Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Fragrance of Chicken Marsala

Recently, I attended a luncheon for pastors at a hotel in Manhattan.  The room was very crowded, making it difficult for the servers to maneuver around the tables and through the chairs with their trays of food. As usual, I was keeping my eye on the situation around me, a bit fearful of what could happen by means of one wrong move on my part.  I really did not want a server tripping over me thereby sending his tray flying. 

But then it happened.  In fact, it wasn’t even my fault.  Really!  I was sitting still talking to the person next to me. A server was maneuvering behind me with a platter from which he had just served chicken marsala. The only thing that was left on the platter was the sauce (or gravy—whatever you call it). Somehow he lost his balance, tipping the platter, and sending the chicken marsala sauce down the back of my jacket.  Of course, the napkins came flying out and he, along with others at the table, did their best to clean me up.  No big deal. Things happen. Life goes on. And, it did. We ate a good meal and heard an inspirational message.

When it was time to leave, I put on my jacket, left the hotel, and caught my bus back to New Jersey.  As I was sitting on the bus, however, I realized I was still smelling the chicken marsala. Then it struck me, the fragrance was coming from me.  Yes, I was carrying the fragrance of chicken marsala to all who were seated around me. Of course, I pretended as if I didn’t know it was there!  But, I did wonder what others were thinking—and, whether or not anyone was getting hungry because of it!   

The Apostle Paul wrote these words, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”  (2 Corinthians 2:14 – NIV)   A couple of verses he writes of us giving off “the fragrance of life.”  

As followers of Jesus, our lives are supposed to give off a fragrance to the people around us; a fragrance that lets them know that we have been near Jesus. Our lives are supposed to send out an aroma that speaks to the fact that we have truly experienced the work of Christ in our lives and that, that same work of grace is available to them. It ought to be a fragrance that makes others hungry for the work of God in their lives as well.  

I hope I will never again have to ride a bus home smelling like chicken marsala.  But I pray that those around me will always sense the fragrance of Christ Jesus—his fragrance of grace and life—coming from me.  May that be the case for those around you as well.   

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, September 13, 2013

Waiting For The New iPhone

This week’s buzz was all about the new iPhones that Apple is releasing. Everyone was waiting for September 10 to hear the news and find out exactly what these new phones would be like.  I heard of one guy who waited five days outside of an Apple store just to get in and hear the announcement firsthand. Now people are waiting for the phones to hit the market so that they can get their hands on one and have the latest phone for themselves.  And, that includes me!

I’ve never actually waited in anticipation for a new phone, but the story goes like this: I still have a Blackberry Curve, which is now over two years old.  At the time I thought it was great. I haven’t been feeling that way, of late.  I’ve known for a while, it’s time to turn in my Blackberry, but I didn’t quite want to spend the money for the upgrade. Then, for my birthday, a group of my ministry leaders, knowing my phone situation and having great compassion on me as their pastor, gave me a gift card to get an iPhone.  My instinct was to go out immediately and purchase the iPhone 5. We realized, however, that the iPhone 5S was about to come out on the market, sometime in the next month.  So now, with all the discipline I can muster, I’ve joined the ranks of people across the country, and the world, waiting to purchase the newest iPhone. In fact, I’ve been pretty much counting down the days to when I will turn off my Blackberry for good and make my first phone call, download my first App, and take my first picture with my brand new iPhone 5S! (Oh, I sound so pathetic!!) 

We all tend to be like this, don’t we?  We like the latest and greatest.  We want the newest and shiniest, the coolest and hottest! And, we wait with great anticipation for the day they will become ours.  We use the excuse that our gadgets make our lives easier, but we all know that is the furthest thing from the truth.  We say that these things are necessities; in reality we have created the need for a whole new level of items and gadgets that are far from being true necessities of life. We end up longing for, waiting for, and striving after more and more gadgets, things, and stuff. 

The Bible gives us a different set of things to be longing for, waiting for, and striving after.  Jesus tells us to “hunger and thirst after righteousness (i.e. justice).”  (Matthew 5:6). He says, we ought to “seek first his kingdom and righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) He told his disciples to “wait for the gift my Father promised”—that is, the Holy Spirit.  Later on the Apostle Paul tells us that we ought to be waiting, “… for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ….” (Titus 2:13 – NIV)

I guess there is nothing wrong with anticipating getting a new iPhone. But, I wonder whether not we, including myself, have that same kind of longing for that which pertains to God’s kingdom—his righteousness, justice, and Spirit at work in our lives and world.  Do we know what it means to anticipate the “glorious appearing” of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ?  Or have the desires of our hearts become limited to the newest and shiniest, coolest and hottest gadgets of our world?  

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”  (Colossians 3:1-2 – NIV)

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Father's World

Twenty-two years ago today my son, Jonathan, was born.  And just like this week, his birthday was in the middle of the US Open. In fact, I distinctly remember sitting in the hospital room with Jonathan in my arms, pointing his little head up towards the television as guys like Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg, and Ivan Lendle battled it out on the tennis court.  And, I would say things like, “Did you see that shot?” “Isn’t that cool?” and “Some day you and I will go out and play tennis together.” I was introducing my newborn son to my world.

As time went on, I would take Jonathan, as well as my other children, to the tennis court, the beach, the mountains, the ice skating rink, the ski slope. We would go to the zoo, for hikes in the woods, and to the museums.  Of course, every Sunday I would take him/them to church (well, I was the pastor!).  Each night we would read a Bible story and pray.  Through it all, I was introducing my children to my world. I wanted them to know what was around them. I wanted them to experience many facets of life. Most of all, I wanted them to know the God whom I served.  

Our heavenly Father has created an incredible world for us to live in. Yes, it has been tainted by sin. But that does not negate how absolutely marvelous so much of our world still is or the fact that God yet wants us to enjoy his creation.  Unfortunately, too often we take our Father’s world for granted.

The Psalmist, as he looked at the world around him, almost shouted out, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1 – NIV) and “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” (Psalm 8:1– NIV)

Like little children, we need to allow ourselves to marvel at the bird’s song in the morning or the roar of the ocean or the crunching of the leaves beneath our feet. There are times when we need to pause and look and marvel at the world our heavenly Father has created for us. Every so often we need to stop and say to ourselves, “This is my Father’s world.”  And as we do, like the Psalmist, we ought to give him praise. 

I’ll be watching the US Open again this week. As I do I’ll be thinking about that newborn baby sitting on my lap, somewhat looking at images on a television screen that he couldn’t understand, as I hoped that someday he would learn to appreciate it all—as I began to introduce him to not only my world, but our heavenly Father’s world.

So happy birthday Jonathan! May you continue to enjoy and appreciate the incredible world that God has blessed us with. And, may that be the case for each one of us. 

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

“This is My Father’s World”  by Malthie D. Babcock

1.  This is my Father's world,
                  and to my listening ears
                  all nature sings, and round me rings
                  the music of the spheres. 
                  This is my Father's world: 
                  I rest me in the thought
                  of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
                  his hand the wonders wrought.

2.              This is my Father's world,
                  the birds their carols raise,
                  the morning light, the lily white,
                  declare their maker's praise. 
                  This is my Father's world: 
                  he shines in all that's fair;
                  in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
                  he speaks to me everywhere.

3.              This is my Father's world. 
                  O let me ne'er forget
                  that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
                  God is the ruler yet. 
                  This is my Father's world: 
                  why should my heart be sad? 
                  The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! 
                  God reigns; let the earth be glad!