On the Plains of Moab Blog
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November 23, 2013, 8:45 AM

Study Leave



I always appreciate the privilege of study leave.  As most of you know, I usually head down to Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando each winter to spend some time in sermon planning and reading.  This year was extra special because I was invited to preach at the church that I called home for the six years when we lived in Orlando -- Woodbury Presbyterian Church.  (Q.  What does a preacher do on his vacation?  A. What he does when he works.)

However, before Sunday, on Saturday night, I worshiped at Northland Community Church in Longwood, Florida.  Northland, one of the largest churches in the country, is a Saddleback/Willow Creek type "seeker" experience.  Technologically sharp, and tuned into the next generation of worship style, Northland is quite an experience.  Northland always amazes me with the enormity of everything they do, and yet, they deliver the same orthodox message that you would hear in a much smaller sacred space.

Sunday morning was at Woodbury, where I always look forward to being with my Florida family for renewing old friendships and catching up with the latest happenings and seeing how things are going in that community.  I am grateful for my friendship with Rod Pinder, the pastor at Woodbury, that has stood the test of time.  The conversations we have over a meals or coffee are always edifying.  I thank him for the preaching invitation.

Sunday evening, I traveled to Sanford , Florida to worship at St. Andrew's Chapel.  St. Andrew's is the exact opposite of Northland, with the exception that both churches are faithful in a high view of Scripture and both retain tenaciously what I would call some of the other basics of the Faith -- the person of Christ; the singularity and necessity of Christ's saving work; the centrality of a personal salvation that works out into the community and so on.  St. Andrews, though, is very high church as opposed to Northland's more relaxed approach.  I was encouraged to see the diversity of membership at St. Andrew's.  Young and old.  Singles and families.  Older couples and younger couples.  It brought tears to my eyes to realize that church CAN be trans-generational, and be tradiitonal at that!  My mind was blown -- in a good way!

During the week, I sat in on a couple of classes and chapel at RTS.  My, how nice to sit in on classes for mere enjoyment without the stress of taking notes or worrying about the paper due...or the exam that would test me on my comrpehension of the lecture.  Just joy and leisure.  And of course, the solitude of study time and reading time in the library -- I do not think it an overstatement to say that my spiritual battery gets re-charged during these study breaks.  So, thanks to my church family for making these trips possible!

This Sunday, I will be preaching the sermon that I preached at Woodbury last Sunday.  The sermon is called, "Homesick."  I want to talk to you about our desire, or lack of desire for heaven.  It is, as a matter of course, normal to hear people say that when they die, they will go -- and want to go -- to heaven.  However, do we really long for heaven?  What does it mean to long for heaven?  Well, I've said enough.  Hope to see you on the Lord's Day.


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