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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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Remember

            Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
            Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
            So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
(2 Timothy 2:14-26 ESV)

Remind them of these things…
            The Scriptures probably spend as much time reminding us to remember the Lord and his ways as they do articulating what those ways are.  The key failure of any movement or ministry, and the key failure of any individual Christian is always in forgetting to review God’s ways.  Is there some sin that keeps tripping you up?  It is always, always, always because at the moment of greatest temptation and at all the preceding moments as you moved toward the temptation, you failed to do this one simple thing.   Review. 
            In the same way, churches would never alter or abandon their core theology (or, conversely, become mired in dogma) if they were constantly reviewing God’s will and God’s ways.  He is a changeless God (James 1:17) who has revealed himself fully the Scriptures, and most fully in Jesus Christ.  Why do we look for fresh revelation?  God does speak today.  But he only speaks consistent with his revealed character and word.  Brothers and Sisters!  We should always be praying that God will guard us from veering off into some new teaching.  Just as there is no new sin under the sun, there is no new “godliness” that relaxes in the slightest the Law, the Commandments, and the Grace that God has given in their fulfillment in Jesus.
            In the present case, Paul spent almost all of the first two chapters doing just such a review:  
   I remember you constantly in my prayers (1:3)
   I remember your tears (1:4)
   I am reminded of your sincere faith (1:5)
   I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God (1:6)
   Do not be ashamed of [remember] the testimony about our Lord (1:8)
   Follow [remember] the pattern of sound words you heard from me (1:13)
   By the Holy Spirit…guard [remember] the good deposit entrusted to you (1:14)
   You are aware [remember] that all who are in Asia turned away from me (1:15)
   You well know [remember] the service he (Onesiphorus) rendered me at Ephesus (1:18)
   What you heard from me [remember]…entrust [teach] to faithful men (2:2)
   Think over [remember] what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding (2:7)
   Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David (2:8)
   Therefore [remember], I endure everything for the sake of the elect (2:10)
   Remind [remember] them of these things (2:14)

THE way the faith is passed on is through this process of reminding.  Why are the Scriptures read in church whenever we gather for worship?  Why does Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, focus every verse on the testimonies, the rules, the laws, the commandments, the sayings of God?  Why does John begin his testimony about Jesus (his Gospel) with the words, “In the beginning was the WORD?” 

So, you who are struggling, remember his word.  You who are in sin, remember his word.  You who are mourning, remember his word.  You who are poor, remember his word.  You who are hungry, remember his word.  You who rejoice, remember his word.  You who are working, remember his word.  You who are young, remember his word.  You who have HIV/AIDS, remember his word.  You who are unemployed, remember his word.  You who are in love, remember his word.  You who have stolen, or gossiped, or cheated, or lied, remember his word.  You pastors, remember his word.  You rich, remember his word.  You who are homeless, remember his word.  And all others who are in need of the comfort, encouragement, and love of Christ, remember his word! 

Your word is a lamp to my feet
         and a light to my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
         to keep your righteous rules.
 I am severely afflicted;
         give me life, O LORD, according to your word!
 (Psalm 119:105-107 ESV)

Jon

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