Sabbatical Shorthand 000 – Intro

imageIn an effort to continue writing and share my unfolding sabbatical stories, I will be posting regular updates in the “Sabbatical Shorthand” blog series. The focus on these posts will be to share a little more than I can on either Twitter or Facebook, but less than a newsletter or lengthy email. I would like to share the highlights of these months away from parish ministry as the Lord continues to prepare our family for our next adventure together.

So please check back in regularly and see all the Lord is doing in the lives of the Kocak family!


Reboot Coming Soon…

Next month I begin my first ever sabbatical.

A sabbatical is an intentional reboot of your schedule, priorities, and focus in life. It will be a season characterized by rest, rejuvenation, reflection,  and return. One area I would like to return to during this season is writing. For me a blog was never about getting readers, or subscriptions, or building influence in different markets. It was simply about thinking critically, imagining vividly, and writing regularly.

Sadly, it has been nearly eighteen months since my last journal entry, twenty months since my last blog post, and nearly two years since I have written any poetry or articles. I haven’t even mustered enough desire to write at length on Facebook (I mostly just post striking articles and ironic pictures all day long) and my domain name ( expired!

But with the sabbatical reboot comes a return:

A return to creating.
A return to writing.
A return to my blog.

Please join in the return!


New Wine Requires New Skins – Advice For New Year’s Resolutions

Every year on January 1st, people in our society firmly resolve to make a change in the near year. Some just copy and paste last year’s resolutions: get in shape, pray more, stop smoking, spend more time with family, pay off bills, etc. Others go into uncharged territory, generating new resolutions that they never attempted before.

Whether the resolutions  be new or old, they are often self-determined and the means by which they are accomplished are typically self-driven by the individual’s firm resolve to change. The new resolution still utilizes an old pattern for change. This is why so often times “new years resolutions” fail by the time February come along. We joke about this all the time. Unfortunately, something as life-giving as positive change in a new year has become a cynical joke.

For the changes we desire in 2013 to become normative in our lives, we need more than just a “firm resolve” to change individually, but also a community that participates with us in the change. When it comes to addictions, changes in life rhythms, spiritual states, etc. we also need empowerment from the Holy Spirit.

To begin, instead of self-determining what you want to change, spend December (or early January), praying and listening together with a few close friends to what God may want to help you change. Often times we think God wants us to go on a diet from food, when he wants to do a deeper spiritual work in our lives. Be open and obedient to the changes the Lord wants for you in 2013.

Next, have your community support you in these changes. As my pregnant wife often tells me, I am not supporting her desire to eat healthy during her pregnancy when I am smuggling into the house Hagen Daz ice cream. Your community may be your family,  your church, or your work place. Instead of them just holding you accountable by constantly pestering you about your resolutions, invite them to actively participate in the resolution in order to embody  these new changes in your life.

Finally, the way forward in the spiritual life is a pilgrimage of return. At the beginning of each new year, a practice I have developed is simply renewing my covenant with the Lord by praying a simple covenant prayer like this one:

“Let me be your servant, under your command. I will no longer be my own. I will give up myself to your will in all things. Lord, make me what you will. I put myself fully into your hands; Put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for you or laid aside for you, let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and with a willing heart give it all to your pleasure and disposal.”

Voices Late At Night

Voices Late At Night
Wendell Berry

Until I have appeased the itch
To be a millionaire,
Spare us, O Lord, relent and spare;
Don’t end the world till it has made me rich.

It ends in poverty.

O Lord, until I come to fame
I pray Thee, keep the peace;
Allay all strife, let rancor cease
Until my book may earn its due acclaim.

It ends in strife, unknown.

Since I have promised wealth to all,
Bless our economy;
Preserve our incivility
And greed until the votes are cast this fall.

Unknown, it ends in ruin.

Favor the world, Lord, with Thy love;
Spare us for what we’re not.
I fear Thy wrath, and Hell is hot;
Don’t blow Thy trumpet until I improve.

Worlds blaze; the trumpet sounds.

O Lord, despite our right and wrong,
Let Thy daylight come down
Again on woods and field and town,
To be our daily bread and daily song.

It lives in bread and song.