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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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stuff Christians Like


I have been following a blog by a man named Jon Acuff.  It is called "Stuff Christians Like", and I think he really hits the right tone most of the time.  His writing reminds me of the old Whittenburg Door from back in the 1970s.  Anyway, he had a bet going with a friend of his who I guess is the editor of Relevant Magazine.  If the Celtics won against Orlando in the play-offs, the Relevant editor would give away 20 subscriptions to his magazine.  All you had to do was write an email explaining what the last magazine you bought was.  Here was my reply.

By the way, today is the first day I am not the pastor of a small bricks-and-mortar church in rural New Hampshire.  I won't go into the whole story of why I chose to leave after just shy of two years, but I am sure in the Lord that my reasons were sound.  Please pray that God will grant me gainful employment doing something honorable, and that he will guide some of us in whether to ultimately plant a new church here in the town I live in.  

Yours in Christ,

Jon

"Dear Jonathan, 

I think "bought" is the important word here. I can't remember the last time I actually bought and paid for a magazine. It was probably one of the last times I flew. Christians are, by creed, frugal. 

Use it up 
Wear it out 
Make it do 
Or do without 

That's our mantra, and I'm sure it is in the Bible somewhere in non-poetic form, sort of like how Isaac Watts took perfectly good hebrew poetry and turned it into pretty awkward english metered verse. 

My point though is that I feel a bit guilty about last magazine I "acquired." I was in the post office collecting the mail for our church. I put the pile down on the counter and started throwing away all the circulars from Group Magazine, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Relevant, and several VBS ads. That's when I noticed a brand new copy of the latest National Geographic Magazine -- still in its plastic wrap -- that had been left on the counter before me. 

I looked around furtively to be sure there were no other customers to whom it might belong or who might judge a pastor for what I was about to do. After all, the lead article was about how Greenland has become the poster child for something Christians don't believe in: Global Warming. We can't believe in Global Warming because it isn't Republican. I don't know how Christians in other countries sort out these distinctions, but I know what Christians believe, and National Geographic is right on the edge of being a subversive magazine. When I was converted in the 1970s we were challenged to burn all our pornography and smash all our Grateful Dead records (pre-cassette, pre-CD), and since NGM carried full-frontals of unreached people groups, my entire collection of graphic National Geographics went on the ash heap of history. 

I am older now and probably a bit less sanctified and more jaded by all that life has thrown at me than in those days. As I stared at the once greatly loved contraband on the counter, I thought, "Surely no one will notice if the pastor walks out with a pinko-commie publication tucked between the brick of "Our Daily Bread" and the pile of denominational monthly newsletters I was just itching to read. 

So I confess. I did it. And I've been alternately enjoying and repenting while seated on my pastor's throne -- what worldly people would call "bathroom reading." I will wrestle at some other time with whether the acquisition of this magazine should be brought before the Session or maybe even go to Presbytery. For now, I just really want to thank you for being used of the Lord to hold me accountable. Where would any of us be without someone in our life to ask the really hard questions?"

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh."  Colossians 2:20-23

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