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, November 29, 2010

The Best Advice


Some of the best advice ever given anyone is the opening of Psalm 1.  “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

The text is addressed to all people.  The use of the word “man” in the first clause is understood to be generic.  The Hebrew word “ish” means not only a man, it also means a person, or so the text notes in the ESV Bible tell me. 

The writer was a good Baptist.  His outline has three points and a personal application. 

Walk.  He casts his three points in the negative.  The person who is blessed is someone who doesn’t take counsel from wicked people.  Who are the wicked?  Well, he tells us later in the poem.  They are like chaff that blows away in a breeze.  They are also people who will stand condemned when God judges, presumably because their advice was no good. 

This isn’t just Frost’s “two road diverged in a yellow wood,” because the two roads are not about the same.   The advice of the wicked leads to destruction, plain and simple.  This hasn’t changed in our modern world.  There is such a thing as good and godly counsel, and those who follow it will live lives that are pleasing to God.  The end of Isaiah 30 puts it this way, “And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.  And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.  Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, ‘Be gone!’” 

Sometimes you just need to get rid of things in your life that aren’t helpful, no matter how “valuable” they seem to be, and listen to the voice of God.  Human life is walking, moving from one place to another.  And getting godly advice along the way will make the walk better, no matter what what is going on.

Stand.  A sin is not a mistake.  It is deliberate and willful disobedience.  So the “way” of sinners is not just a place.  It is a series of choices, made because you wanted to make them. 

Sit.  Have you ever been to a big-league baseball game?  I have.  And I can tell you that the “discussion” that goes on in the bleachers is not always complimentary, even to the home team.  The big targets seem to be umpires and the visiting team’s pitcher.  But really, anyone on the field (including the general manager up in the skybox) is fair game for a scoffing and mocking.  The definition of a mocker is someone who comes to the game but doesn’t have the guts to play. 

This famous quote from Theodore Roosevelt pretty well sums it up.

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910
Personal Application.  Delight.  That’s an amazing thing to think about.  What delights you?  In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis’ Edmund is so delighted by Turkish Delight, a simple sugary candy, that it nearly costs him his life.  But to find delight in God’s Law… that is the thing!  It holds the best counsel anyone could offer for your daily walk; it points the way to life – it is a great place to “stand”; and sitting with it will make you into a dynamically positive person.
Jon

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