Friday, August 29, 2014

No Eye Contact

I guess it’s a New York-North Jersey thing, but when walking through the park or on the street, few people, if any, are willing to make eye contact.  It really struck me the other day as I was doing my morning walk at the local park.  As I passed people by, I would look towards them to say, “Good Morning,” but only a small handful of them would actually look my way.  With the large majority of them, I could not make any eye contact at all.  It was as if we were all living in our own little worlds; as if the others around us did not exist.  (Of course, our iPods stuck in our ears don’t help at all!)

I know I might be the odd-man-out, but as I pass by people in the park or on the street, I tend to like to make eye contact and greet them. It’s not about the greeting itself but the fact that it causes us to feel like a community.  We connect to each other as we say as simple, “Good morning” or “Hello.”  Not only that, but when we acknowledge each other, we are reminded that the world around us is bigger than me, myself, and I!  Yet, for those of us who live in this New York metro area we realize that the standard on the street, in the elevator, on the bus or subway is, little to no eye contact.   That’s just the way it is. 

I’m glad, however, that when it comes to our relationship with God, such is not the case.  When we look his way, God always looks back.  As we turn our eyes towards him, he turns towards us with eyes filled with compassion, mercy, and love. 

The Bible instructs us to, “Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” (1 Chronicles 16:11 – NIV) The Psalmist declared, “But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD….” (Psalm 139:16- NIV)   In response, the Bible says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer….” (1 Peter 3:12 – NIV)  The Lord never turns away from those who look to him. He is always willing to engage with us, even to the point of answering our prayers. In fact, he seeks to make eye contact with us.

I want to encourage you today to make eye contact with God today. Take some time to look towards him, to seek his face, to talk to him.  I’m sure he will gladly and quickly look back your way. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

ww.pifny.org

Monday, August 25, 2014

Anticipating Their Return Home

This past weekend Kim and I moved both Joanna and Nathaniel to their respective colleges. Friday was spent preparing everything for the two moves. Saturday we moved Joanna to Lafayette College in Easton, PA to begin her sophomore year.  Yesterday, Sunday, we took Nathaniel back to The College of NJ in Ewing, NJ to begin his junior year.  It was only a few weeks ago that we did the same for our son, Jonathan, whom we moved to Washington D.C. to begin his graduate work at Catholic University of America.  (As you can imagine, we are pretty tired of packing and unpacking!)

Well, for the time being Kim and I are alone.  The house is now a bit quieter. There will be much less laundry to do, many less dishes to wash, and less food to prepare. We won’t have to wonder whose coming home for dinner and who will not.  There will be no juggling of vehicles and no sound of music pounding from upstairs. Much less milk will be consumed and there will be no asking, “When will you clean your room?”  I know some parents like it that way. For me, although there are times when I do find it easier, I really do miss having my kids around. I end up missing the stream of friends in and out of the house. I miss the added noise. I miss the bits of commotion that can take place. Yes, sometimes I like my space, but I’m not always in favor of the much quieter house.

One thing having my kids away at school causes me to do is, anticipate the times when I will communicate with them and the times when we will see each other. I have already put on my calendar their breaks when they will be coming home.  I am already planning for the times during the semester and year when either I will be able to get to them or they will come home.  And, I am keeping in my mind that at least for a few weeks around Christmas and then at the end of the spring semester, we will once again have our times of commotion and noise as they return for their winter and summer breaks. I’m already anticipating their return home!

All of this makes me wonder what it is like for God, our heavenly Father, as he waits for us his children to come home to his great big “house” that we call “heaven.”  Before he left, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms…I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)  In other words, Jesus is preparing a place in God’s house for each of God’s children. One day we will all head home to be with our heavenly Father forever.  I’m sure there will be lots of noise and maybe even some commotion as we enter our new home. I tend to think that when we arrive our Father will give each of us a great big, “Welcome home!” In the meantime, it seems to me, our Father is waiting for us with great anticipation. 

So today, as I adjust to not having my kids at home and begin to anticipate their return home later in the year, I am encouraging myself to realize that in much the same way our heavenly Father is anticipating the day in which you and I, and all of his children, arrive at his house to be with him forever!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Same Song

Not too long ago I downloaded Darlene Zscech’s last album, “Revealing Jesus.”  On that album is a beautiful worship song entitled, “Magnificent.”  Its words, melody, and overall tone have captured me to the point that I have probably played the song over 100 times in the last couple of months. For some reason, I just want to play the song over and over again.

Most of us know what it is like to play the same song over and over.  You’ve probably had that favorite song for which you kept on hitting the repeat button.  There have probably been those songs that, when they came on the radio, caused you to turn up the volume.  It seemed as if you would never get tired of the song.  Others around you may have been getting weary of hearing it, but for you the song always seemed fresh and new. 

The Bible shows us that one day we who are followers of Jesus Christ will be singing a song that will be put on “repeat.”  It will be a song of praise and worship. It will be a song filled with passion and emotion.  It will be a song of which we will never tire. Rather, we will play it, and sing it, over and over again.  Pieces of that song are found in the book of Revelation.

In Revelation 5:13 the Apostle John wrote, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb e praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!’” (NIV)  Later on in John’s vision they were singing, “Hallelujah! For our Lord God almighty reigns.  Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!” (Revelation 19:6-7 – NIV) 

I don’t know what the melody of our eternal, heavenly song sounds like. And, we’ve probably been given but a few of the lyrics. But, I am sure that it will be the most beautiful song we have ever heard.  I am convinced that as we stand in the presence of God, we will be singing at the top of our lungs the most awesome of songs —or, maybe now and then stepping back in awe. It will surely be as song that we will want to hear over and over again as we give thanks to God for all he has done for us through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Let me suggest that, until we reach that day, we learn what it means to sing songs of worship and praise to God. Let’s get in the habit now of lifting up our songs to the One who has loved us, saved us, and blessed us.  Maybe you’ll even find that one song that you’ll want to put on repeat!

Have a great day!

Pastor  Tim Harris


Friday, August 8, 2014

Daydreaming in the Backyard

There’s a good possibility that in the next few months we will be selling my mom’s house—that is, the house in which my siblings and I grew up.  With my dad having passed away in May and considering my mom’s current health, the house is too big and, for the most part, unmanageable for her.  Of course, there are lots of emotions associated the house and the thought of its eventual sale is difficult for all of us. 

The other day, I was there taking care of some things and ended up slowly walking around the yard doing a bit of daydreaming.  I found myself picturing one of our many wiffle ball games that we played as kids, noting where each of the bases would have been.  I was reminded of my grandfather’s springtime visits and how I would find him, early in the morning, sitting in the side yard with his coffee and his Bible.  I thought about the many hours I spent as a teen mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, and weeding, remembering exactly where every tree and bush used to be, many which are now gone.  I could picture the old swing set that by today’s standards would be considered too dangerous for little kids. I purposefully allowed myself to do a bit of daydreaming in the backyard, feeling as if I needed to process some of my memories, thoughts, and emotions. 

Sometimes I wish I could go back to those days of hitting the wiffle ball and running the bases or sitting with my grandfather under the big tree.  Life seemed so much more simple back then.  Compared to the past, my present and future seem so much more complex. It is tempting to long for days gone by.

Yet we all know, we can’t go back; we can only move forward.  We cannot step into the past; we can only step into the future.  Thankfully however, as we do, the God of the past, present, and future, goes with us.  No matter what our past has been like, how difficult our present may be, or how uncertain our future may feel, as we trust God with our lives, he takes care of us and promises to go with us.  Thus, we can look ahead filled with peace, confidence, and courage.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 – NIV) 

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Middle of the Summer

Here we are in the middle of the summer, a time of year I really do love.  I like the fact that some of the regular routines of the rest of the year are broken.  I enjoy the added moments with my family, especially the times we get to go away together.  I like being able to run outside without having to bundle up in boots and a heavy coat.   I love seeing the trees filled with green and the flowers that continue to grow.  I like cooking dinner on the grill.  And I like the opportunity summer brings to reflect on my life and the months that have just passed.  To me, summer is a great time of year. 

I have found, however, that summer is not only a time to rest, relax, and reflect. It is also a time to look forward and begin to anticipate what is to come.  Although the calendar year begins in January, for many of us the real start to our year is September as we go back to school, begin our church ministry year, come back from vacation and begin to dive in deeper to our life and work.  For me, the summer is just that, a time to prepare and look ahead.  And as I do, I realize I need God to guide me and help me plan according to his will for my life and ministry.  I need godly discernment in order to make the right decisions and set the right priorities. As I look ahead and begin to plan for the coming year (i.e. September 2014 through August 2015), I need godly wisdom. 

So here in the middle of the summer, as I reflect back on this past year and begin to look forward to the coming year, I am asking God for his wisdom.  I’m asking God to help me make the right choices, to set the right priorities, to plan my calendar and life according to his good and perfect will.

The Apostle James wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”  (James 1:5 – NIV)  So here in the middle of the summer, I am praying for wisdom as I anticipate the upcoming year.  I want to encourage you to do the same.  As we do, I know he will answer our prayer. 

“Know also that wisdom is sweet to your soul; if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.”  (Proverbs 24:14 – NIV) 

Have a great day!  Enjoy your summer! 

Pastor Tim Harris

www.pifny.org