Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

James 1:10

"and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away."

Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth Thou hast for me
place in my hand the wonderful key that shall unclasp and set me free:
Silently now I wait for Thee ready my God thy will to see
Open my eyes, illumine me Spirit Divine.

I know the hymn text above by Clara Scott (1898) seems unrelated to James 1:10, but I've been feeling lately the weight of prayerlessness. I don't know about you, but I think my chief sin is probably running "movies" in my head that have to do with the people I love rather than placing them and what concerns me about them before the Throne of Grace. It is the mark of a horribly undisciplined mind, and it leads to nothing but difficulty in relationships, suspicion, and doubt. That is why I was drawn to Open My Eyes this morning.

James is being really quite playful with his readers in the couplet of verses 9 and 10. The "lowly" brother may be one who is humble in more ways than loss of income, and the "rich" may be wealthy in many more ways than how much gold he's got. I'm thinking here about a common error those of us in discipleship ministry often make. At least I know I've made this mistake more than once. We look at someone who is popular and who has an interesting personality -- in fact we look at someone who has good looks -- and we think "here's the person I should pursue!" Why? Because we think they'll embrace Jesus because they embrace, or at least show interest in, US. The fact is they're just good natured people and that's what makes them popular. They are RICH in all the things that get them noticed. Meanwhile there's the person who doesn't have all that. They aren't socially connected. They have an awkwardness or shyness to them. They get overlooked a lot. They may not be particularly good looking or attract a crowd. So their humiliation is simply that they didn't get blessed with star quality. They're poor that way.

My wife and I were watching TV the other night and there was a veritable parade of face cream ads on this particular show. You know who the most beautiful woman in the world is to me? A 48 year old woman who is being honestly who and what she is. Just so with Jesus. He didn't have star quality. He probably wasn't even all that good looking. He was what the politicians called Grover Cleveland: "ugly honest". The flower of youth, the trappings of power, the popularity of the good looking and well connected? All of them will fade in short order like flowers in a vase. All that really lasts is the honest thing that Jesus wants to do in each person he calls. And it really doesn't matter how they look or who they know. That's why the rich can boast in their humiliation: Jesus is making them the same offer he makes the poor.

Jon

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