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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Friday, February 1, 2008

James 1:13

"Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one."

There are words that simply don't apply to situations. When you're drunk you can't use the word "godly" any more than someone living in Cuba can use the word "democratic". The word just doesn't apply in the context. And so the word "tempt" has nothing to do with God. He is not our tempter. You see, to tempt someone is to draw them away from something else. Young people take note: that is why the guy or girl you're dating presents a certain danger, and it isn't a physical danger. The church has far too long hung the whole matter on "what you are DOING". The danger is spiritual. The danger is always spiritual. The "other" you are interested in is a temptation quite simply because they draw you away from your first love for Christ. And oh... we want to find a mate. It is in our DNA. To love and be loved, to give and receive sex in a secure way... to delight in the garden of fruit that is available is one of our deepest needs. Ah yes! But what if that is also the means of drawing us away from the one our soul was made for?

I have often found myself justifying my more ungodly actions by trying to frame them as in fact godly. And so I make statements like "I denied myself that pleasure for so long. And has God ever really said it was wrong?" That's the same statement the serpent made in the garden. I think every uptight puritan (by the way, the puritans weren't puritanical) who gets drunk on occasion has appropriated Martin Luther's famous line, "If you must sin, sin boldly" as some kind of pro-drinking statement. We can find examples in history to make almost anything sound godly.

The real problem is that in order to do those things we have to import language into a situation where it doesn't belong. So while you're getting naked with someone you're not married to, don't say this is the relationship God wants you in for now. While you're having the fourth drink at a party don't say you were there as a witness to your faith. While you're gossiping don't try to convince everyone you're really doing ministry. And those are just the showy sins of our lives. While you are buying a friend a meal in an expensive restaurant don't make yourself feel godly because they have less than you. Where is the destitute person who has nothing? Why aren't THEY in the restaurant with you? While you enjoy your Super Bowl party this Sunday, where is the person who has no chili, no TV, no family to share with? Don't tell God you're enjoying koinonia with your church friends because the very WORD doesn't fit the situation. We will call these things what they are tomorrow. For now, I leave it to you to come up with meaningful terms to apply.

Jon

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