Personal Thoughts from Sabbatical

I have been on Sabbatical since May 1st.  In many ways, it is going so fast.  I cannot believe school is out this week.  Here are a few thoughts from recent days at home or from prayer/reflection days:
  • ABIDE-This word continues to be brought to mind. During this time of sabbatical, I want to spend time in relationship with Jesus.  Some days this includes a nap, other days it is reading His Word, sometimes it is showing love to my family, or bike rides while singing songs of praise. I read John 15:1-17 and was amazed at how much Jesus wants to be in relationship with us.  Do you understand? The God who created the world, the Son who lived, died and rose again, the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead, this Triune God wants to be in relationship with you and me.  What a wonderful gift!
  • What should I be DOING?  When you don't go to work from 8-5 each day and do not have meetings to attend, you have some free time.  As a human, my tendency is to do something.  But I am asking myself often during sabbatical, why do I need to do _______?  The answer often reveals a desire to please others or myself.  As I was thinking about abiding, I came across a great quote from Andrew Murray about "fruit bearing."  Murray writes, "essential idea of fruit is that it is the silent natural restful produce of our inner life. I love this definition.  How do I bear more fruit?  Spend time with Jesus.  As He changed my heart (inner life), fruit will effortlessly & restfully be produced.
  • I AM HIS.  As I was spending time alone with God, I felt it my heart God say, "I Am His!"  What a joyous reminder.  God loves me and likes me and I am His not because I say certain things or do something for Him. He has claimed me as his own because God is love.
  • IDOLS-I was listening to the song "Come and Make Us Free" by Zac Hicks.  I love the line in the chorus that says, "All our hearts long for, we find in You, O Lord. Help us want You more, than idols we adore." This challenged me to ask the question, "What are my idols?"  I would encourage you to ask the same question as well.  I was surprised a little about how quick I came up with several things.  Many of my idols revolve around being "good".  I want to have a good family because I am a pastor and that is what pastors should have. I want to be a good pastor so that people like me and compliment me.  This led to thoughts about social media acceptance and eventually to pride and desires.  As you can see many of my idols were not necessarily "bad things" but they do keep me from looking to the Lord first for meaning and acceptance and love.  These idols can cause me to do things to keep up the "good image" that interfere with my or other's spiritual growth.
I am excited about the opportunity to be on Sabbatical and think deeper about some of these things.  I hope these words can encourage you and remind you of some key truths about God's thoughts about you.

Check back in the next few days for thoughts from my visits with pastors/churches in St. Louis area and Nashville.

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