Archive for ‘Faith’

January 16, 2013

Walk By Faith

by pastortimfowler

Abraham

In Genesis chapter 12 we meet a man named Abram, later called Abraham. He is named in a genealogy in the previous chapter, but the first few verses of 12 kind of make you think that we should have known this guy a little more than we do at this point in the Bible. God starts talking to this guy and making him promises as if they have known each other for a while; well they had, but we haven’t.
God tells Abram to go to a place that he will be shown later. The motivation behind it almost seems to be the promise of being a great nation, but this guy was old and didn’t have any kids. I have to be honest with you. If God were to tell me to go somewhere, right now, at my age, and promise to give me lots of kids, I would have to seriously consider becoming a Buddhist monk instead. Promising me kids as motivation would be like promising a kid broccoli as motivation.
The sudden introduction of Abram and the assumption that he knew God a lot longer than it took for us to read that much of the Bible, lets us use our imaginations and assume more than we probably should. What I want to share with you is that the safest assumption is that God and Abram had a relationship that was very close. It had to be for this man to leave his land and relatives with no idea of where he was going. And, I know from reading the rest of the Bible and a personal testimony, that God desires relationships with His people and not religion.
God does not make sense. He reminds me of my parents when I was 6. They made no sense to me when they said not to build a ramp for my bicycle in order to jump over my little brother who was laying in front of the ramp. I had been riding for 2 years and can’t remember ever seeing them on a bike. What did they know about daredevil stunts? I had been watching Evil Knievel jump motorcycles over buses and cars and his parents weren’t around telling him to stop it.
You see, God is, or wants to be our Father. He wants to be intimately involved in our lives. He knows when we are in danger and knows how to do what is best for us. We tend to think that God is only there to be at our beck and call when it should be the other way around. God is our maker and our God. He wants us to love him and trust Him and we can, if we will just quit acting like know-it-all 6 year olds.
I think back through my childhood days and remember all the times that I did just trust my dad. He told me to cast my fishing line in that direction and I did, and I caught a fish. He told me to stand up to that bully and don’t act scared and the bully went away. He told me to go over there and wait and the snipes would come running out of the woods…No wait…there was no such thing as snipes and I waited in the dark for quite a while before I figured out it was a joke. But for the most part, I trusted my dad and did things he told me when I did not know the outcome. I did it because I knew he loved me and was going to take care of me.
Now I can see how Abram took off on his journey to a place that God would show him. Abram is the father of the Jews and the Christians and the Muslims. God held up His end of the bargain. He always does and always will. We just need to know Him. We need to walk by faith.

Advertisements
September 18, 2012

Miraculas Faith

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62533788@N02/7846245072/

When was the last time you saw a miracle? For Christians, we talk about miracles all the time and do get a chance to see them. For the most part we see people healed who have no explanation, situations that seem hopeless, all of a sudden become blessings, or that relationship that was over is now mended. In our church we have seen babies born who were said would not be and a foot that was scheduled to be amputated due to diabetes suddenly turn pink and healthy, and we have seen our share of just totally unexplainable stuff that we give God credit for. But those things seem to, over time, fade in the level of excitement and we all but forget about them until someone like me brings them up as a reminder.
God is all-powerful and does do those type of miracles and more. But that is not what He wants us to focus on. From the beginning of time God has shown His miracle-working power and it has never held the people’s attention much longer than it took for the next problem to come up. But God did not and does not stop doing the impossible, only because He loves us and, I think there is part of it that goes without saying, if you could do those type things, you just would. What God wants us to focus on is His words. What God says should be as good to those who believe in Him as the miracles we give Him credit for. But trusting in God’s word is tough for us because some of what He says goes against our egos and our own desire to be rebellious.
One of the greatest miracles I have ever had happen to me was in my finances. We had begun to trust God’s word and what it says about giving, particularly tithing or giving 10% of our income. It wasn’t long after that time that we experienced a severe reduction in income. The first thought was to cut back on giving and pay our bills, but we remembered God’s instructions to believers about giving from the first of what we made and we decide to act in faith. If we did what God says do, then He has to honor what He says. Without going into a long story of details, let me just say that our finances were blessed. A miracle, I believe so, but most importantly, it was done because of faith in God’s word and His faithfulness to keep His word. I can tell you several other stories of how faithfulness on our behalf was honored by God acting like God and doing what we could not explain. Some may say that these are not true miracles but rather coincidences and I will only say that God is in control of those too.
My point is this. God has no obligation to do miracles as a reward for our good behavior nor does He have to do them to prove that He exists. God wants a relationship with people and miracles don’t make relationships stronger, trust does. God cannot be proven into existence. He has and always will exist. His miracles in the past did not bring people flocking to Him, His faithfulness did. And that relationship based on faith or trust is what opens the way for Him to do those mind-blowing things that we can’t explain. But if God never did another miracle, would you still trust Him? I would.
I would because I find nothing that He has ever said to be proven wrong. I find plenty that I don’t understand, but nothing wrong. I would because whenever God has said something and I acted on it, the results were exactly what His word says they would be. My marriage is stronger because I follow His guidelines for marriage. My friendships are stronger because I follow His guidelines for friendships. My children all turned out fine (Yes, I know that is open for debate if you know them), because we tried to raise them on God’s guidelines. My church is growing like crazy because we did away with all the bylaws and man’s laws and just started to following the Bible.
The biggest reason for my faith in God’s word is because week after week I see people who are hurting and messed up and just plain weird, decide to trust God for salvation and forgiveness and they in turn bring their friends who eventually have the same experience and so on. I know where I came from. I was not good enough for God to love me, I was so messed up that I was certain that there was no way He could love me, but He did anyway. He forgave me, accepted me, and was patient as I learned to trust Him through the years.
Truly the most miraculous thing about God is faith. If you haven’t seen a miracle, take a step of faith and trust God to forgive you. If you have seen a miracle, don’t forget about it, but look at how often the little things He promises never fail you and build on those. What God does for us is miraculous, but it is all an act of miraculous faith.

March 19, 2012

5 Thing I Try to Act Like I Believe

by pastortimfowler

Being a pastor is an amazing life of impossible situations made possible by God. I wish that all Christians could have the experience of spending a week in my shoes. No matter how awesome I think I am, and I know many of you agree with me, I am constantly facing challenges that need a supernatural intervention and I am never left disappointed. I don’t want to come across as some sort of spiritual super guy, but rather a guy that has learned through years of trial and error about how faith really works. My church must get tired of hearing about my faith and their faith in chairs, but you have to admit,it is a brilliant analogy. We sit in chairs because we have faith in chairs.
Faith is not what you believe, it is what you do because you believe. The New Testament book of James says that faith without doing something with it is dead. It means that if all we do is tell people that we believe but never act like it, then there is no real faith and nothing for others to believe in.
Situations are constantly presenting themselves to me in a way that I have to act before I can fully weigh the consequences and often they go against conventional thinking. But what I have learned through the years is that God can fix my mistakes better than He can deal with my lack of actions. I don’t underestimate God’s ability to guide my actions to accomplish His will. He can stop me from screwing up just as easily as He can give me success in doing something right. But if I refuse to do anything because I don’t believe God, there is nothing going to happen, for sure.
Here are 5 things I believe and try to always act like I believe:
1. Isaiah 55:9 “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”
I don’t understand everything, but I don’t have too. God understands everything and I want to act like I believe that.
2. Isaiah 55:11 My word, which comes from my mouth, is like the rain and snow. It will not come back to me without results. It will accomplish whatever I want and achieve whatever I send it to do. God’s word is what is powerful, not mine. Even if people say they don’t believe, God will handle that, I don’t have too.
3. Hebrews 13:5 Be happy with what you have because God has said, “I will never abandon you or leave you.” I am not alone. If I am doing what God says for me to do, even if no one else is with me, He is.
4. Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. Nothing is impossible when you trust in the truth and do it. NOTHING. Not acting because it feels impossible is denying the power God.
5. 1 John 4:16 We have known and believed that God loves us. God is love. Those who live in God’s love live in God, and God lives in them. Not only does God love me, but HE IS LOVE. Love is a far greater motivator to action than fear.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant.
5 It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs.
6 It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth.
7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.

March 6, 2012

Courageous Faith

by pastortimfowler

In our men’s Bible study last night we finished the Courageous study based on the movie Courageous. I was not thrilled about teaching it because I have not seen the movie and probably will not see it. I don’t like movies, even if I see them with my wife. But the study was not really the movie, but the life of Joshua and the courage he had to stay true to God. I love his story and his faithfulness.
At the end of the study we were told to read this: 1 Peter 3:15 But dedicate your lives to Christ as Lord. Always be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it. However, make your defense with gentleness and respect.
The challenge was to be courageous enough to share what God was doing in our lives on a regular basis. I love this verse and was thrilled when it was part of our closing for this study. The first thing it tells us is to dedicate our lives to Christ as Lord. Not to a Savior, although He is, but to a Lord. That means a master or ruler. We rarely have a problem submitting to authority. Sure there are a few folks who do, but your average person has no problems following the rules. If a policeman tells us to do something we do it because they have authority over us in certain situations. We do what our boss at work says and expect to be rewarded for when we do a great job and for the consequences when we don’t. But for some reason when God says do something we find a million excuses why we shouldn’t. That is not faith and it certainly is not courageous faith.
Next we are told to be ready to defend our faith. It is hard to defend what you don’t put into practice.The sad reality is that most Christians like the Savior of Jesus but not the Lord. We would much rather do what feels right or good and leave the tough Christian stuff to the professionals. We argue that the Bible really doesn’t say what it says and listen to people who have no formal training in the Bible as if they were the experts. We don’t ask our pastor because He might tell us what we don’t want to hear. That leads to the next part of this verse which always makes me uneasy about my own obedience. It says that we should be defending our faith to those who ask. Are people asking you about your faith. Not your church, but how you are acting because you are acting on what God says even if you don’t understand it. I have faith in the chair I sit in. It never fails me, although it could. I don’t know how it was made, and could not make it myself, but I trust it will support me, not just based on what the manufacturer says, but on how people have sat in chairs for years and now me too. That is faith. An action base on real belief not a wish and a desire to go to heaven. If Christians did what the Bible said, and believed that the Bible was the words of our Lord, not just our Savior, we may have more people asking us about our faith in God not our opinion of what the preacher says or an opinion about a church.
It is also very hard to explain something that we don’t really believe or understand. That is usually because we have not tried to understand it. Years ago I began to learn how to scuba dive. Now I am very proficient at it and can explain about anything you want to know about it. I can tell you exactly what you need to do to become a diver and I believe in the training that I received to save my life and yours if you chose to follow me. But I did a lot of study and training before I actually dove and still refresh my mind in the basics every time I go diving. I ask lots of questions of my instructor and those who I dive with me who have more experience. I never go to someone who only tells me that diving is dangerous and never trust someone who tells me my instructor is wrong. That could get me killed. I want to know who and what I am putting trust for my life in to. Who are you trusting to learn the Bible? How much effort are you putting into learning it and living how God says to live and what God says to believe?
Finally it tells us to be gentle and respectful while defending our faith. This is hard when you don’t really know what you believe. But if you are confident and like Joshua, have trusted God time and time again and seen Him come through for you, you will be confident and be able to be gentle and respectful. There is a difference in being gentle and respectful and being  pushed around because you aer weak in your faith. Jesus was a master at defending who He was and what He was teaching with amazing gentleness and respect. But He never let a religious nut mess with Him and teach something that was wrong. Jesus had courageous faith. Do you?

December 19, 2011

Christmas meal

by pastortimfowler

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

November 8, 2011

Faith and Doubt

by pastortimfowler

If only it were easy to have great faith and never doubt. I was asked to blog about these so let’s see how it goes. First let me give a non-biblical definition of the two words. from our old friend, Webster’s.
Faith- a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
Doubt- a : to lack confidence in : distrust <find myself doubting him even when I know that he is honest — H. L. Mencken> b : to consider unlikely <I doubt if I can go>
Humans are sinful creatures by nature and sin causes a separation from God. That in turn causes a trust issue, or our faith is challenged and doubt kicks in. When humans look at something or someone, it is very easy for us to pick out their faults. If you put a small dot in the middle of a sheet of white paper and ask people what they see, they will automatically be focus on the small dot and not pay any attention to the large amount of unblemished paper. We look at our kids report cards and see a “C” when the rest of the grades are “A’s” and “B’s”. We look at our spouse not putting the lid on the toothpaste but overlook the years of providing for the family. So keeping in stride with that, we want to look at God and see flaws because things aren’t going our way, and we forget that there are no flaws in God. We are flawed, due to sin.
It is hard to trust someone who thinks that they are better than you. We want to “show them”. But God does not think that He is better than us, He is better than us. He made us and knows us and most importantly, He loves us. There is nothing that He asks us to do that will not be the best for us, even if we don’t understand it. That is where faith and doubt collide.
Doubt is that lack of confidence in God. The “I don’t understand” factor. Doubt says “me” when faith says “God”. We often doubt things that we are new at or are learning about. A child doubts that he can read a book, but loving parents encourage and help the child to overcome doubt with confidence. A teen doubts that they will pass the driver’s license test, but loving parents encourage and teach. Soon we are reading without thinking about it and driving while texting. We now have turned our doubts into faith.
Faith is not some mystical characteristic that only Moses and Jesus had. Faith is trust. The more you do what God says and see that the outcome is what He promised, the more our faith is built. I learned to ride a bike when I was 4 years old. For a while, I doubted my ability to not crash. As years went by and crashes did happen, I had more and more faith in my ability to avoid the crashes. Last year I got a bike and decided to ride it. I had not been on a bike for years, but my faith in my ability to ride was there because I had ridden a bike so many times before.
Like everything else that we do in life, our Christian faith must be something that grows with experience. We must start out with the basics and we must learn to trust God and resist allowing our doubts to scare us away from ever trusting Him. I could have easily never ridden a bike again after my first crash. Doubt could have said that I would never ride without getting hurt. But encouragement from those who had ridden kept me moving towards my faith in the bike. That is the important thing about church and being around other believers who are more mature and will encourage us when we have those moments of doubt. Having someone there to point us back to the fact that God loves us and has our best interest at heart is a major factor in building our faith. Faith never starts out strong in anything that we do. For some reason we freak out when our Christian faith waivers. But we shouldn’t.
God loves us unconditionally. He is our Father in Heaven and is very patient with our doubts and fears. He has given us His word that He will never leave us and never disown us. Having faith in that is a great place to gain confidence. God knows that we are sinful. He allowed Jesus to take our penalty for us so that we could have His forgiveness and unfailing love.
Our first battle with faith and doubt is all about salvation. When you are confident in your salvation, you can begin to be confident in other things of God. That is why God made salvation simple and totally of His doing, not our own. That way our doubts don’t screw it up. Never forget this verse when it comes to faith:

Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message that is heard is what Christ spoke.
Be patient as your faith grows and before you know it, you will be doing whatever God asks, no doubt. I am not sure if this will make as much sense to you as it did to me, but my old pastor told me this: Doubt your doubts, not your beliefs.