Lighting up Church with Real Worship

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Saturday, May 29, 2010 at 12:26 PM

If you are a pastors child there is one thing you can be assured of; you will spend too much time at church. Thus has been the case of all my children and fortunately they have all handled it well. At times when Kim or I are busy at church one of us will be left in charge of the children, the other night it was my turn. I am not as good at it as Kim is but I do try.

Basically my strategy was to allow Gracie our four year old to walk the church, I simply followed. At one moment she took me into a mostly dark sanctuary; while their I experienced worship like I had not in a good while.

At our church you start to attend worship at the age of four; this rule has not always made me the most popular guy and I understand why. At small churches you do what has to be done. Gracie has been battling it out with Kim for the last four months and has really been doing pretty well while keeping Kim and those around her busy.

There have been times when Kim has been a little frustrated about the progress she was making, feeling as though she was getting nothing out of church while wrestling with Gracie. Certainly there was the thought that Gracie wasn’t getting much out of it, that is until the other night.

Gracie took me to the dimly lit sanctuary and as is her habit began to boss me around. She had me sit down and she proceeded to go to the stage. From there she grabbed a microphone and commenced to singing at the top of her lungs. Gracie has special needs and cannot speak like most four year olds but this does not in any way stop her from communicating and was not stopping her at all from singing.

There she was blonde hair flowing, smile on her face, singing to the Lord, raising her hands and enjoying every second of it. I could understand her copying this from worship; she sees some of that every week though I am still trying to figure out the hand raising part being Baptist. J

After singing for a while she stopped, looked at me and then folded her hands into a prayer position. It was obvious she wanted to lead me in prayer. This caught me by surprise; it is not that we do not pray it is that we do not fold our hands as we pray. Perhaps that happens at home but not church. Somehow she knew the elements of worship and was leading me through it.

Though it may have appeared for the last four months she was getting nothing out of worship obviously God has been speaking to her heart. Let me give you some reasons why I think that is so:

1) Simple heart: There is nothing complicated about Gracie or any child for that matter. They come to God and worship with no sense of needing to pray big fancy prayers or sing songs with any kind of made up dramatics. She simply comes to God; we need to do the same.

2) Joyful heart: I have not seen anyone smile like that in years on the stage. She was almost laughing she was so happy. We should come to worship with such a heart.

3) Consistent Practice: Gracie attends church more than most; there is no getting out of the practice of worship it is a weekly event. It should be the same for all of us blessed with good health.

4) Can’t get enough: I would get up to try and bring things to a close and she would demand I sit back down. She never wanted it to end; the singing, the speaking, the praying it could have gone on for hours. Many of us put a time limit of an hour or hour and a half once week on our worship. We need not limit our worship of God to a schedule or program.

I often laugh at the term special needs when it comes to Gracie. What she did for me in a dimly lit church was shed light on my real need to worship with a simple, open and enthusiastic heart.

Scripture: Psalm 29:2 “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, lead us to worship you with willing, joyful hearts that come thankful in your presence. We ask these things in the name of Christ, Amen.

Jacki V.

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 12:24 PM

Cuando estamos paralizados nos acordamos que Dios no está paralizado. Es interesante como obra Dios. Al salir anoche, Kim y yo de una conferencia yendo a cenar, escuchamos lo que parecía el sonido de un servicio. Dios quería hablarnos, la cena tenía que esperar.

Al caminar por el pasillo, escuché una voz reconocida. Mirí, y pensé que reconocí la voz. Le dije a Kim, “Suena como la voz de Jaci Velazquez.” Y así era. Ella tiene una linda voz, y es una de mis cantantes favoritas, entonce nos quedamos para la próxima canción.

Ella compartió sus sentimientos antes de cantar “Sobre mis rodillas” y dijo, “Tuve 15 anos cuando empecé a grabar y no entendía completamente la profundidad de lo que cantaba.” Mientras que ella cantaba pensé en lo que había pasado en su vida durante los últimos años.

Ahora tiene 30 años con dos niños y casada con otro músico. Todo parecía bien. Pero se divorció y se mudó a Londres, lejos de su familia y amigos. Para muchos se desapareció. También se divorciaron sus padres, y hubo una mala relación con su padre. A pesar de todo allí estaba en Dallas cantando las mismas palabras, pero sintiendo la profundidad de las palabras.

Yo lo comprendo; y tal vez usted lo comprenda. Al pensar que sabemos todas las repuestas, hacemos malas decisiones, y la gente nos traiciona y a veces nosotros nos fallamos. Luchamos tratando de comprender todo lo que nos pasa.

Tenemos dos opciones en la vida. Podemos tirar la toalla, o podemos buscar lo que Dios nos ofrece. Muchos han desechado a Dios de sus vidas y las circunstancias. Por eso me alegra a ver a Jaci V. cantando la misma canción que cantó hace años. A pesar de todos los desafíos de la vida, ella estuvo firme en el mensaje que cantaba. No había tirado la toalla sino seguido y eso hizo más fuerte lo que cantaba.

Yo he leído por 30 años las palabras de la Biblia. Y a pesar que no se han cambiado, las experiencias mías han dado más significado a las palabras. Por medio de mis fallas, he llegado a comprender el perdón de Dios y su amor incondicional. Por medio de la pérdida personal he visto que la derrota no es el final.

En las victorias he aprendido que la verdadera alabanza es real y no superficial.

Le animo no tirar la toalla. Dios siempre está para ayudarle. No deje de cantar, y va a encontrar que las palabras de Dios y su amor van a ser mas profundas al pasar los años.

Las palabras de la canción son “Hay días cuando vuelo con el viento. Por que he aprendido en dolor o en risa, a sobrevivir. Me arrodillo. Allí estoy delante del amor que no cambia. No lo entiendo pero hay poder cuando estoy arrodillado.”

Oración:

“Señor, dénos la fuerza y el ánimo para seguir adelante, y superar nuestras derrotas y ver el amor que tienes para con nosotros. Ayúdanos a examinar Tu palabra. Ayúdanos a crecer en nuestro caminar contigo. Te lo pedimos en el nombre de Cristo. “ Amen

ARRODILLADO

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 12:23 PM

Durante los últimos dos meses he tenido el privilegio de llevar a mi hija, Gracie, de 14 meses, a las sesiones de logopedia y terapia ocupacional. Gracie esta progresando y apreciamos a la gente que la atiende.

No es demasiado difícil para Gracie hablar y ella hace lo que le piden cuando pueda quedarse enfocada en la tarea que hay que cumplir. Ella tiene la costumbre de querer saber lo que esta haciendo todo el mundo que esta alrededor de ella (como su padre).

Por otra parte la terapia ocupacional es otra cosa. Gracie no le gusta mucho las actividades que hay que hacer por treinta minutos. Ella juega y todo esta bien por un ratito. Pero hay una parte de la terapia que no le gusta por nada.

Gracie puede moverse muy bien en una manera que nunca he visto. Ella se sienta sobre su trasero y va adonde quiere ir. Le veo un minuto y de repente esta en otro lado. Es impresionante.

Esta bien para Gracie pero su terapeuta Cheri, quiere que se gatea. Gracie no le gusta la idea. Hay un conflicto entre las dos. Gracie no quiere gatear y la terapeuta quiere que lo haga.

Cheri es muy buena en su profesión y trata de atraer a Gracie a su mejoría. Mientras tanto Cheri toma sus piernas y las pone en una posición de gatear. Gracie le resiste y por solamente un momento se queda en esa posición. En seguida vuelve a estar sobre su sentadero.

Vez tras vez Cheri trata de ensenar a Gracie como gatear al ponerla sobre sus rodillas. Es lo mismo con nosotros y Dios.

Dios nos quiere arrodillados; nosotros pensamos que hay diferentes maneras de hacerlo.

Nosotros, como Gracie, encontramos como esquivar lo que es lo mejor para nosotros. Encontramos que nuestra manera es lo más fácil y lo probamos primero. Pensamos que podemos progresar según nuestra manera y por que Dios quiere que hagamos algo diferente. Anda bien, pensamos, y avanzamos a nuestra manera.

Puede ser que el Señor esta trabajando en su vida para que usted se encuentre en situaciones difíciles para que caiga de rodillas. El gatear no le interesa a Gracie y a nosotros tampoco. Nosotros queremos volar y no arrodillarnos delante de Dios y nos causa desastres.

Y ahora que hacemos? Si, nos arrodillamos delante de Dios para pedirle ayuda. Dios quiere lo apuesto. Que le pidamos socorro primero arrodillados.

Algún dia Gracie va a caminar, estoy seguro. Pero solamente después de que los que le aman y le ayudan hacen lo que es lo mejor para ella al ponerla en la posición correcta. Tenga confianza, Dios esta haciendo lo mismo con usted. A pesar que usted esta resistiéndole, Dios tiene lo mejor en mente para usted.

Quiere caminar o gatear? Deje de resistir a Dios, arrodíllese y va a caminar pronto.

¿ MILAGROS—SI O NO?

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 12:23 PM

Hay dos maneras de vivir la vida. Una es como si nunca hubiera un milagro. La otra es como si todo fuera un milagro.” Albert Einstein.

Bueno, ahora usted sabe que la pregunta es si usted es una persona milagrosa, o una

persona no milagrosa.

Para mi no hay otra elección que ser una persona milagrosa y si no es así entonces la vida es limitada y aburrida. Es muy fácil cree en milagros si usted cree en Dios. Sus milagros están allí cada día, nuevos y vibrantes. No tanto en las cosas grandes sino en las pequeñas. Estoy convencido que allí es donde la gente que no cree en milagros se equivoca.

La gente está buscando lo espectacular cuando el espectacular está en las cosas pequeñas. Están buscando ver a los ciegos sanados y los cojos que caminen cada día. Gente que no cree en milagros espera que todo el mundo sea sanado y cuando eso no pasa pierden de vista el verdadero milagro como Dios ayuda a los enfermos al mandarles personas que les va a ayudar, aliviando el dolor por un día más.

L gente que cree en milagros tiene sus ojos abiertos y ven las obras de Dios cada día. Tal vez seamos gente muy simple pero creo que esa es la única manera de vivir. Déjeme presentarle algunos milagros que veo y después usted tiene que escribir algunos que usted ve.

· La sonrisa preciosa de un recién nacido, dulce, inocente y un regalo de Dios. Quién enseñó este bebe como sonreír, solamente Dios.

· El sol sigue saliendo cada día, seguido por la luna. Esto fue planeado por accidente, no creo.

· Como vuelan los pájaros sin esfuerzo alguno. ¿Quién podría inventar tal cosa? Solamente Dios.

· Ese sentimiento que hay en su estómago cuando está cerca de alguien que ama, quien lo puso allí. Que milagro precioso.

· No tengo que decir a mi corazón que debe latir. Lo hace continuamente. Es increíble. El cuerpo humano en general cada detalle es perfecto. Un milagro.

· Cuando usted empieza a tener lástima por si misma, llega un correo electrónico o un amigo le llama con una necesidad y de repente la vida tiene otro perspectivo. ¿Quién lo planeó? Solamente Dios.

· Que Dios nos ama y mandó a Su Hijo a morir para nosotros para que viviéramos en el cielo. ¿El hombre hubiera hecho tal cosa? ¿Eso tiene razón para mi, no realmente? El Hijo de Dios nació de una virgen, muere en una cruz, y se levanta de la muerte, todo para mi?!? La salvación es el milagro más grande que Dios ha hecho y solamente El pudiera tener un plan así.

Estos son pocos milagros. Podría seguir pero esto no es acerca de , sino acerca de usted. Le garantizo que hay milagros que usted pasó hoy y no los vió. Pare y cuéntelos y dé gracias a Dios por ellos.

¿Cómo sabe lo que es un milagro? Tengo una definición simple. Si solamente Dios puede hacerlo, es un milagro. Mire a su alrededor y creo que va a cambiar de un lado de no creer en milagros al lado de creer en milagros en seguido.

La Biblia: Salmo 77:13y14 “Oh Dios, santo es Tu camino; ¿Qué Dios es grande como nuestro Dios? Tu eres el Dios que hace maravillas; Hiciste notorio en los pueblos tu poder.”

Oración: “Señor, abre mis ojos que pueda ver tus obras maravillosas, tu gran poder, tu intervención y darle la gloria que merece. Ayúdanos ser gente de milagros y todo te lo pido en el nombre de Cristo, Amen”

El Dios de Cada Circunstancia

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 12:22 PM

Cuando recién nació nuestra niña con síndrome de Down, escuchamos a todo el mundo con sus opiniones negativas. Y también escuchamos a los doctores y sus predicciones negativas. Kim y yo, los dos, estamos bendecidos con un espíritu terco entonces escuchamos pero negamos a sucumbir (o rendirnos) a todas las predicciones. Nuestro espíritu terco nos ha servido bien.

Después de la cirugía del corazón de Gracie, pasamos por un tiempo bastante fácil. El apoyo de muchos fue grande, (y es todavía), las miradas fueron pocas, y parecía que Gracie fue más chica y la gente no pensaba que tenía un retraso en su desarrollo. Muy a menudo nos mirábamos y nos decíamos, “Estos son días fáciles.” Estamos viviendo la realidad de estas palabras en varias formas recientemente.

Durante los últimos meses las cosas han sido mas difíciles que normalmente. A Gracie le gustan las circunstancias aceleradas y no puede estar sola por un minuto sin que algo le pase. Estamos enfrentando el desafío de tener a una niña con necesidades especiales y a veces nos falla la paciencia, no importa el apoyo que tenemos. Cada paseo en el carro, cada comida o visita puede ser una aventura nueva en paciencia.

Si le parece que estoy quejándome, le aseguro que es que quiero ser más honesto que quejarme. No quiere decir que no tengo emociones solamente porque soy pastor o estoy trabajando en la computadora.

Amamos a Gracie, sabemos que ella es especial y no la cambiaríamos por todos los niñostípicos” en este mundo. Cada día nos damos cuenta de que bien están las cosas y reconocemos que otros están en un camino mucho más difícil.

De vez en cuando estoy tentado a sentirme lástima; y en esos momentos Dios llega a tiempo para intervenir. Así fue hace poco.

Hace poco en un partido de soccer asistí a una señora y a su sobrino quien se lastimó y yo estaba ayudándole. Al ayudar me di cuenta que el sobrino, un adulto joven tenía necesidades especiales. Tenía problemas al hablar pero se le podía entender. Al hablar me llevó en un viaje largo de su imaginación. La señora trato de pararle pero yo le interrumpí para que él pudiera hablar y yo escucharle. Yo estaba muy ocupado, pero Dios necesitó interrumpirme por un momento para que yo pudiera apreciar las bendiciones que me da y hacerme acordar de que no me va tan mal.

La señora crió al sobrino desde que tuvo un mes. Ella tuvo tres hijos propios y había estado sin trabajo por mucho tiempo. Ella supo de más luchas o dificultades de los que yo voy a tener. Recibí el mensaje.

Dios es bueno conmigo, cada vez que estoy tentado a tener resentimiento, frustrado o sentirme lástima Dios me lleva a mirar la realidad de las cosas. Le agradezco que me lo haga.

Lo que aprendo en esos momentos con Dios es que estoy bendecido no porque soy mejor que otro, sino que estoy bendecido porque tengo a Dios en mi vida. No es quien tiene lo mejor o lo peor, eso no es lo importante y nunca es así con Dios. Lo importante con Dios es usar cada experiencia a moldearnos más como El todos los días.

Tal vez usted hoy está luchando con algo difícil. Las finanzas están difíciles, algún cambio ha sido difícil, el matrimonio está en dificultades, el trabajo está en peligro, la salud es una lucha o algo del pasado ha aparecido de nuevo.

No podemos relacionarnos en todos estos temas, todos tenemos una necesidad diferente. Pero podemos relacionarnos con un Dios que nos ama cuando estamos en medio de alguna circunstancia difícil. La buena noticia es que tenemos a un Dios así.

Dios no es un Dios lejos o uno hecho de piedra; El es un Dios presente, al lado nuestro en todas las circunstancias. Déjele estar con usted hoy.

La Biblia: Filipenses 4:6,7, “Por nada estéis afanosos, sino sean conocidas vuestras peticiones delante de Dios en toda oración y ruego, con acción de gracias. Y la paz de Dios, que sobrepasa todo entendimiento, guardará vuestros corazones, y vuestros pensamientos en Cristo Jesús.”

Oración: Querido Señor, tu eres un Señor amado y le damos las gracias que podemos caminar contigo por los días difíciles. Ayúdanos a aprender a valorar el caminar contigo y a valorar las lecciones que nos quieres enseñar. Guíanos en poner en práctica lo que quieres enseñarnos. En el nombre de Cristo, Amen.”

simple/truths en Español

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 12:21 PM

simple/truths en Español

El Dios de Cada Circunstancia
¿ Milagros- Si O No?
Arrodillado
Jacki V.
Fusibles Quemados

Holding on for Dear Life

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 11:21 PM


For each of us every day holds the possibility for immense good or devastating tragedy. We never know what the next ten minutes will hold. The one thing we all know is that life is unpredictable, change can come quickly.

For Barbara Wilkins a simple ride home turned into a moment she will not soon forget. It started with her husband calling her suggesting she come home early, it ended in the midst of a storm.

As she drove the storm picked up and as she described it hail began to fall that sounded like her car was being beat on with a baseball bat. With her husband encouraging her on the phone to attempt to outrun the storm she made the decision to find refuge in a nearby gas station.

Right thinking; wrong place. She drove past a Phillips 66 for some reason and pulled into a Love’s gas station. Soon she found herself holding onto the metal railing on the wall of the bathroom. When that wall began to shake and appeared to be coming down she then reached over and grabbed the sturdiest thing she could find the toilet and hung on while a tornado ripped the building to shreds.

Fortunately she walked away from the event but she was mentally shaken and physically sore. I asked what had made her sore thinking something might have hit her and she corrected me with this statement ‘she was sore from holding on for dear life.’ Storms in life have a way of making you feel that way.

All of us at one time or another will find ourselves holding on for dear life in the midst of a storm that is tearing into the walls we have placed in our life for security. For some it is the wall of marriage that comes tumbling down, for others the security of a job is ripped out beneath us, often our health or the health of those we love rocks our world, no matter when the storm comes all we can do is hold on for dear life. Let us use Barbara’s experience to point us to God for some tips on how to handle the stormy days of life.

· Listen to the Godly advice of others. Had Barbara left a bit earlier as her husband suggested she might have missed the storm. We need to listen to Godly words when offered; often they help us avoid great tragedy in our life.

· Be careful where you find refuge. For Barbara it was Phillips 66 or Loves, it was a guess. For us we have more clear choices; it is God or the world. Many choose the short term escape of recreational drugs or destructive habits instead of the more solid never wavering hand of a loving God. Think of the worlds escapes as Love’s and think of God as the Phillips 66. (By the way it still stands today, while the Love’s not so much.)

· You can’t outrun a storm. Storms are bigger than us, faster than us and very unpredictable. Don’t take chances deal with it as soon as you can by finding the proper place of refuge. Don’t get caught running unprotected from trouble, it can be disastrous. Go to God immediately!

· Be certain what you hold onto is not going anywhere. Again Barbara in desperation grabbed the most solid thing she could, the plumbing. That was wise; we need to be equally wise in what we choose to hold onto for dear life. The storm is coming, Barbara could not control that what she could control was what she hung onto. As the storm whirls around you, taking out some things you may have grown accustomed to, things you may have trusted, be sure of this God is not going anywhere; find him and hold on tight.

Storms do not last forever, even though it may seem like they do. Let me assure you that someday you will look up and realize the storm has passed almost as suddenly as it arrived. The world around you may look very different, you more than likely will be stronger from the experience, but the storm itself will be gone. At that moment do what Barbara did; go to the one waiting on you, the one who loves you. For Barbara it was her husband a few miles away who missed the storm. For us it is a loving God who was there in the midst of the storm the whole time.

When it comes to holding on for dear life make sure the arms you find yourself in are Gods; He is not going anywhere.

Scripture: Psalm 9:9-10, “The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we are thankful indeed that we have a God that loves us, that walks through the storms with us and keeps us in safe care. We praise your name that you will never leave us or forsake us. Today we simply say thanks, in the name of Christ, Amen.

Falsely Accused

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Friday, May 21, 2010 at 2:51 AM

Made my way to the mail box the other day and among all the enjoyable things I always receive was a letter from my Homeowners Association. I rarely hear from them so I was interested in what they might have to say, until I opened it.

Along with a note telling me all the things they do was a notice that my garbage cans were seen out on days that my garbage was not to be picked up. This is not only a violation of the Homeowners Association’s rules but the city I live in doesn’t like it either. I was advised to get this situation resolved in ten days.

This will not be a problem because my garbage cans are never out on a day when the garbage is not being collected. My day is Monday; when I come home from church on Sunday night and normally that is somewhere around 10 pm I put them out. Then on Monday afternoon I bring them back up to the house. So unless they were driving around my neighborhood at 11 pm on a Sunday night, highly unlikely, I was falsely accused. It bugged me a bit but then I promptly filed the letter in the appropriate trash can to be taken out at the proper time.

Later that same day I was heading out to check the flower beds and as I did I noticed something attached to my door that looked like a notice. Again this is unusual so I took a peek. There in my hand was a notice from the police code enforcement agency that I had ten days to get the carpet out from behind the house.

That sounded interesting since I have not done anything with carpet, ever at this house. I went to the back and found nothing in my alley or at the back of the house. As I walked back to the house I found that the address number on the ticket was 5005 and I live at 5009, the notice was for my neighbor not me. They had put it on the wrong door. I quickly informed the fine city of their mistake, they were apologetic and the issue was resolved.

Trust me in my life you could safely accuse me of a lot of things and that is bad enough but nothing seems to bother me more than when someone says I did or are something I am not. In the two above cases the issues was quickly resolved; that is rarely the case. False accusations can destroy; let’s pause to make sure we are not guilty of making false accusations below are some friendly reminders.

1) If you are tempted to accuse someone of something ask yourself this simple question, “Why?” Your motive will reveal a lot about your spiritual and mental status.

2) Make sure you have all the facts and I will let you in on something, if it is in regards to another person you probably don’t have all the facts. Very rarely do I find one side of the story to be the absolute truth. When it comes to differences between people or in descriptions of events everyone has their slant. The truth is almost always somewhere in the middle. *Note to self, even I have a slant, ouch.

3) Ask yourself another very short question, “What good is it going to do to bring this to light or to make the accusation?” This is when our spiritual life should kick in. Understand that the Bible from start to finish is concerned about redemption, forgiveness and bringing a person back to a right relationship with God. If our concern is about those things then good, the risks are worth it. If it about getting even or jealousy then not so good, stay away from it.

Let me identify what harm accusations especially false ones can do, these in themselves should make us very careful about what we say or who we accuse:

1) Once something is said it can never be retrieved and even if the truth comes out the damage has been done. Some people will always have doubt or see the person as guilty.

2) Be prepared for the accusation to drive a wedge between you and the accused. Families, friends, co-workers and church members are separated forever when someone is wrongly accused or accused with the wrong motive in mind.

3) You become attached to the accusation yourself; if done for the wrong reasons or found to be false then it sheds a negative light on you that will not go away either.

I am still good friends with my city and HOA, I like the job they do. Don’t count on being so fortunate with others if you join them in the false accusation business.


Scripture: Proverbs 6:16-19, “These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”


Prayer: Dear Lord, Help us to be wise in how we handle the truth. Guide us to seek your wisdom as we deal with relationships and the words we use. Have us to seek the best in all circumstances. We ask these things in the name of Christ, Amen.

The 960th Try is the Charm

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 2:50 AM

They are going to miss Cha Sa-soon at the driver’s license agency in Jeonju, South Korea. The 69 year old had been almost a daily visitor ever since April of 2005. But they won’t be seeing her anymore, she finally got what she came for; her driver’s license.

Perseverance and persistence should be Cha Sa-soon’s middle names; she has plenty of both and finally last month it paid off. In South Korea you have to pass a written test before you can get your driver’s license and on her 960th try she finally passed it.

The news agency quoted her as saying she wanted to get a used car so she could go and visit her son and daughter as well as use it for her small vegetable business. My only hope is that she drops by the driver’s license agency to visit the friends she must have made while spending time there over the last five years.

Let me confess that I would have given up somewhere around try number 14 and I would have been very close to a mental breakdown no later than try number 29. I tip my hat to Cha Sa-soon; in a world that encourages you to give it up she kept her head up and reached her goal.

You may be a teacher working hard to make the world a better place and give kids a bright future. It may seem like there is more bureaucratic hassle and parent apathy than positive results yet you stay at it; look again, positive results are out there. Perhaps you are a parent of a preschooler and it just does not seem to be getting through, the days are frustrating and the night tiring yet you lovingly stay at it, nice job, positive rewards are just around the corner.

Maybe you’re a minister of a small church among mega churches; the results seem small or nonexistent, don’t fall into the trap of comparison and don’t be fooled if God is in it good things are happening. Maybe you had a dream to start a business but it has been slow going at first and most months the bills outnumber the income, hang in there.

Perhaps you’re raising a teenager while caring for a parent, or you’re waiting for the right mate, or working hard to get through school while raising a family. You may be up to your ears in frustration and heartache; remember our friend Sa-soon and her persistence but more importantly lean on God to see you through.

Failure can affect your self esteem if you are living by the worlds standards, don’t do it. Lay you’re self worth at the feet of the Savior who gives way more than 960 chances (thank goodness) and the one who created you with a purpose and plan. The Bible holds many examples of those who stayed the course in spite of delay or disappointment; here are just two.

1) Moses stood in exile for 40 years before returning to lead the people out of captivity at 80 years of age.

2) David’s heart desire was to build a temple for God but he was not allowed; instead he made preparations for his son to build it.

** Not buying all this ‘don’t give up stuff’; life getting on your last nerve? I understand trust me the one behind the keyboard has seen plenty of failure. Frustration, failure and disappointment are best understood in the light of the Heavenly Father and His word.

1) God has a purpose: Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

2) God desire for us is greater than we can even imagine: Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,”

3) What God starts He finishes: Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

4) You are a wonderful creation of the living God: Psalm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

5) God had a work planned for you before you were even born: Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

6) Stop doing it on your own: Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, Help us to believe your Word, in Christ Name, Amen.

The Top Ten

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 2:48 AM

I love list and rankings and I always enjoy it when a publication puts out its top ten on just about anything. I happened upon an old Christianity Today article that provided me with a very interesting list; the top ten most influential Christians of the 20th century.

As a public service to keep you from browsing though the internet I am going to provide you with the list. Keep in mind this is Christianity Today’s list not mine, also keep in mind one of my favorite things about list is that they can cause people to get in such an uproar because they would have put someone else on the list. In no particular order here is there top ten:

Karl Barth, Billy Graham, John XXIII, John Paul II, Martin Luther King, Jr., C.S. Lewis, John Mott, William Seymour, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, and Mother Teresa. My guess is there are some names here you have never seen and some you are quite familiar with. My next guess is that many of you are shaking your heads and saying, “how did that person get on the list”. My next guess is that there may be a segment of you who really do not care about list as much as I do. I am okay with that. Now I am going to stop guessing and get to the point.

Though some of these people might have had some effect on our lives through books, television or maybe even at a personal revival, none were the most influential in our own personal life. For example I have watched and admired Billy Graham for years and read some of his books, but he is not the most influential Christian in my life.

For another example the first serious book I read as a Christian was “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. Though I have read it more than once and studied some of his other works, Lewis is still not even close to being on my own personal list of most influential Christians.

My personal list includes a saintly grandmother, a loving wife, parents who taught me to love all people, a steady father in law, a sister in law who is a prayer warrior, two sweet pastors of differing denominations and different demeanors who love God, love people and love me. My list could include Godly Deacons and loving neighbors, as well as my own children who have taught me much about what it is to practice what I say I believe and whose innocence brings me back to reality. It could include older siblings who have showed me love and in many ways have been an example of perseverance through their personal difficult times. I could never pin down just ten and you probably can’t either.

On whose list might you be? The people on my list were not celebrities but normal everyday people who have passed through my life. The thought that they were influencing me one way or the other probably never crossed their minds.

Every day as we live out our lives keep in mind that you may be more of an influence than you think and you never know whom you may be influencing. The bottom line is your actions and attitude matter! My absolute final guess of the day is that you and I will never make the top ten list in Christianity Today but we will make someone’s; with that in mind, keep up the faith and stay the course.

· Assignment: Make out your list then if it is in your power tell some if not all of those folks how much you appreciate them and their Godly influence in their life. It will do them a great deal of good.

· Assignment: Ask yourself, “Is my example a Godly one and would the way I am walking be a Godly influence to others. If so great keep it up; if not write down things you need to change then take the steps to get it right!

Scripture: Paul wrote both of these.

1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

Philippians 3:17 “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank you for those you sent into our lives that showed us not only your love but how to practice it. Help us to live in such a way as to pass on their example. We ask these things in the name of Christ, Amen.

Holding Little Hands

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 2:47 AM

Gracie’s brothers had just returned from the pool, the pool is too cold for her at the moment and I felt like she needed a little special attention so we took a walk; it was a good walk for all concerned.

Gracie is often on the move and it is hard to slow her down, yet this night there was a simple calmness to her as she reached up to hold my hand as we walked hand in hand in our circle. It felt good to be able to wrap my hand around hers and better that she allowed me to do it without attempting to pull away.

As we walked I felt close to her as she allowed me to touch her hand and walk along side her. For some moments instead of her following her plan to her next destination she allowed me to lead without fighting back.

I thought this is how God must feel when I finally reach up and allow Him to hold my hand without any resistance. How He must long for those few moments when I stop from my busy schedule long enough to allow Him to guide. I thought of how He must enjoy the quite moments when I finally allow it to be just the two of us.

As Gracie’s oldest brother and his family drove away she took the hand I wasn’t holding and blew kisses and waved to them at the stop sign before they got away. The fact they could not see her didn’t bother her, she simply smiled at me as I commended her for her sweet good-byes.

I thought to myself of how God must love to hold our hands and watch us as we take time to love one another with the simple love that a child has. Not a polluted worldly type of love but an unconditional one that could only come from Him. Surely God must smile at our innocence.

At the end of the circle I tried to move her back toward the house but she would have none of it. In her silent way of communicating with her father she started to point me a little further, she saw the street light ahead and headed for it. A part of me wanted to take charge and head for the house, the wiser part kept walking in the direction she wished to go. She squeezed my hand, smiled and walked that walk that only Gracie can. I was holding her hand but she felt she was in control.

Surely God loves to hold our hand as we seek out new adventures. I thought of the times I believed that I was in control, only to realize in looking back that it was the Father who allowed me to go a little further for the experience of it all. While all the time holding my hand tightly. I thought how He must love it when we walk toward the light, holding His hand for security as we face the unknown, together.

A few houses from the end of the street where the light awaited us Gracie decided she was finished walking. She turned, stood right in front of me and reached both arms up toward her father. The choice was to run over her or pick her up, easy choice. I finished the journey to the light with a smiling, safe and satisfied girl in my arms. I felt unusually good as I carried my girl home.

For just a few moments I knew how it must feel for God when we, His children, grow tired and weary and instead of attempting to take matters into our own hands, we simply reach our hands toward the Lord. How He must yearn for the moments that we give up and reach up.

Gracie got to the light but not on her own strength, she reached her destination on the strength of her father.

How assuring it is to know that as we walk toward the light with all of this worlds distractions, heartaches and failures that when the day comes, we can reach our arms up to our Father and He will carry us safely home.

What a good God; one that holds our little hands.

Scripture: Isaiah 49:16, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank you that you love us enough to walk with us each day, in Christ Name, Amen.

You Can Forgive- “If You Choose To.”

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 2:42 AM

Nothing defines us as people like forgiveness; nothing. That is what makes the story of Josh Hamilton and his wife Kate all the more interesting. As we looked at a couple of weeks ago, Josh is a recovering alcoholic and drug user who fell off the wagon back in January.

What makes this of interest to most is that Josh is a major league ballplayer and this all played out in the local and national newspapers. I on the other hand care little about the celebrity part of the story and everything about the ‘person’ part of the story. Why spend devotional time on it? Because this story is real; the story of forgiveness plays out every day in our lives and how we deal with it will determine how we live our lives out in sight of a forgiving and loving God.

Josh called his wife the day after the relapse and asked for her forgiveness. What did she do, here is what Josh says about Kate’s response, “She told me she forgives me, and she meant it.” That brings up something I would like for you to ask yourself today and do not put it off. When you forgive someone do you just say the words or do you mean it? Apparently Josh and Kate have the type of relationship that one can ask for forgiveness, the other can give it, and the forgiven person can actually feel forgiven. This unfortunately is rare; the exception as opposed to the rule in the world we live.

Many of us will tell someone we forgive them but spend the next days and maybe years reminding them of or holding the offense against them. This is not forgiveness at all. No one is set free by this attitude not the one asking for forgiveness or the one who has been offended.

Apparently on the blogs in the newspaper people were saying they just could not forgive Hamilton for the offense. Here is what Kate had to say to that in the same blog, “I mean, to say something is ‘unforgivable’ is an inaccurate statement. You can forgive-if you choose to do so. It really isn’t that difficult-and I pray that you can and will, in time, forgive him.”

There is much here, let’s go slow. First off she is on the money, nothing is unforgiveable in the sight of God, thus since we are not God, then we should seek to be very forgiving people. Important note here; forgiveness does not mean that you approve of the behavior or that you will allow the behavior to continue. You can forgive but there still may be consequences to the individual’s poor choice.

Kate made one statement that is a little difficult to handle; ‘it really isn’t that difficult.’ Perhaps for her, perhaps it shouldn’t be but for the average person I am around including myself forgiveness is not easy and the larger the offense the more difficult it is. Admitting this does not make me or you a bad person it just brings God into the situation all the more.

Without knowing God and His forgiveness for my failures it would be much more difficult for me to forgive. I know the many times I have fallen off the wagon, I know God has forgiven me when I asked and that makes me very thankful and more understanding when others make bad choices that effect me. Knowing that forgiveness is not easy makes me take it to God. To ask for His power, strength and grace in forgiving others, without God I could not forgive properly and you can’t either.

Kate made one great point and here it is, “you can forgive if you choose to.” There it is the Mt. Everest of forgiveness. You can; but you must choose. Forgiveness is a choice; some choose not to forgive and live out their lives in utter despair, bitterness and anger. Others on the other hand choose to forgive; they live out their lives with joy, a sweet spirit and a lack of any kind of regret. They are a pleasure to be around.

I have been blessed to witness some amazing people at forgiveness. They have had done to them things that would make the average person bitter and resentful. When I watch them operate I am grateful and I am certain God and his graces are very real in their lives.

These people are just like us and just like Kate Hamilton; they had a choice to forgive or not to. They chose to forgive, what is your choice? Your decision will shape you present and your future spirit and relationship to God, it is that important.

Scripture: Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Read those verses more than once and let them sink in.

Prayer: Dear Lord, first and foremost we thank you for your grace that you forgive us our sins. Help us in our weakness to forgive others who sin against us. Give us your grace to share with others. We ask these things in the name of Christ, Amen.

all simple/truths are written by richard harris

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