On Thursday, I will be leaving you for 5 weeks. It is with mixed emotions that I even write this. I know that this time for renewal is best and quite needed. However, when you’ve worshipped with the same people for 13 years, it is not easy to leave, even for a short while; nor should it be

I cannot say thank you enough for blessing me and my family in this way. While I am away I covet your prayers. Here are a few ways that you can pray. May the Father, Son, & Spirit be glorified in all of us while we are apart

Day 1 (Feb 23)

Safety for me and my family as we begin traveling to Florida

Day 2 (Feb 24)

Commitment to the very ambitious reading plan that I have for the next 5 weeks

Day 3 (Feb 25)

Family renewal and refreshment as we spend today together. Pray, over these 35 days, that I will grow in my ability to love Rebecca as Christ has loved the church. Pray for me to “mange my household well,” especially in leading the three “future men” (and soon-to-be-born “future lady”) of our home. May they see Jesus in me.

Day 4 (Feb 26)

Clarity of mind, boldness of speech, and a warmness of heart on this morning, as I preach from Jonah 1 to the saints at Wachula Baptist Church. Pray for the lost to be saved and for the saved to be edified

Day 5 (Feb 27)

Mutual encouragement as I spend the day with fellow pastor Mitchell Landress. May God use our time together “as iron sharpens iron.”

Day 6 (Feb 28)

Arrangements to be made and doors to be opened as I schedule interviews with several long-tenured pastors for the days to follow

Day 7 (Feb 29)

Love, laughter, and transparency as Rebecca spends time with a fellow pastor’s wife, Jennifer L. (They have never met face-to-face. Pray, first, that they get along. Ha!)

Days 8-11 (March 1-4)

Clear sense of God-given direction as I plan, organize, and begin writing – for both ministry-related articles and a possible book proposal. Also, pray for us as we begin traveling back to VA from FL

Day 12 (March 5)

Personal refreshment as I spend a day resting, reading, packing and meditating.

Day 13 (March 6)

Safety as I travel to California for the Shepherd’s Conference

Days 14- 19 (March 7-12)

Open heart and engaged mind as I listen to John MacArthur, Tom Pennington, Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson, Voddie Baucham, and Al Mohler preach the Word of God to hundreds of other pastors and elders gathered at the Shepherd’s Conference. May God teach me new insights that I need to learn and remind me of old insights that I need to remember so that I can shepherd the flock well. Pray for my safe travel home as well

Days 20-21 (March 13-14)

Receptivity and humility as I interview long-tenured pastors in person and on the phone. May God reveal my weaknesses and the areas of my heart in need of specific sanctification. My I also develop a bigger, fuller pastor’s heart in the process

Day 22 (March 15)

Protection as I travel to Washington DC to Capitol Hill Baptist Church and attend the 9Marks Weekender event.

Days 23-26 (March 16-19)

Alertness and receptivity as I am taught, over these days, about how a local church can become more biblical in its leadership, outreach, preaching, worship, and ministry. Pray that God will help me see the areas where FBC needs to grow and be challenged in the years ahead

Days 27-30 (March 20-23)

Ever-growing love for the men, women, children and families of FBC and our community. Pray that, during this time, “absence will make the heart grow fonder.

Day 31-33 (March 24-26)

Safety as my family and I travel to NC and attend Hickory Grove Baptist Church.

Pray for openness as I observe how a sister congregation “does church,” and for a spirit of warmth as I interview Clint Pressley, the pastor of HGBC. May I glean from his wisdom and years of ministry

Days 34-35 (March 27-28)

Sense of God’s presence and direction as I fast, pray, and clarify the vision that I am trusting God to graciously grant me for our next phase as a church.

During all of this, what is my prayer for you as a congregation?

“May the Lord bless you and keep you; may His face shine on you and may He be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.” (Num 6:24-26)