On Returning Home


“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” That’s the beginning of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. (Never read it but I saw the movie). The tale of my sabbatical is not quite so grand. It will not become a classic, and it is not such an extreme tale. There were really good parts and a few not so great, but mostly, it was exactly what we had hoped it would be.

The month of April was spent getting our house prepared for hibernation. Debbie’s work came to an end as planned, and we were getting our daughter Mary’s car ready for transport. Oh, and there was some golf.

Toward the latter part of the month we drove our car and Mary’s car to South Carolina to drop it off, have a few days with her and see the Navy Nuclear Power School at Goose Creek. Mary is stationed there and has recently graduated from the “A School” portion of her training. We may have met a young man of some interest in the tale, but I cannot possibly comment. Then Mary went to Florida with us for a few days before she returned. Oh, and there was some scuba diving.

In Florida, Debbie and I stayed at her parent’s home in Brooksville. That’s about forty-five minutes north of Tampa, and a bit inland. We were supposed to share their cozy home for a few days at which time they would return to their farm in Indiana. Then came the first hiccup in that plan. They were delayed, so we shared their little duplex for several weeks.

The best laid plans of mice and men… We had to chuckle, adjust and realize that God has his sovereign purposes over even the common and small matters. Apparently, alone time together was not his plan or purpose. We made the best of things, and oh, there was some golf.

Our oldest daughter, Leah met us in Florida a few days after Deb’s parents left, and we spent a couple days at Universal Studios. Maris, our granddaughter, also came as did Leah’s German foreign exchange student, Celina. You may have seen some pictures on Facebook, although I tried to squelch those where I could. Seeing me soaking wet after a water ride is not for the faint of heart, so don’t even go looking. They left about a week before our departure near the end of May. Oh, and there was more golf.

We stopped by Oklahoma City to see Matt and Gwen (Gwen is my middle daughter) on the return trip. They had kept Basil (our dog) for us. God bless them. He adjusted to apartment living so-so, but he likes his yard here in Great Bend. On the cooler days, you will usually see him keeping a watchful eye on the neighborhood if you should cruise down 17th street. Matt and I played a couple rounds of golf, and I won’t say who won.

Once back home in Great Bend, we pretty much wound it all down. Maris flew in and spent a week with us, which as grandparents we loved. And there was some golf. For the last week, I managed to pick up a summer virus and that was perfect timing, because I was able to recover in time to return to work.

By now you’re saying, “Wow, Jay is a party animal and really likes golf.” It’s true, but here’s where I tell you of the other side of the sabbatical. During this time I managed to spend a good portion of it reading (twelve books total), thinking, praying and assessing my ministry and our church. I also did my share of eating, which may be noticeable when you see me.

Oh, and during this time we worshipped in various churches. Worshipping elsewhere clarifies a lot for person. You see some strengths here and there. You see many weaknesses. And for me, in the end, I realize how blessed I am to be in Great Bend, at Grace Community Church, serving you dear people, working alongside such a great bunch of ministry leaders.

During this time I reflected on my own capacities and my own limitations. We have both you know. Someone asked me if there were epiphanies, and the truth is, I believe there were. I feel strengthened in my resolve to serve this church with all the resources God has given to me. I am far more excited and optimistic about the church than when I left. We have so much to offer. We are a solid, loving, consequentially consistent, gospel honoring, Christ glorifying, biblically healthy congregation. We are seeking the Lord’s glory not our own, and that puts us in the best place we can be.

Thank you so much for the time away and for the privilege of being able to return. Love you guys!


Pastor Jay

Desperate To Be Out of The Saltshaker

Pastor Jon leads this weeks sermon with “Desperate To Be Out of The Saltshaker”, from Matthew 5:13-16

Matthew 5:13-16 (ESV)

Salt and Light

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Godly desperation creates a need to make an impact for Christ.

  • Selfish desperation creates “extremes” mentality.
  • Selfish desperation ignores the command.
  • Godly desperation aches for changed lives.
  • Godly desperation reveals a complete picture of Christ.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • What are some ways that we use salt?
  • What command(s) does selfish desperation ignore?
  • What will we long for if we have Godly desperation?
  • How can God give us Godly desperation?

Desperation – Seeing desperation as a gift

Pastor Jon leads this weeks sermon with “Desperation – Seeing desperation as a gift”, from Matthew 6:9-13

Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

Godly desperation disorients with the purpose of reorientation.

  1. Selfish desperation wants a quick fix.
  2. Selfish desperation wants to rework the order of the universe.
  1. Godly desperation understands the purpose of a breaking point.
  2. Godly desperation returns us to the basics.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Share about a time when you have seen God work through a difficult time in your life.
  • What did you learn from that difficult time?
  • What was the breaking point for you during that difficult time?
  • Did God show you the importance of depending on Him and trusting Him? Why or why not?

Desperation – Knowing why you’re desperate

Pastor Jon leads this weeks sermon with “Desperation – Knowing why you’re desperate”, from Romans 3:23

Romans 3:23 (ESV)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Don’t miss what makes us desperate people.

  1. Selfish desperation leads to grace abuse.
  2. Selfish desperation cheapens the cross.
  3. Godly desperation is desperate for forgiveness.

Parent Connection Questions:

  • Share about a time when you have been without hope.
  • Did your selfish desperation help you in that moment? Why or why not?
  • What will we long for if we have Godly desperation?
  • How can God give us Godly desperation?