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Plans and Prayers for This Summer

Plans and Prayers for This Summer

Here’s an interesting insight into Jesus’ humanity from Mark’s gospel:

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. — Mark 6:30–32

Jesus needed to get away from the everyday work of ministry and so do everyday pastors like me. Our elders have established a thoughtful plan for periodic extended breaks for both non-staff and staff pastors. This summer, they have kindly granted me a twelve week sabbatical. Sabbaticals can take different shapes, but the primary purpose is rest, to let the ground of my mind and heart lay fallow in preparation for more faithful ministry. I won’t be engaging email or texts and won’t be reading in ways that are a direct preparation for ministry output. This is a season for refreshment and input. No man is immune from being worn down from the work. Read Charles Spurgeon’s famous, “The Minister’s Fainting Fits.” It’s humbling, but I should admit, yes, I have my own limitations.

That said, thankfully at Heritage, our sabbatical plan is not designed to respond to fatigue but to get ahead of it. And that’s what this is. Think of a sabbatical with this skiing metaphor. If normal ministry life is working on the front side of the mountain under the sun with a measure of risk and lots of eyes on you, then a sabbatical is moving to the back side of the mountain where it is slower and where the man can work on himself. In addition to rest, I have a writing project that I will give myself to for two weeks alone out of town.

Sabbatical You Later!

In summary, I’m headed out from May 6–August 3 to sit on a rock with the Lord and think about my life, to sit in a chair to read and write, and to sit around the table with my family and laugh a little. As I asked of you this morning, pray I would find my inner-middle schooler. I’ve been wound a little too tight at home lately. How’s that for a way of using non-biblical language to confess that one needs to grow in gentleness and warmth.

Pray for me in three ways.

  • First, pray that I would not work. If you know me, you’ll know that there is a constant queue of long-term and short-term projects for our church, and a handful of books to work through with you in mind. I need to turn all of that off for now.
  • Second, pray that I would not worry about you. I think about you all the time and that’s a good sign. You are not here at Heritage for me. We are here for one another and I am here for you. But for a time it will be good for all of us if I give my attention to the Lord and to my family in a more undivided fashion.
  • Third, pray that our family would walk together with the Lord. Just this morning we learned about Zechariah and Elizabeth, “both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord” (1:6). I would like for that to describe my family. My wife and children give their husband and father to the church in some unique ways. There are meals and events that I am not at because I am with you. This is a time for me to give myself to them.
  • Fourth, pray that I would be successful in my writing endeavor, a short study for Crossway on Isaiah’s Servant Songs in their Knowing the Bible Series.

Planning and Praying for The Pulpit

I’ll be back in church on August 4 and back in the pulpit on August 18. I am going to do something for you at the risk of mismanaging expectations. I typically do not map out the series like this. There are advantages and I may in years ahead. But because I love you that much, here’s the plan through August. I’m including the text and the preacher so you can pray for the preacher that week.

May 12, Luke 1:39–56, Jason Read
May 19, Luke 1:57–80, Jim Knauss
May 26, Luke 2:1–21, Jim Knauss
June 2, Psalm 77, Jonathan Farmer
June 9, Luke 2:22–38, Jason Read
June 16, Luke 2:39–52, Matt Jackson
June 23, Luke 3:1–20, Matt Jackson
June 30, Luke 3:21–38, Jason Read
July 7, Luke 4:1–13, Jim Knauss
July 14, Galatians, Part 1, Dan Cruver
July 21, Galatians, Part 2, Dan Cruver
July 28, Galatians, Part 3, Dan Cruver
August 4, Galatians, Part 4, Dan Cruver
August 11, Luke 4:14–30, Jason Read
August 18, Luke 4:31–44, Yours Truly
August 25, Luke 5:1–11, Yours Truly

I’m at once eager to get away and eager to get back. Thank you for loving one another so well and for receiving the Word with joy.

Yours in Christ,