Friday, March 25, 2011

Just a Taste

The other day I was in a supermarket when I spotted a woman at a little station giving out free samples. I slowly made my way towards her, trying not to look like I was too excited about the possibility of getting some free food. When I got there she had two different food samples for the customers to taste. One I had no interest in. The other was a fruit and nut mix which was OK. I was, however, hoping for something a little more exciting—maybe a small slice of pizza or a cup of chocolate pudding or some chicken curry!

If you’ve been to one of those big wholesale stores where one buys things in bulk, you know that throughout the store there are usually lots of little stations for tasting some of what they are trying to market. In fact, for me that is one of the best parts about going to those stores. Like most people, I love going from station to station tasting all the different foods. Of course they are hoping you like the taste so much that you will crave more—to the point that you will buy a box (or ten!). In the end, it’s all dependent on what you think of the taste. The sale begins (or ends) with just a taste.

The Psalmist wrote, “Taste and see that the LORD is good….” (Psalm 34:8-NIV) I wonder whether or not the Psalmist was considering the fact that once we “taste” the Lord, experiencing just a bit of him and his incredible goodness, we will just naturally crave more. Once we get a “taste” of who God is and his great love for us, we will desire more of him and his work within our lives.

The invitation still stands. It’s as if the Psalmist is standing behind a little station offering you a sample—a “taste”—knowing that if you will open your life to God even just a little bit, you will find him to be good. Once you get even just a taste of the Lord, you will naturally crave more—more of his love, his peace, his goodness…more of him!

Let God into your situation today. Open your life to him. You will find him to be very, very good.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 18, 2011

Overwhelming Waves

As we’ve watched the news this past week, we have all been saddened and amazed at the destruction that has taken place in Japan. It was bad enough that an earthquake hit the nation, especially one as strong as that which took place. But even worse, so it seems, was the tsunami that followed. (Not to mention the problems with the nuclear power plants.) It was unbelievable to see the ocean move across the land with the force and speed that it did. The waves of the tsunami overwhelmed everything that stood in their way, destroying everything in their path.

One news report noted, however, the way in which the waves of the tsunami came far onto the land, but only so far. The report showed how almost a whole neighborhood was destroyed, but beyond a particular point everything else remained standing. It was as if a line had been drawn and the water was told it could go so far and no further. Of course, it most likely had to do with the speed and force of the water combined with the altitude and slope of the land. Nonetheless, it was an amazing phenomena.

So often it can feel as if we are being overwhelmed by great waves of distress and difficulty. Circumstances come into our lives that threaten to discourage us and destroy our lives, coming into our lives with great force and speed. Sometimes it can feel as if those waves are about to sweep away everything in their path. At those times we need to be reminded that we serve a God who is able to stop and calm every wave. He may allow them to come into our lives, but they can come only so far.

One night Jesus’ disciples found themselves out in the sea, in the midst of a storm, about to swallowed up by the waves. As they cried out to Jesus, the Bible says, “He (Jesus) got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” (Mark 4:39 – NIV)

The Psalmist wrote, “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” (Psalm 107:28-30 – NIV)

You may have waves threatening to overwhelm your life today. If so, put your faith in God; call out to him in prayer. He is able to calm every storm. He is yet able to stop every wave in its path. And he will lead you to a safe haven.

And, let’s keep the people of Japan in our prayers. May God’s love be revealed to them in the in the midst of their suffering.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Roaring River

With all the rain and the melting snow we’ve had this past week, the brooks, rivers, and streams are full and even spilling over their banks, often wreaking havoc on roads and neighborhoods. However, in spite of the difficulties that these roaring rivers cause, they are quite a spectacle to behold. As I passed by the Pascack Brook this morning, it was running at full capacity, no longer looking like a mere brook but like a full-fledged river.

During the spring and the summer, my family and I often enjoy taking hikes to places that have brooks, streams and rivers running through them, sometimes even with a waterfall. The fuller the river or stream, the faster the water is running, and the more beautiful it is to watch.

I’m reminded of how the prophet Amos used a full and roaring river as a metaphor, as he cried out to God’s people, “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24 – NIV)

The people of Amos’ day had become caught up in their own daily lives, prosperity, and economic security. Many were very well-to-do, while the masses were suffering. (Sounds much like the world in which we live today!) Thus, Amos calls out on behalf of the Lord, challenging God’s people to look beyond themselves. He challenges them to fill their lives with doing what is right and just before God; to promoting justice for those who were being eaten up by the unjust systems of their day; to allow God’s justice to spill over the banks of their lives.

The prophet Micah put it this way: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 – NIV)

Ask the Lord today to make your life like a roaring river, flowing full of justice and righteousness; spilling over with his love and mercy.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Morning Sun

As of this past weekend, my family and I are temporarily living with Kim’s parents. The bedroom that Kim and I are using has one large window that faces east with an upper pane that has no blinds on it. As you can imagine, as the morning sun rises it shines brightly into our room. And, once the sun gets high enough in the sky, its light floods the whole room completely outshining any lamps that may yet be turned on.

I find it interesting that when the room is dark, the lamps in the room seem so effective in lighting up the room. However, once the brighter, more intense light of the morning sun shines in, those very same lamps have little or no affect. The greater light outshines the lesser lights, rendering them useless.

It seems to me that in this life we have become quite used to living our lives in the brightness of lots of lesser lights. Our philosophies, achievements, good works all of these are good and bring some light into our world. The pleasures we experience, the relationships we nurture, the creativity we develop are all lights that bring a bit of brightness into the darkness of the world in which we live. But may we always remember that, in spite of how much we may need and enjoy these lights, there is yet a Greater Light that will one day rise and outshine them all.

The prophets wrote, “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” (Malachi 4:2 – NIV) and “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear….” (Hosea 6:3 – NIV) And, the Apostle John, as he looked into the world to come wrote, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.” (Revelation 21:23 – NIV)

I thank God for the lesser lights of this world. But the day is coming when the One who is the Bright Morning Star is going to rise. When he does, this world will be made new and we will be made whole. In the brightness of God’s light all of our lesser lights will fade and we will know life as we have never known it before!

Live with hope and have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris