Archive for ‘Salvation’

October 2, 2012

What It Means To Be Called

by pastortimfowler

I have been blessed to be the pastor of my church for 10 years now. In those ten years I have seen a lot of stuff that many might take for granted, but I am still amazed at. Like when people who are one day going to hell if they die and in the very moment that they ask God to forgive them they change their direction toward going to heaven. The church is a place where people from every walk of life should be able to come and find love and forgiveness. God loves people so much that He let His Son Jesus die on a cross as payment for our sin. Once a person accepts this forgiveness, God begins a process of growing us into people who serve others. He requires His people to take a personal role in developing new believers, called discipleship, and often calls men and women to become more than just believers, to become ministers of the gospel. In our church lately we have had several men who have said that they feel called to this ministry; wow!. It is the call that I answered almost 20 years ago and feel very privileged to have done so.
So what does it mean to be called? Everyone is being called to answer God’s call of salvation. Few are called to the ministry in an official capacity and that is what I am talking about. A pastor, evangelist, missionary, youth or children’s pastor all are things that come with a specific calling. The Bible gives some specific instructions in the books of 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus for those who are called. It tells us things like we should not be drunks, we should manage money well, and we should have our family in order. Sadly, many people don’t care about those things and they leave themselves open for criticism and corruption and Satanic attacks. But one of the main things that the Bible teaches about this call is that it is a call to be a servant and that few will be called, but those who are called are called for life.
It was Jesus who said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. God made salvation very easy to obtain but the call into the ministry unique. Way too often men answer the call to ministry with an idea of a position of authority. Perhaps they should think about Jesus washing feet, the job of the lowest ranking servant. Perhaps they should remember that Jesus said that the greatest among us will be the servant.
Titles can be worn by anybody. But they can only be exemplified by those who live out what that title requires. Pastor is a title that has its roots in being a shepherd. Shepherds were not highly thought of in society and rarely told people what to do. Instead they put their lives on the line for some pretty simple animals who needed protection. They have the position of a leader but the responsibility of a servant. Leading as a shepherd means having sheep follow, not telling them where to go and what to do.
Those who are called into ministry must learn to be humble. Humility is rarely a normal human quality. We are taught early and often to look out for number one and that we deserve the best. Jesus was the ultimate minister. He humbled himself even to the point of dying on a cross for those who hated Him. He healed sick, fed the poor, and raised the dead and yet never took the credit for doing great things. His main focus was saving the souls of a fallen mankind who cannot save themselves.
When you are called into the ministry it means that you get serious about becoming not only a teacher, but a student. Although God equips those that He calls, He expects us to submit ourselves to the teaching of those who have gone before us. Sometimes that means submitting to someone without a title or someone who’s personality clashes with our own. Sometimes it means serving in a position that no one else wants to do, not even yourself. Sometimes you have to do it for longer than you want to and remember that you have been called to serve God and man even if man doesn’t give the recognition that you want.
But ultimately being called into the ministry means that God knows that you can do what He has called you to do. What He calls you to do should be the highest priority and pleasing Him the goal. Sometimes the rewards are very obvious, but often they will only be recognized when we get to heaven. But the call to ministry is a life long calling that is worth every second that you serve. Romans 11:29- God never changes his mind when he gives gifts or when he calls someone. This means when you want to quit, you don’t. It means when you  get tired, you dig deeper for strength. It means when you don’t see rewards for your efforts that you remember where your rewards are stored, in heaven, and you keep serving in faith.
I have been blessed in that I have been able to make it through some tough times since I have been called. I have seen many souls saved and lives changed and now I am seeing others called. I would love to take credit for some of these things, but I must always keep in mind that if I don’t do what God calls me to do, there are others who will. I am not needed by God, but I am wanted by Him. He loves me; first enough to save me, and secondly enough to call me into this crazy life of ministry. What it means to be called into the ministry is really quite simple. It means that God is God and we have surrendered to Him no matter the cost.

August 30, 2012

One Step Ahead

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/252574052/

6am is very early for a lot of people. I am one of those. There was a time when I was up and about by 5:30am every morning, but with kids growing up and moving out and jobs changing to not require it, I have taken a liking to sleeping a little later. But this week I started meeting with a group of guys from the church at 6am for ministry training and it was really weird to be out that early. We wanted to meet at IHOP so that we could relax and let the food and drink come to us, but it doesn’t open until 7am. In fact, there is not a restaurant in this town other than fast food that opens that early, so I am not the only one who doesn’t want to get up that early.
Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron,so one person sharpens the wits of another. This is the verse I shared with the guys today, at 6am. It is important in life to have someone who can help you achieve your goals and follow God’s calling. It doesn’t matter if you are called to do a specific ministry or just want a closer relationship with God, others who have a little more experience can and should help. It is easy to become a Christian. All it takes is admitting you are a sinner in need of forgiveness from God and asking Him to forgive you because you believe that Jesus paid your sin debt. It is by grace that we are saved through faith. After that, the hard part begins. Growing to be the best Christian that you can be. Jesus never left the ones that He called alone to figure things out for themselves. He invested His time and His love into their lives. He showed them by example how to live a life that is pleasing to God and taught them about forgiveness when they failed.
Far too often Christians stagnate and become of very little influence to those around them. Not because they don’t want too, but because they don’t know how too. We try to be loners in our faith and self-taught followers of Christ. But like a self-taught plumber, self-taught Christians often don’t attempt much real work for fear of causing a bigger mess than that which already exists. This should not be the case.
Reading the Bible is an important part of being a Christian. But, like learning something such as plumbing, what you read can often confuse you more because some things need someone to explain terminology and procedures. And then there are those things that happen that don’t seem to fit the directions that you just read. I was trying to install a new sink the other day and the fittings in my house were different from what I had in the instructions that came with the sink. I tried several times to figure it out on my own, but every time I did, water kept flowing out of the pipes onto the floor and I am pretty sure that is not normal. So I went to the local home improvement store with parts in hand and asked for help. This guy was a plumber who had done this many times before and showed me how to make things right. It wasn’t as hard as I thought, but without his help, I would have never gotten it and chances are, I would have never tried this again. Now I believe that I could do it right and even help someone else who might be attempting this for the first time.
So I am trying to help some guys who want to go further in ministry. They in turn are helping others who are trying to grow in their Christian walk and relationship, and hopefully, one day those who they are helping will be meeting with me at 6am. Meanwhile, I encourage you to see about finding someone to help you grow to a better relationship with God. Perhaps you need encouragement to read your Bible more. Perhaps you need to serve in another capacity at your church and you need someone to help you take that step. Perhaps you just need to strengthen your faith in the simple fact that God has forgiven you or maybe you need to take that important step of trusting God for forgiveness and salvation. If so, and no matter where you need the help, there is someone who can and will help you. All you need to do is ask. But don’t think that you can do it all alone; iron sharpens iron.
A wise man once told me that you only need to be one step ahead to lead. Lead others to help them lead others. If you don’t know where to go, ask for directions. But please, do what it takes to find your way to God and continue growing closer to Him. He is waiting to meet you and desires a relationship with you.

April 11, 2012

What Does That Word Mean?

by pastortimfowler

I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to people using words that don’t mean what they think it does or perhaps they have no clue what they mean but they are trying to sound smart. I had a professor one time use the word flabbergasted as he was trying to tell us how good it would feel to be healed completely after you met Jesus. I thought the word meant something negative but it was in fact proper use of it because it means to be overcome with astonishment.
There are lots of words that people use because they hear them on TV or in a song or in a conversation. The word surreal is one that I hear a lot and I don’t think it is always used properly. I hear it in about every interview on the news when something happens that people think is special. It may be close, but not what the intent of the word is supposed to be. I have a friend who got in the habit of using the word phenomenal. Everything that was better than normal was phenomenal, but if that was so, then nothing would really be phenomenal.
Lately there is a word used by our president that bothers me. It is not a hard word, but I don’t think he is using it correctly; fair. The word fair means free from bias and so how can you tax someone more than others for any reason and call it fair? Usually it is used when talking about the rich not paying their fair share. But how can anything be fair if there is bias based on income? What about those of us who don’t have minor children? We pay more in taxes than someone who make the same wages who has minor children. Is that fair? And my biggest question of all is who elected anyone for the purpose of telling me how much of my money I need to give them to spend on fairness?
If you want to be fair, perhaps we should use a standard percentage for everyone to pay no matter how much they earn. 20%, and that is not the amount I am suggesting, would be the same percentage for someone who make $10,000 per year or $10,000,000 per year. That would be fair. And forget about deductions for children or houses or anything else, just pay your percentage and it will be fair.
There are very few things in this world that are fair. I find fairness in the Bible. God says that all believers should give 10% of their income. No matter if that is a penny or millions of dollars, 10% is the standard and it is fair. It teaches that everyone is a sinner in need of forgiveness. Everyone will have to either die for their sins or accept Jesus’ death for their sins. That is fair. Anyone can be forgiven, no matter the sin or amount of sins and the fair thing that God requires is that everyone ask to be forgiven believing that Jesus died for our sins. God has no favorites and it is not His will that even one soul perish, but that all should come to know His great love and forgiveness. That is surreal. That is flabbergasting. It is phenomenal. It is fair.

March 7, 2012

Billionaires

by pastortimfowler

I read today that there are now 1226 in the world. It pains me to report that I am not on that list. I remember when Mr and Mrs. Howell were considered extravagantly rich. I guess being stranded on a deserted island with only 5 other people makes a millionaire seem really rich. I miss Gilligan’s Island. This same report said that the richest of these billionaires can lose as much as 11 billion in one day. I wish they would lose a billion my way.
I would be lying if I said that I would not want to be rich. Being rich offers a lot of benefits. It lets you eat the food you want to eat. It lets you vacation in better hotels and locations. It allows you to pay your mortgage and power bill while filling your gas tank all on the same day. Being rich can even allow you to get season tickets to see your favorite team and not have to park a mile down the road where it only costs $20. If I were rich I would park in the $50 parking just because I could.
But I am not jealous of those super rich. I have been blessed with more than I ever deserve. First, I have a beautiful family. My wife and I have been happily married for over 30 years. Money had little to do with it. We have three grown children who all have children of their own. We have a home that we can afford and automobiles that will get us to the jobs that we have. We have a church family that loves us and loves other people. We have friends who like us because of who we are and could care less how much money we have; thankfully. We are in relatively good health and don’t have too many enemies. Most of all, we know Jesus Christ personally as our Lord and Savior.
Being rich is not the way to happiness. God wants to give us happiness and have it not depend on how much money we can make. Jesus says that He wants us to have the joy that He has and to look to Him for our blessings. We are told that the things we have on this earth like money and houses and cars will all fade away. But things like family and friends are eternal when they are built on faith in Him.
No, I did not get my name on the list of those 1226 billionaires in the world, but I do have my name written in the Lamb’s book of life. Yep, I am rich beyond measure!

February 28, 2012

A Cruel God

by pastortimfowler

Revelation 21:4He (God) will wipe every tear from their eyes. There won’t be any more death. There won’t be any grief, crying, or pain, because the first things have disappeared.”
Is God cruel? After all, the Bible says that he killed many innocent animals and in many cases people, including women and children. That goes against even His own commandment to not kill.
Kill comes from the Hebrew word rāṣaḥ-a primitive root; kill (a human being), especially to murder :- put to death, kill, (man-) slay (-er), murder (-er). As you can see it does not have anything to do with animals. It has to do with taking the life of another human without cause.
I want to share a few thoughts in light of the verse from Revelation at the top.
Today, some people think that this life is the one and only. They believe that the only thing that matters is what happens now. Their reasoning of morality is based on feelings, mainly their own. If something makes them feel bad, then it is wrong, if it makes them feel good, then it is right. Here’s the problem with that thinking. Who’s to say my feelings, if different from yours are right or wrong? If I think that it is okay to have sex with little children, who are you to tell me I am wrong. Sure, that is an extreme. So what about if I want to smoke and feel like it is alright? Or what if I want to cheat on my wife and feel it is alright? If humans are the ones who determine what is right or wrong, which humans have the authority to tell me what that is?
As a Christian, I believe that all of mankind is flawed and we have only the morality of God be judged by. The problem with that for most is that God’s morals don’t change with my or your feelings. It does not matter if I feel it is okay to have sex with a child, it is wrong in God’s morality therefore it is wrong in mine. God’s law is the basis for most human laws on earth and have been for as long as we have been here. God is moral and good and loving, not cruel.

Don’t confuse love and good and moral with free from consequences. God has said from the beginning of time that sin brings on death, physical and spiritual. Spiritual death is for those who are not reconciled with God at the time of their physical death. Physical death is the result of sin being confined to the flesh. God’s plan from creation was for us to live with Him eternally. Our sin separates us from Him and God provided a substitute for us in death through Jesus Christ so that sin could die with the flesh and the spirit could be redeemed for eternity. Physical death begins eternal existence.
Now this is a blog, not a theological paper, so I am stating biblical doctrine that I don’t have room to elaborate on in a blog. But the point of this blog is that we focus on this life and that we should remember that there is something that happens after we die.Either eternal life or eternal death.

God does not want anyone to end up in hell. He made salvation easy and accessible to all. I believe the Bible teaches that some go to heaven even if they did not go through the church view of salvation as in the confess and pray for forgiveness. Mainly what I am talking about is children and those who can’t understand right and wrong. Then there are those who have never heard about God from those who believe. Romans 1:20 From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse. I believe this says that someone can look at creation and never hear about God, but make a logical assumption that something greater than them made it all and believe, that God is so loving and merciful that He will accept them in Heaven. Gods (gods) are not something that are new. Human societies have always believed in supernatural beings. They just want the ones who let them make the rules instead of a True Living God that makes the rules
So if innocent children and those who have no teaching of God die, like in a worldwide flood or a war, and they go to heaven and heaven is what God say it is, isn’t that good. Is it better to live in this world with death and pain and sickness or live forever where there is none of that? God even promises a new heaven and a new earth where animals will not even kill each other. I don’t know if animals have eternal souls, I have my opinion, but I do know that God has always cared for even a bird that dies. Matthew 10:29 Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s permission.
A cruel God? I don’t think so.

February 23, 2012

Work It Out

by pastortimfowler

I always hate blogging about stuff where I have to talk about what I am doing, but sometimes I can’t help it. My wife, whom I love dearly, was given a diet for a thyroid condition and it is really good for her. One of the things it does is keep your weight in check, and if you need to lose some pounds it does that well and quickly. The only problem is that it requires her and I to be on two different menus, and that gets expensive and not practical all the time. After talking about it and me encouraging her to get back on it because of the health benefits, I told her to make it easier I would eat the same stuff too. So for the last month we have been faithful to follow this thing and I have lost 12 pounds already. She has lost about the same, but I did not think she needed it cause she is so fine, but I guess everyone if given the option can be happy with dropping a few pounds.
Our church tries to provide a variety of activities for the members and guests, including exercise programs. The latest to start was P90X for the men. Because I was losing this weight, I thought that it would be a good time to start exercising again. For many years I was a gym rat. I even went through the training to become a personal trainer at one time. I love to workout and enjoy the sweat, but for the last five years I have had chronic back pain that limits my ability to exercise like I want too. But I am giving this a try.
P90X is an advanced workout routine for freaks. If you have never seen it advertised you should Google it and check out this torture. I am not a wimp and even though my back limits me, I am not in bad shape. Not in good shape, but I can hang in there with most people. Considering the fact that I am 50 now, I think I am doing okay with it. My only problem is that I can’t feel my arms from the workout 2 days ago and my legs are hurting from last nights workout. There are a handful of us trying to do this, a couple of youth and a couple of younger adults. I am trying not to hate the guy who started this, but my body says that I need to.
I know that if I stick with it I will overcome the soreness and my desire to hate the guy who started it. I know that I will increase my stamina and my muscle tone. But sticking with it hurts. I don’t know if you are aware of this or not, but I am allergic to pain. It makes me hurt and walk funny.
As I was thinking about this I realized how similar Christianity is to a good diet and exercise. The Bible tells us to exercise our faith and to walk by faith. The problem is that most people are lazy and would rather cut back on eating than exercise. Starving yourself physically will lose weight but you only become weaker. Same is true with our faith. Walking by faith and exercising our faith often hurts. At best it is uncomfortable and takes dedication. Like I want to hate the guy who started the P90X, many want to hate the preacher who tells them to do what the Bible says instead of sitting around doing nothing. But I know that in a few weeks I will thank him for this; maybe.
Most of why we do or don’t do things is because we don’t have a change of heart and change of mind. That desire to do what is right is often overridden by the easiness of doing nothing. This diet that we started is a healthier diet than my burger and fries diet that I love. But it too means changing my heart and mind. Sure I could have bought bigger clothes, but I can’t buy another body. We can’t change the fact that God has one way of salvation and once we are saved He desires the best for us. He knows that a steady diet of His word mixed with exercising our faith makes us strong and less vulnerable to spiritual attacks. Healthy Christians are far more likely to get the praise of God when we all stand before him. Sure He will give us a robe that fits us, but I want to look good in mine, not cover up an out of shape faith that I never did anything with.
We can work out and eat better to change our physical health. We can eat better spiritually, but in the end, it is better if we get our faith in shape and work it out too. Change your heart and mind and eat the good stuff and exercise what God gives you.

December 16, 2011

It’s In Us

by pastortimfowler

Last night about midnight I was trying to get my solid white, except for a brown eye patch, Jack Russel to come in and quit barking before the neighbors called the police on us. For about 20 minutes she had been barking continually. Finally I slipped my shoes on and went out to get her only find her in a fight with a very large possum. My dog is every bit if 13 pounds, but in her mind she is 130 pounds. The possum was at least 15-20 pounds and looked like it was doing well in the fight until they ran into the sandbox that has been converted to a mud-wrestling pit. It didn’t take long before the possum was not playing possum and I picked up my now solid brown Jack Russel and went in to give her a bath.
Over the years, we have been kept safe from all sorts of wild animals like squirrels, rabbits, mice, and possums. For the most part they are left outside and I dispose of them, but occasionally they get brought in through the doggie door and I find them via smell. That is always fun, but rare.
My wife gets very frustrated with her dog because she wanted a little froo froo dog and she can’t accept the fact that this one is a natural-born killer. As I was having lunch with her today, I was re-telling the story of how I was up bathing her dog at midnight while she was sleeping and she asked me, “why does she have to kill every rodent that comes in our yard?” To which I responded, “it is bred into her”. For those who don’t know, the Terrier breed was specifically bred to hunt rodents. They can’t help themselves no matter how you try to raise them, it is in their blood.
I believe that humans are like this in many ways. We are born to sin. No matter how well we are raised, we sin at early ages and continue our whole lives; we can’t help it. No one taught us to lie, yet we quickly deny our involvement with another sibling who has just gotten in trouble. As babies we learn that crying will get mommy to come pick us up. So what was meant to be a way of communicating pain, fear, or hunger, becomes a way of getting what we want. We grow up to convince ourselves that there is a right way of lying and deny that the truth is the best thing to handle a situation.
There is another thing that I believe humans are born with that is often covered deep with sin and humanistic teachings and that, is a desire to know God. God created humans with this in hopes that one day we would seek the truth and see that it is Him that has the answer to the meaning of life. In fact, it is God who is the author and finisher of life and until we get to know Him, life is a continual search for a purpose that we can’t fulfill on our own.
God has been the heart’s desire of every human ever born. The Greeks and Romans created gods for every reason a man could think of. They built statues and worshiped them as if they were alive but never found satisfaction because they were not real. The native Americans had gods of nature and animals but were not satisfied because the life that these gods had were taken by the humans that worshiped them. And from the beginning of civilization, man has claimed to be his own god more often than not. Believing that we are the saviors our selves, only to be let down by our own frailty. No god created by man will every satisfy what the one true God put in us and that is a desire to know the truth and He is that truth.
This time of year, Christmas, the whole world hears of a Savior that was born some 2000 years ago. Something in us tells us that this is a special time of year. A time of peace and hope and giving. A time of family and friends and brotherly love. A time of trying to deny the truth and substitute the man-made meaning of a God-given Love. So many times we hear tragic stories of brokenness and loneliness because what we desire is a relationship. This relationship can never be filled with people or things but rather the love of the meaning of it all, Jesus. For unto us a child was born, Jesus, and He will save the people from their sins. He was given because of God’s great love and His desire to know us intimately.
Like my dog, who can’t help but chase rodents, humans can’t help but chase God. Why not turn to the true God and forget about the lies that lead us in the wrong direction? Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ who died a sacrificial death for all who will accept it as payment for our sin. And whoever will call on Him will be saved and given eternal life. A life of meaning, purpose and hope. A life of love and a relationship with the God of love. It’s in us.

November 28, 2011

Expect Versus Demand

by pastortimfowler

Luke 12:48 But the servant who didn’t know what his master wanted and did things for which he deserved punishment will receive a light beating. A lot will be expected from everyone who has been given a lot. More will be demanded from everyone who has been entrusted with a lot.
This verse comes from the teaching of Jesus about an evil servant and a faithful caretaker. It teaches that there are degrees of punishment and reward as well as degrees of responsibility. I want to focus of the last half of the verse that has been italicized.
Yesterday was an awesome day for me. I celebrated my 50th birthday and the highlight, other than spending the day with my wife, was preaching that morning. I love to preach and on those rare years that my birthday falls on a Sunday I had much rather preach than take the day off. This was no different and as always it was special. I usually give my testimony and this was no different and at the end of it when the invitation was given, 3 people accepted Jesus and I now share my birthday with the day that they were born, again.
Being 50 is not much different from being 49. I am sure that will change as the year goes by. I hear that 50 is the new 27, so that is exciting. But 50 does bring a time of reflection or at least it did with me. I sat up Saturday night waiting on midnight to roll around and then I spent some time looking back at what I had done with my life. I realized that I had wasted far too much of it on things that did not matter. So I thought about the things that do matter and found them to be lacking and decided to see if I could change that in the next 50 years. So far, I have done a great job of keeping the things that matter outweighing the things that don’t.
One of the reasons that we don’t do the important things in life is because they matter to other people and there is a huge level of accountability involved. That is what the last half of the verse above says. But notice that even the last half of the verse can be broken into 2 statements. Lets look at them for a minute.
A lot will be expected from everyone who has been given a lot. I believe that there is something that God puts into all of us that says that we should be a compassionate people. I also believe that most people know that there is a God who is responsible for everything that we have. After all, only a fool says in his heart. “there is no God”. I also believe that God has an expectancy of those whom he created to be responsible with the things they have. If you have a lot, you have a lot expected of you. I believe those who have a lot will be judged more harshly than those who do not. I think that there is that teaching in this story where this verse comes from. I believe that this is talking to people who do not have a relationship with God of their Father.
The second half, More will be demanded from everyone who has been entrusted with a lot, I believe he is talking to those who know Jesus as Savior and God as Father. Here is why. It uses the word entrusted verses the word given. I did a study on these two words and found that given, as used here, is most commonly used when speaking of giving servants their work load. The word entrust is most commonly used when giving an inheritance or a trust to a family member. God therefore entrusts those who are His children with a task far more important that those who are merely slaves. The good name of the family is at stake and that is why more will be demanded of us.
Now here is the difference in two more words. Expect versus demand. Expecting comes with an uncertainty of accomplishment. Demands come with a certainty of accomplishment. If you have high expectations of a new college graduate quarterback to become a great pro quarterback and he fails, he didn’t live up to expectations. If he makes the team and is made the starting quarterback, the team then demands his continued best.
In that context, you can think of someone blessed with much but not knowing God as Father as being expected to do what is right, but those who know God as Father, are demanded to use what they have been entrusted with to protect the good name of the Lord.
I want to spend my next 50 years meeting the demands of what I have been entrusted with; The good news that Jesus loves and saves those who are lost.

October 3, 2011

Could It Get Better?

by pastortimfowler

Incredible would be the best word I could use to describe this past weekend. Our church had its annual lady’s retreat and about 30 of our ladies spent the weekend in Tybee Island, Ga. From the pictures I saw on Facebook and the short conversations that I had with my wife, they had a great time and I am sure once I hear the details it will only get better.
Of course when I talk about 30 women being away for the weekend, that meant that they are away from our church too. On most Sunday mornings we will have about 140 people attending and that includes an average of about 30 kids also. So if you take 30 people away from our normal Sunday morning it is noticed simply by looking at the crowd size. But we notice it even more because many of these ladies serve in our church in vital areas. Children’s director, teachers, greeters, check in stations for kids, just to name a few. Add to the ladies being away the fact that we had our audio/video guy and his wife out and about 12 other folks who were away, and it was really noticed that people were missing.
I have to say that rarely do we have people who just lay out of church. The folks here have taken an ownership in what God is doing and for whatever weird reasons, they seem to enjoy coming. Mostly because people find God here, but secondly, they have real friends that come here. Not just people we see once a week, but people that we hang out with and have a real relationship with. So I am not the type of pastor who has to guilt people when they are away and usually when they are away it is for a good reason, not just laziness and lack of desire to come. Have I told you lately that I am a very blessed pastor? God has allowed me to serve a bunch of folks who are real and excited about knowing God.
With so many people away this Sunday I was expecting the worst. Although my wife assured me that things were well taken care of, I couldn’t help but be skeptical. All the other people who were gone had also assured me that they had things covered and that nothing would be missed. They were right. Although the people were missed, things went over without a hitch. I was so amazed, and I really shouldn’t be. That is just what kind of church I serve.
I also thought that because so many of the regular folks were out that the crowd would be rather puny, but it wasn’t. Sure those who are here regularly could tell that people were missing, but only because we knew who they were. We had plenty of folks and if those 40 plus people had shown up we would have been near capacity. Boy, listen to me whine.
My sermon this week was on using grace as the foundation to build your Christianity on. Grace is favor given, not earned. God just loves us and when we seek Him, He gives us grace and therefore we have favor in His sight. Being in His good grace is a special thing that anyone can experience, but sadly too many people don’t because they pervert who God is. God is love, not someone waiting to crush you like a bug when you screw up. Sure, if you continue to deny Him and never ask for His favor, He can and probably will prove He is able to squash you like a bug, but that is not His goal. His grace is an awesome thing that allows us a very personal relationship with the Creator of the universe.
Because of God’s grace, six people became God’s children this weekend. It is not uncommon for our church to see 3 or 4 people each week trust God, but this week with a lot of folks gone, God showed us that He never misses hanging out with people who welcome Him. As we were finishing our morning worship time I informed people that we would be filling the horse trough for baptisms next Sunday because there were 2 or 3 people who had asked about it. As the day progress and we came back for the evening Bible study, about 12 more people had contacted me about getting baptized next week. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see 20 people baptized next Sunday.
If you don’t consider yourself a Christian, maybe you find this hard to get excited about. But it is what God gets excited about. He is not excited about money or buildings or how important a person thinks they are. God is excited about people knowing about His great love and sharing it with others. So if you are not a Christian, first let me thank you for reading my blogs. Secondly, if you live in the Rock Hill SC area, come next week and see all these baptisms and meet some people who will be surprisingly a lot like you. Either way, the first visit is free and if you don’t like it you don’t have to come back.
But WOW!!! This was an incredible weekend. I will be so glad to get my wife home and all those ladies who serve all over our church. They should be really stoked for next weekend. Holy Kaw! Next weekend could be better than this one!

September 20, 2011

From Slave To Servant

by pastortimfowler

Reading the New Testament letter of Philemon that the Apostle Paul wrote to his friend is quite an eye opener. It is one of the shortest “books” of the Bible and yet there is so much to learn from it. I thought I would share some observations that I saw.
This is a letter that Paul wrote to a friend while Paul was in prison. It is near the end of his life and yet he still seeks every opportunity to encourage others and share Jesus with anyone that will listen. He opens the letter by addressing Philemon and his wife and son who had a group of folks that had church in their house. He expresses his passion for their faithfulness and encourages them to keep up the good work. There is no whining about being in prison and how unjust the court system was, only praise and admiration for what Jesus was doing in his life and theirs. He called Philemon not just a fellow worker, but a brother in the faith and Paul took this relationship very serious.
Philemon had a slave that had run away by the name of Onesimus. This slave was arrested and thrown into the same jail where Paul was held as a prisoner. I am sure that most of the guys in prison were all proclaiming their innocence and maybe Onesimus was too, but Paul was focused on one thing. Sharing God’s love with others and he did this with the slave and fellow prisoner. Once he was convinced of this man’s position in Christ, Paul obviously told him that He needed to go back and make things right with his old master and that was the purpose of this letter.
He tells his good friend that his old slave was no longer a disobedient slave but now a brother in Christ. Paul instructs Philemon to receive his old slave as if he were receiving Paul himself. He tells him that if there is a debt that is owed to charge it to him and to treat him not like the criminal that he was, but as a brother that he had become.
Isn’t it amazing that whatever we use to be before knowing Jesus as Savior is totally wiped out in Christ and we become new people? If only we acted that way toward others instead of only expecting it for ourselves. Paul met a man who was a runaway slave that by law could have been put to away for a long time or in the worst of cases be put to death, and saw someone who desperately needed Jesus, not a Judge. He didn’t just lead him to Jesus, but he took actions to help him live a life pleasing to Jesus. He didn’t worry about what others would think if he helped a criminal, but thought about what God would think if he didn’t help a sinner in need of a Savior.
If we could all look at the need instead of the problem. If we could all look at a potential brother instead of a potential bother. If we could all see people like Paul saw people and like Jesus sees people, then maybe more people would turn to Jesus, than turn to their troubles of the past and face them as a pardoned criminal, grateful to the Righteous Judge, who gave us over to the Perfect Savior. Maybe more people would see our forgiveness and our compassion and become forgiving and compassionate themselves.
Funny how this slave of a master was set free to become a servant of The Master.

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