Friday, January 26, 2018

Beaten By A Blister!

This week I’ve been somewhat following the Australian Open tennis tournament.  Of course, due to the huge time difference between here and there, I haven’t really watched all that many matches—and those that I did were in replay!  Although I was very interested to see how some of the veterans like Federer, Nadal, and Djokavic would fare, what caught my attention was a young 21-year-old named Hyeon Chung from South Korea who made it all the way into the semi-finals—a first for a Korean! Watching him play was very exciting. He’s athletic, fast, has great form, and lots of drive. 

Last night (i.e. very early in the morning our time) Chung had to play his semi-final’s match against Roger Federer.  Although I pretty much expected Federer to win, I was hoping for Chung’s sake it would be somewhat of a close match.  However, I soon found out such was not the case. By the time I checked on the match this morning, the match was over; Chung had lost the first set 6-1 and had to retire in the second set due to a terrible and painful blister on his foot! Imagine that! Chung wasn’t necessarily beaten by Federer, he was beaten by a blister! 

Hyeon Chung disappointedly waves goodbye to the crowd! 
In a tennis tournament such as this one, the guys who make it through to the top are   not just those who can win matches, but those whose body, mind, and spirit are able to persevere through a grueling schedule. A young guy like Chung is just learning how to do that. And sometimes his body will tell him, “I’ve had enough!”  In the end, Chung’s body couldn’t hold on. Federer never had a chance to prove himself over the young guy during play. Instead, it was the terrible blister on his foot that won the day. 

All of this makes me think about the kinds of things in our lives that slow us down, hinder us from doing what we ought to be doing, and keep us from winning the victories in life that we ought to win.  Often we want to blame others for our losses, when many times it is things within our own lives that ought to really take the blame: our love for material gain, our lack of discipline, the little sins that we allow to sneak into our lives, the bad habits that we have allowed to develop, etc.—any of these little “blisters,” and so many more, can stop us in our play and keep us from fulfilling God’s ideal for our lives. 

The Bible tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” (Hebrews 12:1 – NIV) Proverbs 4:26 says, “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” 

Let’s not allow the blisters of our own hearts and lives to beat us. Instead, let’s live our lives carefully and faithfully before God, persevering in the ways he has set before us.  As we do, we will experience both blessing and victory from his hand!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, January 5, 2018

The Unexpected Squirrel!

I finally got the bird feeder I always wanted, from our son Jonathan and his wife Danielle for Christmas.   A couple of days later I set it up where I can see it from our breakfast table, hanging from a pole in our backyard. Within a few days the birds began to come: finches, cardinals, sparrows, chickadees, a blue jay.  All kinds of birds began to gather around and eat at our (their) new feeder…until the squirrel showed up!

Like all squirrels, this squirrel can climb, jump, swing, and do whatever he must do to get to the birdseed.  For my part, I feel like I have a new challenge on my hands. So, I’ve been doing my on-line research, reading how I might protect my bird feeder from this new enemy of mine!  (Today, I might try cayenne pepper, which I’m told the squirrel doesn’t like, but which doesn’t affect the birds—they can’t taste spicy! Who knew?)

I’m sure that there are those who would say, I should have expected to have to deal with a squirrel once I put up a bird feeder.  I guess I just didn’t think about it. Or, maybe I didn’t want to believe it could happen to me and to my bird feeder.  Yet, it did. Unexpectedly, I find myself dealing with another problem in life, albeit a small one, this time in the form of a squirrel attacking my birdfeeder!

Before the squirrel!  
Of course, lots of unexpected things happen to us all the time. Some we ought to expect, but we don’t. Others we have no way of knowing will happen to us. In either case, stuff comes our way that we never thought would come into our lives.  Like the squirrel jumping and climbing onto my birdfeeder, the unexpected jumps out at us and disrupts our lives, often stealing from us our peace and sense of security.

In the midst of the unexpected turmoil of his life, the Psalmist wrote these words: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging…The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:1-3, 7 – NIV)   

I’m glad, for God’s constant protection, provision and work in my life. In the midst of the unexpected disruptions of life, he remains a constant—a fortress, a refuge, a God upon whom I can always depend.  I want to encourage you to trust him in the midst of the unexpected things that may (will) happen in your life as well!

Have a great day! Stay warm!

Pastor Tim Harris