Sabbatical-Week3

The past three weeks have been incredible. It’s amazing how clearly I start thinking when I actually slow down. The image above is our view each night at sunset, so it has been easy to relax and soak in the beauty of God’s creation.

The first week, we spent most of our time at the Fiddler’s Convention in Galax and with friends. The second week was spent working around the house and cleaning up. The third week has been spent at the beach, enjoying time with the family. And now, as we enter into the last week, my mind has started shifting back into thinking about the church and our future. I want to create a rhythm of life that is more sustainable and that I want to use what I have learned through these last few weeks.

What I love most about the extended time of rest is the chance to read and reflect. I have read a number of books and I have spent time in God’s Word, and I am regaining a love for learning and growing. (If I have this much time to read every month, I would definitely go broke spending money at Amazon!)  I ask for your continued prayers for me and my family as we take this time to connect and grow.

Here’s a quick rundown of my reading last for the last three weeks. I still have a stack of books I’m hoping to finish this week.

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It’s been quiet here on the blog for a few weeks. Preparing for a sabbatical is a lot of work! But now, after a week of rest, I’m starting to unwind and think a little more clearly.  My pace of life has been wide open for a long time, and this break has come at the perfect time for me. It’s hard for me to slow down and not hurry, but I love what John Ortberg says, “Hurry is not about a disordered schedule, it is about a disordered heart.”

This first week my focus has been on rest. I’ve read a few books about the Sabbath and rest. In the book Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul by Lance Witt, he shares the following troubling statistics

Today’s troubling statistics on pastors paint a bleak picture.

  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America.
  • 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles.
  • 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor.
  • Over 50% of pastors are so discouraged they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living.
  • Over 50% of pastors’ wives feel that their husband entering ministry was the most destructive thing to ever happen to their families.
  • 30% of pastors said they had either been in an ongoing affair or had a one-time sexual encounter with a parishioner.
  • 71% of pastors stated they were burned out, and they battle depression beyond fatigue on a weekly and even a daily basis.
  • One out of every ten ministers will actually retire as a minister.

This really gets my attention, because I don’t want to become another statistic. I want to be a healthy pastor and leader, and I want to be a great husband and father.  At first, my plan for this sabbatical was going to be a lot of studying and reading and planning for the future. But after talking with the elders at Cornerstone, they really encouraged me to rest and to just simply listen to God.  Already, after just one week, I have found myself smiling more, laughing more, and I feel much less anxiety and stress.

Eugene Peterson shares

If we are going to take sabbaticals, let them be real sabbaticals: a willed passivity in order to be restored to alert receptivity to spirit-prayer, silence, solitude, worship…The original intent of sabbath is a time to be silent and listen to God, not attend lectures; a time to be in solitude and be with God, not “interact” with fatigued peers. If help is to be given to the pastor in midcourse, it is not going to come by infusion of intellect but by renewal of spirit.

The most enjoying part of this time has been the discussions with my family about our rhythm of life. I am thankful to our church for allowing me time to recharge. I am looking forward to getting back in September and preaching, but I’m truly excited about the next three weeks with my family.

2014-08-09 20.27.39I started a month long sabbatical this week (I’ll be posting thoughts on it here on the blog as well) This week I have been reading, relaxing, and enjoying a lot of old-time and bluegrass music. Our town hosts the oldest and largest fiddlers convention in the world each year. It’s a huge event, with people camping all week long and playing music long into the night. Here’s an aerial view of the convention.

The best part of the week is watching my kids play and compete. It’s been a great week to unwind.

My ten year old son has been playing fiddle for the last year and competed in youth old-time fiddle. My fourteen year old son placed fifth in youth mandolin and his band of youth all-stars finished fourth. Here are just a few clips of their music. It’s incredible to see the talent that the youth have.

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Let me introduce you to a great app for your iPhone. The Shift Media Creator allows you to create worship graphics on your phone. You can take a photo, apply effects, add motion overlays, and then save a background video and photo straight from your phone. The best way is see how it works is to watch the video overview.

Now, let me show you a real life example that I created in just a couple of minutes.

First, here’s the photo of one of my favorite local spots to run and bike on the New River Trail.

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Now, after a couple of tweaks, you can see the results.

I could see this really working well to create graphics for your church. I would love to see the ability to take a video and make it loopable. I would also like to see a few additional effects. They are also hoping to add an android version. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Click here to view the app on the iPhone App Store

Last week, we took 18 of our older youth to the Wayfarer Beach Camp by 3DM.  It was our second year in attendance and we had an incredible experience. I love how the camp emphasizes both discipleship and mission. It really connects with our philosophy as a church and youth ministry.

Our youth spent the week learning more about the six facets of the Lord’s Prayer and how it impacts our identity and relationship with our Heavenly Father. Our youth grew closer to each other and closer to God throughout the week. I appreciate the fact that Wayfarer strives to train and equip youth leaders to minister and lead their teenagers in Spiritual Growth. I’m already looking forward to next year. Click here to view a camp highlight video. If you look closely, you’ll see several of our Cornerstone teens.

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Here is more about the camp from their website

 

At camp, we focused on these three statements: Heaven is bending toward earth, earth is reaching toward Heaven, and that the Collision is coming. We dove into the lifestyle of prayer Jesus models for us with The Lord’s Prayer to see these collisions happen.

The breakthrough and collisions that we saw can only be attributed to The Lord and how he works. Students were experiencing the Father in unique ways, seeing his Kingdom, recognizing his Provision and then began being the provision for others. Then we saw students start to experience the realness of being forgiven and forgiving, the peace of God guiding us, and the strength of knowing that God delivers us.

We had an amazing week with Ben Hardman, Dave Rhodes, and Courtney Reichley as they walked us through each section of the Lord’s Prayer. David Walker created an amazing Spirit – filled environment by leading worship for us this week.

These ladies were at Cornerstone back in December. Enjoy their newest video and enjoy your day with family and friends celebrating our freedom.

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Today is the release day for the new album by Dogwood & Holly. If you have been following my blog for a while, you have seen several videos of their performances.  This group consists of four students (and former students) from Liberty, including two of our young adults from Cornerstone, and their newest album is simply amazing.

I had the privilege of getting a digital copy last week, and I have been listening to this over and over on repeat. It reminds me of the new Nickel Creek album, with a touch of bluegrass, folk, philosophy, and fun. I know all the band members and I have seen them grow in their musicianship and their faith. I’m proud of them, and their second album really showcases their musicianship and their songwriting. The best way for you to get to know the band is for you to listen to one of their songs. This live clip was from a recent convocation service at Liberty.

Now, here’s the good part, you can download the album on iTunes and Amazon. Download it! You won’t be sorry. 

 

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Seven Years

June 18, 2014 — 3 Comments

preachingIt is hard to believe how my life has changed over these past seven years. Today, seven years ago, I started full-time as pastor of Cornerstone. For the 12 years before that, I worked as a mechanical engineer crash testing airplane seats and designing weight lifting equipment. That seems like a distant memory now, and I can honestly say I’m doing what God has called me to do.

Over the past seven years, I have seen my children grow and mature in the Lord, with all three putting their faith and trust in Christ. I have seen our church grow and mature in the Lord, with many people serving in our community and around the world.  And I have seen myself grow and mature. When I started, I was a young 33 years old with my only experience in ministry as a part-time youth minister. Now, after seven years, I am finally starting to see myself as a pastor.

I have learned much about myself and about leadership. It has not been an easy journey. In fact, it has been much harder than I would have ever imagined. I serve an amazing church, and the congregation has been incredibly supportive and caring. But I have also experienced many critics along the way, and they have taught me the importance of having a tender heart and thick skin. I quickly realized that my natural leadership abilities were not enough. I had to learn to depend on God and I even went back to seminary to earn my Master’s Degree in Christian Leadership.

One of the hardest lessons for me to learn is to give away ministry. I am naturally a doer, so Ephesians 4:11-12 has been a constant reminder for me to equip and empower others. I have learned that I can’t do everything, and that I need to learn a rhythm of life that can sustain me for a fruitful life of ministry. Before I was hired, the church changed our by-laws to ensure that I would receive a one-month sabbatical every three years.

With the pace of life over these past seven years, I have not taken advantage of that time to replenish and refresh my soul. So this August, after seven years, I will finally be taking a month-long sabbatical to work on my relationship to my God and my family. I am excited to slow down, and I am excited to spend extended time in study and prayer. I am making plans to work on getting back into shape, and I am also making plans to disconnect from all church work during the month. It is already exciting to see people step up, and I am thankful for the opportunity. My goal is to be able to be in ministry for the rest of my life, and the Biblical principle of sabbath and rest cannot be ignored. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the next seven years!

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