The last two months I have been on sabbatical leave and vacation. Usually sabbaticals are longer. I have taken three months every seven years in previous pastorates. Each one has been different. One included a preaching tour in New Zealand, another attending various conferences, and one when I was on a research fellowship at Durham University. At different stages of my life and ministry there were different needs to be addressed. This time I wanted to develop a vision for the next five years for the Chapel where I minister and for myself, do some reading and praying, and plan for a preaching series.
I worked through a book by Will Mancini and Warren Bird, GOD DREAMS: 12 VISION TEMPLATES FOR FINDING AND FOCUSING YOUR CHURCH’S FUTURE. It is a practical guide to vision casting and goal setting. I came up with what I entitled, 2020 Vision for the Chapel, which identifies our strengths and priorities and provides an outline for our leadership to discuss for future planning. It is now in their hands and will be on the agenda for our next Board meeting.
After receiving an excellent report from my annual physical examination, listening to the Spirit in prayer, and discussion with my wife, I will continue fulfilling the ministry God has called me to at the Chapel as He enables me to be effective. I would like to see this 2020 Vision fulfilled.
During this two months I read nineteen books: 12 theological and devotional and 7 novels. They stimulated my thoughts and expanded my understanding of human life and God’s purposes. I read novels to enter into the world of others, to sympathize with their challenges, and to familiarize myself with their characters. This summer my favorite authors were P.G. Wodehouse and Frederick Forsyth. I had the pleasure to meeting Frederick Forsyth at my hotel in London last April. I determined to read some of his books that I had not previously read. When I was an undergraduate at Canterbury University I celebrated the end of final examinations each year by reading a comic novel by P.G. Wodehouse. I am always struck by the numerous scriptural references that he includes. I picked up a biography on him that I am looking forward to reading this Fall.
I am privileged to be married to a literary person. Antoinette is always reading and shared her reading with me. This summer she has been reading biographies on two authors of the nineteenth century on which she is an authority. She has a fine nineteenth century biographical library due to her interest in the Brontes. We had more time to discuss what we have been reading. She is a thoughtful conversational partner and we range over all subjects spiritual, literary, historical and political as well as our family concerns. She is my rock, confidant, and prayer partner.
I also worked on planning a preaching series on the Ten Commandments up to Advent, and in January a series on Twelve Questions Jesus Asked, taken from the Gospels. This will take me up to Easter.
There were many other activities, including travel, and preaching at Roaring Gap Chapel in North Carolina which I have done in previous years.
Finally, I want to give thanks to God for His protection on I-95. I always pray for protection on the road but never had it more evident than last Monday when a pickup truck hauling a contractor’s trailer passed me going beyond the speed limit. As it drew ahead of me and the car I was following the tires on the trailer blew out. The trailer swung around across our lane and nearly tipped over in front of the car ahead of me, then jack-knifed swinging the pickup truck to face in the opposite direction. It narrowly missed the car ahead of me and came to a halt across the two lanes of the interstate. There could have been a big pile up. Miraculously no vehicles collided and the pickup truck did not overturn. The drivers in the car ahead of me pulled over and were shaken up. There was enough room for us to pass on the shoulder. If we had not been paying attention there could have been a tragedy. Thankfully I am here to tell the story.