This summer Ann and I spent most of my two month sabbatical in New Hampshire and Maine at two small lake cottages we rented there. The major focus of my sabbatical was writing. I started work last spring on a new book whose working title is: Sanctification, a user’s guide to becoming more like Jesus. I had hoped to write 6 chapters, which, with the Lord’s great blessings, were completed—a total of about 80,000 words! I hope to finish this book by January/February and have been in conversation with the publisher P&R, who are interested in making it available.
A second goal I had for the summer was to complete a study on humility. Each day Ann and I would read the same passage on humility from the Bible for our private devotions journal on the passage, then discuss our devotionals at dinner time and pray about it. This study was very blessed and helpful. Humility is not generally accepted as a virtue in many circles in our culture, sadly, not even the church. We tend to respect the proud not the humble. God tends to disagree! As part of this study, I also read a few good books on humility. If you are interested in the topic, I highly commend Andrew Murray’s book, Humility, the beauty of holiness.
Third, I set the goal of losing twenty pounds. By the grace of God, even this this goal was accomplished. This was really aided by the surgery I had in March correcting my atrial fibrillation. I have had A-fib since being a teenager and it had been well managed by medications, until this past year. In March I had a catheter ablation where the errant electrical pathways in the heart are burned by a small probe sent up through an artery in the leg. With the heart fixed, two side effects contributed to the successful weight loss. First, I was able to stop taking the heart medications which had slowed down my heart rate and my metabolism. Second, I was able to exercise with greater intensity and therefore burn more calories. Between the heart working better and the twenty pounds gone, I feel like a new man! In fact, I rode a 60-mile bike event near the end of my sabbatical with 4,400 feet of climbing and actually rode faster for this route than I ever had before. Thank the Lord!
We had lots of family time and fun as well. Hiking, canoeing, swimming and hanging out at the beach. One of our favorite moments came when all of our sons, their wives, fiancées, and our granddaughter were able to join us in New Hampshire over the Fourth of July weekend. One beautiful day we all climbed Mount Major overlooking the shimmering Lake Winnipesaukee. We have been climbing this hill for forty years together. Our oldest son, Collin first made this trip when he was just two years old. He had his daughter Findlay with him, so at age one, she beat him, though she had lots of help getting up. (Picture at top: Tom and Ann, Brandon and wife Annalee, Preston and fiancée Katie Merrill, Taylor and fiancée Megan Hale, Collin and wife Kerry, daughter Findlay)
We worshipped at about five different churches during this time, it was good to observe other ministries and how they approach worship, preaching, etc. It is always a delight to join with the body of Christ at worship wherever we travel on this planet. We really saw the need for more churches to be started in New England. In Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont combined, the PCA has only about 9 churches, mostly under 100 in attendance. The fields are white with harvest!
While I did work about six hours per day writing, our schedule was really very relaxing and rejuvenating. I want to thank the officers of Uptown Church for allowing its pastoral staff to take sabbaticals on a regular basis, every 5-7 years. It is a time honored tradition which keeps your pastors fresh and ready to minister!
We are delighted to be back. It was such a joy to return home to worship with Uptown in mid-August! We look forward to many more years of service and would ask you to pray God’s continued blessings on our ministry at Uptown, and our family. Thank you!
Author: Dr. Tom Hawkes