Friday, November 25, 2011

The Squirrels' Feast

As I drove into our driveway last week, I came upon two squirrels feasting upon the large pumpkin that we had sitting on our front steps.  They had gnawed a whole in the side of it and were enjoying both the flesh of the pumpkin as well as its seeds. I chased them away but because my hands were full at the moment, left things the way they were.  Of course, the next chance possible, the two squirrels were back at their feast.  When I came out of the house, seeds and pumpkin were all over the steps.  I realized I had to do something or we were going to have a great big mess on our hands. 

My first thought was to pick up the pumpkin and throw it in the garbage thinking, no more pumpkin, no more squirrels, no more mess.  But then I had a second thought.  What would be the big deal if I moved the pumpkin to another spot—e.g. into the bushes—and allowed the squirrels to continue their feast? Although I’m not crazy about squirrels, did it really make a difference to me whether or not they ate the rest of the pumpkin?  After all, it already had a big hole in it and was useless to me.  So, I took the pumpkin down off the steps, put it into the bushes and left it there for the squirrels to continue their feast. And of course, over the next few days they did. 

I don’t necessarily love squirrels.  I’m not the kind who goes out and feeds them throughout the winter. At that moment, however, I just felt it was the right thing to do—at least for me.  And as I did, a scripture came to mind, one that I think God may have been trying to speak into my life.  That scripture comes from Psalm 84.

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11 - NIV)

My little interaction with the squirrels reminded me that as God watches over my life, he is very much aware of what I need. He’s no killjoy, looking to take away those things that are good for me. He doesn’t withhold what is good, but instead supplies my every need “according to his riches in glory.” (Philippians 4:19 - KJV) 

This Thanksgiving season, I’m grateful that we serve a God who never withholds that which is good.  He takes care of us as his children, blessing us even beyond what we need or deserve.  That’s the kind of God he is. That’s the kind of heavenly Father we have. So, let’s be sure to give him thanks!

Have a great day! 

-Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, November 18, 2011

Broken Branches

As I was working on my sermon this morning, I heard a huge “thud” that made me jump.  At first it sounded like something or someone had fallen in the unit next to us.  Then it dawned on me to go outside and look at the roof. Sure enough a great big branch, one that had been dangling from the oak tree behind the house, had finally broken off and landed on the roof.  This was the second big branch that came down since our October snow storm.  Thankfully, I don’t think it caused any damage—just a lot of noise. 

Some say that it can be good for the trees to have storms come through and blow down branches that are weak.  I’m not sure if that was the case with the October snow storm, but it may be so.  Of course, even if it is good for the trees it is not always good for us! After all, the trees don’t have to worry about the cleanup or the loss of power.  And, it is definitely not good for the individual branches. After all, once they are broken off from the trees, they quickly begin to wither and die. 

Looking at the branch that came down this morning, as well as all the dried up branches that are still lining our streets, I am reminded of the words of Jesus which I preached on at our churches just a few weeks ago: “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. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:5-6 – NIV)

As the branches that have been broken off from the trees are now lifeless and dry, so too, unless we stay connected to Jesus our spiritual lives will become lifeless and dry.  He is our source of true life.  He is the One through whom we experience spiritual and eternal life.  It is only through our relationship with him – his life flowing into us – that we can hope to live as we know we ought to live and produce the fruit that we know we ought to produce. 

Don’t become like that big branch sitting on my roof; don’t allow anything in this life to disconnect you from Jesus.  Rather, do whatever is necessary to live your life connected to him.  As you do, you will be like a branch filled with life and producing lots of good fruit. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Communication Overload

After having had a regular cell phone for about a year, a few months ago I went back to a  Blackberry.  Since then I have been able to once again not only talk on the phone but as well text, BBM, and email—all from the same gadget.  (Actually I didn’t even know what BBM was until a couple of months ago—that is “Blackberry Messaging” for you non-Blackberry people!)  And, being that the Blackberry is 3G I can go on the Web and thereby communicate on my Blackberry even through Facebook.  That is, of course, in addition to being on my laptop much of the day and having a landline in our home.  So, one would think that I’d have no communication difficulties.  After all, with so many options at my fingertips, I should never again have to struggle getting a hold of someone or having on-the-spot and on-the-go communication with the utmost of clarity. 

But, is that really the case? With so many messages coming through via texts and voicemail and emails and Facebook and BBM, I am finding it quite challenging to keep up with all the communication—making  sure I answer everyone in a timely way and making sure every thought I speak or text or type is clear.  Sometimes I have to look back and check to see whether or not I responded or, if I did, what I actually communicated.  Did I make an appointment? Did I make a promise? Did I give an answer?  If so, was it the right answer?  Sometimes I feel like I’m on communication overload. 

A few weeks ago my kids, seeing me reach for my Blackberry at the sound of the buzz, stopped me and pretty much rebuked me for checking it while they were trying to talk to me.  It seemed that my communication tool was hindering communication with those who were right in front of me. 

Then I have to wonder about my communication with God.  Do I put as much effort into communicating with him as I do into my communication with the people around me? And, is he able to communicate to me? I know for a fact that there are times when my communication tools have actually interrupted my communication with the One who is of ultimate importance in my life. 

Maybe more than ever before we need to hear God saying to us, “Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.” (Isaiah 55:3 – NIV)

Believe me, I’m thankful for computers and smart phones and all of the rest of the technology that we have before us today. In many ways they do help us. But let’s be aware that sometimes the tools that are meant to help us communicate may actually do the opposite.   

Have a great day! 

-Pastor Tim Harris

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Bumpy Roads of Nicaragua

Last night I returned from five days in Nicaragua. While there I spent time with the children and personnel of Promise International Academy, Promise Kids Foundation (PKF), and Promise Church – all in Leon and the surrounding area.  I also took a side trip to Matagalpa, a small city up in the mountains.  It was a great trip.

However, traveling through a country like Nicaragua – i.e. a “developing nation” – is nothing like traveling here in the United States.  Aside from a whole different style of driving (to put it nicely), the roads tend to be filled with all kinds of obstacles.  Even when driving on what would be considered a “highway,” one has to beware of cattle suddenly entering the roadway, chickens that have decided to literally cross the road, and speed bumps that have had the yellow paint worn away and a sign that is placed next to it rather than before it.  And, when traveling to the outlying areas as we did to visit the children we support through PKF, most of our traveling was done on dirt roads filled with potholes and gullies, narrow bridges and all kinds of hazards.  Yes, it can be quite a ride!   

I think the roads in Nicaragua tend to be very similar to what we might call “the roadway” of our lives. After all, few of our lives are like the highways here in the U.S.—four to six lanes of smooth pavement; a road that tends to be relatively smooth and comfortable.  Rather, our lives are filled with all kinds of hazards that suddenly appear; bumps in the road that can easily knock us off course.  The loss of a job, conflict in one’s home, sickness and death, and so much more all tend to make our ride through life a very bumpy one.  Each one threatens to keep us from living our lives the way God has intended for us to live them.

But, the Bible declares, “The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.” (Luke 3:5-6 – NIV)  That is, there are no obstacles to the work of God within our lives. He is more than able to overcome each one.  Moreover, through Jesus Christ, he works within our lives so that no bump in the road is able to hinder his work within us nor his purposes for us. 

No matter how rough the road you are on might be, know that God is the one who is able to take the bumpy road and make it smooth. 

Have a great day  and enjoy the ride! 

-Pastor Tim Harris