Friday, August 18, 2017

Noisy New Jersey Nights!

For those of you who live in New Jersey (especially the suburbs), have you ever noticed how noisy our nights can be during the summer months?  No, I’m not referring to the volume of cars and trucks on our roads or the blasting of boom boxes and stereos or the parties being held next door.  I’m referring to the crickets and cicadas that chirp and squeak and fill the night air with a cacophony of sound, to the point that it becomes really, really noisy.  They can make such a racquet that one can’t sleep with the windows open—at least such has been the case for me. 

What’s really curious to me is that, when my family and I are up to the Adirondack Mountains, although we are in the midst of woods, the nights are quiet as can be. That’s not because of a lack of cars or radios or people. It’s because there seem to be no crickets and cicadas.  Why that is, I am not quiet sure. I just know that, whereas the mountains are quiet and still, it is really noisy here in New Jersey!  (And, God forbid one of those crickets should get into your house; you will never fall asleep!)     

A beautiful and noisy NJ night!
Our world can be a noisy a place. There is a constant cacophony of sound that vies for our ears and seeks to influence our minds. You know what I mean. Every day we are bombarded by the noise of the media, politics, academia, the entertainment industry, and even a plethora of pulpits all screaming into our ears.  And, the noise continues to grow across airways, DSL lines, through podcasts, twitter accounts, Facebook, and a whole host of growing avenues that are really good at being really noisy. There’s just so much noise!  Sometimes we can feel like Job of the Old Testament who cried out, “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest but only turmoil.”  (Job 3:26 – NIV)

In the midst of all the noise of our world, is it possible to yet hear the voice of God?  Is there any space within our lives into which God can speak?  I tend to think, that will be up to us.  Jesus challenges the people multiple times saying, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” The Psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10 – NIV) The prophet Isaiah wrote, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength….”  (Isaiah 30:15 – NIV) God’s Word calls us to make space in our lives, quiet spaces, into which God might speak to us—as we read his Word, as we seek him in prayer, as we worship him, as we walk with him “in quietness and trust.” 

Let’s not allow the noise of our world to overpower the voice of God in our lives.

Have a great day!


Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back Into the Swing of Things!

After two weeks of vacation up in the Adirondack Mountains, this week has been my time to get back into the swing of things. It was really nice to have two weeks to take life a bit slower—pretty much just taking life day to day; and even, hour to hour.  It was nice to get up in the morning and not really have anything in particular to run to—no calendar to keep, no to-do-list to follow.  But as is said, “all good things must come to an end!”  So, this week I’ve needed to dive back into my work at the church, including preparing to preach this coming Sunday.  There’s been the grocery shopping and small tasks to get done around the house. We’ve had to catch up on the mail and the paying of bills.  And, I’ve had to force myself to get back to the gym and back to a healthier diet (I can’t eat bacon four times a week with breakfast or dessert every night!). 

Sunset by Lake Pleasant...ah, what a sight!
Of course, getting back into the swing of things is not always easy.  It takes effort. It takes a change in mindset.  It takes discipline.  And, why do we do it? Because we know the rewards are worth it. The right diet, exercise, our work around the house and on the job all pay dividends: healthy bodies, an income to provide for one’s family, a home in which to live; and hopefully, accomplish something worthwhile with our lives.

As much as I love being on vacation, especially when I can be away with my family, I’m reminded that God didn’t create me, nor you, to live on an unending vacation.  Yes, he wants us to have times of rest (that’s why he created a weekly Sabbath).  But, he created us to work, to be productive, and ultimately to bring blessing into the lives of others and into our world. 

To the Ephesians the Apostle Paul wrote, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 – NIV – emphasis mine) Elsewhere he speaks of being “co-workers in God’s service” (1 Corinthians 3:9)—i.e. we get to be partners with God! 

Yes, it’s nice to be on vacation. It’s even necessary to have times of rest.  But ultimately God created you for something more than a seat by the side of a pool or lake or beach. God created you for something so much bigger and better—to partner with him in what he is doing within our world.  He has a plan for your life and things he wants to accomplish through you.  So, let’s get back into the swing of things!

Have a great day!


Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Vegetables That May or May Not Be!

This year, Kim decided to plant some vegetables and herbs in large pots on our deck.  Our son Jonathan had begun the process by planting the seeds in starter pots in his apartment and then bringing them to us as seedlings. After they grew a little larger, Kim transplanted them to the larger pots. At first we weren’t sure if they were going to take—and, some did not.  Others of them, however, took off growing like crazy!

Kim has been diligent in watering them and doing what she can for them.  But, the future for these vegetables and herbs is yet uncertain.  For one, it seems that there is an animal that likes the leaves of the cucumber plants and has stripped them practically bear (while leaving the zucchini plants alone!).  We are as well concerned that while we are away on vacation, the plants may not receive enough water, especially if another heat wave comes.  Finally, even if the plants do continue to grow well, we are still not sure whether or not they will produce healthy “fruit”—i.e. vegetables; a lot of things can yet happen once the fruit itself begins to grow. In some ways we are holding our breath to see what will happen.  I consider them, the vegetables that may or may not be! 

Here's hoping! 
We all know there are lots of things in life that are uncertain.  We can often do our best to plant, work, invest, build and yet not have the outcome we desired. Whether we talk about health, careers, finances, or relationships, we know we don’t always get the return for our investment that we were expecting.  We live in an uncertain world that gives few guarantees.  Things may or may not turn out the way we hoped.

In the midst of such a world, our temptation is to cry out, as did the writer of Ecclesiastes, “Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless!  Everything is meaningless!”  (Ecclesiastes 1:2 – NIV)  And, many do.  Yet, I want to remind us that there is no need for such despair.  Although life may be uncertain, God is not.  He is constant. He is faithful. And, he has provided us with great assurances throughout his Word—e.g. he will always be with us; he is working for our good; he is able to help us and strengthen us in all things; he is preparing a wonderful future for us; and the list goes on. 

The prophet Isaiah wrote, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”  (Isaiah 40:8 – NIV) 

Yes, our vegetables may or may not be. But God and his word are sure and constant! Let’s put our trust in him!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris


Friday, July 14, 2017

Followed By a French Bulldog!

This week, Kim and I have been “dog sitting” for a family in our church. Their dog is a French bulldog named Arnie.  Arnie is definitely a people dog. He loves his family, and I’m sure miss them a lot.  But in their absence, Arnie has taken well to being with us; in fact, he always wants to be with one of us. So, he continually follows us around the house—sitting at our feet, at times getting in our way, sometimes waiting at the bottom of the steps to the second floor until we come down (he doesn’t do steps!), going in and out of the backyard along with us, etc. 

This past Monday I spent much of the day working around the house, mostly outside in our yard.  As I worked in the backyard (which is fenced in), Arnie would move from spot to spot with me. And, when I went out to the front of the house, Arnie would sit at the gate, peering through, waiting for me to come back in.  When I went into the house for lunch, Arnie came in right behind me. When I went back out, Arnie followed me out.  And so it has gone all week! I am definitely being followed! (Note: I’m not complaining…in fact, I kind of like it!) 

Arnie and I sitting on the couch watching TV!
As I was watching Arnie follow us around last night, I was reminded of a verse from Psalm 23 wherein David speaks about being followed: “Surely goodness and love (mercy, loving-kindness, love in action!) will follow me all the days of my life….” (Psalm 23:6 – NIV)  David spoke about God’s goodness and love following him all around—i.e. wherever he went, in every situation of life, in each and every season of life.  It’s a great statement of faith and trust in the One whom David knew as his Good Shepherd.  For David, it was almost as if God’s goodness and love were the sheepdogs that came behind the flock to make sure each and every ewe and lamb was moving in the right direction and that each one remained safe.  

I’m thankful today that I’m being followed—yes, by Arnie, but much more so by the goodness and love of God.  I know that no matter what may happen in life, God is at work to take care of me.  He sends his goodness and love to come behind me and to steer me into what he knows is best.  And, I know he does the same for each of his sheep.  

I want to remind you today, if you are living your life with God as your Shepherd, you are being followed!  His goodness and love are always coming right behind you!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris 



Friday, July 7, 2017

The God Who Answers Prayer...In His Own Time!

After almost two years of searching, Kim has landed a permanent job.  She will be working as the administrative assistant to the director of a church-run pre-school/daycare in Metuchen, NJ (actually at the Assembly of God church there!).  This is very good news for us—especially for Kim.  After all, it had become quite tiresome for her as she filled out tons of applications, went on interviews, and did all those things associated with a job hunt.  Anyone who has been through the process recently, knows it can be stressful and at times quite discouraging.  

Since moving to Monmouth County to pastor Shrewsbury First Assembly, we have been praying that God would provide just the right job for Kim.  After all, it was hard for her to leave her job in North Jersey where she knew the people and the systems and loved the environment in which she was working.  We have been praying that God would put her in a place that would provide for our needs, use her skills, and be the right work environment for her (especially since she is also a pastor’s wife).  We’ve been praying that God would open the right door and bring her job hunt to an end.  And, we believe God has answered our prayers—just not as quickly as we would have liked him to!

Have you ever thought to yourself, “God is sure slow in answering my prayers”?   Or, maybe you’ve wondered whether or not God is actually listening to you as you pray. You may have been praying for something for a long time, but the answer seems not to come and you find yourself getting worried, anxious, and even upset.  I know such has been the case for me many times in my life.  And, over these past couple of years, Kim and I have wondered why God seemed to close so many doors and not open upon another one—at least not when we wanted him to! 

The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do not be anxious for anything but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  (Philippians 4:6 – NIV; emphasis mine) Notice he doesn’t say, “Tell God what you want and when you want it!”  He very simply says, “present your requests to God.”  The implication is that we simply leave our needs in his hands, believing that he will do what is right for us at just the right time.

I can’t say that Kim and I never became anxious about her job hunt.  But, I will say that we did pray, believing that God would answer our prayers, even if it meant in his own time!  And, he has done just that. 

I want to encourage you today to bring whatever needs you may have to God in prayer. Believe that he hears you as you pray. And, believe that he will open the right door at just the right time! 

“What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!  What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer!” (Joseph M. Scriven)

Have a great day!


Pastor Tim Harris