Archive for August, 2013

August 27, 2013

Is drinking alcohol a sin?

by pastortimfowler

Lately I have heard a few concerns about a statement that I make from time to time. That statement is. drinking alcoholic beverages is not a sin. Before you go off on a rampage, let me say that I do not encourage people to drink such beverages. I spent most of my teen years and young adult years as a drunk and saw my dad throw away his marriage due to alcoholism. This is a subject that I have intimate first hand knowledge about and do not take it lightly.
I would love nothing better than to be able to say that the Bible prohibits the drinking of alcoholic beverages. I know that there are restrictions of priests and some say that because we are a “royal priesthood” that is applies to us, but I just find too much that contradicts that. What I am required to do as a pastor is to tell the truth, even it goes against my personal feelings.
If drinking alcohol was a sin, then Jesus caused people to sin with His first miracle of turning water into wine and in the Lord’s Supper where wine is used. If my understanding of scripture is correct, it would be better for one to have a millstone tied around his neck and thrown into the sea than to cause someone to sin. Jesus was sinless. Paul, not sinless, told Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach problem. Medicinal I know, but we don’t excuse a sin for medical purposes.
What is a sin is drunkenness. The abuse of strong drink in a habitual and destructive nature. I was sinning in my abuse of alcohol. I neglected family, friends and mostly, God. Drinking a glass of wine, a beer, or a scotch is not a sin. Oh how I wish it was, but this is not about my wishes or feelings and I can’t change God’s word for my own.
Now for what is a sin. Causing someone who struggles with alcoholism and is now seeking God for deliverance to fall back into drunkenness. That is a good reason for Christians to not drink in public or in front of others who may be one temptation away from falling back. In my church we have many who are in this place of recovery or deliverance. We offer a 12 step program to help them. If I were able to drink a glass of wine on occasion and this act were to be seen by someone in recovery, it could cause them to question their own ability to “just have one glass”. If my actions cause this new believer to fall back into sin, I am guilty. So Christians need to be mindful of our actions and their impact on others.
The other sinful situation of drinking alcohol that comes to mind is the one of needing a drink to “take the edge off”. You have a long hard day at work and your boss has been busting your chops all day. Everything you did went wrong even when you knew it was right. So you come home and open the fridge and grab a cold one.
If Jesus says to bring Him your burdens and troubles but you take them to Bud first, that sounds a lot like having a god before Him. Why not grab your Bible and read it for that encouragement and to take to edge off? Why not go straight to a quiet place and pray about that tough day? What do your children think when mommy or daddy say that they need a beer instead of, I need Jesus?
Drinking is not in and of itself sinful. Can it be? Yes. Far too often we are more concerned with our own wants than others and alcohol is our first thought rather than Jesus and that is sinful.
Be careful with how you throw around judgement. Be careful how you throw down your drinks. Both can feel good and in the proper time be sinless, but most of the time, we are the ones who are sinning, not someone else. Alcohol has its place and can be enjoyed in the right situation, but far to often, because of our sinful nature, we make it sinful out of our lack of concern for others or our neglect of turning to God first in all things.
It is my prayer that one day every alcoholic can receive that freedom that I did. But if Christians make it easy for an alcoholic to excuse their sin, we have just stepped into a sin that is just as great.

August 27, 2013

Is drinking alcohol a sin?

by pastortimfowler
August 22, 2013

Three things that make my marriage GREAT

by pastortimfowler

In Ephesians 5, the Bible tells us that marriage between a man and a woman is a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. With that in mind, when people look at my marriage, I want them to see something special. The problem I have is my lack of perfection. But there is a solution to that and it is one of the three things that I attribute to having a great marriage.
I can’t tell you that it is easy, but it is worth every bit of the effort. So here are three things that make my marriage great and not necessarily in order.
1. We have great fun together. Even though we don’t like the same things, for instance, I like baseball and she likes movies and we don’t share those likes, we enjoy it when the other person is having fun and are willing to sacrifice for the other’s joy. We do enjoy each others company more than we dislike anything else. Fun is not always about mutual likes, but learning to share mutual joy. We love to laugh together and have found things that we love to do together like riding the motorcycle and scuba diving. But the one thing we love to do together as much as anything is be together and that is fun!
2. We have great trust. Trust is earned and the more you earn the less work it takes. We don’t worry about what is happening while the other is away. We don’t worry about how to figure out what the other is feeling because we share it openly. No one can help me out of emotional struggles more than my wife and vice versa. We fully trust each other with our emotions and our actions. That leads to far less stress and little to no wrongful jealousy. Each time we act in trust our relationship, we gain respect and love. You see, I don’t believe in falling in love, I believe in growing in love. Trust grows love.
3. We have a great Savior. If we were left to use only the love of mankind to make our marriage great we would be continually acting in a self preserving way. This is the cause of failure in most marriages. Sure, you can have a successful marriage without God, but you must love sacrificially. That is God’s love for us through Jesus. It is His attempt to reconcile us to Himself because of our sins that separate us from having a relation that He designed for us to have. That is the principle that I spoke of from Ephesians 5. That our marriage should show that same selfless love so that others can find hope. This is hard to do. I love me, but I must love my wife as much as I love me. I must be willing to sacrifice my well being for hers. When that happens, she can then trust me enough to submit to my leadership out of love and trust that my leadership has her best interest at heart. Although I have a ways to go before I can claim success in this type love, I can say that with every step I take in that direction, our marriage is greater. I am not satisfied with having a great marriage. I want a perfect marriage. But since perfection is only available in Christ, I will continue to strive for greater.
There you have it. 3 things that make my marriage GREAT!.

August 14, 2013

Get Married

by pastortimfowler

I was curious about how many people live together (with a girlfriend or boyfriend) before they get married so I did some research. It seems that nearly 75% of couples who are now married lived together before the got married. Slightly over 50% of those who lived together never got married. So this made me think about how this looks among Christians and what I found is that these statistics don’t change very much. Much like divorce, being a Christian has little to do with the numbers of people who live together outside of marriage or get divorced. I think that is a terrible witness for the Christian.
The Bible is very clear about what God thinks about sex outside of marriage and divorce. Hold on! Before you jump to some weird ideas of my opinion, I want to challenge you to take the Bible for its word if you are a believer and if you are not a believer, then it really doesn’t matter. But there is another point I will be making so don’t quit yet.
I also want to stress that God’s grace and forgiveness is greater than any sin and He loves people, not their sins.
So here is the weird twist on my thinking. What right do Christians have to condemn gays who want to get married when we (Christians) think so little of what God tells us about marriage? No, I don’t think that two men or two women should get married. As long as there has been civilization on the planet, marriage has been defined as the union of a man and a woman. I don’t think that should change because two people of the same sex who disagree, want to live together as a couple. I don’t care if they have the same rights and benefits, and if the laws are changed to give them these rights, it is fine with me. I just think it should be called something else besides marriage. I mean, if I am in love with my dog or my motorcycle, should it be called marriage if we go through a ceremony? Let’s not get distracted though.
This is about hypocrisy in the Christian community. It is about Christians doing one thing and condemning another instead of fixing what is wrong in their own lives. Jesus said it like this: “Before you try to take a speck out of another’s eye, first take the beam out of your own”.
God made marriage to be awesome! God made it to be a way to share in life’s good and bad and express love that lasts for a lifetime. He did not make it to be easy and without challenges, in fact Jesus also said “that in this world we will have troubles”. But God did say that marriage was sacred. Why is that hard for someone who believes that they are saved and going to heaven, but doesn’t take something like marriage seriously?
In a strange way, the gay community is trying harder to do what is right than those Christians who are living together outside of marriage and throwing their marriage away in divorce. At least they (gays) believe that marriage is worth fighting for.
So Christian; if you are fighting hard to stop gay marriage but you are not fighting hard to follow what God tells you to do about marriage…shut up! You have no room to condemn or judge. God loves gay and straight. Jesus died for us all. He loves all of mankind and desires those who claim to be His to act like it means something more than insurance to keep you out of Hell.
For 33 years I have been married to the woman of my dreams. God has blessed us with children and grandchildren and with a life that is fulfilling in every way. I can wholeheartedly say that marriage is the best thing that has happened to me. I can tell anyone who asks that marriage is great and worth every minute that I have invested in it. Until the Christian community can get on board with this through their actions, no one will believe our words.
Perhaps we should take a page from the gay community and fight to get married and stay that way. Just remember this; sin is sin. Until the sin in your life is covered by the blood of Jesus, whatever you are doing is going to fall short of God’s plan for you.

August 5, 2013

Dead people can’t be saved

by pastortimfowler

I was not going to do it, but I just can’t stand it any more. I was not going to comment on the George Zimmerman case, but people wanted me to blog about it and I figured oh well, I haven’t ruffled feathers in a while, so here it goes.
As a dad, there is nothing I fear more than having that dreadful call about a child of mine being killed. It doesn’t matter if it was an accident or something intentional, it is unfathomable. I think if someone were to murder them in cold blood, I would have a hard time doing the right thing, biblically speaking, which in my opinion is the only right thing. I am afraid that I might take the law into my own hands and exact some justice my way. I hope that I never have to find out how I would react. That being said, my heart breaks for Travon’s parents. I pray that God will give them comfort as only He would be able to do.
But, this was not cold blooded murder. It was an action that was founded in law. Sure, many disagree with the law, but that does not change the facts of the law. On the other hand, many agree with the law, including myself. I have my conceiled weapon permit and carry a firearm. The South Carolina law is very similar to the Florida law and because of the way it is taught and implemented, it does allow for the type of self defense that happened in this case.
Travon was not a little kid. He was 17 years old and if he were the one on trial, he would have been tried as an adult. He was not innocent in actions that were involved in this case. He did intend to do bodily harm to Mr. Zimmerman. He could have ran away and not chosen to come back to confront the person who was “following” him. But under that law, Mr. Zimmerman reacted the way he was taught was legal and acceptable. If we don’t like this, we should fight to change the law, not the facts.
So here we are today with two people forever effected by a situation that cannot be changed. One is dead and the other is trying to move forward with what life has given him. We can’t change death, but we can change life.
God offers hope to those who are alive. I pray that Travon knew Jesus as Savior. If so, he is fine now. I hope the Mr. Zimmerman knows Jesus as Savior. If not, there is still hope. Murder is not unforgivable. Murder is not the ultimate sin. The Bible says that if we obey every one of God’s laws but one, then we are guilty of them all. Why? Because we are talking holiness; God is holy, and not us. Like purified water can be made impure by the smallest of contamination, we are made unholy, even by the smallest of sin. But Jesus payed our death penalty for our sin as our Sacrifice on the cross. He took our place so that we can stand in His holiness.
Too many church people have been fighting about one side or the other of this tragic case. What we need to do is let lawyers and politicians deal with that and focus on praying for the on thing that our faith can change; salvation for those who are still alive. That doesn’t change what you think about the outcome of the trial, but it may change the outcome of eternity.
Before you assume that I am crazy, Mr. and Ms. Christian, let me remind you of a few people in the Bible. Moses was a murderer. God used him after he decide to follow God. David was a liar, murderer, and adulterer and was still said to be a man after God’s heart and Jesus was called, Son of David. Then there was Paul, who may not have directly killed anyone, but certainly authorized many Christians to be put to death including Stephen, one of the first deacons of the church. All repented, turned to God and were forgiven and used by God.
So who is to say that Mr. Zimmerman can’t be used of God if God so chooses? Who are we to let our outrage stop us from praying for his salvation? If you don’t agree with the verdict but God were to ask you to share your faith with Mr. Zimmerman and you don’t…Then Mr. Zimmerman dies and goes to hell. Would that not make you a murderer too?
Christians must overcome emotions to do what God says. We are to pray for all men to be saved. We are to spread hope and peace and love. I can’t think of anything that Travon’s parents need more right now, can you?