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Be, Do, Go – Sabbatical 2019

sabbatical | səˈbadək(ə)l |
noun
a period of paid leave granted to a university teacher or other worker for study or travel, traditionally one year for every seven years worked: she's away on sabbatical | he requested permission to take a sabbatical in Istanbul | he took a three-month sabbatical from his job as CEO of a family business.

I just learned a great time-management strategy the other day from one of my mentors in the faith, LeRoy Lawson:

            Step One: Determine what is important.
            Step Two: Do that.
            Step Three: Determine what is unimportant
            Step Four: Don’t do that.

This summer I have the opportunity to practice that strategy. After serving for seven years as the Lead Pastor of East 91stStreet Christian Church, I will be taking a three-month sabbatical. Our elders have been most gracious by telling me, “Determine what is important, and do that.” What is important this summer is rest, renewal and recalibration. And what is unimportant? Just about everything else, and it’s time not to do that.

My sabbatical plans include several weeks where Laura and I will simply “be”—be present together to rest. Then we will “do”—serve with an E91 team in Ecuador and then in Chile with one of our ministry partners, Iberoamerican Ministries (www.iamweb.org). Lastly, I will “go”—spend 32 days on a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago  in Spain.

Beginning next week, my blogs will take on a new focus. Instead of writing twice a week, I’ll cut back to a weekly blog that will be published every Thursday or Friday. And instead of writing about matters of life, faith, family, leadership, and whatever else is on my heart, I’ll be writing about my travels and what God is teaching me. My hope is that as you read my weekly blogs through the summer, you will not only know where I am and how I am, but you will see through my eyes and learn what I learn so that we may grow together.

For those of you who are part of the E91 family, know that through the summer our ministries, outreach, and discipleship will not miss a beat. You’ll be hearing from three of my favorite guest speakers along with some of our amazing E91 pastors. A sabbatical is not only healthy for the one taking it but also for those staying behind. This will give our church family the opportunity to “step up” while I “step out,” and be reminded that the church is far more about Jesus and far less about any one individual.

So, enjoy your summer, and I look forward to our journey of being, doing, and going. And while we’re at it, why not try the above time-management strategy in your life?

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

How do we hold on to faith when life is so hard?

Sometimes I just don’t get it. Maybe you don’t, either.

Why would God allow the mass bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka which killed 253 people and wounded 500 others? Why would God not stop a gunman from killing one and injuring three more in a California synagogue? Why didn’t God stop the cyclones in Mozambique that have killed 38 people?

There are no easy answers, are there?

Vance Havner lost his wife to disease, and he was disconsolate. Years later, he was able to write:

When before the throne we stand in Him complete, all the riddles that puzzle us here will fall into place and we shall know in fulfillment what we now believe in faith—that all things work together for good in His eternal purpose. No longer will we cry “My God, why?” Instead, “alas” will become “Alleluia,” all question marks will be straightened into exclamation points, sorrow will change to singing, and pain will be lost in praise (Playing Marbles with Diamonds, 97).

Did you notice the reference to “years later”? Even for the die-hard believer, overcoming pain, grief, loss, and sorrow does not happen overnight. Sometimes the pain may never be fully assuaged. Many live with chronic pain or depression that affects them every . . . single . . . day.

During the Korean War, Pastor Im was torn from his family and imprisoned for years, locked in a dark cell with only a small bowl of soup to eat every day. He kept his sanity by reciting Scripture, especially John 13:7, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this” (The Red Sea Rules, 104).

We only see through a darkened mirror, but one day we will see face to face. We only know in part, but one day we will know fully, as we are fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12). So, how do we hold on to faith when life is so hard?

William Cowper, an eighteenth-century English poet, struggled with depression his entire life. On one of his darkest days, he hired a carriage to drive him to the Ouse River, three miles away, where he intended to kill himself. A dense fog enveloped the area, and the driver, sensing that something was wrong with his passenger, purposely lost his way only to return back to Cowper’s home. Cowper realized his life had been spared, and that same evening in 1774, at age 43, he wrote these words:

God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea, and rides upon the storm.

You fearful saints, fresh courage take; the clouds you so much dread;
And big with mercy and shall break in blessings on your head (ibid., 105).

Believe. Trust. And know that God is with you in the pain. He is with you in the struggle. He is with you in the hurt. “He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4), and He will never leave you nor forsake you, even in the pain (Hebrews 13:5).  

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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