Friday, October 25, 2013

Sun Glare Slow Downs

Early yesterday morning, I had to travel out to Long Island for some meetings.  When I left my house it was still almost dark, but not soon afterwards the sun began to rise. That’s when the difficulties began. Soon I had to put my visor down, pull out my sunglasses, and adjust my line of sight so as not to be looking directly into the sun.  After traveling a bit further, I found myself having to deal with the morning’s sun glare slow downs. 

If you have to travel east early in the morning, as I do many mornings throughout the week, you know what it’s like to be driving along, make a turn or take a curve and suddenly have the rising sun shining right into your line of vision. And, when this takes place on a road like the Cross Bronx Highway or the Cross Island Parkway, it can mean sudden stops, massive slow downs, and even a few fender-benders. The traffic might not be too heavy and even moving along at a pretty good clip, but, when the sun suddenly blinds the drivers, the situation quickly changes.  Sun glare slow downs are not only difficult to deal with, but even a bit dangerous.

I have found in my life that there are lots of things that can get into my line of sight and hinder me from moving along, as I should.  Difficulties come along that disrupt. Temptations distract. Good things and bad things come into my life and blind me from seeing life, as I ought to see it, and throw me off course.  If I am not careful, I can be blinded by the situations I find myself in, by the cravings of my heart, or even by my own emotions.  The result can be all kinds of disruption and the failure to move forward in the life God has called me to live. At times, it feels like I am facing one sun glare slow down after another.

So, what’s the answer? Do we just pull over to the side of the road and stop moving forward? Do we give up on life?  Do we allow ourselves to be thrown off course?  I believe the answer is found in changing our line of sight.  Instead of looking at that which is blinding us—e.g. the difficulty, the temptation, the situation at hand—we place my eyes on that which will help us keep on moving forward. We need to turn our eyes towards Jesus. 

The hymn writer put it this way: 
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in his wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
 in the light of his glory and grace.” (Helen H. Lemmel)

The Bible says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2 – NIV)

Don’t allow the glare from the things of this life to slow you down or send you off course. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He will help you get to where you need to go. 

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Plane Is Full

This past week, traveling back from Nicaragua, I almost got stuck in the Miami airport for a night.  I was traveling with a standby ticket, which is normally not a problem, but I didn’t realize that I was flying home on Columbus Day and just after a carnival festival in the Caribbean.         The result was a very busy Miami airport and very full flights.  Twice my heart sunk as I heard the announcement, “The plane is full.  All standby passengers will be moved to the next flight.” 

First I was told there was no room on my scheduled 7:05 pm flight to LaGuardia.   Then I got bumped off the 8:35 flight.  My only hope of getting back to New York City that evening was a 9:30 flight to JKF.  So I sat by that final gate hoping and praying.  Each time I saw another confirmed passenger come running to the gate to board the plane, my heart sunk a little lower as I thought, “There goes another seat.”  When a few other standby passengers who were ahead of me were called, I almost began to despair.  In my mind I was trying to think through what I would do for the night if I didn’t get a seat on the plane.  Well, you can only imagine how happy I was when I heard, “Mr. Harris” come through the speaker system and the woman at the gate handed me a boarding pass!  I was going home!

Unfortunately, in so many different situations in our lives, space can be limited.  We can’t on the plane. The restaurant can’t take any more reservations.  The show is sold out.  The class is full.  The jobs have all been taken.  And, so it goes. We hope to get in or get on, but there is no more space.  So often, we are left, as it were, sitting at the gate, disappointed and wondering what to do next. 

I’m thankful, however, that such is not the case with the Kingdom of God. When it comes to participating in God’s Kingdom, one will never hear, “I’m sorry, but there is no more room.”  The Bible tells us there is always room for another.  We might say, the plane is never full.

The Bible says, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13 – NIV) and “The Lord…is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 – NIV)  God never turns anyone away who comes to him. He never says, “There is no more room.”  Instead, he is constantly sending out the invitation, “Come! Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”  (Revelation 22:17 – NIV)  We could say, there is always space for another “everyone” or another “whoever.” 

I hope you get your seat on the plane, your dinner reservation, or the ticket to the show.  But, more than that, my prayer is that you will find your place in the Kingdom of God. Remember, there is always room for one more.

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Little Further Down the Road

Yesterday morning my son Jonathan and I went with a team of people from here in Leon, Nicaragua to visit the children our church supports through our program, Promise Kids Foundation, in the small community called La Ceiba.  Although La Ceiba is not too far outside of the city limits of Leon, it is a very rural and extremely poor community.  It is also the community in which a little girl, Mayerling, lives.  She is the little girl my family supports.  

Although I've met Mayerling a number of times now, I asked our team of workers if I could visit her home and maybe meet one or both of her parents. Knowing that there have been many difficulties in her home life, I wanted to catch a first-hand glimpse of her situation.  Thus, we ended up driving a little further down the dirt road we take to La Ceiba, driving further than we normally drive and going much deeper into the community than we usually do. We passed homes made of aluminum and plastic. The better ones were block structures. Children were out running around, a mom was preparing corn for tortillas, a toddler stood by the roadside in just his diaper, and pigs wandered across the road.  We finally arrived at Mayerling's home, a simple block structure with a couple of pieces of furniture and small television inside. Part of the floor was concrete, the rest was dirt.  There was a place for cooking and washing in the back.  

Mayerling's father had just gotten in from harvesting peanuts in the fields. He was glad to have worked, but was hot and tired. He explained their family situation. Mayerling greeted me with a hug, a smile, and, like usual, spoke very few words. I gave her the gift I had brought for her. We took some pictures and spoke a little bit about school.  As usual she was very polite. And, her dad expressed his thanks for what we were doing for his daughter.  Then it was time to head back to meet the rest of the children who were gathering for the day's program.   

Through it all, I was reminded that one never really knows what they will experience if they will take the roads before them just a little bit further. Had I only traveled to the place I normally go, I would have missed out on seeing Mayerling's house, speaking to her dad, and experiencing firsthand the situation she lives in day to day. By going a little bit further down the road, I now have a better understanding of Mayerling's life and know better how to pray for her and her family.  

And, I'm reminded of the fact that this is, in many ways, what Jesus did for us. He didn't stay in the comforts and glory of heaven. Rather, he took the long road, traveling all the way down into our world and into our lives. He came all the way down the road that we might meet him and that he might lead us to our Heavenly Father. 

The Apostle Paul wrote of this when he spoke of Jesus, "...Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Philippians 2:5-7 NIV)

Like our Lord Jesus, sometimes we need to go a little bit further down the road.  

Have a great day!  

Pastor Tim Harris 

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Face to Face Chat

On the windowsill of my office, I have pictures of all three of my children (as well as of my wife, Kim).  I have their most recent graduation pictures, pictures of when they were babies and toddlers, and even one of our family when we were in Disneyworld about twelve years ago.  Now with none of my kids at home, I think I find myself glancing more often at their pictures, kind of wishing their pictures could talk to me.  But, pictures don’t talk.  (I know, I sound pathetic!)

Don’t get me wrong, a couple of times a week we do talk by phone with each of them. We even Skype with our son, Jonathan, who is currently living and working in Nicaragua.  But, we all know that there is nothing like a face-to-face chat.  Neither a picture, nor a phone call, nor a Skype conversation can fully substitute for an up-close and personal conversation wherein you can see the expressions on each other’s face, reach out and touch the other person’s hand, or catch that little extra inflection in their voice.  In spite of all of our social media with its tweets and texts and Facebook chats, there is still nothing that can take the place of being physically present with a friend or loved one.

The Bible says, “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” (Exodus 33:11 – NIV) That is, God and Moses had these incredibly intimate and personal conversations that could only be described as being “face to face.”  The Psalmist David wrote of his close encounter with God saying, “I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.” (Psalm 63:2 - NIV). The Bible makes it clear throughout that we can experience God in a very real, close, and personal way.  Although he is a transcendent God who is above the heavens and the earth, he comes close to his people to speak to them, help them, and minister to their needs.  

I want to encourage us today to not allow ourselves to be satisfied with some sort of long distance relationship with God.  Don’t wait until you get to a church service to hear from God. Don’t allow your relationship with him to be based on someone else’s experience. Don’t let God become like a mere picture sitting on your windowsill that you just happen to glance at every so often.  Rather, talk to him yourself. Read his Word for yourself. And, allow God to speak to you. He may be waiting to have a face-to-face chat with you today. 

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris