Archive for March, 2011

March 31, 2011

A blast from the Past

by pastortimfowler

I don’t always have people fall in love with me after they meet me. Sure, that is hard for you to believe if you have ever met me, but sadly it is true. There are a lot of sick people out there.
Four years ago there was this person that was coming to my church and they liked me. (Wouldn’t it be a great time to stop on that positive note?) After a while he/she, (identity protected here), disagreed with me on a biblical issue and decided to leave the church. This happens no matter what church you go to because not everyone wants to hear the truth. Now I am talking about God’s word, not mine.
So I have not heard from this person in almost three years when all of a sudden I get an email from him/her. I won’t go into details about what was said, but basically I ruined everything and I suck.
Years ago, when I first felt the call to go into the ministry, I went to my pastor and asked for some advice. I asked him to give me a verse of scripture that he would say that every pastor should take to heart. So without hesitation he gave me this verse: Ezekiel 3:9 (GW) I will make you as hard as a diamond, harder than stone. Don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be terrified in their presence, even though they are rebellious people.”
Every time something like this happens I remember that verse and remember over and over how Jesus was persecuted for doing good. Although I am far from being Jesus, I do try my best to love people. Even if I don’t like you, I try to remember that God made us all very different for a reason and I don’t have to like you to love you.
That verse sounds a little tough, but often pastors are given tasks to say things that don’t sit well with others. Often the message that we preach is one that causes people to be challenged in the way they may be living and things that they may be doing.   And, because what we hear that convicts, it often causes us to get defensive, so, God will harden pastors to protect them.
It would be easy to get really hurt or offended by someone like this but I won’t fall into that trap. God never said that this would be a popularity contest and He never said that everyone would like you or agree with you. He only said, as much as possible, love people. Love covers a bunch of sin. Christians need to remember that we are not to be afraid of offending people. And like a parent, we can’t take what an upset child says too seriously, we can’t get to caught up in things that immature people say about us.
One of the things that I look forward to, is seeing this person face to face. I know that may sound weird, but I like to see people who are mad at me. When I do, I try to go speak to them as if nothing ever happened and smile as if they were my bestest friend. I might be apt to live out this scripture a bit; Romans 12:20 (GW) says, But, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. If you do this, you will make him feel guilty and ashamed.”
I just think that if someone is still mad after three years, they have the problem, not me. So please feel free to send me a blast from the past, you just might be a subject of my next blog.

March 30, 2011

Politics and Religion

by pastortimfowler

Politics and religion have always been difficult to talk about without someone getting mad. So in today’s blog I am probably going to make someone mad by talking about both of them.
I believe that God wants us to work for what we have. That does not mean that we should not take care of those who can’t provide for themselves, but I think it also means that people who are fully capable of working and won’t, should be left to suffer the consequences of their actions. In Paul’s 2nd letter to Thessalonica, chapter 3 verse 10 he said it this way; if someone doesn’t want to work they shouldn’t be allowed to eat.
It sounds harsh, but we are talking about moochers not those in need.
Some in politics today believe that if we level the playing field by taking from those who have a lot and giving to those who have less, that we can eliminate the poor in our country. I say that this is impossible. Why? Because Jesus said in John 12:8 that we will ALWAYS have the poor with us. By that He means those who are in need, not those who want a handout. You can’t politically eliminate the poor, you can only buy votes.
So what can we do? The church has been given the command to help those in need. It is not the government’s responsibility to help the needy, but it is the church’s. Every church should consider how this can be accomplished. It is really quite simple because God gave us the answer. It is based on the biblical principle of tithing and giving.
The tithe is 10% of your income. It is what every Christian is told to give to the Lord’s work. Other giving is done out of love and the necessity to help others if . If you don’t trust faith on this, then do the math.
The average income in America is $45,000 per year. 10% of that is $4500. The average church attendance in America is 170 people per church. If each person gave 10% it would equal. $765,000 per year or $14,711 per week. The average annual budget of churches in the US is $380,000…annually!
God’s plan will work if only God’s people will do His plan. We will always have the poor, but we don’t have the giving to take care of them.
No matter what side you are on politically, if you want to help those in need, give to the local church. If they aren’t using the money for what they should, give it to one that does and watch how soon the others fall in step.
If you are a Christian, trust God with your money like you trust Him with your salvation and watch others come to know Jesus in amazing numbers!

March 30, 2011

Plumbing worketh patience

by pastortimfowler

At about 10pm last night I get a call from my renter, who lives about an hour and a half from me, letting me know that there was water in the floor and they think it is from the water heater. So I rise bright and early and load up my tools and make the drive. About half way there I pass a gas station that had gas for $3.29 per gallon and thought that by the time I get back this way when I finish I will stop and take advantage of that. I did not stop going, because I had about a half tank and if I waited I could fill up and have close to a full tank for when I get home.
So I arrive and sure enough the old water heater is bad. I remove it and head to a home improvement store where I purchase everything I need to replace the old one with a new one. Did I mention that this was a mobile home? Do you know where water heaters are in mobile homes? They are in a closet, behind a panel. If you have ever lived in a mobile home you know that closets are small and usually full. This was true here.
I am 6’3″ and do not fit well in mobile home closets. And it is hard to lift water heaters in such a small space when you are that tall.
I get everything hooked up and ready to turn the water back on. I have installed many water heaters and have gotten pretty good at it. So I turn the water on and look in the closet to see a stream of water shooting up to the ceiling and it is coming from the braided connector that was recommended by the plumbing expert at the home improvement store. He did not know that it was a defective one, in his defense. So I turn off the water, drain and disconnect the braided connector and head back to the home improvement store to get a replacement.
Back in closet with my new connector I go and once it is replaced. I turn the water back on and look in the closet again. I noticed some water running down the side on the new water heater so I grabbed a towel and dried everything off from where the defective connector had leaked. Still there was water running down the side of the new water heater. Guess what? It has a leak. So I disconnected everything, drained the water, and loaded up the faulty water heater and went back to the home improvement store to get a replacement.
Because the home improvement store was 20 minutes away, and I had made a few extra trips, I was running out my gas. I kept thinking, I will be on empty when I get back to that station that has the cheap gas. It was also getting to be around 3:30pm and so the 20 minute drive turned into an hour drive because on the way home I got behind every school bus that I possibly could.
Finally back in the closet, I get the new water heater installed, turn on the water, flip the breaker and BOOM! the mobile home blew up. There was absolutely nothing left in the place where the mobile home once stood except the new water heater. Okay, I am kidding about the mobile home blowing up, but I was think it would be about par for the course if it did. Everything worked fine, except for my back.
So I load up my tools and headed for home. I made a stop into a place where I could have it my way because I skipped lunch. I usually eat lunch each day at home with a hot blond and rarely get it my way, but the view is worth it.
I am cruising up the highway watching my gas gauge get really close to empty but looking forward to paying about 15 cents per gallon less than back in my home-town. As I exit to the gas station, and pull up to the pump I noticed that the price was now $3.48 per gallon and I am on empty so a pumping I will go.
My only bright spot comes from pulling into my drive way, opening the door to be greeted by my dog who acted as if I had been gone for weeks. I turn the corner into the kitchen and there is a hot blond standing in the kitchen, very near where our water heater is, and the water heater is not leaking. In fact it is working fine, as I used almost every drop of that hot water in a long and much-needed shower.
Plumbing worketh patience.

March 28, 2011

Its a Miracle!

by pastortimfowler

I have been a pastor for close to 20 years now. For the last 10 years I have tried to keep up with many statistics such as average attendance, baptisms and people who are saved. Someone once told me that church was not about numbers, but I strongly disagree.
Some numbers are so important that God keeps up with them. He knows every soul that is His. He knows every act that you do in His name. He keeps score.
This past Sunday we were fortunate enough to see people be born again. This is a true miracle. In a day where churches are full of people looking for healing and financial blessings, (both are good), there is something that still thrills me about seeing a person realize that without Jesus Christ and His forgiveness, they are hopeless. In a world where at our fingertips we can learn anything we want, there is still that sense of desire to know God. People are still searching for hope and for meaning. That hope and meaning are only found in knowing God. And on Sunday mornings, I get to stand before people and tell them that God is real, His love is overwhelming, and help is a prayer away.
Consider the fact that I was never the “churchy” type and that at one time denied that there was a God, it’s a miracle that I get this privilege. But I guess God figures, who better to hear it from than someone who has overcome so much. My story is not so different from so many others. God having mercy, convicting the heart of its need of forgiveness and them allowing it all to be forgiven by the act of Jesus dying on a cross. Many have had this experience and God uses every one of them to share this miracle.
I remember the day that I first told someone about Jesus. They laughed because they remembered who I was. But God used that day to prepare me to tell another. Eventually I told someone who was needing to hear that God would and did forgive people who had messed up as bad as me. Then the miracle happened again, and another poor soul was birthed into the love of God.
I can look back through the years now and see that many others I have shared my story with are now doing the same. God’s love is not just adding to the miracles, but is now multiplying the miracles. It is like a pyramid scheme gone wild, in a good way. Please don’t take this as bragging, nothing would have happened had it not been that God had mercy on me and forgave me. It just blows me away that He loves me that much and I want to share it whenever I can.
God is holy; perfect and sinless. Mankind is not. Purity and impurity can not mix. So to be with God, something has to happen. God must take all impurity from us and protect us from it or we will never be able to be with Him. He does that by forgiving our sin and making us one with Him In Christ. Holy White Out, sort of. The blood of Christ from the cross covers up our sins and God sees purity. It’s a miracle!

March 25, 2011

OMG

by pastortimfowler

I just saw on the news that the slang and abbreviation OMG made the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. I can’t tell you how many times that I see this and for the longest time did not understand what it stood for. One day I got bold and asked someone whom I was chatting with what that meant when they replied OMG to something I said. What made it so funny is that the person that I was chatting with was proclaiming to be an atheist, so you can see my ROFL response back to being told it stood for Oh my God.
Have you ever thought about where that phrase came from? “Oh my God,” or “Oh God,” are common expressions used world-wide involuntarily at moments of recognition of an intense experience. Now it just seems to be a sarcastic response to something not liked.
I think it goes back to the very first time that humanity saw the power of God displayed. Can you imagine when Adam realized that Eve was naked? I am sure that was a time when OMG was used. What about when Noah brought skunks on the arc and they got scared by a lion?
I was reading about how God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and fire and brimstone began to fall on them. Lot was told that him and his family should flee and not look back, but his wife couldn’t resist and when she looked back she was turned into a pillar of salt. How much you want to bet that her lips were poised to say OMG!
God told Moses when he was getting the ten commandments that we should not take the Lord’s name in vain. Most of us are taught that what it means is not to say God d***, and I am sure that would qualify, but I think if we were to look a little closer we would see that OMG may fall in there too.
Vain means having no real value : idle, worthless. This is something that God is NOT. Yet daily we use His name for no real value. Sad, considering that Christians are supposed to tell the world of God’s power and might. Tell about how He loves us and conquered sin and death so that we could have forgiveness and eternal life. The Bible tells us that the name of Jesus is the only name by which we can be saved and yet when we mess up or get mad at someone it is His name that we blurt out.
God gave us specific instruction to use the name of Jesus in casting out demons, healing the sick, praying for lost souls, and praise and worship. Somehow OMG or hatefully saying Jesus Christ when we are mad at our kids doesn’t seem like the right way to speak such powerful names.
I remember as a young boy getting in a fight at school because someone was making fun of my dad’s name. Although I got suspended from school, I didn’t get in trouble with my dad. He told me that I could have tried a little harder to restrain myself, but defending dad’s name was something that he couldn’t get mad at.
I really want to try to defend the name of my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I wish Oxford would have thought twice about this and not put OMG in the dictionary.
But let me finish with this. God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son (Jesus) and whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. OH MY GOD!!!

March 24, 2011

Caught in the Act

by pastortimfowler

One of my favorite parts of the Bible is John 8:1-11, the woman caught in the act of adultery. Today I was reading it again and again I was blown away. In case you have never read it I will try to sum it up for you.
Jesus was teaching a bunch of people in the temple, (church for us). There were these guys called Pharisees. These were very religious men who knew the Bible, at that time, the Old Testament, by memory. They could quote it without even missing a punctuation mark.
Let me pause here to say that I wish I knew the Bible that well. I also wish that everyone I knew that claimed to be Christians would strive to know the Bible that well. Even if we never got it all memorized, we would have to be better off for knowing the Word of God better.
So these guys brought a woman to Jesus and she had been caught having sex with a man that was not her husband. The Old Testament law required that this woman be stoned to death for this act and the Pharisees were asking Jesus what He was going to do about it.
If that seems extreme, try to remember that the Bible is very clear that the price of sin is death and the Old Testament law was so that the Jews saw that price just as much as they saw the miracles of God when they lived right. This is another teaching for another time though.
Jesus is the Righteous Judge and like any judge has the right to pass any sentence up to the maximum under the law. So here is what He did. He wrote something in the dirt with His finger. The Bible does not say what He wrote but I have a theory. There is only one other place in the Bible that God writes anything with His finger. In Daniel 5:22-28, the finger of writes, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN, which means, counted, counted, weighed and divided. The purpose was to show an unholy people that God knew everyone of them and that everyone of them were found unholy and that they would become a divided or broken people for their sinfulness.
The Pharisees who brought this woman to Jesus would immediately know this writing and because they were a sinful bunch, they were left with no choice but to lay down their stones when Jesus said, Let you who have no sin throw the first stone at her.
Now this does not excuse the woman. She was in front of the Judge, guilty as charged. But the Judge can do something that is well within His jurisdiction. He can show mercy. So Jesus tells the woman, I don’t condemn you, go sin no more.
Are we like the Pharisees? Are we learning God’s word so we can find fault in others? Think about this…What were these guys doing to have caught her in the very act? Were they looking through windows, following her around until they found something wrong? Then when they caught her, I bet they didn’t let her get dressed and fix her hair before they took her to Jesus, all the while they were dressed in their finest holy attire, looking like they were special.
Jesus never asked us to look good, but rather to do good. He never asked us to catch wrong doers, but to stop doing wrong. He asked us to love even those who were enemies and pray for them and show the same compassion and mercy that He did.
He told her that she was sinning, nothing she didn’t know already. He told her that she was not condemned because He could forgive her sins. Then He told her to stop having this affair, sin no more.
This is how we should handle things. Like Jesus. If we are seriously wanting to see someone sin, all we need to do is watch ourselves and we too will be caught in the act.

March 23, 2011

How much is it worth?

by pastortimfowler

Over the last few weeks I have spent about $750 getting my motorcycle ready for this riding season. With the price of gas steadily rising, I figure that I will save that much over the summer, especially if it gets any higher. I had someone ask me if I would really save that much and I was beginning wonder myself. So my question is, how much is it worth?
First of all there was an electrical problem that had been temporarily fixed last year by disconnecting some emergency cut off switches. These have nothing to do with gas but everything to do with safety and my life if worth more than the $200 that fixed that problem. Then there was a problem with the carburetor that was causing it to run really rough. That was costing me gas and the danger of getting stranded somewhere which really tests my nerves and you can’t put a price on sanity, so I think that there was a good use of $200 spent on that one. I needed a new speedometer cable because the old one had begun to make some weird noises. If that were to break I could get a ticket for speeding costing me hundreds in fines and increased insurance costs. Another well spent $25 dollars. My rear shocks were bad causing uneven tire wear and a rough ride. I enjoy riding and if the ride is rough I lose enjoyment and what is the price of that? Tires are very expensive as you will see next, so saving on wear and tear is worth the $25 spent on shocks and, these were replaced for much less than what brand new ones would have been at nearly $800. I had to replace my rear tire, $180 for tire and mounting. Because there are only two tires between me and the road, it only makes sense to have good ones. Worth it. Then there was the brakes that needed replacing. As much as I like riding, I like stopping even better, especially when everyone in front of me is stopped. $150 was worth it.
So I figured that if I rode out 35 tanks of gas on my motorcycle this season instead of truck, I will make back every dollar spent on these repairs. Add to the fact that I like riding the Holy Kaw and there is cost for upkeep in most everything we do, I think it was worth it.
Wouldn’t it be cool if we kept such good accounts of how much our salvation is worth and what it cost to obtain it? Imagine if we had to justify the time that we went to church, shared our faith, services that we did for others and even our money that we give to the church and others in the name of our salvation. Would you be able to say it is worth it? Did you get a good deal? Is it valuable enough to do the things that we know will make us better, stronger, and yes, even safer? Here is a real important question. Are we treating our salvation as if we were saving gas, or are we treating it as if we enjoy it and look for reasons to put into action all that we know?
Considering the fact that salvation cost Jesus Christ total humiliation and death on the cross, and our only cost is humbling ourselves enough to ask for forgiveness, can we justify the life we live when someone asks us, How much is it worth?
I could have let most of the things I mentioned go for a bit longer, but my motorcycle would not be everything I wanted it to be. It was worth everything I did to get the most out of it.
Our lives as Christians are far more valuable than motorcycles. If our lives are not what they should be, it may cost someone else to question if it is worth it too. Let’s count the cost, defend our faith, and enjoy the ride. It is worth it!

March 22, 2011

Do we get it?

by pastortimfowler

Jesus often told people “You just don’t get it”. That is a loose translation of what He really said. I would have to impress you with my knowledge of Greek and Aramaic to give you the perfect translation and then we wouldn’t have the benefit of my translation of things and I would have to think of something else to blog about. Anyway, when Jesus would say that, he was often talking about people who tried to make God’s teachings harder to understand than they needed to.
God is not the type to beat around the bush, unless it’s the bush that is burning…get it? Burning bush? When he created man He said quite plainly, “Don’t eat from that tree.” He didn’t mean if it looked good or seemed good, He simply meant DON’T.
He told Noah to build an arc because he was going to flood the world and He did. Noah was smart enough to build the size arc that God said to and that is a good thing or else he and his family would have been wiped out. Noah got it. He told Moses to strike a rock one time and water would come out for the people to drink. God meant one time because he says what He means. Moses got mad at the people and because they didn’t get it, and he hit the rock more than once and God punished Moses for not listening. Moses didn’t get it.
God told Joshua to march around the city of Jericho and then the wall would fall down. Joshua got his men together and did what God said, just as he said it and guess what? The walls fell. Joshua got it.
Over and over there are examples of God speaking in plain language and people reaping the rewards of obedience or the consequences of disobedience. The Old Testament is full of great and not so great acts of faith and that is what Jesus was up against while He walked the earth. The Religious leaders of His day were experts in quoting what the Old Testament said. They could quote the Bible better than anyone of their day and yet over and over Jesus told them, “You just don’t get it”. In fact, the majority of the Jewish people did not get it. They had been told for thousands of years that Jesus was coming, and now He stood before them and yet few had sense enough to know who He was. They didn’t get it.
So Jesus took a few folks that wanted to get it and began teaching them what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. He challenged them to look at greatness as one who served rather than one who was being served. He told them that laying down their lives for a friend was the greatest act of love and they did not get it, at least right then.
After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, He told the disciples to go everywhere and tell people the good news that forgiveness was available and eternal life was real. It wasn’t until then that those guys got it.
Jesus promised great rewards for those who get it. I just wonder if He was to come into our churches on Sunday if He would think that we get it. I wonder if He was to meet us out at our jobs or schools or homes during the week if He would have to say to us, “You just don’t get it.”
One thing that I do get is that God don’t play around when it comes to what He tells us to do. I get it when He says that we are to love others but where I struggle is that He said to love them like I love myself. I really love me and I will have to really try harder if I am going to “get it”. I get it when He says to love my wife, but I struggle to love her like He loves the church. I will have to try harder to “get it.” I get it when He said that He will give us life that never ends, but I will have to try harder to “get it” when my life is inconvenienced and I get frustrated at those who I think don’t get it. Why? Because the whole purpose of His life was to give it as a sacrifice for my sins so that when it comes to eternal life, I get it.
The last thing we need to hear from Jesus when we stand before Him and he asks us if we told others about Him and His love is , “you just don’t get it”.
It is not a suggestion to share Jesus with others, it is what God tells us to do. Get it?

March 21, 2011

Killer Bees

by pastortimfowler

One of my favorite things to do is get outside and look at what creation puts in front of me. Blogging outside helps my mind to flow with brilliance and often my brain will nearly burst into flames from the streams of brightness. You know what I’m talking about.
Today I am sitting outside looking at all the things that I agree with God about; flowers, green grass, cool breezes, and ants. I do wish that God would have got my input on bees, especially killer bees.
There are only 2 living things that God created that I am afraid of, horses and bees. Horses are easy to deal with because they are large and rarely do they fly through the window of my truck. Bees on the other hand will just appear out of nowhere. Sometimes they get through windows that have never been opened and they always seem to find me.
So I am looking up at the tree that is in our front yard. It is one of those that produce the helicopter looking whirly things. Right now it has a bunch of tassels hanging off it and they conveniently color my truck yellow every night while it is parked. So what do you think is flying around my tree right now? That’s right. Killer bees. Thousands of killer bees are buzzing around my tree and I am waiting on them to decide which of my movements they don’t like so that they give the signal and swarm to cover me in painful stings, then carry me away to their nests to feed me to their children.
Horses would never do that. They just like to bite me and lean against trees while I try to ride them.
My neighbor, a crazy old man, tried to tell me that they were not killer bees but rather honey bees and that this happens every year during Spring. He says they won’t swarm and rarely sting when they are in the tree so high up. He says that I am paranoid and that bees can sense fear in people and that is what usually cause them to become curious and occasionally sting. Right…honey bees.
I see them looking at me with their multi-faceted eyes. As I was walking in from my truck earlier when one of them swept down and buzzed my head, but I didn’t panic because I knew that I had this blog to get out and that if I stayed calm and ran as fast as I could that I could get into the house before they sounded the attack signal.
I let my dogs out first before I came out to blog. I figured if someone had to die and be carried off to be fed to baby bees it could be one of them.
So far so good. We are all still here. But I do wish God would have gotten my opinion on horses and killer bees first.

March 20, 2011

Spaghetti at the Japanese Steakhouse

by pastortimfowler

My son and daughter wanted to take me with them to a Japanese steakhouse for lunch after church. With us were 4 kids under the age of 6. I love my grandkids and love to listen to them talk about things that are interesting to them. It is funny how little things fascinate them and the things that an adult finds interesting just has no appeal to kids.
The first thing that was funny to them was when the cook poured water on the grill and the steam rose up to the vent. Then he prepared to light the oil on fire and that did nothing for the kids. Next he started cooking the fried rice by cracking an egg with the spatula and they were amazed that he was cooking eggs, not the tricks he did to crack the eggs.
Next was the lo mien noodles. All he did was lay a hand-full on the grill, nothing else. Then he started cutting shrimp and chicken and steak while flipping the knife and fork and banging the salt and pepper shakers and flipping them. I was amazed that he didn’t burn himself and the kids were all fascinated that he was cooking spaghetti.
Japanese steakhouses are not the best place in the world to take kids. They do not sell cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets or french fries. They sell rice and stirfry veggies and real meats like chicken and steak. The soup has green and brown things floating in it and it is loud. Surprisingly the loudness bothered the kids more than the adults. But one thing that they did like and I would have never though about it was spaghetti at the Japanese steakhouse.

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