If you have two minutes, here’s what our family will be doing this summer. Several months ago the elders expressed their willingness and desire for me to take four weeks this summer as a “writing leave.” They knew that several books were simmering in my heart.
Noël and I flew to Portland and then drove to Sisters, Oregon on June 18. I met with a publisher there all day Monday, June 20. They are eager to work with me on a project that grows out of a preaching series I did in 1988 entitled “Battling Unbelief.” I came away energized from the fact that the publisher knows and values both my burden and the message that I long to spread.
My aim is to finish a first draft of the book by the end of August so that when I come back, it is basically behind me and I can pour my energy into Bethlehem—especially into the year of Master Planning that I pray God will use to lead us into the next great chapter of Bethlehem’s life. This writing leave, along with our vacation (which begins July 1), will last eight weeks. I will be back preaching, Lord willing, on August 28.
We will spend about six of those weeks in Georgia at Noël’s folks’ place, a few days with my Dad in South Carolina and some time back here in Minnesota. Abraham will be with us the whole time. Barnabas will join us midway from his mission trip in Tennessee. Karsten will come down from his work for a week in July. And Benjamin will miss it all because of advanced training with Army Reserves at Aberdeen Proving Grounds near Baltimore.
Why write? 1) In choosing to reveal and preserve His infallible truth for us in a BOOK, God elevated the written word to an unparalleled place of honor among all forms of communication. Incarnate, personal truth is still the greatest, but the written word comes next. 2) Feedback has shown me over the years that God has used what I have written for sufficient spiritual effect to justify the weeks it takes me to do it. 3) I believe writing is a gift from God and I know it is a passion for me.
I plead for your prayer support in these next weeks. Here’s a sample prayer for you to use.
FATHER IN HEAVEN, I pray that John would hallow your name and seek your kingdom, and do your will in all his leisure and labor this summer. Fill him with spiritual wisdom and insight. Keep him faithful to Scripture. Keep him humble and utterly reliant on you for everything. Deliver him from Satan’s deception. Give him creativity and a compelling, winsome writing style. Give him motivation and energy. May his work be energizing, not depleting. May he get sufficient rest. May he relish his time with Noël and the boys. Strengthen his marriage. Cause him to be refreshed in his pastoral ministry. Bring him back full of love, faith, hope, and vision.
I hope many of you join me in this project and pray this daily.