Thursday, October 27, 2011

Picking Up On the Cues

Since we got our dog Mabel, we have almost always put her in her crate when we leave her alone in the house. We don’t totally trust her for we are not sure what she will do while we are out. There have been times, for example, when we have found her on the living room sofa. 

Of course, Mabel doesn’t necessarily love it in her crate.  When we arrive home, she always barks and makes a scene as if she has been suffering terribly.  Yet, we almost never have to tell her to go to her crate or force her in.  Rather, while we are still getting dressed to leave the house, Mabel begins to pick up on the cues of our daily routine, makes her way to the basement and go into her crate.  I think if she could lock it herself, she would do that as well.  

The other day, however, she did seem to get our cues mixed up.  At one point, when she thought we were done with our lunch, she went back into the crate, then came out when she realized we weren’t leaving yet; then went back in; then came out to check again, etc.  She did this about four times!  Even when we told her we weren’t leaving yet (as if she really speaks English!), she still went to the crate if she thought it was time.  Bottom line, Mabel has become very sensitive  to our routine and to the cues that come her way based on what she perceives we are doing.  

I wonder, are we as sensitive to God and to what he is doing? Have we learned to pick up on his cues?  Are we aware of what it is he is asking of us?

Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working." (John 5:17—NIV)  That’s right, God is always at work in our world. He is an active God, constantly moving and working; doing and acting.  As we faithfully follow him, spend time with him, and get to know him, we will just naturally begin pick up on his cues and learn how he would have us respond. 

Why not ask God today to help you to pick up on his cues? 

Have a great day! 

-Pastor Tim Harris 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bird Watching 101

Although I’ve never been what you would call an official “bird watcher,” I have always enjoyed watching birds. In fact, I remember how when I was a kid, my grandmother bought me a bird watcher’s field guide to help me identify the birds in my backyard.  And, recently my son Nathaniel accused me of driving while looking up at the birds! 

Well, who would have thought that one of my kids would be taking a college class in ornithology – i.e. the study of birds?  But, it’s true.  This semester, for his science elective, Jonathan has been taking a class about birds (note: I didn’t say a course that’s for the birds!).
Of course the curriculum includes required field work or, going bird watching.  So Jonathan has been keeping a journal of all the birds he has seen and been able to identify since the beginning of the semester.  I do find it pretty interesting.  Besides, it  gives us something more to talk about, and even argue about – e.g. Was that an American crow or a turkey vulture?

Did you know that God is a bird watcher? Not for the sake of identifying what kind of bird just flew by his window or landed in his backyard.  Of course, he can identify the birds much better than we can. After all, he created them.  Rather, he is watching the birds because he cares for them.

Through the Psalmist God said, “I know every bird in the mountains….” (Psalm 50:11 -
NIV)  Jesus said, “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.” (Matthew 6:26-NIV)  But, Jesus then went on to say, “Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matthew 6:26-27-NIV)

In other words, God may be a “bird watcher,”  but he is even more so a “people watcher” – watching over his people both day and night.  And, if God is willing to take care of the birds, then of course he is going to the same, and even more so, for those who are his children.   

Be encouraged to know that God is watching over your life.

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Avoiding Traffic

Commuting between New Jersey and Queens is not always the easiest commute. With two bridges to cross and a choice between the Cross Bronx Expressway or the Harlem River Drive and the Grand Central Parkway, there are a lot of variables that can affect the trip.  One stalled vehicle or a minor fender-bender can easily turn the 18 mile, half-hour commute into an hour and a half trip.

To make the trip as smoothly and as quickly as possible, I have become very dependent on my Google Maps app that I’ve downloaded to my Blackberry.  For those who haven’t used it before, when one brings up the map they can set it to show the flow of traffic. Green means everything is moving fine; yellow that the traffic is moving slowly; red that the traffic is at a crawl; red with a black line in it, that’s a really bad sign!  Before venturing onto the highway, I always check the map in order to figure out the best way to travel so as not to end up sitting unnecessarily in traffic.  (Of course sometimes there is no best way!) It is not infrequent that I am thankful for my Google Maps app.  After all, I love avoiding traffic.

I realize, however, that there are many other things in my life that I ought to avoid besides traffic.  No, I’m not referring to too many calories or too much cholesterol. Rather, the steady flow of bad attitudes that seek to make their way into my heart, the stream of hurtful words that can so easily come out of my mouth; the congestion of negative thoughts that want to fill my mind, these are all examples of the kind of “traffic” that can slow my life down to a crawl and keep me from getting to where God wants me to be.

The Bible says, “Avoid every kind of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).  That includes every wrong action, thought, or attitude. It is a call for us to be diligent in doing our part not to end up stuck in the middle of the “traffic” of this world.  We are to do our best to avoid anything and everything that can keep us from our God-given destination.

Unfortunately, there is no Google Map to help us avoid the “traffic” of the heart and mind. There is no Blackberry app to help us find a way around the evil of this world.  But with God’s help, we can avoid those things that slow us down and keep us from being all that God has called us to be.  Through his Word and by his Holy Spirit, we will get to our God-given destination.  

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, October 7, 2011

One Game At A Time

The Yankees’ 2011 season has come to an end. In spite of a pretty good run that propelled them into the post-season; and in spite of their effort throughout their series with the Detroit Tigers, they just couldn’t pull it off.  In the end, they had to pack up and go home (and maybe head off to the golf course!).

Some of us are probably a bit frustrated with some of the players (I won’t name any names!). The players themselves are probably asking, how did this happen?  I’m sure that many of them are replaying plays and at-bats in their minds. In the end, however, it doesn’t matter. The truth is, leaving bases loaded twice, striking out at the worst possible moment, allowing two runs right off the top, none of that makes for a win.  At last night’s game, it didn’t matter how well the team had played throughout the year or how many wins they had on their stats sheet; all that mattered was winning that one game.  And, by not winning that one game, their  season (and chance to win the world series) came to an abrupt end. 

But, that’s what it’s all about: winning one game at a time. Any cumulative success is always the result of being able to win one day and then go back and win again the next.  To be a “winning team” means being able to stack win after win.  That’s true in baseball (or any other sport), as well as in life. 

The Apostle Paul was a man who refused to rely on his past success for the “game” at hand. He knew that each day was a new day—another opportunity to score a “win” for the Kingdom of God.  He wrote, “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14—NIV)  Elsewhere he writes that each one of us should, “…make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5—NIV)  He knew that to live a life of wins means experiencing one win at a time.

I want to encourage you today to stay focused, persevere, and put forth the skill and effort needed to “win” today.  Don’t allow yourself to become overly confident, relying on your past successes.  And, don’t worry about the future. Serve Christ today. Do what he’s called you to do today. Live the way he’s instructed you to live today. As you do, you will find the wins of your life will quickly stack up.

You can be a winner by simply winning one game at a time! 

Have a great day!

-Pastor Tim Harris