Friday, May 22, 2015

Count Your Blessings!

A few weeks ago, I was having a particularly hard day.  Even though the sky was a bright blue, it might as well have been clouded over as I found myself a bit overwhelmed by situations in my life and worrying about the future.  I know you know what I mean when I say, it was just one of those days!

That afternoon I stopped into the local dry cleaner’s to drop off my dirty dress shirts and pick up the clean ones.  As usual, I greeted the woman who owns and runs the store (in Korean!).  She asked about my family and what my children were doing.  We chatted for about a minute.  Then suddenly she came out with a statement that practically knocked me over and turned my day around. She said, “God always takes care of your family.”  I smiled and nodded almost not knowing what to say. But, when I left the store her words rang through my head. I said to God, “Yes Lord, you have always been faithful.  You have always taken care of my family.”  I looked up and the sky seemed so much bluer and everything a bit brighter. A weight seemed to have been lifted.  (I know that sounds corny but it is true!)

In Psalm 77, the psalmist describes a hard time in his life, a time when he had begun to question God and be overwhelmed by the situations of his life.  But he then writes these words:   Then I thought, ‘To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds.” (Psalm 77:10-12 – NIV)

The old hymn put it this way:  “Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings see what God hath done; Count your blessings name them one by one; And, it will surprise you what the Lord hath done!” (Johnson Oatman Jr.) 

Take some time today to remember what God has done in your life.  Let’s remember his faithfulness, goodness, and kindness.  As you do, I know the sky will turn a bit brighter and your load feel a little lighter! 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

www.pifny.org

Friday, May 15, 2015

Prayer Needed

I want to use this vehicle today to ask my readers to please pray for my good friends’ daughter, Rachel Siegel.  Rachel graduated from Berkley School of Music in Boston last Saturday.  Late that night, Rachel was in a major car accident. As of now, she is yet in a coma, in Albany Medical Center, with head trauma and broken bones throughout her body. 

Just a few years back, in July 2011, Rachel’s brother, Ben was killed in a motorcycle accident.  Their parents, Pastor Ralph and Maria Siegel, lost their only son in that accident and now their only other child and daughter has been in this terrible accident.  They are trying to hold onto hope and keep faith, but as you can imagine, it is difficult.

Yesterday evening the Siegel’s got word from the doctor that they need to prepare for the fact that, from a medical standpoint, Rachel may never recover.  The news was shattering to her parents.  But, we know that with God all things are possible.  He is still a God who intervenes, who heals, and who responds to the prayers of his people. 

Will you join me in prayer today for Rachel and her family?  Please pray for Rachel’s brain to heal and for her to begin to respond.  And, pray that God would strengthen her parents, filling them with his grace, hope, and peace. 

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 – NIV)

Thanks.

Pastor Tim Harris
www.pifny.org



Friday, May 8, 2015

The Two-for-One Greeting Card

This week I am thinking a lot about my father for two reasons. For one, yesterday, May 7, was the one year anniversary of his death. Secondly, May 10, which is Sunday, was his birthday (and also the date of his funeral).  Every few years, because his birthday was on May 10, it would happen to fall on Mother’s Day (as it does this year).  Thus, it was not uncommon for our family to celebrate Mother’s Day and our dad’s birthday together.

One year during my college years, such was the case.  That week I went to a little card shop in the Bronx to buy two cards, one for my mom for Mother’s Day and one for my dad for his birthday. What I stumbled upon in that little shop, filled mostly with cards written in Spanish, amazed me. Of the few cards that were written in English, one said, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom & Happy Birthday, Dad!”  It was a two-for-one greeting card! What a bargain! What an incredible find! (Believe me, it was not produced by Hallmark or American Greeting!)  It was as if the card had been printed especially for my parents and me! Of course, I bought the card and that weekend, to everyone’s amazement, gave the two-for-one greeting card to my parents.  

I’m not sure who came up with the idea to produce such a card. Maybe someone in the card company faced the same situation in their family—i.e. their father’s birthday falling on Mother’s day. Or, maybe someone just thought it would be fun or even funny to produce such a card and then wait and see how many would be sold. But, it almost felt as if someone had been peaking into my life and decided to come up with something specifically for me. 

Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I think God was involved in the producing and then my finding of that card. But, what I do know is that, the feeling that I felt regarding that card is true of God. He is always peaking into my life. And, he often works in a very personal way in my life—taking care of me in ways that are often quite amazing. 

Jesus said, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” (Matthew 6:31-32 - NIV) And, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet, not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6-7 - NIV)

Jesus taught us that God is very much involved in our lives in a very personal way. He sees what is taking place in our daily lives. He knows what we need. He sees, he knows, and he supplies.

Today, let’s trust God with our lives, believing that he will take care of us. Who knows, maybe he does supply two-for-one greeting cards? 

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 – NIV)

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris
www.pifny.org

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rescued From the Rubble

This past week we’ve all seen the incredible and terrible images that have come out of Nepal, following the earthquake there.  We have seen people sitting on piles of fallen material where once stood a building.  There are the images of thousands of people sleeping in the streets.  We have seen the photos of those working around the clock to rescue those who have been trapped. And every so often, we get to see a picture of someone being rescued from the rubble—the most striking of which has been a four month-old dust-covered baby, who, after having been covered by the rubble for 22 hours, was being held up by a rescue worker.

Unfortunately, many more people have died in the rubble than have been rescued.  As the death toll continues to climb, we are all saddened to see so much suffering. Especially at this point, I am sure it will become more and more rare for the rescue workers to find someone yet alive underneath the massive amounts of debris.  Yet, they continue to search and to dig—just hoping that maybe they will be able to set one more person free and thereby rescue them back to life. 

The unfortunate truth is, the pictures such as are coming out of Nepal, are in many ways a reminder of what life is really like here in this world. Ours is a fallen world. It is a world filled with constant pain and suffering.  Thus, whether we are facing a massive earthquake or a terminal illness or a broken heart, we so often find ourselves feeling like we are covered by rubble—in need of someone to rescue us from that rubble. 

I’m thankful that God has been very much like those rescue workers in Nepal who refuse to give up and who continue to search for just one more person to pull from the rubble. Through Jesus Christ, God came into our world to “seek and to save that which was lost.”  (Luke 19:10)  He came to rescue us, to set us free, and to give us new life. God would not leave us buried by the rubble of this world. Rather, through Jesus, he came to minister salvation, healing, and deliverance.

Jesus applied these words to himself:  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19 – NIV)

Whatever your need is today, if you will trust Jesus with your life, he will save you, set you free, and minister his healing power into your life.  Jesus came to rescue us from the rubble!

Let’s continue to pray for the people of Nepal and give towards the rescue efforts. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris


PS –You can give at www.convoyofhope.org

Friday, April 17, 2015

Google Maps and Traffic Reports

Because I travel back and forth to Queens from New Jersey at least five times per week, I have become very dependent on two tools to help me find the best and quickest route there and back: Google maps and the live radio traffic reports.  With Google maps I can turn on the traffic function and look for the colors on the main roadways.  Green means the traffic is flowing well, yellow that it is a bit slow, red that it is nearly stopped.  Oh, red with a black line in it means, don’t even try to go that way!  By looking at the map, I can determine which bridge I should take, what roads to travel (or not travel), and approximately how long my commute will be. 

Of course, there’s still nothing like the old-fashioned live radio traffic report—especially when it comes from the chopper!  Not only can the reporter tell you where the slow downs are, but also why they are occurring and any prognosis or timing issues.  So as I am getting dressed in the morning, it’s my habit to listen for the traffic reports as I begin to strategize the best route to take that day. And, when I get into my car I look at the time knowing that 880 am radio will have its report on the “8’s” and 1010 am radio will have its report on the “1’s.”  It’s all in an effort to spend the least amount of time sitting in traffic. 

As we journey through life, we’d often like to know the best route(s) to take.  We are constantly faced with options regarding the way we should go or live. Lots of choices—“roadways”—are before us.  Sometimes one is as good as the other. At other times, one may lead to trouble while the other may lead to that which is good.  Unfortunately, we can’t always tell at the outset.  That is when we could us some “tools” to help us along our way. 

The good news is, God has given us some “tools” to lead us to the best route(s) for our lives.  One tool is his word, the Bible.  The Psalmist wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  (Psalm 119:105 – NIV)  Like a Google map, the Bible lays out for us clearly what we can expect in our world and how it is we should respond and live. The second is the Holy Spirit, which in essence is God himself.  Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13 – NIV)  Like the live traffic reporter, the Holy Spirit warns us and updates us and gives us counsel on a very personal level—if only we will listen.   As we read God’s word and depend upon the Holy Spirit, we don’t need to guess which way to go. Rather, God is able to lead us into the route that is best for our life.

I’m thankful today for the “tools” God has given us to direct us, lead us, and guide us.

“For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.” (Psalm 48:14 – NIV) 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

www.pifny.org