In Leviticus 25 we find a command to “Shmita”. This was a command for the Jews in the land of Israel to take a year-long break from working the fields every seven years. That is the foundation of the biblical sabbatical. A time of prolonged rest. I have just finished the first sabbatical I have ever had in 23 years of full-time ministry.
I’ve often scoffed at some of the ministries from whom I receive advertisements. One of them was from a group called Soul Shepherding. They offered sabbatical coaching. Naïvely, I wondered why anyone would need coaching on doing nothing. Well, it turns out that I do. I have a much greater appreciation for ministries who take seriously the task of helping ministers rest. It is not something that I do well.
I am very thankful for the opportunity the church gave me to take a sabbatical. I will be forever grateful for the time I could spend doing nothing with Gerda. We only traveled once, to Fort Worth, to see our son and his wife. The rest of the month we stayed home. It was nice! I rested, reluctantly, most of the time. I also fished quite a bit. Mostly, I prayed. I found a new appreciation for the ministry of prayer. Not so much from the Father answering prayers for me and my wife, but more so, the soul-filling feeling from fervently praying for others.
I want to thank the church for the gift of time and rest. Special thanks to the men who filled the pulpit in my absence, John Mayes, Luke Kerry, and David Tate. David also did an awesome job filling in on Wednesday nights. Mondays were primarily led by Cory Gardner, with the exception of the two Monday he was in Puerto Rico with the mission team. On those Mondays Brodie Cooper from Blast and Cast Men’s Ministries and Woody Woodworth led the men. One more thanks you to Joanne Wells. She worked at the church office alone for the entire month of May. I had no doubt she could do it, but I want her (and you all) to know how much she is appreciated!
So, I am back just in time for VBS!!!!! This is going to be awesome! Please, volunteer and pray! We have kids heading to camp soon, too. Pray! In fact, just pray, pray and pray!
Our annual budget meeting was held last week. I am so glad to be part of a church that can go through difficult meetings in a spirit of love and co-operation. In the meeting I had to share that we ran a considerable deficit last year. In the 4th quarter of our last fiscal year our tithe and offering income was down 30% compared to the 3rd quarter. We made some adjustments to the new budget but ultimately, the budget we passed is a “faith” budget. Please be in prayer over this. I will be doing some teaching in the weeks to come on the subject.
Regardless, our Commission remains the same; take the gospel to the ends of the earth! Our Commandment remains the same; Love the Lord with all our hearts, our souls, and our minds and with all our strength and love our neighbors as ourselves! As we battle through our finances, we WILL NOT lose focus on the two things! Amen!
God bless, Pastor Rob