the best thing to do when you’re at the end of the rope is to trust God and
just do the next thing. A while back on a Sunday afternoon, I was physically
exhausted and emotionally spent after preaching that morning. I was also
handling a number of church projects and concerns that felt like a
mountaineering backpack filled with lead, all the while knowing I had an
important meeting that night. But after a short crash on my bed and watching my
favorite football team get beat, I threw some water on my face, stood still for
a moment, asked Jesus for physical help, and put one foot in front of the
don’t see that a lot in the Bible, but that’s pretty much what life is. We like
the action stories of David whopping Goliath, but we silently ignore all the
days that David was in the desert waiting on God. Eventually, God worked
through that normal Hebrew teenager who was stepping out in faith on a daily
was a good meeting and teaching time that Sunday night. I was still physically
beat when I got home, but there was more of a smile on my face than when I
left. I’m not sure what caused the positive change in my demeanor that night.
It could have been something as simple as the additional dopamine in my brain
chemistry caused by the physical action of getting up and moving. Maybe it was
a swath of encouragement from the Holy Spirit. Or maybe it was just a sense
that if I kept climbing, I’d eventually reach the summit of the mountain, and
that’s a good thought.
What is the next step before you today? What will it cost you to take it? What will it cost you if you do not take it?
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’m planning to take the rest of July and early August for a study break. This will include plenty of prayer and planning along with dedicated time for study. As well, will be taking a media fast. See you on the other side. What are you doing to get quiet and alone with God this summer?
That’s right — one year ago today, the Kickstarter campaign funded and the book project, Confessions of a Pastor, was set in motion. I can still remember thirty days prior, at the launch of the drive, praying, “Ok Jesus, this is now in your hands. It will either fund or fail.” The project did fund and I am still amazed at the results today. I continue to thank Jesus and so many of you for bringing Confessions to life.
Early in the editing process we changed the official name to simply “Confessions” with the subtitle of “Finding Hope Through One Pastor’s Doubt.” Thinking of Hope, the heart of Confessions has already borne fruit in bringing hope to many and so I want to give a huge thanks on this anniversary date to everyone who gave and prayed for the venture. Not only is the book bringing encouragement to people and drawing them closer to the love of Christ, but once our final financial requirements with LUCID Books are completed, 50% of any additional royalties from the project will go toward world missions.
What about you? If you have read Confessions, what stories can you share of encouragement or testimonies from those you know? If you’ve not had a chance to read Confessions yet, you can get an e-copy or paper back from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other sources.
As I begin a summer study break in a few weeks, I will explore the possibility of turning the print into an audible work and also begin to seriously flesh out the next major writing project. But for now, I’d love to hear your stories from the release of Confessions. You can share them here, on social media sources, or even write a review for Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Again – thanks to everyone who made this project a reality!