Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Priceless Treasure

While at the beach the other day, I couldn’t help but overhear a little girl call out to her mother, “Look mom. I found a shell. It’s a shell!” Apparently this girl hadn’t been to the beach too often for she picked up the very first shell she found in the sand, although broken and really not at all special looking, as if something very extraordinary. 

As the day went on, she realized that there were nicer shells to be found, not so much up in the sand but down towards the water. So, most of the day she spent her time down by the water looking for that special prize that she could claim as her own. It was really quite entertaining, watching her run back to her blanket and call out to her mom every time she thought she had found another extra special shell.

What really struck me, however, was how this one little girl out of all the people on the beach found such excitement in finding even the most common of shells. Whereas most people, including us, just walked right by them, this little girl could hardly pass one by. Each one was as special and priceless as the next.  What had become common and ordinary to most of us, was of great value to her.

Later on, I thought about Jesus’ words, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44-NIV) Jesus reminds us that the kingdom of God is a treasure—special and priceless; of greater worth than anything else in life. Yet, so often we treat the blessings of God and those things associated with his kingdom as common and ordinary. Too often we take for granted all that God has done for us and given to us through his son, Jesus.  

Instead, we ought to be like that little girl, filled with excitement; convinced that we have found something priceless. And, like that little girl, we ought to be running to others saying, “Look at the wonderful treasure I have found!”

If you have experienced the kingdom of God within your life, be excited. You have found a priceless treasure!

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hiding From the Storm

They say it’s common with dogs, but I’m amazed at how afraid our dog Mabel is of thunderstorms. Whenever she hears even the slightest bit of thunder in the distance, she immediately goes to one of our bedrooms to find what she must consider to be a safe spot. Sometimes even just the darkening of the sky is enough to cause her to go into hiding. 

It happened again the other morning. Even before the storm began, I found Mabel hiding next to the bed in my bedroom.  And when I got up to leave the room, Mabel followed, sticking closely to my side. I guess she felt that I could keep her safe—or, at least I gave her a sense of security. Sure enough the storm came with its flashes of lightening, roaring thunder, and pouring rain. And, Mabel just stayed next to me as I did my work, finding some sort of comfort in my presence.

The Psalmist wrote, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1-2-NIV) Apparently, when the storms of life found their way into his world, the Psalmist had his hiding place. He knew not only where to turn, but to whom to turn when he needed safety from the storm. God himself had become his place of safety. The Lord was his hiding place.

Where do you turn when the storms of life come your way? We all need a shelter to keep us safe. There are times when we need a place of comfort and rest. Thankfully, God has offered himself as that shelter. He invites us to rest by his side and receive his peace.

If today you hear the rumbling of storms, “rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”  He is glad to have you next to him.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Smoking Volcano

A few days ago, while in Nicaragua, I visited the Masaya volcano. When we reached the top, we found ourselves looking into an awesome crater. The geological configurations were incredible. From the top, we could see for miles around. But, what I didn’t realize until we got there was that, this volcano is active. When we looked down from the rim into the volcano, we could see smoke rising from within it. Within a short time we realized that smoke and smell of sulfur were permeating the air, making it difficult to breathe. After about fifteen minutes we had to leave because of the sensation of the sulfur and smoke getting into our lungs. Even after an hour or more, the affects of the smoke continued to linger in our lungs. The awesomeness of the view and of the volcano itself were overshadowed by the terrible affects of it had upon our breathing.

That volcano has become for me a picture of what life is like not only for so many of the people whom we met in Nicaragua, but for so many people around the world. So much of our world—and our lives—are like that volcano. We experience awe-inspiring views, beauty that is at times difficult to describe, moments that leave us filled with wonder. Yet, there is a “smoke” that permeates the air. The difficulties and desperation of life on this earth are all around us. For all the beauty of our world, we cannot ignore the fact that there are millions who are living in poverty—physically and spiritually. And, if we are at all sensitive, the affects of that “smoke” linger in our hearts and minds, hopefully moving us to some sort of action.

The Bible says, “When he (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36—NIV) Jesus could not remain untouched by plight of the crowds. He could not ignore the pain of those around him. He could not ignore the “smoke.” Rather, his heart was moved towards those in need. He had to reach out to them and do something to change their lives. Yes, he enjoyed the beauty and wonder of this life. But, he also knew what it meant to sorrow over the difficulties of someone else’s life—to feel the affect of the “smoke” of this world deep within his being.

May God help us to be like our Savior. Yes, we want to enjoy the wonders and beauty of this world that God has given to us. At the same time, however, may we know what it is like to feel the pain of someone else’s desperation, poverty, and hopelessness. And, may God use us to bring healing and new hope—to clear the air of the “smoke” that at times makes it so difficult to breathe.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Parade

This past Monday was Memorial Day. As we do just about every Memorial Day, we attended the parade in which two of our children, Nathaniel and Joanna were marching—Nathaniel playing snare drum in the high school marching band and Joanna marching with the color guard. At one point, you could hear people starting to say, “They’re coming” or “The parade is on its way.” How did they know? Even before they could see any sign of the parade, they had begun to hear the beat of the drums. And, then sure enough the parade turned the corner—the police in full uniform, the band playing patriotic tunes, the civic organizations represented, all to the cheers of the people.

It all made me think back to a less then pleasant childhood memory of a Memorial Day parade in the town where I grew up. Again, long before the parade actually appeared I could hear the parade coming. But rather than get excited, I found myself getting nervous, even terrified. Why? Because I knew that each year in the parade there were some guys dressed as Native Americans whose job it was to scare the living daylights out of the little kids along the parade route—not very “politically correct” today nor very nice by any standards. Actually, I think most of the other kids laughed it off as part of the entertainment. But, I distinctly remember one year running home out of fear at the mere sight of the guys in full headdress, painted faces, swinging their “tomahawks.” That is not one of my most pleasant Memorial Day memories.

I’m reminded of the fact that every day our lives are “on parade.” As we live our lives, we are very much on display. Often people can sense that we are coming even before we actually arrive. And, once we arrive they are either glad to see us or possibly experience some other kind of emotion—fear? confusion? disdain? People see us and take note of how we live and are either attracted towards us or they may want to run from us. And, some of the negative impressions are not always based on the fact that we preach a gospel that they have rejected. Many times it’s simply a result of how we live our lives.

Jesus said, “…let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16-NIV) Peter wrote, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12 –NIV)

Our lives as followers of Jesus are on display. Thus, we have the potential to either attract people to him or turn them off from him. Our lives can lead some into relationship with him or possibly send some running away. Much depends on how we live.

As followers of Jesus, let’s live our lives in such a way that when people know we are coming they welcome us rather than run from us. And, hopefully and prayerfully many will be led to the One who is the true Light who shines through us.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris