Friday, October 28, 2016

Lots of Company!

Last weekend we had lots of company.  It seemed to be a series of visits in our home for one dinner after another.  On Saturday some friends who this past year had moved out of the area came back for a visit and that night had dinner with us.  On Sunday, Kim and I were blessed to have a young missionary couple come eat with us after our Sunday services.  And, on Monday we received a call from a couple from North Jersey whom we have known for many years; they were in the area and wanted to stop by and see us—so, we gave them dinner as well.  I have to say, Kim is a real trooper when it comes to entertaining guests.  Before you know it, she has a cake in the oven and dinner on the table. 

We tend to love having people in our home.  In fact, our children grew up with lots of people, and all kinds of people, coming in and out of our home.  They got used to the missionaries, evangelists, family, friends, and church families sitting at our dinner table.  They knew that their friends were always welcome.  It got to the point that, when we didn’t have company coming to eat with us after a Sunday service, they thought something was wrong.  At times it felt as if we never knew who would be at our table next. 

Unfortunately, in today’s culture, few people open up their homes to others.  After all, people are so busy, running from one event to the next that they have little time for hospitality.  Missionaries such as we had in our home last week have told us, they rarely get to visit with a pastor and his family in their home; most of the time they are in restaurants.  As I observe our church people today, I find less and less people invite others to their homes. And if they do, it is often a very small circle of friends. 

The Bible speaks much about hospitality.  Peter wrote, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” (1 Peter 4:9 – NIV) Paul wrote, Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  (Romans 12:13 – NIV)  And in the book of Hebrews we read, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”  (Hebrews 13:2 – NIV)  In fact, the word used in Hebrews specifically speaks of having a love for strangers—i.e. people with whom we are not closely associated; more specifically the word alludes to the alien, foreigner, immigrant.  It’s a call to open up our homes to people outside our own circle. 

I want to encourage you today to follow the mandate of scripture to open up not just your home, but your life to those around you.  Maybe today seek out someone who may need your hospitality.  By doing so, you just may end up associating with an “angel”—i.e. a messenger of God for your life—and experience the blessing of God that they may bring into your life. 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, October 21, 2016

Stressed and Anxious?

Have you ever lost sleep due to stress and anxiety?  I have.  Even recently, I’ve had some nights wherein the thoughts of the day, the stuff going on in our nation, and things that are taking place in my personal life have accumulated in my mind and have kept my mind turning, keeping me from falling asleep.  I know the same has happened to most of you at one time or another.   

We are told that, people today are more stressed and anxious than ever before.  A recent study highlighted on the news this past week revealed the high levels of stress and anxiety people across our nation are feeling due to this year’s presidential campaign.  Some people have confirmed to me the same, saying that, especially after watching the presidential debates they have felt their stress levels go up and have had difficulty sleeping that night. I know exactly how they feel!  Some have gotten to the point wherein they refuse to watch any longer; some have even stopped reading and watching the news altogether due to the high stress and anxiety levels it was causing them. 

Of course, it’s not only our political scene that can create such stress and anxiety within our lives.  Pressures on our jobs, difficulties in our relationships, sometimes just the pace of life can all cause our adrenaline levels to rise, our minds to spin, and our bodies to feel stressed and anxious.  One doctor told me, even a series of good things happening in one’s life at a very fast pace—e.g. getting married, a new job, moving into a new home—can create feelings of stress and anxiety. 

So, what’s the answer? I know that there can be many ways for us to deal with the stress and anxiety that life brings our way. And, many of those techniques can be helpful.  But the Bible gives us the best of instruction of all: “Cast all your anxiety on him (God) because he cares for you.”  (1 Peter 5:7 – NIV) 

The Bible gives us an invitation to come to God with all of our stresses and anxieties, realizing that he is a God who does care about each one of us.  He is concerned for our lives, what it is we are facing, and how it is we are feeling.  Thus, he calls us to take all of our cares, concerns, points of stress, and anxiety and bring them to him in prayer, trusting him to be with us and to help us.

If you’re feeling a bit stressed and anxious today, bring it to God. He loves you and cares for you.  He is able to replace your stress and anxiety with his peace and joy. 

“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”  (Psalm 94:19 – NIV)

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Time For Some Maintenance

This week as I was driving, the maintenance light in my car came on telling me it was time for my next maintenance check-up—i.e. oil change, tire rotation, etc.  It’s a handy little tool that they have added to our cars these days.  Rather than rely on memory, personal records, or the little sticker in the upper left-hand corner of the windshield, which is easily ignored, the light comes on and stays on until the maintenance work is completed and the light is reset.

I have often heard it said that we ought not live our lives in “maintenance mode.”  That is, we ought to live our lives with a sense of accomplishment, moving ahead in life, being productive—not just maintaining the status quo of life.  Yet, there are times when maintenance is necessary and there are things in life that simply need to be maintained.  In the case of my vehicle, I don’t need to reinvent, rebuild, nor re-purchase it; I just need to take proper care of what I already have.  Such is the case with many things in life—e.g. the house in which I live, my marriage and family, my body, even my relationship with God. 

Unfortunately, not everything in life comes with a maintenance light that turns on when it’s time to stop and give the care needed.  Yet, if we would look more carefully there are signals that tell us it’s time to invest effort into taking care of that which we already have.  For example, when my relationship with God begins to feel a bit dry and routine, it’s as if a maintenance light has gone on calling me to pause and to invest some extra time and effort into my spiritual life.  After all, I don’t need to reinvent my relationship with him. I don’t need to start all over. I’m already his child, saved by grace.  I simply need to take care of that which God has already given to me in order that it might remain vibrant and strong.

I believe King David understood this principle well as expressed in his psalms. For example he wrote, “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you…Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live…On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night…I cling to you; your right hand upholds me.” (Psalm 63:1-8 – NIV)  Like David, you and I need to regularly seek God, pray, worship, study God’s Word, and live conscious of his daily presence.  It’s all part of maintaining the wonderful relationship with which God has blessed us through Christ. 

So, maybe today it’s time for you to do a little routine maintenance on your spiritual life. Don’t hesitate. Don’t wait for things to break down. Rather, take the time necessary and put forth the effort to take care of the precious gift with which he has blessed you.  You will be so glad you did! 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris