Friday, April 29, 2016
As some of you may know, this past week I’ve been hobbling around. Last Saturday, I stepped on a woodchip that pierced its way into my foot. I was able to quickly get the woodchip out, but the damage was done. Even now, almost a week later, the foot is still injured and the pain persistent causing me to continue to hobble as I walk.
As I’ve told a number of people this past week, it’s the little things in life that sometimes have big consequences. After all, I never would have imagined that the act of taking off my sneaker and walking to the beach from the car would have ended up with a bloody foot and me sitting on the boardwalk with a tissue pressed against my foot. I never would have thought that a woodchip in my foot would cause me to have to preach the next day sitting down or leave me unable to fully stand or walk almost a week later. Yet, so often it is the little things in life that get to us, change our course, slow us down, and sometimes have long lasting effects.
Such is the case with small injuries. Even more so, such is the case with, what we may consider to be, small sins. For some people, it was that little lie they told that has begun to spin into a much larger and uncontrollable web. For someone else it may have been that seemingly innocent glance that turned into a relationship that never should have begun. For someone else, it was that small remark they wish they had never made, but has now come back to haunt them. And, the list can go on of small things—small sins—we allow into our lives that often have large and lasting consequences.
The Song of Songs says, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” (Song of Songs 2:15 – NIV) It’s a reference to the little things of life that have the potential to destroy us and thus must be dealt with sternly and swiftly. The writer of Hebrews says, “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” (Hebrews 12:1 – NIV)
Let’s be careful as to what “little things” we allow into our lives for some of those “little things” can have big consequences. Let’s live our lives carefully, thoughtfully, and always according to God’s Word.
Have a great day!
Pastor Tim Harris
Friday, April 22, 2016
Last week, as I was walking around our property at home, I came upon a bush with one large, beautiful, and seemingly, very lonely flower. In fact, the rest of the week I waited for more flowers to appear, but none did; I have never seen a bush with just one flower. As the week went on, all of the rest of the buds merely opened up into leaves. In the end, for whatever the reason, this year that bush will have just one large, beautiful, lonely flower. (If this is normal, will someone let me know!)
Although it seemed a bit strange, I will also say it was a bit stunning. This one large and beautiful flower sat like a prince on that bush, declaring all its beauty and attracting all the attention to itself. Unlike the rest of the trees and bushes that have a host of flowers that share in each other's beauty, this one flower was there all by itself, calling attention to itself alone. It was, as I said stunning. But it was also a bit sad.
Unfortunately, so many people are just like that one flower. They want to make a name for themselves, draw attention to themselves, and bask in their own beauty. They talk about being a "self-made man or woman" as if they don't really need anyone else's help. And, they end up living very lonely lives, separated from those around them.
I want to remind us today that God never intended for us to live our lives apart from one another, just to bask in our own beauty and glory. In fact, when God created Adam, for the first time during the creation process he said, "It is not good." What was not good? "For man to live alone." Yes, each one of us is beautiful individually. But God did not create us to live alone and to bask in our own beauty. God created us to live our lives corporately; to share our lives with one another; to share our beauty with each other; and to allow our corporate beauty to overtake our individual beauty. God made us to live in relationship, first with him and then with each other.
Rather than sit like a lonely flower on a bush, find a way today to connect with those around you. Let’s live our lives like a host of blossoming flowers on a tree that is filled with a beauty that comes only by means of living together in relationship with one another.
“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10 – NIV) “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2 – NIV)
Have a great day! Enjoy the springtime and all the beautiful flowers!
Pastor Tim Harris
Friday, April 15, 2016
Kim and I just returned from a week in Nicaragua (you can see photos on FB if you like). We had a wonderful time of five days of ministry including teaching a marriage seminar, followed by a couple of days of time for just the two of us. Each time I’m down there I find myself being able to understand and speak Spanish just a little bit better. My ear, my tongue, and most of all my mind seem to be acclimating bit by bit to the language.
One of the difficulties I usually have while down there, however, is that after two to three days of hearing and speaking Spanish (as limited as mine is), I begin to try to translate everything I think in my mind, including what is going through my mind as I am dreaming. This tends to interrupt my sleep for I wake up each time I get to something in my dream that I cannot translate. It’s kind of weird, but it happens every time I’m down there. With so much Spanish all around me, I can’t help but have my mind be affected by it all.
This reminds me of the importance of being careful what it is we put into our minds. Ultimately, the things we take into our minds will begin to rise to the surface and even take over our thought processes. That which we allow into ourselves will eventually come out through the things we say, what we do, and maybe even what we dream.
The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Philippians, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8 – NIV) To the Colossians he wrote, “Set your minds on things above.” (Colossians 3:2 – NIV) Paul reminds us of the importance of being purposeful regarding what it is we think about and thus allow into our minds.
Let’s purpose today to think about those things that God would have us think about, that we might live the way God would have us live. Maybe we will even begin to dream about some things we never expect to dream about!
Have a great day!
Pastor Tim Harris
Friday, April 1, 2016
Last night I had an on-line meeting using Google Chat. There were seven of us who had “gathered” for a board meeting of Promise Kids Foundation, an organization of which I am currently the president. Each of us was in different locations including Long Island, Queens, North Jersey, and myself in Monmouth County. Yet, in spite of the various locations and distance, we were able to meet and discuss the business at hand. In fact, one person came into the meeting while yet in a taxi in NYC!
This was not the first time I have had such a meeting. Yet, I am always amazed at how the technology we have today is able to connect us in this way. In spite of the distance and various locations, we are able to see and hear one another, doing what needs to be done. The distance that was once a barrier to our communication and a meeting such as this is no longer the barrier that it once was.
That’s very much the way it is between God and us. There is a great distance between us. Communication could be difficult. Yet, God has made a way for the barriers to be broken and the distance to be overcome. That is why Jesus has sent to us the Holy Spirit; the coming of the Holy Spirit has provided a means for us to communicate with God and experience him in spite of the distance. By means of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives we can regularly meet with God, experience God, speak to God and hear from him!
Jesus said, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth…you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:16-18, 20 – NIV) Through ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the distance is overcome! God is near to us, with us, even at work within us! We get to meet with God every day, wherever we may be, in spite of the fact that he is in heaven and we are on earth!
I want to encourage you today to realize how very near God is to you. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then the Holy Spirit is with and even within you. And, that means the distance has been overcome!
Have a great day!
Pastor Tim Harris
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Yesterday, as I walked into a supermarket with its floral department near the front door, I encountered a fragrance that I immediately recognized. It was the lilies—a.k.a. the “Easter lilies.” With their strong and almost pungent odor, they are hard to miss. To me, their fragrance is both pleasing and irritating at the same time.
As a pastor, I’ve preached Easter services for about 25 years with a platform filled with lilies. Sometimes their fragrance is so strong that I have practically choked in the middle of a sermon. Before heading off for our Easter services, I now normally take some Claritin (or another anti-allergy medication) and make sure I have plenty of water on hand. By the end of the second service, I am more than happy to get away from the lilies.
On the other hand, I love their fragrance. After all, in my mind they are associated with the greatest holiday in the Christian calendar. They are a reminder of that which we celebrate this time of year: the resurrection of Jesus Christ! The Easter lilies send forth a fragrance that time and again, speaks to many of us of the fact that death has been overcome by life; that Jesus has conquered the grave; that we who have put our faith in Christ will one day live with him! Thus, I gladly put up with the lilies for there is the fragrance of Easter!
I pray that our lives would do the same! That is, I hope and pray that, just as the lilies send out their fragrant reminder that Jesus is alive, your life and mine would speak that very same message to the people around us. I am praying that, somehow, in someway, the resurrection of Jesus would become a reality to someone this Easter because of what they have caught from the way we live—what they have sensed coming out of our lives.
“But thank God…he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.” (2 Corinthians 2:14, 15 – NLT)
May the fragrance of our lives be strong as we declare, Jesus is alive! May our lives be the real fragrance of Easter!
Have a wonderful Resurrection Sunday!
Pastor Tim Harris