Friday, July 31, 2015

New Beginnings

Our family is going through a lot of changes these days. You might say, we are facing a whole lot of new beginnings.  For one, as many of you know, this past weekend our son Jonathan was married. It was a beautiful wedding. At the end of the reception, I stood with the crowd outside the reception hall, watching as Jonathan and his new wife, Danielle, drove off. As they did, they were driving off towards their new life as a married couple. For Kim and me, it was also the beginning of a new life as parents with a married son. 

In the midst of all of this, Kim’s parents have moved to South Carolina to begin a new life for themselves there.  After years of talking about making a move, they finally did it—sold their house in New York, bought a new one in South Carolina, and made the move.  They will now get used to living life in a whole new area, while we get used to not having them nearby—and not having Kim’s childhood home available for holiday gatherings or just that spur of the moment stop-by.   

Then there’s the new church that I will be pastoring.  This Sunday I begin our new pastorate at First Assembly of God in Shrewsbury, NJ, bringing my first message to the congregation as their pastor. God willing, within the next couple of months Kim and I will close on a house and move into a new town and begin to build a new life with a new church and new community. For us it is really a great big new beginning! 

I’m reminded that we serve a God who often leads his people into new things; giving to them new beginnings.  In the Old Testament God said to his people, Israel, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?”  (Isaiah 43:9 - NIV)  The Apostle Paul tells the believers, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 – NIV) And, in the book of Revelation we are told that one day God will give to our world a new beginning as he creates a new heaven and a new earth. At the end of the book, John wrote, “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5 – NIV)

Life brings its changes. We are constantly faced with new things—with new beginnings.  Most importantly, however, are the new things God wants to do in and through our lives.  Ultimately, it’s about so much more than a new job or a new place to live, etc. Rather, it’s about the ways in which God wants to work in us to change us; and what it is he wants to do through us to bring his newness of life to someone else. 

Maybe God wants to do something new in your life today. Will you allow him to work in and through you to do something new? 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

In Just a Couple of Days

In just a couple of days, Jonathan, my eldest son, will be standing at the altar with his brother by his side and his groomsmen accompanying. I’ll be on the platform officiating—trying not to be too much the beaming and/or nervous dad. The moms will be escorted to their seats. The processional will begin. Finally, his bride Danielle will walk down the aisle on her father’s arm and the exchange will be made. After some scriptures, hymns, and a short sermon, they’ll turn towards each other and make their vows. By the time they leave the altar, they will be husband and wife. 

Soon another young couple will begin life as so many have before them: filled with love, excitement, expectation, and hope; their minds swirling with dreams of the future; their hearts beating a little faster. They will go off on their honeymoon and come back more in love than ever. They’ll begin to settle into their new home, get into their own routines, and begin to live their lives in a whole new way. And, it’s all going to begin to happen in just a couple of days!

And, I as a Dad, aside from having the privilege of officiating the wedding ceremony, can only stand and watch…and pray.  I can give counsel, but they must make their own decisions.  I can cheer them on, but they must run their own race.  I can encourage them in their faith, but they must carry their own faith.  I wish I could do it all for them, but I cannot.  Neither can any of us; no matter how much we may love and care for them. The best we can do is, encourage them and pray for them. The best we can do for them is commit ourselves to pray that God will fill them with his eternal love; pray that God will bless them and direct them; pray that God will use them for his glory; pray that, their love for each other and for Christ will grow.

Maybe you need to be reminded today of someone in your life for whom you need to pray.  Today this is my prayer for my son, Jonathan and his soon-to-be wife, Danielle:

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  (Ephesians 3:17 – NIV) 

I can’t believe it, but I’m going to have a married son…in just a couple of days!

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, July 17, 2015

My Final Sunday at PIF

This coming Sunday will be my final Sunday with Promise International Fellowship (PIF).  This will be my last opportunity to address the congregation as their pastor.  It will be a day of goodbyes and hugs—and even some tears.  In my mind I’ll be reminiscing about all the good things that have taken place over these past four years. I’ll be thinking about the many good people I will miss.  I’ll be thinking about the journey we’ve taken together as reflect upon all I’ve learned and all that God has done in my life through this very special congregation.

Four years ago, when I was wondering whether or not God would ever open up a new door of ministry for me, he opened up a very unexpected door by bringing me to PIF. It was a wonderful surprise from God. Although it has not always been easy, through this congregation, God re-energized me for ministry. I was given the opportunity to minister to a congregation that is made up of men and women who for the most part, are much younger than me; many of whom are the ages of my own children. I’ve had the opportunity to minister overseas and see the work of missions done in a whole new way. I was involved in church plant efforts firsthand for the first time.

At PIF I saw creativity being used within the church in a whole new way.  At PIF I experienced firsthand the struggles that our younger generation is facing—and learned how to allow them to bring those struggles to their pastor without fear of condemnation. I’ve been exposed to the struggles that the children of immigrants face as they live their lives caught between two cultures; as they try to separate out what is culture and what is faith.  I know I’ve developed a new sensitivity to people when I stand in the pulpit to preach. In fact, my preaching and pulpit ministry will never be the same for they have been greatly affected by my time with PIF. 

As I leave PIF this Sunday to step through the new door of ministry that I believe God has opened for me, I leave grateful for having had the opportunity to serve as pastor of PIF. Mostly however, I’m grateful for the wonderful people with whom I’ve been able to serve and grow. 

To all those at PIF I say with all my heart:

“How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?”  (1 Thessalonians 3:9 – NIV)

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3 – NIV)

PIF, you will always have a piece of my heart!  

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Whirlwind of Activity

Right now I am at a place in life wherein I have an awful lot going on in my life.  For one, in less than a month our son Jonathan is getting married. As you can imagine, we are in the throws of all the wedding stuff (especially since I will be officiating for him and Danielle, his fiancĂ©).  On top of that, Kim and I recently accepted a new pastorate. By the end of the month, we will be leaving Promise International Fellowship (PIF) and heading to Shrewsbury, NJ to pastor First Assembly of God of Shrewsbury.  This will mean some temporary commuting, searching for a new home, getting adjusted to a new congregation, and eventually Kim will need to find a new job. 

In addition, this past week Promise Ministries hosted a big youth conference that kept me at the church for about fifteen hours per day for four days straight. And, this coming week, I need to make a trip to Leon, Nicaragua, to meet with our local staff down there and prepare them for the transitions that are coming up.  Oh yeah, I need to begin to tie up the ministry at PIF and pack up my office.  I think at this point, I don’t even know what else needs to be done! 

We sometimes have those seasons in life that become exceptionally busy.  There are times in life when a whole bunch of events seem to converge and send us into a whirlwind of activity.  And, if we are not careful we (and especially “I”) can be overwhelmed, filled with anxiety, and set off balance.  If we are not careful, we can become so busy that we begin to set some of the most important things in our lives aside—e.g. our relationships with the people around us and even our relationship with God. 

In the midst of the whirlwind of activity, I am trying to remind myself to stay calm and focused and take one step/task at a time.  I need to keep my priorities in order.    And, I need to recognize that God is with me and is in control of all things.  Thus, the words of Psalm 46:10 are especially appropriate for me during this season of my life, “Be still and know that I am God.”  (NIV)  At this point, that is something I need to do each day.

I know, as I take time to recognize God’s presence in all things, he is able to help me stay calm, balanced, and focused on the right things. He is a sovereign God, a faithful God, and a loving God.  No matter how crazy the whirlwind of activity, God is there to provide strength and peace.  He can do that for me, and he can do that for you.

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris