Posts tagged ‘rock hill’

September 17, 2012

10 Years

by pastortimfowler

This weekend my wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary of being pastor at our church. It is hard to believe that they have put up with us for that long, but I do a great job of keeping the wife in check. The church even went as far as to throw us a surprise party this Saturday. We were blown away.
11 years ago I would have never believed that I would be in Rock Hill SC. I had no intentions of moving and if I did, it would not have been to here. But circumstances and God had other things in mind. Thanks to a friend of a friend who had my resume, I was called by a church to do an interview for their vacant pastor’s position. I never turn down an interview and in the church world I know how to stop a church that I don’t want to go to from considering any further correspondence. In a word, change. Start off by telling them that nothing is off the table when it comes to change. Most churches don’t like that and more importantly, they don’t think that they need it. So I let them hear all about my ideas to change everything I could about the church that they loved and knew so well. Whoda thunk it? That is what they wanted to hear.
So, and remember that this is the condensed and much abbreviated version of what happened, I was hired as pastor, we moved to Rock Hill and the change started. This 50-year-old church began a transition from one that had grown inward to about 30 people to what is now a church of 180 and growing still. It was a traditional church of suits and ties and hymns and committees and now there is a rocking praise band and blue jeans and t-shirts. We have sold that old, traditional building and bought an office complex. We went from having few kids to having more kids than our church can hold in one service, so we are starting our second worship time in a few months. We went from not having any baptisms in 5 years to having 40 already this year. We went from blue haired old ladies to blue haired kids and their moms with piercings and tattoos. We went from a church that was dying to a church that is full of life.
I would like to be able to say that I am responsible for this. I do get to say that God used me in doing this, but only God can do something this awesome. So glory to God! He is the one who made this all possible. But, I want to stop and say thanks to a few others who had an amazing part in this all.
First, my wife. Without her, I would not even want to attempt what happened. She was behind me, in front of me, and beside me the whole way. She is the details to my vision and the warmth to my fire. Her love for the church and the people of the church and for those who have not yet met Jesus is incredible.
To the five people who were in the group that met with me the first time and did not run away. They had the courage to listen not only to me, but to their hearts and to God. The had the guts to bring me to the church that was digging its own grave and helped to breathe life back into it. They are still around and I hope that they are proud of what they did. I know that God is pleased.
To the two guys who have been with me 8 of the 10 years serving as associate pastors. There has never been a paycheck for either of them. They have served though, as if they were getting rich. They have supported my crazy ideas and given my a few to support in return. They have stuck it out when it looked like it was falling apart and held up my arms when I was getting weary.
To the people who have heard God’s call to become His children and then trusted us to train them up. A church is only as good as its people and that makes our church phenomenal! So many people have come to know Jesus and grown to become servants and worked to build the church. They have remembered where they came from and loved on everyone who walked through the doors. They were there to celebrate our tenth anniversary and it was awesome!
So thanks to all who had a part. In ten years the church turned around from one of traditions and rules to one of celebrations and grace. We have gone from rarely seeing a soul saved to one that rarely meets on Sunday without some getting saved. From a church that didn’t look a lot like Jesus, to one that must look a lot like Jesus to the hundreds who have come to know Him over the last ten years.
I can’t wait to see what the next ten years holds. Something tells me it will be even better than these have been and that, is a hard act to follow. My name is Tim and I am the pastor of a church called The Body, A Church for Anybody.

January 3, 2012

What Is Important To You?

by pastortimfowler

Here is my first blog of 2012. What is important to you?
I have a friend who pastors a church in the Philippines and although I have only met him personally once, he has an amazing impact on me and my ministry. When we first met nine years ago, I had just been called to pastor a dying church in Rock Hill and he had just started a church in his home town in the Philippine Islands. He was trying to raise money for his ministry and I was trying to find hope in a church that had decided to turn inward and reject the people who lived all around.
Our church had a million dollar building bought and paid for, that included a full kitchen, class rooms, bathrooms, a 400 seat auditorium, and, despite being located in a part of town that was known for its crime and poverty, we have the full support of the police and government. His church was meeting in a graveyard because it was safer than anywhere in town. They had no classrooms, no running water, and if they were caught, they could be killed because of some of the terrorist groups that inhabit the islands and a government and police force that does not have the means to protect them.
Today, I pastor a church that has closed the original church, sold the building, and relocated. We have grown from a group of about 30 to a group of 150 and we have a different building with all the amenities of the previous building. It has been a challenge and a joy to see the change, and despite what I think as challenges, they pale in comparison to my friend’s nine years at his church.
They finally got a building, we would call it a roof over some chairs. They have grown numerically as well and I am sorry to say that I don’t have the numbers to report. They still don’t have it as nice as we do and probably never will, but they continue to grow and worship, despite the unending threats. Last night we talked and he told me that his health was a challenge due to diabetes and they are praying for the finances to be able to by a vehicle to transport people who live too far to walk to church.
In our conversation he told me that God was bigger that health or wealth problems. He said that God has never let him down and had always given them more than they deserved. He was optimistic and hopeful for the new year and knew that God would provide for their needs and allow them to continue to grow and prosper.
If our churches in America were in the same predicament as his, they would close and people would abandon their “faith”. I have seen people leave the church because they did not get their way in choice of color of carpet. I have seen people leave the church because the music was too loud, too slow, too new, or too old. I have seen people complain because there was not enough parking to keep them from having to walk too far in a parking lot. I have seen people complain about not having a playground or not having the temperature of the heat or AC set to their liking. I have heard complaints about my sermons being too long, too topical, too much about money or too much about a particular sin. I have had people refuse to be baptized because the water was too cold and refuse to become members because the church did not have a softball team.
My friend baptizes in a muddy river, has no AC, no parking lot and few vehicles to get people there. They have no carpet, no video system, and no playground. They complain about having to leave too soon if the pastor doesn’t preach and teach long enough. They risk physical harm and even death and still they join the church. They bring their friends and family and then they bring others. They believe that what they have is a blessing and they receive anything more with utter amazement that God would show them such grace. They think the most important thing that they have is their salvation from Jesus Christ. Because of this they make their church and their ministry about reaching lost people and not comforting themselves. They believe that God has and will supply all of their needs and because of that, they make the most important thing in their lives, God.
What is important to 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.

December 14, 2011

Taxes

by pastortimfowler

I will try my best not to be too political on this one, but… I received my property tax notice for some rental property that we have in another county and was shocked to see that our mobile home was assessed at just $2000 less than we paid for it. So I decided that I would make a trip to have that challenged. You can’t do it over the phone or by mail or online, it must be done in person. You can pay online, via mail or phone though. Once there, a 1.5 hour drive, it took 3 minutes for me to fill out a 5 question form and be told that it would take 6 to 8 weeks and that I needed to go ahead and pay it before it was delinquent.
I do not mind paying taxes, they do provide the government with a way to provide the necessary provisions of education, fire and police and the ever important land fill. And, Jesus said that it was appropriate to pay taxes and I want to be a good citizen and a good Christian. So what is my complaint you ask?
My mobile home is like any other mobile home, it depreciates in value every year. Not to mention that even regular homes have depreciated in value over the last few years due to the struggling economy. For the last 5 years my mobile home has gone up in value twice and stayed at that value for three straight years. This is a single wide, 1999 model mobile home. It is not on the same tax bill as the land that it sits on, so that does not account for the value at all. In fact, thanks to our legislators, once I feel like I don’t want to live in or rent this anymore to someone, I can’t even sell it and have it moved. Any mobile home over 10 years old can not be moved in this county so it must be torn down and taken to the land fill I am paying for. So really it looks like it is of even less value since it turned 10 years old, 2 years ago.
We had a friend look up the blue book value of this and it was not even half of what the tax bill claimed it to be valued at. So I asked the lady if they found my claim to be valid and adjusted the value of the home, would they go back a few years and refund me the money that I was overpaying. She said, “Oh no! We can’t do that!” I asked her if I owed back taxes if they would require me to go back and pay them and she said, “Why yes we would.” I said to her, “That doesn’t seem fair now,does it?” To which she said, Sir. Will that be all today?” I told her it would and wished her a Merry Christmas.
I don’t use the land fill in this county. I don’t use the schools in this county and judging from the people who are educated there and now working in the tax offices, they don’t use them either or they aren’t learning much when they do. I rarely complain and pay my taxes on time. I just wish that when I over pay, that they would do what is right and give my money back.
But that is the problem with paying more taxes. The more you pay, the more they keep, and no one gets anymore service from them. The schools are not any better, just ask someone who has kids in them. The police and firefighters don’t get paid what they deserve and the people in the tax offices are not doing their jobs to the best of their ability. But at least people who don’t work will get a check in the mail and people who don’t legally belong in our country will receive a free education and medical treatment. But most importantly, I get to throw my trash in what ever land fill I choose between the two counties that I pay taxes in. Hopefully one day I will get rich and can pay even more taxes to cover the lazy, the illegal, and the bureaucrats who get paid from my hard work through all these years.

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.

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.

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