; He actually comes to kill the shark. And all analogies break down…

Jim Lovelady 20:44 Yeah, they break down somewhere…

Patric Knaak 20:45 Well, theologically, they break down horribly. Because He doesn’t just kill the shark—He gives us a new life. So, I don’t know, happy dolphin, yeah, happy dolphin or whatever it is. But the reason why we want to talk about that is that if we don’t understand the relationship between our outward actions and our inner motivations, we’re always treating symptoms. We’re always applying the gospel just to that behavior modification stuff. And we’re not actually applying it to the roots of our sin—to the deep fallen nature that we all have and struggle with. And that’s really where the gospel has to transform us. And then it works its way out to the surface, 

Jim Lovelady 21:26 It just so happened that the dog was the only…

Patric Knaak 21:30 …casualty in this particular incident. Yeah. 

Jim Lovelady 21:33 But there are also—all too often—it’s the people around me (who are casualties). When something happens that ignites some sort of response or emotion in my heart—typically, it’s anger—someone is getting in my way, so I’m going to have an outburst of anger, or something is getting in my way. If my computer crashes, I’m going to throw a fit. I’m not cultivating life for the people around me. And even if I just stuff that anger down, because that would be kind of like… Well, let’s pretend that the fin is… the shark is still there, even if it just goes under the surface for a little bit. And you can’t keep that stuff down. Maybe I can control it at this moment, but tomorrow, something else is going to happen. I really need to address what’s going on—that something is at stake here that I need, that I have to have; something’s in my way, and I’m going to do everything I can in my power. And, whoever the casualty is around me, I don’t care because this is what’s going on—this is the desire of my heart. And this is how it’s going to get worked out. That’s why it’s important to know what the… 

Patric Knaak 22:47 People get bit by the shark under the surface, even if our on-the-surface actions… it would not have been hard to imagine my son coming into the office or my wife calling. What would my response have been? Would it have been a kind, loving, “it’s so good to see you” response? Or, would it have been: What do you want? Do you not understand what’s going on?  

Jim Lovelady 23:07 Well, yeah, the beautiful irony is—it’s your birthday, and all these people are trying to bless you, and you’re like, leave me alone!

Patric Knaak 23:14 I know! Yeah, quit it! So, part of what we want people to do is start to see under the surface to those root sins, the root level sins, the heart motivations. And we do that with a couple of different… Scripture gives us lots of different ways to do that, but we use languages like… we talk about acting like a spiritual orphan, or worshipping idols, or relying on self-generated righteousness. And all of those things are present all the time in various ways, as well as lots of other sorts of sins. But the whole purpose is just to start to see under the surface.

Jim Lovelady 23:48 Those tools are great because I’m still… as I’ve been involved with the company, directly over the last few months and indirectly over the years, I still feel like I’m grabbing that tool. I’m going, Okay, I think I know how to use this. And I’m still learning. I’m still clumsy with it. But it’s these beautiful tools that we are developing, that we have developed, that I keep going back to, you know.

Patric Knaak 24:14 Yeah. Well, and we’re always learning, you know. Christlikeness is the pursuit of a lifetime and then some. So, you know, we don’t ever really on this side of heaven get to the point where we’ve got it all figured out. So, in the case of the computer, there are a lot of different areas I could have gone, but the thing that I could see in retrospect most clearly is—why was I angry? Why was I frustrated? And really, what it came down to is this kind of orphan mentality. It’s not just that I’m angry, and it’s not just that I’m frustrated, and I was all of those things. But functionally, even though I know formally this is not true, but functionally in my heart, really what I was saying was that I do not believe that my Dad in heaven is paying attention and taking care of me. Here’s this problem, it’s up to me to solve; it is up to me to fix. And if I don’t do it, I’m going to look foolish when I go do this teaching stuff. And everyone else will have great talks and be ready to go. And then I will get up there, and my stuff will not be good. And so it’s not just anger or frustration or whatever. It’s this deep-seated sense of: Do I have a Dad in heaven who loves me the same way that He loves Jesus? Nope, not if my schedule is this busy, and the computer eats my homework, and now I don’t feel like I’m going to be able to perform when I’m doing the teaching the way that I’m supposed to be able to perform.

Jim Lovelady 25:48 Here’s a list of all the things at stake that are now threatened because of this thing that’s happened. I could look like an idiot. My reputation could be damaged. Maybe no one is ever going to invite me to speak ever again. And I love to do that. You know, all of these things are threatened. And since I don’t have a Father, since I’m functioning as if I don’t have a Father in heaven, I have to do this. I have to take care of this. And that means, well, what do I have in my arsenal? Anger.

Patric Knaak 26:18 Yeah, yeah. So when Serge started nearly 40 years ago, one of the first places we worked was in Uganda, after the Idi Amin regime had been deposed. And there was this whole generation of child soldiers who had been taken away from their families and forced to serve in the army, and they knew that they had to provide for themselves. So they had been victims, and then they became violators at the same time. And it was: whatever I need to do to survive if I have to lie, steal, cheat, violence… whatever it is that I need to do to survive, that’s what I’m going to do. And so, it’s not exactly the same in my heart, but very similar, like that sense of, oh, I’m all alone, I have got to fix this. No one is here to help me. God has really kind of forgotten about me. And there’s going to be huge consequences. And the thing that’s really interesting is never in that equation did it come out, oh, man, I’m really looking forward to serving these people through my teaching. And this is kind of a bummer because I worked hard to be ready to do that. So, that’s usually the first part—starting to see under the surface. Because if you don’t do it, your response is okay, well, I’ll just make better computer backups next time. Or, if someone had interrupted me and I snapped at them, I’d say, Okay, next time that happens, take a deep breath before… and those are all good things. You should be doing those things. But it’s really different to say, “Hey, I was a little snippy with you,” instead of, “Hey, I felt so abandoned by God, and my reputation was being threatened by my inability to perform the way that I wanted to, that when you came and interrupted me, I kind of had contempt, and murdered you in my heart.” Like, that is the fuller picture of what was actually going on, even though externally you’re just kind of seeing the heat and the anger and the frustration.

Jim Lovelady 28:19 And, contrast that with what it could have been. It could have been this beautiful, prayerful… what it was meant to be is this beautiful preparation, prayerful preparation to go share the love of our King that we love. Like, we genuinely love You, Jesus. And we want people to know You. And so it could have been…

Patric Knaak 28:43 That’s what it was on day one when I carved out the time, and I spent the time working on it. And then, when it disappeared on day two, it revealed, okay, here’s what else is going on in your heart. So at that point, we say: Okay, so now we’re starting to see sin—not just the fin, but the shark, not just the fruit of the sin, the outward actions, but the inner dispositions, the roots. So what’s God’s response to that? Right? It is the quintessential: Patric, I would rather die than live without you, and every promise in the Old Testament and New Testament that speak to God’s overwhelming, conquering, redeeming power to redeem us from our sins, to set us free, to forgive them—so really, all the promises in Scripture, all your sins are completely forgiven, all of Christ’s righteousness has been given to you. You’re adopted as God’s beloved child, the power of Christ’s resurrection is released in your life, and the Holy Spirit dwells in you to empower you to see these things and battle these things. So, all of those things that sum total writ large response of God, to our sin individually, but to the world’s sin collectively, all of those things come into play. And in this circumstance, I was really frustrated, but as I started to calm down a little bit, there was that sense of okay. I do have choices here. Before Jesus was my Savior, I was wholly enslaved to sin, but I’m not wholly enslaved to sin now. And it was really the Holy Spirit, kind of tickling around in my brain—“Why are you so upset? Why are you so bothered about this? It’s not your teaching anyway; it’s my teaching. I know what those people need more than you know what they need. You’ve taught this before, and we can recreate it. Maybe your first one wasn’t actually as good as you thought it was. And maybe there’s something new that I would like to say to you, for your sake, but also for their sake. 

Jim Lovelady 30:50 That’s prayer. 

Patric Knaak 30:51 It is.

Jim Lovelady 30:51 I love that, because somewhere in there, because of the truths of the gospel, no matter how well you have gotten a hold of it… I mean, you could grab a little thread, and that starts to become this robust conversation with Jesus. And like, everything you just described—that conversation with Jesus, which, that’s the point…

Patric Knaak 31:16 Yeah. Well, you know, sometimes I think people get a mistaken notion that grace means you don’t do things—you do. But you’re not doing it to earn or achieve things. You’re doing it as a means to receive what God has already achieved on your behalf. And so, really, what I needed to hear again was: Patric, I love you. You’re not alone. I will take care of you. And you know, my heart’s like: Really? How? Go back to the cross. Look what I’ve already done. Look what I’m going to do for you. And so that really helped me start to get some perspective and to see it as—this isn’t just one bad thing that’s happened, so it’s up to me to kind of suck it up, pretend like it’s not that bad, and move on. It was: oh, yeah, the things that I’m supposed to be teaching about are right now the things that I need, in my heart, this moment, this day. And I’m just so prone to forget that, so prone to move in that way of independence and isolation and competence, when Jesus really wants me to move in the area of dependence.

Jim Lovelady 32:28 Right, my knee-jerk reaction is to be independent, but I was made, created for dependence,

Patric Knaak 32:36 Well, redeemed for dependence. I mean, think about this: Jesus had no sin whatsoever and was completely dependent on His Father. And that is such a countercultural paradigm. Like, when you learn math, the goal is not to become dependent on your math teacher, right? It’s to be independent, to learn how to do it on your own. And nobody… like I grew up in really good churches, and nobody preached that’s what it was supposed to be. But that was kind of the subtle message that you got over time: You should learn how to do it better, and you shouldn’t sin as much. And it’s not that you need Jesus less, but you shouldn’t really make those mistakes as much as you’re doing. And so Jesus is saying: No, I want you to be dependent on me every minute of every day for everything in your life. That’s the power of the new creation in Christ—it’s dependence.

Jim Lovelady 33:29 It’s faith like a child. And it’s not the “I can do it myself” kind of child. It’s that newborn who would die if it wasn’t fed and changed and carried. And then, it’s this blessing of Israel wrestles with God. That’s the blessing. You get to participate with God in these really messy ways. And that’s a beautiful privilege.

Patric Knaak 34:03 Yeah. So, if that’s God’s response to me in my frustration, anger, and independence, and not believing that He’s my Father—it’s that reminder of: Here’s who I am, Patric, here’s what I’ve accomplished for you. What’s the appropriate response on my part? Well, just like when I met Jesus as my Savior, it’s repentance and faith. And not just repenting of: wow, I was really angry; I shouldn’t have been that angry. But repenting of: my heart so distrusts that I have a Father in heaven, who loves me and will take care of me, who isn’t out to abandon me or embarrass me, that my heart is so warped in that way, that I completely doubt who God says He is to me. Repenting over that, being broken over that, not just the external sorts of actions. And you know, it was really a freeing moment. I think sometimes we think of repentance as this sad necessity when I’ve tried as hard as I can not to blow it. And after I’ve blown it, when I try and cover it up as much as I can. But finally, it’s come out, so I guess I have to repent… and, that’s really not repentance at all. It’s Jesus who’s kind of our smart-aleck older brother saying, What are you doing, man? Come back to Me. Quit messing around with the idols. You’re not on your own, Patric; I am here with you. I can give you better teaching than anything you could come up with. Come back to me. What is it that you think you need that I can’t supply? Nothing. Come back to me. So you know, there was the repenting, not just of the external stuff, but of saying, okay, Jesus, if You want to use my day in any way you choose, and this is how You’re getting my attention through this computer file getting corrupted, I trust you, I’m going to come with open hands to receive what You have for me in this day, at this moment. And the whole day really started to turn around at that point, because I had had a great time preparing it. I had thoroughly enjoyed that time, and I kind of got fed. And in some sense, Jesus was saying, wasn’t that good yesterday? Don’t you want to do that again? Like, come talk with Me again. Your heart needs to do that again, Patric, before you’re ready to go talk with other people about that. And so, this is something that I think is one of the best things that God does that we miss a lot of the time. Does God forgive our sins? Yes, of course, He forgives our sins, but He also redeems our sins. He also takes those things that surely Satan means for evil in our lives, to say, hey, instead of going down that unrepentant guilt, shame, alienation separation road, if you can see that you’re sinning, what do you do with your sin? You come back to Me, so I can forgive it and so that I can give you what you need, to provide for you the better things than what your heart was originally seeking. And so the rest of that day actually turned into a very sweet day of dependence and reliance and looking at things again in a fresh perspective and saying, Hey, Jesus, what is it that You really want from me in this process? What am I missing that You are eager to show me?

Jim Lovelady 37:28 Yeah. It turned into fellowship with God. I love that aspect of all of this, that the victory of God is seen in… no, not in spite of your sin, but even through your sin, I’m going to be doing some amazing things. And that’s where, in Colossians, He makes a fool of the powers and principalities of darkness because they go, we’re going to trip him up, we’re going to blow up the computer, watch this. Boom! And your knee-jerk reaction is to go: I have no Father in heaven! And that fork in the road leads you down those ways, but then the Spirit brings you back to: Wait, let’s go back to that fork in the road and choose the… “Jesus, my computer just died. I am frustrated.” And there’s a difference between saying, “I’m frustrated,” and “Jesus, I’m frustrated,” you know? And so, those powers and principalities of darkness that hate you and want to mess with your life, Jesus goes, “Oh, I’m going to use that to draw him closer to Me. Watch this.”

Patric Knaak 38:41 Yeah. So, it’s like a total reversal that really only God’s grace can work. And so the thing that was really interesting about the rest of that day is, it was prayerful, like, I had my agenda for what needed to happen. And when Jesus kind of upset my Jenga pile and said, “How about My agenda, instead?” I spent a great time with Jesus. I am not a good pray-er, and Jesus is saying, “I know you’re not. So I’m going to do something in your life that, if you will allow your brokenness to lead you back to Me through repentance, I can actually transform this day, which is all about Patric, the god, and your agenda, back to worshipful time in My presence, where we’re going to connect and have prayer. And you’re going to be dependent on Me in a way that feels good and freeing.” And the Holy Spirit can really work through that. And the thing that started to come out of that is, why are you even teaching this, Patric? Like, why does this even matter? It’s like, oh, because I really love those people that I’m going to see. And because this thing that I need, I know will help them, because I know my God loves them and will help them and be involved in that. And, you know, my sin, on any given day, the externals might look really different from yours or someone who doesn’t even yet know Jesus. But at a root level, when you get down below the surface, we all have those same sorts of needs. And so understanding my need is an amazing way to start to build bridges to other people who might not yet know Jesus because they’re still struggling with those same things, even if it doesn’t look the same on the surface. And they still need what I need now—not what I needed 30 years ago when I became a Christian, but what I need now. That’s what they need.

Jim Lovelady 40:43 Yeah, what you need now, at the moment where you realize that all the work that you’ve done is gone. And then your response to that not being a holy response. But being a very lonely, I’m all alone, kind of response. But the way that Jesus walked you through all of that, so that, in the end, you spent the afternoon actually moving outward—out of yourself—in a very, like… no one is going to blame you for being upset when your computer does that.

Patric Knaak 41:14 Well, yes, I mean, it is a bad thing that happened. I’m not saying that it was a good thing. But God took the bad thing and used it in my life to create a good thing. 

Jim Lovelady 41:24 Yeah. And the result was that instead of being inward-focused, you were outward-focused toward the people. And so, I think that’s the whole dynamic. So talk about: when we say gospel renewal leads to mission, that’s what we’re saying. Something has happened, and the way that the kingdom of God moves forward, in the cosmos and including my heart, shapes things in such a way that now I’m prone to loving the people that are not me.

Patric Knaak 41:58 Right. Yeah. Well, God has redeemed us to be pipes and not buckets. You know, we’re not supposed to just gather up all the grace for us so that we can have great churches and great small groups and lead great Bible studies and have good teaching, you know, and whatever. It is grace for you so that it is grace through you to reach other people. And as it flows through you, you start to realize: Oh my goodness, I need this so much more than I thought that I did. And, you know, particularly when we run into opposition or persecution, or when folks don’t respond the way that we would hope that they would respond, we’re… You know, whenever I’m locked up in that sin, it really truncates my ability to love other people. If I am obsessed with: I don’t have the time, and I’m so angry that this has happened to me, and how’s my talk compared to everyone else’s talk now that the good version somehow got lost, I am not thinking about Jesus, I’m not thinking about those people, I’m not thinking about their needs, I’m not thinking about how to self sacrificially die to my own issues, just to be present, so that God can work through me, you know, to encourage them and to reach them. And that was maybe the most miraculous thing that happened in that whole process, just that change of, oh, you know what? Jesus has got this covered. He knows what they need more than I know what they need. He is really the teacher, I might be the messenger, but He’s the teacher. And it’s really what He wants to teach; that’s what is going to come through. He doesn’t have any problem working through notes, no notes, you know, and I’m a preparation sort of guy. And He’s like: Listen, I will take and use all of that. But it will never be enough. Like it will never be effective without my Spirit working in your heart and working in their hearts. And so just that new realization now, at that point, it’s like, Alright, hey, I do kind of have something that’s worth sharing, I do have something. And so, you know, I’m being renewed, which is motivating me to go love and serve those people in different ways. I’m sure when I show up, and I’m jet lagged, and, who knows, my notes didn’t make it on the plane, or, you know, got eaten, or, whatever happens, it’s going to push me back to that need and that dependence for Jesus. And so, we see that: gospel for you, gospel through you; knowing Christ, making Christ known; personal renewal leading to loving other people, and missional engagement pushing you back to your own need to receive more grace so that you can continue to love people; and situations and circumstances that can be difficult and hard and scary and sometimes feel threatening—that’s what we’d say. That is what the heartbeat of the gospel actually looks like.

Jim Lovelady 44:51 Yeah. Jesus liberated you from that thing that had enslaved you—I need to make this good. I need to make this coherent. I need to make this slick. I need to defend my reputation. I need all of those things that Jesus goes, “Man, I love Patric too much to let him be bound by those things. I’m going to liberate him. What should we do? Well, this is what’s gonna happen.”

Patric Knaak 45:22 This is the best way to do it. Yeah!

Jim Lovelady 45:24 And, what a beautiful birthday present. You’re not thankful that your computer died like that on your birthday.

Patric Knaak 45:37 Well, now I see it as a birthday present. But at the moment, I was like, Are you kidding me?  

Jim Lovelady 45:42 This is not what I want for my birthday! But Jesus goes, “Actually, I’m making you more like me. Happy birthday! Yeah. It’s beautiful. But then this whole cycle is this invitation. Jesus goes, Hey, come explore what it means for the kingdom of God to move in the entire world and in your heart, so that you become a conduit of grace so that everyone around you will know My love. And so that, as you’re sharing the love of God, you’re being drawn back into the love of God and renewed by the love of God to go out again. And so, this cycle is this invitation that I love. We’re like holding up this invitation to people: Hey, come try this kind of life. And we’re doing it all over the world. That’s what we’re about.

Patric Knaak 46:36 Yeah, well, and equally true whether you’re going across the street to do ministry or across the world, those same things are present in our hearts. God’s response to our sin is the same. His ability to work in and through our brokenness, to win other people to him, and to grow us to be more like Jesus is the same.

Jim Lovelady 46:56 Yeah. It’s wonderful. Well, thanks for sharing, man. Because my desire for the podcast is to explore how this gets worked out. Because every single person in the world has a story, and that story can interact with this dynamic in such a way that they’re brought into joy, and the world knows God’s love.

Patric Knaak 47:21 Yeah. Yep. Absolutely.

Jim Lovelady 47:24 So, thanks for coming into the studio. 

Patric Knaak 47:35 My pleasure.

Jim Lovelady 47:35 I hope you were able to resonate with and find yourself in Patric’s story. This isn’t about being on a hunt to track down how horrible of a person you are. This is about having the sensitivity to recognize where the Holy Spirit wants to fellowship with you in the most mundane of situations and show you His grace, and for you to experience the joy of fellowship with your Savior. 

So, if working out the reality of the gospel in your life is a new idea for you, try paying attention to your emotions—your emotional reactions will guide you to what’s important in your heart. 

And you’ll begin a prayer to Jesus that will lead you through repentance into joy. 

And if you’d like more help learning how the gospel works itself out, in your moment, by moment life, go to serge.org/renewal. There are lots of resources there to help you on your journey. 

And check out our Grace at the Fray YouTube channel. It’s got lots of video resources that we have there. And if you’re watching this now, you’re already there! Keep exploring. 

So for me, as I drove to pick up my daughter, I realized that I was in the middle of engineering excuses and building a defense to justify myself. The truth was, I didn’t pay attention to my wife. And now my daughter has to deal with those consequences. I’m going to be late. And how crazy was it that I so strongly felt the need to defend myself? How silly and futile, especially when the only proper response was to apologize. And then the Lord showed me how silly I was behaving regarding such a simple thing.

So when I picked up my daughter, a miracle happened. I said, “I’m sorry I was late.” And you know what happened? She said, “That’s okay.” Because it wasn’t a big deal. And when I got home, my wife and I had a good laugh about how silly I had been. And that evening before bed, Jesus reminded me that the world needs more people who say I’m sorry instead of defending themselves, and His love for me is patient enough that He’s okay with starting me off with simple apologies. And we’ll go from there to the more sophisticated ways that I’ve hurt people. And that’s how I can let forgiveness and reconciliation grow as the Lord’s kingdom comes and His will is done in my life and in the life of those people around me. So as you go, may you discover God’s love in a faulty computer file or late pickups or whatever is happening in your life right now.

And as you go, go with this blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you. Make His face to smile down on you. May the Lord be gracious to you, turn His bright eyes toward you, and give you His peace. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God, life everlasting. Amen.

This transcript has been edited for length and clarity.

Patric Knaak

Patric Knaak, MA, is the Area Director for Renewal at Serge where he leads their publication, teaching, training, and mentoring ministries. An ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America, Patric has worked in curriculum development and was the pastor for spiritual formation at Naperville Presbyterian Church (IL) before joining Serge.


Jim Lovelady

Jim Lovelady is a Texas-born pastor, musician, and liturgist, doing ministry in Philadelphia with his wife, Lori, and 3 kids, Lucia, Ephram, and Talitha. He is passionate about the ministry of liberating religious people from the anxieties of religion and liberating secular people from the anxieties of secularism through the story of the gospel.

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