Part of the attraction of summer for me is finding a slower pace. Julie will be home from teaching and we'll spend a lot of time on the back porch at night (a hidden secret about Houston is that once the sun goes down, being outside is very pleasant... especially if you have mosquito repellant on!). I'll use more time for reflection and planning. There are vacations to enjoy but one doesn't have to go on vacation to slow down a bit. I heard once that we should "divert daily; withdraw weekly; and abandon annually." I try to do that all the time but recommit myself this summer to live more fully into a life that leads to restoration and recreation.
I am also working toward a retreat that will take me away from all the pressing demands of daily ministry that will allow me to prayerfully seek God's direction in developing next year's preaching calendar. I find that such focus is fruitful and will allow me to know where it is God is leading us in the next year. I preach purposefully, meaning that I don't want to just approach the topics of things that I'm interested in but, rather, will help us grow as disciples. I basically seek topics that will help us all to see the following:
1. What it means to be part of the church
2. What is it we should do to grow as disciples.
3. How we can and should serve both in and outside the church.
4. How can we serve the world as Jesus has called us to?
5. What is worship? How do we do it? How can we do it better?
With that as a context, I engage in conversation with God: prayer and Bible study and seek to find His direction. You can help this process as well. I'd like to challenge you to pray about this and see if you might have a sense of what you'd like for me to address in the coming year. Is there a series you'd like to have preached? Is there a topic you'd like addressed? When I've asked these questions in previous years, I've been able to focus more directly on what I need to work toward. I can't use everyone's suggestions but sometimes more than one person will make the same suggestion and it was something I was thinking about anyway. It's that kind of confirmation that truly aids in my preparation.
If you have any ideas, please feel free to email me. Whether or not you have ideas, I do appreciate your prayers as I seek clarity about where it is we are headed in the coming year.
Blessings to all of you!!