Saturday, February 28, 2009

Study Retreat

Well, I'm in Greensboro, NC this morning heading back to Ohio after spending a great week getting away to do some studying. I am both exhausted and refreshed... and I am very much looking forward to tomorrow.

Let me say a giant thank you to my wife and girls for allowing me to be away from the family for seven days. This wasn't the easiest week for them for me to be gone. They are so supportive of me, though. I've got the greatest family in the world.

Also a big thanks to Pastor Wally, Pastor Shawn, and Pastor Troy for holding down the fort while I was away. Either everything went great while I was gone or they've done a good job of keeping anyone from calling me and telling me what went wrong. Either way is good. Thanks for all of your extra work.

I am thankful for a church that allows me to take a pause in my schedule like this and spend a week focused on the ministry of prayer and the Word.

Let me share with you what I was able to get done in a week's time...

I was able to have six extended, uninterrupted, unhurried devotional times of Bible reading and prayer. That was very refreshing!

I was able to read four books... One on writing (called "On Writing"), one on time management, one on how to better study and prepare, and one on apologetics. The last one I would recommend to you. It is called "The Reason for God" by Timothy Keller. Keller is a pastor of a very large church in New York City. He spends a lot of time ministering to a crowd of people who have many intellectual and cultural objections to believing in Jesus Christ. In this book he shares how our faith can best be taught and defended in a modern culture.

I was also able to write 65 pages on a project that will form the basis for a sermon series in the Fall. As a church we will use this both as a sermon series and also in new member training. More to come...

This has been my most productive study week ever.


I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Four big events have got my motor running...

First, I will be preaching a message in the morning service on having margin in our lives and in our marriages. I have been looking forward to preaching this message for six weeks.

Second, we will be worshiping through the Lord's Supper in a very different way tomorrow. I've never done this before so I don't know for sure how it will go, but I am excited. During all of my time tomorrow when I'm not preaching (we will be having three worship services tomorrow, more on that in a moment), I will be leading in worship through the Lord's Supper in my study. I will meet with the church body, one family at a time, every seven minutes, for prayer and worship. I think the deacons have a great system worked out to make this a very special time for our church. Carla told me this week that so far we've got people signed up for every seven minutes until sometime past 9:00 p.m. It will be a long day, but I am looking forward to it. There are still slots available if your family hasn't signed up yet, but they are all after 9:00. We may do this again the following week to accommodate those we couldn't fit in this week, but I'm not sure. I'm trying to move some things around on my schedule to make it work.

Third, we will have a 'members only' preview of our new 'Sunday Extra Worship.' Beginning next week we will be re-doing our Sunday morning worship service on Sunday evenings after our regular Sunday evening service. I know that sounds complicated, you'll have to hear more as we talk about it at church tomorrow if you don't already know how it works. Our prayer is that this new service will do two things... First that it will help relieve the overcrowding in the morning service, and secondly that it will allow us to reach people we could never have reached before. We will be doing something special in the 'preview' tomorrow.

The fourth special thing tomorrow is a special announcement we will be making. I have been working with the leaders of our church for a few months on a special project that I think is going to be the key to our church reaching a new level in its outreach and its ministry. We have worked and prayed very hard to get this put together. Tomorrow we will be able to share the good news...

Well, I need to get on the road so I can see my family...

Pastor Noel