Friday, August 31, 2018

No More Labor Day!

This weekend many will have a three-day weekend, receiving Monday off in order to celebrate Labor Day.  The day is meant to honor the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.” (Wikipedia) For most people, the day signifies the official end of the summer and is a reason for a day off from work.  Although I understand and appreciate the reason for the day, I really don’t like the word “labor” in its name. 

Think about it: the word labor rarely has a positive connotation.  It is one thing to say you are “going to work.”  It is another thing to say you are going to “labor.”  In fact, in the Bible the word is rarely used in a positive way.  When man was created and placed in the Garden of Eden he was told to “work it and take care of it.”  (Genesis 2:15)  The word for “work” implies receiving a return equal to or greater than one’s investment of time, energy, and effort.  We were created to work and thus receive a fruitful return.  Labor, however, was a result of man’s sin. Giving birth would become pain-filled labor for the woman.  Man’s working of the earth would become hard labor the earth itself would work against man’s efforts.  

Later on the writer of Ecclesiastes would cry out, What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3 – NIV)  and “So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:20 – NIV)  Work has become labor in that too often what one invests of their time, energy and effort does not bring an equal or greater return.  And, that can be very frustrating and disheartening. 

Early on, however, God gives promises regarding our need to be relieved of our labor.  In Genesis 5, God prophetically sends a man named Noah (his name means “comfort”) saying that, “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.” Noah’s life was meant to be a sign of that which was yet to come. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58 – NIV) Finally, in the book of Revelation we read, “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.’”  (Revelation 14:13 – NIV)

God’s promise is that he will not allow our labor to go unrewarded. More than that, one day he will give us the comfort and rest for which we long.  Thus, let’s not allow ourselves to become overwhelmed, frustrated, and disheartened. Instead, let’s trust in the One who will take care of us both now and for all of eternity.  As Jesus said, “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”  (Matthew 6:28-29 – NIV) 

One day there will be no more labor day(s)! Have a great day and a wonderful weekend!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, August 24, 2018

More Than Just a Number!

Tomorrow I turn 59.  Do you know what that means? I’m one year older than 58 and one year shy of 60! I know, many people say age is just a number.  And, maybe that’s true in some ways. But, I think age is more than just a number.  Age is a representation of the years that have gone by. One’s age gives a hint as to the depth and breadth of one’s life experiences—and, hopefully the number of lessons learned. One’s age speaks of the years one has lived succeeding, failing, enjoying, and sorrowing. If you think about it, so much is wrapped up in that one little number. 

Do you remember what it was like when you were young (maybe some of you still are!)?  Time seemed to go by so slowly.  Everyone even just a few years older than you, seemed to be so much older.  Thirty seemed ancient!  You thought you would live forever.  And, for many of us the real joys and sorrows of life had not yet affected us. What we call “life experience” was yet far in the distance.  After all, we were just kids focused on the moment.  And, so it should have been.

But then we grew up. Thirty didn’t seem so old anymore (for some of us it now seems so young!).  Life began to go by much quicker than it once did.  And, for good or bad, life became very, very real.  There came the graduations, that first job, marriage, one’s first child, life-long friendships, etc.  Oh, the joys that life can bring!  But, there have also been the disappointments, betrayals, times of sorrow and grief. Oh, the pain that life can bring!  We have succeeded; we have failed.  We look back with pride; we look back with regret.  We’ve learned some lessons along the way. And, it all gets wrapped up in one little number that we celebrate on the day we call, our birthday! 

Not only that, but we ought not forget that wrapped up in that number are all the works of God within one’s life.  The larger that number gets the more of God’s compassion and grace, faithfulness and power is experienced.  As the years go by, one’s testimonies of God’s hand at work to save us, help us, heal us, and provide for us, get increasingly wrapped up in that number we call, our birthday. 

So this weekend, as I celebrate that number, I want to recount God’s work within my life over these past 59 years. I’ve had my share of joys and sorrows. I’ve learned many lessons; I now have a bit of what is called, “life experience.” But most of all, I know that, wrapped up in that number is a testimony of God’s grace at work in my life and his faithfulness to me through these years that have gone by.  Maybe another year older isn’t such a bad thing!

“Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18 – NIV)

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, August 17, 2018

Feeding the Birds!

I know that someone might think, “Oh no! He’s writing about that bird feeder again!” But, now that I have bought a “squirrel proof” bird feeder (which actually does work), I can watch the birds come to the feeder in the morning and evening and enjoy seeing them eat in peace.  It’s truly been quite entertaining and even relaxing to see the variety of birds that show up; to sit and watch them eat and flutter about. 

I’m amazed, however, how much birdseed the birds actually eat!  I expected to fill the feeder about every 3-4 days.  It’s more like every other day, if not sooner!  So, about every other morning, just after putting my coffee on to drip, I go out to feed “my birds!”  In some ways, they have become like pets for which I feel responsible. Even though I know that they will survive very well without my help, I sense an obligation to keep the bird feeder full.  Sometimes, as I’m filling it up I even begin to talk to the birds saying things like, “Here comes breakfast” and “Come and eat!” (I know that sounds weird!) 

Some of the birds I fed this morning!
Today as I was filling up the bird feeder, however, I thought of the words of Jesus: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27 – NIV)

Watching the birds come and eat at my birdfeeder reminds me of how God not only provides for the birds but, even more so for you and me. The birds remind me of how God so faithfully provides for us as his children.  I’m reminded that God is constantly involved in providing for us and meeting our needs; that nothing in our lives goes unnoticed; that he is ever-watching and ever-caring. Thus, we need not worry or strive. Instead, we can live our lives with faith, confidence, hope, and peace.

Let’s take to heart Jesus’ words. Let’s not allow ourselves to give into worry about the things of this life. Rather, let’s remember that if God will provide for the little birds he will do so even more so for you and me!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, August 10, 2018

Moving Day!

Right now I’m down in Arlington, Virginia to help our son Nathaniel move into his new apartment as he prepares to begin his grad school career.  Of course, it’s a lot of work—as anyone who has ever moved knows.  Yesterday, we picked up a nine-foot cargo van. I thought it would be big enough for the amount of stuff we had to transport. (We also had my SUV and Nathaniel’s car coming down.) Well, the cargo van was barely big enough.  Somehow the amount of furniture and boxes and bags grew overnight, or even as we were packing.  I found myself putting together a puzzle as I tried to make everything fit, using every corner and inch of the van and our other vehicles.  Miraculously, we got it all in! 

Then last night we took the drive down here to Arlington. This morning he will get his keys to the apartment.  Then we will spend much of the day moving that very same furniture and those same boxes and bags into the apartment.  It will be a busy day. By the end of it, we will be quite tired. But, by tonight Nathaniel will be moved in and able to stay in his new home.  After much preparation, today is his moving day!

Someday there is a very special moving day that we will all face.  All of God’s children are all going to make a move to a new home, a home called “heaven.” Jesus said, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  (John 14:2-3 – NIV)  Did you catch that? Jesus is preparing a room for each of God’s children. And, I tend to think he is working hard to make sure everything is properly prepared.  He wants each room to be just right. And, when it is, he calls us home!  

But did you know that, we also have to do our part in the preparation? We also must prepare for our moving day. How? The Bible speaks to us about living a life of faith, living a life of love, and living our lives filled with hope as we persevere through the difficulties and challenges of this life.  The writer to the Hebrews put it this way, “…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings…Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  (Hebrews 10:22-24 – NIV) 

Moving day is coming!  Let’s live our lives preparing for that day, even as Jesus is doing his part to get our new home ready for us!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris