Friday, September 28, 2012

The Challenge of a New Job

Those of you who read this Pastors Devotion may or may not know that this past month my wife Kim got a new job.  Just about one and a half weeks before school began, she received a call from a Christian school here in North Jersey, asking if she would be interested in a teaching position.  For the past few years, Kim has been substitute teaching.  Most recently, she had been working on her NJ teaching certificate and looking for a full-time teaching position. Specifically, she was preparing for and looking for a position in middle school math.  However, the position for which she was being considered was beginning Spanish for 8th and 9th graders and 6th grade history! 

After a couple of interviews, Kim was offered the position and she accepted.  That was then just a few days before the start of the new school year.  You can only imagine how busy she has been since.  Considering that all the material is new to her and that she had almost no lead-time to put together lesson plans, every moment she gets is spent preparing for upcoming lessons. Every morning she is off to school to meet and teach her students; every evening she is back at the computer working on her lesson plans.  For those who might ask, yes it’s a lot of work, but she has thus far really enjoyed being in the classroom. She is doing a really good job at meeting the challenge of a new job head-on. 

We all know that a new job can be a challenge.  But, a new job is not the only thing in life that challenges us.  Every day we are faced with all kinds of situations that may cause us to wonder whether or not we will make it through.  Sickness in our bodies, relational difficulties, tasks that seem bigger than we are come into our lives and threaten to overwhelm us.  The busyness of life coupled with the many unforeseen things that happen along the way, can create doubt and even fear. Sometimes we wonder whether or not we will survive it all. 

But those of us who are followers of Christ need to remind ourselves of the Apostle Paul’s words, For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13 – NLT)  Paul tells us that, it is the power of Christ at work within us that is able to help us meet head-on whatever challenges life may bring our way.  With Jesus Christ at work within us and through us, there is no challenge that is bigger than we are, for Jesus is bigger than any challenge we may face.  So, no matter what he asks us to do or allows to come into our lives, we can do so with confidence and the assurance that he will be with us. 

Today, whatever challenges you may be facing—on your job, in your home, in your own mind—put your trust in Jesus Christ.  Let his power work in you and through you. 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  (Ephesians 6:10 – NIV)

Have a great day!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Buying Less Milk

Now that both our boys are away at college, grocery shopping has become quite different for Kim and me. Rather than buying food for a family of five, we are now buying and cooking for three.  Not only that, but the two who are currently not here, were and are the biggest eaters in the family.  With Jonathan and Nathaniel away, you can only imagine how much less food we go through in a week! 

Nowhere is that more evident than in the amount of milk we use.  During the summer when everyone was home, we would go through four gallons of milk per week.  Now, however, we can’t get through one gallon in two weeks.  In fact, yesterday Kim had to discard about half a gallon because it had gone bad. But, even with that, as I was in the supermarket, I had to stop myself from picking up another full gallon of milk.  After all, it’s been almost a habit to pick up a gallon of milk every time we stop at the supermarket. 

But, we are making our adjustments.  We buy less milk (and much less cereal!).  We cook smaller amounts of food—or, plan on having more leftovers.  With both boys away, we continue to adjust not only the way we shop and cook, but also many of the other details of our life as a family.  Adjustments and changes are always a challenge, but somehow we do it, whether we like it or not. 

All of this is a reminder to me that, so much of life is constantly changing.  Seasons come and go. The years pass by.  Our children grow up. Our bodies age. Our situations and circumstances are different than they once were. Every few years, at least, we are making our adjustments to whatever changes have come. Thankfully, God has built into us the ability to adjust with change.

At the same time, I have found that the changes of my life have become a reminder to me that there are some things that do not change—especially that, there is One who never changes.  More and more I have come to realize, I serve a God who is constantly the same and thus, one on whom I can always depend.  I never have to wonder what he will be like in days or years to come. I do not need to figure out how to adjust to him. Rather, he has promised to be a constant in my life. 

The Psalmist wrote of God, “But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (Psalm 102:27 - NIV) God himself said through the prophet, “I the LORD do not change.” (Malachi 3:6 – NIV)  And, the writer of Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 – NIV)

Yes, you and I will need to adjust to all the various changes that come our way throughout life.  (Currently, for me that means buying less milk!)  At the same time, let’s remember to live our lives always trusting in the God who will never change. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, September 14, 2012

Healthy Living

At least a few days a week I have been trying to follow an exercise routine. After all, I am over fifty and if I’m not purposeful about it, things can go downhill pretty quickly (physically, that is)!  Most days I go to a local park and do a few laps of fast-paced walking and running for a total of 2 ½ to 3 ½ miles.  There is also an outdoor workout area with bars and beams on which to do pull-ups and sit-ups, etc. If the weather is bad, I’ll go to the gym. 

Since I usually go to the park about the same time each day, I see many of the same people. There is the older woman who wears big sunglasses, a scarf, and a baseball cap.  There’s the guy who always wears his hat backwards.  There’s two groups that consistently walk in the middle of the pathway: two older guys who seem to be always joking with each other and three ladies who love their morning chat and are pretty much oblivious to anyone who is trying to get by them.  In the workout area, there are these really big and strong guys who make me feel very small and weak.  All kinds of people, young and old, of all different races and backgrounds, coming together in one place for the purpose of getting some exercise. All of these different people striving for healthy living.

We all know that if we are not purposeful about how we live—i.e. what we eat, whether or not we exercise—we will put on the pounds, become weak, and potentially end up with a variety of diseases. And the older we get, the more purposeful we need to be.  If we ignore our bodies, things will begin to breakdown.  Most people, even those who ignore it, understand the importance of physical health.  What is so unfortunate, however, is how many people ignore their spiritual health.  Parks and gyms are filled with people who are striving for healthy bodies but whose spiritual life—i.e. their relationship with God—is anything but strong. 

The Apostle Paul wrote, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8 – NIV)   Just as our physical health depends upon our exercise routines and the foods we eat—all of which takes great discipline and has value—our spiritual health depends upon us maintaining the right routines and disciplines: scripture reading, prayer, worship, service, and gathering with other believers.  As the Apostle Paul reminds us, it is our spiritual health that is of eternal value. 

So, as the Apostle John wrote, my prayer for each of you today is, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” (3 John 2 – NIV)

Have a great day.

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rubbernecking on the Cross Bronx

In the New York metro area we call it “rubbernecking.”  In Philadelphia they call it a "gaper delay.”  Whatever you call it, it’s a terrible phenomenon that affects all of our lives in a negative way.  In fact, it happened to me again this morning.

As I was traveling east on the Cross Bronx, the traffic suddenly came to a near stop.  The reason for the slow down was an accident that had happened in the lanes heading west.  Of course, it was understandable as to why the traffic heading west was a mess.  But, going east there was no obstruction.  There was nothing to stop us from moving at a normal pace.  There was nothing in front of us that should have brought us to a near-standstill; nothing except for the fact that, the drivers heading east just naturally slowed down to take a look. They were distracted by what was happening in the westbound lanes.  They couldn't help but “gape” and “rubberneck.” 

So let me ask you, how many times in your life have you been slowed down by rubbernecking?  Not just in terms of traffic, but in life in general.  The truth is, we are all easily distracted by what is happening around us to the point that sometimes our lives are brought to a near standstill.  We lose focus and end up looking in the wrong direction.  Rather than moving forward like we ought, our heads are turned and our eyes are focused on the distractions of life. 

Maybe that’s why the writer of the book of Hebrews exhorted the believers with these words, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….”  (Hebrews 12:2 - NIV) And, the Apostle Paul wrote, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:18 – NIV) Both authors knew how easily we are distracted.  Both understood the need for us to stay focused—i.e. to “fix our eyes” on that which is of highest importance to our lives.

So let’s not be found “rubbernecking.”  Rather with the Apostle Paul lets say, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. “(Philippians 3:14 - NIV)  Let’s keep looking ahead and moving ahead with Christ. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris