Friday, August 28, 2015

My Birthday and the End of Summer!

As some of you may know, this past week I celebrated my birthday.  As I did I was reminded of that fact that, when I was growing up no one in my family really liked my birthday. It’s not that they didn’t like the fact that I was born (so I have to believe!), but it was the timing of my birthday.  You see, being born on August 25 meant that, my birthday signaled the end of summer.  That meant not only my siblings and I would soon be going back to school, but as well my father who was a teacher, would be starting a new school year.  When my birthday came around, everyone knew that we only had about one week of summer left and then school, fall, and eventually winter were on their way!  Thus, no one  was thrilled to celebrate my birthday!

Throughout the year we have those dates that become markers of new seasons and the transitions that we go through on an annual basis.  Thanksgiving Day marks the start of the holiday season.  Easter tells us that spring is on its way.  Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer.  Maybe like my family and me, you and your family have some personal days that are seasonal markers by which you count the days and pass through the years; days by which you mark time.  

The Bible teaches us that God has set the seasons of our world in place.  When he created the sun, moon, and stars he did so that they might “mark seasons, days, and years.”  (Genesis 1:14 – NIV) God has given us means by which to mark the passing of time and to understand the seasons of life.  Not only that, but the Bible instructs us to see the hand of God at work in every season of life and to then make sure we are using each season of our life wisely—i.e. in a way that honors him and blesses others.  

The Apostle Paul said, …he (God) has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (NIV)  The Psalmist wrote, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  (Psalm 90:12 – NIV)

I want to encourage you today to see God’s hand at work in every season of your life and to commit to use each season in a way that will glorify him and bring blessing to others.  No matter what season of your life you may be in, this is your time to worship and live for God! 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris  

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Bagel Shop With No Bagels!

Yesterday morning I woke up with a craving for a bagel for breakfast. Knowing that there is a bagel shop near to our new church in Shrewsbury, NJ, I decided to pick up breakfast on my way into the office.  When I got there however, I noticed that the normally busy shop was relatively empty.  I looked at the bins that normally hold the bagels and saw that they were all empty! Initially I thought to myself, Wow! They must have been very, very busy earlier this morning! Then I thought (in kind of an annoyed way), Why can’t they keep up with the demand?  What kind of bagel shop is this? When the young guy working behind the counter saw me looking, he informed me that their machine/pot that boils the bagels had broken down. Thus, that morning they had only rolls (which they brought in from elsewhere). I couldn’t believe it: a bagel shop with no bagels! 

Of course for a bagel shop not to be able to produce bagels is devastating. It’s a huge loss for them financially. Not only that, but it hurts their reputation with their customers. I know that most people are understanding. But the fact remains, when people walk into a bagel shop they expect to find bagels.  To be told there are no bagels in the bagel shop is quite disappointing.  (And, I was greatly disappointed, to say the least!)

It makes me think about our lives and what people expect of us when they find out we call ourselves Christians.  After all, when we tell people that we are followers of Jesus, they have a right to expect certain things of us.  They rightfully should expect to find that we are people who exemplify the kind of life Jesus has called us to live. They rightfully expect that we live our lives according to a different set of values; that we live our lives in a way that is to some degree counter-culture; most of all, that we would exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. To know that we are Christians and not see within our lives compassion, kindness, gentleness, love, etc. is like walking into a bagel shop and not finding any bagels! 

The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”  (Colossians 3:12 – NIV)  John wrote, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:3 – NIV)  Jesus call was for his followers to live as he lived, laying down their lives for others. 

When people come into contact with those of us who call ourselves followers of Jesus, what do they find? Do they experience the fruit of God’s Spirit? Do they find that we are clothed with the attributes of Jesus? Do they find people who are willing to lay down their lives for others? Or, are they disappointed?

Let’s not be like a bagel shop with no bagels!

Have a great day! 

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, August 7, 2015

A Spectacular View!

During this time of transition that my family and I are in (that is, not having a permanent residence near our new place of ministry), a very kind couple in the church is allowing us to use an apartment they have within their home in Atlantic Highlands, NJ.  This is an area of New Jersey that is close to Sandy Hook and which I never knew existed.  It is called Atlantic Highlands because it is set up high above the coastline.  It overlooks Sandy Hook, Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay and even the New York City skyline.  At its highest point, there is a park that is 266 feet above sea level, which we are told, is the highest natural elevation on the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to the Yucatan! 

Well, all I can tell you is the view from that point is spectacular!  We have stopped at the park a few times now to take in the view, looking out across the bay and ocean; catching a view of the Freedom Tower, the Verrazano Bridge, the Brooklyn to Queens to Long Island coastline, and all of Sandy Hook.  Yesterday morning I took an early morning walk along the road that leads to the park, and all along the way I had this incredible view, one which I said I don’t think I could ever get used to or take for granted. It is just that spectacular a view! 

This morning as I was thinking once again about that view (right now I’m back in Tenafly, NJ), I thought, I wonder what it will be like when we finally catch a view of Heaven? After all, if we can find such spectacular views here on earth, the view of heaven must be that much more incredible. More than that, I wonder what it will be like when we see Jesus, our Savior?

In the book of Revelation, the Apostle John describes the absolutely spectacular view that he caught of heaven, of the throne of God, and of Jesus Christ himself. It was a view that he almost seems to have difficulty putting into words. It was a view that, I am sure, changed his life forever. Then, in his letter to the church, John wrote these words, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2 – NIV; emphasis mine)

The promise is that one day, those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ will enter into Heaven.  There we will catch a spectacular view, for we will see not only the glories of heaven, but we will see face to face our Savior! Yes, the view of heaven will be spectacular. But, the view of Jesus Christ will be even more so.  It will be a view that I believe we will never get used to nor able to take for granted. And, it is the hope of such a view that gives us hope for the life to come and the motivation to live for Christ each day, no matter what may happen in this life. 

I’m looking forward to a spectacular view. I trust you are as well. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris