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.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

January 17, 2009 Judging and Asking

READ: Matthew 7:1-11
1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.
2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.
3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
4 Or how can you say to your brother, Let me take the speck out of your eye, when there is the log in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.
9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?
11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

There is a natural comparison to be made between the two halves of this passage. First, let's understand what it means to judge. Or rather, let's understand what it doesn't mean. Stating the truth of a matter is not judging. But stating the truth in order to lower the position of another or get them in trouble? That's judging. The whole purpose of judging is to elevate yourself above another. Judging is telling without analysis. It is also taking from another their position or pride or place out of self-interest.

When Jesus tells us to ask... seek... knock... it is an invitation to analyze. And when we ask and seek and knock we are not only analyzing our own situation, we're also analyzing the situation of the one at whose door we knock. The bigot knows no such luxury. He reacts. He never acts. Moreover, he is never in a position of need. He will be master over all and will have everything on his own terms. But the one who asks, enquires. The one who seeks, learns. The one who knocks, listens intently for a response. The one who asks already knows he is a beggar. The one who seeks already knows he is looking for something he does not yet have. The one who knocks has not yet discerned that this is indeed the right door. He is living in hopeful expectation that it may be the right one.

I was really frustrated with the cable TV company the other day. I had been on hold on the phone for over 30 minutes. The worst of it was that part of that time I was listening to the most inane muzak you could imagine. This is torture for a classically trained musician of high character such as myself. So, when the poor woman came on the phone and asked me to spell Northwood for her a second time, I popped my cork. Without asking whether the volume on my phone was set high enough or whether there was static on the line I simply blurted out, "Are you not intelligent enough to spell Northwood?!!" To her credit, she politely said, "I'm hanging up now," and was gone from the line, leaving me to endure another 30 minute wait. She had every right. I had been rude and judgemental.

It takes work to be a person who asks and seeks and knocks. It also takes humility.


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