Dear UBC Family,
I want to thank you for affording me the opportunity to take a sabbatical this winter. From January 13 – March 31, my daily duties as Senior Pastor of UBC were suspended while I focused on my family, pastoral development, writing, and rest. It was a time much needed and well spent.
During the 2 1/2 months away, I was blessed to care for my children while Jan served in North Africa; visit with 8 other senior pastors and professors; travel to support extended family; read several books; as well as write dozens of pages on a book on discipleship. My hope through it all is that I become a better Christian man, which means a better husband, father, friend and pastor.
I, once again, read through Henry Scougal’s The Life of God in the Soul of Man. That book undoes me, as it always seems to do. It’s a great aid in assessing personal affections and areas of holy discontent. As well, Jared Wilson’s The Pastor’s Justification was a fantastic read for my soul as your pastor. Through these writings I’ve seen some depths of selfishness and pride that I had hoped had been long since been removed. In addition, I read several books on leadership, mainly because I feel like it’s something I do not do well…lead.
Before going further, at this point, I do want to ask your forgiveness for not shepherding better before you all. Some of you I have shepherded and served well, but many of you have not been served well by me, either directly or by example. Again, forgive me. In a church our size shepherding and care does have to be a bit more “global” in it’s expression (the body loving each other), but I could and should be much better at touching more lives directly, without there being a hint of inauthenticity. I do love you and care for you.
Developing my doctoral dissertation into a more popularized (readable) book took great strides, particularly while in Cambridge, England. I had the privilege to reside and study at the Tyndale House in Cambridge, and met new friends, while writing for hours a day. I have much work left to do, but I am close to my page goal of approximately 160. In case you don’t know, my work was on 2 Peter 1, with the practical outworking being a discipleship process based on that chapter. I’ve used this approach with many in our church, and desire to help others grow in their walks with Christ for the rest of their lives, by unpacking this chapter for their (your) benefit.
As I return to serve you, it’s a very busy season. I have some meetings to attend in Louisville, KY and then Passion Week is upon us. Be in prayer for your own souls and for the souls of others around you. Invite friends and family to church. Invite them over to your house for hospitality leading the way to gospel discussion.
I am glad to be back with you. I cannot wait to return to the pulpit. That said, I am grateful to John Mueller, Stephen Martin, the elders, and the rest of the staff for assuming so many additional responsibilities to serve me during the sabbatical season. I hope that your love and hunger for the Word of God rightly preached was increased in my absence.
May God build up His church at UBC! May God’s Word dwell richly among you all!