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Posts Tagged ‘sabbatical’

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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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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 19 – Day 28
9:17 p.m.
Condo Balcony

Among times there is a time that turns a corner and everything this side of it is new. Times do not go backward.
Perelandra
, C.S. Lewis

Last fall, the day after the “great troubles” began, Brenda [Plum] gave me C.S Lewis’ space trilogy. I quickly read the first one but bogged down in the second. In fact, I put it away. I committed to finishing it this summer and have carried Perelandra all around the U.S. Today I started it again. And God’s timing amazed me in two ways:

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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 18 – Day 27
9:17 p.m.
Condo Balcony

The real leader has no need to lead.
He is content to point the way.
~Henry Miller

I’m sitting on the balcony again listening to the waves crash on the beach beneath me. It’s a picture-perfect night. The beach is alive with children hunting crabs with their flashlights. The sky is alive with the brilliance of a million stars. I wish Audra and the girls were with me.

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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 9 – Day 18
6:50 p.m.
Condo Balcony

I do the impossible!
~ Vitaly (Madagascar 3)

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Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’ll be sharing some of those in the coming weeks 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. 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. Also, if you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic updates when I post the next entry. At the bottom, 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.

Today, a partial entry . . .

June 2 – Day 11
9:20 p.m.
Home

We won’t look back over our lives; we’ll look back over our love.
All the rest will end up on the editing room floor.
~ Bob Goff

What a busy day at home. Cutting grass, tending to projects, washing the Pilot, trimming the hedges. It was good to be back in the rhythm of home. Even here, though, on a day of work and labor (I’m very tired; all my muscles are aching) there was plenty to chew on. 

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Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’ll be sharing some of those in the coming weeks 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. 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. Please don’t judge me on grammar, sentence structure, or flow. This is a journal, not a dissertation. Also, if you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic updates when I post the next entry.

Note: Today, we’re skipping ahead to my last full day in Detroit. I’m skipping my conversations with the staff at Westwinds Community Church, not because they weren’t important (in fact I rate my conversation with David McDonald as one of the most important ministerial conversations I’ve ever had), but because the topics relate more to some of my questions about ministry. I dare you, though, to check out Westwinds Community Church. It’s the most creative, entrepreneurial, Spirit-led church I’ve ever come in contact with. Ask me about them sometime.

May 31 – Day 9
5:05 p.m.
Downtown Detroit

Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus.
~ Mother Teresa

Rather than start at the beginning of the day (my visit to the Detroit Institute of Art), I’ll start near the end. This afternoon I walked down to the riverfront. It was cloudy, windy, and cool. The riverfront was absent of many people except for me, a security guard, a homeless guy, and a few other tourists taking pictures of a big round circle. Other than the Joe Louis fist and the GM Building it was a waste of time–other than the fact that I got some exercise.

I wandered back to the hotel by a different way (always a good thing to do) and discovered Greektown (a section of Detroit dedicated to Greek culture) and the Greektown Casino (a section of Detroit dedicated to  . . . gambling).

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Over the course of my 6-week sabbatical, I kept a journal of my travels and experiences. I’ll be sharing some of those in the coming weeks to give you a flavor of how God spoke over the course of those weeks. Sometimes I’ll share an entire day’s entry. At other times, just a partial. 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. Please don’t judge me on grammar, sentence structure, or flow. This is a journal. I’d love to hear your response to my musings. Also, if you “follow” the blog (upper right on the home page), you’ll get automatic updates when I post the next entry.

May 25 – Day 3
The Barn, Livingston Manor, NY

First there is the fall, and then we recover from the fall.
Both are at the mercy of God.
~Julian of Norwich

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