I Don’t Like Wearing Pants!

Ok, let me explain.

Not wearing any pants is frowned upon in most parts of our society. But I’m talking about shorts! I love wearing shorts. They breathe, and are simply more comfortable than full-length pants.

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And today is the first day I’ve gotten to wear shorts after a very long, snowy winter here in central WA State. It’s a small thing, but it makes me very happy. And somehow putting my shorts on this morning reminded me of soul care.

Taking time to actually take care of you when needed is unfortunately viewed today (by some) as being selfish. But if we are careful and pay close attention to our physical, emotional, and spiritual health, we will quickly learn to recognize those moments that we need to change things up a bit.

What does that look like? It’s different for everybody. Take an afternoon nap on the couch. Read a good book at your favorite coffee shop. Go for a long walk. Take a trip to the beach or go camping.

My wife and I take a 24/hr Sabbatical every two months. We try to get out of town, go offline and off of social media, ignore our phones and email, pray, read, journal, and enjoy solitude. And for those of us who are believers, we can count numerous references in the Bible that instruct and model the practice of good soul care.

Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” – 1 Kings 19:7  Sometimes the journey IS too much for us. So we must eat, drink water, regain our strength so we can continue moving forward.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35  We read about Jesus doing this often! He got alone and spent some quiet time with God. But it was a ‘solitary place.’ Jesus removed himself from people.

So, what’s the purpose in practicing comfort and soul care? I’ll tell you. It interrupts our chaotic rhythms of life so that hopefully we might rest and take honest inventory of ourselves. It’s like stepping off the football field and sitting down at Row 50 on the 50 yard line. That athlete has a better vantage point than the rest of the players on the field. He has stepped out of his current reality and into a place where he can see the bigger picture all at once.

Challenge: Take time to determine what your personal Soul Care plan might looks like. Or what it NEEDS to look like. Write it down, pick a date and time, and then make it happen!

I’d love to hear about your experience with this.  Join the discussion and LEAVE A COMMENT below.

You can also connect with me on Twitter and Instagram!

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3 Surprising Sabbatical Reflections

All leaders require rest……but all don’t realize it!

Sabbatical:  Similar to the purpose in our weekly Sabbath, a Sabbatical (at least in church terms) is a number of days or weeks set aside for Prayer, Bible intake, reflection, and physical rest.

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Moreover, I gave them my Sabbaths, as a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them. – Ezekiel 20:12

I’m fortunate to be serving on staff at a church that sees the benefit in it’s pastoral staff taking regular Sabbaticals.  Recently, I returned from a 3-day Sabbatical.  Here are three reflections I came away with after comparing this one with others I’ve had in past years.

They are always different | These times away are spiritual journeys.  And since the Holy Spirit leads the way, it’s a good idea to not over-plan.  Enter it with a focus, but leave enough margin open for God to reveal his intentions for you.

They always have value | Sometimes we simply need tons of physical rest.  Other times fresh vision and insight is needed from reading the Word and listening to other teachers/preachers.  And then there are those times when we are desperately searching God’s will in a heavy decision.  No matter the ‘why,’ this time alone with God is always valuable.

They are never what you expected | This one was no exception.  As usual, I began this most recent one with a handful of specific expectations.  Things I wanted gain insight on from God.  In keeping with how he usually does things, God provided just what I ‘needed’ and nothing more.  And you know what?  What he spoke was better than what I had asked for.

What have been your experiences with Sabbaticals?  What challenges come to mind for when contemplating experiencing something like this for yourself?

Comments and questions are always appreciated.

Sabbatical | Day 3

This is technically Day 4, but I still want to share from yesterday.

(Be sure to check out my Day 1 and Day 2 posts)

The key moments for me were continuing my reading in ‘No Other Gods’ and having some sweet time of personal worship.  I find it cool how the Lord can enter into fellowship with me while simply lying on my back in my hotel room with my earbuds in.

When we take the time for Him, He takes the time for us.

And as it is with most of my Sabbaticals, I have not done all that I originally intended to at the beginning of the week.  And today reminded me that this is not necessarily a bad thing.

You see, I came upon a Tweet today asking for church leaders to share their story…particularly about their current ‘Phase’ of life and ministry.  I could not resist. I love sharing my story, both the good and the less pleasant sides.  If it hadn’t been for others telling their personal stories I may not be where I am today.  So I share to encourage others.

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Anyway, in doing this I want to share with you a personal quote I included when I emailed them.  Here you go.

“Our partnership with God in His Kingdom work is never contingent upon our comfort, happiness, or confidence.”

 

While I was thinking back over the past 6 months it dawned on me.  God doesn’t wait until we are living on the mountaintop, free of pain and 100% sure of Him being right there with us, to ask us to do something HUGE for Him.  Nothing happens to us that does not pass through His hands.  This doesn’t mean that God necessarily  ’causes’ all things to happen to us.  It does mean, however, that when we’ve given God a definitive ‘yes’ He will be active, aware, and verbal in our relationship with Him regardless of what is going on around us.  The critical thing here is to maintain healthy personal soul care.  If we aren’t doing this it can become nearly impossible to hear His guiding voice or feel His involvement in our daily lives.

What about you?  How have you been hearing from God recently?  Leave a comment below.

Sabbatical | Day 2

Reflections

I just love it when The Lord speaks to us outside of the ordinary.  Don’t you?  In the first day of my Sabbatical it took basically the entire day to simply unplug and transition.  I began reading a book titled ‘No Other Gods’ which paved the way for me to really begin hearing His voice a lot today.

So here’s the gist of what I’ve been hearing Him speak into my life so far.

I am the Lord your God…  (Exodus 20:2)

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It’s personal… incredibly direct.  He’s lovingly reminding me of who He is.  He is MY GOD!  Mine.  His ear is all mine day or night.  BUT He’s also reminding me that this is a two-way relationship.  He needs access to my ear day and night as well.

“Brent, I want you to be available to hear me when I need to share the deepest things in my heart with you.  I need to know that you care as much about yourself and my Church as I do.” – God

MY GOD is so full of grace and patience.  Can you relate?
I’m loving this sweet time with Him.  My wife has many friends and church family praying for me this week.  It’s working!  Thank you, I can feel the effects of your prayers.
What has The Lord been speaking to you ABOUT YOU recently?  Leave a comment below. 
 

Sabbatical | Day 1

A Sabbath, in it’s simplest terms, is a time of rest.  I am fortunate to be on staff at a church that puts a high value on personal health.  We are encouraged to take an additional day each month (or 3 days per quarter) for personal Spiritual rest and rejuvenation.  This is the first church in 23 years of ministry where I’ve experienced anything like this.

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Every time I am on a Sabbatical experience I like to journal my thoughts.  It keeps me focused.  It’s a form of meditation for me.

So, I’m out of town for 3 days.  Mostly, I try to catch up on sleep and enjoy some much needed solitude.  But I do have a few areas of focus for those 3 days.

Reading | A significant part of my reading plan does include the Bible and a couple different devotional resources.  Additionally, I am reading ‘No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern Day Idols‘ by Kelly Minter.

Prayer | I am very intentional to pray over my family.  This is always first.  I am also praying for the next 6 months of our new multisite church campus.  Prayer for specific families, continued healthy growth, and renewed vision are key focal points this week.

Entertainment | I like to eat at places I usually don’t get a chance to eat at where I live.  I will also try to watch 1 or 2 movies on Netflix, since I don’t normally have time to watch many movies during a regular work week.  And adult coloring (a form of art therapy) is something new I’m trying this week in an effort to clear my thoughts.  Looking forward to this.

Planning | This will include looking ahead at the next few months.  Strategically making initial plans and doing a little self-evaluation as well.  I will normally try to schedule my next 3-day Sabbatical during this time.  If I don’t it will likely not happen when it should.

Have you had any kind of a Sabbatical experience before?  What did you do?  And if not, what part of this post sounds intriguing to you personally?

Join the discussion, leave a comment below.

 

Photo credit:  pixshark.com