Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A New Year and a New Attitude

The start of a New Year means a time for New Years Resolutions right? Which means that we resolve to do a thing or two better than it was done the year before.  And of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with resolutions especially if it’s a step in the right direction.

I always make them and of course I always break them but at least I try.  To be honest each resolution that I have made over the years more often than not has become in many ways a part of my life. I might loose some steam along the way especially about the time I hit mid February early March, but generally speaking once I start them especially if they produce the result I’m looking for I do seem to incorporate that new thing into my life.  Case in point, about four years ago I resolved to start blogging and though I have not always blogged as consistently as I would like to I have not stopped since whenever I first began. So I would have to say at least for me resolutions have never been bad things.  They’ve always been positive additions to my life. 

Ok, you're probably waiting on my list of a few resolutions and I won't disappoint but first I want to give you some bible, remember it's always good to get a truth from our heads and place that thing deep down into our hearts.  Check this verse out

Leviticus 23:23-25 “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first [day] of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. 25 Ye shall do no servile work [therein]: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.”

Now this seventh month for the Jew was the beginning of the New Year. Remember seven means, for the Jew, completion or perfection and of course for the Jew the seventh month was also the beginning of celebration of Feast for their Jewish New Year, which is called Rosh Hashanah.  It's during this time that the Jew in the Old Testament used the start of a New Year as a time of reflection, repentance and refocusing. 

Now before you get all bent out of shape I’m not suggesting for a minute that we Christians convert to Judaism but I am saying that there is a great deal of wisdom in taking the time at the start of a New Year to Reflect on the previous year, Repent of those things that are necessary to repent of and finally Refocusing on what to do better moving forward.   This is why at the beginning of the Jewish New Year they had what is called Holy Convocation, which was a time for them to come together and reflect and read from God’s word together with other Jews.  This is where we Christians get our Watch Meeting services from that are usually held on New Years Eve.  Then the text says that they have a time of “memorial of blowing of the trumpets” this of course was a time of recounting or a retelling of what God had done or how he had blessed and delivered them in the previous year.  This is so important for us to do as Christians. If you forget what God has brought you through it becomes easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you're doing everything on your own, without God’s help.  We all know that this is far from the truth. 

Ok I know your waiting on my resolutions and I’m going to list them and at the same time pray that God helps me to stay focused to see them through until next year.

  1. I resolve to talk less and listen more…for me this is gonna be a tuffy
  2. I resolve to start and finish a book…I have several things to write about and I’m also open to suggestions.
  3. I resolve to have more fun enjoying time with my wife and family…we do a lot together but not nearly enough
  4.  I resolve not to sweat the small stuff…I’m going to treat more things like ducks treat water.  I’m gonna let it run right off my back.  This is going to be most difficult.  I can’t care for people more than God does.
  5.   I resolve to pray more…I love reading books and studying God’s word but my prayer life is truly lacking.
  6.  I resolve to love more like Jesus…Not sure what this looks like for me but God knows
  7. I resolve to stay focused on my calling…this is personal. God knows what I’m talking about.

Thanks for stopping by…Let’s Go

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What a difference a night makes

Have you ever heard the saying "What a difference a day makes"? How about what a difference a night makes.  Ebenezer Scrooge had a night like the one I’m talking about. I’m certain that anyone over the age of 5 has heard of the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and this is certainly true thanks to Jim Carrey and Hollywood films. 

In recent years Jim Carrey along with Hollywood revised an old but very familiar Charles Dickens novel A Christmas Carol and of course Jim Carrey was as funny and witty as ever.  If you haven’t seen or read the story A Christmas Carol, I’ll give you a little bit of the storyline just as away of wetting your appetite a bit.  Ebenezer Scrooge was a crotchety old man who was best known for his miserly old ways.  He loved nothing or no-one more than money.  That is until the ghost of his former business associate Jacob Marley showed up to inform him that while he slept that night he was going to be visited by three ghosts: the ghost of Christmas past, present and future.  Of course the job of each ghost was to try and convince Ebenezer Scrooge that his current life path will not end well if he fails at making some drastic life changes.

I often wonder what a visit to hell would do for a person who is alive and on this side of eternity. You remember in Jim Carrey’s version of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge was shown by the Ghost of Christmas yet to come that many people were happy that he died.  There was a scene where Scrooge see’s his very own gravestone and as he stood over his gravesite the ground sinks and he’s left there standing over a pit of fire.  Pretty scary right? The good news is that all of this had a pretty drastic impact on Scrooge. When he woke up from that nightmare he was certainly ready to go and do life differently.  I want to put some biblical perspective to this, after all, every truth can be tied back to scripture.

You remember the true story that Jesus tells of a rich man and a poor guy named Lazarus.  Jesus said that while the rich guy was alive Lazarus stood at the gate of his house one day asking for food and instead of the rich man feeding Lazarus food he sent his dogs after Lazarus to attack him and chase him away.  Well they both eventually die and one woke up in heaven and I don’t have to tell you which guy woke up in hell. Let’s pick up the bible story as the rich man and Abraham are having a discussion. Check this out. Luke 16:24-26

“And he (the rich man) cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that [would come] from thence.”

You see according to Jesus, hell is a place you don’t want to visit and if you do go there you certainly don’t want anyone you know to go there.  In fact, if you read further in the text you’ll see that the rich guy becomes an instant believer and prays for Abraham to send a witness to his 5 living brothers because he knows that in life they obviously are a lot like he once was.  Jesus goes on to say that though a person were to come back from death, men still will refuse to believe and of course we all know this to be a very true statement. 

Jesus is alive and he was born as a babe in a manger, he lived a perfect sinless life, he died for all our sins and according to scripture he rose again from the dead to take away all our sin and if you would believe in him, hell or even the thought of hell is a non-issue. That story never gets old….LET’S GO

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Sometimes all you need is a little renovation

You ever wonder what would posses any rational thinking person to take on a renovation project.  You know, like refurbishing an old antique car or a historical house.  Stuff like that.  Those types of projects always seem fun and exciting at first but once the project is underway, what seemed fun and exciting in the beginning often turn into nightmares.

I remember my first year of marriage, which would be a few years back. Let's just say I was green and still wet behind the ears.  In those days my wife and I lived in a one bedroom apt and of all things I decided that I wanted to refurbish an old cabinet that we pulled out of the apartment complex’s garbage container.

I guess I should be honest here, after all this is a pastor’s blog; it was me (William Harris) who pulled that cabinet out of the garbage. Needless to say I had no idea what I was getting into but I thought to myself it couldn’t be that hard to refinish this little old cabinet.  Boy let me tell you, I could not have been more wrong.  After spending money we didn’t have and investing several weeks, I finally conceded to the old cabinet.  It didn’t quite look like what I had envisioned in my head but at least it looked better than it did when I started and to be honest, I was genuinely pleased with the finished product.

I learned some valuable lessons whenever I took on this refurbishing project and I think they’re worth repeating here.  Possibly I could teach you and thing or two if you ever decide to try your hand at refurbishing old furniture.

First thing I learned is that Transformation does not happen over night.  What I thought would take a day or two actually took several weeks.  The same could be said for one who is beginning their new walk in Christ. The old man is not going to be renewed or changed overnight.  So be patient and consistent the old man and those old habits will essentially fade away.  I need to put some scripture with this truth so here goes Rom12: 2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  The transformation of that old man comes as a renovation of ones thinking occurs and this type of refurbishing project requires one essential tool. Yep, you guessed it.  The word of God. 

Second thing I learned is that Patience is a must whenever you’re refurbishing furniture or anything else for that matter.  If you move to fast, inevitably you will forget something.  Whenever I was refurbishing that cabinet I remember having to start over again and again because I acted before thinking things through.  That is a lot like growing in your faith.  If you act without thinking you are going to say what you shouldn’t and do what you thought you wouldn’t.  Because this is true, we all must agree that growing up spiritually simply can prove to be a painful occupation. Again, as always, we need to put some scripture with that so that we can pull this truth out of your head into your heart. Check this passage out please [2Pe 1:5-10  “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” I love the last part of that verse; if you do these things, ye shall never fall.  How reassuring is that?  Lesson learned.  Keep at it. Don’t stop and spiritual maturity will come.

Finally Hope became the fuel that kept me focused. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to quit, but the hope I had of seeing that beautiful cabinent in my living room kept me going.   I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, I have the perfect verse that will help us get this truth into our hearts. Check it out. [Romans 8:24-25 “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25 But if we hope for that we see not, [then] do we with patience wait for [it].” Did you catch that?  Paul is saying that hope is not hope if you have what you’re hoping for in your hands.  But if you hope for something that you don’t quite have in your grasp then with patience, you pursue that thing with endurance.  This is what it was like for me as I refurbished that old cabinent.  I could see in my minds eye what the finished project was going to look like.  The same could be said for me as a follower of Jesus.  There is a hope in me that sees what God wants to produce in me and because I can see it, then with patience I pursue it and because I am pursuing what I am hoping for I continue to grow stronger and stronger in my faith. 

Ok, I could continue to write about other things I learned but I think what I have mentioned here are enough to get you moving in the right direction.  Let’s Go.