Friday, May 31, 2013

Stronger Than The Storm

Recently I have seen a set of TV commercials by the State of New Jersey trying to encourage people to come back to the Jersey Shore this summer—that is, in the wake of the post-Sandy devastation and subsequent cleanup.  The slogan of the campaign, one that is being quoted over and over again by Governor Christie, and even repeated by President Obama, is “Stronger Than the Storm.”  In other words, in spite of the terrible destruction left by Hurricane Sandy, the Jersey Shore has been rebuilt and is ready for business.   Due to the resilience of its people and their combined efforts, the State of New Jersey has proven itself to be “Stronger Than the Storm.”

This is good news for those of us who love to go to the Jersey Shore during the summer.  I hope to get down there with my family at some point this season.  It’s kind of a tradition for us to spend an afternoon or two on the beach and the evenings walking the boardwalk, eating pizza or ice cream, and simply enjoying the sea breeze and summer crowds.  I for one am glad that New Jersey is bouncing back and that this summer we will be able to once again enjoy the Jersey Shore. 

But, as I have listened to the slogan and watched the commercials, I have been reminded of something else—actually, someone else—that is stronger than the storm.  The New Testament tells us of a time when Jesus was out with his disciples in a boat.  A huge storm arose on the sea that threatened their lives.  And Mark wrote, “(Jesus) got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”  (Mark 4:39 – NIV)  At that moment, Jesus' disciples realized that Jesus was truly, stronger than the storm!

We all have storms that come blowing into our lives that threaten to damage, if not destroy us.  There are times when life becomes really, really hard.  Many times we don’t know how we will ever bounce back or make it through.  But, the Bible tells us that there is One who is able to speak peace into our lives, bring comfort to our souls, and healing to our minds.  God is more than able to help us conquer all things for he is still a very, very strong God.

When the oceans rise and thunders roar,
I will soar with You above the storm;
Father You are King over the flood
I will be still and know you are God! (Morgan)

Put your trust in God.  He is still stronger than the storm! 

Have a great day

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, May 24, 2013

Waking Up To The Birds

With the warmer weather upon us, we often sleep with our bedroom windows open.  That can mean early in the morning hearing birds, often right outside our window, singing and cawing and whistling and making whatever other kinds of noises birds make.  This time of year, the male cardinals are especially singing up a storm, often much earlier in the morning than I would like them to sing. (For some reason, they don’t seem to care what time it is or what I think!)

Although at times I’d rather not have the birds making so much noise, I do find something reassuring about their sound early in the day.  For one, no matter what may be happening in the world or in my life, they continue to sing and whistle unaffected by it all. There is something about hearing the steadfast sound of the birds in the midst of the ups and downs of life.  Secondly, they are a constant reminder of God’s care for his creation--not only his care for the birds, but his care for each of us. 

Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26 – NIV) 

It’s true.  God’s care for the birds is a reminder of how much he cares for us.  The fact that God values even the birds tells us that you and I are even that much more on God’s heart. After all, we are the ones who were created in God’s image, not the birds.  And, we were the ones for whom God sent his One and Only Son, Jesus.  Thus, if God takes care of the birds, we have to rest assured he will take care of us. 

I don’t know if where you live you ever get to hear the birds early in the day.  If so, take time to listen.  If not, take my word for it, they are singing and cawing and whistling, etc.  Maybe go a park and listen for their song.  Whatever the case, let their song be a reminder to you that you have a heavenly Father who is watching over you today.   

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, May 17, 2013

Graduation Time

In our family, we have two graduations this year.  Last weekend, we were so proud as we watched Jonathan receive his bachelor’s degree (with honors, I might add) from Templeton Honor’s College of Eastern University.  And, in a few weeks we will watch as Joanna makes her way up to the platform to receive her high school diploma.  As you can imagine, it is an exciting time for us as a family.

Of course, at this time of the year, all over the country, young men and women (and some not so young) are walking in procession, dressed in caps and gowns, as they receive their diplomas. Each graduation signifies the completion of a particular course of study and the achievement of a particular amount of knowledge.  Each diploma received represents to some degree a certain amount of knowledge that the student has been taught, has had to study, and will hopefully retain (at least in part).  In the end, the hope is that each graduate leaves their particular school with more knowledge than when they entered. 

The Bible speaks much about the importance of knowledge. But, most of the time, especially in the book of Proverbs, knowledge is tied to the thought of wisdom. That is, true knowledge is not only about the receiving of information, but the ability to properly apply that information to one’s life.  Not only that, but both wisdom and knowledge are tied to God—i.e. he is the ultimate source of each. We are reminded in the scriptures that we will gain true wisdom and knowledge as we live our lives in relationship with him.

 The writer of Proverbs wrote:

“For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” (Proverbs 2:10 – NIV)

For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”  (Proverbs 2:6 – NIV)

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10 – NIV)

Knowledge is a wonderful gift from God. But let us never forget the true source of all knowledge. And, let us pray that God would help us apply the knowledge we receive with his divine wisdom. 

Have a great day and congratulations to all the graduates! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, May 3, 2013

God's Way, The Best Way

Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer.  All over the country, people of faith gathered to pray.  It was a day to give thanks for all that God has given to us as a nation.  It was also a day to look head-on at what is taking place among us and to pray for God to move by his Spirit and to lead us as a nation into his ways.  It was a day to pray for our leaders from the President on down, praying that God would speak to their hearts and lead them according to his wisdom, giving them the ability to lead in a way that would bring blessing to all people. 

As I look at what is happening among us as a nation, I can’t help but think how God’s heart must be broken for what he sees.  It’s not just about laws but even more so about what those laws reflect.  It’s obvious that our society has begun to freely accept standards and ways of thinking that no longer reflect the purposes, plans, and standards of God—standards that God knows are ultimately best for us both individually and corporately.  Our acceptance of unbiblical sexual standards (both homosexual and heterosexual); our willingness to take the lives of unborn babies; the fact that we have allowed violence to become just another form of entertainment; the greed and materialism that would lead to the killing of hundreds of poor people in a place like Bangladesh; and so much more speaks to the fact that our society has rejected God and his ways for not only us, but for all people. 

So, what can we do?  I know some will be satisfied with ranting and raving and complaining and vilifying our leadership. Some of us may be given the opportunity to get involved in public arenas such as politics or other influential positions. Some will join organizations that they hope will turn back the tide of culture.  And, none of these are wrong—well, I’m not so sure about the ranting and raving! Ultimately, however, we who are call ourselves God’s people are called to pray.  And, we are called to live our lives as God has asked us to live them, going against the stream of our culture, setting an example of what it means to live God’s way—and doing so, always filled with love and compassion.   

Whether or not our culture, society, or nation takes hold of the way God would have us live, we who are followers of Jesus Christ are still called to be light in the darkness—to live our lives distinctly from all others.  In the end, it’s the only way that the people around us will have any chance of coming to realize that God’s way is the best way! 

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” (Proverbs 13:34 – NIV) 

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16 – NIV) 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris