Friday, September 14, 2018

Learning a New Language!

Buenos dias! Bon dia! Kalimera! Guten morgen! That’s “good morning” in Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, and German! Some of you may know that, I really enjoy learning and being able use even a few phrases in another language. In fact, when my children were young, because I could throw out a word or phrase here and there from a few other languages, they thought that their dad was multi-lingual. It wasn’t long until they learned I was not!  Currently, however, I can carry on some conversation in Spanish. This year I’ve been trying to learn a little bit of Brazilian Portuguese.  And, most recently I’ve been learning more phrases in Greek (I only learned a few growing up from my dad and relatives).   

For me, learning a language is not just about learning a new vocabulary but about connecting with people around me, both here at home and as I travel.  For example, when I go into our local bagel place I can greet the workers and even place my order in Spanish, and as I do a natural connection is built between us.  When I walk into the diner, I greet the hostess with kalimera (Greek) In the dry cleaning store I greet the owner in Korean.  And, as I greet my Brazilian friends in the church I do so with my little bit of Portuguese.  In each case, I am letting people know that to the best of my ability I want to connect with them on their terms.  Of course, if I’m not careful I can get myself in trouble. But, overall people appreciate it when you try to connect with them in their own language.

In the end, it’s all about stepping into people’s lives—into their world—rather than always expecting them to step into ours.  In fact, isn’t that just what Jesus did for us?  He didn’t expect us to learn his language or step into his world. He knew we could never do that.  Instead, he learned our language. He stepped into our world.  He came to us on our terms, in our humanity, that he might communicate to us the incredible love of God.  Or, as the Apostle Paul put it, Jesus, “…did not consider equality with God something to be grasped; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”  (Philippians 2:6b-7) You see, the “incarnation,” as we call it, is all about God coming to us and speaking our language that we might somehow come to know him. 

Today, let’s be thankful that God didn’t wait for us to reach him but he came to us, communicating to us his great love in a way that we could understand. And, although we might not always be able to learn to speak another language, let’s find ways to connect with the people around us, sharing with them the love of God in ways that they can understand. 

Have a great day! Nase kala! (Greek) Tenga un buen dia! (Spanish) Tenha um bom dia! (Portuguese)

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, September 7, 2018

The Thrill Of the Finish Line!

It was last year’s Labor Day that I ran my first 5K Race.  I began running back in June of that year, setting a goal for myself to be able to run my first race on Labor Day at a 9 minute pace.  That may not sound too fast to some, but for me that was a reasonable goal.  Although I hit that pace during some practice runs in August, I fell short on race day itself, having run a 9:07 pace (5K in 28:13).  This year, however, has been a different story.  I’ve now run four races this summer, having broken the 9 minute pace a couple of times.  And in fact, on Labor Day of this year, I hit a personal record, running the same race as last year at an 8:44 pace (5K in 27:06 minutes)! 

Now I will tell you, running is not my favorite thing to do. In fact, as I’m running a race I sometimes begin thinking to myself, “Why am I doing this?” or, “This is going to be my last race!”  When the exhaustion begins to set in I want to give up and say, “I just can’t do this.”  But, I keep going thinking about the thrill of crossing the finish line and what it is going to be like to find my wife, Kim, and others at the end cheering me on. And, once the finish line comes into view I somehow find the energy to kick it into a higher gear. In the end, it’s all about the thrill of crossing that line!

That's not me, but that's how I feel when I cross the finish line!
The writer of the book of Hebrews wrote these words of encouragement to believers who, in the midst of their race of faith were beginning to feel tired and tempted to give up, “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  (Hebrews 12:1-3 – NIV) 

It’s an encouragement to do as Jesus did: to set our eyes on the goal—i.e. the finish line—and allow it to motivate us to keep on running.  It’s an exhortation to not give into feelings of discouragement or exhaustion, but to keep on living out this life of faith, knowing that when we finish this race, like our Savior, we too will experience an incredible joy.  It will be at that finish line that we will meet him face to face and experience the most incredible thrill at the most incredible finish line of all!

So, today if you hear a voice telling you to give up, to throw in the towel, that your too tired to keep on running, set your eyes on the finish line, look towards Jesus, and hear the voice of God saying, “Keep on running!  There is an incredible joy awaiting you at the finish line!”  One day you will experience the thrill of the finish line!

Keep on running! Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris