Friday, January 27, 2012

Here Today...Gone Tomorrow!

Just about one week ago, our area was blanketed with snow—the first significant snow of the season, excluding our freak October snowstorm.  The streets, lawns, trees were beautifully covered in white.  On Sunday, the sun seemed extra bright as it reflected off nature’s blanket of white.  Sure the snow was a bit of a hassle, but like usual it really made things look almost magical.

By Tuesday, however, it was all gone.  A little bit of warmer weather mixed with some rain, quickly washed all the snow away.  What had suddenly come in, was just as suddenly gone.  Like so many things in life,  it was here today and gone tomorrow! 

It’s true, the things of this world are so often here today and gone tomorrow.  Our cars breakdown.   Computers become obsolete.  Clothing either wears out or goes out of style.  Nature takes its toll leaving us with rust spots on our cars, machinery that doesn’t move, holes in our socks—and the list can go on! There’s a good chance that the things we are counting on today will no longer be ours tomorrow. 

That’s why Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 – NIV)

Only those things that are part of God’s eternal kingdom will last forever.  That’s why we need to make sure that we are not investing our lives just into the stuff of this world—stuff that is so temporary—but investing into that which is eternal.  That means building a strong relationship with God.  It means doing all we can to share with others his grace and love.  It means giving ourselves to his causes.  And, it means serving others as he would have us serve.   

Like last week’s snowfall, so many things in this world are here today and gone tomorrow.  But that which is part of God’s kingdom is not only here today, but tomorrow…and tomorrow...and tomorrow…!   

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Morning Coffee

Like many of you, my day doesn’t really start until I get my morning coffee.  During other times of the day I may another cup, but it’s not a necessity.  In the morning, however, I don’t want to take even a bite of food until I’ve gotten my first sip.  And, it’s not just about the caffeine.  It’s about the warmth and the taste—that “ahh” feeling one gets with that first sip of one’s morning coffee. 

Of course there may be some who are reading this who cannot relate.  In fact, my wife Kim doesn’t drink coffee; she doesn’t like the taste. So, she doesn’t quite get it when I say, I really need to taste coffee before anything else in the morning. To her it just doesn’t make sense. Yet, to me there is almost nothing better than having a cup of really good tasting coffee first thing in the morning.  I hate to admit it, but sometimes I even go to bed at night thinking about that first cup in the morning. 

The Psalmist expresses his early morning craving in Psalm 63.  He wrote, “God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1 – NIV)  Some translations read, “early will I seek you.”  That is, his early morning desire was for something more than a sip of coffee or bit of food or anything else that can be found in this life.  His early morning craving was for the presence of God. 

We all have things we desire in life, things that we really long for. Morning coffee is just a small and probably insignificant example.  Many of our cravings and desires are for things much bigger and more powerful—some of which are good and some of which may not be so good.  But whatever we crave, we will do our best to attain. 

What are you and I really longing for? Not just in the morning but throughout our day, and throughout our lives.  Let’s be like the Psalmist whose early morning craving was for God.  Ultimately, only he can meet the deepest desires of our heart. 

Let’s go after the right things. 

Have a good day…and go get another cup of coffee!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, January 13, 2012

A New Pedigree

Our dog Mabel has always been friendly and easy-going with people.  When we meet someone on the street or someone comes to the house she is friendly and playful, wagging her tail and looking for a bit of attention.  And, she is especially good with children.  But other dogs? Well, that’s another story.  As time has gone on she has become much more excitable at the sight of other dogs, barking and jumping in such a way that other dog owners don’t want to bring their dogs anywhere near Mabel.  Even our attempts to distract her have become pretty much useless. All we can do is drag her along until the other dog is out of sight.  It has become very frustrating for us and for her.

Now I’m not looking to make excuses for Mabel, but I did a little research on what’s going on. I found out that Mabel, being one half Jack Russell, is behaving exactly the way most JR’s behave.  For some reason, they tend to be a breed that do not get along all that well with other dogs unless they have had extensive training.  In fact, the internet is filled with JR owners sharing their woes on this matter, each one seeking advice as to how to get their dog to stop barking so wildly at the sight of other dogs.  And, although I know we have to keep working to train her better, I have come to understand that much of her behavior is just part of her nature; it is in many ways just who she is – it’s part of her pedigree!  Sometimes I think, if only I could change her pedigree then she would behave differently!  (By the way, her other “half” is supposedly Bassett Hound!)

The same is true for us as people.  The way we behave is often a result of who we are.  We all have a particular pedigree—a natural personality and disposition, a cultural and familial background—we come from a mix of societal and genetic stock.  Then there is the issue of our natural sinful nature.  And, sometimes we can begin to think that we are stuck in our behavioral modes, that we can never do any better, that we are destined to live our lives according to our pedigree.

But, the Bible tells us that when we give our lives to following Jesus we receive a new pedigree!  The Bible says, we’ve have been born again. Everything becomes new for us, from the inside out.  We are no longer merely part of the human family, but we are now part of God’s family.  Thus, we don’t have to live our lives according to the old patterns of our old pedigree.  We have been set free to live our lives in a completely new way.   

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23 –NIV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control….” (Galatians 5:22-23 – NIV)

No matter what we do, Mabel may continue to bark at other dogs for it is just the way Jack Russells behave (or at least so I’m told).  But, we who have been born again are now empowered by the Spirit of God.  We can now live our lives in a new way, living according to our new pedigree.

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Old Sweatshirt

Today I’m wearing a new sweater, given to me by my children.  And, yes it feels nice to be wearing something new.  But, like most guys, I’ve got my favorite old sweatshirt that probably ought to be thrown away.  Whenever I can, I tend to choose it over the new ones. Why?  Because, it is so comfortable—much too comfortable to throw away.  In spite of enjoying the new sweaters and sweatshirts I get, I really love putting on that old sweatshirt.     

It seems that our culture tends towards the new. We gravitate towards the newest music, technology, and fashion trends. We want to see the newest movie, read the newest book, and get to that new restaurant in town.  We also seem to quickly buy into the newest philosophies and religious thought to seep into the classrooms or hit the street.  Even in the church, we seem to always be looking for something new—a new form of worship, a new song to sing, a new way of preaching, etc.   

Yet, we have to admit that new is not always better.  There’s something to be said about putting on that old sweater, playing that old song, or watching that old movie.  When it comes to philosophy and religion, there’s something to be said about not moving too quickly to the new.  Sometimes it is pieces of our past that give us a sense of stability.  More importantly, there are often parts of the past that contain truths that we ought not, must not, abandon lest we be left with that which is not only new, but also false.   

The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”  (Jeremiah 6:16 – NIV)

Jeremiah’s point was that God had spoken in the past, showing his people the way to live that they might experience his blessing upon their lives.  Yet, like us they tended to look for something new—maybe something that seemed to them a bit more innovative and exciting.  But, God calls them back to the old, to the “ancient paths.”

As you step into a new year, please enjoy all the new things that God brings your way.  At the same time, however, don’t neglect the “ancient paths” that find their root in the One who is called the “Ancient of Days”—the God who never changes.  It is only in him and in his ways, as old as they might be, that we will find “rest for (our) souls.”

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris