Posts tagged ‘religion’

July 5, 2012

Freedom Fading

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/77412859@N00/280520591/

I love our country. As yesterday celebrated the birth of our freedom, I couldn’t help but get a bit nostalgic. I served in the US Navy for nine years and come from a family where my dad was a twenty year Navy vet. From the time I was a child, I was taught to love our country and its freedoms. Standing at a baseball game while the National Anthem played, removing my hat and placing it over my heart was a regular event in my childhood. We would go to cemeteries and place American flags on the graves of veterans for patriotic holidays like the 4th of July. In elementary school I got to be the one to raise and lower the flag and was selected because my dad had taught me the proper way to fold it.
The freedom that we have here was earned and won on the battlefields through the years. Freedom does not come without a price and that price is a high one. But men and women from the beginning of our country’s founding have thought it worth paying whatever price needed to secure it. Every generation has those who question the times and fear that freedom is fading. Our founding fathers put many layers of protection into the documents of our government to help protect what had been won and to remind each generation of the fragile nature of freedom.
Today we are experiencing many things that threaten our freedom. People who use this freedom to fight against free markets and religion don’t realize that if they are successful, they could lose the very freedom of speech that they are using to fight what they disagree about. The attack on our free market society is one that scares me. The demonizing of people who own companies that hire good, hard-working Americans is counter-productive to our freedom. The idea that if you work hard and achieve the American dream of owning a business and having it be successful is somehow made to seem wrong. Instead, we are being force-fed that our country is about fairness rather than freedom. And, somehow we are supposed to think that fairness means taking what someone worked for and giving it to someone who does not work? I am confused.
I also worry about how our schools and local government make anti-American laws and policies. I am always hearing about cities and communities who won’t allow the flag to be displayed, even on the graves of veterans. Or schools that don’t allow the pledge of allegiance or patriotic shirts because they might offend those who are here illegally. That flag represents a country that loves those who come here for help and offer opportunity for all who are willing to work hard and legally to make a better life. Our schools are a place to teach children how to read and do math and science and to grow up to be productive members of a society of free people. Nothing is offensive about that and pledging to support our country and our freedom is not a bad thing. If we quit supporting what this country stands for, we won’t have people coming here for freedom…duh!
Religion is another place that I feel our freedom is being threatened. Yes, I am a Christian. I am a pastor and I have a personal attachment to this part of freedom. I guess the two areas that I feel most threatened from freedom of religion standpoint it the way we are being told that separation of church and state is a constitutional issue. It is not. That phrase is not in the constitution; read it for yourself. This is what the constitution says about religion and government: The constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Separation of church and state was a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, talking about the intrusion of government into church business and how unconstitutional it was. Government is not to intrude in religion, not vice-versa. All legal citizens are free to participate in whatever level they chose in our government, no matter their religious beliefs.
Secondly, I feel freedom threatened by the bending over backward of our government to accommodate the Muslim religion and even to allow a perverted part of that belief, Sharia law, to override our countries laws, in some cases. Nothing against that faith, but that perversion of that faith allows for the killing of many people, including Christians. How can our government work so hard to suppress Christianity, which is responsible for more charity work all over the world than any other organization, and promote, often through silence, or making of special exceptions, a religion that kills those who don’t believe their way? I know these are isolated cases, but this is a serious issue that must be watched.
I am not in a panic mode, but I think that we should take a hard look at how some are attacking freedom. No, it is not a perfect country that we live in, but it is the best country and the most generous country in the world. I was happy to celebrate its independence yesterday and look forward to continuing the annual celebration. Freedom can only fade if we let it. Let freedom shine brightly for the world to see!

April 18, 2012

What’s Next

by pastortimfowler

I asked my church last Sunday night what they would like to study in the next few weeks. We are finishing up a study on anger and I like to see if they have any ideas that I can turn into a good couple of weeks of teaching. One of the suggestions was the men of the Bible. My wife teaches a women’s group on Wednesdays and they recently studied the women of the Bible. I am sure it was a great study, but I don’t do those kind of studies very well. It would be a great study, but I think I will leave it to my wife and her Wednesday night crowd to handle that. I am not sure what I will teach next.
Maybe I will start a basket weaving class. That way we keep our hands occupied and can take something home with us after we are finished. Everyone likes baskets and few folks nowadays know how to make one from scratch. If we get enough participation we can fill them with Easter eggs next year and sell them to the Easter Bunny.
Whatever I teach next I want it to be something that we can walk away from with an idea of how to do what we were studying. So many Bible studies just give us head knowledge. We walk out knowing something in our minds but have no idea how to put into our lives in a way that others see a difference. I really think that Jesus wants people to see how much we know by the way we act instead of how much we talk. Talking is the easy part.
I wonder what kind of Bible study it would be if we studied how Jesus and His teaching changed the way we act? Would it be a quick, one night study where we all agreed that we are doing fine? Would it be a boring night that is so boring no one will come back? Will it be weeks of talk about how messed up he or she is? Would it be a continual story of all the great things we think that we have done?
The Apostle Paul was an amazing fellow. He often had to talk about his self. When he did it was usually a defense of his calling into the ministry, because he was a very bad dude before he met Jesus or a reminder of the fact that before he met Jesus that he was a very bad dude. Paul said of himself that he was the worst of all sinners. He told people that he was nothing without Jesus and rarely talked about how good he was and never compared himself to others. He never bragged about his church or his group that he hung out with, but rather he bragged about God’s mercy and grace and calling in his life to preach the gospel.
The reason Paul talked like this is not because he spent time studying the deep secrets of the Bible. He knew them and for the longest time, before he met Jesus, went around quoting the Bible to people. He was a very religious man. Once he met Jesus, he got away from religion and started having a relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. He began to recognize that the less he talked about Paul, the more people would see Jesus. He showed people through his actions what he knew from the word of God. He lived each day as if it were his last and did not focus only on Sunday gatherings. One of his greatest teachings was to the church in Corinth when he taught about love. He said that even if he could do all things spiritual but did not have love, then it was all worthless. Love is the overwhelming factor that changes someone from a religious person to a person in a relationship with God. It changed Paul’s life.
Sounds like I may have found a good next topic for my Sunday evening Bible study.

February 14, 2012

Shepherd Leadeship

by pastortimfowler

This weekend is our church’s big annual leadership meeting. We meet informally several times a year in smaller groups, but once a year I like to get everyone together for a pep talk and brainstorming session. Leadership is a not something that comes natural for most people. In our society we have cultivated a mentality of followers where leadership is an idea or an object is the driving force. You see it in the push to accept culturally relative issues like views on marriage and religion. In our political realm we are being lead by class warfare and guilt trips rather than desires that help all.
Churches have fallen into a mode of leadership voids that do not reflect what God intended for us. We have committees and groups that tell the pastors how they should act and popularity contests that elect our deacons and elders. We have lost the God given authority of leaders to a more comfortable group format. An old pastor friend of mine once said this. “In nature, where there is more than one head on a creature, it is a freak. Where there is no head, it is either a worm or dead.” Is it any wonder our churches are looked upon with such low regard by society?
The biblical leadership example given in the Bible for those who would lead God’s people is most always the shepherd. Sure there were kings and dictators, but that was not by God’s design. Even those kings that were most revered by God were those who were first shepherds, like David. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd. We are His sheep. Sheep do not form committees and have power struggles with their shepherd. They do trust the shepherd and submit to his leadership.
A shepherd is the one who is responsible for the well being of the flock. If he fails at his job, the whole flock can be lost. You can sum up the shepherd’s job like this. He is to provide a safe healthy place for the sheep to live and reproduce. The shepherd does not reproduce sheep. Sheep do that. But in many churches the people have somehow gotten the idea that their job is to find someone who will grow the church for them. Meanwhile they can eat and relax inside the comforts of the building and not have to worry.
A shepherd leader knows his sheep. He does not ask them if they want to eat from this pasture or the other. He leads them to the best food. He does not ask them if they want to drink from the stagnate pool or the trickling stream, he takes them to the good water. He does not let sick sheep infect the entire flock. He may have to carry one or even remove one from time to time to save the whole flock. And the shepherd does not have to ask his sheep if they want to reproduce, because healthy sheep like to do that and do it naturally.
The leader that God wants will lead the sheep to where they need to go. Protect them from any dangers. He stays in the field and is always alert for threats that want to sneak in and kill or steal. A shepherd often smells like a sheep and rarely smells like a king. And no king is ever loved by the sheep like the shepherd is loved by the sheep. Sheep trust the shepherd because he is who leads them with their best interest at heart.
I love teaching our leaders this philosophy. They seem to get it. Maybe that is why our church is seeing people bring their friends to church and to Jesus. Shepherding is not easy, but is very rewarding. One day the shepherd will meet the King and my prayer is that the humble shepherds will hear the King say, “Well done!”

December 19, 2011

Christmas meal

by pastortimfowler

Yesterday was our church’s annual Christmas meal and this has become one of my favorite things about our church. We take all the chairs that normally form a semi-circle seating pattern for worship and set up tables and chairs for a family style eating extravaganza. Extravaganza is one of my favorite, but least used words in my vocabulary. The men and women of the church cook turkey and ham and all the favorite holiday type foods that you can imagine and after a brief, yet wonderful sermon, we eat and laugh and hang out until most of the food is gone. Then those who are able, load people into wheelbarrows and take them out back to sleep it off.
Our church is my family. No, I am not dissing my wife and kids, but this is a special relationship that we all share and it is truly family. We share food, share laughter and share tears. No one is left alone and everyone does their part of making it all work. Like in most families, there is always the grumpy person and the weird aunt or uncle that everyone tries not to act like we are avoiding, but other than that we can’t get enough of this special fellowship.
God wants His people to have a closeness. We are told that people will know that we are His because of how we love each other. I don’t think that there would be much doubt of that if you were to have been there yesterday. And, I can proudly say that most anytime that you visit, you will find the same love among the people. None of us are “holier than thou” and many of us are as “messed up as thou” and that makes it easy to find common ground.
As in most churches, there are always a handful who work hard to manage the chaos and organize the efforts. Those who did it this time are amazing in how well it was done and the love at which they used to bring us all together. It was not just a list of things to do but an effort to think of how people’s needs would be met. I believe the biblical term would be ministry, which means serving, which Jesus says makes you great, and I can only say that there were some great people organizing this whole thing.
The day did not end when the meal was over. Lots of folks stayed to help with the clean up. After that, many of the guys and youth stayed to watch football as many of the moms took the younger kids to see Santa. They are the brave souls in the crowd.
Later that night our youth had their Christmas party and another group of servants showed their greatness to make that happen. With nearly twenty youth and a handful of adults, the music was loud, the games were wild and the family was happy. I was the smartest of all; I went home after welcoming them and opening the party in prayer.
Christmas is a special time and can be difficult to those who don’t have family. Some people are alone because they have moved, other because of hardship. Some have been shunned by family and friends and others have condemned themselves because of past experiences. My plea is that you not allow the past to ruin the future. God can and will forgive you for whatever the past holds. God will provide a place and people for you to celebrate if you chose to seek it. I would like to invite you to be a part of my family and our celebration of God’s great love. We don’t judge, we don’t condemn, we don’t exclude. We are The Body, A Church for Anybody, and especially you.
Merry Christmas!

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.

December 13, 2011

Omens

by pastortimfowler

By now you must be wondering where in the world do some of these ideas for my blogs come from. It is simple; I have some weird people who go to my church. This morning I get a Facebook tag about omens saying that I should blog about it. I am not sure why, but I thought okay, this could be a sign…get it? Sign? Omen?
As usual, I will start with the definition of the word omen. (noun. anything perceived or happening that is believed to portend a good or evil event or circumstance in the future; portent)
Let me be the first to say that I thought the movie was stupid. Also, I think the word is a weird word. I don’t even like the way it is spelled. Just by changing one letter it could be AMEN! Maybe that is a good direction to go with this blog.
The common fear of an omen is that it points towards the rest of a bad day staying that way or getting worse. We rarely hear of people talking about good omens. It certainly would not have sold a lot of tickets at the box office. People think that if you burn your toast that it is a sign that you will get fired, wreck your car, or be called to jury duty. I don’t believe that is true. Maybe its is a sign of something good. Let me elaborate.
You get up the morning of an important day and because you have been taught that breakfast is an important meal, you began to fix your toast, which by the way, hardly qualifies as a real breakfast. As you are fixing your coffee, which is an important part of a nutritional breakfast, you smell something burning and turn to see smoke rising from your toaster. The toast is burnt! An omen of a disastrous day to come or could this be the start of something really good?
Because the toast is burnt, you spend a little more time thinking about what makes this day so important. Perhaps it is your day to fix cupcakes for your child’s class party, or you have an interview for a job, or you are going to take your pastor a surprise gift, like money, or a free round of golf. You remember that verse from the Bible that you just read, either because you have been reading the Bible or you have been reading this blog. It says, (Acts 20:35) that it is more blessed to give than to receive, so you not only bake the cupcakes, but you grab some more money to give to your pastor, and head off to have a blessed day. If you had not burned the toast, you may have spent the money that you were going to give your pastor on store-bought cupcakes, and felt even worse than before, thus allowing the burnt toast to become an omen of bad things to come.
Romans 8:28We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom he has called according to his plan. God does not have bad omens for His people. He has only your best interest at heart. Even in the toughest things, God is preparing us for a blessing. Job who lost everything he had, was being prepared to receive double everything that he lost. Peter and the other fishermen were taken out in a terrible storm so that they could see Jesus speak and calm the storm. Onesimus, the runaway slave, was caught and thrown in jail, only to meet the Apostle Paul and find eternal life. Jesus was falsely accused, sentenced to die, and killed for the sins of others, only to rise from the grave and offer eternal life to all who ask.
So…Next time you think that you are getting a negative omen, be creative and change one letter and make it AMEN. With God, all things are possible.

December 2, 2011

Child Discipline

by pastortimfowler

She is at it again, my friend who asks me to blog about stuff that usually gets me into trouble. Today it is about child discipline according to the Bible. People tend to freak out when you quote the Bible and it goes against what “the experts” say, but I tend to lean towards what the Creator says to get my beliefs. The Bible is not an outdated writing that needs to be changed to fit our needs, it is God’s instructions for living a life the way that He knows is best for us.
First, yes it is okay to spank. Proverbs 23:13-14 Do not hesitate to discipline a child. If you spank him, he will not die. Spank him yourself, and you will save his soul from hell. The King James actually says to beat him with a rod. This is a reference to the good old hickory switch. So let me put in my two cents worth.
I don’t believe you should whip a child with your hands, those are for hugging and holding as instruments of love. I don’t believe you should whip your child if you can’t control your anger, and certainly never while angry. Just like our legal system has a guide for punishment to fit the crime, parents should establish the same. For example. If you child does not do what you tell them to, the first time he or she is in time out. The second time they get 2 swats with the weapon, I mean the instrument of correction. If a whipping is warranted, you tell the child what he has done wrong, the punishment for what he did and that in 15, 30, 60 minutes, (however long it takes for you to not administer this in anger) the 2 swats with a belt, or switch will be given. Then they go to their room, remind them of the disobedient act and the punishment and administer it. If both parents agree on this and even write it down and post it where all can see, kinda like the 10 Commandments, then punishment is not done on the spur of the moment and will always fit the crime.
There is a difference between spanking and abusing and spanking is not abuse but rather correction. Pain is a powerful teacher and we know that sometimes we all have to learn the hard way. Excessive and abusive physical punishment comes when parents react in anger instead of love. It is defined by whelps (not red marks) or bruising and in worst cases blood. It should always be administered under control and on the meaty part of the buttocks. If you are angry and out of control, you will hit too hard and miss where you need to strike. Again, NEVER whip in anger. Anything with a closed fist, strike to the face or head, or with an instrument that can be damaging even under control should never happen. And, if you are whipping a child too frequently there is a problem and you should seek counsel. If discipline is administered properly, whippings should be few and far in between and should decrease in need as the child gets older.
Second, it was asked, what amount of authority should a parent have over a child and should a child speak against or defy a parent? Colossians 3:20-21 Children, always obey your parents. This is pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, don’t make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged. Children should always obey their parents while they are minors. They should be taught responsibility and given liberties that are equal to their ability to reason, but always be in submission to the parent. Disobedience in the smallest of things leads to disobedience in bigger things. Parents should NEVER allow a child to be defiant on purpose. They must learn obedience at home or they will lack it elsewhere and especially with God. 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. Revelation 3:19 I correct and discipline everyone I love. Take this seriously, and change the way you think and act.
Parents must learn to communicate with their children, telling them about right and wrong and the consequences of disobedience. We should find ways to let our children tell us why they did what they did. It may not have been disobedience as much as misunderstanding. Our children should never be scared to defend their actions when they believe that they were acting appropriately. But when they cross the line into defiance, we as parents do them no favors by allowing it to go uncorrected.
Parents teach children who God is by their actions as much as by their words. God thinks it is so important for a child to respect its parents that He made it one of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live for a long time in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

December 1, 2011

Christmas Songs

by pastortimfowler

Christmas is rapidly approaching and I can’t wait to stop hearing Christmas songs on every Christian radio station, 24/7. Don’t even think it, I am not a Scrooge, it’s just that I like music, and I try to listen to Christian music as often as possible, and every Christian station around, and there are 4 that I know of, have been playing Christmas music since Thanksgiving. It is bad enough that the stores put out Christmas decorations right after Halloween, but if we are not careful, Christmas stuff will just get to be blah and barely noticeable and Christmas Eve and Day will become just another day. And, I wonder if this isn’t somehow the purpose behind a concerted effort to minimize Christmas and maximize sales.
Enough of my conspiracy theory, let’s get back to the Christmas music. Even better, let me talk about the Christian radio stations that we have here. They are difficult enough to listen to all the time. They all play the same songs and the same style of music. In case you did not know it, Christian music has many different styles, from praise and worship to head banging to rap and about anything in between. Don’t laugh, many of you who are not Christians probably have listened and liked some of these bands. Switchfoot and POD are two that have made a huge crossover into the secular music world and are Christian bands. But these stations play the same stuff over and over and half of what they play has been around for thirty years now.
I buy a few CD’s and download some stuff and listen to Pandora, but sometimes it is just easier to turn on the radio and listen. But now, when I turn it on and hear “It’s a Holly, Jolly, Christmas” for the umpteenth time and it is just the first day of December, I can’t stand it. What really stinks is that if I do stick it out for any amount of time and don’t turn it off or switch to a secular station, I don’t and haven’t heard the best Christmas song ever, The Chipmunks Christmas.
Secular stations won’t play Christmas music for another couple of weeks. Sure they may sneak one in from time to time, and maybe the week of Christmas, but mostly, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, is when they play them. That makes them special, fresh, or as fresh as a 100-year-old song can be, and it makes Christmas unique for the couple of days that we celebrate it.
I really don’t want to hear White Christmas when it is 75 degrees outside like it often is here in South Carolina for Thanksgiving. I don’t want to hear It’s a Holly Jolly Christmas when Christmas is a month away. I don’t want to hear Away in a Manger when churches are still doing Thanksgiving sermons. I don’t want to hear Grandma Got Runned Over By a Reindeer, unless she really did during a hunting accident. The only thing I want to hear is the Chipmunks Christmas song and nobody has played it yet.
Thanks for listening and may your days be merry and bright, and may all your Christmas’s be white. By the way, I still want a HULA HOOP!

November 30, 2011

The Need To Confess

by pastortimfowler

Confession is good for the soul, and for your election campaign. From the first time that humans did something wrong, God wanted a confession. He asked Adam, “Where are you?” not because God was ignorant but because Adam needed to confess out loud what he had done and why he was hiding. I think humans have this idea that if we do not speak it, we can act like it never happened. Then you run for public office and watch the dirt come tumbling out of the closet.
If you follow politics at all, you have heard about Herman Cain and his presidential run, or at least his run to get the Republican nomination. I do not know him personally and only know what I have seen on TV about him. That means other than what he has said about himself, I don’t know much, at least if what I know is truthful or not. His campaign began to hit the right notes and his popularity began to soar and the media began to dig into his past. Recently, every time you turn on the TV you hear of another accusation of him committing sexual harassment or some sort of inappropriate behavior with a woman. Now depending on what side of the aisle you are on this is either cause for immediate withdrawal from the race, or it makes you a great president who has the right to privacy when it comes to personal matters, ie, Bill Clinton.
Either way, I want to keep this from being political and focus on how correct God is for requiring us to verbally confess our sins to him and to each other. In case you are wondering where I get this confession to each other thing, James 5:16 So admit your sins to each other, and pray for each other so that you will be healed. Prayers offered by those who have God’s approval are effective. I hope I don’t need to show you proof of our need to verbally confess to God, but you know what, here it is anyway. Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Confession does several things that help us. First it keeps us in good standing with God. 1John 1:9 tells us that if we confess, God forgives and makes us righteous. Second, it keeps us humble. Telling someone that we have committed a sin keeps us off the proverbial high horse. Third it allows for accountability. If I have someone who loves me and knows that I sin a particular sin, they can ask me the tough questions if my actions give them reason to doubt my integrity. Fourth, it allows me to move forward with whatever plans that God has for me without worrying about something being dug up from my past that will embarrass me, my family, and most of all God.
The last part is what politicians can learn from when they want to run for office. If Mr. Cain had confessed his relationships with these women, even if they were only platonic, then he would have nothing that wasn’t already known. I am not saying that he has done what they say he did, I am saying IF he did, and God, family, and friends new it, forgave it, and held him accountable from the day of confession forward, Mr. Cain may still be leading in all the polls.
When I was a kid, my parents told me that if I got in trouble, I would probably get a whipping. If I lied to try to get out of the trouble, I would get a second whipping that was worse than the first. I am not saying that I never lied, but I certainly thought harder about it knowing the consequences. And, because of their tough love and the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, I can say that lying is much harder for me as an adult than it was as a kid.
We all sin, none are righteous without the Blood of Jesus to cover our sins. But even someone who doesn’t believe in God can use the principle of confession to keep the conscious clear and our ability to live a public life without fear of embarrassing past failures biting us in the butt. There is a need to confess.

November 29, 2011

No Calendar

by pastortimfowler

As I came to the office this morning, my plan was to begin looking ahead at 2012 and trying to plan my preaching and teach subjects. As I am not the most organized person in the world, I have to try really hard to do these things and I get easily distracted by things like, looking for next year’s calendar online that has holidays listed. I did not know that you could find so many websites that are dedicated to calendars. I usually get my desk calendar at the office supply store about December 29th. I wish that I had one now, because now I am writing my plans on a sticky note and hoping that I can keep track of it until late December.
Last year, well actually it was this year, but I am in the “thinking about next year mode”, I went to a conference where I was convicted to plan out my year of preaching to allow for more prayer, and believe it or not, to look at how much time I don’t take off from being a pastor. It shocked me how little time I wanted to take off, and according to the guy who spoke at the conference, you need to schedule some away time. I usually schedule my away time in between Sundays and prepare my sermons while I am away which means I don’t use the away time for down time which he said we needed. But I did manage to work on this and I can see his point, so I am trying to plan ahead and I don’t have a calendar.
This all sounds fascinating, I know, and by now you are wondering if this is not my attempt to put off what I need to do, and it isn’t. Like I said, I wrote stuff down on a sticky note. As I was trying to find a calendar and plan my year, I was reminded that planning ahead this year might not be needed. When you type in calendar for a web search, eventually you will have to read about the Mayan calendar, which basically says that we don’t need anymore calendars now. The world is ending soon. I am excited about this possibility, but better not count on this whole not needing a calendar thing.
So I did finally get a teaching point out of this planning without a calendar ordeal. Preaching is often dictated by holidays. I try to preach an Easter sermon an Easter Sunday. I try to preach something patriotic on the 4th of July. I try to preach stuff that is relevant to the regularly scheduled holidays. I also like to plan vacations and conferences and thus have a guest speaker scheduled for those Sundays that I a gone. It is just about impossible to that if you don’t have that year’s calendar. So I got my sticky notes out and did what I could for January 2012 and decided to blog.
Do you see how easy it is to get distracted when you don’t have the right information in available? Not knowing certain facts can cause you to get sidetracked from the important stuff you are doing and get you looking for alternate sources to complete your task. This often leads to mistakes and confusion. Can you imagine me not preaching the Easter sermon on Easter? What if I scheduled a guest speaker and gave him the wrong date? What if I lose that stick note? What if the Mayans are right? What if I just decided not to preach anymore because I got distracted and started looking for facts in a place filled with lies?
These things happen to Christians all the time. The Bible tells us things that we need to do daily and we act as if they aren’t on our calendars. It tells us how to live our lives so that we are pleasing to God but we get distracted and read Cosmo and listen to Oprah. Then on New Year’s Eve we make resolutions based on last year’s failures only to plan them on a sticky note that is lost in a few days with all the other unimportant stuff we allow to clutter our lives. Sadly, we have the Bible available most of the time and still make these mistakes. It doesn’t change like the numbers on a calendar and it is always accurate for the time we need it. You just can’t make a good plan for life without right tool, a Bible.
With all this said, I guess it is time to go buy a 2012 desk calendar before I lose my sticky note.

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