Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanks, But No Thanks

Pastor Tim Howard
November 21, 2009

Do you remember the movie entitled “Pollyanna” that was filmed by Disney Studios in 1960 and stared Hayley Mills? The title character is Pollyanna Whittier, a young orphan who goes to live with her wealthy but stern Aunt Polly in Beldingsville, Vermont. Pollyanna's philosophy of life centers on what she calls "The Glad Game," an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. She consistently finds something to be glad about in every situation regardless of how difficult things become. The game originated one Christmas when Pollyanna, was hoping to receive a doll for her present. When she opened her gift, however, she found only a pair of crutches inside. At that moment, Pollyanna's father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because "she didn’t need them." Her gratitude and thankful spirit influenced this small New England town and transformed it into a place of joy and thanksgiving.

A grumpy attitude or a grateful heart is a matter of choice. Do you want to influence people in a positive way? Does the atmosphere at your job need to be refreshed? Would you like to cheer people up rather than bring them down? Then choose to be grateful in this season of thanksgiving.

The Bible reveals that Paul the apostle went through many ups and downs in his life. He was beaten, shipwrecked, hungry, deserted, and even stoned to the point of death. If anyone had a right to complain he did! But listen to his words from 2 Corinthians, chapter 4:1-18. “Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small in comparison to the big picture and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.” NLB

To be grateful, you need a new focus, a reason to speak and a willingness to share. Therefore open your eyes and focus on what you have rather than on what you don’t. It will bring peace! Open you mouth and express thanks to God. It will create joy! Open your hands and share your blessings. It will show love!

Thanksgiving will put an end to jealousy, envy and covetousness. It will guard you from a spirit of entitlement and help you to stop taking things for granted. Giving thanks will cause a demanding spirit to leave and a grateful heart will help people see life with a new perspective.

Our country has set aside one day a year to remind us of the importance of thanksgiving. I personally think we should be thankful 365 days a year but THANK GOD we at least have one day still on the calendar as a reminder. I can’t speak for you but as for my family and me, we are going to choose thankfulness over complaining, gratitude over grumpiness and play the Glad Game rather than the Sad Game. If anyone comes to you this season and invites you to focus on the miserable-ness of things, why don’t you simply say: Thanks but no thanks!

Allow November 26 to establish a foundation and pattern for your future.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Pastor Tim Howard
October 17, 2009

When I moved from Gardiner, Maine to the Los Angeles area in 1970, I experienced a great deal of shock. Many people love this area yet for me it was a nice place to visit but not a great place to live. Let me explain!

The area is very fast-paced; a whole lot of people, and the stress level can be very, very high. Some call it exciting, some call it challenging and others call it sheer craziness. For a boy like me who was raised in a city with the total population numbering 6000, it was a whirlwind and overload to my small city mind set.

Shortly after my relocation, I was confronted with a choice. Would I return home to the comfort of the past and things familiar to my youth or embrace the new environment and learn to adapt? Returning to the familiar is very tempting when you feel like a fish out of water, but it inevitably retards the growth process and adventures that lie ahead. During that season of time, someone made a comment that helped me make the decision, which was right for me. He simply said, ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’
When you find yourself planted in an environment that is unfamiliar and a location that is not to your liking, how do you respond? Do you react? Do you retreat to the comfort of yesterday? Do you think the grass is greener on the other side or have you learned that the grass is greener where you water it?

Paul the apostle found himself in some unpleasant situations and locations that were very unappealing. He was imprisoned on several occasions, not for doing wrong but for proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ. He didn’t allow his location or circumstances, to determine his attitude or outlook on life. He bloomed where he was planted.

In prison Paul wrote some of the most encouraging books in the Bible. Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, to name a few. In Philippians 4:11, we read these words: "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." His secret was God! That’s why he tells us in Philippians 4:4 to “rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.”

You may not like the situation you're in right now, your location, your job, your church or your marriage but you still have a choice! You can choose to react to the circumstances, retreat from the present and return to the past or reach for what God has in store for you. You can choose to bloom where you are planted or die on the vine. Don’t let your circumstances determine the level of joy you experience. Invite God to give you strength to do everything that needs to be done in any situation, at any time and in any location. It worked for Paul and it will work for you.

Friday, September 25, 2009

John 3:16

Pastor Tim Howard
September 25, 2009

If you have ever watched professional sports, especially football you have probably noticed from time to time the camera person focusing on someone who is holding up a sign that reads: John 3:16. For those familiar with the Bible it is recognized as a scripture from the New Testament but for those unfamiliar with scripture, it must be an enigma.

John 3:16 is one of the most widely quoted verses from the Bible and has been called the most famous Bible verse by some. It has also been called the "Gospel in a nutshell" because it is considered a summary of some of the most central doctrines of traditional Christianity. It’s a verse that ‘In-N-Out Burger’ chain prints it on the bottom rim of their paper cups and the clothing chain ‘Forever 21’ prints it on the bottom of their shopping bags.

This verse reveals five very important truths about God and is proof that the God of creation wants you and me to know him. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” NIV

The first truth revolves around love. “For God so loved…” Love is God’s motivation for doing what he does. Behind every act there is a motive and the motivating factor behind every act determines the results that will ensue. When you do things out of anger, bitterness, pressure, guilt or duty, you reap one kind of result and when you do things out of love, kindness, mercy, grace and compassion you produce a totally different effect. Motives are very important! If we give all our possessions to the poor and do many humanitarian acts but don’t have love, we don’t gain anything. That’s what Paul tells us in first Corinthians 13:3.

God’s love is focused primarily on the whole world and this is His mission. He is not a respecter of persons and does not show favoritism. He loves all mankind and has a desire to relate to each and every individual. This second truth is vital for us to understand, if we are to escape the Me, Myself and I, mentality.

“God so loved mankind that He gave”… Thirdly, giving gifts is God’s method for reaching you and me and is the prescribed way for us to help others. He didn’t give us a CD, DVD or send us an e-mail but came Himself. Jesus came as God’s greatest gift and message of love, hope and forgiveness, which is good news. Knowing that God himself came to us in Jesus Christ is not only the forth truth in this passage of scripture but reveals the identity of the true God in a world filled with many gods.

Last but not least, this Bible verse reveals God’s purpose for doing what he does. He wants us to live with him forever. All of us have been given a certain amount of days to live on this earth. We will all face death at some point. Then what? John 3:16 answers that question. Our future is yet to be written. We are today where our choices have brought us and will be tomorrow where our choices take us. True life awaits those who pick up on these five truths about God.

Love is God’s motive. The world is his mission. Giving is his method. Jesus is his message and Life is the miracle we get to experience when we put our trust, faith and confidence in Him. John 3:16 may be a short verse in the Bible but it packs a powerful punch to those who believe.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Games People Play

Pastor Tim Howard
September 19, 2009

Back in the day, we didn’t have Nintendo, Wii, PlayStation or Xbox 360 electronic games. Even if they had been available, most of us wouldn’t have been able to afford them. We had games like tag, king of the mountain, ring-around-the-rosy, jump rope, dodge ball, capture the flag, red-rover red-rover, hop-scotch and tic-tac-toe. For those who were older and didn’t want to participate, they could always watch the television game shows like Password, Let’s Make a Deal, Beat the Clock, The Price is Right, I’ve Got a Secret, To Tell the Truth, Wheel of Fortune, The Gong Show and Hollywood Squares. Games have always been a part of life since creation but some games can cause problems when played in the wrong arena.

When I play Hide and Seek with my grandson, a whole lot of joy and laughter fills our home but when Adam and Eve played the game of Hide and Seek with God, things began to breakdown. You may remember the historical record that is recorded in Genesis chapter 3. God had given this couple everything they could possibly need. They were in a beautiful garden with full access to everything except one tree. That seems more than fair but for some reason Adam followed Eve’s lead and went contrary to God’s advice. After deciding to set up self-rule and function with an independent spirit, they became aware of their failure, sin and self-centeredness. That was bad enough but they complicated things even further because they decided to play the game of hide and seek.

Before you criticize this biblical couple for their usurping of authority, disobedience and stupidity, check out 2 Peter 1:3! We are told that Jesus has given you and me everything we need for living a godly and fruitful life. Even though this is true, we also have decided to do our own thing and live independently of the living God. In other words: we have sinned just like Adam and Eve.

The Bible tells us that every man has sinned and gone astray. He likens us to sheep that are notorious for wandering after things, which aren’t beneficial. We shouldn’t ask who has sinned because we all stand guilty. The real question is: What do we do with our sin? I’m glad the Bible is not silent on this issue. In John 1: 9 we are told these words: “If we claim that we're free of sin, we're only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean break from them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”

Then, the next time you make a decision that hurts or violates another person; the next time you find yourself doing things that aren’t proper or right; the next time you are awakened to the fact that you are in the wrong or have sinned, I encourage you to play a different game. Rather than playing Hide and Seek like Adam and Eve, try the game called Show and Tell.

When you TELL the truth, God will SHOW you his love and forgiveness. Show and Tell is more than a game, however; it is a biblical principle that works. When you build a family on honesty and a marriage on transparency, you’re building something that lasts. I’m going to be selective in the games I choose to play. Games that bring lots of joy, life, love and peace, those are games that people should play.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Knock Knock

Pastor Tim Howard
August 22, 2009

It was 9:15 at night when I heard a knock at the door. As I sat in my chair and put my book down, I began to wonder who would possibly be knocking this late in the evening. I must admit, my first thought was to pretend I wasn’t there in hopes they would give up and go away, but the knocking continued in spite of my wish fullness. Was it someone selling magazines, was it someone wanting to steam clean my carpets for a really great deal or maybe a young child trying to sell candy bars for a school project? The only way to find out for sure was to open the door and invite them in.

In the Bible, John the apostle wrote the book of Revelation and in Chapter 3, verse 20, he uses figurative language to tell us what God says. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

I can understand why a person would not want to answer the door when someone comes knocking late at night or early in the morning. More often than not, those who are doing the knocking aren’t there for your benefit but seeking to solicit something from you. They want to take and not give. But what if the person who is knocking has your best interest in mind? Maybe he’s knocking to say the windows in your car are down and it’s raining. Possibly it’s a neighbor who wants to tell you he gave away his dog that constantly barks. What if it was the Reader’s Digest and you are the grand prize winner of the sweepstakes? Wouldn’t you run to the door and open it?

God doesn’t come to take anything from you because He already has everything. Col. 1:16 tells us this truth, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” He doesn’t need what you have! He knocks on your door because you need what he has! He knocks because He wants to develop a relationship and share His wealth with you. When you open the door to Jesus, you begin a two-way relationship. It’s not a monologue but a dialogue. He eats with you and you get to eat with him.

In 1973 a song called, Knockin' on Heaven's Door, was written and performed by Bob Dylan for the soundtrack of the 1973 film Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. It was about a sheriff who had been fatally shot and as darkness set in he began to knock on heaven’s door. The good news from the Bible is that you don’t need to die in order to have a relationship with God. He’s reaching out to you right now. You do, however, have to open the door and invite Him in.

Even though it was 9:15 p.m., I did open the door and invite those who were on the outside to come inside. They declined the offer because it was late but wanted to give me a delicious Apple Pie in case I wanted something sweet to eat before I retired for the night. Great Neighbors! What I would have missed if I hadn’t opened the door? Don’t miss what God has in store for you. Open the door to Jesus and invite Him in. You won’t be disappointed!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Follow The Leader

Pastor Tim Howard
July 30, 2009

Have you ever been in route to a specific destination only to discover you were lost? You can almost feel your blood pressure rising as your emotions begin to fluctuate and your intellect reminds you, this is an extremely important appointment so you don’t want to be late.

One time a Pastor friend of mine named Ron lost his way as he was trying to find a small country church where he had been invited to speak. He left the hotel room early to assure a timely arrival and to enjoy the scenic drive but not being familiar with the country roads and landmarks he ended up totally and completely lost. Even though it was humbling for him to admit he needed some help, he decided to stop at the first country store he found. A man named Karl, the proprietor of Karl’s Feed & Fuel, gave him these directions.

“First you take Rural Route 18 -- that’s this road here -- go south to the big red barn with black trim. Black trim and not white! The white-trimmed one is the old Wilkerson place and the Timmitville Bridge is out, so you don’t want to go that way, trust me”.
He nodded to acknowledge he was listening. “Anyway” he went on, “after you get to the barn, head due east on Berrybriar Road until you hit Clear Creek, which you follow
North -- maybe two, three miles till you get to the big aluminum grain silo. That’s Earl Simmons’ place. Then turn north onto County Road Number 7, follow that a mile or
so -- winds around a good bit -- and then turn left where you see the big herd of Guernsey cows”…

To Ron’s surprise a man interrupted the conversation and said: “Pardon me, my name is Lyle. Didn’t mean to listen in, but are you the visiting pastor speaking at the church on Petersburg Road?” “Well yes, I am” Ron said. “Well, pastor, why don’t you just follow me to the church. I know the way.

Sometimes you can lose your way in life and it’s a lot easier to follow someone than to figure things out with your own intellect. You don’t have to keep track of barns or silos or Earl Simmonses or Guernsey cows. All you need to do is follow the leader.

In Matthew 4:19, Jesus told those who were lost and needed direction for their lives to follow him. I won’t just tell you where to go and what to do, I will actually lead you and show you the way. FOLLOW ME! Wow that simplifies everything. All we need to do is follow Him: Do what He does, go where He goes, say what He says and things will work out. Jesus will get you to your appropriate destination because He knows the way. Believe it or not, God has already been in your future. Psalms 139 makes it clear that he “goes before us.” He charts a path for us and knows where we should stop, when we need to rest and the best route for the journey.

To follow someone, you must trust them and to trust them you must know them. I invite you to visit one of the many church families in Kings County this weekend to deepen you knowledge of God. Don’t settle for only acquiring knowledge about God when you have the privilege of really getting to know him personally. If you are ever lost and need directions He will show you the way. All you need to do is follow Him.

Friday, July 17, 2009

God Has a Dream

Pastor Tim Howard
July 17, 2009

Someone recently asked me if I had a dream? I told them I had dreams every night and most of them are somewhat bizarre. The question posed to me, however, had nothing to do with this type of dream and we laughed because both of us knew it.

Over the years I’ve had many dreams. In the 1960’s I dreamed about owning a 1964 and ½ Mustang 289 convertible. At that time, I was earning $1.25 an hour (you heard me right) so the dream was not meant to be, even though the whole car sold for about $2,300.00 brand new. I dreamed about graduating from college and becoming a millionaire but that didn’t happen either. Well, I did graduate from college so one out of two isn’t all that bad. Then, while in college I dreamed about finding a wife whom I could spend the rest of my life with, serving God and helping people. That’s when I met and married a woman by the name of Donna Higgins and for the past 36 years this has been a dream come true.

We all have dreams! You may recall Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, who was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. On August 28, 1963 he delivered his great, “ I Have a Dream” speech and made a lasting impression on this nation. Here are a few excerpts to refresh your memory:

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.”

We all have dreams and so does God. His dreams have your best interest in mind. Listen to His words in Jeremiah. 29:11, “For I know the plans (dreams) I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans (dreams) to prosper you and not to harm you, plans (dreams) to give you hope and a future.”

Many times we find ourselves pursuing dreams that don’t involve God. Too often it is what we want for ourselves and not what God wants for us. Maybe that’s why so many dreams have been shattered. Sometimes we dream about getting those new and glitzy things but once we get them they let us down. We thought they would make us happy but in the end, we are left with emptiness inside. Today’s discovery becomes tomorrow’s disappointment. Sometimes a dream can turn into a nightmare! Do you know what I mean? You want something, you dream about it, you plan and save but when you get it you realize it doesn’t live up to all the hype. What started out so exciting becomes very tedious.

It may be good to have dreams but it’s great and essential to discover God’s dreams for you? Jesus wants to assist you in this discovery. He’s even created a Dream Team that can help you in your search. They meet every weekend in various places throughout Kings County. They are frequently called the ‘Church’ but in reality, they are the family of God. Why not visit this weekend and ask some family members about God’s plans. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Divine Appointments

Pastor Tim Howard
July 3, 2009

In my chosen vocation appointments are a common occurrence. People call to set an appointment for a variety of reasons and because I value people, I always try to accommodate their request. At times it is necessary to decline or delegate a request to another Pastor but if it’s at all possible, I say yes. Recently I said yes to one such appointment and I’m so very thankful. With hindsight I can unequivocally say it was a divine appointment.

Divine appointments impact your life and influence you in a significant way. Divine appointments are set up by God and always have a purpose. Divine appointments can happen at church, in a coffee shop, on a college campus, in a mall or virtually anywhere. You definitely don’t want to miss a divine appointment with God or people because when you walk away from a divine appointment you realize something positive has happened.

Believe it or not, the God of the universe wants to set a daily and divine appointment with you. Revelation 3 tells us that he is knocking on the door and wants to talk. I can remember times when my boss would knock on my door and ask me to step into his office. I feared the encounter because I assumed the worst. You may be wondering: Why would the Creator of the world want to see me? Am I in trouble? Did I do something wrong? What does He want to correct?

Let me assure you - His main reason for setting a daily appointment with you is to express His love and to help you navigate life’s journey. That’s why I encourage you to accept his invitation and keep your appointment with Him. Unlike me, He has never missed an appointment and He has never been late. He is willing and waiting to reveal Himself at the appointed time. All you need to do is show up!

God is also constantly planning divine appointments, heavenly convergences or divine bump-ins for you. There is someone he wants you to help, a person who has something to say or some kingdom business to be accomplished. He is your divine dispatcher! One time during a ride-along in a police car, a dispatcher contacted the police officer in command and gave him directions to a specific destination with a specific purpose. After hearing the directives he made an abrupt ‘U’ Turn and obeyed the orders. If you are going to experience divine encounters and divine appointments, you must be willing to alter your plans and obey the divine dispatcher.

That may be difficult for some. A full schedule, lots of plans, goals set in cement and a personality that doesn’t want to alter the day can make change very troublesome. For people like this, divine appointments seem like an interruption, intrusion or inconvenience to their well thought out blueprint for the day. I’m not suggesting we do away with a plan but simply make room for alterations. Some of the greatest things to happen in your life and some of the greatest encounters you are yet to experience will not take place because you plot a wonderful course to follow but because you were willing to follow the directives of the divine dispatcher and alter your day.

Don’t schedule your day so tightly that there’s no room for God to insert an unexpected opportunity to touch someone’s life or experience something out of the ordinary. Those unscheduled and unplanned happenings may open a door to a divine visitation.

The next time you feel like someone or something is interrupting your day and intruding into your plans, ask this question: Could this be a divine appointment in the making?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Do You Have a B.A.?

Pastor Tim Howard
June 19, 2009

When I was a small boy I hated naps with a passion. My mother’s love for naps, however, greatly exceeded my hatred and I was doomed to take one each and every day. I think her love for them was rooted in the fact that she got a break from me. If the truth were known, it may have been her favorite time of the day! I recall one afternoon waking up from one of those naps and within a few minutes my mom told me to go back to bed. Curious as to why, I asked for a reason and she said, “Because you got up on the wrong side of the bed.” That didn’t make sense to me but I soon learned she was talking about my attitude. When she said I had a B.A. she wasn’t talking about a Bachelor of Arts degree from some college. Those letters stood for: BAD ATTITUDE.

Now, we talk about someone having a good or a bad attitude, a positive or a negative attitude. Regardless of your present stance, your attitude is connected to your focus and perception of life. Your reaction or response to the current circumstances only reveals your perception of life and the attitude within. One man calls it the ‘Squeeze’ principle. The pressures of life that try to squeeze you, do not create the attitude, but they do reveal it. What comes out of you when you are squeezed?

In Acts 16:22 –25 of the Bible, Paul and Silas had a challenging day. They were being squeezed! They had been preaching the Gospel in Philippi and the crowd was attacking them. They were ultimately beaten, flogged and thrown into prison. About midnight, “Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? They have been stripped, flogged, imprisoned, put in stocks, and now they’re singing. What’s going on here? You might expect this verse to read that Paul and Silas were having a pity party and complaining at midnight or they were blaming God and others for there current dilemma. Nothing is wrong with this scenario, however. These two men simply focused on God through singing and perceived this to be an opportunity where other prisoners could be influenced in a positive way. Their focus and perception created a positive attitude while others listened intently.

People look and listen intently to someone who stands with a positive attitude in the midst of dark times. People watch you when you’re in the midnight hours of difficulty more than any other time. Don’t forget the greatest impact of your life will often come at the time of greatest pain. Maybe you’re in a midnight crisis right now. How are you handling it? Are you like all the other prisoners, or is Christ inside of you giving you the grace to sing when you would otherwise sulk? God can change a Bad Attitude into a Positive Attitude but you may need to go back to bed, call out to Him and start the day over again. If you do, the resulting attitude will transform you and influence others. Make sure you don’t leave home unless you get up on the right side of bed.

By the way… I have learned to love naps. I wish I could take one each and every day!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Who's Who?

Pastor Tim Howard
May 2, 2009

My first job after graduating from high school was working at an Exxon Service Station in Vancouver, British Columbia. Those were the days when they actually gave you service and there was no such thing as a Self Serve gas station! I had been working with my dad since the 8th grade but this new job was outside the family and I was a bit fearful to say the least.

In today’s economy it’s not uncommon to find people experiencing fear because they are unemployed. They find themselves sending dozens of resumes to various companies in hopes of landing a job. In conversations with many of these people I’ve discovered that most of them hate the process because it is filled with rejection. The ‘No’s’ far outnumber the one ‘Yes’ they are wanting to hear.

As a graduate, I didn’t have to face this rejection nor did I have to fill out a resume in order to find employment. The reason was simple, I knew the owner of the business and he knew me. I learned a very important lesson back then and it has stuck with me for years. The truth and reality is this: It’s not what you know but whom you know that matters the most.

The Bible tells us if we know God and are in a developing relationship with Him, open doors will come our way because He is making things work together for our good. The very fact that you know Him and are known by Him is a master key to your future. Blessings are not entirely based upon your performance, abilities or intellect but on the basis of your relationship with Him. Some people believe in “Deism.” It is a belief in the existence of a supreme being, specifically of a creator who does not intervene in the universe. A casual look at the Bible, however, reveals this to be false. God is continually working on behalf of those who love and know Him. Jesus even came to earth to stand along side you and me to reveal Himself as God. It is a comforting fact to understand that Jesus, the God of the universe knows you and me intimately and wants us to know Him.

It’s not what you know but whom you know that matters most. Do you know Jesus? Possibly you know about Him but don’t really know Him in the deepest sense of the word. In today’s Pop Culture, it’s easy to be misled regarding His true identity because so many opinions have proliferated the 2000’s. Just turn on the television, go to the movies, study various books or visit the Arts and you will agree; differing opinions of Jesus are everywhere and it’s reasonable to say people are confused about the real Christ.

While gifts, talents, skills and abilities play a significant part in any person’s success, the most important thing is to know the real Jesus. If I’ve been fruitful or successful in any of my ways, it’s not because of what I know or talents I possess. It’s because I personally know Him. He is the most important person you will ever meet. God tells us in the Bible: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” You may want to start your search by checking out one of the many church gatherings this weekend in Kings County. The Pastors can help you discover the real Jesus.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I'm Sorry

Pastor Tim Howard
April 18, 2009

Grandchildren bring a tremendous amount of joy to a grandparent. The Bible tells us that children are a gift from the Lord and grandchildren bring honor and glory to the grandparent. Since our grandson lives with us on a regular basis, our joy is multiplied many times over! Having said that, I must admit it’s not all fun and games. My wife and I are learning again that life is full of laughter, joy, and happiness but there are times when sorrow, pain, and darkness supplant the light-hearted spirit. Tears flow as a result.

When people hurt they often cry. Even though tears can be the product of great joy, sorrow is more often the source. Every time we discipline our grandson he expresses his dislike and sorrow for what we have decided to do. He may throw a tantrum, act defiantly or inappropriately verbalize his feelings, but almost always tears accompany these demonstrations.

I can’t speak for you but when I see a person crying I want to stop, listen, comfort, and help them wipe away the tears. I don’t want them to hurt, experience pain, or be filled with sorrow. The quandary is the very tears that come from sorrow can become the spring waters that produce repentance.

In 2 Corinthians 7:9 & 10, Paul says to some Christians, "I am happy now, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance." “Repentance” is one of the most misunderstood words in the Christian vocabulary and possibly one of the most neglected experiences in the Christian life. Repentance is vital if you want Christ's life and power. It means more than shedding a few tears and saying "I'm sorry!" You may be sorry for getting caught, sorry that you have to pay the consequences or sorry for the misery you created, but Godly sorrow involves repentance. When you repent of a sin, you're not just saying, "Oh, I feel terrible about it." You say, "I feel so terrible about my sin, I'm going to stop doing it. I'll reorder my life so I don't have a relapse." That is abandoning your sin. That’s forsaking the sin. That’s repentance!

The Greek word for repentance is "metanoia". The first part of that term is “Meta” and is found in our English words like metabolism and metamorphosis. Therefore, “Metanoia” or repentance is something that brings about change. It is a change of action, thought, attitude, and direction. It turns us back to God who is the author of change and He does more than make us feel guilty. He actually changes us to look more like Him.

If Godly sorrow turns you from sin and helps you follow Jesus more closely then sorrow and tears becomes your friend. Knowing that sorrow can lead to repentance and repentance leads to no regrets, as verse 10 indicates, I’m not sure it’s wise to wipe the tears away so quickly. I like what God said to us in the book of James, chapter 1 verses 3 & 4, “…when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” I’m going to remember this next time my little three-year-old grandson comes to his Grandfather with those baby blue eyes filled with tears. It might be the very thing he needs in order to become a man of God.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Pastor Tim Howard
April 4, 2009

When I was 8 years old, a 7-inch black and white portable television set caught my eye. Immediately I knew I had to have it. One small problem stood between the purchase, and me, however; I couldn’t afford it! I didn’t have the money! I didn’t have a credit card!

If you’re like me, then you really like things! I personally enjoy this technological time in history and I have accumulated a fair amount of ‘things’ for myself since that experience fifty years ago. I like cell phones, computers, navigational systems, 42-inch flat screen HD televisions, homes with a pool, cars that are fast and the list goes on. Wherever you look today, advertisements seem to tell you that wealth and material things will make you happy. What they don’t tell you is when you acquire a lot of stuff, more and more will be required of you to manage and maintain those items. Material things seem to produce far less than the advertisements promise.

The blessing of material wealth is not necessarily wrong from a Biblical perspective. In 1 Tim 6:10, we are told it’s not money but the “love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil.” When people ‘love’ money they stop worshiping God and start worshiping another god. The Bible calls this other god “mammon.” The term describes greed, wealth, avarice and materialism among other things. The people who love money and material things will often succumb to a disease called “Affluenza” as well. If you’re wondering about this word, it was used by John de Graaf, David Wann, Thomas H. Naylor and David Horsey when they wrote a book using the same name in 2005. Here’s how they describe Affluenza. It’s the pursuit of happiness; trying to find life and joy through affluence or the abundance of wealth. It is a strong desire for more and more, bigger and better.

In these days of economic upheaval and unprecedented debt, you might want to examine yourself to see if this disease has affected you. It often goes undetected and ignored. It may be costly if not treated early. It’s introduced into our personal lives by an addictive virus called consumerism. Those infected by the virus will often deny its presence or yield to this twisted truth: You can’t be happy until you have MORE!

The cure for Affluenza is found in Luke 6:38. But be aware, it doesn’t seem like rational thinking. Here’s what it declares: “Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity. " WOW! When you spend money on yourself, you get something in return but when you give to God’s work or to those in need, you take center stage before the Lord. He loves a cheerful giver. God chooses to bless those who give. He makes sure those who are determined to be distribution centers rather than storage houses are satisfied with good things. He provides abundantly and no kid of His goes away hungry. These are difficult economic times, but Jesus is our provider. Let’s remember His words: “it is better to give than to receive.” You don’t need more and more to be happy. You need to follow Jesus! He will make all things work out. Why not visit a church this weekend and let one of the many Pastors introduce you to Him.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Running on Empty

Pastor Tim Howard
March 21, 2009

Are you tired, exhausted and depleted of all your energy at the end of the day? Do you face times of weariness, weakness and lack the motivation to do another project? Maybe you’re exasperated, troubled and even stressed out because you lack what you really need. If so, we have good news for you! Those were the words I heard as I listened briefly to an infomercial that was trying to promote a specific product.

Even though I’m not peddling a product, I can relate to those statements about being exhausted, tired and weary. There are times when I feel like I’m running on empty. My personal gauge is registering below the red line but I continue to move on regardless. I continue to go through the motions of life but then the inevitable happens. I shut down! I can’t go on! I am out of gas! If you have ever run out of gas in your automobile you know the feeling. It’s not fun to have this experience in your vehicle and it sure isn’t a time of rejoicing when it happens in your personal life either. If you run on empty for long periods of time, you open the door for all the symptoms mentioned in the infomercial. It is a bit funny though, when you realize that much of this could be avoided if you would just take time to fill your personal tank.

God created you to function best on a full tank. In Ephesians 5:18, He makes it clear that everyone needs to be filled with His Spirit. Being filled is not a one-time experience relegated to the past but an ongoing need that requires regular attention. In this chapter the Apostle Paul tells us to be wise and not foolish. Even as a wise person wouldn’t put diesel fuel into a vehicle designed for gas, a person who wants to avoid burnout shouldn’t fill up on things that are designed to destroy them. Have you ever heard the phrase “You’re full of it”? I won’t attempt to define the term “it” but when you encounter a person who is full of hatred, bitterness, anger, lust, resentment, envy, and jealousy, fear and such, you can be assured they have been filling up on the wrong things. What are you full of?

Jesus was full of compassion, grace, truth and love. He desires to fill you with His life, His joy and His peace. How is that possible? David gives us a clue when he writes these words in Psalms 16:11, “…In your presence is fullness of joy”. In His presence means you are following Him closely and not following at a distance. It means you are close enough to God to hear him speak and pick up on His heartbeat. Unfortunately, many people attend church services thinking they are close to God because of their geographical location. Scripture tells us, however, it is possible to draw near to God with our lips while our hearts are far from him. It’s like looking through binoculars. You have the allusion of closeness but in reality there is a gap. Maybe that’s why so many church-going people aren’t experiencing the fullness of His Spirit. Church attendance alone can’t fill you with the right stuff but Pastors can lead you to the one who can and will. His name is Jesus! Is your personal tank running near the empty line? Are you experiencing some of the symptoms listed in the infomercial? If so, why not drive into one of God’s filling stations this weekend and fill up the tank?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

For Better or For Worse

Pastor Tim Howard
March 7, 2009

On February 16, 1973 I spoke these words to my wife. “ I, Tim Howard take you Donna to be my wife. To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse. I promise to love you the same way Jesus loves me. I promise to support you, cherish you, respect you, and be faithful to only you for as long as we both shall live.”
At the age of 22, I didn’t fully understand the meaning of that phrase ‘for better or for worse’. After 36 years of marriage to the same woman, I am beginning to understand the value of each. We have had our share of bad times! We have both thought about quitting. The word divorce has crossed our minds. When we thought it couldn’t get much worse, it did. It’s laughable now but it was painful then. Maybe you have had some bad times in your marriage or possibly you are in a difficult season right now. I want you to know that God can use your bad times to build character. Rather than allowing difficult moments to destroy you, turn to God and let Him define and develop you.

Life is not just about growing up! To succeed in life you must grow down as well. Trees that grow high will not stand against the winds of time unless they have deep roots. God uses the ‘worse’ times to develop a deep root system in your life. The roots that are developed in dark seasons will sustain you and build character that will keep you from crumbling under adversity. Paul the Apostle conveys this truth in the New Testament. Romans 5:3-5, We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us…
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t look forward to bad times and I am very thankful we have experienced far more of the ‘better’ years than ‘worse’. If, however, you embrace the good along with the bad and turn to God in both seasons, your love can grow stronger. Divorce doesn’t have to become a reality! Here are five directives that can turn the bad into better. Maybe even from better to best!

1. Never Quit! When things get tough, don’t stop doing the little things that made your marriage wonderful. Remember, long before a divorce is ever finalized, someone quit doing the right things.

2. Look for the gold in each other and don’t focus on the dirt. No one finds gold without going through some dirt and no one finds gold if they focus on the dirt.

3. Love from your heart and not only from the emotions. In the ‘worse’ times, you need to decide to love your mate even though you may not like them. Love is a decision. New emotions will follow.

4. Don’t hide things from each other. Read Psalms 32 to see how devastating this can be.

5. Make God and His desire your first priority. When He is first, things fall into place. Check out Matthew 6:33 and discover God’s promise to you.

Why not visit a church this weekend and expect a miracle? If God can do the miracle of turning water into wine (Mark 2) He can surely turn your ‘worse’ into ‘better’.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

If It's Broken, Fix It!

Pastor Tim Howard
February 7, 2009

There are many different kinds of hurts in life but a broken heart stemming from a broken relationship is among the most painful. Talk to a young man who has just been told by his girlfriend that she doesn’t want to date him any longer and you will hear the pain in his voice. Visit a mother of two toddlers who has just been told by her husband that he wants a divorce. You will quickly see the devastating effects of this soon to be broken relationship.

You and I live in a world of brokenness. Marriages are breaking up at an unprecedented pace. Broken families are everywhere and our society is experiencing long lasting ramifications as a result – much like the aftershocks of an earthquake.

Jesus came to mend broken relationships and because of His life and death we can now have peace with God and experience His grace each and every day. His grace extends to our relationships with each other as well. You might be in a situation right now where you can identify a broken relationship. Maybe it’s a brother, sister, co-worker or a former friend. In Matthew 5, Jesus tells us to stop procrastinating and reach out to that person for the purpose of reconciliation. If you follow His advice, reconciliation becomes a very real possibility. But if that first step isn’t taken, you may never experience the tremendous joy of seeing a broken relationship repaired.

If you are hesitant to initiate the healing process, maybe these guidelines will help you take that first step.

1. Go in humility. 1 Peter 5:5 says to clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because God will assist the humble but opposes the proud. If you go in humility, God goes with you and can prepare the way for a positive response.

2. Go to the person in private and meet face to face whenever possible. Making a phone call, sending a text message or an e-mail may seem easier but it will not produce the same results. Matthew 18 confirms the importance of this approach by saying: “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you've made a friend.”

3. Don’t focus on what they have done to you, but keep your comments focused on your part in the broken relationship. The process of reconciliation will often be aborted if you stop repenting and start blaming them.

4. Ask for their forgiveness and don’t be surprised if they ask for forgiveness as well.

5. Let your words be few. The more you talk, the more chance you have to sin. Check out Proverbs 10:19, When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.

6. Last but not least you need to leave the results in God’s hands. Romans 12:18 makes it clear that everyone does not want to be reconciled. If you follow His wisdom, however, you can rest assured that you will no longer a part of the problem but have offered a possible solution.

There are many churches in Kings County that would love to assist you with the ministry of reconciliation. Why not visit this weekend and let God begin to fix what is broken?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

First Things First

Pastor Tim Howard
January 10, 2009

Like many young children growing up on the east coast, I enjoyed learning and playing the game of baseball. When I hit the ball off that “T” at the ripe old age of 4 and ran directly to second base, however, I should have realized that pro ball was not going to be an option for me. The coaches, players and the people were all shouting the same thing. “You must go to first base first.” It’s a part of the game. It’s the way you play the game. It’s necessary if you are going to win the game. When you don’t go to first - FIRST, you are disqualified and lose.

What is true for the game of baseball is also true for your life. If you don’t put first things first, you will lose. No one wants to be a loser! No one makes plans to end up bankrupt and lose their business, reputation and possessions. Who marries someone with the desire to be divorced? Losing is not fun and losing is not what God intends for those who seek His wisdom. There is a way that leads to death and defeat but God’s way leads to life and victory. The teachings of Jesus help define our priorities and explain the importance of putting first things first. When you do this, you experience fruitfulness, fulfillment and success. If you don’t put first things first, you will be aligning yourself with the losing team.

Take note of what Jesus considered first things.

The First Commandment: Matthew 22:36-38 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”

To succeed in life you must make God the first one you turn to in life.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” To succeed in life you must make God’s business your first concern, even above your own.

Matthew 7:4-5 “How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” To succeed in life you must be willing to let God correct your life before you attempt to correct others.

Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” To succeed in life you must make sure your relationships are free from anger, bitterness, resentment, envy, coveting and any damaging attitude.

These “first things,” or core values, are a guiding rule for living successfully with others. They are the bottom line for a victorious spiritual life. God has designed you to be fruitful so I encourage you to put first things first in 2009.