Friday, March 30, 2012

Playing In the Wind

Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to stop by my son Nathaniel’s tennis meet. (Actually it was a scrimmage). The problem was, just before the meet began, the wind picked up terribly. During the meet wind gusts were blowing across the courts and thus blowing the tennis balls every which way. 

If you play tennis, you know that wind creates some of the hardest conditions in which to play. The toss on the serve weaves around causing the server to chase it in the air. As the ball comes across the net the ball is either pushed by the wind, making it come at you harder and faster, or slowed down by the wind, at times causing it to come to a near stop.  The result is that the players are continually trying to out-guess the affect that the strength and direction of the wind are having on the ball.  All in all, it makes for very difficult play. 

Your life and mine are filled will all kinds of winds that keep us guessing about what is coming next.  Unexpected circumstances blow into our lives that keep us trying to figure out what to do next.  Sickness, financial hardships, relational problems, etc., come like sudden gusts into our lives.  It feels like we are constantly playing in the wind!

The disciples of the New Testament were caught in some unexpected winds.  Out on the Sea of Galilee, they found themselves fearing for their lives as they tried to maneuver through a storm that had suddenly come upon them.  In the midst of it all, Jesus stood up and cried out, “Quiet!  Be still!”  And the Bible says, “Then the wind died down and it was completely calm” (Mark 4:39 – NIV)   

I’m reminded today, that no matter how windy our lives may become, Jesus is still able to speak to the winds that blow against us.  He is still able to speak a word of calm and peace into our lives; a peace he says that only he can give. 

If today you feel like you are playing in the wind—or maybe fighting against the wind—trust Jesus.  He is the One who can calm the winds of your life.

John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (NIV)

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Surprised By An Early Spring

If you live here in the Northeast – and especially in the NYC metro region – I’m sure you’ve noticed that, although we haven’t even finished the month of March the daffodils are up, the dogwoods are in bloom, and the grass is going to need to be mowed soon.  It’s amazing. Although technically spring always arrives the same time each year, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the signs of spring this early in the year. Yes, it’s been nice having had a mild winter. And, we’ve enjoyed the warm weather.  But, this early spring still seems a bit odd to me.  It’s really quite a surprise.

Of course, one of the downsides to the early arrival of spring is the early arrival of the allergy season. So those of us who are allergy sufferers are sneezing and blowing our noses earlier in the year than usual.  Then there’s the “How should I dress?” and “Where are I my short-sleeve shirts?” questions, as we try to figure out how to dress on a day that is suddenly hitting a temperature above 70 degrees.  After all, just a few days ago it was still in the 50’s.  And, do we need to prepare the lawn mower already?  I still haven’t packed away the snow blower (which I was glad not to have used much this year!) and I just put away the snow shovel. 

We all know the seasons can be unpredictable. And for sure, life itself can be quite unpredictable—often filled with all kinds of surprises, good and bad! That’s what makes life exciting, interesting, and scary all at the same time.  We can usually figure out the general patterns of life, but the details often feel like they’ve been left to the wind.  So, our lives take their twists and turns and we never really do know what’s around the next corner. 

Thankfully, there is One who does know—and he is never surprised by the seemingly sudden events of our lives.  God is not surprised by either an early spring in the northeast nor the things that happen in my life that tend to leave me stunned.  He knows my life from beginning to end.

The Psalmist wrote, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16 – NIV) In other words, nothing that happens in my life is a surprise to God.  And, that means that I can trust him to stay ahead of me, take care of me, and to watch over me, no matter what surprises may come my way.  And, the same is true for you. 

Let’s trust God with our lives.  He’s never caught by surprise! 

Have a great day and enjoy the spring-like weather—at least as long as it lasts!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Whole New World

I’ve finally entered the world of the “Mac!”  As my Dell laptop began to give up the ghost, it was decided that I should get a MacBook Pro.  So, after years of living in a PC world, I’ve now entered a whole new world—one I’m finding exciting and confusing at the same time. 

For one, the way one moves back and forth through windows with strokes of the finger on the pad can be fun until I can’t get to the window I actually want.  I was amazed that, when using the Apple email function, if I begin to type an email in Spanish the computer actually recognizes that it is Spanish (and not English), corrects my spelling errors and even adds the necessary accents. At first, however I wasn’t quite sure what was going on.  The overall feel of the computer is easy and smooth, yet I find myself frustrated when I can’t figure out how to find something or how to do a simple function—not because it is so hard to do on the Mac, but because I was so used to doing it a different way.  Obviously, I’m going through a bit of a learning curve.   It feels like it is a whole new world!

Like moving from a PC to a Mac, becoming a follower of Jesus Christ means entering a new world (and even more so!).  Of course certain aspects of one’s life might remain the same—job, family, even one’s basic personality.  Yet, so much is different.  With Jesus at work in our lives, we begin to take on a new way of thinking; a new way of handling our relationships; a different way of working through the challenges of life.  We could say it’s a new way of processing through the “windows” of life.

This new world and its new way of life are summed up for us in Paul’s words to the Ephesians: “You were taught with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self…to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-23 – NIV)

Through Jesus we have been given new life!  Through faith in him, who we are and how we live has radically changed.  Now it’s up to us to live our lives according to the new life Jesus has made available to us.

Let’s live as Jesus has called us to live.  Let’ live like it’s a whole new world!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sitting in the Plaza

Yesterday morning, before leaving Leon, Nicaragua to get my flight out of Managua, I took a brief walk through the city to pick up my daily bananas (I eat a banana almost every morning and especially love the really little ones they sell on the streets there). As I walked, I prayed for the city and for our work there, taking some time to simply absorb the atmosphere of the city.  Eventually, I went to the main plaza, found a bench to sit on, and sat observing what was happening around me. 

The vendors were setting up their stands.  A little boy chased a group of pigeons.  A couple of birds landed in the drinking fountain to take a bath.  People strolled by talking and laughing and arguing.  One guy went by smoking a cigarette obviously preoccupied by his need to get to his destination. A dog came by and lay down not too far from where I was sitting.  I don’t think any of the people nor the birds nor the dog took notice of the fact that I was sitting there taking notice of them.  There I was watching all these people, birds, and dogs, but they were oblivious to my presence. As they went about their lives and daily routines, they had no idea that I was there watching them. 

Jesus said that God is always watching over our world and lives, even to the point that he sees when a sparrow falls out of a tree.  He is observing, taking note of every detail. Yet, I know that so often I live my life almost oblivious to the fact that God is near; that he is watching over me.  I go about my daily routines and life’s business, forgetting that my heavenly Father sees it all, taking note of every detail of my life, and is always ready to help.

The Psalmist wrote, “The Lord watches over you…The Lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:5, 7-8 – NIV) 

You might not realize it today, but God is watching over your life. He sees the good and the bad.  He knows your joys and your struggles.  And, he not only watches, he is as well willing to involve himself in every part of your life.  Be encouraged, God is not just watching you, he is watching over you!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is Jesus All We Need?

This week I’ve been following the “40 Days Through John" Bible reading that we’ve been doing as a church, both with CityVine Church and Promise International Fellowship (the two churches I pastor).  We began on the first day of Lent and the reading schedule will take us right up to Easter Sunday. 

The other day I was reading in John 4, the account of the “royal official” whose son was dying.  What caught my attention was the desperation with which this noble, high-ranking man came to Jesus.  John 4:47 says, “… he (the royal official) went to (Jesus) and begged him to come and heal his son who was close to death.”  (NIV)

Here was a man who at other times in his life probably spent his time on things other than searching out the latest and greatest teacher passing through town. Most of the time he was probably caught up in meetings and business and discussions and debates. But, now his son was dying.  That drastically changed the picture of his life. At the moment he wasn’t interest in business or politics or theology, in status or protocol.  With his son on his deathbed, all he wanted was for someone, Jesus, to intervene.  He needed Jesus to heal his son.  He really, really needed Jesus to step into his life.  Thus, he “begged him to come.” He asked for nothing more and nothing less.

Considering this royal official’s desperation for Jesus made me wonder, have I ever been that desperate for Jesus?  And, how desperate am I for the work of Jesus in my life today? 

It’s so easy for Jesus to become just one of the many things that’s going on in my life.  But in the end, Jesus isn’t just another good teacher passing through with a few nice ideas to dispense.  He is Savior and Healer! He is Provider and Peace-giver!  He is Life and Light!  He is the Source of all hope and joy!  And, I could go on.  The truth is, I desperately need Him!

It’s no wonder the old songwriter wrote, “He’s all I need…Jesus is all I need.”   In more recent years we’ve sung, “I’m desperate for You; I’m lost without You.”  I think the royal official of John 4 could have identified with either set of lyrics. 

So, let me ask you, how desperate are you for Jesus?  Maybe it’s time that we all follow the royal official’s lead, putting some of the other stuff of life aside, and cry out to Jesus—maybe even beg him to step into our lives.  As we do, I know he will come. 

Have a great day.

Pastor Tim Harris