Here we go! This afternoon I’m fully back in the saddle after a three and a half week’s study break from my regular role at Cypress Crossings Christian Church and other ministry duties. I also used this opportunity for a social media fast which I highly recommend doing yourself sometime. After 25 years of full-time ministry, I have only taken one such a break before. Thus some huge gratitude goes out to the elders of Cypress Crossings for being more than willing to grant me these past weeks to rest, recharge, and refocus. Have your ever felt like you needed a re-focus?
I was surprised that I had to remind myself that I was actually on a break. While the plan was to ensure uninterrupted study and prayer time, it was also supposed to be an extended Sabbath. Here’s the reality that I’m speaking of. Often full-time Christian ministry never stops unless you purposefully schedule in times of Sabbath and rest. For me, even assumed social gatherings are work as I’m “working” to get others connected closer to Jesus and each other. So it was good for me to unplug as much as possible and remind myself that there was indeed some purpose to the pause. A good article by Trevor Devage speaks to the value of such times of retreat for preachers.
My study goal included three or four new books to read, but what happened rather is that I picked up a couple of older books of great worth to go through with fresh eyes. The result was a reminder of things forgotten and for a greater focus going into the fall and future with preaching, church leadership, writing, and other ministry. One of those books was Simple Church by Thom S. Rainer which I had originally read during our church planting work in California. In short, Rainer notes that it is easy to get swamped by programs and business and miss the simple path of leading people into a discipleship relationship with Jesus. Just keeping things focused and simple can be a very powerful move.
An exciting fruit of the break is the upcoming release of Confessions on the Audible format which should go public the first part of September. The physical copy is still available through Amazon and B&N. I’ve created a survey here for the future direction of the Mid-Week Challenge that ran every Wednesday last year at noon. So take some time and share your input before the survey closes next week. I’m truly interested in how this tool can be more helpful for people.
Over all it was a productive break. I am reminded of the value in the Old Testament where God called His people to rest and the times where Jesus commanded his disciples to get into a boat and cross the lake for a season of respite and refocus. The truth is that when we unplug from the clutter of culture and get alone with God it is so much easier to hear his voice and see his path.
What about you? Have you had some time this summer to shut the world
off and sit with the king? If so, what
did you discover?
I am stoked to report how quickly LUCID Books is moving with the publication of Confessions. The release date has been moved up to late November with pre-sales set to begin in mid-October. The work is presently in the lay-out phase after having completed the editing and proof-reading. As the process continues, we are looking at publicity and marketing over the next two months. Yes, I am thrilled as I honestly believe this project will be a huge encouragement to many people.
One exciting piece from the past two weeks was to receive the Forward that I had asked Jim Tune write for the book. If you don’t know Jim, he is a fun Canadian minister, church planter, and visionary who is always advancing the ball down the field. Debi and I seriously considered working with Jim and his wife, Claudia, back in 2004 before moving to Northern California. But we’ve kept in touch over the years and I greatly respect Jim and his work. (more…)
I’ve never really been a fan of religious verbiage. I especially hate it when people call me Pastor Steve. God doesn’t call me that. But the problem with the word pastor, in the English language, is that it means just about everything. Thus it sometimes doesn’t really mean anything. Anything specific that is. The problem with me is that I tried to do and to be everything associated with the word and it just about killed me. But maybe, in truth, the real problem belongs to all of us who call on the name of Christ. (more…)
This past summer I was talking with one of my older friends from my hometown. In our conversation I discovered that she knew my 9th grade English teacher, Dan Johnson. My friend, Emadene, had taught school with Mr. Johnson’s wife and had nothing but good to say about the man. Likewise, when I think back to the year that I was in his class I have plenty of encouraging memories of my teacher. That year was truly an illustration of God moving in ways we don’t understand? Mr. Johnson was indeed a providential piece of the total equation for the man I am today. (more…)
We’re just a few days away from Superbowl XLVII and I’ll probably watch the match even though neither my favorite team nor quarter back is in the game. If nothing else, I’m sure there’ll be at least one good million dollar commercial in the mix. But in thinking about these and other great teams, I’m reminded of another great leadership pointer we can learn from this spectacular sport. The lesson being that it’s really not all about the quarterback. Both Flacco and Kaepernick are great players, but the thing about them and other leaders on the gridiron is that the QB rarely makes the touchdown. Rather, they hand off or pass the ball to someone else. It’s that person who takes the ball across the line and puts the points up on the board. The truth about authentic Christianity and the true CHURCH is that we are all involved in a team effort. In the CHURCH, leaders are not to “do the work of ministry” but to equip the Saints for “doing the work of ministry.” The immediate context of Ephesians 4 refers to apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, but the principal is the same in every leadership situation. So whatever your leadership responsibility is, make sure your hand offs and passes are right. Get the ball into the hands of others so that the team can advance the ball. Let them carry the ball across the line and put the points up. Let them celebrate the victories and simply be excited that they and the team won the day.
So, who are you pulling for in this game? More importantly, who are you equipping in your life to carry the ball across the line?