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 26, 2009

January 20, 2009 Knowing and Building

READ: Matthew 7:21-27
21 “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
22 On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?
23 And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Jama and I in Portsmouth, New Hampshire the other day with my son and future daughter-in-law. We were looking for a place to have the reception after their wedding. It is really hard to find any place that won't charge you an obscene amount just to have a party. Did you know that the average american wedding reception is estimated at between $23,000 and $30,000? Does anyone really have that much money to throw around for a 4 hour party?

Like I said, we were hunting for "the" place. That's when we came across The Portsmouth Pearl. It is a reception hall on Pearl Street, which is in a sort of dodgy part of town. The hall itself is really nice. When we walked in the first thing we noticed was that the building was quite old. There is no real lobby, and there are semi-circular stairs swooping up on both sides ascending to the great hall above. What was this place originally, I had to ask. My answer came when I walked outside and found the historic marker on the front of the building:

Originally built as a Freewill Baptist Church, The Portsmouth Pearl was sold to the People's Baptist Church in 1915 and served the seacoast African-American community until the 1980's. During that period, it was the center of Black society in Portsmouth. It was here that Martin Luther King, Jr. preached in 1952, while still a divinity student at Boston University.

How quickly time forgets a place. Was the Free-Will Baptist church built on sand? Or is the life of a church much more complex than that? Certainly Dr. King did "great things in Jesus name". Then why didn't this mult-cultural church last more than 125 years? I think the answer is in erosion. Anyone who has lived in an old house will tell you that the fastest way to "end" the life of the house is to let the foundation deteriorate. Old foundations can be the strongest, if properly maintained. But if you let the mortar fall off over time, if you don't keep watch for infestations in the beams and sills, if you don't watch out for rot, pretty soon you're living in a "knock-down".

Just so in our lives. I may have a vital relationship with Christ today, but erosion can happen at any time. And while my eternal security is assured by Scripture, I don't ever want to be found wanting at the Last Day. It is a pity we can't build dynasties for Jesus. But each person's life with God is their own ultimately. What my adult children do with the foundations of faith is their own. Each parent builds the strongest foundations for their children that they know how. But the maintenance is up to the "homeowner". Once I've turned the keys over to them, there's no more time to add mortar to the stone. That's why it is so important that we give our children the best we've got when it comes to faith. But ultimately, it is just as important that we look to the condition of our own foundation. You may have built a great amount of Bible knowledge when you were a young Christian. You may have great stories to tell about ministry adventures with your high school or college friends. But what stories are you and Jesus writing together today?

Jon

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