Pastoral Relief and Retreat

My photo
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.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Haji Ali's Lesson

A couple of weeks ago I was handed this quote on a xeroxed page by one of our church members. It floated around my desk unread, until this morning. I was hurriedly trying to get to the bottom of the pile so I could feel I had accomplished something and was madly throwing things from publishing houses and the vacant pleas for money that come to a pastor from every direction, usually under the cover "Current Occupant..."

The quote is from the book Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson (c. 2007, Penguin Press). The book jacket reads, in part, "The astonishing, uplifting story of a real-life Indiana Jones and his humanitarian campaign to use education to combat terrorism in the Taliban's backyard. Anyone who despairs of the individual's power to change lives has to read the story of Greg Mortenson, a homeless mountaineer who, following a 1993 climb of Pakistan's treacherous K2, was inspired by a chance encounter with impoverished mountain villagers and promised to build them a school."

Boy, did I feel convicted that I didn't read it before now! Listen to what Mortenson says:

"Haji Ali spoke. ‘If you want to thrive in Baltistan, you must respect our ways," Haji Ali said, blowing on his bowl. The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die," he said, laying his hand warmly on Mortenson's own. "Doctor Greg, you must take time to share three cups of tea. We may be uneducated but we are not stupid. We have lived and survived here for a long time."

"That day, Haji Ali taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned in my life," Mortenson says. "We Americans think you have to accomplish everything quickly. We're the country of thirty-minute power lunches and two-minute football drills. Our leaders thought their 'shock and awe' campaign could end the war in Iraq before it even started. Haji Ali taught me to share three cups of tea, to slow down and make building relationships as important as building projects. He taught me that I had more to learn from the people I work with than I could ever hope to teach them."

My great thanks to the person who gave me this. All of you can continue the dialog merely by replying to this post. Click on "comment".

Outline from 1 Thessalonians 5

Some folks in our congregation have been asking for the outline from our recently completed series in 1 Thessalonians. At Nottingham Congregational Christian Church we've been talking a lot about four pillars of the church: Conviction, Community, Communication, and Call, with Christ being the Cornerstone. While I don't have the entire book outline available, I thought I'd throw the last chapter up here. If anyone has any questions or wants to discuss some of these topics, please chime in!

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28: Four Pillars, Revisited

This plan for the church is something the World knows nothing about. What Paul closes this letter with is a scandal to our latter-day sensibilities.

1) Leadership (Call)

a) be aware of (those who labor among you)

b) Submit to your leadership (and are over you)

c) Listen for Encouragement from your leadership (and admonish you)... the combination of a, b, and c leads to...

d) Esteem

2) Fellowship (Community)

a) Peace (eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace)... how we do it:

b) admonishment

c) encouragement

d) help

e) patience

f) payment (pay against kind when necessary)

3) Discipleship (Communication)

a) rejoice

b) pray

c) give thanks

d) listen (be open to the Spirit)

e) avoid evil

4) Sovereignty (Conviction)

a) God is Faithful

b) God is Able

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Welcome back to The Morning Watch!

Welcome back to The Morning Watch!

Actually, you haven't gone anywhere. I've been busy, but that's another story. The fact is that doing a daily blog that is also your daily devotional can easily get delayed and delayed and... well you understand. Today is different though. Our church is going "online" in a big new way today. We're launching our new website ( to coincide with our Fall Kickoff. So look over the website and talk to me. I love feedback and I'd love to talk with you about anything that's on your mind. Pick a topic and we'll discuss. I'll be posting most days, so don't be afraid to leave something any day of the week. And remember -- this is going out to the whole world, so you could generate a ton of feedback if you come up with a good topic!

Yours in Christ,