The Overburdening of Vacation

Vacation 2015

I can start to feel it. It’s like I’ve run out of gas and I’m running on fumes. The mental exhaustion and emotional wear and tear of the ministry has finally made a physical impact on my life. It’s time for a vacation! In fact, I feel as if I’m overdue.

2014 was such a blur. In that year, I was pastoring part-time, graduating from Bible College, becoming a dad for the second time, buying a house, moving to southeast Iowa, and starting the ministry as a full-time pastor. Things that year were intensely exciting and invigorating. I felt unstoppable…so I didn’t stop. No vacation in 2014.

From the summer of 2014 to the present, I have been involved in the full spectrum of pastoral duties. I’ve worked my 50+ hour weeks, preached my heart out Sunday after Sunday, engaged in intense counseling, visited the sick, and have led in some major changes at our church. Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m NOT complaining! I know that I am blessed beyond belief to be in the ministry, and it’s truly a privilege, but the work of ministry is also exhausting and so now is the time to recharge and relax. So that’s what my family and I will do from May 7-23.

I’m excited. Getting away for a couple of weeks to be with my family will be wonderful…no sermons to prep…no counseling to conduct…no meetings to chair…I’m excited about vacation! In fact, I’m so excited about this upcoming break, that I even have a “final countdown” app on my phone that literally tracks the days, hours, minutes, and seconds till my vacation. Currently, as I write this blog, I have 6 days, 18 hours, 15 minutes, and 10 seconds till vacation. Bottom line…I can’t wait till vacation!

However, as needed as this time of rest and relaxation is for me and my family, I have noticed a sinister dark side to my excitement for vacation. That is to say, I do believe that I am prone to overburdening this vacation…of making this time away handle more than it’s intended to handle…of making this vacation into a mini-Savior…a Savior that will rescue me from the problems and pressures of life and ministry. This is dangerous…dangerous indeed.

You see, a physical vacation is intended to physically restore, rejuvenate, and relax (cf. Mark 6:30-32)…and it may not even be able to do that! We’ve all had the experience of going on vacation and returning more tired than when we left. But at best, this is all that a physical vacation can do, namely, restore our physical bodies. This is all that a sabbatical can handle. This is a vacation’s max capacity. We dare not overburden it. To do so results in disappointment, frustration, anger, and chronic escapism.

Ultimate rest is found in our Savior Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 11:28-30). He is the Good Shepherd and He alone restores [our] soul (cf. Psalm 23).  We are to look to our Savior Jesus Christ for the ultimate rest and strength that we need. Sound too preachy? Too much like church-talk? Maybe. But it’s the truth.

To be sure, I will enjoy this upcoming vacation with my family, but I dare not overburden it. Jesus might just want me tired, broken, and constantly weary  for His glory. I should be OK with that “for when I am weak, then I am strong!” In the end, tired may be a good place for this preacher to be…vacation this year might have an entirely different purpose. Ministry? Service? I don’t know. I still can’t wait for vacation, but I’ll be looking at it through a different lens and not overburdening it.

Summer Nights of Prayer and Growth Groups Training

We are quickly approaching the summer months. During the summer, we take a break from most ministries (i.e. AWANA, FBS, and Growth Groups) in order to recharge and rejuvenate. In regards to prayer meeting, we have decided to meet only on select Tuesdays throughout the summer as opposed to meeting every Wednesday night. We do this in order to be intentional, relevant, and passionate in our corporate prayers to God. Below is our plan in regards to our commitment to passionate prayer:

  • Tuesday, May 26 – Our Country (7-8 PM)
  • Tuesday, June 23 – Our City (7-8 PM)
  • Tuesday, July 28 – Our Children (7-8 PM)
  • Tuesday, August 25 – Our Church (7-8 PM)

Our plan is to meet on these select Tuesdays in order to pray together as a church family. We will meet in the PFBC auditorium and pray in small groups for these specific categories. Please join us for these intentional nights of prayer.

We also take a break from most ministries in the summer in order to engage in training. Below are the 5 W’s for our training sessions in regards to Growth Groups:

  • Who: Growth Group Leaders (and their wives) and anyone interested in being a Growth Group Leader in the future.
  • What: Growth Group Leader’s Training.
  • Where: PFBC Auditorium.
  • When: Every Wednesday in June from 6:00-7:30 PM.
  • Why: To receive valuable training in anticipation of full-time Growth Groups being launched this fall. Topics up for discussion include: 1) Philosophy of Growth Groups, 2) Theology in Growth Groups, 3) Counseling in Growth Groups, and 4) Logistics of Growth Groups.
  • The training is FREE and all you need do is sign-up on the bulletin board in the PFBC foyer area.

Please prayerfully consider joining us for these training sessions. These sessions will be a great time of information as we prepare ourselves for this key discipleship outlet.

Be Joyful!

Joy #2

As I prepared for this Sunday’s sermon on joy, I was alarmed by the command found in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” In one short verse we are given two commands to rejoice. A command to rejoice? Isn’t that a bit odd? A few thoughts:

1) This command to rejoice (i.e. be joyful) proves that joy is not natural for the Christian – it’s supernatural. We are unable to generate true, biblical joy on our own merits; we need the Spirit’s help. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit is “love, JOY, peace…” (Gal. 5:22).

2) This command also proves that joy is a choice for the Christian. We choose to be joyful or we choose not to be joyful. As with any command in Scripture, we can obey it or disobey it. The choice is ours alone to make. We are not passive recipients of joy, we are active receivers of joy…joy is a choice.

3) This command to be joyful also proves that sometimes you have to fight for your joy. Yes, fight! The dual command to rejoice proves just how tenacious we need to be in order to get, keep, or maintain our joy. Want to know more on who or what will rob you of joy? Join us this Sunday morning at 10:15 AM to find out!

4) Notice this command is very specific. We are to rejoice “in the Lord”. We are not to rejoice in the people and circumstances of life because, let’s face it, sometimes people and circumstances don’t call for expressions of joy, they call for expressions of sadness. However, even when people fail us and circumstances let us down, we are still commanded to rejoice “in the Lord”. I am convinced that far too many Christians are too focused on the here and now (i.e. my marriage, my house, my career, my money, etc.) and not focused on eternity. Too many Christians put too much weight on the here and now and expect the here and now to be their ultimate source of joy…only Jesus and eternal realities can provide true joy.

5) Again, notice the way this verse is structured. No other command in Scripture is structured like this command. We don’t read the command to not murder as “Thou shalt not commit murder. Again I will say, don’t murder!” But Paul exhorts his readers to rejoice twice in one verse, why? Answer: Because the command to rejoice is worth obeying. Like a loving parent, commanding their child to eat all of their vegetables, because they know it’s good for them, our loving Heavenly Father commands us to rejoice (twice) because He knows that even when we don’t feel like it…it’s the best thing for us!

I know much more could be said on this topic of joy. In fact, what is joy? How is joy different from happiness? What does joy generate in the believer’s life? To find out the answers to these questions and more, visit us this Sunday at 10:15 AM as we unpack truths from the book of Nehemiah and delve into the world of joy!