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Sabbatical Thoughts

This I Know

I wanted to take a moment and say thank you again to our leadership for allowing me the time away on Sabbatical. The break from the normal pace of life allowed me to connect to God in a deeper way. I’ve come back refreshed and with some fresh insights from God.

On Sunday, April 17th, I am going to spend some time on Sunday morning sharing with you some of the conclusions of those insights. God does speak to us when we take the time to listen. And He has filled me with a fresh wind of inspiration and a desire to help us connect with Him in a deeper way.

As I was away, I read through the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah in the Old Testament (I am still finishing Jeremiah now). In these books, both prophets were in a very hard place. The nations of Judah and Israel had drifted from God. The nation was still intact, and relatively well positioned, but both prophets could see that the people were beginning to trust more in their own

prosperity, ideas and strength… even their political savvy, to keep their peace and way of life. Their reliance on God was more of a historical admission than an actual current practice.

In Jeremiah 9, the prophet writes this…

ESV Jeremiah 9:23 Thus says the LORD:

“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom,

let not the mighty man boast in his might,

let not the rich man boast in his riches,

24 but let him who boasts boast in this,

that he understands and knows me,

that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth.

For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”

Let him who boasts, boasts in this: THAT HE UNDERSTANDS AND KNOWS ME

To understand Him: to learn about Him. To find His patterns. To understand His ways. To be able to predict how He feels about things. To know what He likes and dislikes.

I understand my wife. I mean I think I understand her. I have spent 29+ years learning about her. I have watched her patterns. I know when she likes to get up and when she likes to go to bed. She is a night owl; I am an early riser (isn’t God funny about things like this…) I know that she doesn’t like Chinese, Mexican or Thai food. I know she likes a good steak. I can predict with some level of accuracy what TV programs she likes, what movies she would like to see and even sometimes, when the stars align just right, if she would like that sweater. I know what the sound of her footsteps sound like coming down the stairs. I don’t need to look up to see who it is. For 29+ years I have come to understand her. But for a marriage, or a real relationship, understanding is not enough.

To know Him: To interact with God, to be with Him, to involve myself with Him, to listen and respond, to communicate, to have a relationship with.

I need to know my wife too. I need to interact with her. I need to involve myself in the process of her life. I need to listen and respond and then go back to listening again (and again… 29 years I hope I have discovered something). I need to relate to her. I could have stalked her on Facebook, Instagram and twitter to find out what she liked and didn’t like…. I could be a super fan and read everything about her, and understand her. I could place hidden cameras and study the footage and know the patterns (this is getting creepy). But in the end, I would not really relate with her. Only in interaction with her, do I really know her and our standing together.

In our relationship with God… there is more than just a study aspect. It involves attention. Heaven help the husband that does not pay attention to and study his wife. Relationships form and deepen because we pay attention those things…We need to know what He loves and hates. We need to understand why He acts the way He does. We need to study His patterns and see His ways. But there is something in the interaction on a daily level, and involvement in this struggle of life together, a listen and reply and listen again response that takes what we have

with God to a deeper level.

Understanding and knowing are at the heart of what God is looking for with us.

Jeremiah was writing that there are many things in this life that can capture our attention. There

are many things in this life that are delightful. There are many things in this life that we use to

measure ourselves by and compare ourselves to others with. And yet, wisdom is not found

there. Real might is not found there. Riches are not really found there…

One day, I really hope that for our church, we do not believe that our best asset is how smart we are, and how we can offer our wisdom to the world. I hope that what we offer to the world is not a pride in how strong we were or how committed. I really hope that we have more going for us than the assets we have set aside and our financial standing.

This I know (and I am coming to know more and more…) the only thing worth boasting about is that you know and understand God. There you will find His wisdom, strength and riches.


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