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Pastor Jack's Sabbatical Update #7

Greetings everyone! Seven down and five to go! Work is progressing on my major project paper. I am still working on chapter 4 which is evaluation. I have a lot of good material from those involved in the mentoring process but I am having trouble organizing it. Pray that God will give me clarity of thought in doing that.

My realistic goal is to finish chapter 4 this week and begin chapter 5 - the conclusion. My faith goal is to finish both this week! So please keep praying for me. I have been drawing some helpful conclusions already. I spent time studying Nehemiah 7-8 last week. Chapter 7 is a bit laborious with a lot of names and numbers. But this teaches us that Nehemiah kept track of his people. He knew how many of them there were and which family they belonged to. He was careful to guard them within and without. He stationed guards at the gates to protect them from without (7:3). And he protected them from within by requiring verification for those who claimed to be of the priestly line (7:64-65). Then what a rich chapter is Nehemiah 8. Ezra read the book of the Law. The people worshiped by lifting their hands and bowing to the ground. That familiar verse, "the joy of the Lord is your strength" is in Neh. 8:10. In studying that context it can be concluded that joy of the Lord is to be found in His Word. And specifically we find that the conviction that comes when our disobedience is revealed, is turned to joy when his love and mercy is revealed. Both are revealed in His Word. Then our joy is made full as we obey His Word, for right after they heard Ezra reading it, they obeyed God's command to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles and booths, which they did.

As I reflected on this my experience verifies that the deepest periods of joy in walking with Christ are when I hear His Word, am convicted of my disobedience, rejoice in His love and forgiveness through Christ, and empowered by Him to obey. At the end of the day, sin is really not that fun for the believer. Trusting and obeying our Lord really is our joy and strength!

We visited Calvary Chapel on Saturday night and heard a great message on John 7:32-52, promising floods of living water to flow from us. Those floods are our Spirit-empowered witness for Christ. And then we went to Phoenix on Sunday and visited Steve and Melody Blakemore, former members here. We worshiped at their church, Northwest Community. Their pastor gave a one-hour challenging message on love from the last two phrases of 1 Corinthians 13: 5.

Pray for our son Barnabas as he is due back in Tucson on Friday. Pray he makes all of his flight connections. The first flight he was supposed to take out of Afghanistan was cancelled. Then Linda and I plan to drive back starting on Saturday. We will spend a couple days in Colorado then head back to Casper on Tuesday. Thanks again for your prayers and I pray for God's grace and peace for you all!