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?
Are you ready for 2018? I sure am. One funny note about this next year is that it is the 30th anniversary of my High School graduation. Wow, I could not have imagined 30 years ago what the world, and my world, would have looked like today. Time sure does fly. How can we move into 2018 with more purpose? We certainly need to celebrate the glory from 2017. One big victory for me is the accomplishment of purposely setting my heart to writing the book, Confessions of a Preacher, and completing it. The book is now in the hands of a literary agent who is presenting it to publishers this week.
Were there down sides to 2017? There sure were. But with those, the best advice is to simply admit the bad and then bury it. Maybe it’s a mistake or blatant sin on our part. If so, then we need to own it, confess it, and then receive God’s grace on the matter. If the bad was a wrong done to us, then we also need to call it what it was. While doing so, we need to accept God’s healing and at the same time release ourselves from bitterness toward that person or situation. Failing to forgive and release will drag us down in years to come. (more…)
For the longest time I thought the term ADHD was reserved for parents who just didn’t know how to raise their kids. Then God gave me the poster child for the condition in our first born. My son, John, is a genius. He also has more energy than a platoon of Marines about to storm into enemy territory. Forget trying to fit John into any kind of mold of properness and organization. Calmness for him means that only two volcanoes are exploding simultaneously instead of twelve. But the real awakening came when I realized that if experts were classifying Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder when I was a kid back in the 70s, it would have been me they were talking about. (more…)
For our friends who have been following Deb’s medical condition over the past 14 months we’re happy to report that her recent gallbladder surgery went very well. In pre-op she was asked if there were any other piercings that needed to be taken care of before the procedure. At that I told the nurse that I had suggested to Deb a while back that she get a belly ring. My request didn’t go too far. The big news though is that she is regaining strength on the right side of her body and the pain seems to be subsiding. We are chalking this up simply to miraculous as there is nothing that we’ve done to initiate the change. So we’re praising God and are enormously grateful for the doctors that have personally walked with us during Debi’s medical journey.
Over my years in ministry I’ve interacted with a lot of doctors and medical staff. Every time I meet one of these physicians I’m always impressed with their ability and gifting. With Deb’s condition we have met a number of highly competent medical professionals including Dr. Erika Simpson of Houston Methodist, Dr. Kang of Cypress Fairbanks Hospital, and Dr. Miranda who performed Deb’s gallbladder surgery. Again and again I’ve noted the ability in these brilliant people and thanked God for their skill. (more…)