Archive for ‘Death’

August 27, 2012

She Was A Mutt

by pastortimfowler

 

 

People always ask you what breed your dog is and for many, the only answer is mutt. That is the mixed breed that usually gets rescued from a shelter or given to you because someone got them for free and couldn’t keep them. Abby was a mutt, given to me by my daughter when she was first living on her own and obviously did not realize that raising animals cost money. Abby was a mix breed of beagle, basenji, and human. I threw in the human part because I believe she really thought she was a human.
I got her when she was big enough to fit in my hand. At that time I was in between churches, a rough time for a pastor, and she was a convenient thing to occupy my mind and my time. During that year, we did everything together. I taught her how to do tricks, she went fishing with me, and she even road the motorcycle with me. I had never had an inside dog, and to be honest, never intended to have one, but, she worked her way in.
I have a habit of giving people and I guess pets too, nicknames. She had two. G-dog, that stands for girl dog. She would respond to that and as the years went by, she even knew that I was talking to her when I just called her G. Her other nickname was Babygirl. That was what I called her when it was just me and her and we were chilling together, either kicked back in the recliner together or laid out on the couch. If I called her that, she expected some lovin’. I heard that you really only give nicknames to people and things that you are really fond of. I guess that’s true.
Abby was 12 years old. She got sick Friday night, nothing to be alarmed about, just some pukin’. For a mutt, she was very expensive. She had a sensitive stomach, she had incontinence and had been on meds for that forever. I think I spent more on her than anyone could spend on the most elaborate pure breed. But this time, I guess it was worse than an upset stomach like it had been so often before. By Sunday morning she had not eaten in two days. She loved eating, so I knew that to be a problem, but she was still walking around and looked okay. I was going to take her to the vet first thing Monday morning, and even cancelled going fishing with a friend because of it. Sunday night she was sleeping in my recliner, then got up and went to lay under the AC vent. About 3am she had her first seizure. It was bad and I pick her up to comfort her, and knew that she would not be here much longer. After several more seizures and an hour later, she died in my arms.
Someone once told me if it hurts really bad, it must be love. It was just a dog though. But God gives us opportunities to experience love in some crazy ways. Some might question why God would let us love something so much then take it from us. I look at it differently. He could let us never love at all. Everything on this earth is His and He loves us enough to let us experience loving His creation.
Job 12:10 –The life of every living creature and the spirit in every human body are in his hands. God does not have to let us love things that He owns. The years of pleasure and joy and yes, love I experience with G-dog was worth the hurt I feel right now.
I don’t know if dogs go to heaven. I told people that she would because I helped her accept Jesus. But I do know that every creature on this earth is precious to God. Matthew 10:29 –Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s permission. So God knew when Abby was taking her last breath. It was His plan. God knows our pain and knows our sorrow when people and things close to us die. Death does have a sting, because it is the enemy. It takes the things we love. But what if we never knew that love?
But death can’t take the memories and the joy. It can’t take away the love. Love lasts forever. Time will ease the pain, but the pain is a reflection of the love, now with no recipient.
I am really gonna miss my dog, even if she was a mutt. Thanks be to God for letting me take care of her for 12 years. It was worth every minute, even the last few painful ones.

July 27, 2012

So Long My Friend

by pastortimfowler

I asked you guys to pray for my friends the other day and I am grateful to all who did. I have to give you an update, and at first it seems sad. James died of complications of his illness last night. Because of this, I ask you to continue to praying for his wife and kids. As much as this sucks for them right now, I know that time and God’s grace will allow for things to get better.

James was a Christian. That means now he is better. No more sickness or pain, for him. That sounds great and is true according to what the Bible teaches and in that case I am jealous. But on the other hand, family and friends are left to deal with the sorrow and heart-break of his death. Nothing but time will help that and it is easy to begin to doubt God. That is okay though; God can handle that. He knows what it is like to have someone close die.

God knows that death is an enemy and we are told that the last enemy to be defeated is death. It is a momentary hiccup in the fabric of time that separates what we know and what God knows. Eternity is that close, and wow, in times like this, it is closer than I ever thought. But we are not left to guess what happens after someone dies. For those who believe in this stuff, God says if you have asked Jesus to take your sin penalty for you, you go to heaven. James made that decision several years ago and handed death over to God and accepted the gift of life.

James and I were really getting to know each other in the last year. I thought I knew him, but didn’t. He was really an intense guy who had a wacky past like me. He was funny, while at the same time kept it real. I found out that his faith was stronger than I thought and that was so refreshing.

While we didn’t have enough time with James for my satisfaction, God has promised us an eternity when this life is over. Now, his faith is no longer about what he believes. He has seen it for himself that God is real. He understands what we don’t; the answer to the question, why? He is laughing at our doubts and if I know James, laughing at me and some of the ways I struggled giving answers to things in the Bible that make no sense to us, but now make perfect sense to him. He has seen the beginning of life and knows that there is now no end. He is probably not worried about whether the chairs in the worship center are lined up straight or not. He knows the words to songs that Wanda tries to get us to sing louder and knows the words to songs that only those in heaven can sing. He even knows why that stupid video system doesn’t always work that drives me and Sheila crazy. Somehow I don’t think we will let it bother us as much anymore. (Hey James. Could you at least ask God to let it all work together just once for us?)

There is still a need for prayer. There is still a need for time and for sure, a need for God’s grace. I thank you all for your part. I thank God for the grace and for the time we had with James. I will straighten the chairs this week James, I am sure you have more important things to do.
So long my friend.

November 17, 2011

Life Insurance

by pastortimfowler

Rock Hill SC is not tornado alley, but that does not change the fact that a tornado touched down and took the lives of 3 people yesterday. It is hard to imagine that yesterday morning, if you had asked these people, “do you think that you will die in a tornado today?” that they would have done anything other than laugh at you. Yet here we are facing the horrible truth that it happened and they are gone.
As always, I hope that these people knew Jesus as their Savior. I did not know any of them, but that doesn’t change the sorrow I feel because of this tragedy. It does not change that I hope they had eternal security and if that is true, ultimately they are okay now. I pray for the family members that are left to question why this happened and that they will find peace that only comes from God. Again I will continue to pray for them and there are already efforts to reach out and help those who have lost there possessions as well.
Most of us have probably thought about a scenario in which we meet our death. No, I am not being morbid, just blunt. Every time I fly I think about it. Often when I ride my motorcycle on long trips I think about it. But most of the time death is the farthest thing from my mind. And on most days which start off as normal as yesterday did, I don’t think about death at all.
Here is the problem. If we don’t think about death, and most importantly, what happens after we die, we are leaving eternity to chance and that is a chance I had rather not take. Very few people truly think that when you die, that’s it, the switch is off and nothing else happens. But we are confused on what to believe about the many possibilities. Even those who are Christians have some differing thoughts about what happens after death and I find that strange. Maybe we make it too complicated. Here is what the simplicity of the Bible says.
Hebrews 9:27 People die once, and after that they are judged. To be judged, there must be a conscious state after death. To be judged, there must be a standard of judgement. To be judged, there must be a Judge. To be judged, there must be a crime.
The crime, is called sin. An eight year old once gave me this definition of sin and I like it and think it is biblical. Sin is anything that you think, say, or do, that does not please God. The standard of judgement is holiness. God is holy and tells us that we are not. Sins reward is death and death is the vehicle in which we are brought to trial. No one is holy, not among humans. We all sin. One sin means that we are not holy and thus death is imparted. God is our judge, through Jesus Christ as our advocate. If you have accepted the death of Jesus as payment for your sin, He proclaims your penalty paid in full and commutes your death sentence to life in Heaven. If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, He says that He does not recognize you as His client and the death penalty is carried out. Not believing in Jesus or God will not stop this trial nor will it get you leniency. Proclaiming that you did not see the speed limit sign does not stop the officer from giving you a ticket.
We are not sure if we will have a tomorrow. Death can sneak up on us in many ways and much too often, when you least expect it. That is why many people carry life insurance, which provides for the family after you are dead. It does not return life to those who die. The only way that can happen is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. This is life insurance that helps those who die. It is free and not because of a government mandate. It is free because God loves us and does not want to have to judge us as guilty sinners, but rather forgiven children. To get this insurance all you have to do is ask. Romans 10:13 So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

October 26, 2011

No Accident

by pastortimfowler

A good friend of mine has been in the hospital for the last few days and thankfully he is about to be released. It was really weird the way it happened and how quickly it turned dangerous. One day he is at the doctor for a minor problem, an infection, and the next day he is in ICU because his blood pressure had bottomed out. I will probably regret saying this, but thank goodness his wife kept nagging at him to go to the emergency room and get checked out. I know that she will not call it nagging, but us guys know what I’m talking about.
Whenever this type thing happens it always causes me to reflect on how short this life is and how quickly we can lose it. My friend is a guy about my age, so young, and relatively healthy and a week ago you would have never thought that he would be in the hospital, much less ICU. We can have someone we love with us today and tomorrow God can take them away. It reminds me of this verse from the Bible: James 4:14 You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. We rarely think of life this way until we are faced with these things.
So, what are you doing to make the most of this life? If you are like me, I often think about selfish things, like watching the football game or going fishing. But I am talking about making the most of life so that others can have it better. We are put here for a reason and somehow I don’t believe it was to be selfish. If so we are only here by mistake and there is no Creator, and if that’s the case, forget everyone, I’m going fishing.
When faced with the possibility of death being near, we often think, is there anything after this? There are very a few choices for what happens after death. If there is no God, no Creator, no Higher being who has any moral fortitude, then we don’t have to worry about what we do in this life. Unless you believe in reincarnation, but even then if there is no judge of what is a good life, then it is just the luck of the draw. With my luck, I would come back as a cricket or a worm being sold in a bait shop. But if we die and that is it, life just ends, we should not worry about doing anything more than what feels good to self. I can’t even make a good argument for being a good husband and father if there is no moral higher being that we have to answer too when we die.
As a pastor I have had to sit in hospital rooms with people who are dying, both young and old. I can’t recall anyone ever saying that they wished they had done more for themselves, but rather the opposite, they wish they had done more for others. Funny how people closest to death think very seriously about what is after death and those of us who seem to be a long way from death seem to be quite selfish thinking. But with what happened to my friend, healthy one day and in ICU the next, we all should be thinking a little more about how close to death we might really be.
I wrote in my blog yesterday that I wished that people would think a little more for themselves about things instead of listening to what others say. I think that holds true for how we think about God. I believe that there is a Creator who loves me and will judge the things that I have done. I believe that He offers forgiveness because He loves me and that He wants me to know Him. I believe that God wants everyone to know Him and that if we just thought logically, we might have reason to think that perhaps there is a God. Just look at the world around us. It has design and purpose and where there is design and purpose there is a designer. Let me leave you with this to think about.
If you had never seen a watch, but found one as you were walking along the beach one day, would you think that the watch formed by accident? After all, the sand contains the minerals needed to make the watch and the force of the ocean and gravity and the occasional asteroid crashing into the beach would create the heat needed to form the glass and if lightening stuck at the right time it would cause an electrical charge that would power the watch, right? Of course not. Although you couldn’t explain it, you would think that someone made it. Perhaps a watch maker.  And if you searched, you could find this watchmaker or at least someone who knew him or enough about him to learn what the watch was and how to use it.
I can tell you about my Creator, if you really want to know. Life is not an accident.

October 4, 2011

Ashes To Ashes?

by pastortimfowler

My dear friend is at it again; asking me to blog about stuff that is not the easiest to explain and of course, I don’t just explain, I opine. I often wonder what is really at work inside my friend’s head and I am sure that I don’t really want to know. So…the question was about cremation and should Christians be cremated.
If you watch much TV you have heard the minister at a funeral say something like, ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. It sounds good, but we did not come from ashes and the Bible never mentions coming from ashes or returning to ashes. The Bible does say that we came from dust and will return to dust. That is one reason for a Christian to believe that it is proper to be buried. So before I go any further I will state that cremation is not a Christian or Jewish tradition or religiously appropriate way of disposing of a dead person, (or a live person in case you were wondering).
I can’t find where there is a specific punishment for cremating a body, either for the living who instruct this to happen of the dead who is burned. This body that we live in is perishable and not the one that Christians believe to receive after physical death. That will be a glorified body, immortal and incorruptible according to the Apostle Paul’s writings. This does not mean that we are not to follow the examples of the Bible though. If you see something that is only practiced by the people of God and another practiced only by those who are not people of faith in God, then it is a logical assumption to do what that example says, even if there are no consequences mentioned. One of the commands of Jesus is to follow Him. Guess who was buried? Jesus. When Moses died, according to Deuteronomy 34:5,6, God buried Moses. Every mention of Godly men and women who die in the Bible stated that they were buried. Some may argue that Jesus was placed in a tomb, but it was not a man-made structure, rather a cave or dug out place in a hill. Genesis 3:19, Psalm 104:29 and Job 10:9 all state that we return to dust, reflecting burial in the ground of some sort.
There are several mentions of cremation in the Bible. The term cremate is not generally used, but it is stated that the dead were burned. Some modern translations of the Bible may use the word cremate, but I am not sure. These cremations were always mentioned when disposing of those who were wicked or rebellious. 1Samuel 31:12, 2Kings 23:20, and Amos 2:1 all speak of burning the dead and those who were being burned were not God’s people.
One reason for cremation not being a Christian way of disposing of a body is because burning was also a way of offering sacrifices. On the altar of God, the blood and the fat of the animals sacrificed were burned and the meat was eaten. This was an act of worship that God instructed for as long as the sacrifice has been instructed. Pagan religions also offered sacrifices and some even offered human sacrifices, thus burning the bodies. It was not just the blood and fat, but the whole body that was burned, because except in the extreme cases of cannibalistic people, it was never appropriate to eat human flesh. Even the Israelites fell into the hideous traps of human sacrifice and began to offer their children as burnt offerings. God finds this appalling.
So that is why I never suggest to anyone that they cremate a loved one who has died. Sure it may be cheaper to cremate, but it is not the way that God shows us to dispose of the human body once the soul has left it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to that dead person, and I am not sure how it may affect the living who make that decision, but if we are to follow God’s example, we will bury the dead. Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow, you will produce food to eat until you return to the ground, because you were taken from it. You are dust, and you will return to dust.”

June 14, 2011

Say It Now

by pastortimfowler

I had the honor today of doing a funeral for a friend whose uncle died the other day. Funerals are how we say good-bye to those who leave this life. It is one of the hardest things for a family to do, to plan a funeral that encompasses the wants and desires of every family member hoping to say I love you one last time in one last way. As a pastor, I get to listen to those stories and try to tie it all together in a way that offers hope and at the same time give the sense that I heard what they hoped to say.
We all live with family and friends in a world that has us so connected that we literally don’t go much more than minutes and at best hours without talking to someone either through voice or text or a social network. I find myself looking for something funny to say, just to say something to let my friends and family know that I am think about them. Sometimes I want to call my wife and just say I love you in hopes of brightening her day, but she can’t always take my calls at her work. But too often I say the silly things instead of saying the important.
Life is short. The older you get the more you realize this. I remember as a kid thinking that the summer was such a long time, and now, summer had just started and I can already think about fall and the cooler weather to come as if it were coming tomorrow. Birthdays and anniversaries fly from one to the next and a year seems far too short now. Days can be missed with the blink of an eye and children grow into adults faster now than ever before. In reality, time does not go faster, a year is still 365 days, but the perspective on that time is really different with more time spent on this earth.
After every funeral I do, I spend time thinking about what is really important in life. I think about spending better time if I can’t spend more time with the ones I love. I think about what I need to teach those who are following behind me and if what I am teaching will mean anything after I am gone. One thing that I am always reminded of is that saying I love you and acting like it really need to match up. Teaching the importance of taking responsibility for things in life that you are responsible for and that people are watching everything you do, so do it well. I also remember that because people are watching, I need to act like the Jesus that I tell people about.
But most importantly, I need to remember that once I am gone, and others are telling people about me and my influence in life, that I have nothing more to say. When life ends, so does the chance to tell someone who you love them and that you are proud of them and that Jesus loves them. When life ends, so does your ability to say those things, so say it now!

April 26, 2011

The Death Penalty

by pastortimfowler

I am going to have to stop asking for inputs on topics for my blogs. Some of you are purposefully messing with me, I think. Why can’t you give suggestions like, what is the meaning of life, and where do babies come from? (If these two topics show up in the suggestions, I will not respond now)
So I was asked about my feelings on the death penalty. I feel like I am about to lose a few more readers, but I can live with the remaining two or three.


First let me say that the death penalty was not man’s idea, it was God’s. So, I am for the death penalty. What I am against is injustice or misuse of the system. Because man is now the administrator of the law, there are going to be mistakes and abuses. But that does not justify doing away with a system of justice that God put into place.
One of the purposes of the law is to show us our flaws as humans. God knew that we could never be a lawless people because it would allow us to become nothing more than animals. He also knew that we could never keep every law and that allows us to see that we are not perfect and the we need a justice system. When we break a law, the completion of that law comes when the justice is administered and the penalty is paid. In the worst of cases, that penalty was death. The purpose of these penalties was to discourage breaking the law and to restore to those who are victims a sense of justice being served.
Death was the penalty for the most heinous crimes. The ones that if you committed, you were a more dangerous to the community than the risk of keeping you alive was worth. When the death penalty was first given it was to be administered quickly and publicly. Quickly because you were a risk to society and you did not deserve to continue living because of the crime you committed and publicly to allow people to see that if you were considering committing this crime, you faced death.
The death was also usually a very painful and cruel death. Stoning, beheading, and hanging were the most common. There was not a concern for the feelings of the criminal who just murdered an innocent human. Humans are precious to God, and even though Jesus died to save all, He also abhors evil and murder is evil.
Today the death penalty is not much of a deterrent to murder. Few ever face it. In states where it is still allowed, it takes 20 plus years for it to ever be administered. The victim’s families often die before the convicted murderer does. The criminal lives a protected life while the victim’s life ended premature. Not to mention that there is an attempt to make the murderer’s death “humane” by using a drug to put them to sleep before they use the drug to stop there beating heart. Not very scary to someone who has the nerve to kill another human being. And I won’t even get into the costs of keeping a murderer alive for all those years.
I believe that God was right. There are some crimes that warrant death to the convicted. I think if we are going to give the death penalty it should be administered quickly after the legal system has had its proper time to work.
My suggestion would be to give the convicted murderer one year with a team of lawyers and all the resources needed to appeal, research, provide evidence that this was not the proper verdict. At the end of the year, a team of judges would review all the information for a week, if it was not enough to overturn the verdict, the convicted dies the next day.
Anyone who thinks that the death penalty is wrong, needs to consider that we all face the death penalty for our sins against God. Unless the Judge finds that our penalty has been paid in full on our judgment day, we will immediately receive our just reward.
Jesus got the death penalty and He was innocent. But he was our payment and our sacrifice for our sins, the only one that God will accept. God the Righteous Judge, has only one way that He will accept for us to avoid the death penalty. Jesus Christ, His forgiveness, His sacrifice, His grace, for our sin. We do not deserve this love, but He gives it. We deserve the death penalty.