Discipleship, Grace

Finding Restoration

For the last week and a half, our family has been “hiding in the woods” of Oregon for some much desired and needed time away. And as one does, as we approach the end of our vacation I have been reflecting on whether I have found the refreshment or rest that I thought I needed.

I think so.

For me time away from the regular schedule and demands are times to dream and scheme. I usually come away from short sabbaticals with a list of new challenges or ideas to tackle. This trip has some of this but not nearly the typical crush of tasks to take on. I think a big part of this is that we still don’t know what the next months hold. As virus infections continue to rise in the U.S. and the likelihood of another lock-down seems necessary the church remains in the a flexible posture and we keep preaching the word and trusting the Spirit to move among us (even if we are apart).

I think the other reason I don’t have a huge dream list from this trip is that what I need is not new dreams, what I need is restoration. Renewal, re-energizing for the days ahead.

Sliding into Psalm 126 this morning I join the Psalmist crying out for another move of God.

The prayer begins by recounting. “When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.” Mouths filled with laughter, shouts of joy, and people taking notice. “The LORD has done great things for them,” Indeed, the LORD has done great things for us… we are in fact glad!

But we won’t settle for nostalgia. We want more of Jesus, more of his harvest, more of his glory. “Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb!” Like a flood to a desert place, wash us anew in your grace and overwhelm us with your presence and power.

This has been a season of tears and weeping, which are seeds for sowing. In Christ, we shall come home with shouts of joy. With his harvest.

This is what I need, I think it is what you need too. Restoration. Grace-driven, Christ-exalting, wind-in-your-sails strength. I think that is what the Spirit is working. We are laughing again, shouting for joy.

May we say, Yes, the LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.

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Vacation With Not From Your Church

Bob Hyatt is a local pastor that is setting off on a season of sabbatical but unlike most academics and pastors that have the opportunity to take time off, he is sticking around.

While he is handing over the responsibilities of vocational ministry to his team, he intends to be there on Sundays and still remain in community with the church. He captures his heart with the phrase “one of my desires was to help build and pastor in a community where I felt like I could take a vacation WITH the people I was in community with, not FROM them.”

Vacation for those in ministry often means “get away” time from the job side of ministry and often the people we minister too. Hyatt says there is a right time for this as it is important for alone and family time but the essence of being in community to such a point where you can remain among the people should be our goal in ministry.

Far too many of us say we want ministry like this. We call for ministry as life and “true community” but our actions reveal our reality and we never live up to our own hype. Just yesterday I had a lengthy discussion with a pastor about the definition of community and we were on¬†dramatically¬†different sides of thought. We have let culture influence our definitions, and the way we vacation or take sabbatical too much.

I appreciate what Bob Hyatt is modeling and I pray that I can be a pastor as dedicated to my community as he is and I pray he gets the rest he deserves.

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Food Poisoning, Open Houses and Heading to Hawaii

This weekend we had two open houses and have been pleased with the number of groups making their way through the house. We are still waiting for offers and think we are extremely close on that front. Despite both Stacy and I having dramatic food poisoning (dare I tell you it was from FroYo…) we cleaned the house and camped on our friends’ guest bed for a few hours. Of course it was close to 90 degrees in DC and poor Jones had to sit in the car for those hours. We have since made it up to him by letting him sleep all day.

Tomorrow though, the human Shradars are heading to Hawaii for a holiday ahead of our big move. We are looking forward to spending some time relaxing on the beach on Kauai. Thankfully this will mean less digital activity so readers can expect a brief time off here on the blog.

I promise that I am moving into a season of deep exploration so I look forward to sharing that here as we transition out of our existence in DC. But for the time being, Ma-halo!