Sabbatical Learnings: Lesson One Wrecked Me

This first lesson of sabbatical completely wrecked me…

I’ve heard that the greatest theologians of our time, who ponder all the wonderful questions of theology, are often impacted most deeply of the love of God. I use to smile at this knowing a preschooler could get it. Yet, the first half of my sabbatical I found I was indeed overcome with God’s love. The deep impact of Easter and meditating on a dramatized audio version of the book of Matthew in my long daily prayer walks was extremely powerful. I wept as I was overcome with grief and loneliness and dug in deep to some of the emotions that Christ experienced during Holy Week.  I reflected on the betrayal of the disciples and how they fell asleep on Him when He deeply needed someone to be with Him in prayer. I began to ask myself the questions, “What would I have done?” “Would I have betrayed Christ?” “Would I have fallen asleep on the Son of God? And will I succumb to this in the future?” I cried out for the Holy Spirit to guard me and protect me, to bind my heart and my mind to God’s Will. I long to be faithful to the very end for the very sake of His incredible love for me.


Sabbatical Learnings: Solitude and Community

Over sabbatical, I pondered the fact that if we spent our lives in absolute solitude listening to Jesus, we could never take in all the richness of His wisdom and presence. Just as it has been penned that all that which Jesus did on earth has not all been written down, we could not comprehend all that could be heard, while quietly listening to His voice. On the other hand, I have been reminded that the dessert fathers who spent time in solitude, listening to God, began to lose their senses and had difficulty in discerning the voices they heard. The healthy balance is to live our lives carefully taking time both for solitude with Him, and living in community, constantly aware of His presence, and in prayer with Him and for each other as we serve together to build His kingdom and not our own. We are loved individually and we are blessed with belonging in His precious family of freedom because of His love. THAT is better than any kingdom we could fabricate ourselves!

Rest. Listen. Enjoy.

Before my sabbatical, I bought Alan Fadling’s book: An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest and received an introductory coaching word…

Finished his book last week!
I am indeed resting, listening, and enjoying my time with Jesus! 🙂 It was a good read with several excellent reminders. It got richer with each chapter. I recommend it if you’re living a life way too hurried and your soul is aching for more…

An Unhurried Life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest

Sabbatical Thought: Do I Know Love?

Sabbatical thought…. Do I even know how to love? Does anyone? …besides the Lamb? …Only in His Spirit can we possibly love as we are called to love…. like this…

At my favourite retreat centre, I spent time alone listening and reading and writing today.

Now, I just finished watching two hours of The Bible: Passion and Courage, and I wept uncontrollably. (Holy Week reflection for me is not over…) I was moved to realize just how much we’ve taken for granted, including how much Christ loves us and what he’s called us to do.

I also found myself clutching my Bible realizing how much Paul and John alone went through in order to write and preserve all that we read from them now today.

Now I sit on my resting bench in the afternoon sun trying to process all that I have just seen and felt.

“Jesus, what do you want me to know and do in the time that you’ve put me here?”

I listen…
I am prompted to pray…

“Jesus, lead me to love as you have loved. Forgive me for my selfishness and pride. I see that I so often love others because they love me first. You, Father, love us regardless of whether we love you!”

Put the Book Down and Just Listen

On my Sabbatical I am immersing myself in Scripture, especially this week as I reflect on Christ’s journey to the cross, in order to hear His voice personally and to be mastered by Him. Yesterday I was moved to tears as I listened (in my ear buds to a dramatized rendition of the book of Matthew) to how all Jesus’ disciples betrayed him… When the going gets tough, and pain and persecution sets in as the age draws near, will I betray him too?
At other moments, I simply sit on a bench in the park and just… listen. Sometimes I ask God a question and then just listen. I never thought such a simple exercise could work, but we rarely do this in our busy culture. One also has to be careful to discern if something is from God or not using Scripture. So, you need to be immersed in truth in order to discern it.


I read this from Henri Nouwen this morning…

Reading Spiritually About Spiritual Things

Reading often means gathering information, acquiring new insight and knowledge, and mastering a new field.  It can lead us to degrees, diplomas, and certificates.   Spiritual reading, however, is different.  It means not simply reading about spiritual things but also reading about spiritual things in a spiritual way.  That requires a willingness not just to read but to be read, not just to master but to be mastered by words.  As long as we read the Bible or a spiritual book simply to acquire knowledge, our reading does not help us in our spiritual lives.  We can become very knowledgeable about spiritual matters without becoming truly spiritual people.
As we read spiritually about spiritual things, we open our hearts to God’s voice.  Sometimes we must be willing to put down the book we are reading and just listen to what God is saying to us through its words.

– Henri J. M. Nouwen

Text excerpts taken from: “Bread for the Journey”, by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Sabbatical Learning So Far…

The education I have received in the last week and a half of my sabbatical is truly enriching. I’m beginning to wonder how I’m going to be able to encapsulate and communicate all that I have learned in just a week and a half! And I have almost another three months to go! I find that I can barely keep up with all the things I am learning. I’m journaling constantly jotting things down in point form of all the rich nuggets I am being made aware of. It has become quite obvious that we as people go through our days with eyes barely open. We completely neglect how God is at work in the stillness of our lives because we barely are ever still. And those of my loved ones who are forced to be still out of health issues, have learned so much more than all of us put together. Sitting with them for 15 minutes alone I receive an incredible education from them- more than any degree I could earn after several years. Academia, I fear, often drowns out the golden nuggets of life. Doing life and being aware of the Designer at work is far more enriching than classroom learning. Yes, this from me who worked in two different academic institutions myself.

True Intimacy Is My Desire : My Sabbatical Longing

This is my heart’s desire, what I long for in my sabbatical and beyond… And for each of my church family… to truly know Jesus intimately.

Lyrics below YouTube clip…

“True Intimacy”

Whatever I hold
There’s nothing compares
To having You close

True intimacy is my desire
To catch Your whispers
To carry Your fire

You’re my ambition
My destination

More than living
More than breathing
You’re the reason
My heart’s beating

There’s nothing greater
Than knowing You
You unlock my joy
You waken my soul

Forever I’m Yours
Forever You’re mine
A wonderful truth
That you are my life

You’re my ambition
My soul’s true mission

More than living
More than breathing
You’re the reason
My heart’s beating

So I’m giving
Freely yielding
You’re the reason
My heart’s beating

There’s nothing greater
Than knowing You
Nothing greater
Than knowing You

Taking Time to Rest with God | My Sabbatical Journey

My sabbatical journey – Philip Gunther

I just returned to my post as senior pastor at Parliament (MB) Community Church, Regina, after a seven-month sabbatical – my first in 20 years of ministry. As I contemplated taking a sabbatical, I wondered: How should I prepare? What will I experience? What is a sabbatical?

Read… Taking time to rest with God | Mennonite Brethren Herald

The Countdown to My Sabbatical

I’ve been counting down to my sabbatical for a year now and preparing myself and my ministry team for my departure during March to June of 2014. I did a truck load of research in order to propose a sabbatical and I’m very grateful my leadership has granted this. Our church has never had a sabbatical policy before, only study leaves. As a result, my experience will be the first for pastors in our church.

I am grateful for the years of blessing and fruitful ministry God has invited me to be a part of in the church family I pastor in. I began attending in 2001, employment began in June 2006 as assistant to a previous Pastor and I became an Associate Pastor in 2007 and later Credentialed. Seven years later, I seek to abide by recommendations of our Conference and of other learned mentors and pastors to take sabbatical.

I will be commissioned on March 16th and present my sabbatical plan to my church family. In the meantime, I will be sharing a few posts and sources that I’ve found helpful in designing my plan. Stay tuned…