Fireside 2.1 ( The BEMA Podcast Blog Thu, 20 Jan 2022 12:00:00 -0800 The BEMA Podcast Blog en-us Better Together Thu, 20 Jan 2022 12:00:00 -0800 3158d23e-b87f-49ba-932d-6669914cf01f Better Together through Accountability Structures It’s one of those cliches you actually believe in.

We say it in lots of different contexts, often when talking about the beauty of partnerships and teamwork. We speak to the fact that we are “better together.” And like I said, it’s a cliche you actually believe in. When I hear it, I don’t roll my eyes or suffer a gag reflex. I really do believe in the logic of the statement that we are better when we are teamed with others than when we are by ourselves as individuals.

I believe it is true logically, but if you were to watch my life and my actions, it would often betray me with the truth: I would rather work by myself. And don’t get me wrong, there are many, many ways in which I function better on my own and thrive with autonomy. There are healthy expressions of this in my life and having others help me discover this and see the benefits — as well as the dangers — has been very liberating. But this desire for autonomy does not always serve me well, and I have discovered and learned the level of intention I have to live with in order to lean into partnership with other people.

And they have made me better, almost without exception. Those relationships are a gift. We are truly better together.

I often don’t go looking for this enough. My natural state is one where I feel just fine on my own. I know others are the opposite and they are drawn to relationships and affirmation — they need the feedback and the interaction to have a reference point. But that’s not my style. Much of my time in counseling during this sabbatical has focused on my relationships with others and how I relate to them and what they bring to my life. How do I evaluate their contribution? How do I learn to listen?

This truth is one of the most consistent “interruptions” in my sabbatical experience. In my opening entry, I talked about ICM’s sabbatical policies and one of the requirements being an accountability structure. This isn’t an oppressive or crushing presence in the sabbatical. It’s simply designed to make sure you are talking to others about your experience so you don’t miss opportunities. You want to get all the potential good out of your time. It’s a statement that comes from the belief that we are better together.

But I don’t naturally gravitate to this relationship. I have the planned calls (structure? plans? I like structure!) I make every other week or so to discuss my experience, but I assume this is the accountability structure at work. And it is.

But there is also so much more. And I’m thankful for other people in my life who tend to see this reality so much more than I do.

Because I was recently asked — again — by my team about my sabbatical experience when we were all together. And I — again — was initially frustrated by the question. I had already processed the current season and had answered the same question a few weeks earlier. I had shown up for my phone calls and I had written about it here on the blog. What more was there to do? Did I really have to answer this question again?

But I did, and it was uncomfortable, because I couldn’t simply repeat my answers from three weeks ago. That would’ve been awkward. So I had to pause, and reflect, and consider where I had been in the last three weeks. I had to think about some of the other things I had talked about and consider new things. I had to do the work of reflection, yet again, because they had asked.

And it probably won’t shock you to know I saw some new things during that conversation. It probably shouldn’t have surprised me, either, but it did. All of these things I wouldn’t have without those teammates asking me questions and asking me to keep doing good internal work. So I find myself writing about a part of our policy that I never thought would inspire much writing, but here we are — better together.


The Development of Me Wed, 05 Jan 2022 03:00:00 -0800 c49c3a1e-f27f-4e73-a6a7-b00a96a4c939 Seeing Change in Myself One of the things I’m doing for sabbatical is (finally) taking time for two years of more formal training in biblical Hebrew. It’s been on my to-do list for years and I simply haven’t had an excuse to make it happen. This sabbatical gave me that excuse. With all the travel I do to Israel, I’ve also wanted to get a better handle on modern Hebrew, so my teacher is helping me with that, as well.

On the surface, this is about me continuing my education, continuing my personal development, and growing as a healthy human being and professional. It’s good to learn and it’s good to push myself in areas relevant to who I am and what I do every day. Simple enough.

However, what strikes me frequently in this experience is how I have already changed. I am simply a wildly different person today than I was twenty years ago. I haven’t taken a college class with homework since 2005, and I was a different person back then. I found all my identity and my worth in my academic performance. I hadn’t yet learned about my compulsive obsession with planning and control. I was the student who got the syllabus on orientation week and did every assignment I could in the first two weeks — read every text, wrote every paper, prepared whatever projects I could. I had all my homework done days and weeks before it was due. It was about short bursts of work so the anxiety was lower through the rest of the year.

And performance… let me tell you. Perfect scores were my goal. High A’s were acceptable, low A’s were a disappointment (to myself), and anything less than that was unacceptable. I was a weirdly driven and perfectionistic student.

Well, since then, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Therapy has taught me a lot over the last decade about my anxiety and how I’ve managed it in the past and the impact it’s had on others around me. I have a different emotional relationship with myself and how I do life every day.

My homework today? Well, I don’t always have it done on time; most of it is done and done well, but it’s certainly not the same “energy” I had years ago. In my class this last week, my teacher gave me two B’s on my homework and I didn’t even cringe; I kind of nodded and shrugged. Yup.

Now, I know this sounds ridiculous to many of you. I can hear you chuckling at me and wondering if I’m kidding. I’m not. Marty Solomon in 2003 would never have imagined a world where I was behind on my homework and content with a B grade on an assignment in biblical Hebrew. The old version of myself would have told you that I had given up on life. I know that sounds dramatic, but that’s who I was.

But it’s not who I am anymore.

As I spend time listening during my sabbatical, I also find this more encouraging than I would expect. I am changing. I have changed a lot more than I was realizing in the passing moments and years. I think we all do. Maybe more or less depending on our intention and discipline to certain things, but we are dynamic creatures and we are transformed for better or for worse. I think I’m learning to celebrate the transforming work God has done in me.

I would tell my old self that, in fact, I haven’t given up on life. I’ve found so much more life than the old me could have ever imagined. I’m healthier today and my relationships are something God is using in positive ways — ways I simply wasn’t letting Him work in back then. I’ve made some choices about what’s important and what I’m building with my life. Some things are gold, silver, and precious stones; other things are wood and straw (check out 1 Corinthians 3 for more on this). And I like it.

And I have every reason to believe that this process continues. Twenty-one years from now, I’ll be thinking back to my 2022 self and thinking of how much more life I’ve continued to find. May it be so.


Listening to Learn Wed, 22 Dec 2021 13:00:00 -0800 a18c0f57-13e6-4d9c-ae37-427a022606e0 Making Time to Hear God I don’t really have intentions of writing more about failure, but I like to write about things honestly. The most recent item I felt I was learning from was the area of professional development that I wrote about in the second entry of this journey.

I mentioned the need to recenter myself around some of the core values of our organization. One of those value is the idea of Passion for God (I wrote about it here). Part of this is seen in our willingness and commitment to make sure we are LISTENING — listening to what God is trying to show us.

Now, this shows up as relevant here in two ways. One of them is that we would live and work in a way that has space to hear God’s voice. In this, I utterly failed in my first semester of sabbatical. In what I believe was an attempt to make up for lost “COVID time,” I scheduled all sorts of trips that had been on my to-do list for a couple years. This meant that I was on the road way more than I wanted to be. It’s pretty hard to have a posture of listening when you are constantly on the go.

The second way this shows up is to make sure we are spiritually alert and fully present in the situations we find ourselves in, despite the circumstances. In this, I have found more success. I have encountered lots of conversations where people have been trying to tell me things I need to hear — about my leadership or our organization. I feel like God has helped me to be aware of these conversations and be able to quiet my mind and receive what was being said. Most of these conversations have not been easy. I have heard about how I have hurt others or failed some. This is a part of life, but hearing these stories with grace and a desire to get better is what this idea of listening is all about. For those brave folks who have been willing to talk to me, I am grateful, for God has spoken through them.

So what about the failure? Well, ultimately, that is an easy fix, as long as I can stay disciplined and committed to saying no to all the “extras” that come my way. At this point, I have seven and a half weeks in 2022 that are purely at home with no traveling scheduled. Let’s keep it that way, so I can do an ever better job at listening.


Not Winning Mon, 06 Dec 2021 12:00:00 -0800 5b9fea0b-fbf4-4ea5-8c7a-ebeaeafcc18e A Sabbatical Lesson in Failure We’ve been reflecting on a lot of the ways that things work during sabbatical and how God shows up. We’ve been celebrating the lessons we learn and the way sabbaticals work at ICM. However, I do not know of one single sabbatical where everything goes as planned and all the objectives are hit and everything is wonderful.

With every sabbatical I have ever seen, you have to be willing to make changes. And I feel like this is one of our better lessons by itself.

So let’s talk about one of the things I mentioned previously that has been a total failure. In that entry, I mentioned that I wanted to read Torah with my family every night. Well, this simply hasn’t fit in our weekly experience. While we could break our backs trying to smash it into our bedtime routine, the fact of the matter is that we simply don’t have the bandwidth.

And we work hard (and have for years) to make sure we have time in the Bible. We are currently preparing for my daughter’s bat mitzvah. She is preparing her reading and her derashah. She’s working on her project to share and we are very intentionally involved in family practices together. So this isn’t an issue of whether we have spiritual practice. It happens to be a realization that we are bordering on too much.

And so we took a chill pill and just backed off. We cut ourselves some slack and realized that if we weren’t careful, we would mess up the spirit and objective of sabbatical all together.

And this, quite frankly, is not our style. We make commitments and we stick with them. We finish what we start. And so this decision has been a practice in and of itself.

I know that for others, they go the opposite direction. They might feel like they need to be challenged and push themselves. Part of healthy spirituality is the idea of accurate self-awareness. Do you know who you are and what your tendencies are? Do you know what you need to look out for and be aware of?

Luckily, part of our structure is also that accountability structure I mentioned at the beginning of this series. I have teammates to check this stuff against, and they are checking in on me. They know me and my tendencies well and push me to let sabbatical do its work. So, sometimes, we are able to learn from those things that never work out in the first place.


Sabbatical Generosity Fund Mon, 22 Nov 2021 14:00:00 -0800 87ac7e17-358e-4ec5-8fe6-d64591b4cdc4 Seeing the World with Fresh Eyes In the third entry of this sabbatical journey, I talked about some of the biblical principles that are shaping my time during sabbatical. One of those biblical principles is the idea of giving freely to those who struggle in poverty. I wrote the following:

Provision for the poor. This is a year of being generous and sharing of what we have for those who have less among us. More than usual, I will say “yes” to those who ask; I will seek to give at each and every opportunity. I have started carrying a “Sabbath Year portion” of cash to give away in these opportunities. I am excited to share some of those stories. Simply put, we’re trying to say yes, rather than overthinking it this year. We are trying to walk toward those in need when we see it, rather than avoid.

It’s one of the areas where I have some stories and reflections to share. Not only was it a biblical principle identified in my study of the Sabbath Year, but we also have other staff at Impact Campus Ministries who practice this. I remember hearing stories from Zack Dean and Jeff Vander Laan about what they learned during their sabbaticals. I am thankful for how they pioneered the way in this.

It’s been a while since my last entry because I have been on the road. I think it was a couple trips ago and I was driving to my hotel late at night. I was reflecting on my sabbatical and the things I was hoping to experience. I was thinking about the “sabbatical generosity fund” I am carrying around and how I hadn’t engaged the practice yet. Was I too insulated now in my career that I wasn’t rubbing shoulders with those less fortunate than me? Had I subconsciously designed my life to no longer be exposed to this pain? Years ago, I ran a ministry outreach that worked with our local community and those who struggled with homelessness. Was this no longer true about me? I was frustrated and insecure and angrily praying with God.

As I approached the exit for my hotel, they were doing construction on the ramp and I had to keep driving to the next exit. It was late at night, sometime around 11 pm, and I was one of the only people on the highway. I caught the next exit and pulled up to the light. There was no traffic. One of those struggling folks holding a cardboard sign sitting on the curb right out my driver’s side window, head hanging between his knees, was likely asleep at this hour.

I know this sounds ridiculous, and I feel like a fool writing it, but I didn’t make the connection between my prayers and this opportunity to incarnate that wrestling match.

Late at night. No traffic.

And the light was still red.

It was almost a “sun standing still” moment from the book of Joshua. I’m not claiming a miracle by any means, but I do feel like God may have been saying, “Are you seriously not getting this?”

Light was still red.

I was glad that my rental car had one of those automatic “shut-offs” so I wasn’t disturbing the sleeping man to my left.

And then it dawned on me.

I rolled down the window. “Hey man, you looking for some help?” His sleepy head shot up. “Oh! Hey! Yeah, wow, thanks for saying something.” I handed him some cash and told him I hoped he’d get to enjoy some breakfast. We chatted about how long he had been in the area and we exchanged some names and pleasantries. He thanked me again and I felt like the interaction was exactly what God had for both of us. I was glad that our paths intersected that night on the detour from my exit.

As I rolled up my window, almost as if on cue, the light turned green. No other cars had passed any direction. I returned to the highway and started making my way back to the exit I needed. I reflected on the verse from Hebrews about entertaining angels, always wondering “how that works.” Beyond that, I wondered if part of the rhythm of sabbatical is teaching us to break out of our regular rhythms. I wondered how many people I don’t “see” because I have learned to just drive past or continue on with my day. As slow as I was on the uptake, I thanked God for the sabbatical opportunity to “wake up” and see things with a fresh take.

And maybe next time I won’t need a miraculously long red light to see what God might be inviting me to do.


How to Pray for Me Sun, 24 Oct 2021 23:00:00 -0700 0814e69d-5397-4edf-b75b-1ffd9bca2834 Blessings, Concerns, and Upcoming Plans Note: BEMA Discipleship is listener-supported, typically through direct donations—but when you buy through links in this post, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Part of the design of this blog is to keep people updated on how they can pray for me. If you’re the praying type (I hope that’s many, if not most, of us), here are some thoughts.

First, I love to start with praise. A posture of gratitude is the foundation to my perspective. (Thanks, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.)

  • BLESS GOD that He has seen fit to grow my ministry and provide for me in so many ways, including finances. Pray also that I might steward those gifts well; pray that I would lead with character and integrity in a way that honors the generosity of those who chose to give to God through my ministry.

  • BLESS GOD that He has shown up in unexpected ways to surprise me. I did my part to plan well and God has honored that by showing up in those spaces.

  • BLESS GOD for a book contract and a new adventure. Pray that God would use it as He sees fit; pray that I would write a good book, no matter how many copies it sells. Pray that it would be useful for all the right people who can really use it in their walks.

Second, here are the concerns on my heart right now:

  • Pray that I would stay vigilant to seize opportunities to rest. My fall schedule (through the turn of the year) got a little out of control and I might be in danger of feeling some burnout. Pray that God would provide just enough and I would be faithful enough to see it and take it when it comes.

  • Pray that I would continue to steward the leadership of Impact Campus Ministries well and not be distracted by the work God has entrusted to me.

  • Pray specifically for my team, the Executive Team at ICM. They are such an incredible group of leaders and friends. They have had some tough times with family (sickness, death, financial needs, and so on). My desire is that they would be at peace and fulfilled in the work they are called to do. Pray for the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.

Finally, here are some things I have coming up:

  • I am currently traveling in California, making long overdue connections and introductions. Pray for fruitful conversations and divine appointments.

  • After that, I am home for a short week. Pray for good rest and family connections. Pray that I could see my wife and kids and spend meaningful time with them, not just “catch up on work.”

  • Then, I’m off to Missouri to speak at an art show, connect with supporters, and spend time at Truman State University. The ministry at Truman is very close to me and I consider the ministers there some of my best friends. Pray that we would be a mutual encouragement to each other.

  • Another brief week at home (repeat prayer request above) and then I am off to Virginia to spend time at the International Conference on Missions in a completely different capacity than usual. I will not be “on the clock” and at the booth in the same ways as I have previously. I will be a participant. I will be looking for opportunities to connect with others. This will be different, but I’m praying it will be full of wonderful little surprises. Join me in praying for that.

  • Finally, I come home for a much needed holiday to spend the rest of the month with my family — Thanksgiving!


The Disorientation of the New Wed, 13 Oct 2021 02:00:00 -0700 6c4b1d55-5c31-4fac-a2f4-e7ab9bd96a6a A New Routine Now a month into my sabbatical, I wanted to reflect on what I’m seeing and sensing. To be honest, I was kind of dreading this, because I thought I would have very little to say. But to my surprise, I couldn’t be more wrong.

I can start with something I knew long before this sabbatical — I’m a highly anxious person who finds a lot of mental stability and emotional security in routine. There are many routines I have taken part in for well over a decade. I have pursued the same “package” of spiritual practices every morning for over twelve years. Of course, there are many things in my life that have changed, and some significant items almost seasonally. I can absorb this change because of the things in my life that do not change.

Yet, in this sabbatical, I am already having to loosen my grip on some of the things that have never changed, simply to embrace some of the other efforts that I prayerfully set out to engage in. This experience has been unsettling and challenging, but I sense it is very good for me in this season of sabbatical. Here are some new spaces that have invaded my life recently:

Being present without being responsible. I have very rarely allowed myself to be present at ministry functions without having responsibilities. If I’m going to take the time to be there, I am going to expend the energy to contribute. But in this season, we are intentionally letting others lead. We are soft-launching our campus ministry here in Cincinnati, and I have been present at events while Josh Bosse functions as team leader. I find myself observing and taking photos (something I have always been terrible at remembering). I absorb the events in a completely different way and am able to lead differently because of it.

Counseling. What can I say? The work of therapy is such a healthy thing for me as a husband, a father, and a leader.

Writing retreat. I am currently under contract with NavPress to write my first book. This is a completely new experience that has forced me into intentional, creative spaces, and an experience where I am vulnerable and open to a new kind of failure. I am learning every step of the way.

Writing cohort. Part of this new writing experience has pushed me to make sure I am around other professionals who are doing the same thing. I recently joined a writing cohort where I am learning about the process of writing and the significance of writing in leadership. I was taken aback at my first meeting as I realized how long it’s been since I put myself in a “learning” posture. Some of what was said surprised me as it peeled open previously unspoken things. I realized how lonely I had been in some of these spaces; I had not recognized this loneliness without the help of others who had been there.

Hebrew class. Everything I “know” about Hebrew has been self-taught — until now! I enrolled in some private Hebrew classes and they are challenging me in big ways. I haven’t been a student since the spring of 2005. What a weird “new” experience! I was a radically different person when I was a traditional student; the methods I had back then simply do not work with the new me. This has been a wicked learning curve — sometimes encouraging to see my growth, sometimes frustrating to have to reevaluate assumptions, sometimes refreshing to simply be fresh and new.

— — —

What I’m already learning in this sabbatical is the art of surrender. I need to surrender to new spaces, to new postures, to new ideas. I have given up things I have been doing for years in order to find out what might be lying behind this door or that opportunity. It’s been humbling, but life-giving. And I’m trying to take good notes.


The Poetry Thu, 23 Sep 2021 01:00:00 -0700 fc6bee2f-8c06-451b-bf79-c868485b24c2 The poetic elements of a Sabbath Year. All of those nuts and bolts we discussed previously were a combination of our Policy and Procedures here at ICM and the principles we find in the biblical concepts about the Sabbath Year, which is also called shmitah.

So as I approached our organizational requirements for sabbaticals, I wanted to color those objectives with the principles of the Sabbath Year. Below are some of the notes filling my notebook from the previous year. The passages I used to reflect over that year are Exodus 23:10–13, Leviticus 25, and Deuteronomy 15 and 31. These principles are not meant to be technical nor comprehensive. They are poetic, broad strokes that breathe life into the structure that is time-tested for us at ICM.

Let the land lie fallow. The biblical concept here is not a metaphor or allegorical; it is very physical. The idea is that the real, physical land gets to rest. This speaks to our relationship with the land as well as how we relate to our work of the land. Since we’re not farmers or people who live in an agrocentric setting, how do we let this principle speak to us? First, I will attempt to be much more aware than normal of the ways I do relate to the physical land. Second, we did want to extend these principles into metaphor so we might learn something about our work. Since the closest thing to “harvest” that I experience is fundraising, we have made a commitment not to engage in direct fundraising for this time. This is actually unbelievably difficult, since I am not able to find my security in the regular cultivation of our support network. Instead, I step back and trust.

Provision for the poor. This is a year of being generous and sharing of what we have for those who have less among us. More than usual, I will say “yes” to those who ask; I will seek to give at each and every opportunity. I have started carrying a “Sabbath Year portion” of cash to give away in these opportunities. I am excited to share some of those stories. Simply put, we’re trying to say yes, rather than overthinking it this year. We are trying to walk toward those in need when we see it, rather than avoid.

No idolatry. I need to make sure that I don’t let worry take me captive and be heard on my lips. Trusting the story is important here as it will reveal the idolatry I have on the systems I typically place my daily trust in. I want to be aware, in this year, how idols will seek to grab my attention during a season that will test my obedience.

Canceling debts and forgiving loans. I don’t have any monetary loans out there. However, every month ICM staff are required to take and report on what we call our “Personal Retreat Days.” We take a work day to listen, journal, worship, pray, and reflect. During this year’s PRDs, I will be listening for those with whom I am keeping spiritual record. I will practice forgiveness more than I usually would in this year.

Reading Torah. This is a year for reading Torah as a family, so we will spend time every day reading from the Books of Moses.

— — —

These are the principles that will hopefully guide the stories I will share in the months to come. My prayer is that God will bless these efforts and I would respond to the times of testing with trust and faithfulness.


The Nuts and Bolts Tue, 14 Sep 2021 01:00:00 -0700 d0664441-9ccb-4194-a8d7-a3e43a8dce8b The practical elements of a Sabbath Year. So before we get too far into this journey, I want to talk about the practicals. Am I stepping away from my work? Am I not doing the podcast? “You’re leaving for two years?!” No. No, I’m not. But we do have a commitment to take a break from the regular routine of things and approach our work in a way where God can refresh us and speak to us, because we’ve postured ourselves to listen in unique ways. Again, for most of our staff, this looks like a defined 100-day journey with cleaner boundaries. My journey will take a more ambiguous shape, but it is driven by the same elements in our Policy and Procedure Manual. What are those elements? Let me share them with you.

ACCOUNTABILITY: Your sabbatical is required to have an accountability structure. This means I have people I talk to on a regular basis about how my sabbatical is going, both inside and outside of the organization. I have two teammates who do this for me internally. Weekly phone calls with Lowell Kosak (ICM’s Director of Spiritual Formation and the champion of our sabbatical efforts) and Jeff Vander Laan (ICM’s Vice President, and no relation to the teacher who influenced me). I also have a new counselor/therapist for the next year and am procuring a spiritual director for year two. I’m excited to talk and share more about this part of my journey.

FAMILY RENEWAL: Your sabbatical needs to bring physical rest and spiritual renewal to your family. Part of the counseling mentioned above will be targeting specific areas we would like to examine and work on as a couple, both as spouses and as parents. We are also planning a big family vacation a couple years from now. It happens to be the confluence of my 40th birthday, our 20th wedding anniversary, and my wife’s 40th birthday—seems like a good time to celebrate. We want to go to the UK and visit the land of our ancestry and talk about our “family narrative.” That should be fun to share, too.

PERSONAL RENEWAL: You need to intentionally make sure you are spiritually renewed during this time as well. I am finally taking two years of Hebrew classes that I’ve put off forever! Our family is going to read the Torah over the first year together. The Executive Team helped me retool my usual event schedule for the year, so some events I will not attend and others I will attend with a different intent and from a different role. Again, you should see here a change in posture and an ability to see and hear things you wouldn’t encounter in other ways.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: You need to intentionally develop and sharpen your professional skills during this time. I want to bring more organizational and cultural alignment to my work. I am always engaging things that help me develop in a “productive” sense; even the things listed above as “personal renewal” actually contribute to my professional development. What I struggle with is actually remembering our counter-intuitive commitment to prayer and intimacy with Jesus. I need to make sure I am committed to this alignment for these two years. The first year, my word for reflection is listening. The second year, my word is gratitude. I will enjoy writing about these reflections.

COVERING THE VOID: Make sure that all your roles will be covered in your absence. Since my “absence” is not as defined, the needs here aren’t dramatic. We’re doing some things to cover some fundraising efforts, but the concern here is minimal.

So those are the organizational nuts and bolts that drive the execution of our sabbaticals. We have those bases covered. What about the biblical principles of the Sabbath Year? We’ll talk about that next time.


The Sabbath Year Mon, 06 Sep 2021 00:00:00 -0700 a8780ce6-44cc-4fe2-b7c8-bb15ead1b206 Rosh Hashanah, the High Holidays, and the Sabbath Year Tomorrow is Rosh Hashanah and ushers in what is called the High Holidays of the Jewish Calendar. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year and leads into ten days of introspection, reflection, confession, and repentance. Those days, also called the “Days of Awe,” will lead into Yom Kippur (or the Day of Atonement). You can read more about these holidays (and others) at Chabad or even watch my “Festival Edition” playlist over on YouTube.

The High Holidays this year also usher in what is known as shmitah, or the Sabbath Year. Today, Rabbinic Judaism has ruled that Sabbath Year is directly connected to the land of Israel itself. Because of this, there are no requirements for Jews who live outside the land of Israel. It is, however, a fascinating study in the principles of Sabbath and what God desired His people experience in the land when they entered it thousands of years ago.

Impact Campus Ministries requires all full-time staff to take a sabbatical every seven years. For most of our staff, this looks like 100 days of what we call a “working sabbatical.” It is a paid time of planned, prepared engagement and accountability structures. It is not just 100 days of vacation, although we will often “unplug” from our usual communication (email, etc.) during this time. It is guided by objectives in our organization’s Policy and Procedures Manual and is a very intentional practice for our staff.

For me and my family, instead of engaging in that typical 100-day approach, we will be combining these same objectives with the principles and timeline of the biblical Sabbath Year. I look forward to sharing those notes with you over the year to come and inviting you into this unique sabbath space. I also look forward to sharing stories and prayer requests. There is so much to discuss and talk about!

For now, I simply want to invite you to this space and introduce these ideas. I will be using this blog space to keep a Sabbatical Journal during my experience and I invite you to follow along.