Friday, July 3, 2015

A Whirlwind of Activity

Right now I am at a place in life wherein I have an awful lot going on in my life.  For one, in less than a month our son Jonathan is getting married. As you can imagine, we are in the throws of all the wedding stuff (especially since I will be officiating for him and Danielle, his fiancĂ©).  On top of that, Kim and I recently accepted a new pastorate. By the end of the month, we will be leaving Promise International Fellowship (PIF) and heading to Shrewsbury, NJ to pastor First Assembly of God of Shrewsbury.  This will mean some temporary commuting, searching for a new home, getting adjusted to a new congregation, and eventually Kim will need to find a new job. 

In addition, this past week Promise Ministries hosted a big youth conference that kept me at the church for about fifteen hours per day for four days straight. And, this coming week, I need to make a trip to Leon, Nicaragua, to meet with our local staff down there and prepare them for the transitions that are coming up.  Oh yeah, I need to begin to tie up the ministry at PIF and pack up my office.  I think at this point, I don’t even know what else needs to be done! 

We sometimes have those seasons in life that become exceptionally busy.  There are times in life when a whole bunch of events seem to converge and send us into a whirlwind of activity.  And, if we are not careful we (and especially “I”) can be overwhelmed, filled with anxiety, and set off balance.  If we are not careful, we can become so busy that we begin to set some of the most important things in our lives aside—e.g. our relationships with the people around us and even our relationship with God. 

In the midst of the whirlwind of activity, I am trying to remind myself to stay calm and focused and take one step/task at a time.  I need to keep my priorities in order.    And, I need to recognize that God is with me and is in control of all things.  Thus, the words of Psalm 46:10 are especially appropriate for me during this season of my life, “Be still and know that I am God.”  (NIV)  At this point, that is something I need to do each day.

I know, as I take time to recognize God’s presence in all things, he is able to help me stay calm, balanced, and focused on the right things. He is a sovereign God, a faithful God, and a loving God.  No matter how crazy the whirlwind of activity, God is there to provide strength and peace.  He can do that for me, and he can do that for you.

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, June 26, 2015

Flowers and Flan!

Last week, my daughter Joanna turned 20!  I can’t believe it; I have no more teenagers in the house!  Time surely does not stand still.  It does seem like it was just yesterday that she was that little girl with bows in her hair, playing with her dolls in the living room.   

Unfortunately, Joanna was sick on her birthday so we could not fully celebrate with her.  Her throat was so swollen from having “mono” she couldn’t eat cake (or anything else that felt too difficult to swallow).  Instead, she requested flan—which she not only likes, but was soft enough for her to get down.  So, that evening I came home at the end of the day with a bouquet of flowers (a dozen pink roses) and a flan.  It was the best I could do to help her celebrate.  I would have wanted to do more, but due to her illness the best I could do was flowers and flan! 

We all know that, sometimes life interrupts our plans. There are times when our regular means of celebration have to be put aside.  The dinner plans may have to wait or the gifts delayed.  The things we thought we would accomplish, the places we thought we would go, the dreams we hoped to see fulfilled, get pushed to the side because of life’s interruptions.  In the end, we are forced to improvise, be patient, and most of all trust our lives into God’s hands, believing that he, our heavenly Father, is able to take care of us and will always do his best for us.  

Jesus tells us not to worry about the things of this life. He says that God, our “heavenly Father knows that we need them.” (Matthew 6:32 – NIV) He says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26 – NIV) And, elsewhere he says, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 – NIV) 

We may not have been able to go out for dinner or have a big party for Joanna’s birthday, but we did the best we could that night with flowers and flan.  In a much greater way, God will always do his best for us, taking care of us, and helping us through the challenges of life.  He might even provide for us, some flowers and flan—which in the end is not all that bad! 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Marked Man

Recently I developed in my left ring finger what is called, “trigger finger.”  Sometimes the finger doesn’t want to bend. And when I do bend it, it sometimes gets stuck in that position.  In fact, I often wake up at night and then again in the morning to find my finger stuck in a bent position. The only way to straighten it out is to pull it with my right hand.  (Oh the joys of getting older!) 

As I was showing my finger to a friend, they pointed out that the cause could be the fact that my wedding ring had become too small and was pressing down on the finger so tightly that the tendon had become inflamed.  It was a struggle to get the ring off, which I almost never do. Once it was off, however, I noticed the finger was—and still is—indented in the place where the ring sat.  My wedding ring had made its mark on me!  (Right now the ring is with a jeweler being resized.) 

You might say that, I’m a marked man! And, I guess that’s what marriage is supposed to do: make its mark on one’s life!  Even with the ring off, the current mark on my finger reminds me that I am a married man—married to a wonderful woman named, Kimberly!  Even though I’ve temporarily removed the ring, the mark on my finger won’t allow me to forget that I belong to her.  

Did you know, that’s what God wants to do in our lives through Jesus Christ? He wants you to be a marked man or a marked woman.  He wants to make a lasting mark on each of us. He wants to mark our lives in such a way that we will ever be reminded that we are his.   

The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit….” (Ephesians 1:13 – NIV; emphasis mine)  By means of his Holy Spirit, God marks our lives, so that we know that we are designated as his; so that we will not forget to whom we belong.  With the Holy Spirit, we become marked men and women of God. 

I’m glad today for God’s mark on my life.  I pray that you will know his mark on yours. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Gift of Speech

Over the past year, it’s become progressively more difficult to communicate with my mother.  Although she often knows what she wants to say, because of dementia in her left frontal lobe, she has lost her ability to find the words necessary to communicate those thoughts. They call it, aphasia.  And not only can she not find the words she needs, her loss of language skills has affected her ability to process information and remember the purpose of various objects.  She can become easily confused and thus, as you can well imagine, quite frustrated. 

All of us have those moments when we can’t find a word or remember a name, especially as we get a bit older. But, can you imagine not being able to communicate a whole sentence; to have all the wrong words come out of your mouth—and not even realize it? (The speech therapists call it, “salad speech”—i.e. a toss up of mixed up words!)  And, not only is it frustrating at times for the person who is trying to communicate, but as well for those who are trying to understand them.  This is what it has been like trying to communicate with my mom.  It can become quite frustrating on both sides. 

The whole ordeal has reminded me of the complexity of language as well as the gift that it is.  We so often take our ability to communicate for granted, not realizing its intricacies. We fail to appreciate the fact that we can take our thoughts and put them into words in order to communicate those thoughts to those around us. The mere fact that I can get up in the morning and say, “I would like a cup of coffee,” or “Today I have to go to work,” or “I love you” is a process and ability that I don’t know I have ever really considered in the way I do today.  Yet, now with my mom’s inability to come up with even some of the most basic sentences, I have gained a new appreciation for language and my ability to communicate. 

Not only that, but in light of all of this, I have begun to realize just how important it is that I (and we) would use the gift of language in a positive way—i.e. to bring words of blessing into the lives of others.  How unfortunate it is that, we so often take this wonderful gift of language and use it to hurt and tear down others.  How much better it is use our words to encourage and build up the people around us. Most of all, how much better to use our ability to speak to bring our prayers and praise to God!

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24 – NIV)

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:21 - NIV)

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 – NIV) 

Have a good day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, May 29, 2015

One of Those Days!

Have you ever had what we call, “one of those days?”  Actually, for me the past couple of days have been one of those days.  Not that there has been any major crisis. Rather, it has simply been just a bunch of little things that have stacked up to make life a bit miserable.   

It began Wednesday morning when I looked in the mirror and realized my upper lip was double its normal size from cold sores (I had failed to put sunblock on my lips on Monday when I was out in the sun for most of the day). Not only does it look bad, it is painful. Next, came the broken air conditioner in one of our cars. After getting it refilled with Freon and thinking it was working, as I was driving to Queens, the car began blowing warm air once again.  Driving on the Cross Bronx Expressway with your windows open is absolutely no fun—especially as the tractor-trailers pass by pouring their exhaust into your car.    

Once I got to the office, it turned out there was no Internet connection, making it impossible to answer and send out emails and do some of the other work I needed to get done.  So, I went to a nearby Panera Bread for lunch and to use their Wi-Fi.  As I left Panera, I switched to my sunglasses, stopped outside my car to send a text message, and then, without realizing it, drove off with my eyeglasses in their case sitting on the trunk of the car. Needless to say, when I returned about 45 minutes later, they were gone.  Oh, did I tell you that yesterday, not only did I end up without a car all day, as I was walking our dog, I stepped into a hole and twisted my ankle?  I ended up on the couch icing my foot for about a half an hour before having to get ready to go do a wedding rehearsal.   Yes, it was just one of those days! 

I know that there are a lot of people with situations much worse than anything I have faced these past couple of days.  I am not trying to minimize anyone’s pain or exaggerate my own.  But, I am reminded that life doesn’t always go the way we want it to. We are constantly facing challenges big and small.  Life is rarely a “stroll in the park.”  More often than not we find ourselves facing, one of those days! 

But, today as I was reading my Bible, I was also reminded that, no matter what we go through in life; no matter how great the joys or painful the sorrow, “…the Lord is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King.”  (Jeremiah 10:10 – NIV)  It is during our times of difficulty that God says to us, “Be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10 – NIV)

I want to encourage you today to remember that, no matter what you are facing, God is still God. He is still the God who loves you, is with you, and is able to help you when you are having one of those days!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris