Friday, July 19, 2013

Relief From The Heat

It’s official.  We who live here in the Northeast (of the US) are in the middle of a heat wave! Last night at 9:00 pm, it was still in the low 90’s. By 7:00 this morning it was already 84 degrees. It’s been like this all week. And, it will be so for another day or two.  (No I’m not trying to play weatherman!)

I’m not complaining since I don’t really have any great love for the winter. But, heat like this makes us all feel a bit drained—and, even a bit cranky.  Everyone is a little slower and a bit more on edge. I’ve noticed that even the traffic seems to slow down, probably due to more cars giving up as well as accidents caused by exhausted drivers.  After a few days of this kind of heat (and humidity), we are all craving a little bit of relief.

So we find a spot sitting by the fan.  As quickly as possible we move from the out-of-doors back into our air-conditioned home or office (or even a mall).  And, we just naturally seek out water of any kind—at the beach by a pool, even a fountain.  In fact, there is nothing like water to give us a little bit of relief from the heat. 

As we travel through life, we all have times when we sense we need some relief. Not just from hotter than normal temperatures, but from the difficulties and pressures that creep into our lives; from the losses and disappointments that sadden our hearts; from the mere busyness of life that sometimes seems to escalate out of our control.  So many things happen in life that slow us down and exhaust us physically, emotionally, spiritually.  It’s not rare that we begin to feel as if we could use a little bit of relief from the heat?

I love what David wrote in his most famous of Psalms.  “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:1-3 – NIV – emphasis mine

David knew what it meant to be in need of relief. But he also knew where to turn for that relief. He went to the LORD whom he knew to be his shepherd. He turned to the One who would bring him into pastures and to the waters at which he would find the restoration and relief he needed. 

Are you today feeling the heat of life? Do you need a bit of relief?  Let me encourage you to turn to the One who is your shepherd, Jesus Christ. He invites you to come with your exhaustion, weariness, and even your pain.  And, He has promised that as you come to him, “you will find rest for your souls.”  (Matthew 11:29 – NIV)  In him you can find relief from the heat. 

Stay cool and have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Son of Encouragement

I didn’t quite know what to make of him when I first met him.  When Kim’s Aunt Carol married Uncle Gordon, he was already in his mid to late seventies.  At that point, into our family gatherings walked this old-time preacher whose larger than life personality was equaled only by his height as he towered over just about everyone around him; whose deep and powerful voice seemed to indicate that he had no real need for our modern day amplification systems; and whose laugh echoed through a room as if we were sitting in a canyon. It seemed like he had a never-ending list of stories of ministry events, people he had met, places he had been, and especially of his trips to Norway.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Uncle Gordon. 

Over time, however, I began to develop a deep appreciation for who he was and the affect he had upon people.  Although the amount of times we were together was quite limited, I began to realize that when we were together, I never heard him speak a negative word.  He never complained. He never talked ill of others. And, he always had a positive word, a word of encouragement, for each person around him. This was especially significant to me during a time in my life when I was feeling quite down about myself and questioning many aspects of my life.  When I was at one of my lowest points, without knowing it, Uncle Gordon came along with just the right words, helping me begin to once again feel confident about who I am and God’s call upon my life.  Uncle Gordon became to me a personal “Barnabas," that, is, a “Son of Encouragement.”  (That’s the meaning of the name “Barnabas” found in the New Testament.)  

Over the past couple of years, Uncle Gordon and Aunt Carol had been receiving my weekly “Pastors Devotions.”  Every so often Aunt Carol would sent me back an email, thanking me for what I had written and letting me know how much Uncle Gordon enjoyed each one.  There were times when I would  come to a Friday morning when I didn’t feel like writing. But, Uncle Gordon would come to my mind and, knowing that he would be reading that week’s devotion (or have Aunt Carol read it to him), I would be inspired to sit down at my computer and begin to write.  (So, to some degree you can blame at least some of my writing on him!) 

This past week, at the age of 90, Uncle Gordon left this world for eternity with his God and Savior, the One whom he preached until he could preach no more.  At that moment, our world lost a larger than life “Barnabas,” a true “Son of Encouragement.” I am grateful for the encouragement he spoke into my life, especially at a time when I needed it most. And, I am reminded that as I grow older one of the greatest things I can do with my life is to learn how to encourage others. 

Thanks Uncle Gordon for the words you spoke into my life.  You were a real “Son of Encouragement!”

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up….” (I Thessalonians 5:11 – NIV) 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lots of Rain

My family and I spent last week at our regular vacation spot, Lake Pleasant in the Adirondack Mountains.  Normally we go a bit later in the summer at a time when the water levels of the lakes and the rivers have begun to drop. In fact, it is not uncommon for us to see rivers with the rocks of their riverbeds exposed or the channels between lakes become so narrow that it’s hard to get a canoe through them. This time, however, the water levels were exceptionally high.

Not only was it earlier in the season for us, the Adirondacks, like many places along the East Coast, have received an incredibly high amount of rain.  The result for us at Lake Pleasant was a dock that was submerged under water, the loss of about 6 feet of beach, and grounds that were very, very soggy.  In fact, I don’t believe we have ever seen the water levels in the lake and the rivers as high as they were this past week.  Yet, just about every day or night we experienced another storm, dumping more rain into an already full lake and onto the already saturated ground.

Although we sometimes complain about the rain (especially when it interrupts our plans), in the Bible rain and water is most often used to represent blessing. Drought was a sign of judgment. Rain was sign of God’s favor.  To have rain poured out on the land was an indication that God was taking care of his people.  Most of all, rain represented the fact that God was with his people. 

I know we can sometimes feel as if we are living our lives in the midst of a drought. The harsh realities of life can make us feel very, very dry. We can begin to wonder whether or not God has turned his back on us. We can feel as if God is very far away.  Emotionally and spiritually we begin to long for the newness of life that comes with rain. We especially want to know that God is with us.

The Psalmist wrote these words:  “He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills…the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  (Psalm 147:8, 11 – NIV)  The Psalmist reminds us that when we put our trust in God, he will take care of us and bless us. 

Just as the ground in the mountains was saturated with the rainwaters, so too God wants to saturate your life with the blessing of his presence. Put your trust in him. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

PS – So sorry that it’s been about a week and a half since I last posted.