Today, due to the generosity and encouragement of the GBC elders, I begin a one-month writing sabbatical.
I have been anxious to get started on this project. For the past two weeks, most mornings when I awaken, I am thinking about aspects of the project — structure, chapters to include, and books to read to prepare for writing.
Over the next month I have two primary goals and two lesser goals.
The first couple of days I will spend polishing I paper I have written for ACBC in partial fulfillment of the requirements for becoming a Fellow with that organization. I wrote most of the paper last summer, but have not had time to finish and edit the paper, entitled, “Biblical Study Methods for Biblical Counselors.” I hope to have that ready to submit with all my other paperwork by Tuesday evening (tomorrow).
After completing that paper, the majority of my time will be spent working on a book I’ve been thinking about for several years: Teach the Word: Biblical Expositions for Biblical Counselors and Disciplers. The first 2-4 chapters will be based on my paper submitted to ACBC. Those chapters will provide a foundation for studying the Scriptures, teaching the reader how to study the Bible for themselves so they are equipped to teach others. The rest of the book (20-25 chapters?) will be explanations of key passages that every counselor/discipler should know and be able to be able to teach others. The chapters will be explanations of the passage (with historical and biblical contexts) and then an expanded explanation for how to apply those passages to counseling and discipleship settings.
The first week I hope to come up with a final list of passages to use (I currently have a list of 30-40 passages), an overall outline of the book, a consistent outline/pattern for each chapter, and then begin writing some of those chapters. My goal is to finish the introductory chapters of the book and at least 10-15 exposition chapters while on the sabbatical (having not done this before, I have no idea if that goal is set too high or too low — but I’ll know in a month!).
If you think of it, I would appreciate your prayers in three areas:
First, pray that the Lord would give me clarity of mind so that I accurately understand the text I am writing about and that I explain it with precision, clarity, and sound application. The Word of God inerrantly reveals the condition of man and the nature of God and my task is not to distort the truth with which this Book has been written.
Second, pray that I would not waste this sabbatical. By that I am asking that the Lord would give me diligence and faithfulness to use my time wisely. It’s easy to get side-tracked while studying and to fritter time away on non-essentials. The time I have been given is a precious and limited quantity and I need to use it well.
Third, pray that this would also be a season of refreshment. The elders have exhorted and told me to suspend all my other activities during this month (preaching, counseling and discipling, administrating, etc). For the next month my schedule has been completely cleared, I will not be in the office (a friend has generously and graciously provided a private place for me to work where I will be free from distractions), and I will not be keeping up with email , text, or phone conversations. That freedom from my daily and weekly responsibilities will allow me to give full attention to the writing. But it will also allow for a season of refreshment on the evenings and weekends when I am typically involved in other kinds of preparations, meetings, and work. So Raye Jeanne and I have the goal of enjoying several evenings a week sitting in our living room with a fire in the fireplace and a book in our hands (that may sound nerdy to some, but it’s refreshing for us). And on the weekends we will be visiting at least two other churches and then will be at GBC at least two Sundays (at least that’s the current plan). I am asking the Lord that He will use that time to daily refresh me to write the next and that the entire time will equip me to serve well when I return to GBC in early February.
I also have two more minor goals for this time. I need just a few hours to finish polishing the GBC Missions Policy that we wrote last summer. After preaching through it, I realized we needed to make some minor corrections and additions, so I want to finish that and get that posted on the church website in the next week or so.
Finally, in early April I will again be traveling with Dan Kirk to teach Biblical Counseling. Our trip will take us to Irkutsk (Russia), where we were in June, 2017 and to Israel (where we have not been previously). I need to submit my notes to SGA (which is the organization again leading the trip) so they can be translated. I will be working on that during the evenings and on the weekends.
Thank you for your encouragement of me in the midst of these projects and your prayers for me while I labor. It is a gift of grace to be able to do these things and I want to serve the Lord and His church well with my writing.