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…)

Back in the Race!

Back in the Race!

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?