Posts tagged ‘hell’

January 7, 2013

Did God Really Say…?

by pastortimfowler

Blog

Today I was reading Genesis chapter 3 and this is where Adam and Eve were tempted and gave in to temptation. It is the fall of mankind from a life of eternal fellowship with God to one of separation from God and the beginning of humanity’s struggle to accept God’s word for what God intends it to be and what we want it to be. Genesis 3:1The snake was more clever than all the wild animals the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must never eat the fruit of any tree in the garden‘?”
The argument of what God really says or really means is as old as mankind. Because we were given free will, we are unlike any other creature that God put on this earth. We have the choice obeying or disobeying. We can choose to believe in God or not. He will never force us to believe. God wants us to believe that He is our creator and that we are precious to Him and that He loves us. He wants us to love Him and love can never before forced. Free will is our blessing and our curse all rolled into one. It is what allows us to choose to believe in this loving God and accept His provision for forgiveness or chose to believe that we can do it ourselves.
Satan, in whom I also believe in, is a master of deception and a master of twisting God’s words. That is how he works and how he got Adam and Eve to fall into sin. It is because Satan knows that we are prideful and pride causes us to think that no one can do it better than we can. No one can love me like I love me. But this is not true. No one knows me better or loves me better than God, our Creator. But Satan twisted that truth and had Eve questioning the truth of God’s word with a little jealousy to stir the pot. Between our pride, jealousy, and nowadays our lack of reading the Bible completely to know the truth, Satan finds it really easy to get us to ask, what did God really say?
Satan told Eve that God just didn’t want us to have this great knowledge of right and wrong and if we did obtain it, God would be jealous that we would know what He knows and that we would be like God. And, like most kids who are far smarter than their parents, she believed that.
Christians are quick to accept the forgiveness and the gift of eternal life, but then we find loopholes and cause for doubt when we read or hear that the Bible tells us not to do or to do things that we don’t feel good about. Feelings, unfortunately will cost many Christian to miss out on many blessings. These same feelings will cause many who are not Christians to miss out on forgiveness and all the time blame God for sending them to Hell.
God does not send people to Hell no more than people get themselves into Heaven. God simply tells us the truth and we use our free will to believe God, who made a simple and complete way of forgiveness and eternity in Heaven, or to not trust God because we think we know better. And all along the way, Satan is there to encourage us to not trust God.
Here are a few things that God says and you can decide what to believe:

Romans 3:23Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory.
Sin is anything that you think say or do that goes against God. This means we have all missed the mark. Most of us don’t have a hard time believing that we have sinned. We just have a hard time believing what will happen to us because we have sinned.

Romans 6:23 The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God told Adam and Eve that they would die when they disobeyed Him. This is a spiritual separation and yes, the physical death is part of the curse. We deserve it because God is God and we are not and we were told to obey Him. His rules, not mine or yours. This is not what God wanted nor wants now, so He gave a solution to our sin problem in Jesus Christ. It is a total gift. This to is not open for our ways to override God’s way.

Romans 10:13 So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
You must exercise your free will to call on Him or not. But whoever does, will be saved from their sin problem. Again, simple, singular (in that Jesus is the only way) and our choice. God will not nor can not force us to love Him or accept His love. He wants us to know Him and learn to love Him just as a child learns to love his parents.

Romans 8:1 So those who are believers in Christ Jesus can no longer be condemned.
Just as God took care of Adam and Eve after they disobeyed, He will take care of us. When we trust God’s word for forgiveness, we get God’s word for eternal protection and eternal life. But if we chose not to believe God, then we chose to find out the hard way that God does not lie. And when this life is over, we will all meet Him. Some will meet Him as Savior, some will meet Him as Judge, but all will meet God one day.

Romans 14:11For it is written, “As I live,” says the Lord, “to me every knee shall bow, And to God shall every tongue confess.”
On that day, we will not get the option to ask…Did you (God) really say…?

September 14, 2012

Watching and Waiting

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/damianathegirl/6121542581/

One of the elements of the Christian faith is the promise of the return of Jesus Christ to earth. The details of when and how are often a subject of debate among believers, but it is not something that believers disagree will happen. The truth of the matter is that Jesus said that no man will know the our or the day, and therefore we should be waiting and watchful. This means for some 2000 years now Christians have been watching. That sure is a long time; when is it enough and we are going to say, forget about it?
2 Peter 3:3-4 First, you must understand this: In the last days people who follow their own desires will appear. These disrespectful people will ridicule God’s promise
4 by saying, “What’s happened to his promise to return? Ever since our ancestors died, everything continues as it did from the beginning of the world.”

Just 20-30 years after the death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven of Jesus, Peter wrote this to the believers who were getting a little tired of waiting. So it is no small wonder that believers today, some 2000 years later are getting tired of watching and waiting. I encourage you to read all of Peter’s second letter, especially the third chapter. He tells us that we need to remember that time for God is not the same as it is for us. He says that a day with the Lord is like a thousand years and a thousand years is just like a day. We get caught up on God working on our time when we should be preparing to work on His eternal time.
When the early church was told to watch and to wait they were being told a military term. Most people think of watching and waiting as is we are watching a TV show that we don’t like as we wait on our favorite show to come on. This is far from what we are supposed to be doing. The military is on constant watch. They are waiting for two things; the enemy to attack and the commander to return if he is gone.
The first is an obvious thing for a military watch to do. These watches, or soldiers who are assigned positions of surveillance, were always alert, attentive to what they were told to do, and did not sit down with their feet propped up. Because the enemy rarely gives you a warning that they are going to attack, this watch did not get comfortable. Lives were at stake and they knew it. At the first sign of a potential threat, the alarm was sounded and all the other soldiers went into action.
The second thing a military watch was for was to wait for the commanders return. When the commander was away, the unit went into a mode of operation that included a certain vulnerability to internal strife. The return of the commander meant security in leadership. His return was always marked with an announcement of his return. It was a good thing to have the commander return to his people. Upon his return, the soldiers would all tighten up the ranks and walk a little taller and a little more circumspect. There was usually an inspection of the troops upon his return, so the time of waiting was not idle time but rather preparation time. Rewards were usually given out for those who performed their duties in an outstanding fashion.
So Christians are to be waiting and watching. We should be ever aware of an enemy that is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he can devour. We should be waiting on the return of our Commander who is returning and will have rewards with Him. He is returning, we don’t know when, but we do know that when He does, He will gather us all together for a time of inspection and rewards. We are not waiting for the next show to begin, we are waiting Jesus to return. We are not watching a show that gets boring and puts us to sleep. We are watching a battle for souls and we are the soldiers who will be victorious.
Don’t get comfortable and go to sleep. Drink a cup of spiritual coffee. I suggest the 2 Peter brand for an eye opener. If that don’t do it, perhaps a shot of Revelation 19 will do it. Meanwhile the rest of us need to make sure our whole set of armor is on and ready for inspection, but even more so, ready for battle. This war is hell, but the winner is Heaven.

April 30, 2012

Demons

by pastortimfowler

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jody_art/2054845812/

This is another topic suggested by some of you when I asked for new blog ideas. What is that old saying? Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. Any way, I got it and will try to enlighten. Can anyone sense a chance for controversy or maybe dry humor? The complete suggestion was about demon possession and oppression. Because those words are long and difficult for me to type, I will blog about what I think you need to know about demons.
I guess the first question to answer is do I believe in demons. The answer is yes. I raised three children and each one of them were evil. (Right about now, many are gasping at my cruelty…get over it) I believe in demons like most people do to one degree or another. I think more people believe in evil spirits than a God. Just look at stories through generations of humanity and how there has always been evil spirits in them. Most cultures have evil spirits that are blamed for what goes wrong. Ancient tribes in Africa and the Amazon, native American, and Island tribes all give place to evil spirits. Hollywood has always used evil spirits as plots to movies and today’s television programs are full of supernatural evil beings.
That is not why I believe in them. I believe in them because I believe in Jesus Christ and He believed in them. He did not just believe in them but He conquered them. He warned Christians against an ever-present battle between good and evil. What I find most funny is that when Christians start talking about evil spirits we are wacky but when someone says that they can speak to the dead, good and evil, they are deemed psychic and can even help solve crimes. People criticize Christians for believing in a Bible that claims the existence of good and evil but will flock to the theaters to see a movie about the same.
The Bible speaks clearly about demons being fallen angels and Satan being the leader. It talks about humans being overtaken by these demons and their every action controlled by them. It speaks of those who do not believe in God and Jesus being possessed to the point of their very souls being owned by them. It tells of people who are freed from this control but never totally surrendering to God and therefore being overtaken again. It tells us that Christians can yield their well-being to evil spirits and live in an oppressed state of being.
Possession has been glamorize by Hollywood. The Exorcism is a reminder of how enthralled we can be over such things. But it puts the emphasis on a man called a priest to free the girl from the demon and the emphasis should be on Jesus. Only He can free someone who is controlled by demons. Yes, He has given believers authority to cast out demons, but it is only under His power that we can do so and you don’t have to be a Catholic priest to do so.
Oppression is when a Christian does not yield to the Spirit of God and opens themselves up to control by evil spirits. I personally believe that once you are the child of God you can never be possessed by anyone other than God. But I also believe that God will allow us to be oppressed by evil if we are disobedient. (1 Corinthians 5:5- hand such a person over to Satan to destroy his corrupt nature so that his spiritual nature may be saved on the day of the Lord.) But I believe this oppression can be defeated by something as simple as repentance.
Either way you slice it, demons are not to be taken lightly. If you do not believe in God, they will twist your head around on your body and make you puke green stuff. If you do believe in God they will make you disobedient to God. Most importantly, they want to keep you from knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior. They want you to go to Hell. God does not.

November 7, 2011

Hip-Hop Joy

by pastortimfowler

Our church had a youth ministry event last night and the main part of it was a hip-hop concert. I do not care for hip-hop and don’t think that I will any time soon. I kind of feel like my dad when he use to complain about my rock and roll music. But what I do like is the message and the heart of those who were performing. These young men were reaching out to the youth in a way that I could not and would not. My calling is not a hip-hop ministry, (thank you Jesus) and is not a ministry to youth (as a group). Mine is to pastor a church that is full of a very diverse group of people.
Ministry is not my way or your way, it is God’s way of using me and you to reach those who don’t know Him. If everyone had a hip-hop ministry, people like me would likely die and go to hell. As much as I want to be cool and hip, I fall just a hop short of hip. But God did not leave ministry to be only one way and that means that everyone has a ministry if they would only seek it.
I am good friends with a young man who has been doing hip-hop for years. He has built a ministry that reaches thousands and there is no telling how many young people have come to know Jesus because of what he does. In fact, he is the one who set us up to have the artists that performed last night. I was having lunch with him one day when I told him that I just didn’t understand that style of music and had a hard time appreciating it. I told him that I knew God was using him and that it was a ministry, but I had never been able to appreciate rap and hip-hop.
He told me that he understood and prayed for me because I was getting old and out dated. (Joke) Not really, but he did take time to explain the appeal that it had for him. He said it allowed him to continually flow with a thought to a beat and not be stuck with the traditional style of verse, chorus, verse, chorus that most music has. When he explained it to me that way, it made perfect sense  why he chose that style. It did not make me like hip-hop, nor did it make me want to change my ministry, but it did allow me to better understand how effective this can be in reaching people with the message of the gospel.
I have another friend whose ministry is to feed the poor. All he does is collect food and distribute it to those on the street. Another friend has a southern gospel group who sings the oldest style of music they can find. Still another friend of mine spends much of his time ministering to hard-core bikers. I know people who consider their ministry to be praying for people all the time and those who just sit with old people as they are dying. None of these are what I would choose to do on a regular basis nor has God called me to do, but then again they all say that they would never want to pastor a church like I do. And you know what? That’s the way it should be.
What is important is that if you are a Christian, you find something to do that reaches others with the love of Christ. Although more traditional forms of ministry like teaching and preaching are fine, most people miss the boat because they only focus on such things. But God gives great joy to those who serve Him and I feel that if you aren’t experiencing joy in a ministry, you are probably not doing the ministry that God wants you to do.
I have heard it said many times from many people who if you do what you love as a job, that you will never work the rest of your life. The idea is that work is no fun but doing what you love is not work. I see too many Christians that serve in churches and are miserable and complaining that no one else will do it. Those are people who are not doing the ministry that God wants them to do. Sure we all have to do some things in life and ministry that aren’t fun, after all Jesus didn’t have fun dying on the cross. But Jesus also never complained, nor did He let anyone stop Him from doing what He was called to do. Jesus also said that He wanted us to have His joy and that comes from doing His work the way that He would have you to do it.
Search out what God would have you do, then find a place to do it and watch people come to know Jesus as you come to know great joy!

October 20, 2011

God Said No

by pastortimfowler

Last night I got a call from the church where the ladies of the church were doing their weekly Bible study. I was in the shower and usually don’t get calls, nor do I usually have my phone in the bathroom with me, but, it happened that this time I did. When I saw the number and realized who it was, I had thoughts of possible trouble, that is why I answered, but it turned out that they had a question about something that they were studying.
The study is about women in the Bible and this night they were studying a woman who was assumed to be able to talk to the dead and had been asked by King Saul to call up Samuel from the dead and to her surprise he showed up. The question was; did this woman actually call Samuel from the dead or was it a trick. When you read the text it can be a bit vague.
I do not believe this woman or anyone else had or has the power to talk to dead people. I believe that when you die you go straight to heaven or hell and people on this earth will not talk to you again because of some mystical powers. Now if God decides to let it happen, then I will believe it. But those instances are rare, at best.
God says many times in His word that people who claim to summon the dead and practice soothsaying and conjuring of spirits are evil. I am not talking about childish games and spooky fun, but I do caution people against that. I am talking about so-called mediums who practice this seriously. They are not of God and God does not use them.
I believe in this case, God, who knows everything, knew that these two would have this meeting and He sent Samuel back to mess them up. If you read the story, it did. I do not think nor believe that it had anything to do with her “powers” because there are no such things. If someone does actually talk to “someone” during one of these meetings it is not a person but a demon. Yes, I believe in demons. It was good enough for Jesus, its good enough for me.  God does not tell us to not do something because it is sinful, then change His mind and allow it to happen. When we read the Bible, this is important to remember and will help us to better understand the Bible. Keeping the focus on God’s holiness and His consistency will allow us to think of more logical explanations to scripture that may seen difficult to understand. It is important to know the context of the scripture,  read the whole account, then comparing it with the whole Bible and the facts and doctrines that run throughout it.
I know that there are always skeptics out there who are looking for ways to prove the Bible wrong or look for double standards, and I will admit that there are things that are very difficult to reckon with, but that does not mean that there are those things that these people are looking for. And my point is not to argue with anyone about these things either. I wanted to put it out that when you find yourself, as a Christian, struggling with something that seems to not make sense, those basic rules will help to sort it out.
My parents use to say something that I swore I would never do when I grew up and had kids. They use to tell us when we would ask why, “Because I said so”. I hated it and did not understand it, but I have now done it. Sometimes there does not need to be an explanation, especially when God says “no”.

October 17, 2011

Dead Dreams

by pastortimfowler

Here goes another blog on a subject that will probably irritate some people and I have to say that the idea was not mine, but that dear friend of mine whom I keep referring too and who I think must like to see me get yelled at, (figuratively). This one is, what I think about people who die and get visions or messages from the other side then come back to tell others what they have seen. She wants MY OPINION, not hard-core facts, unless I have hard-core facts, and I have a few.
My first thought on this is that people want to write a book and get rich. There are a few who have done this and because of the success of a few, others want to follow. But that does not explain that some of these folks may have had something that they think is an out-of-body experience that lead them to heaven or hell during a near death or coma experience. Because I have never had one of these visions, although I have almost died a few times, mostly my stupidity that caused it, I can’t speak from experience. So to say that people did not see something would be a tough one for me to do. But I do not believe that people are really going to heaven or hell. I think that there are two possibilities.
First, people are dreaming. Some would say that these dreams are too similar to be coincidences. But I would say that people have similar dreams all the time and I am talking about people who do not know each other and live nowhere near each other. How about the dreams of falling in your sleep? What about dreams of winning the lottery? What about the dreams of someone chasing you in a dark alley and you can’t scream? All these are dreams that many people have and they are all similar and we can’t explain why, other that our sub-conscience has ways of dealing with things through dreams. Maybe this is a common dream for people who are very sick or near death.
Second, scientists who study the brain will tell you that when someone is near death, certain chemicals are released and can cause hallucinations or the “white light” experience. I got hit in the head really hard one time and was almost knocked out.  When I was hit I briefly saw a bright light. Many people say they see white light when they are about to pass out or even just before “going under” anesthesia. This explains some of the similarities in what is seen, and we don’t know that people who nearly die or in deep comas don’t dream, hear people in their room, or even the TV, when it is left on. All these things could be confused and this might explain the “message” people get from God, or Satan, or Zeus, or whoever they think they heard from.
Biblically I can only refer to these verses to dispute this claim of new words from God. Revelation 22:18-19 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy in this book: If anyone adds anything to this, God will strike him with the plagues that are written in this book. 19 If anyone takes away any words from this book of prophecy, God will take away his portion of the tree of life and the holy city that are described in this book.
This seems to be clear to me, a Christian, that God is not giving out new words for humanity in general. I do believe that God speaks through people, like pastors and teachers and even regular old Christians who are sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I have spoken, what I believe are God inspired messages and have had others speak them to me, but this differs from something that would be added to what the Bible teaches. These would only confirm, compliment, or is inspired by scripture.
So that leaves it open to think that it could be possible to hear from God in a dream, I believe I have in the past. This could happen to someone near death or in a coma. But most of what I have read or heard from these books or stories, is often conflicting to what the Bible says or just doesn’t feel right to me. I think that there is a lot of interest in the afterlife and rather than trust the Bible, people want to hear it from people like themselves. And that holds true about many other things. But I will leave you with this last scripture to keep in mind. Proverbs 14:12 s There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually it ends in death.

October 11, 2011

Is It Fair?

by pastortimfowler

Sometimes it is impossible to understand God. If you are simply a human, it would be easy to think that God is cruel. This is especially true when things happen in our lives that really suck, and we think it should happen differently. A friend was telling me last night about a tragedy that happened where a young husband and dad died unexpectedly and that he couldn’t help but feel like it was not fair. It stinks, hurts, sucks, and a whole lot of other things, but I am not sure that fair is the right way to look at it. Don’t misunderstand, it is a legitimate question and the feelings are normal, but what is fair?
Here are the first two definitions in the dictionary for fair:
1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.
2. legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.
If we use these definitions, then God is fair. God said to Adam and Eve, the day you disobey me, you die. He clearly stated in the law of Moses that some sins were punishable by physical death, and, we are all told that what we deserve for sin is death. We are told that it is inevitable that humans die and after that we are judged. So in death, God is fair. Does that mean we understand it? No. Does it mean we agree? No. Does it mean that God is cruel? No. He is fair, free from bias, dishonesty or injustice. He is a fair judge. What He does is proper under the rules. In every definition of fairness God stands the test of fairness.
We want fair to be, pleasing. We want fair to mean nobody wins and nobody loses and nobody gets hurt. That is not fair. Jesus told us that in this world we will have troubles. He did not tell us to follow Him and He will never allow pain to come our way. He did say that He would never leave us alone in our pain and that He would make everything that we go through on this world worth it if we trust Him.
Where would we be if there were no pain in the world? What would it be like if we never had to hurt again? Would it be fair? Maybe, but I don’t think it would be that great either. We learn more from pain than we ever do from pleasure. When we place our hand on a hot surface, even after we have been told that it is hot, it is the pain that finally teaches us to listen. But if pleasure was such a good teacher we would have fewer people addicted to drugs and alcohol. Think about all the things that you learned from pain and then see if the pain was a good teacher now that you can look back on it. Most people would never want to suffer the pain again, but would definitely value the lesson learned.
Not much can be done to take away the hurt and feelings that come with someone close to you losing their life. Even Jesus wept when His good friend Lazarus died. But the fairness of God offers hope to those who mourn those losses. It is a hope that is hard to understand because it goes against what we want to feel at such times. It is a hope that does not come from ourselves, but from God and His promise of fairness. He promises that ANYONE who trusts Him and asks for the forgiveness of their sin will receive full pardon and not be given what we deserve, but instead be given eternal life. We can pass from this life of pain and suffering to a life free of all pain and suffering.
You see this life is but a vapor, but there is an eternity and you will be there in one way or another. Eternal death, is the eternal separation from God in what we hear of as Hell. Eternal life is when we pass from this life to forever with God in a place where death and pain and what we call unfairness will never happen again. God is so fair that He offers this to ANYONE who will ask. No matter what you have done, no matter how bad you think you may be, God’s love is fair to all and His forgiveness is complete to all. Don’t be fooled, His judgement is just as fair to all who refuse is forgiveness, no matter how good you have been or how good you think you are. God is holy, we are not, and without His forgiveness we stay unholy. It is that simple, because God is that fair.

September 1, 2011

The Un-used Bible

by pastortimfowler

My Bible is falling apart. The cover is ragged, the pages are stained and tattered and the stuff that binds the pages to the cover is no longer working. There are coffee stains, sweat stains, blood stains, and some I am not real sure of. A few pages have been taped back together and that little piece of ribbon the is used to mark pages is frazzled.
When I was a kid going to church I always wanted a new Bible. They just looked like something I could be proud of. I remember that we had one on our coffee table in that room that no one played in. It was big and had pictures and a four-leaf clover in it. It was really too big for me to carry around and mom wouldn’t let me touch it anyway. I liked the Bibles in the pews, but they were there for the “poor people who didn’t own a Bible” as Mema said. Plus if I were to take one from the pew and claim it as my own I would go to Hell for stealing and I would not need a Bible there. I think that the preacher liked our Bible that we never used because he had one just about like it that he never used sitting on that table that no one ever used in the front of the church.
There were times when I would sneak into the room that no one ever used and look at the pictures in the Bible that no one ever used. It helped when Mema would tell us stories from the Bible to be able to check out the authenticity of what she was saying. After all, pictures never lies and neither did Mema. Once I even snuck into the church while other folks were in class and looked to see if the un-used Bible on that un-used table in that church had any pictures, and it didn’t. When mom caught me she told me I could go to Hell for that. I can only imagine what would have happened if I had done something really stupid like stole it. I probably wouldn’t go to Hell, it would have come to me and burn me up right there in the parking lot of the church.
So, many years later, after I became a Christian, I was in a church where the pastor used this really old Bible to preach out of. He had one of those un-used Bibles on his un-used table and it looked brand new, even though it had been there for years. But this Bible that he was using was rough-looking. What first caught my eye was that when he would pick it up to shake it at the congregation it was very limp. It was like holding up cloth instead of a book. Then as I became more interested in what was in that Bible, any Bible, not just his, I started attending a class that he taught. I would sit next to him as he turned through his Bible and saw the miserable shape it was in. I felt sorry that our preacher was using such a raggedy looking Bible when he a an almost brand new, un-used one out on that un-used table. I almost went out and grabbed it for him but I did not want to go to Hell.
One day I asked him why he didn’t get a new Bible. He told me that he did have others, but this one was special. It was the first Bible that he ever preached from. He said every time he saw the ragged cover it reminded him of Jesus’s body as it was on the cross. He said that the coffee stains and tear stains and other stains remind him of our sins and how when the word of God was applied to them, somehow the stains became battle scars from a victory won. He said the taped pages were a reminder that God puts us back together every time we fall apart. He said the limpness as he held it out reminded him that Jesus’ limp lifeless body was taken off the cross as our sins were left on the cross.
From that day forward I wanted a Bible like that. I couldn’t take his because, you got it, I did not want to go to Hell, so I got my own. It was brand new when I got it. Paid cash, didn’t steal it, cause I didn’t want to go to Hell. Then I started reading it every day. I read it in good times and bad times. I carried it with me to schools, prisons, and other places that often caused it to wear and stain and tater. I cried sometimes as I read about God’s love and even spilled coffee one morning as I banged the table in disgust as it revealed sin after sin in my life.
One day I was preaching and I held my Bible out to make a point and it fell limp in my hand. It may have done this other times before, but at that moment, I realized why my old pastor loved that old Bible so much.
So I got rid of the un-used Bible and that un-used table in my church and refused to have an un-used Bible in my house. Un-used Bibles make beautiful displays that no one reads. Worn out Bibles make beautiful lives that everyone reads.

August 23, 2011

Tell The Truth

by pastortimfowler

The hardest sin in the world to not do is lying. I am sure that someone is already saying that they don’t lie, so that should be proof that we all do it. Personally I struggle with approximately 783 different sins on a regular basis, but I am special. In those, lying is incorporated into half of them. There are times when I want to lie so bad it almost hurts not to. I feel the convictions all the time and often rip my cloths like they did in the Old Testament when they were upset. Can anyone see that there may be a few lies mixed in to this already? I like to call them artistic liberties.
Lying is deeply engrained in us. It starts as babies when we learn that we can cry for no reason and mommy will come get us. No one ever taught us how to lie, it just starts to happen. When mom or dad asks us if we did it and we say no, knowing that we did and that our parents know it before they asked. The Bible tells us that Satan is the father of all lies and so he uses that against us all the time.
I am not saying that everyone is a habitual liar or chronic liar, or lying for evil ways. I am just saying that we all lie and it always ends up coming back to get us. We are taught in children’s stories like The Boy Who Cried Wolf, that lying is wrong and has consequences. Our parents and teachers tell us that we shouldn’t lie and yet we still do it. And, I can think of a few times when lying has seemed like the right thing to do and therefore justified it. I am not proud of that fact, but this is one time I am not lying.
Let me give a few things that most of us have lied about. Our age, even jokingly, we do that. As young boys noticing girls for the first time, especially the older ones who liked only older guys, we often said that we were a few years older than we really were. Women as they get older never get older. Our occupation. This usually has to do with impressing the opposite sex too. I have held several fictitious positions in my life. Our income. Again, often tied to impressing the opposite sex, but sometimes we do it to get credit that we don’t think we qualify for. Our weight. Most of us are heavier than we say we are. Why that matters, I am not sure, but it is a lie for most of us. Our availability. You know what I mean. Sorry, I am busy that day or time, when really you just don’t want to be around that person. Our family. Sounds strange, but I had this uncle growing up that did everything and had everything and took me everywhere, even though no one ever met him. Wrong number. Who hasn’t used this one? I did not know what the speed limit was through here. HA! Yes we do, we just didn’t plan on the cop using radar that day.
Most of these are common and relatively harmless, except for the fact that God hates lies and He did not say only the big ones. He does not like “stretching the truth”, fibbing, or little white lies. He doesn’t even like it when a husband says, “sure honey, that looks fine” so that the wife doesn’t get mad at you.
That being said, how can we deal with this lying thing?
I have found that often a lie can be averted by asking the question, do you really want me to answer that truthfully? That causes people to at least think long enough for you to think about how to tell the truth tactfully. You don’t have to scream to your wife, “Oh my gosh, that thing is hideous!” You could say that you don’t think it compliments her like some other dresses she wears. You can just tell the truth and let people know that if they ask you something they can expect the truth and most people will then be very careful what they ask you after a while.
I have some good news and I have some bad news about lying.
The bad news is that lying is a sin. God hates it and expects better from those who claim to know Jesus as Savior. The good news is that He forgives us if we ask and make an attempt to change our ways.
The bad news is that many people lie about knowing Jesus as Savior. They act the part, but it has never been a real conversion. The good news is that God waits patiently for those who don’t know Him and freely gives salvation to those who trust Him by faith.
The bad news is that many people die thinking they were good enough to get to heaven, but they believed a lie. No one can be good enough. We are all sinners and need to be forgiven and need to ask for it. The good news is that no one has to die and go to hell. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If you trust the truth, you will be forgiven. God loves us that much.
I was told that if you lie, you will eventually have to tell another lie and then another and so on. But if you tell the truth you never have to remember which lie you told to who. I guess that is what makes God so awesome. He only tells the truth, He never has to change it and He never has to apologize for it. When Jesus told us to let our yes be yes and our no be no, He was simply saying…tell the truth.

May 5, 2011

Do whatever you want

by pastortimfowler

I was talking with a good friend the other day about how some Christians think that they can do whatever they want because they believe that they won’t and can’t lose their salvation. First let me say that I too believe that salvation is not something that you can lose. We are not saved from a one time sin, we are saved from facing the Righteous Judge and His penalty for sin and this happens when we are born again and our Judge becomes our Father. Your father will always be your father no matter how stupid you are. But that is not the purpose of this blog.
This idea that we can sin freely because God’s grace covers our sin has been something that has been in people’s mind from the beginning of the church. The Apostle Paul wrote about this in Romans when he said this: (Romans 6:1-2) What should we say then? Should we continue to sin so that God’s kindness (grace) will increase? That’s unthinkable! As far as sin is concerned, we have died. So how can we still live under sin’s influence?
Salvation is not your insurance from going to Hell. It is your undeserved rescue from Hell. God loves us that much. He does not want anyone to die and go to Hell so He made the way to become His child. When you become a child of God you pass from a criminal who broke the law to a child that needs to be raised. Fathers are good at discipline though. It is how we learn to be good children. But every child still has free will to accept the Father’s discipline in love or rebel further.
So if you are a “child of God” and you are not being disciplined for sinning freely and openly because you know God won’t send you to Hell, you may want to consider whether or not you are truly a child at all. (Proverbs 3:11-12) Do not reject the discipline of the Lord, my son, and do not resent his warning, because the Lord warns the one he loves, even as a father warns a son with whom he is pleased. God does discipline His children. If you are not receiving discipline, you might not be His child.
Becoming a Christian comes with many challenges and many misunderstandings. I do believe that someone can become a Christian and not act like one. But that comes with regret and conviction for that person. I believe that you can become a Christian and be taught wrong by the leaders that you chose to follow, because, like a child, we often pick people to hang out with that mom and dad don’t approve of. But I also believe that many people play a dangerous game of thinking they can fool God by saying a prayer and going to church. If you do this with the idea that you now have a free pass to sin like you always have, then be prepared to be judged like you were always going to be.
A friend once told me that he made a wish for a new Corvette, then parked his bicycle in the garage and closed the door. A week later when he opened the door, he still had a bicycle. Saying a prayer and going to church without the faith to accept God as your Father is no different.
So to test your salvation experience, it is pretty simple. Keep in mind that God will correct His children for rebellious acts just like a loving father corrects his children, and this is how He shows His love. To see if you are His child, go ahead, do whatever you want.

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