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Archive for the ‘sabbatical’ Category

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Yes, I’m well aware that I haven’t posted anything here in a long time. The guilt eats at my soul every day of my life (OK, that’s probably a bit of an overstatement, but occasionally I’ve thought, “I could blog about that .  . .”).

But this is an anniversary and I have something to say.

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Parkway Heights people: This blog post isn’t for you, but you may want to share it with a friend that goes to another church. You can “share” with the buttons at the bottom of the post.

Almost 90 days ago, I returned from my sabbatical. I’ve blogged and talked about it. I came back with several commitments that I’m trying to follow. I also returned with a driving conviction that has grown exponentially over the past 90 days because of different conversations I’ve had with pastors and articles I’ve read. Here it is:

Churches need to get rid of their pastors.

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Well, here we are. The final day of the journal from the final day of the sabbatical. Over the course of sharing these journal entries, I’ve edited most posts for length and content (some content was extremely personal; some would’ve been utterly boring to you; some was redundant). But today’s post you get in its entirety, only edited for egregious grammatical errors and clarity.

Thank you for sticking with me in this journey. I’ve appreciated your comments and encouragement along the way. But the truth is I did this for my own soul. I needed to relive and revisit what God did to me and for me in these weeks. 

This isn’t the end of the blog (more on that tomorrow). But for now, here’s the final entry. Enjoy.

July 3 – Day 42
10:05 p.m.
Home

A leader can’t lead until he knows where he’s going.
~ John Locke (to Jack Shepherd)
Lost, Season 1, Ep. 5

Forty-two days ago I was on a plane heading to New York. The adventure was beginning. The walk-about commenced with a hug and kiss from Audra at the Gulfport Airport. I knew these weeks were going to be important. I just didn’t know how important.

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We’re approaching the end of the journey. In just a few days, I’ll offer the final post from my sabbatical journal. The end of the journal won’t be the end of the blog! I’ve got some great things planned for the weeks ahead. For those of you just stumbling into this, a reminder of what I’m doing right now:

Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’m sharing some of those to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of my time away. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial/edited post. After the journal entry, I’ll share some of my post-sabbatical reflections on that entry. Each day I started with a quote followed by my reflections on the events of the day.

If you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic email updates when I post the next entry. You can find previous posts in the links to the right. At the bottom of each post, you’ll notice some “share” buttons. Feel free to share this with others if you think it would be interesting to them or help them.

July 1 – Day 40
9:15 p.m.
Home

To imagine things other than they are is the essence of hope.
It is also the stuff of revolution.
~Len Sweet

(more…)

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We’re approaching the end of the journey. In just a few days, I’ll offer the final post from my sabbatical journal. The end of the journal won’t be the end of the blog! I’ve got some great things planned for the weeks ahead. For those of you just stumbling into this, a reminder of what I’m doing right now:

Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’m sharing some of those to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of my time away. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial/edited post. After the journal entry, I’ll share some of my post-sabbatical reflections on that entry. Each day I started with a quote followed by my reflections on the events of the day.

If you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic email updates when I post the next entry. You can find previous posts in the links to the right. At the bottom of each post, you’ll notice some “share” buttons. Feel free to share this with others if you think it would be interesting to them or help them.

June 29 – Day 38
9:10 p.m.
Home

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
~ William James

Home. For good. My lunch date in Water Valley bailed on me today so I decided it was a sign to come home early. If my calculations are somewhat accurate, I travelled over 6,600 miles in 6 weeks. And every step of the way God was lighting the path, teaching me, holding me, and even fighting with me and for me. Never once did He leave me on my own (BTW, Never Once by Matt Redman is the theme song of the summer).

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Disclaimer: If the thought of a pastor (or particularly your pastor) entering a tavern/bar/pub is damaging to your soul, then you should probably skip this post. Maybe check out this or this. Or even this. Come back and visit tomorrow.

Background: My wife’s family owns a home in Water Valley, MS, just outside of Oxford, MS. We use it several times a year when visiting The School Up North. The entire time that I’ve known Water Valley, from college days to the present, it has been a dry town (for non-Mississippians: think prohibition. No alcohol sales). That changed a few years ago. And when I visited this summer I noticed that attached to one of the better restaurants in town (Doc’s Table–if you go, try the Chicken Bacon Cheddar Sandwich) was a tavern (Doc’s Tavern). Doc’s Tavern has the distinction of being the first and only bar in Water Valley. After eating at Doc’s Table one evening, curiosity got the better of me: Who goes to Water Valley’s only bar? So, I walked down the alley to the door of the tavern and had what I can only describe as the defining moment of my sabbatical. I met Elvis. This is the story of one unforgettable night in Water Valley.

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Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’m sharing some of those to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of my time away. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial/edited post. After the journal entry, I’ll share some of my post-sabbatical reflections on that entry. Each day I started with a quote, followed by my reflections on that day.

If you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic email updates when I post the next entry. You can find previous posts in the links to the right. At the bottom of each post, you’ll notice some “share” buttons. Feel free to share this with others if you think it would be interesting to them or help them.

June 26 – Day 35
11 p.m.
Water Valley House

All great Christians have been wounded souls.
~ A.W. Tozer

It’s quiet here. I can hear frogs and crickets singing outside. Inside the sound of the struggling air conditioner is all I hear. This final time away will be a time of silence and listening.

Today’s quote from A.W. Tozer is important, I think. Often I look at Christians I admire (like Len Sweet, Andy Stanley, Homer Peden, Nancy Bishop, Willis Britt, etc.) and think that they suddenly became great examples of how to live as a follower of Christ. But the truth is that all of them in one way or another faced the crucible of pain and loss. Some of their stories I know. Others I have no clue what their pain has been. Yet for all of them, whatever their pains were transformed them into the people they are today. They allowed God to shape them. My prayer is that I’ve allowed God to do that for me over these weeks–and will let God shape me in the week ahead.

Tozer reminds us that the scars and deformities brought to us by the battles of life are to be reminders of our weakness and God’s great power. For most of my life I haven’t known what to do with my scars. I’ve hidden them, ignored them, or pretended they were inflicted upon me. This time, though, the hurt was too deep, the fear too real to ignore. I believe that I have embraced the pain, the scars, and the wounds. The wounds have made me different. Better in some ways. More aware of blessings. More expectant of joy; more willing to receive instruction. The wounds have made my relationships better. As painful as they were to receive, the scars are sign-posts of a great victory. Not my victory, but Christ’s victory. For in my weakness His strength has been revealed.

May I never forget these scars.

Come, Lord Jesus. Come.

Reflections on Day 35:

All of us, at some level, have a sense of embarrassment about our failures. Our brokenness. We want others to see us as strong. Unbreakable in the face pain. So, we hide our scars. We act as if they didn’t exist. But our scars are not just our scars. They are reminders of God’s incredible power to save us even from the darkest pits of life. Our scars are part of our story and part the story that God is writing through our lives. Our scars provide us opportunity to talk to people authentically about pain and joy; despair and resurrection. But we have to be honest about them first.

In one of the Lethal Weapon movies (there were so many I can’t remember which one with out watching them all again), where Mel Gibson’s character and his girlfriend (Rene Russo, I think) have this moment of comparing scars and bullet wounds. They’re proud of what they’ve been through. Maybe we don’t have to proudly brag about our scars and wounds. But maybe it’s time to own them. To claim them for what they are–evidence of God’s strength in our weakness.

Question: What scars and wounds in life do you need to own?

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Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’m sharing some of those to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of my time away. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial/edited post. After the journal entry, I’ll share some of my post-sabbatical reflections on that entry. Each day I started with a quote, followed by my reflections on that day.

If you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic email updates when I post the next entry. You can find previous posts in the links to the right. At the bottom of each post, you’ll notice some “share” buttons. Feel free to share this with others if you think it would be interesting to them or help them.

June 24 – Day 33
3:40 p.m.
Comfort Suites (Room 209) – Cumming, GA

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear;
And grace my fears relieved.
~
John Newton

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Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’m sharing some of those to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of my time away. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial/edited post. After the journal entry, I’ll share some of my post-sabbatical reflections on that entry. Each day I started with a quote, followed by my reflections on that day.

If you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic email updates when I post the next entry. You can find previous posts in the links to the right. At the bottom of each post, you’ll notice some “share” buttons. Feel free to share this with others if you think it would be interesting to them or help them.

June 21 – Day 30
9:15 p.m.
Living Room Chair

My method allows me to pace myself over the long haul.
~ Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody (p. 11)

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’m sharing some of those to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of my time away. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial/edited post. After the journal entry, I’ll share some of my post-sabbatical reflections on that entry. Each day I started with a quote, followed by my reflections on that day.

If you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic email updates when I post the next entry. You can find previous posts in the links to the right. At the bottom of each post, you’ll notice some “share” buttons. Feel free to share this with others if you think it would be interesting to them or help them.

June 20 – Day 29
9:20 p.m.
Condo Balcony

Looking back over a lifetime, you see love was the answer to everything.
~ Ray Bradbury

(more…)

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