Alright, some honest confession time. The reason I haven't been posting a new blog at my usual times is because I haven't been awake at those usual times! My routine is so out of whack but the refreshment and renewal is priceless. It reminds me of my first year out of college before Mandy and I met -- staying up late and sleeping in late every day.
Last December, I spent the better part of one week preparing and plotting out my sermons for 2006. Every sermon. Sunday morning and Sunday evening.
A great deal of my down-time on this trip is devoted to reviewing that plan, making adjustments, and reading and reflecting in advance of the upcoming lessons.
For example, I'm re-reading and reflecting extensively this week on Philip Kenneson's Life on the Vine in preparation for a Sunday evening series on cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit. Kenneson's work is brilliant, discussing how cultural forces are adversarial to the cultivation of Spirit fruit.
For Sunday morning, I'm working on a series called "Christmas in July." The series is an expository walk through Paul's prison letter to the church in Philippi. Tom Wright's insight in Paul For Everyone: The Prison Letters is simply profound and highly applicable. If you've ever wanted a commentary written by a prolific Christian scholar that is very easily understood and applicable, then Tom Wright's commentary series is for you.
Additionally, I brought with me three other books to finish that I had begun reading back home. John Mark Hicks and Bobby Valentine collaborated to write Kingdom Come: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of David Lipscomb and James Harding. This book summarizes the shared view of Lipscomb and Harding on the kingdom of God. Showing that not every leader in our Restoraton Heritage equated the kingdom with the church, Hicks and Valentine reveal through Lipscomb and Harding's own words the inbreaking of the kingdom-reign of God and its implications.
Another book is making my way through is Darryl Tippens' Pilgrim Heart: The Way of Jesus in Everyday Life. Tippens serves as Provost of Pepperdine University and his work is a "vivid invitation to the moveable feast of Christian spirituality." If you are looking for a book that describes spiritual disciplines in a straight-forward, easily understood way, then this book is for you.
Finally, if I get through all those which is my goal, then Eugene Lowry's The Homiletical Plot: The Sermon as Narrative Art Form will tide me over until I get back home.
So that is what I'm up to: reading and reflecting. Praying and planning. My personal sabbath is renewing my ministry and refreshing my soul.