March 29, 2020

Dear Aspen Ridge Church and Leaders,

I want to extend a huge “thank you” for granting me a 24-day sabbatical in the month of March! The theme for this sabbatical was enrichment to finish well. I was able to build two parallel emphases into this sabbatical. The first two weeks were personal enrichment… the final ten days were ministry enrichment. Let me talk about some of the ways that I experienced enrichment through these days and weeks.

First, I spent the largest block of time for personal enrichment at Mount Calvary Monastery in Santa Barbara, California. I built a customized prayer retreat in advance, which I brought to the Monastery seeking to match it alongside the structure and rhythms of life in such a place. The monks provided three worship services each day, preceding three meals each day. I then built segmented hour-long blocks of prayer in-between. I gave myself flexibility in the afternoons to meet with important people in my Christian life, including the man who led me to Christ, another man who is a weekly prayer partner and even my vocational coach. I felt like I was really drawing near to God, experiencing God in having unhindered and extended blocks of time with God in prayer. An important theme in my prayer life was linking the attributes of God with my prayers. Also, I spent time listening to God, watching out for the spiritual battle, waiting on God, meditating on His Word and experiencing prayer as an intimate relationship with my Abba Father. Despite all the turmoil surrounding the onset of the coronavirus, we returned from this leg of the sabbatical on the evening of March 15 with much grace and renewal.

Second, Mary and I spent the next eight days at Sonscape in greater Colorado Springs. Sonscape is a ministry support for couples and provides vocational enrichment. We gathered on March 17 with four other couples to explore our relationships with Christ and talk about what teaming can look like while leading others in the Christian Way. This was a very personalized retreat and I felt validated as a pastor and husband. I also felt challenged to draw near to Christ as His child, not on the basis of my achievements or approval. We heard some healing words and some direction for how to process losses in life and ministry. We also learned about having a Sabbath Day of rest which is more than simply a day off. We were invited to go deeper with Jesus in faith, spending time with Him and each other. We spent thoughtful time answering questions like: Who am I? Who is my God? What am I here for? What am I most afraid of? Finally, I was reminded that success in pastoral work may be summed up by the word: faithfulness!

Going forward, I hope to be a good steward of the enrichment I received for the sake of God’s work in my life, my family and my world. I pray that God will use the things I learned and received in practical ways at Aspen Ridge Church and in Conifer and Evergreen. With God’s grace and help, may I experience His love as my Abba Father so I can love my wife even better and serve among His people in the fulfillment of our mission with greater vigor. I seek to be the best pastor I can be for the fulfillment of the Great Commission!

Affectionately in Christ,
Pastor Jeff

 

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