Sabbatical Reading List

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.  

-Charles W. Elio-


I am thankful for this time of Sabbatical. One of the joys of this “holy different time” is the opportunity to read.   With my Kindle Paper White as a regular companion, I am enjoying a wide variety reading, learning, and listening.   Some of the reads were great, some were lacking, but all were worth it.   In the first third of my Sabbatical, my gracious community has given me the space to enjoy the following titles:

The Open Door by Patricia Forbes

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

The Big Book – Alcoholics Anonymous

50 Things you Should Do Before You’re 50 Alon Dande

Ephesians N.T. Wright

One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian

Church Giving Matters Ben Stroup

The Intruders Stephen Coonts

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands Paul Tripp

Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton

The Einstein Prophecy by Robert Masello

Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

Everybody’s Normal Until You Get to Know Them by John Ortberg

Next up on the reading stack:

Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton

What I Learned from Peter Drucker by Jim Chamy

The Pearl Trader by Louis Kornitzer

Upstairs at the White House by J.B. West

Contagious Generosity by Chris Willard and Jim Sheppard

The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Henry Ketcham

Current River with BSA Troop 199

Current River, here we come!

Current River, here we come!

BSA Map 1

Today, BSA Troop 199 departed for The Current River in Missouri. We begin a 10 day adventure of canoeing, camping and fishing. This collection of 16 scouts and leaders of various rank will team together for some high adventure.

Paddle from a 1977 Current River Canoe Trip  (I was 13 years old!)

Paddle from a 1977 Current River Canoe Trip
(I was 13 years old!)

It was almost 40 years ago that I canoed a small portion of the Current River with my 6th grade class from Bridgeway Elementary School near St. Louis, MO. The Current River forms in the southeastern portion of the Ozarks of Missouri. The beautiful river flows southeasterly out of the Ozarks into northeastern Arkansas where it eventually becomes a tributary of the Mississippi River. Our group with travel about 85 miles of the 184 miles flowing mostly in Missouri.

Our normal routine would be to travel to Lac La Ronge, Canada. Due to the severe fires in our normal trekking spot the decision was made to traverse the Current River near the beautiful Lake of Ozarks.

2013 Canada Crew

2013 Canada Crew

The Walleye I caught on my 50th Birthday in Lac LaRonge!

The Walleye I caught on my 50th Birthday in Lac LaRonge!

One of my favorite fishing buddies:  Les Robinson

One of my favorite fishing buddies: Les Robinson

This year, I have the distinct privilege of being a Counselor for the Fishing Merit Badge. All the years of fishing my parents allowed me to experience is being passed on to the next generation! This year we will not be focusing on Walleye and Northern Pike but on Trout, Bass, and Pan Fish. Thanks to the gifting of Rob Cassidy and Tim Boettcher, I have fly rods and spin reels ready to catch an underwater feast. I will also have the distinct joy of fishing with my friend Asst. Scout Master Les Robinson. The poles are tuned and the tackle boxes filled!

Let the pastoral piscary commence!

I will be the engine  for my canoe partner, Ron Schumacher!

I will be the engine for my canoe partner, Ron Schumacher!

In case you were wondering why I love camping!

In case you were wondering why I love camping!

The Diagnosis: Circadian Dysrhythmia

I have Circadian Dysrhythmia. Before you head to the store to purchase a saccharine laced Hallmark card, you should also know this disorder by its more common name: Jet Lag. Of the 18 symptoms listed by the irrefutable “Web Doctor” I have the following:

  • Sleep problems
  • Awake early in the morning
  • Tiredness
  • Sleepiness
  • Problems concentrating
  • Cognitive difficulty
  • Mild memory problems
  • Disorientation, grogginess, irritability


Jet lag happens because rapid travel throws off our circadian rhythm — the biological clock that helps control when we wake and fall asleep.  This medical malaise is nothing in comparison to the richness of travel. The beloved early church father Augustine rightly commented:

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

We have been traveling out of the country the last 30 days and man, does it feel good to be home.

One of the best things to do for physical jet lag is to rest and to drink more water. The same is true for spiritual jet lag – just rest in God’s arms, spend time with Him, and drink in his wisdom and love.

Benjamin Button said this about coming home:

“It’s a funny thing about comin’ home. Looks the same, smells the same, feels the same. You’ll realize what’s changed is you.”

I know our trip changed me internally, widened my worldview, and deepened my faith. I also know God is unchanging and my anchor, especially when I feel disoriented and fatigued.

I am appreciative of those in the St. John’s, Wash Park community that has allowed this Sabbatical to address my spiritual “jet lag.”
When I flew to the USA from China one of the first things I did was change the time on my watch to Denver time. Then, when I landed on home soil, I focused on being home and not on where I was.  Lin Yutang complements this thought:

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”


The “Forbidden” City

FC 1In our travels to China, Bernardine and I visited “The Forbidden City.” This is one of the most famous attractions in the world. We shared this renowned experience with nearly 80,000 visitors—TODAY!

Permit me to share several pictures and excerpts from the experts of this famous locale:

The Forbidden City is a renowned attraction in China and is basically the Chinese imperial palace that was ruled during the Ming Dynasty till the end of the Qing Dynasty. It was since then became a small city where many people come and go just to explore the ancient attraction still surviving with pride. The palace complex was constructed in Beijing where the Chinese emperors ruled for centuries. The name Forbidden City came as the palace was forbidden for common people and was even uninvited for the nobility to enter the sacred precincts of this palace.

FC 2The Forbidden City since then has become the largest royal complex found in the world and its construction took more than 14 years of time, from 1407 to 1420 (Ming Dynasty). The palace was once the home and center of government where 24 emperors of China ruled through both the eras until conquer of Forbidden CityImperial Rule during the early part of 20th century.

 The palace is surrounded by a 30 feet high wall and a 20 feet deep moat, encompassing around 8 million square feet of area that is the size of a 140 football fields. The complex of Forbidden City accommodates total 9,999 rooms, where the number ‘9’ is considered to be a propitious number in Chinese numerology.

Considering the appearance of these buildings, the walls are colored in Red and roofs are colored in Yellow. There is a meaning behind using such colors – Yellow is used to as an Imperial color and was forbidden to people who were not from Imperial family. Therefore, everything available in the personal rooms of the Emperor was only in Yellow color including his bedding and clothing.

FC 3FC 4

FC 5

Learn more here: The Forbidden City

Devotional Thought

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

“Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.”
(Luke 2:7)

Because of Jesus, the City of God is no longer Forbidden—but Forgiving. Through the gift of God Himself, Jesus is our resurrected invitation to enter the City of God with confidence. The Emperor of the Universe wore clothes of flesh so that right here, right now, we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. (see 1 Peter 2:9)

And I saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

The Good News is that we have “THE” Eternal Emperor who uses his royalty not to keep commoners out but rather to invite the world in!

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:16)

For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Hebrews 13:14)

Playing Chopsticks

Chopsticks 1

A light-hearted blog for Day 14 in China. I thought I would share with you some interesting facts about playing Chopsticks. Okay, perhaps better, playing with your chopsticks.

Mealtime in China, as in most if not all cultures, is an important time. It is a time to bond with family, share our lives, and fuel the body.

Chopsticks 4

Here are some things I have learned not to do when playing with your Chopsticks:

Chopsticks 2

In addition to playing with chopsticks, there are also some ancient beliefs about resting chopsticks.

Chopsticks 3

At a restaurant in Nanjing, China, I accidentally dropped a chopstick on the floor. This caused a reaction of everyone at the table. There is a superstition that the sound a chopstick makes hitting the floor is a call to the dead and can invite bad things to happen. The correct response to this social faux pas (mistake) is to remove the chopstick and to apologize to those joining with you in the meal.Chopsticks 7

I am quite certain I violated a number of the rules mentioned above. I am even more sure that the grace of our hosts “covered a multitude” of these transgressions.

Blessings to my Chinese friends! May we share many more meals to come!

Chopsticks 5Chopsticks 6

Working Hard at Resting

“If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)


While here in China, I have entrusted the ministry to God’s Spirit working in and through the gifted community of St. John’s, Denver.   While I have made an occasional call back to home base, it is because I miss my brothers and sisters.

I love being a pastor! I live to be a pastor! The path God has chosen for me is both thrilling and tiring—in so many wonderful ways. I am savoring this time of rest, reflection, and renewal. With clarity of thought and purpose, I can celebrate joyful ministry for decades to come. I am discovering that I have to work hard at resting.

During this time away, I realize that my attitude of “work harder and it will get easier” is both idolatrous and unhealthy for me and for the spectacular people with whom I serve. During this Sabbatical, my thoughts return to the powerful invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11:

If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 CEV).

This is contrary to our way of thinking. We think God will say to us:

  • Come to me, and I will give you religion.
  • Come to me, and I will give you rules and regulations.
  • Come to me and I will give you rituals.
  • Come to me and I will make your life easier, better or wealthier.

But God doesn’t say any of those things. He says, “Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

Perhaps the reason I grow tired is because I want God’s kingdom to come through my power instead of His. How much joy do I lose because of the stress of living by my batteries rather than resting in God’s all reaching, all powerful, all loving power source? The hardworking and hard resting prophet Isaiah oracles:

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless” (Isaiah 40:29 NLT).

God is the source of all power. His power is a creating power, a living power, a forgiving power and ultimately, God’s eternal power is a resurrection power! God’s invitation is to invite us to work hard at resting in what he has done, is doing, and the power to carry out His coming kingdom!

NO – “Thank You”


My parents raised me to say “please” and “thank you”. They taught me well. It stuck. I have been told that I am an “over-thanker.”   I say it so often, and occasionally, glibly, that I don’t even know that I am saying this polite idiom.

In the Chinese tradition, saying “Thank you” to a close friend is met by the abrupt response of “bu keqi” (“Don’t mention it.”) Don’t mention it means “Really, please don’t say thank you.   We are family and not strangers.”


In China, when you say “thank you” to people who care about you, it is seen as disregard. To say thank you to a friend or family member means, “You think our relationship is not well.” This polite expression conveys that you see us more as strangers than siblings.


So, to work on my “thank you” compulsion I will begin to say, “Blessings!

I bless God who has blessed me with the blessing of you! In the words of the apostle Paul:

I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly… (Ephesians 1:16, NLT)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17 NIV )

To my many, many friends and family, around the world, I just want to say, “No, Thank You!”

Bless you!