Senior pastor of this congregation is such a blessing and such a challenge. Very nearly every day, I learn something new and exciting—and otherwise—about Covenant Presbyterian Church, something else for my quickly filling plate.

It felt overwhelming at the end of last week. So I just stopped. For a few days, I stepped away from my normal ministerial life. I outlined for myself a personal retreat. Spending most of my waking hours in our Sanctuary or my study, I was on retreat from Thursday morning until Monday morning when I left home to report for jury duty.

First, I focused on who am I? I studied and prayed through Romans, chapter 8, which I preached on Sunday. Second, what is my calling? I studied, prayed through the ultimate guide to Christian living—The Sermon on the Mount. Third, what is my call as a husband and father? I studied and prayed through the Book of Ruth, where loving and serving family is the focus. Fourth, what is my call as pastor? I studied and prayed through the Letter to Titus. Fifth and finally, I centered on Jeremiah 29, the plans of God for me, my beloved family, and the church I am growing to love.

Did this Sabbath, this sacred time off settle me down? Remember, I ended the retreat when I left for jury duty on Monday. I got lost downtown driving to the courthouse. The parking was a mess. Hurry up and wait. The wifi connection stunk chewing through my phone battery, which quickly ran out of juice. I waited in lines. I was disoriented. I sat and sat for hours and then sent home without ever seeing the inside of a real courtroom. Man, was I grumpy!

When I got home, Kim had a bad, bad cold. I took care of her. I did laundry. I grumped. I played hooky from church because I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with one more new ministry. When I charged my phone, and finally downloaded my email, I did find out about yet another challenging ministry. I was even more grumpy.

The retreat was what I needed. But real life is real life. Now here is why my Sabbath, my Stoppage, was so important. It gave me the strength to face real life when it hit. It gave me tools to apply to my situation at the courthouse, home and at church. It gave me a solid rock on which to build my house of faith.

In the next several weeks, I am going to tell you about a Holy Stoppage I have in mind for our church family. It begins by my personally asking you to STOP AND PRAY for our Church for 40 days beginning September 10.

On Sunday, September 10, we will begin a 40-Day Prayer Campaign for our church in our worship service by engaging many ways to pray. Then you will receive the special booklet which will be our guide.

STOP and PRAY with me. It may not make everything rosy right away, but it is the rock upon which we will continue to build His Church.

Grace and peace, Steve Nofel