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, October 31, 2008

Service with a smile

For the past four years I've been "mentoring" a young pastor named Blake.  I put the word mentoring in quotes because I often feel like he's far brighter, far more well-equipped for ministry than I am.  And he is certainly more of all the things we look for in a call than I could have hoped to be at 32.   Anyway, he gives me an exercise in humility every Thursday morning at 8 in a little restaurant not far from where he lives.   

Three days ago I came down with some kind of stomach flu-thing.  I called Blake on Thursday morning and told him I couldn't meet with him because I wasn't feeling well enough.  He was gracious and said it was no problem.  Thursday afternoon I had a cord of wood for our fireplace dumped in my driveway.  I looked at it all afternoon Thursday and just couldn't face moving it.  This morning I knew I had to.  I have three showings on our house on Saturday and the place has to look good.

I called Blake and my young friend Bobby (also someone I've mentored for 9 years) and asked if they could help me out in a jam.  Both said yes immediately.  It was Blake's and Bobby's good backs, strong arms, and cheerful hearts that ministered Christ to me today.  Blake called himself "The Engergizer Bunny".  I'd call it a servant heart.  Bobby I've come to expect it from.  It is part of his nature.  It is one of the ways he expresses his faith.   He has been there for me and for our family with physical assistance with our dog, our house, moving stuff, transporting people, more times than I can count.  He never complains -- ever.   A couple of servants.  You just never know where you'll find them.  

I guess Jesus was right with that business about the cup of cold water.

Thank you, God... for Bobby and Blake.  Oh... and thanks for the load of wood.

Jon

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Found my song

There's something about being reconciled to God. It really IS like what happened to the Lost Son in Jesus' story. One minute you're out eating corn husks because you think there is nothing better. The next you've got a robe and rings on and are dining at a feast set by your father.

I know the moment I started to step away from where I really should be with him. It was when I stopped singing and playing the piano for devotionals, and I'd hate to tell you how long ago that was. See, I'm Reformed by theology, but in my heart I'm an old arminian pietist. I need to constantly be reminded in my heart, in my deepest emotional places, of what God did for ME. And so I was converted reading Romans 5:8, and the song began. It isn't a performance thing. In fact, it has always been hard to coax me to do this in front of people because I get embarrassed (am I ashamed of my life with God?). Anyway, I just spent the most glorious 30 minutes singing to him... singing with him.

You might call this old hymn my "theme" song. I hope it touches your heart too.

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot cure.”

Here see the Bread of Life, see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but heaven can remove.

-- text by Thomas Moore, 1816

Power and Glory

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.
(I Chronicles 29:11)

Yesterday I went to see Tim Keller speak at Park Street Church in Boston.  I don't like to use words like "transformational" and "life-changing", but a couple of things he said as he spoke to a group of pastors certainly were.   Actually, "humbling" and maybe even "humiliating" might be better.   I won't cheapen the experience by writing about it here.  I just wanted to put down a marker so I'd know when it was.  I so want to go beyond knowing God.  I want to experience God.  I want to find -- just once in my life -- what I've told people for years, that he's all I need.   I haven't been giving him what is really due him, and I'm tired of it.

Jon