Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Boxes and Boxes of Stuff!

I can hardly imagine what moving must be like for the couple who has lived in the same house for thirty, forty, or fifty years! We have been in the same house for just over twelve years and it is taking us a full three weeks to prepare to move. This has included cleaning out closets, the garage, and the attic. We have been sorting through twelve years worth of paperwork, photos, toys, clothing, kitchenware, etc. We have thrown out what we no longer need, donated to the Salvation Army and Goodwill bags of clothing and items too good to throw away, and boxed what we are going to keep. At this point, the house is filled with dozens upon dozens of boxes.

After a while, one can begin to feel as if their whole life is represented by the boxes that fill the house – and the stuff that fills those boxes. I guess, it isn’t until a time such as this that we end up realizing how much stuff we actually have – and how much we can probably do without. I think most of us can admit that in our culture, we end up accumulating many more things than we actually need. Worse yet, is that too often we define ourselves by that which we have accumulated.

Jesus said, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15-NIV) He then goes on to say, “Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:33-34 – NIV)

Each of us needs to remember that life is so much more than what we can put into boxes. The really important stuff of life can’t be packed up and moved from one place to the next. Rather, that which really counts are the immaterial aspects of our lives – our relationships with family and friends; the happiness we bring to one another by the good that we do; the mercy, grace and love that we share with one another. Ultimately the only things that will be moved with us from this life into the next are those which count towards eternity.

So in the midst of all the stuff and the boxes of our lives, let’s be sure to live for the true and eternal treasures of life.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Harris

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Constant Changes

Recently Kim and I have come upon old pictures, videos, and audio recordings. What strikes us  is how much just about everything in life changes. As Kim and I look at the pictures or listen to the tapes we say things like, “Remember how much fun it was when…?” Or, “Wow, I can hardly remember what it was like when….” Or, “Weren’t the kids so cute when they were little?” (Not that we don’t think they’re cute now…only in a different way!) As our children look at some of the pictures they say things like, “That’s what you wore back then!” Or, “Why was your hair like that?”  

Yes, the clothing we wear and our hairstyles take on different looks every few years. The technology with which we live and to which we adapt changes at a constant, almost dizzying, pace. The kids grow up, becoming a little less dependent on us every year. Our bodies remind us a little more each year that we are not immortal. Through the years we find ourselves working new jobs or living in a new house or facing situations we have never had to face before. Life changes. In fact, life is constantly changing.

Thankfully, in the midst of all this change there is one Constant.  There is One who never changes. The Bible says:  “But you (God) remain the same, and your years will never end.” (Psalm 102:27 – NIV) And, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17-18 – NIV)

In the midst of a life that is constantly changing, you and I can know that no matter what may take place in our lives – no matter how much life changes for us - God’s nature, his promises, and most of all his love for us will never change.  He is the one part of our lives that will always be the same. Thus, He is the One on whom we can always depend.

“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:5 – NIV)

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Watch Out For the Potholes!

As I’ve recently driven through New York City, both on the highways and local streets, I’ve felt as if I’ve been driving through a video game called, “Watch Out For the Potholes!” After all, you never know where the next pothole is going to show itself. Unless your reflexes are quick enough to either swerve around it or straddle it, you can easily find yourself barreling through it and possibly blowing a tire or wrecking the front end of your car. On one entrance ramp to the Grand Central Parkway, there was such a huge pothole (which I fortunately missed), that just after it eight to nine cars were parked along the side of the road checking their tires, all apparently having bounded through the massive hole in the middle of the roadway.

The news reports have confirmed what any of us who have driven in New York City know. This winter the City has a pot hole crisis. In spite of the fact that the City has thus far fixed over 45,000 potholes, it is now taking an average of six days, rather than the normal two days, to fix a pothole once it has been reported or found. Thus, the number of potholes continues to grow at an astounding rate, making driving through the City quite a hazardous experience.

If you ask me, it sounds a lot like life in general. After all, our lives are filled with all kinds of “pot holes” – i.e. hazards or temptations that threaten to sideline us, harm us, and even destroy us. Some of these “potholes” are the result of the fact that we live in a very difficult world; one which is filled with all kinds of temptations. And, we know that there is one who is out to throw as many “potholes” in our way as possible, as he seeks to sideline us from the life that God has called us to live. We have an adversary who is working against us every step of the way, placing all kinds of temptations into our path.

That’s why Jesus taught us to pray: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”( Matthew 6:13-NIV) And, he gave his disciples these instructions: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:41-NIV)

Finally, the Apostle Paul gave us these words of instruction and encouragement: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13-NIV)

In other words, don’t get careless as you drive through life. Stay awake. Stay in prayer. Stay alert, always watching out for the next “pothole” that might suddenly show up in your path. As you do, God will help you by giving you the insight, the reflexes, and the strength you need to overcome every temptation that may come your way. He’s a God who is able to take you safely through every “pothole” of life.

Have a great day! And, drive safely!

-Pastor Tim Harris