Friday, January 30, 2015

Quite A Week!

This has been quite a week! So much has happened in a very short period of time. As of last weekend, Joanna and Nathaniel returned to their respective colleges for the semester, leaving Kim and I to once again adjust to a house without any kids.  Monday into Tuesday came the snowstorm that kept us housebound for at least most of Tuesday (which did result in some really great chicken soup and homemade bread to compensate for the aching back!).  Wednesday afternoon I received a text from my sister that the closing on my parents’ house (the house in which we grew up) was done; the house was no longer ours—I shed a few tears.  Thursday my mom was released from the nursing home she has been in for rehabilitation the past few months. We moved her back to the assisted living facility she had previously been living in, with a bit of hesitancy yet, hoping for the best. Needless to say, my mind has been spinning. It’s been a lot to process all at once.    

We all know, lots can happen in short periods of time.  Throughout much of our lives, life goes on according to its normal, and sometimes almost boring, patterns. We have our routines and schedules. We know what to expect. But, then there are those times when our lives get interrupted—by the loss of a job; by a sickness that keeps our bodies from doing what we expect them to do; by a family situation that not only throws our schedules but as well our emotions into a tailspin.  And, often these things happen very suddenly and quickly.  Sometimes they come all at once. 

So what do we do when we have a week or a month or even a year like that?

Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”  (John 12:36 - NIV)  The Apostle Paul wrote, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 - NIV)

The Bible calls us to come to God with all of our needs and trust him with our lives. We are invited to come to God in prayer, petitioning him for his help, grace, and provision, knowing that he loves us and has promised to be with us and take care of us. 

Let me share with you the words to an old hymn that has put it so well:

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand. (Lina Sandell)

No matter what happens today, this week, or this year, put your trust in the One who has promised to be with you at all times!  Have a great day.!  

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, January 23, 2015

A Great Team!

Last week I was once again in Leon, Nicaragua.  This time, I traveled with a team of seven people from Promise International Fellowship (PIF), including my daughter Joanna (which, of course, was a special blessing for me!).  It was a great trip.  We ministered together in the churches with which we are connected, distributed backpacks and school supplies to the children of Promise Kids Foundation, and painted classrooms at our school, Promise Christian Academy of Leon.  The team worked hard and really got to know each other well.  We ministered together, prayed together, played together, and just shared life together (including some great Nicaraguan meals!).  I was blessed to have with me a truly great team! 

What always amazes me as I take missions trips with teams such as this is, how God brings together people from such various backgrounds, with such different personalities, and with such differing abilities, and creates out of them just the right team for the moment.  On this team we had those who were great with their hands and could help lead a task such as painting.  Some came with musical talents that helped us minister in the churches and sing songs with the children.  Some were able to share incredible testimonies or turn a Bible story into a time of great excitement.  Some could quickly organize a task. One came with the ability to translate my preaching.  Each person came with his or her particular talents and gifts. Everyone was needed.  No one sat on the sideline watching.  All were used to help the others, bless the work, and build God’s Kingdom.  It was a great team! 

I’m once again reminded that this is exactly the way the body of Christ is supposed to function, both on the mission field as well as at home in our local churches.  If we will devote ourselves to God and to one another, God will take each person, regardless of their background, personality, and abilities, and knit us together to form a team—a team that has the potential to bring so much blessing to one another, to our world, and to God!

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12 – NIV)

“Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12:4-5 – NIV) 

Let me ask you today, are you playing as part of your team—i.e. doing your part to help your local church be all that God wants her to be and accomplish all that God would have her accomplish?  Whatever your background, personality, gifts and talents, there’s a place for you on the team!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Thursday, January 8, 2015

An Empty House

The sound of shattering glass cut through me as the men cleaned out the cabinets, dumping years of collected items into their buckets.  Within hours the couches we had sat on, the table we had eaten at, and the beds we had slept on were all gone. The truck pulled away. The house was silent. The house was empty, soon to no longer be our home. 

A few months back, my siblings and I came to the realization that the house we grew up in and in which my parents had lived since 1962 was no longer practical for our mom.  It was time to sell. And, that meant it was time to clear it out.  For months we sorted through piles of stuff—some filled with memories, some just pure junk.  We took with us those items we wanted to hold onto for nostalgia’s sake or could use in some way.  But, there was still a garage and a basement and house filled with items that had been collected throughout the years and that needed to be discarded in some way.  So, this past Monday the men we hired showed up with their big truck and did the dirty work of hauling away a part of both our parents’ life and ours.  The house was soon empty. As I stood in it, I too felt a bit empty. 

This was the house I moved into when I was just four years old. It was the house on which my dad had spent hours and years fixing and expanding and reconfiguring, especially as the family grew. My mom had cleaned every corner of it time and again. We, as children, had slid down its huge staircase, played ball in the yard, climbed its trees, and acted out our fantasies in its basement. It was often loud. Sometimes there was conflict. Often there was music and laughter.  It had become not just a house bought by a young couple looking to move out of “the city” to “the country,” but a home for a family of seven. For years upon years, it had been our home. 

But, the Bible is correct when it reminds us of the fact that the possessions of our lives will not last.  Life changes.  Things rust, fall apart, sometimes are stolen. That is why it is so important for us to maintain the right priorities in life, building our lives around that which will last; building our lives around that which is spiritual and eternal. 

Jesus said, “So do not worry saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’…your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:32-33 – NIV) 

The house I grew up in will soon belong to someone else. Right now it is empty. It’s kind of a hard thought.  Yet, I like all of us must face the reality that, only that which belongs to God’s kingdom will last.  So, while we may enjoy the blessings that God gives to us in this life, including the house of our youth, let’s make sure we are building our lives around that which will last. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris