Monday, January 31, 2011

Living With the Unpredictable

Recently there has been a commercial on TV in which a guy in a truck yells to the people in the car next to him something like, “I’m going to be distracted as I eat my sandwich and swerve into your lane.” Then a woman in a convertible warns the people in the car next to her that she is going to be putting on her makeup while driving and cut them off. In the final scene, a guy gets out of his car in a parking lot, goes over to the people in another car who are getting ready to pull out, and warns them that he will be talking on his cell phone, not paying attention to what is behind him, and back up into them. The point is that accidents don’t announce themselves (thus, you need to make sure you have the right car insurance!).

It’s true, accidents don’t announce themselves. Life is filled with the unpredictable. The weather forecasters may try to predict the weather; the economists may try to predict the stock market; the pollsters may try to predict the outcome of elections; the medical community may try to predict what will happen in our bodies, all to help us prepare for what may come. In the end, however, we all know that the weather, the markets, the voters, and our bodies can all do pretty strange things. We don’t know what is going to happen from one day to the next. We are constantly living with the unexpected. We are always living with the unpredictable.

Although we may do our best to plan and prepare and predict what may be on the horizon of our lives, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that much of life is out of our control. Every day there are twists and turns for which we cannot prepare. That is why the Bible says, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow….Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.’” (James 4:13-16 – NIV)

When it comes to dealing with the unpredictability of life, the best thing we can do is submit ourselves to the will of God and rest in the fact that ultimately our lives are in his hands. Although we may not know what will happen tomorrow, he does. And, he has promised to always be with us and to help us through every unexpected twist and turn that may come our way.

As the old song writer once put it: “Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow. And I know who holds my hand.” It is with that assurance that each of us can step into a seemingly unpredictable tomorrow.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris

Monday, January 24, 2011

When The Clock Runs Out

I’m not much of a football fan. In fact, I almost never watch a football game on TV. However, I did watch the second half of the Jets vs. Steelers game. And, I was as disappointed as any diehard NY/NJ fan when in the end the Jets lost by five points.

Anyone who was watching the game knows that the Jets had a really bad first half. But, in the second half you could see them working hard to come back. Although there were some plays that fell a bit short, they did make up a lot of ground. But, as happens in any game, in the fourth quarter, the clock began to wind down. The pressure was on. And I kept thinking, if only there was a little more time; if only they could somehow turn the clock back – even by a few minutes. But, the clock kept ticking, until the inevitable happened. The clock ran out. Time came to an end. And there was nothing more the Jets could do to win the game.

When you think about it, it’s a reminder of what our lives are like. How many times have I felt like I’m way behind in the game? You have probably felt that way as well. But, as long as there is time ahead of us, we feel like we can make up some ground. Then something happens that reminds us that the clock is ticking and time is going by faster than we thought. It might be the death of a loved one or a sickness that strikes one’s body. It might just be the new aches and pains you feel as you try to get out of bed in the morning or the grey hairs that are beginning to show up. There are lots of things in life that remind us that we have only so much time to live the life God has called us to live; to love God and the people around us; to accomplish the good works for which He has created us.

James wrote, “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” (James 4:14 – NIV)  The writer of Ecclesiastes penned these words: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come…Remember him-before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1, 6-7 – NIV)

The clock is ticking. We have only so much time. May we use it wisely.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris

Time
By Phil Keaggy

Well He hasn't always been around
And He won't always be.
But He's on the move at this moment
Measuring life for you and me.

I fear we all submit to him
Existing anxiously,
And no one is able to turn him off
Except the Lord who holds the key.

When the Lord stops him, that'll be it,
Too late for apologies.
Too late to forgive your brother,
Too late to get on your knees.

When the Lord stops him, that'll be it,
Too late to help the needy
And worst of all it's too late to turn
You must face eternity.

His name is Time and he's coming to an end.
His name is Time where will you be my friend?
His name is Time and he's coming to an end.
His name is Time where will you be my friend?

Most people think he'll never stop
He'll go on perpetually,
But old man time is running out
And he'll cease eventually.

When the Lord stops him, that'll be it,
Too late for apologies.
Too late to forgive your brother,
Too late to get on your knees.

When the Lord stops him, that'll be it,
Too late to help the needy
And worst of all it's too late to turn
You must face eternity.

His name is Time and he's coming to an end.
His name is Time where will you be my friend?
His name is Time and he's coming to an end.
His name is Time where will you be my friend?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When The Power Is Cut Off

This morning we awoke not only to snow covered with ice, but to no electricity as well. That meant no lights, hot water, heat, clocks, refrigeration, computers, radio, WiFi, etc. The cause? A power line had come down thus cutting off electricity to the houses on our block until near noon.

It’s amazing how dependent we are on the electricity that comes into our homes. Without it, we found ourselves having to improvise and figure out how to go about the normal tasks of our morning routines. I also found myself doing things out of habit that had absolutely no affect - e.g. turning on a light switch as I walked into a room without any light coming on. All of this because we had been cut off from the source of our electric power.

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 – NIV) That’s right, Jesus is our power source. As long as we remain connected to him, we are filled with his life and power. He is the one who is able to make our lives fruitful. Cut the connection and there will be no fruit for there is no life nor power.

I want to encourage you today to do whatever it takes for you to stay connected to Jesus. Spend time in prayer. Read his Word. Live by faith. Let him fill your life with all that he is and all that he has to offer. As you do, your life will be filled with fruit; the result of his light, life, and power!

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris

Monday, January 10, 2011

Feeding the Birds

The other day, as I was walking our dog Mable, I noticed our new neighbor who lives behind us throwing something out onto the snow. As I walked by, I asked him if what he was throwing was bird seed. He replied quite matter-of-factly (and as if rebuking me), “Of course, it’s bird seed. How else will the birds find something to eat in the snow?” I was a bit taken back by the insinuation that it was my responsibility, as well as his, to make sure the birds had enough to eat during this season. Although, I might throw some stale bread out to the birds, I’ve never thought about buying bird seed to spread out each morning. For me, it’s enough trying to remember to feed the dog!

I was reminded however of Jesus’ words found in Matthew 6:26, “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?” (NIV)

Just like my neighbor, God is concerned for and takes care of the birds (as well of all of creation). But even more so, God, our heavenly Father, takes care of us, his children. Why? Because as Jesus says, we are valuable to him – more valuable than the birds and the flowers and any other part of creation. Thus, Jesus says, we ought not give into worry regarding the provisions of life for we are “much more valuable (to God) than they.”

I want to encourage you today to remember just how valuable you are to God. You are his child for whom he gave his very best, his Son, Jesus. You are the “apple of his eye.” He loves you. He values you greatly. That being the case, he will take care of you, meeting every need that you have this day.

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33-NIV)

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris