Friday, November 30, 2012

The Ornaments On Our Tree

Every year, from the time they were each born, Kim and I have purchased each of our children a new Christmas ornament. That means they each have one ornament for every year of their life. Thus, at this point we have almost 60 ornaments on our Christmas tree that belong to our kids representing the years of the lives.

In addition, Kim and I have ornaments that represent various time periods and aspects of our lives. There is the ornament for our first year of marriage. We have ornaments that represent Kim’s years of music ministry.  There is even one that represents my years of pastoring.  And, many of our ornaments, since they were given to us as gifts, remind us of the many people who have been part of our lives; people whom we remember as we hang the ornament they gave to us on our tree.

I find it fascinating at this point to look at our tree and try to think through each of the years represented by the ornaments hung on it and all that has taken place throughout those years.  In some ways, the ornaments on our tree are more than mere decorations that fill its branches.  So many of them have a story behind them—even a person behind them. They are markers of our life together as a family. They are reminders of what our lives have been like for the past 27 years first as a couple and then as a family.  And, they speak to us of the many years God has been faithful to take care of us—to bring us to another Christmas.

The Bible shows us, it is good to reflect and remember.  The psalmist wrote, “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.”  (Psalm 77:11 – NIV)  Elsewhere he wrote,  “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not his benefits.”  (Psalm 103:2 – NIV) As Jesus gave his disciples the bread and the cup he said to them, “Do this in remembrance of me.”  (Luke 22:19 – NIV)  We are taught to find ways to remember God and his work within our lives—sometimes even through little things like a piece of bread and a cup of wine. 

This Christmas Season, let’s look for the little things that can help us remember the goodness, grace, and love that God has shown to us through the sending of his Son, Jesus.   As we come to another Christmas, let’s allow the symbols of the season to remind us of the faithfulness of God. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, November 23, 2012

God's Faithfulness

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I can’t help but look back over the past year and see the faithful hand of God at work in my life.  God has been faithful to provide when my family needed provision, to reveal his presence in the midst of some great transitions, and to bring peace and help in the middle of some the challenges we have faced. God has brought kept us close as a family, used some very dear friends to walk beside us, and brought some really great new people into our lives.  

Like most people, this past year has been for me a mix of some really good times and some very difficult times.  Honestly, I didn’t always see God or trust him the way I should have.  In retrospect, however, I see much more clearly that, through both the good and bad, God has been with us; God has been faithful; and God has shown himself to be a good God who really does care for his people.  For all of that and more, I am thankful. 

The prophet Jeremiah wrote these words during a time of great difficulty: “Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)  These words became the basis for the hymn below.  I hope that you too will recognize that whether life is easy or hard; whether good things come or hardship comes; whether or not you are faithful, God is and will always be a faithful God!

Have a great day!  Let’s be thankful! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Great is Thy Faithfulness
Thomas O. Chisholm (1923)

Verse 1: "Great is Thy faithfulness," O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Chorus: "Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"
  Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
    "Great is Thy faithfulness," Lord, unto me!

Verse 2: Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Verse 3: Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Ripping Out Walls

In response to the terrible blow that Hurricane Sandy unleashed on the Greater New York area, this past week I went with a team from our church, Promise International Fellowship (PIF), to Island Park, Long Island. We went to work with Convoy of Hope and Samaritan’s Purse.  After signing in, we were sent to the home of a couple in their 70’s.  The walls of the first floor of their home had to be completely ripped out.  We went to work with hammers and crowbars, shovels and brooms, tearing down the plaster, the wood behind it, and the insulation. The debris quickly piled up as the dust filled the air. It was hard work…no, it was sad work. 

For me, the ripping out of those walls was a picture of just how devastated the people around us were feeling. Understandably, as we did our work, the couple whose home we worked in seemed broken-hearted to see the walls of their home being demolished. It was as if the walls of their hearts were crumbling as well. The tearing down of those walls was an apt illustration of what had happened to so many people’s lives.  All we could do was offer some help, a word of hope, and encourage them to put their trust in God. 

One of the prophets of the Bible, Habakkuk, after seeing his homeland destroyed by an invading army followed by drought and famine wrote these words: 
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  (Habakkuk 3:17-18) 

Habakkuk knew what it was like to experience devastation and destruction.  He knew what it was like to see the walls of life ripped apart.  Yet, in the midst of it all he makes an incredible statement of faith.  He even goes as far as saying, “I will rejoice in the Lord.”  Why?  Because Habakkuk knew that the only One who could help him and his people rebuild the walls of their lives would be God. So, he continued in faith; and by faith looked ahead with hope. 

Where do you turn when the walls of your life begin to crumble?  How do you respond?  I want to encourage you today to turn to the only One who can give you real hope.  He is a God who loves you, who will be with you, and who can help you rebuild the walls of your life.

Let’s continue to pray for and serve the people whose lives have been ruined by Sandy.  And, let’s continue to trust in God, the One who is able to fill our lives with hope. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, November 2, 2012

Very Long Lines

This morning Kim got out of the house early to try to find gasoline for our van. (We have been concerned as to whether or not we will have enough gas to get Nathaniel back to college on Saturday as well as have enough gas to get to church on Sunday.)  After Kim waited for an hour and a half, I came along with some breakfast and switched with her. Thankfully, for me there was only about another half an hour of the wait left—but only for super at $4.50 per gallon with a $30 limit, and only cash!  But, we at least got that much. 

I think the last thing anyone expected with the onset of “Sandy” would be the long line of cars at the gas stations throughout the region.  Although, many of us thought to fill-up our tanks before the storm hit, who would have thought that four days later we would have gasoline being rationed?  Who would have expected to be waiting on lines for two hours or more for a few gallons of gas? But, wait we do—on some very long lines.

And, why do we wait?  We wait because we need that which we are waiting for. We wait for that which we consider to be necessary and valuable to our well-being.  Yes, we would like to get our gasoline much more quickly, but we wait because have become dependent upon gasoline to power our cars and our generators. 

The Bible often speaks about waiting—especially waiting “for the Lord.”  The Psalmist wrote, “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” (Psalm 130:5,6 – NIV)  The Bible speaks of being patient and hopeful as we wait for God to step into our lives to help us, deliver us, and fulfill his promises to us. 

The Psalmist reminds us that although it might feel as if we are on a very long line, if we will wait patiently, we will experience God at work within our lives. And, why would we wait?  Because we understand how desperately we really do need his presence and his power; he grace and his mercy at work within our lives. 

So, today as you wait on line for gas, or maybe on a grocery line or on line for the bus (etc., etc.), let it be a time during which you are also waiting “for the Lord.”  He is with you and he will help you as you wait for him.

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris