Friday, May 18, 2018

A Sad & Cynical Tattoo!

Not soon after becoming a regular at the gym, I noticed that I am one of just a handful of men who do not have a tattoo. That includes men of all ages!  Of course, the tattoos become very obvious in the locker room where the guys are changing, so I can’t help but notice the variety of tattoos they have had imprinted on their bodies—mostly on shoulders and arms.  Some seem to have a story or meaning behind them, while others seem to have been chosen on a whim or in a moment of impulse. 

One guy who walked by me the other day had a tattoo on his shoulder that couldn’t be missed. His shoulders are huge and thus his tattoo is huge. It was the words, “TRUST NO ONE!”  I glanced at the words imprinted on his shoulder and thought to myself, how sad.  What a sad and cynical tattoo! What a terrible way to go through life feeling as if there is no one who can be trusted.  What a cynical way to live one’s life.  Oh, I understand the reason for the sentiment. After all, people can hurt us, betray us, and leave us stranded in our pain.  Yet to me it seems so terrible to give into such a philosophy of life. It seems to be a philosophy that will simply rob us from the joy of the wonderful relationships that are possible (e.g. the one I have with my wife and kids!). 

As I read the guy’s shoulder I wanted to stop him and say, “Actually, you should trust at least one!”  I wanted to say “I understand, it’s true that even the best and most promising of relationships with people can fail us. But, there is One who will never fail us! There is One who is always trustworthy! There is One in whom we can always put our confidence! His name is the Lord Jesus Christ!”

In the Bible we find words such as these: “The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.”  (Psalm 145:13 – NIV)  “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4 – NIV) And, “…the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6 – NIV)

I want to first of all challenge you not to give into the cynicism of our world, a cynicism that would rob us of the joy of the many wonderful relationships that are possible.  And most of all, put your trust in the Lord!  He will always be faithful. He will never fail you.  Declare with the psalmist today, “In you, Lord my God, I put my trust!”  (Psalm 25:1 – NIV)

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, May 11, 2018

Mother's Day Without Mom

This Mother’s Day will be my first one without my mom—she passed away back in December.  So this year, for the first time, I won’t be buying a card or a gift for her. Nor can I call her or try to stop by to see her.   It will be for me a different kind of Mother’s Day.

Now, I’m not trying to sound depressing. I’m not depressed or sad, just a bit pensive. I’m not grieving today over my mom’s death. In a sense the dementia that she took over her body had taken her from us long before she succumbed to death.  But, I am sensing that void that takes place when someone you’ve had all your life and someone you’ve loved is no longer there. It’s kind of weird to not be able to go visit your mom or to walk down the aisle filled with Mother’s Day cards and not look for a card that says, “To Mom.”  (Although, I did get one that says, “To My Wife!”)  It’s all just a reminder to me that life is not stagnant; that we should never take for granted those who are part of our lives; that what we have today is not necessarily what we will have tomorrow; and I could go on and on!

Thankfully, however, we have ahead of us an eternity that is secure and is everlasting. Thus, although some may find themselves in great despair as they face a Mother’s Day without their mom, those of us who have put our faith in Jesus know that the loss we feel is only temporary, for our Savior has overcome death. So, today with the Apostle Paul I proclaim, “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 – NIV)

With that thought in mind, I want to share with you a poem that my
mom wrote many years ago:

“Released” by Sheila Harris

Mom with one of her cats (1970's) 
The butterfly has wings;
She soars above the trees.

The dandelions float about
with every tiny breeze.

To heights unknown our
spirits soar.

No breeze we need nor

For if we hear his still voice.
We sail to him as kings.

For heaven is our souls’
sweet hope, as rest we
may in Christ.

We shall one day release
our chains for realms of
Heaven’s delight.

Thanks Mom for reminding me of the hope we have in Christ! Happy Mother’s Day!

Have a great day and a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, May 4, 2018

When Everyone Gets a Medal!

Last week I ran my first 5K for the season. My son Nathaniel ran as well. It was a fun race in that it was down by the beach and was part of the New Jersey Marathon weekend.  (No, I don’t want to run any marathons!)  Although I didn’t quite run the pace I was hoping to run, I still came in the top of 15% out of 580 runners and first in my age group (I beat out 5 other 55-59 year olds!).  As I said, it was a really fun race and it motivated me to keep on running and working on my pace.

What was different about this race was that, as each and every person crossed the finish line they received a medal!  Although the medal itself is not really all that valuable, there was something exhilarating about having a medal handed to you as you ran across the line in that final push.  It seemed to make all the sweat, panting, and effort well worth it!  There’s nothing like being rewarded for one’s hard work and perseverance. 

Nathaniel & I with our post-race medals! 
The Apostle Paul said, “…my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me….” (Acts 20:24 – NIV)  Later on he wrote, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:14 – NIV)  Paul refers to our life of faith as a race. And, the encouragement we are given is to live our lives in such a way that we finish our race—i.e. that we keep the faith throughout life, all the way to death.

You see, it’s not about being the fastest or strongest. It’s not about coming in first.  It’s not about beating someone else out. It’s not about one person getting a prize at the expense of someone else. Rather, each person who crosses the finish line will be handed a medal—a reward, a prize! Thus, the call is for each one of us to run with perseverance, with our eyes focused on the goal, and to believe that each and every one of us who finishes this race of faith will be handed a medal—the prize called, “eternal life!”

This spring and summer I’ll be running a few more 5K races.  I don’t expect to win any of the races (although I’d love to do so!).  I’m not looking to be the fastest or the strongest. I just want to finish each one in a way that I know that I’ve done the very best I can.  And, I want the same to be true of my life of faith so that at the end of my life I might be able to say, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) I hope the same is true for you. 

Keep on running and have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris