Friday, February 28, 2014

Writer's Cramp

Have you ever had what is called, “writer’s cramp?”  It’s when a writer sits down to work on a book or article—or whatever it might be that he or she is working on—and they are stuck. They have no ideas. They don’t know where to start. They feel as if they have nothing to say.  Their mind is completely blank. 

I hate to admit it, but that is how I felt this morning as I sat down to write this Pastor’s Devotion.  I tried to review the events of this past week.  I thought about what I have been doing, what I’ve been reading and hearing in the news, as well as conversations I’ve had. I thought about my kids, the dog, and the weather. And, of course, I looked in the Bible.  But, my mind was blank.  Nothing was connecting.  Nothing inspired me.  I had a bad case of writer’s cramp.  I know this is a terrible thing to admit to those of you who are now reading this, but it is the way I was feeling this morning. 

So, where am I going with this?  Well, as I was considering my writer’s cramp (and asking God to help me have something to say this morning), I recalled one of the verses of Scripture that I’ve been looking at this past week. It is 2 Timothy 3:16 which says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness….”  (NIV)  As I remembered that scripture, it struck me that God, the Author of authors, has never experienced writer’s cramp. Rather, he always knew what to say and just when and how to say it as he inspired the writers of the scriptures to pen his Word.   

From the beginning, God desired to communicate to mankind. It was God’s desire to send to us a written communication.  Thus, he inspired prophets, priests, shepherds, fishermen, and others—a total of 40 men—to write 66 books over a period of 1500 years in three languages.  This book is God’s revelation of himself, of how much he loves us, of how we can be in relationship with him, of how we can be saved.  Through this book we learn how we are to live and worship, what we are to believe, what life is really all about, and about the life to come.  It is the most important document, piece of history, poetry, and prophecy that has ever been written.  It is a life-changing book that is worthy of our reading, study, and meditation!

It’s no wonder the Psalmist wrote, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  and  “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  (Psalm 119: 103, 105 – NIV) 

I’m thankful that God has communicated to us through his Word. I’m thankful God has never had writer’s cramp! 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mounds of Snow!

As I was walking our dog the other day, I realized that all around me were hardened mounds of snow, lining the roads, driveways, and sidewalks. They seemed frozen into the landscape, as if they have always been there. Worse than that, right now it feels as if they will always be there! At this point in the season, the hardened mounds of snow that surround us make us feel as if we will forever be stuck in a perpetual winter! (What a dreadful thought!)

Thankfully, we all know such will not be the case.  Although it may appear as if those mounds of snow are here to stay, a bit of warm weather, along with some rain and warming sunshine will together work their magic and slowly melt away the snow. Before we know it, the grass will begin to appear, the flowers will burst through, and the leaves will begin to bud.  Soon it will be spring! And, we will look back barely remembering what we once thought were mounds of snow that would last forever.

We all have seasons in our lives that we wish would pass us by, but instead come in such a way that they feel like they have come to stay forever.  There are times in our lives when it feels as if we are surrounded by hardened mounds of snowreminders of the difficult season we find ourselves in.  And, it can feel as if that season will never end—as if spring will never break through; as if life will never change. At such a point, many people lose hope, fall into despair, and in general give up on life. They cannot imagine having to live their lives surrounded by mounds of snow that refuse to melt.    

God’s Word recognizes that we will all face difficulties in life—seasons that can feel like a perpetual winter. Through his Word, God is quite honest with us about those times. Yet, the Bible never speaks about those times without also recognizing that in God there is always hope—hope for a new season, for a new day, for a new life.  The writers of the Scriptures always remind us that no difficulty in life will last forever.  Rather, God is able to work in and through every season, eventually making all things new. 

The Prophet Isaiah put it this way: “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy...Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you’.” (Isaiah 35:1-2a, 3-4 - NIV)

The mounds of snow in your life might have hardened and seem as if they are there to stay. But, I want to remind you that, no matter how high or hard those mounds might be today, God has promised that a new season is on its way.   So, “be strong, do not fear.”  The warmth of his love and grace will one day melt away what might appear to you to be hardened mounds of snow!  Before you know it, it will be spring! 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Greatest Valentine!

In many places in the world, and most especially here in the United States, today is meant to be a celebration of love.  Yet, we all know that the way our world defines love is often warped and confused. Love is so often tied to physical attraction and romance and disconnected from its true meaning: commitment and self-sacrifice.  Love in our world is defined by the emotional feelings we get from being with someone who makes us feel good. That is why it comes and goes so freely—i.e. the person we love today is easily exchanged for another tomorrow. The love we experience in this life can so often lead to great disappointment.  

I simply want to remind you today that there is a true love that is deeper and truer. It is a love that will never, ever fade.  That love is, of course, the love that God has for us as his children.  In fact, the greatest Valentine ever given or received was the expression of love given to us by God our heavenly Father when he gave to us his One and Only Son, Jesus.  The love that God has shown us is a self-less love, a sacrificial love, a love that has endured the tests of time.  It is a love that will last forever.  That is why the Apostle John wrote:   

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”   (1 John 3:9-10) 

In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are the words to one of the most beautiful hymns ever written about God’s love: 

1.  The love of God is greater far
 than tongue or pen can ever tell;

It goes beyond the highest star,
 And reaches to the lowest hell;

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
 God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin.

Refrain: O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!

                It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

2.  When years of time shall pass away,
and earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
on rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
 all measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
the saints’ and angels’ song.

3.  Could we with ink the ocean fill,
 and were the skies of parchment made;

Were every stalk on earth a quill,
and every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
 would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole, 
though stretched from sky to sky.

May we never forget the wonderful love of God!

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, February 7, 2014

Breaking Through

Twice this past week we found ourselves digging out from the snow.  It has surely been quite a winter here in the Northeast. Thankfully, much of the time the snow has been light and fluffy and easy to remove. But this last storm was a different story. Because the temperature was a bit higher, the snow that fell was wet and thus heavy. Added to that was the fact that freezing rain and sleet fell on top of the snow, covering it with ice and making even heavier.  

The hardest part for my neighbors and me was clearing the sidewalks in front of our homes.  Throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the snowplows came by and pushed the snow and frozen slush not just onto the curb, but over the curb and onto the sidewalks. Thus, we had over two feet of snow, frozen slush, and ice to remove—much too much for the snow blowers to handle. So one of my neighbors and I took the sidewalk one piece at a time, working from each end, breaking away the ice and removing the top layer with our shovels. We would then pass through with the snow blower to remove the bottom layer. It was, to say the least, tough work!  But in the midst of it all, there were actually a few moments of satisfaction for, when we got to the end of a section and actually broke through to the other side, we would look at each other like little kids at the beach making their tunnels in the sand, excited to make the water flow from one end to the other!  There was something quite exciting about breaking through!

Unfortunately, we all have those times in life when it feels as if the way before us is blocked by an impenetrable wall of snow and ice—a wall of difficulty, need, or pain. The way in front of us seems blocked and we need to somehow break through.  The problem is, we are not always able to do so on our own. We are not strong enough or wise enough or skilled enough to break through those things that stand in our way. We need some help.   

Thankfully, in times like these, God has promised to be with his people.  God is able to make the way clear for his people when they find their way blocked by the difficulties of this life.  He is more than able to break through. 

Micah wrote, “One who breaks open the way will go up before them; they will break through the gate and go out. Their king will pass through before them, the LORD at their head.” (Micah 2:13)

Isaiah wrote, “The path of the righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.” (Isaiah 26:7)

If you need to break through some stuff in your life today, let God go ahead of you. He is able to help you. He is able to break through and lead you through whatever may be standing in your way. 

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris