Friday, August 25, 2017

Life Is Not Stagnant!

Today’s my birthday. I hesitated to mention that this morning for fear someone might think I’m just trying to get some added birthday wishes (which I guess I wouldn’t mind). But, it seems odd for me to not mention it or reflect upon it as I sit here to write today’s devotional blog.

I have to say, this is an interesting part of the journey.  At 58 years old (there I gave you my age!), there are so many transitions taking place in life.  Our “kids” are all now done with college and are venturing out on their own.  Meanwhile, our parents have become or are becoming increasingly dependent upon us.  When it comes to ministry, there are some parts that are easier than they were years ago, simply because of so many years of experience. And, then there are those parts that are new, fresh, and even harder because of changing times and changes that have taken place within me.  Life is definitely not stagnant. 

Like most people, I am very much aware that age is something that often shows itself in small and subtle ways—and then sometimes in no such subtle ways.  Although in my head I don’t feel that much older, every so often my body seems more than happy to remind me that I’m no longer the young guy I once was. The morning achiness in the back, the tendency to put on weight in places I’d rather not have it, the changes in my eyesight, etc. all seem to be reminders that the years are moving on and that I’m not the same person I once was—not physically, emotionally, intellectually, nor spiritually.  Life is not stagnant.   

My paternal grandmother (who passed away in 1984) once told me that on each of our birthdays she read and prayed Psalm 91 on our behalf.  The last three verses of the Psalm say, “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:14-16 – NIV)

As I reflect upon this past year I easily recall good times, difficult times, the celebrations, and the challenges. Through it all I know that God has been with me. His Word has been true; he has stood by me in every situation and circumstance.  And, he has blessed me in so many ways.  Thus today on my birthday, I am grateful that, in the midst of an ever-changing world, in the midst of a life that is not stagnant, he remains the same.  Our God is always faithful! 

I pray you will know his faithfulness at work in your life today! 

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, August 18, 2017

Noisy New Jersey Nights!

For those of you who live in New Jersey (especially the suburbs), have you ever noticed how noisy our nights can be during the summer months?  No, I’m not referring to the volume of cars and trucks on our roads or the blasting of boom boxes and stereos or the parties being held next door.  I’m referring to the crickets and cicadas that chirp and squeak and fill the night air with a cacophony of sound, to the point that it becomes really, really noisy.  They can make such a racquet that one can’t sleep with the windows open—at least such has been the case for me. 

What’s really curious to me is that, when my family and I are up to the Adirondack Mountains, although we are in the midst of woods, the nights are quiet as can be. That’s not because of a lack of cars or radios or people. It’s because there seem to be no crickets and cicadas.  Why that is, I am not quiet sure. I just know that, whereas the mountains are quiet and still, it is really noisy here in New Jersey!  (And, God forbid one of those crickets should get into your house; you will never fall asleep!)     

A beautiful and noisy NJ night!
Our world can be a noisy a place. There is a constant cacophony of sound that vies for our ears and seeks to influence our minds. You know what I mean. Every day we are bombarded by the noise of the media, politics, academia, the entertainment industry, and even a plethora of pulpits all screaming into our ears.  And, the noise continues to grow across airways, DSL lines, through podcasts, twitter accounts, Facebook, and a whole host of growing avenues that are really good at being really noisy. There’s just so much noise!  Sometimes we can feel like Job of the Old Testament who cried out, “I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest but only turmoil.”  (Job 3:26 – NIV)

In the midst of all the noise of our world, is it possible to yet hear the voice of God?  Is there any space within our lives into which God can speak?  I tend to think, that will be up to us.  Jesus challenges the people multiple times saying, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” The Psalmist wrote, “Be still and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10 – NIV) The prophet Isaiah wrote, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength….”  (Isaiah 30:15 – NIV) God’s Word calls us to make space in our lives, quiet spaces, into which God might speak to us—as we read his Word, as we seek him in prayer, as we worship him, as we walk with him “in quietness and trust.” 

Let’s not allow the noise of our world to overpower the voice of God in our lives.

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, August 11, 2017

Back Into the Swing of Things!

After two weeks of vacation up in the Adirondack Mountains, this week has been my time to get back into the swing of things. It was really nice to have two weeks to take life a bit slower—pretty much just taking life day to day; and even, hour to hour.  It was nice to get up in the morning and not really have anything in particular to run to—no calendar to keep, no to-do-list to follow.  But as is said, “all good things must come to an end!”  So, this week I’ve needed to dive back into my work at the church, including preparing to preach this coming Sunday.  There’s been the grocery shopping and small tasks to get done around the house. We’ve had to catch up on the mail and the paying of bills.  And, I’ve had to force myself to get back to the gym and back to a healthier diet (I can’t eat bacon four times a week with breakfast or dessert every night!). 

Sunset by Lake Pleasant...ah, what a sight!
Of course, getting back into the swing of things is not always easy.  It takes effort. It takes a change in mindset.  It takes discipline.  And, why do we do it? Because we know the rewards are worth it. The right diet, exercise, our work around the house and on the job all pay dividends: healthy bodies, an income to provide for one’s family, a home in which to live; and hopefully, accomplish something worthwhile with our lives.

As much as I love being on vacation, especially when I can be away with my family, I’m reminded that God didn’t create me, nor you, to live on an unending vacation.  Yes, he wants us to have times of rest (that’s why he created a weekly Sabbath).  But, he created us to work, to be productive, and ultimately to bring blessing into the lives of others and into our world. 

To the Ephesians the Apostle Paul wrote, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 – NIV – emphasis mine) Elsewhere he speaks of being “co-workers in God’s service” (1 Corinthians 3:9)—i.e. we get to be partners with God! 

Yes, it’s nice to be on vacation. It’s even necessary to have times of rest.  But ultimately God created you for something more than a seat by the side of a pool or lake or beach. God created you for something so much bigger and better—to partner with him in what he is doing within our world.  He has a plan for your life and things he wants to accomplish through you.  So, let’s get back into the swing of things!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris