Friday, December 31, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
in honor of the big 3-0, i bought myself an age appropriate gift.
not only am i now the proud owner of a marshmallow gun (i've wanted one for years), but it's a rapid-fire one... it shoots 12 marshmallows at once.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Friday, April 2, 2010
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Sunday, March 28, 2010
As you may have already heard in the sermon from March 27-28, the elders graciously approved on March 22 a leave of absence that will take me away from Bethlehem from May 1 through December 31, 2010. We thought it might be helpful to put an explanation in a letter to go along with the sermon.
I asked the elders to consider this leave because of a growing sense that my soul, my marriage, my family, and my ministry-pattern need a reality check from the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, I love my Lord, my wife, my five children and their families first and foremost; and I love my work of preaching and writing and leading Bethlehem. I hope the Lord gives me at least five more years as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem.
But on the other hand, I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noël and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I’ll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I’m sorry. Since I don’t have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.
Noël and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side. But, as I told the elders, “rock solid” is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a woman’s tender companion. In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments.
No marriage is an island. For us this is true in two senses. One is that Noël and I are known inside-out by a few friends at Bethlehem—most closely by our long-time colleagues and friends David and Karin Livingston, and then by a cluster of trusted women with Noël and men with me. We are accountable, known, counseled, and prayed for. I am deeply thankful for a gracious culture of transparency and trust among the leadership at Bethlehem.
The other way that our marriage is not an island is that its strengths and defects have consequences for others. No one in the orbit of our family and friends remains unaffected by our flaws. My prayer is that this leave will prove to be healing from the inside of my soul, through Noël’s heart, and out to our children and their families, and beyond to anyone who may have been hurt by my failures.
The difference between this leave and the sabbatical I took four years ago is that I wrote a book on that sabbatical (What Jesus Demands from the World). In 30 years, I have never let go of the passion for public productivity. In this leave, I intend to let go of all of it. No book-writing. No sermon preparation or preaching. No blogging. No Twitter. No articles. No reports. No papers. And no speaking engagements. There is one stateside exception—the weekend devoted to the Desiring God National Conferencecombined with the inaugural convocation of Bethlehem College and Seminary in October. Noël thought I should keep three international commitments. Our reasoning is that if she could go along, and if we plan it right, these could be very special times of refreshment together.
The elders have appointed a group to stay in touch and keep me accountable for this leave. They are David Mathis, Jon Bloom, Tom Steller, Sam Crabtree, Jon Grano, Tim Held, Tony Campagna, and Kurt Elting-Ballard. Five of these have walked with Noël and me over the last two months, helping us discern the wisdom, scope, and nature of this leave. They brought the final recommendation to the elders on March 22.
I asked the elders not to pay me for this leave. I don’t feel it is owed to me. I know I am causing more work for others, and I apologize to the staff for that. Not only that, others could use similar time away. Most working men and women do not have the freedom to step back like this. The elders did not agree with my request. Noël and I are profoundly grateful for this kind of affection. We will seek the Lord for how much of your financial support to give back to the church, to perhaps bear some of the load.
Personally, I view these months as a kind of relaunch of what I hope will be the most humble, happy, fruitful five years of our 35 years at Bethlehem and 46 years of marriage. Would you pray with me to that end? And would you stand by your church with all your might? May God make these eight months the best Bethlehem has ever known. It would be just like God to do the greatest things when I am not there. “Neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:7).
I love you and promise to pray for you every day.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Friday, March 12, 2010
Thursday, March 4, 2010
-Pray out loud.
-Write your prayer out.
-Read your Bible out loud. Start here.
-Apologize to someone. Even if it’s not primarily your fault.
-Talk to someone you trust. If you don’t have someone, hire a professional.
-Start eating better.
-Drive around listening to a sermon.
-Turn up some worship music really loud. Shut the door. Sing along.
-Go back and do the thing you know you were supposed to do.
-Encourage somebody who would never expect it.
-Get back in church. Serve somewhere.
-Go on a date with your wife.
-Tell somebody thank you.
-Give some money away.
-Call on the name of Jesus.
-Remember how far He’s brought you.
-Realize that He’ll never ever leave you.
Just a few ideas to get you started.
You can take it from here…