Friday, January 25, 2019

Just One Body!

As many of you know, I spent last week with my son Jonathan in Nicaragua.  Although there are some great challenges and difficulties taking place in the country there, we had a wonderful time doing ministry and spending time with the people with whom we have worked since 2011.  It was wonderful to see them after all they have been through this past year.  And, they were so glad to see us. 

One of the highlights of being there is being able to minister in the two churches pastored by the pastors we work with, Obed and Adele Anton.  And, we have gotten to know and love many of the people in their churches.  On this trip, Jonathan greeted the people, played his guitar, and led the people in a song—an older one that they really love.  I preached through my translator and then led a time of prayer at the altar. The people were so responsive to God’s Word and to prayer. Especially now as they are facing all kinds of challenges as a nation, they are crying out to God and looking to him for direction, help, strength, and provision. God was faithful to minister to them during each of the services.

With the people at Iglesia Monte Horeb, Leon Nicaragua! 
Each time I’m in the churches there—and, as well when I’ve been in other countries worshipping and ministering—I’m reminded of the breadth of Christ’s church.  After all, they are singing, praying, and preaching in a different language. The order of their service is usually a bit different than ours. The sound system is turned way up—yes, it’s loud!  And, the people just tend to worship a little bit differently. Yet, I can’t help but recognize our unity in Christ; I can’t help but recognize that we are all worshipping the same Christ!  We are one body!

When it comes to the church in Nicaragua and the church here in the US, it can feel like we are two nations and thus two different peoples. And, it can feel that way with the church around the world; it can feel as if we are separate entities. After all, great distances sometimes separate us. And, we all have our cultural ways of “doing church.”  But the truth is, in Christ we are one people! There is ultimately only one Church!  There is only one body!

The Bible says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 – NIV)

Won’t you celebrate with me today the breadth of the Church of Jesus Christ, both here at home and across the world?  And, let’s be diligent to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world—many of whom are facing today persecution for their faith and great difficulties in their lives and nations.   After all, we are one in Christ! There is just one body!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Power of Encouragment!

Right now I’m in Leon, Nicaragua with my son Jonathan. It’s been a year since I’ve been down here. It’s been 4 years since he’s been here. (Jonathan lived here for a year teaching at Promise Christian Academy from July 2013 - July 2014.). It’s been a reunion of sorts for us with the people with whom we have worked for the past eight years. In fact, our first night here they hosted a Nicaraguan dinner to welcome us! What an encouragement that was to us. What a welcome we received!

Our time here turns out to be very special, considering the difficulties the nation and the people have faced this year. In fact, Jonathan and I were supposed to come down in May, but due to situations here in the country, we were unable to come. Protests, roadblocks, and many other happenings have greatly affected the economy and people’s lives. Even the hotel that we had a reservation with and where we have stayed since 2011 was closed upon our arrival! (Thankfully, we found another hotel that had space for us.). And, I have found that although what we can do for the people physically may be limited—like distributing backpacks, school supplies, and uniforms to the children we have ministered to through Promise Kids Foundation—the one thing we can always do is bring encouragement. I am learning about the power of encouragement!

 Our presence with the people whom we love and with whom we have worked so hard these past eight years has turned out to be a greater encouragement to them than I ever imagined. They have told us what it has meant to them to have received the phone calls and emails through their times of great difficulty. But now to have us here with them is so much more significant than I ever thought it would be. They are encouraged to know that there are people who think of them, pray for them, and want to be by their side. They are encouraged to know that our church has been praying for them. As we sit and talk and laugh and work together, they are encouraged to know that as God’s people we are one, and that when one part of the body suffers the whole body feels it! They have told me that they feel encouraged!

 The Bible says, “...encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11); “...encourage one another as long as it is called, ‘Today’....” (Hebrews 3:13); and, “...encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” (1. Thessalonians 5:14). God tells us to encourage one another for he knows that there’s power in encouragement!

 Is there someone who needs your encouragement today? Is there someone in your life who needs you to come by their side and speak an encouraging word? Let’s live our lives as people who know the power of encouragement! Have a great day. Vaya con Dios! Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, January 11, 2019

It's All About the Connection!

Recently, I purchased a new set of Bluetooth headphones to wear when running or working out at the gym. It’s great not having to plug them into my phone or iPod to listen to my music.  There’s no need to have a wire that seems to constantly get in the way.  Just hook up via Bluetooth and you’re good to go. Such is the case as well with the music I play in our home.  There’s no longer any need to have wires all over the place to connect a bunch of speakers to a stereo system or whatever music device one is using. Now our speakers can be hooked up simply via a Bluetooth connection.  And, then there is WiFi. No need to plug in one’s computer via a cable to connect to the Internet; just connect via WiFi.  It seems to me that we are moving more and more towards life without wires.

In the end, however, life with or without wires is ultimately about the connection. After all, if we couldn’t connect well enough without the wires, we would all readily go back to the wires. In the end, it is all about making sure we have the right connection to our phones, iPods, computer, etc., whether it be via Bluetooth, WiFi, or even a cable.  It’s all about the connection!

Such is the case with our lives. The Bible talks about a two-fold connection that we are to have at work within our lives as followers of Jesus Christ. We are to live our lives connected to God through faith in Christ. And, we are to live our lives connected to one another.  The two go hand-in-hand.

Jesus said the two greatest commands are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…” and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37, 39 – NIV)  He implies you can’t really fulfill one without the other.  The Apostle Paul wrote, From him (Christ) the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:16 – NIV) That is, as we become connected to God through faith in Christ, we automatically become connected to all other believers within the body of Christ. Our job is then to be a blessing to the rest of the body.  

In the end, our lives are to be lived in connection with God through Christ and in connection with one another. No wires needed, just faith in Christ, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and a God-given love for those with whom God blesses our lives.

So, let me ask you today, what’s your connection like? Are you living your life fully connected to God through Christ? Are you living your life connected to those around you—i.e. as a blessing to the people in your life?  Again, the two go hand-in-hand.  In the end, it’s all about the connection!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris

Friday, January 4, 2019

After the Holidays!

So, we’ve made it through the 2018 Christmas Season. The trees and decorations are coming down. Except for a few leftovers, the cookies have been eaten. The company is gone. The normal routines of life have begun to resurface. Yes, it’s now officially “after the holidays.”  So, what’s next? 

Unfortunately, as many people pack away their lights and decorations, they also seem to pack away joy, generosity, and the spirit of the season. The world around us can seem to fall into the bleakness of midwinter.  After the holidays, everything can seem to become so mundane. But such ought not be the case. After all, the reason for the season still exists: Jesus the Savior is still Emmanuel, God with us!  The love of God is still the same for you and for me.  And, the life that Jesus came to bring is still available to all who will believe! 

When the Apostle John wrote about the coming of Jesus into our world he said, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” (John 1:4 – NIV)  His words were not just for the Christmas season, but for our lives throughout. The life and light Jesus came to bring is still available, and will always be. And, when the angels declared at his birth, “good news of great joy that will be for all people” (Luke 2:10), they were making a proclamation that would stand throughout time, no matter what time of the year it may be. 

As we move back into the routines of our lives, let’s not lose what some call the “spirit of Christmas.” Let’s continue to celebrate the fact that our Savior, Jesus has come! Let’s continue to worship the One who was not only born into our world, but lived as no man has lived, died for our sins on a cross, and was raised to new life on the third day!  Let’s allow the joy and excitement of the coming of Jesus Christ into our world to continue to fill our hearts and minds, even after the holidays!

Have a great day!

Pastor Tim Harris