Archive for ‘Christians’

October 3, 2012

Dead Car Batteries

by pastortimfowler

Car Battery

This morning I was told that my wife’s car would not start. It had been hard to start for a week or so now and we have been putting off the inevitable of buying a new battery. It’s funny that every time something goes wrong with your car that you think the worst and my wife does this well. She said, “I hope it’s not the alternator”. I am not sure if she really knows what the alternator is or does, but it sounds worse than a dead battery. But this got me thinking about our spiritual lives and I thought I would draw out this analogy.
A car’s electrical system is a lot like our spiritual life. It is all tied together and certain things can make us unable to run and in some cases even unable to start.
The battery is our free will. Although it comes fully charged, unless it is in a car that is fully functional, it is nothing but a bunch of useless chemicals. Put it in a car that is fully functional and it becomes a major part of the car’s ability to function. But of itself, the battery has no power at all. It must be charged in order for it to come to life. The factory puts the charge on the battery, but unless something is available to continually charge it, it dies.
The car has a charging system and the alternator is that which provides power to the car when it is running and charges the battery so it stays fully charged and able to start the car. This is our relationship with God or God’s will. The battery starts the car, then the alternator takes over. If you tried to run the car without the alternator, the battery would soon die and the car would cut off and not start again. So the alternator is what really provides power to the functioning car. The battery is only the starting power and the alternator is the staying power.
Our free will as Christians is constantly used to try to start our Christian life each day. That is a hard task and takes lots of power. If our spiritual batteries are not fully charged, sooner or later we will not get started at all with what God wants from us. Our free will must constantly be given over to the power and will of God in order for us to continue running as intended. It is then that we take the load off of our own abilities to function as designed and allow God to be the driving force.
As long as the car is running, even if the battery is dead or taken out of the car, the car will still run because the alternator is providing all the power. But when you cut the car off, and we all have to do this from time to time, the dead battery makes it impossible to get started again without something happening.
Often the answer is what we did for the last couple of weeks. We just used jumper cables and got some starting power from another vehicle. Other Christians can do this and in cases where the battery was just drained due to leaving the lights on while the engine was off, it might be all that is needed. But do this too often and the battery will go bad and don’t forget that over time all batteries go bad. They just are not perfect, kinda like our free will.
In the case where the battery dies, it is easy for people to jump to the wrong conclusion and say that the alternator is bad. These things rarely go bad and in the case of God’s will, it never goes bad. But when we struggle as Christians, Satan is there to tell us that it is the worse case scenario. This is kinda like my wife’s thoughts…NO! I am not calling her Satan, it just works for this analogy. When that happens we can do a couple of things. Listen to your husband, the wise Christian, to tell you that it is not as bad as you think. Getting godly council is like listening to someone who knows cars. They can help calm you down when Satan attacks with his lies.
But every car comes with an owner’s manual and they often give some very simple troubleshooting tips. In this case, the owner’s manual would say that the most likely problem is the battery. The Bible, our owners manual, will tell you that our free will is most often the problem to our challenges in life. Every now and then, we need to replace the battery. When we need to replace the battery, we go to the parts store and tell the person that we have a problem and need a new battery. If we go there and tell them that we don’t have a problem, they can’t fix it. So the obvious must be stated. This is our prayer life and God is the person to fix our dead battery.
We must confess our sins. 1John 1:9 says. If we confess our sins, God is faith and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Unrighteousness is our free will. Forgiveness is God’s will. When God replaces our will with His will, we can begin to start our days again without the whining and groaning of a dead or dying battery. Remember this, the quicker a car starts, the sooner it runs off the alternator’s power and stops draining the battery.
There is nothing wrong with replacing a battery. It must be done from time to time. Free will is the same way, it can work for a while to do God’s work, but even under the best conditions we must replace it from time to time. Dead car batteries are powerless. Dead free will is too. God’s will is the life-giving power to keep our free will full of power.

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September 10, 2012

Opps…Emotions Stink

by pastortimfowler

stress

I feel like I owe an explanation for my sermon yesterday, for those who attend my church. If you don’t, then you won’t have a clue about why I am writing this until you read it. Everyone can have “one of those days”, including the pastor. Sundays are supposed to be wonderful events and a time to hear from God, not stress out. Except for pastors, and I think to some degree we all stress out over Sundays. It is our pinnacle moment for the church and we want everything to be perfect. It rarely works that way, so we get use to it. But then there are those days when one thing leads to another and before you know it, you are about to explode.
Here is my explanation and/or excuse. Friday night I took my 7-year-old grandson camping at the beach with his Cub Scout troop. It was a 3 and a half hour drive there and a 4 and a half hour drive back; I will explain later. I stress over being around little kids. I want to tolerate them but I have to really try. We had a good time, but sleeping in a tent on the ground does not help my back, which hurts all the time, and lately has been in one of those more painful stages. Saturday, I went to the beach to body surf with the kid. Body surfing is not good for your back either. But we had a blast. Then we went down the water slide which is not good for the back, and I found out that if you get to spinning too much, you can rip you toenail off. I didn’t understand that either, but it happened. We rode bikes for hours and then packed up and started home.
About 40 minutes into my drive it started raining. I know that God said that He would never flood the world again, but I think He was showing me how hard it had to rain to accomplish this.
7-year-old boys ask a lot of questions when it is raining that hard. Driving does not help my back and stress about heavy rain and a 7-year-old asking endless questions don’t help either. By the time we got home, the normal 3 and a half hour drive was 4 and a half hours. After unpacking, and hot shower, and a few moments of sitting around updating the wife, I went to bed.
Sunday morning I woke up stiff and hurting. That is the beginning of a rough day. I got to church and most of the first few people who I saw complained about something going wrong. I usually try to hide in my office and study for my sermon, but everyone knows where to find me and did. For some reason, everything that I wanted to say in this sermon was being pushed aside and i was not sure with what I was going to say. That is stressful.
There were some people didn’t show up to do their jobs, those who were filling in didn’t want to do it and let me know, and it seemed as if every person I talked to had a complaint or didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I still did not know what I was going to talk about until the last song was played and it was time for me to give my message.
I believe that I listen to God about what I preach. Sure, I like to joke and inject a few personal things to lighten the mood, but for the most part I feel as if I am saying what God want me to say. Of all morning for Him to want me to say some tough stuff, I felt like it was then. Sure, you could say I was not in a great mood and that affected what I spoke about. But after 20 years of doing this, you learn to put the petty stuff aside. I just had to say some tough stuff this time.
My sermon was about how God expects His people to do more than come to church on Sunday. Especially if you consider yourself to be a mature Christian. We are in a spiritual battle that is raging 24/7 and most Christians want to play weekend warrior. We want to be entertained and told stuff that feels good and that is not what the Bible does for us. It is very convicting and very critical of God’s people who should know better than to get complacent. So I said what I said.
It must have been close to what God wanted said. Two people became Christians Sunday morning. Several came to me afterwards and said that they knew I was stressed, but what I said impacted them in a positive way. WHEW!
That being said, I never want people to think that I don’t care and that I am self-centered. I do love me, but I love you guys too. I want people to be blessed by being a Christian. That is God’s intent. But in order to receive the blessings, we need to fight that good fight. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.
So I want to say that I am really sorry for anybody who I may have snapped at or made feel like I was being a jerk. If you really want to know what that feels like, ask my poor wife who sees the worst side of me more than anyone. She is a saint, and I appreciate her patience with me more than she will know. But I believe that she will tell you that I try my best to say the truth, say it with love, and say only what God wants said during my sermons.
I love my church, and I love the people who go there. I want them to unashamed of the God they serve and the God who gives unconditional love and forgiveness. Sometimes tough things need to be said. Where I fail is saying them with the proper temperance and for that I can only say, sorry.

July 12, 2012

It IS About Me

by pastortimfowler

Most of them are good attitudes, but from time to time, some attitudes get negative, including my own. This is the third line from yesterday’s blog. Why did I start with it today? Because I have been blasted from people telling me that it was inappropriate to talk about other people like that. DUH…It IS about me. I was saying that even a beloved pastor can get self-centered and if I can do it, I bet you can too. (Not a good thing)
I consider myself to be the most blessed pastor in the world. My church is full of people who “get it”. They love everyone that walks through the doors regardless of how the look, color, age, or any other descriptive characteristics. They make our church a great place for people to come and feel loved and relaxed and that leads to many people coming to know Jesus. That is the most important thing in the world, not how you or I feel. And that was the purpose of the whole blog yesterday.
It is so easy to get our feelings hurt or feel like someone is stepping on our toes. As a very confident pastor, I have a vision and a direction for my church that I truly believe God gave to me. The reason I believe this is because people come to our church and then come to know Jesus every Sunday. We don’t do a show of wealth or fluffy, feel good sermons. We are modern and our band is awesome and yes, we use some lights while they are playing, but other than that, things rely on God using us to love others. For those of us who have been in church a long time, we can often get our feelings hurt if we feel like we are being neglected or our territory is being invaded or our leadership is being questioned. That is often the time of the much-needed attitude check. And so, I had to check mine.
Sometimes we need to trust that the leaders that God has put in our lives are not only thinking about themselves when they have to put their foot down about a situation. Just like CEO of a company, the pastor is overseeing the big picture and every day is thinking about how to stay heading in the right direction. Sometimes those who work in a specific area, miss how the big picture is effected by what they do. Sometimes the pastor must be firm in staying a course and when that happens, this pastor, can be less than tactful. The old saying, “It’s not what you say but how you say it” comes to mind in this case. I don’t feel like I said anything wrong, but I sure wish I had checked the attitude sooner and said it better.
God loves His people, even those who screw up. He knows that we will never be perfect and therefore, He gives us grace. I love that and need that and I try to model that. But God also does not put up with our inappropriate behavior and will be blunt and to point in correcting us. It is at that time that we can either check our attitude and learn or we can continue to be self-centered and lose sight of the big picture. I am far from being God, but I am sure of the vision, this big picture, that God has given me and the direction our church is going. Too many people are coming to know Jesus for us to be doing too much that He does not like from His church.
It is about me though. I love me and you know it. I am one of my favorite people. But I am not perfect and I admit it. For those who just had your bubble burst, I am sorry. Perfection was Jesus, I am only His servant. If someone took yesterday’s blog to be about you, then maybe you should look in the mirror. If your mirror is foggy, it is not my fault. I am looking in mine and trying to find the Windex to clean it off; ’cause when I look in my mirror and its dirty, it IS about me.

July 9, 2012

All In?

by pastortimfowler

Pool

The biggest moment in a poker tournament is what is known as the “all in” moment. Each player starts with the same amount of chips and the goal is to win the chips from the other players over the course of many hands of poker. Usually toward the latter part of these tournaments, someone decides that they have too few chips to stay in much longer but they have a great hand and so they move all their chips into the center of the table, calling, “all in”. It is at that time that reality sets in. Either this is the hand that changes the night for better or this is the time that you head home with nothing. Going all in is a risky move.
This past weekend the youth of our church went on their first ever youth retreat to Myrtle Beach. They had some work they did helping the hosts and they had some fun time also, but they had a lesson from one of the leaders asking them if they were all in. The analogy used was different though. They were near the pool and as you know, most people ease into the pool. Usually they get in up to their knees and get a feel for the water before deciding to go all in. These guys were in to the knees with God in their role as Christians. Many of them said that they believed and had even made a decision to become a Christian but none of them had committed to that all in moment. Let’s face it; this can be scary.
Are you all in? As a Christian, have you decided to test the waters by coming to church and attending a class and even giving regularly? Some of you are thinking, “what do you mean, test the waters, I thought that was all in?” Sorry, but it is not. Church is only a small part of being a Christian, but for most, it has become what identifies us as Christians. God wants more from us than a couple of hours a week. He wants us all in.
Jesus said that if we want to follow Him, we should take up our crosses as we follow. Crosses are hard to carry. I am not talking about those gold ones around the neck. I am talking the wooden ones that they hang you on with nails. Now Jesus did not expect us to literally carry crosses, but rather to realize that this walk He took was His all in moment when He carried His cross up the hill to die for the sins of the world. And if all he would have done was to talk about it, He could have been like most of us who are only testing the waters or making safe bets that won’t put us out of the game or vault us into the lead.
Christians should be different in everything we do. Not “Bible thumpers” who yell out at every one that they are going to hell, but living examples of the Bible that was written to show God’s love for the world. Our marriages should be stronger than most because they are modeled after the one that God designed. Our work ethic should be better because we work as if God were our boss. Our friendships should be better because we want to be friends that stick closer than a brother. Our faith should be our guide because we trust God and show it in the way we act in every aspect of our lives. Reading our Bibles should not be something that we don’t have time for, but rather something that there is always time for. Praying for others should be habitual and joyful and worship should show in our faces as we celebrate the King of Glory as our Savior every chance we get. And oh yeah, our willingness to do the tough things for others should never come into question as we carry our crosses so that others might be saved.
Right now I am thinking of a list of places that I need to double-check to see if I am truly all in. We don’t stay all in all of the time. But we must be willing to fearlessly accept the fact that we have gotten back into the shallow water or are only making safe bets and we must be willing to dive into the deep or push the whole stack of chips and go all in. Its your move. Will you go all in or are you bluffing? Will you take the plunge into the deep water or play it safe in the kiddie pool? Come on…Go all in.

May 9, 2012

Unbelievers and Believers Can Agree

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pierre_pouliquin/158414881/

Yesterday was crazy on Facebook with people going back and forth about the NC amendment concerning marriage. Needless to say, people are passionate about this subject. I want to address a couple of things concerning this.
First, I hate it that the church gets such a bad rap on this subject. But you can’t complain about what happens when people who are supposed to show the love of God, show the ugliness of humanity. God does not hate people. He hates sin. Sure, that means that sin must be defined and that there are people who do not agree with how it has been defined, but God is the one who calls those shots. God loves people so much that He allowed His Son, Jesus to die for those sins and receive full acceptance as His children. He made it possible for any human, no matter if you are gay or straight, rich or poor, black or white, to be forgiven and receive eternal life. As His people, we are to represent Christ by showing compassion and love and not by acting as judge and jury. I believe if the church would spend a little more time cleaning up its own back yard we wouldn’t have such a hard time when we try to clean our neighbor’s.
Second, I hate it that people who don’t believe in God get so upset at people who do. They quote the Bible, and it is often quoted very much out of context, as if it should mean something because they use it and not when Christians use it. They tell Christians that we shouldn’t force our beliefs on them, yet they have no problem trying to force Christians to accept what they believe. They act as if having no God makes them better judges of humanity than those who have a God. Sadly, all we humans can do is make a decision to believe that we are special in nature and enforce some sense of morality and laws. Because we are not of the same minds on this, there will always be issues of disagreement.
I have a good friend who is a professing non believer and we are probably on as different ends of this argument as two people can get. Yet we respect each other enough not to let this disagreement hinder our friendship. I have said a few things that he probably takes offense to and he has done the same with me. But, at the end of the day, we can’t wait to play cards together each month. That is what friends are supposed to do. But I want to conclude this with something that I think we would agree on.
He serves his fellow-man very unselfishly. He holds friendship high in his beliefs of what is important. I would like to think that he would agree that I do the same. What we need to do is address the issue of can we make a difference that helps those that we feel are underprivileged. Believers and non-believers can be involved as fellow citizens to do our part to help others. I know that the church has traditionally helped those in need. Sadly it has gotten more recognition for opposing issues than solving problems. Jesus would never do anything but love people and meet their needs. He relied on His love to change people’s hearts and cause them to want to listen to His teachings.
I do not believe that the real issue is gay or not gay, married or not married. I believe that the real concern is who a politician can get to vote for him. I would like to see the people of this great country start telling politicians that we don’t need them to baby-sit us. We need them to provide a safe and productive place for all Americans to raise a family, regardless of its make up. We, the people, should take care of our fellow-man and if someone is hurting, comfort them. If someone needs help, help them. If I as a Christian help those who Jesus helped, I will be helping anyone who needs it, not telling them that they are wrong and deserve to be in the place that they are in. If All Christians will do that, maybe there won’t be a need to have people who don’t believe quote the Bible to us. And maybe more will learn the love of God instead of hearing of the wrath of God. Yes, God is a God of love and wrath, but that is for another blog.
People who get involved in others lives for the purpose of other’s well-being will be passionate. Let’s keep the real situation in the forefront. We can and should all help. And yes, there might even be a way to disagree on a definition or an issue and still help our fellow-man as believers and non believers alike . That is my intent. What is yours?

April 27, 2012

Inferiority Holds You Captive?

by pastortimfowler

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/rubyblossom/4299889293/

This was a subject given the other day when I asked for blog ideas. It is difficult to keep this short and yet get the point across but I will try.
I am not sure if this is all bad. One of the qualities of a person who believes that they are inferior is that they are usually humble. Humility is a wonderful Christian asset and often is very hard for people who always feel confident. But I do think that there are some things that the Bible says about this and maybe this will shed a little light.
Let’s look at Moses. When He met God through the burning bush, he was told that he would be the one to deliver God’s message to Pharaoh. Moses immediately responded that he could not do it because he wasn’t good enough due to poor speech, afraid people would think he was a liar, and overall just afraid. If anyone in the Bible had an inferiority complex it was Moses. Yet he turned out to be one of the most influential people in history.
The Bible says that we were not given the spirit of fear, but of peace, love,and a sound mind. A sound mind, (and this is not saying if you feel this way that you are crazy), is the ability to think clearly because God gives us wisdom and we have faith in God. Moses was not using a sound mind when he argued with God that he could not do what God asked him to do. But God is patient and continued to overcome Moses inferior objections. Ultimately Moses had the faith to not only go to Pharaoh, but to lead his people for 40 years with God’s guidance.
The only person that the Christian is inferior too is God. We must remember, with humility, that a we are children of the King of Kings, the Lord of all creation, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.
The captivity of a feeling of inferiority is only a tool of Satan who would have us do anything other than listen to God. Jesus said, “With God, all things are possible.” Satan would say, “You can’t do what God expects of you. You are just not good enough.” Satan wants us to believe that we aren’t good enough and that God can’t or won’t use us.
We are not deserving of salvation and we can’t be good enough. We are saved because of God’s mercy and love for us. After salvation, we are co laborers with God to build His church. He equips us and gives us everything we need to be successful. We need humility to keep us from thinking that we are better than anyone else just because we are Christians, but never need to feel inferior, because Jesus said that all power and authority was given to Him and He is the one who empowers us.
We are no longer people in bondage, no matter who we are or what our personal hang ups are.
John 8:36So if the Son sets you free, you will be absolutely free.

January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr

by pastortimfowler

Today is a national holiday in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have to admit that I have never studied this man in-depth and what I know of him is limited to a few brief bio’s that I have skimmed over and what I have heard from the media, which scares me to think that I would even trust those. I do know that his desires for racial unity were good and honorable and to that I applaud him. He was a Minister of the Gospel and his compassion for the human race was rooted there.
I think that in the media’s reporting of his life there has been a severe lacking of linking Dr. King with Christianity. Again, I am not an expert on him, but just casually trying to recall all that I have heard reported about him and his life, I rarely hear that He was a minister. If I am wrong, I apologize, but to me he is made to sound more like a community activist than a man who was taking the love of Christ to the streets with a belief that it would change the world. Personally, I believe that is exactly what he was doing.
Jesus taught that those who call themselves Christians should love not only each other, be even our enemies. He taught that our neighbor should be loved like we love ourselves and that our neighbor was our fellow-man. Jesus did not segregate. He did observe the laws and customs of the day, which compared to modern American laws and customs could seem bigoted, but Jesus had compassion on all of humanity.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that he became all things to all men in hopes that he might win some of them to Jesus. This was not a statement of someone who was trying to please everyone all the time, but rather of a man who loved people enough to meet them where ever they were in life, rich or poor, Jew of gentile, Christian or not. He taught that in God’s eyes that all were sinners and that Christ died for all; red yellow black or white, it did not matter.
The Apostle James warned the church about being the type of Christians that only hear what God says but do nothing to show our faith. He warning about judging someone based on their financial status and what they wore. He challenged Christians to pray for those who were less fortunate and then to put feet on our prayers.
So Dr. King was echoing the Bible and the heart of God when he proclaimed his dream that one day little black children and little white children would live together in a world with equal rights and equal opportunity. He was echoing the Gospel as he proclaimed that we all have a responsibility to teach our children to love each other and to not look at the outside to judge one’s worthiness. Dr. King did not walk the streets shouting angrily at the injustice of the white man or the government, but rather he walked in faith knowing the truth of the Gospel was more powerful than the lies of hypocrisy and racism. He knew that the church, which is the body of Christ, was the answer and the key to all men not only being created equal, but being able to live that way in America.
Today I have the honor of working with some bold and brave black pastors who have decided to carry on the call of Dr. King look beyond race and look to Jesus to solve the issues that face of today. They have taught me more about the true person of Dr. King, the minister on the Gospel, then any book and media report I could ever hear or see. They have embraced the call for reconciliation and recognize that only Christ can truly change the heart of a man, but without the examples of men who know this truth, all is in vain. I thank them for showing me an example of the greatness of a man who loved God and loved his neighbor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

January 9, 2012

Criticism

by pastortimfowler

Lately there has been a lot a media attention about the Denver Bronco’s quarterback, Tim Tebow and his Christianity. It is funny that there has been so much criticism for him making a public display by kneeling in prayer so often. But I don’t think that Tebow should feel special, after all he did not get this thing started, and our modern media was not the first to criticize.
Jesus came on the scene as a guy that few recognized for who he was and what an impact on the world He would have. Even though there were thousands of years of prophesy pointing to His coming, those who knew the prophesies best, did not recognize Him when He made the scene. It was a very religious crowd of people who got the ball rolling toward criticizing Christianity, or in this case Christ. From there it overflowed into society and there has been a steady flow ever since.
I guess some ask, why the criticism? After all, Jesus was not a man who did a lot of intimidation to those He met. He was humble, kind, and compassionate. He was the perfect Christian, duh, and yet He got slammed by those who did not understand Him or like Him. I hear many Christians today saying that the church does not resemble Jesus very much and that is why we are criticized. I will be the first to agree that the church has gotten off track in being what Christ wanted us to be. But, there aren’t any perfect people, even Christians, so that should not be a surprise. But what about someone like Tim Tebow. What has he done that is so un-Christ like? Kneel and give God glory in public? Help little children who are needy? And yet he still gets blasted at every turn.
There is nothing Christians can do to stop this. If we are not Christ-like then we are hypocrites, if we are Christ-like then we are “holier than thou”. So what should we do? How can we stop this injustice and get everyone on our side. After all, Christians have feelings too. (Pardon me as I wipe the tears away and blow my nose.) Hopefully those who know me and read my blog regularly know that there was sarcasm in that and something else is coming. So here it is.
Stop your whining and grow up, Christians. Jesus was not a whiner. He even told us that we would be criticized. He said people would hate us. He said that should not stop us from loving people. He said to love those who hate you and pray for those who persecute you. He never told us that everybody would love us if we just acted a certain way. Christians spend far to much time holding their feelings out for the world to see and hoping to get some sympathy instead of looking for those who need sympathy and running to encourage them. We were not put here to receive praise from humanity, but rather to glorify God in heaven.
Christians are not the only people who get criticized by others. So do any other religions outside the Christian faith, and we are the ones who criticize. If we don’t like criticism, perhaps we should not criticize. I am not saying that we can’t point out differences and truths, but stop the badmouthing for the sake of nothing better to do.
But, there are others who receive criticism regularly too. Politicians, coaches, referees, teachers, lawyers, drivers, children, parents, and people who let their dogs bark all night, to name a few. In other words, Christians are not special because we get criticized by others. So get over it, please. Tim Tebow is a big boy and if he weren’t a Christian he would be criticized for his lack of passing ability, his pour throwing mechanics, and his bad decision making in games. But all that amounts to nothing when you win the game.
Christ has given us the victory! Let that overshadow the criticism.