Friday, March 31, 2017

The Best Form of Communication!

Recently I saw a comedian who referred to a situation I have seen played out over and over again.  A person arrives at a friend’s home and, rather than simply going to the door and knocking, they send a text that says, “I am here!”  It’s so strange to me. Why not just go to the front door?  Why the need for the text? (And, what did we do for so many years, before we could text our arrival?)

It seems to me that, with all of our means of communication today, we often don’t know how to really communicate. We don’t know when to use email or text messages or to simply make a phone call.  Every so often I get a text message that is longer than long—which would make for a much better email.  Then there are those people who want to use email for instant communication, instead of sending a text message or making a phone call, expecting the other person to chat via their inbox.  I tell my children that, when making arrangements with someone—i.e. to settle on a date, time, and place—one phone call can settle the matter in much less time than can half an hour of texting back and forth.  With all of our various modes of communication, it seems to me that our actual communication has not gotten better, and maybe even a bit worse. Maybe it’s my age, but it’s all so confusing to me.

Did you know that God has a variety of means of communication?  The Bible tells of God communicating through creation, through his prophets, and through his Word (i.e. the Scriptures).  But somehow the communication wasn’t getting through.  So, God decided to do something different. We might say he came and knocked on our front door.  He came in person to let us know more about himself than we would have ever known otherwise.  God’s greatest means of communication has been through his son, Jesus Christ. After all, we all know that there is no better form of communication than that which is done in person. 

The writer to the Hebrews put it this way: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being….” (Hebrews 1:3 – NIV) 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.” (1 John 1:9 – NIV)

I’m thankful that God has communicated to us in a way that has effectively told us of his great love for us.  It was not via a text, an email, or a Snapchat—or any other third party form of communication. Rather, through the coming of his son, Jesus, God showed up in person; he used the best form of communication.  Maybe we could learn a thing or two from God!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Drooping Daffodils!

A few weeks ago I wrote about the daffodils that had sprung up at the end of February outside of our church office. For me, they were “a taste of spring” (as I entitled that week’s Pastor’s devotion), breeding hope for that which was to come. How quickly things can change, especially the weather.  Since that time, we have had below normal temperatures and even a snowstorm!  The result is, the daffodils are now drooping to the point of no recovery!  Not only that but, many of us have become a bit frustrated, as we want spring to finally get here!

Our daffodils after the snowstorm!
We all know how quickly life can change—not just the weather.  One day we are feeling like those daffodils in the midst of warm temperatures, bathing ourselves in the sun and lifting our heads up high. Then without warning, things come our way that we never expected could happen to us and, not only are our heads drooping, but so are our spirits.  Like the sudden deep freeze or Nor’easter that seems to come out of nowhere, so we are hit with the stuff of life that saps our strength and causes us our hearts to sag.  The question becomes, how will we ever recover?  Where will we find the strength that we need to continue on in life?   

The Psalmist wrote these words, My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  (Psalm 73:26 – NIV) During a time in his life when he felt his spirit beginning to sag, the Psalmist knew where to turn and from whom his strength could be renewed.

You may feel as if your body and spirit (i.e. heart) are failing; as if you are being weakened by the stuff of life. If so, I want to encourage you to turn to God. He has all that you need. He is able to lift up your head and your spirit, renewing your hope and strength—a strength that comes from his heart to yours. 

By the way, spring is yet coming! 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 17, 2017

A Careful Diet?

Recently, I met with a trainer at the gym for a free training session. (Of course, they want to sell you more sessions.)  We spoke about my goals and my diet.  Then the trainer printed out for me a diet he wanted me to try.  When I got home, I read it through and realized that there was no way in the world I could follow this particular diet.   It included no grains, no legumes (i.e. no beans—not even peanut butter!), no dairy, and almost no carbs at all.  All this diet allowed you to eat was lots of meat, vegetables, and fruit.  I realized that there was no way in the world I could keep such a diet.  It would mean not being able to enjoy a meal with my family or with friends—constantly saying “no” to all kinds of food.  My whole life would become consumed by what I could and couldn’t eat.  (And, it would make Kim and kids crazy!)

Now, this past year I began to exercise and watch my diet to a degree unlike I have ever done in the past.  For the most part, I’ve tried to be much more careful about what I put into my body.  I’ve cut back on a lot of the sweets and carbs I love so much.  And, I have added more protein, fruits, and vegetables to my diet. My goal is to be stronger and healthier.  Yes, I want to eat right.  But, I don’t want my whole life to become focused on food.  I try to be careful about my diet, but I don’t want it to become the primary aspect of my life. 

In Mark 7, Jesus was dealing with a group of religious leaders whose lives had become consumed by what they put into their bodies.  They made sure they were eating the right foods. They even had certain ways of cleaning their dishes and washing their hands to make sure that they didn’t put any impurities into their bodies. Their lives were totally centered upon what went into their bodies.  Jesus points out, however, they were totally missing the point of the Law. He points out that purity before God is not about what one puts into their body, but what comes out of one’s life. 

Jesus said, Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles themFor it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:15, 21-22 – NIV)

I’m all for eating the right foods and being as strong and healthy as possible.  Yes, I will do my best to be careful about my diet.  But, Jesus’ challenge to me, and to you, is to be much more careful about what comes out of our lives.  Jesus’ words remind us that God has called us to be people out of whose lives flow grace, generosity, kindness, peace, truth, compassion, love—and all of the fruit of the Spirit!  He is much more interested in what comes out than in what goes in! 

Yes, let’s be careful as to what we eat. But, lets be much more careful about how we live!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 10, 2017

Beyond Borders!

At our church, we are currently in the midst of our annual missions convention. Our theme this year, as handed down to us through the Assemblies of God is, “Beyond Borders.”  Throughout this past week we have heard of God taking men and women and their families far beyond the borders of their lives here in the U.S.—taking them to the far reaches of our world; to places that I can sometimes hardly find on a map. It’s incredible to hear where they are living, what they have faced, and most of all the walls that God has broken down for them to preach the gospel.  

Now, I am not trying to get political in any way, but considering the rhetoric in our nation in recent months, I find the theme that has been handed down to us to be a bit ironic.  After all, it was probably at least two to three years ago, long before the current rhetoric, that the Assemblies of God leadership in our missions department chose the theme for this year and began producing the banners, videos, music, and other items we use in our churches for our missions conventions.  When the writers of the theme song wrote the words: “We built our walls around ourselves, drew lines around our nations; There’s us and everybody else, dividing up creation….” they had no idea that across our own nation there would be renewed talk about building a wall on our southern border, a stronger emphasis on the deportation of illegal immigrants, and putting into place a ban on immigration from certain parts of the world.  All I can say is, I find it to be very ironic to the point that I fear someone in the church may think that our missions theme this year was meant to be a political statement of some sort!  That, it is not!

The message of this year’s missions theme, however, is as pertinent as ever to the church of Jesus Christ.  Through it, I am reminded that, although there will always be a need for national security and the well-being of one’s own nation (whatever nation that may be), the ultimate call for the Church all around the world is to reach out to the peoples of our world with compassion and the preaching of the gospel.  Sometimes that means going to them. And, sometimes God may bring them to us.  Either way, we are challenged to go beyond borders—the borders of governments, culture, language, fear, and prejudice—to reach people of all nations with the incredible grace and love our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible speaks of, “…Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” (Philippians 2:5-7 – NIV)  That is, Jesus Christ has set for us the perfect example of what it means to go beyond borders as he crossed from heaven to earth and became one of us—humbling himself to become not just a man, but a servant to all men. 

I pray that God would use each of us to reach people around us and around our world with the incredible good news of Jesus!  Let’s be people who know what it means to go “Beyond Borders!”

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, March 3, 2017

A Foretaste of Spring!

I don’t know about you, but I am done with winter and ready for spring!  Well, earlier this week, hope was birthed in me for I experienced a little foretaste of that which is to come.  As I drove up to my office here at the church, I noticed that the daffodils along the side of our office building had bloomed!  As I looked at them I realized it was still only February (actually it was February 28) and spring was yet almost a month a way!  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen daffodils, nor any other flowers, bloom so early in the season.  But, those daffodils said to me, spring is on its way! 

Daffodils blooming by the office. Picture taken February 28th 
Today it’s much colder out; winter has come back for at least a few days.  Yet, as I once again saw those daffodils this morning, they seemed to continue to say, winter is almost past; the longer, warmer days of spring and summer are almost here! In fact we might say, those daffodils are a little taste of what is ahead.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we look forward to the day in which we will enter into eternity with him; the day in which we will experience the light and warmth of his glory. In the meantime, however, we often find ourselves living in a world that can seem like a very long winter. As C.S. Lewis put it, ours feels like a world that is “always winter but never Christmas” (“The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”).  Yet, God gives to us a foretaste of what is ahead; a means to keep on looking ahead filled with faith and hope.  As the Holy Spirit comes into our lives and Christ takes up residence within us, God begins to fill us even now with the light and warmth of his glory.    

So, the Apostle Paul wrote of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27 –NIV)  Elsewhere he wrote, He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – NIV) 

Your life might feel like winter today, but know that God has guaranteed to you, and to all who believe, an eternity filled with the light and warmth of his glory!  Even now, he wants to give you a foretaste of that which is ahead as you entrust your life to him.  He wants to fill you with hope. After all, spring is on its way!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris