A Serious Season of Sabbatical. (Back on August 23rd)

A Serious Season of Sabbatical. (Back on August 23rd)

It’s hard to believe, but this week marks the 30th anniversary of my graduating from Ozark Christian College and entering full-time ministry. For that reason, I’ve decided to begin an official sabbatical. Even the educational and business worlds are catching on to the value of sabbaticals, but the origin of this sacred practice is God’s design. A sabbatical is a strategic and sustained rest, reflection, renewal, and refocus season. There is a purpose to it. So, with the elders of my church giving overwhelming support, I’m launching into this vital season beginning May 20th through August 19th.

The aim of this season, which differentiates it from an extended vacation or academic project, is to deliberately step away from regular ministry for a prolonged quiet to hear afresh from the Holy Spirit. If I were to attach a single scripture to this season, I suppose it would be Jeremiah 29:13, where God spoke through the prophet and assured his children, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” That is my hope as I enter this sabbatical. But what does this look like, and what are the plans? In addition, maybe you can consider what God might be calling you to do in the area of being still and hearing more of Jesus’s voice above the world’s noise this summer. (more…)

How to Get More in 24.

How to Get More in 24.

It’s not a bad idea, you know. Taking time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, reviewing the previous year, and making plans for the new one. The meditative rhythm of reflection on the last 12 months and envisioning a path forward may be exactly what you need to get more out of this mysterious year knocking at your front door right now. I’ve been doing this for quite a long time. Once, while planting a church in Northern California, I rented a cabin in the woods for three days for this very purpose. This extended exercise can teach us lessons from the past year and clarify where we need to head in the future. (more…)

The Essential Place of Thanksgiving!

The Essential Place of Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving? The President pardons a turkey. The Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions are always two NFL teams with a game. Celebrities recite the people and events for which they are thankful. But are these famous people truly thankful, or just listing what they are presently happy about? The reality of saying thank you implies that we owe thanks to someone because they have done something for us. So, who are we thankful to? It is good to list people and things we are grateful for. That practice, done regularly, would do well for our present selfish society. But logically, who is it that we owe our gratitude to for providing those blessings we hold dear, and does it matter? Does the divine have anything to do with this? (more…)

The Faith of Just Holding Fast!

The Faith of Just Holding Fast!

When we hear of great men and women of faith, we often think of those who have left a safe and secure life here in America to risk it all on some foreign mission field in a third world country. We can rightly call that what it is – faith! However, Sometimes, the most incredible acts of faith are simply trusting God, even when everything and everyone around you is falling apart. Or at least it appears that way. (more…)

Honor Bestowed where Honor is Owed. A Shout out for Clergy Appreciation Month.

Honor Bestowed where Honor is Owed. A Shout out for Clergy Appreciation Month.

They have been called by many names and titles. Minister, preacher, and, for an older generation, parson. For those in the High Church traditions, sometimes they go by a more ornate term, like Reverend. Pastor is the most widely used term for those in full-time vocational ministry. The problem with the word pastor in English is that it means almost everything, so it sometimes doesn’t mean anything—anything specific. Think of all the images that come to mind when you hear the word pastor. He’s the older, wise man everyone loves and is there for weddings, funerals, birthdays, and child dedications. He is always available with practical advice. He’s an expert in deciphering the Bible and maybe even reads it in the original Greek and Hebrew. He shows up for workdays and is always there to lend a helping hand, a listening ear, and a word of encouragement. (more…)