Take Words With You

Tim Kerr is a friend who pastors just north of Toronto at Sovereign Grace Church Toronto. I really appreciate Tim and his ministry, as well as his friendship and encouragement.

Tim has written a prayer manual. He writes:

25 years ago I conceived of a prayer manual I wish that someone would produce to help me with my praying.

To my knowledge, no one ever produced what I envisioned...so I have tried to make it myself. TAKE WORDS WITH YOU is my feeble attempt at this.

So grateful the highest being in the universe hears us....because of that cross 2000 years ago (Hebrews 10:19)!!

Tim has graciously given permission to share this resource online. I have a copy, and it looks excellent.

You can download your own copy in PDF.

Reflections on Miami

I spent part of the week in Miami last week at an event run by Redeemer City to City. Here's a summary of what happened:

About 120 church planters from target cities in North America attended this three-day conference, which featured talks by Tim Keller and panel discussions on: the spiritual life of a church planter, worship and liturgy, and church administration and management.

I've written some reflections on the week. You can read them at the Redeemer City to City website.

You can read also read tweets from and about the conference.


This past weekend we announced that I'll be taking a short, three-month sabbatical this summer, beginning in June and wrapping up at the end of August.

The sabbatical is coming as a result of three things:

First, we've been looking at the wisdom of a sabbaticals in general. We've learned from other churches, and seen the benefits of pastoral sabbaticals. We've also seen the dangers that come when people don't have the opportunity to take one when they really need it. People like David Barker of Heritage Seminary have taught us on the biblical wisdom of sabbath and sabbaticals.

Second, I began sensing that I need it. I've found myself a bit slower to recharge than I used to be. I began reading Leading on Empty by Wayne Cordeiro - a book that every pastor should read - and realized that there are some warning signs that I can't ignore. It's easy to ignore them right now because I'm not at a crisis point, but prevention is a lot more effective than recovery.

Finally, I'm at the point at which I need to make some strategic choices in what I'm doing. The sabbatical will allow me to take a step back and begin to make some needed changes in my life and ministry.

Spurgeon wrote:

Every workman knows the necessity of keeping his tools in a good state of repair, for "if the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength." If the workman lose the edge from his adze, he knows that there will be a greater draught upon his energies, or his work will be badly done...

We are, in a certain sense, our own tools, and therefore must keep ourselves in order...For the herald of the gospel to be spiritually out of order in his own proper person is, both to himself and to his work, a most serious calamity; and yet, my brethren, how easily is such an evil produced, and with what watchfulness must it be guarded against!

Spurgeon's right. Pastors really need to pay attention to how they are doing. There are many ways that we can do this, and a sabbatical may be part of the answer.

I'd really appreciate your prayers leading up to the sabbatical. I'm not saying this lightly: I believe that God is up to something right now, both individually and at Richview. This feels a little like a season of preparation, and I'd really value your prayers.

If you are in church leadership and your church doesn't have a sabbatical policy, then I'd highly recommend that you look into it. Don't wait too long to put this in place. Somebody really needs to write a book on why this is important, and how to implement it, because I'm not aware of anything on the subject right now apart from the more general topic of sabbath.

On a related note, John Piper announced yesterday that he has requested an eight-month leave of absence (not sabbatical) from his church:

I see several species of pride in my soul that, while they may not rise to the level of disqualifying me for ministry, grieve me, and have taken a toll on my relationship with Noel and others who are dear to me. How do I apologize to you, not for a specific deed, but for ongoing character flaws, and their effects on everybody? I'll say it now, and no doubt will say it again, I'm sorry. Since I don't have just one deed to point to, I simply ask for a spirit of forgiveness; and I give you as much assurance as I can that I am not making peace, but war, with my own sins.

I really appreciate his openness and example. May his tribe increase.

Update: Just found this (via Chris Brauns):

Within evangelicalism, we tend to expect a level of spiritual hyper-productivity from our pastors. And so we rarely, if ever, let them enjoy the sort of sustained rest from their labors that is truly required to replenish their hearts and their minds. Sabbaticals, in their core, are breaks from activity to let God be God, and to create space for him to work in us anew. So it is encouraging to see one of our most prominent relinquish his duties and simply enjoy the world and relationships that God has given to him.

Expect Him

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones has a good word for preachers. The last paragraph is especially worth reading a few times.

Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. (1 Thessalonians 1:5)

Paul knew he was clothed with power and authority. How does one know it? It gives clarity of thought, clarity of speech, ease of utterance, a great sense of authority and confidence as you are preaching, an awareness of a power not your own thrilling through the whole of your being, and an indescribable sense of joy...

What about the people? They sense it at once; they can tell the difference immediately. They are gripped, they become serious, they are convicted, they are moved, they are humbled. Some are convicted of sin, others are lifted up to the heavens, anything may happen to any one of them. They know at once that something quite unusual and exceptional is happening...

What then are we to do about this? There is only one obvious conclusion. Seek Him! Seek Him! What can we do without Him? Seek Him! Seek Him always. But go beyond seeking Him; expect Him. Do you expect anything to happen when you get up to preach in a pulpit? Or do you just say to yourself, 'Well, I have prepared my address, I am going to give them this address; some of them will appreciate it and some will not'? Are you expecting it to be the turning point in someone's life? Are you expecting anyone to have a climactic experience? That is what preaching is meant to do. That is what you find in the Bible and in the subsequent history of the church. Seek this power, expect this power, yearn for this power; and when the power comes, yield to Him. Do not resist. Forget all about your sermon if necessary. Let Him loose you, let Him manifest His power in you and through you. (Preaching and Preachers)

via Ray Ortlund Jr.