Monday, October 29, 2012

A Shelter In The Time of Storm

Last week I was in Nicaragua experiencing some of the most torrential rain I've ever seen in my life (it is the rainy season there).  Today I am home with my family riding out "Sandy," waiting for the worst that we are told is yet to come.  As I reflect on the rain and the wind and storms, the words to the old hymn come to mind.  I trust they will bless you as you ride out the storm - or even if you are in another part of the world with sunny skies!


The Lord’s our Rock, in Him we hide,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Secure whatever ill betide,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Refrain
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A weary land, a weary land;
Oh, Jesus is a Rock in a weary land,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

A shade by day, defense by night,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
No fears alarm, no foes afright,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Refrain

The raging storms may round us beat,
A Shelter in the time of storm
We’ll never leave our safe retreat,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

Refrain

O Rock divine, O Refuge dear,
A Shelter in the time of storm;
Be Thou our Helper ever near,
A Shelter in the time of storm.

God bless.  Be Safe.  Have a great day!  

Pastor Tim Harris 




Friday, October 19, 2012

The End Of A Season


Baseball season has officially come to an end in the New York City area.  With the Yankees’ final loss to the Tigers last night (and a terrible loss at that!), the Yankees go home to watch the world series on their television sets just like the rest of us—if they will do that (not sure I will).  Until next April, we are done with baseball in New York. 

If you are a Yankee fan, you are of course both disappointed and almost stunned by the startling fall of the team.  After all, this was one of the best teams in baseball.  With their payroll and share of baseball superstars, we all expected a much longer post-season.  Who would have thought they would have crashed and burned as they did?  Who would have thought that in three games they would come up with only two runs? It’s not that they were a shoe-in to win the pennant, but who would have thought that they would lose in a shut-out? But, even the strongest and mightiest go down at times.  And, as the saying goes, “The bigger they are the harder they fall.” 

Unfortunately, we all have those times in our lives when we go down pretty hard.  One day we feel strong and secure, almost invincible; everything seems to be going just the way it should; we feel pretty good about ourselves. But, then something unexpected happens—a physical illness, relational conflict, a circumstance beyond our control, etc.—and our frailty is exposed.  We are suddenly not as strong as we once thought we were. Our weaknesses come through, both to ourselves and to those around us. Sometimes we go down pretty hard.  And, we are not always quite sure what to do.

Here’s what the prophet Isaiah wrote to those in his day who were feeling weak, fragile, and vulnerable, Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:30, 31 – NIV)  

If today you are feeling as if you are unable to score a run or even get on base (to use a baseball metaphor!); if you are feeling tired and weak, and maybe a bit disappointed with life; if in some way you’ve fallen and are feeling quite vulnerable, don’t give up.  Rather, turn to the Lord.  Put your hope and trust in God.  He will lift you up.  In him you will find the strength you need to move on into another season.

Well, I’ll be looking forward to next April and a Yankee comeback—should the Lord tarry!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, October 12, 2012

My iPad Bible


For years, I’ve had my share of Bibles.  When I was a young boy I got my first Bible, probably from my Aunt Catherine.  It was a Children’s Bible with a picture of Jesus and a group of children around him on its softcover that could be zipped closed.  Inside, the text was the King James Version (which was all we really knew back then) and scattered throughout were classical pictures of the main stories of the Bible—e.g. Adam and Eve in the Garden, Noah and the ark, Jesus teaching the crowds, etc. In my early teens, I was introduced to and received my own copy of the New International Version in a hardcover form (I believe from my Sunday School teacher).  Then, somewhere along the line I got a paperback copy of the version, Good New For Modern Man. That Bible became my companion all through college as I carried it with me every day to school.  And, of course, I’ve had my share of study Bibles and Bibles to use in the pulpit.

In recent months, however, I have begun doing much of my personal Bible reading off of my newly acquired iPad.  For the most part I still read the New International Version.  But, I can also quickly change to other translations. Not only that but, since my eyes are getting a bit older and have a harder time adjusting to a printed page first thing in the morning, the iPad works well in that I can adjust the size of the font and the brightness of the page.  And, I do like the fact that I can type and publish notes as well. For a guy who’s not all that tech savvy, it’s a bit strange to me to be reading my Bible from a digital format.  But, it seems to be a good thing.

Today we have such incredible access to the Bible.  Not only do many homes have multiple Bibles but, with the market flooded with all kinds of Bible apps, the Bible has become more accessible than ever.  Yet, the sad truth is, many people never read their Bible except for when they are sitting in church.  And, many are pretty much, what we could call, biblically illiterate—even people who have attended church throughout their lives know very little about the Bible.  Worst of all, is that there seems to be a great under-appreciation for the fact that God has spoken to us through the giving of his Word, the Bible. 

The Psalmist, David, had a great love for God’s Word.  In fact, he wrote a whole Psalm praising its virtues (Psalm 119).  He wrote, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 – NIV) and “Your statutes are wonderful; therefore I obey them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.”  (Psalm 119:129, 130 – NIV) At one point he proclaims, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 – NIV)

I want to encourage you today to read and study God’s Word, and to take God’s Word into the deepest parts of your heart and mind. I want to encourage you to develop a deep appreciation, even a love, for God’s Word.  It doesn’t matter whether you read the Bible in a hardcover form or in a digital format.  And, it’s not that important what particular translation you read. What is important is that each of us would allow God to speak to us, direct us, and reveal himself and his will to us.  And, he does so as we dive into his Word, the Bible. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

PS – I’m using two Bible apps:  YouVersion Bible and Just1Word (which has multiple languages).  Take a look! 

   

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Full House


Last weekend, for the first time since they left for college, both of my sons, Jonathan and Nathaniel, came home for the weekend—or at least a part of it.  Since Nathaniel’s school is only about 40 minutes away from Jonathan’s and pretty much on the way home, he picked-up Nathaniel on Friday night and they arrived home at about 10:15 pm.  That night over snacks and the next morning over breakfast, all five of us sat in the kitchen talking and eating.  Conversations were flying in every direction as we all tried to catch up on what was going on in each other’s lives.  By Saturday evening Nathaniel caught a ride back to school. Jonathan was gone by Sunday evening.  Well, it was nice while it lasted.  At least for a few hours we had a full house!

Those who know me know that I like to have my family around.  I like it when the whole family is sitting around the dinner table, talking and eating and sharing the stories of the day.  I like the late night commotion that goes along with everyone being together.  And, that extends not only to our immediate family, but I really like having company, extended family and friends over for a meal or even just for coffee.    I really do like a full house. 

In the gospels, Jesus tells a parable about a man who was having a great big banquet. The invitations went out, but when the responses to his invitations came back, it turned out that no one was coming. All those who had been invited had their excuses as to why they couldn’t make the banquet.  Jesus then went on to say: “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.’” (Luke 14:23 – NIV)

I believe Jesus was revealing to us a bit of the heart of God, our heavenly Father.  He was showing us that God loves a full house!  In fact, it is not only God’s desire but, his plan to have a full house.  Thus, he has done and is doing all he can to bring people into his household.  That is why he sent his Son, Jesus. That is why he has given the Holy Spirit.  That is why he has raised up a people called, the Church.  That is why he continues to work in our world today, meeting people on a very personal level.  It is all for the purpose of inviting and bringing people like you and me into his house.

I’m grateful today that God has made a way for me to be part of his household; I hope you are too.  But, I’m also challenged to be like the servant in the parable, to do my part to let others know that God’s invitation still stands.  After all, God still loves a full house! 

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris