Friday, December 6, 2019

Waiting For the Arrival!

This is a time of year when many of us find ourselves waiting for and preparing for the arrival of guests who are coming to a holiday dinner, an open house, or even to spend a few days and nights with us. For Kim and me that means waiting for the arrival of our three children who will come to spend the holidays with us. And, that means a lot of preparation—e.g. getting the beds ready, shopping for food, and doing all the other things necessary to take proper care of our guests—even if they are our kids!  But guess what! We can’t wait until they come!

In fact, when I know that our children are coming—or any other guest for the matter—I find myself filled with such anticipation that I am constantly looking out the window to catch a glimpse of their arrival.  As the time gets closer to the hour they said they would arrive, the more I tend to peek out the window, maybe even pushing back the curtains or the blinds to see if their car is coming down the road or has pulled up in front of the house.  And when they do arrive, I want to be one of the first to be at the door to greet them and welcome them in. 

We have now entered that time of year that the Church calls, “Advent.” The word literally means, coming or arrival. It’s the time of year during which we as Christians anticipate the celebration of Jesus’ first arrival to this earth, the incarnation.  But, it’s also the time of year during which we are meant to consider what it means to anticipate his second arrival. Just as we prepare for that terrific day called Christmas—spending hours on end cooking, cleaning, decorating, shopping, sending cards, etc.—so too, we ought to be investing just as much effort, if not even more, anticipating and preparing for that great day when our Lord returns. 

This is what the ministry of John the Baptist was all about, preparing the people for the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus. Thus, the words of the prophet Isaiah were applied to him by the gospel writers, A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him….’” (Luke 3:4 – NIV) John’s ministry was one of preparation, calling the people to ready themselves as they anticipated the arrival of the One who would fulfill the plan of God for them and for the world.  He would be the One of whom it would be said, “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.  And all people will see God’s salvation.’” (Luke 3:5-6 – NIV)  

This season let’s not just prepare ourselves for the arrival of that one day called, Christmas; let’s make sure we are anticipating and preparing for that even greater day when Jesus our Savior, Lord, and King comes back to take us to himself forever! With great anticipation in our hearts, let’s peek up to the heavens to see if he’s not on his way! 

“Let every heart prepare him room!”

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Fall Cleanups!

As much as I love the beauty of autumn, as the leaves on the trees around us turn from a dull green to vibrant red, orange, and yellow, I do not like the task of blowing and raking those very same leaves when they fall. It’s wonderful to look out the window in the morning and see the stunning colors of the maple trees across the street, especially as the morning sun casts its light on them; it’s another thing, however, to have to spend hours on end, cleaning up those leaves when they come down.  But, clean them up I do! (I know many you do as well.) Yes, it’s that time of year again: time for the fall cleanup! 

Believe it or not, I’ve got one neighbor who is out there almost every day with his blower and rake clearing his front lawn of fallen leaves. He obviously takes a lot of pride in a leafless lawn! Even his wife says he is over the top when it comes cleaning his lawn.  In the end, however, whether a person clears their lawn every day or just once during the fall, eventually the job needs to get done—sooner or later the fall cleanup is done (hopefully before Christmas!).  

The beautiful maple trees across the street!
If we are honest, we all know that we have stuff in our lives that needs to be cleaned up and cleared out on a regular basis.  Bad attitudes, hurt feelings, wrong motives, are examples of some things that might need to be cleaned out of our hearts and minds.  We all have sins that begin to creep in and mess up our lives. Worst of all, if we are not careful, we end up allowing stuff to drop into our lives that, if not cleaned up will hinder our relationship with God. Time again, we all need a good cleanup!

At one point in his life, King David was desperate for a cleanup. His life had become filled with sin. His relationship with God was broken. And, he knew that he would never be able to clean himself up well enough to fully restore that relationship.  Thus, he prayed to God, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow...Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:7, 10 – NIV) When David needed a good cleanup, he turned to the mercy and grace of God to come and do for him that which he could never have done for himself.

The Apostle John wrote these words: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify (cleanse) us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 – NIV)
The writer of Hebrews gives to us the same kind of instruction when he writes, Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 – NIV)

When you find yourself in need of a good cleanup, don’t run from God, run towards him. Tell him about all the stuff that has fallen into your life that needs to cleaned up and cleared out. Then trust in his grace and mercy that is yours through Christ Jesus our Lord. He will be faithful to forgive you, cleanse you, and renew you. And, remember, he does his clean ups any time of the year!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Best Greeting of All!

I think many of us would agree that one of the best parts of the day is coming home and being greeted by a husband or wife, kids, or even our cat or dog.  I remember the days when my children would come running to the door and welcome me home with a bit of excitement (at least when they were young!). Although Kim and I have been married 34 years, we still give each other a light hug and kiss before we part in the morning and when we see each other at the end of the day.  Now, when I get home, although no one else might be in the house, I’ve got Sadie, our dog, to welcome me home with her tail wagging and even a little bit of a bounce; she really does give me quite a greeting! Some of us might come home to an empty house, and I know that can be hard, for we all love a good hearty greeting. 

Every culture has its means of meeting and greeting.  In some cultures, a light kiss on the cheek (or both cheeks) is an appropriate way of greeting another person.  Some cultures tend more towards a handshake, others towards a hug, and some towards a bow.  Today we even have the high five and the fist bump! Whatever the cultural means may be, we all have our ways of showing our delight of meeting and greeting each other.  The kiss, the handshake, the hug, or the bow all represent a coming together of two people who are in some way allowing their lives to intersect, even if it is just for a moment.

How do you greet your friends and family? 
In Psalm 85, the psalmist wrote of a different kind of meet and greet when he wrote, “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.” (Psalm 85:10 – NIV) Every time I read those words I am puzzled by the picture that they bring to mind. After all, love and faithfulness, righteousness and peace are not people but qualities and characteristics, especially of God.  But when we keep reading through the psalm, we find it’s a poetic way of describing God’s promise to his people that “The Lord will indeed give what is good….” (vs. 12)

Let me help you picture it in your mind’s eye: The love of God and faithfulness of God come together and join hands, as do the righteousness and peace of God (after having greeted each other with a kiss). Then together, the love and faithfulness of God, the righteousness and peace of God step into your life and mine!  God meets and greets his people with that which is good, for what is better than love, faithfulness, righteousness, and peace? What could be better than those four characteristics of God coming into our lives at the same time? It’s the best greeting of all!

I want to encourage you today to know that, God wants to greet you today and pour out into your life his love, faithfulness, righteousness, and peace. He really does want to intersect his life with yours, if you will allow him to step in.  So, trust him today and you will experience the best greeting of all!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris