Archive for ‘Humility’

November 22, 2011

You’re So Vain

by pastortimfowler

This morning I was reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes and as always, spent more time pondering than reading. That’s right, I ponder. This was written by Solomon, the fellow who God gave him anything that he asked for, and Solomon chose wisdom. He was the wisest man to ever live and in his writing this, the wisdom has driven him to understand things that are often not what humans want to know.
I believe that humans will naturally try to find a way to put the “me first” factor into everything. Even the most mature Christians that I know, myself included, (see, I just injected me into the thought), want to think that somehow life is all about them. Our best attempts at humility are much too often filled with thoughts of how to look humble and get recognized for our humility. So Solomon starts out saying that it is all vanity of vanities. I love the translation God’s Word and the way it reads: Ecclesiastes 1:2 Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.” But that is what vanity is, pointless. If life is all about me/you, then this life is pretty pointless. This all reminds me of the old song by Carley Simon, You’re So Vain.
When reading this amazing book of the Bible it is easy to misunderstand what he is saying. He says over and over that this life is pointless. It is almost like he is saying that we shouldn’t even have a desire to live. At one point he says that one generation dies and another one lives, but the earth lasts forever. It as if he is saying that we are worthless on this earth, but that is not the point of this writing. But Solomon understoond something that few ever will. Imagine being able to understand everything. The longer you live, the more you understand.
Many times I have people in the church come to me and suggest that we do a certain ministry or project. Part of being the pastor is to try to understand the impact of what our church does and what the impact of what each ministry or project has on the overall mission of our church. Way too often I have to think about the underlying motives of these suggestions. Most of them are not made with any ill intent, but they are made with a selfish motive that generally is not even recognized by those doing the suggesting.
For instance, if someone comes to me with an idea for the children’s ministry of our church and they have children, that idea is usually something that they think will be best for their children. That is not wrong, but it is self motivated and that is vanity. If someone comes to me with an idea to feed to homeless, and I don’t mention that it was their idea, often they get their feelings hurt, even if we implement the idea exactly like they suggested. Vanity.
Solomon said this: Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun. Look at it! It’s all pointless (vanity). It’s like trying to catch the wind. The older he got the more he saw that everything that humans did had a touch of vanity in it. Remember that this is not me talking, this is the man that God granted wisdom.  Wisdom that had never before and never will again be given to a man. And let me add this: If you are saying to yourself, I am not like that, you are being vain. What Soloman was realizing in this wisdom was that man was more about man than about God. That it was God that is the center of the universe, not man. Even the best of man is nothing compared to God. It is indeed vanity and the wisdom that he thought would bring him great joy, in the end only showed him how short he came when compared to the glory of God. This is how he ends Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone. God will certainly judge everything that is done. This includes every secret thing, whether it is good or bad.

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July 29, 2011

Going Inter-planetary

by pastortimfowler

I was blown away this morning when I opened an email response to a blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago. It was from England! It said that they were looking for help on a subject and did a search and my blog came up on top. Usually the only way my name or something I do comes up first is if I am getting blamed for something. So, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who read my blogs and to God for using me in something that I enjoy so much.
I can remember a few years back when I was really fighting the trend for tweeting, Facebook and blogging. It wasn’t that I was against them as much as I did not understand it all. For the record, I still don’t understand tweeting, but I continue to tweet. (I feel like a bird watcher every time I say that).
Blogging has gotten me several blasts from folks who disagree with what I write. Although I do try to speak the truth, blogging is just another way of voicing one’s opinion and we are all entitled to our own. My opinion is right and those who disagree with it are usually married to me, or vegan, or even people with hair, and God loves them too. But I enjoy the feedback no matter which side you are on.
One of my goals is to offer fuel for hope, and a bit of humor. I love to see and hear people laugh and I love it when people have to stop and think about something they thought little about before or even had firm feelings about something that now have to be at least given another look. Sometimes I purposefully blog about something that I know will ruffle feathers, but I never set out to hurt or offend and if you are ever offended by one of my blogs, get over it. See, humor, fact and hope, right there.
I never dreamed that anything I would say or write would ever have an impact on someone in England. I rarely ever thought anyone would care much outside of South Carolina or really, ever care at all. I hope this is nothing more than God showing me that He can still use any of His creatures to say something, even an ass, or me. (Referring to Balaam’s animal, nor what some of you gasped about).
I will never apologize for giving God glory, pointing to Him as the answer, or tell people about the God who allowed His Son Jesus Christ to die for the sins of humanity. God has forgiven me of more than most will ever know and still forgives me daily. Because of Him, I have hope and love life because it is a gift from Him. There was a time when I said that there was no God, but when I decided to open my mind to the possibility that I could be wrong, He forgave my stupidity and forgave me. So I blog from my heart, from my experiences, and my warped sense of humor. Thanks for giving your time to read. To the person in England, we drink sweet iced tea on this side of the pond, and thanks for the prayers.
Now that my blog is international, my next goal is go inter-planetary. To boldly go where no blog has gone before!

July 8, 2011

Precious Waiting

by pastortimfowler

As I was sitting around the hospital yesterday while Jake was getting his new kidney, I had a lot of time to think and walk around and talk to people I have never met before. I really enjoy meeting new people, they are so much better that the old ones. (joke) I also learned a lot about the procedure for transplants and the time lines for when things happen. What I learned was that nothing happens fast until you go to your truck that is parked on the other side of the world, then things move quickly, until you get back to the room and they slow down again. Yep, we were told that we had an hour or so before they would come and get Jake, so I took that as I had plenty of time to go to my truck and get a few things for when the surgery began. As soon as I got there, about 15 minutes after I was told we had at least an hour, I was called to let me know that they were taking Jake and waiting on me to pray with the family. Good thing that I have superpowers and can navigate hospitals in record time.
Once they took him to the surgery floor, we were sitting around for about an hour or so and I was told that Jake would be another half hour waiting for the surgery to actually start. I had already been there for several hours, and was getting hungry and irritated with all the delays. I don’t like hospitals to begin with. They are always full of sick people. But having to wait and wait was like being at the DMV. I maintained my composure and did not let anyone know that I was irritated, after all, this was a moment that many have been praying about for a couple of years.
I went to get a late lunch and got the chicken fingers plate. I should have gotten the Philly cheese steak that everyone else was getting. Chickens do not have fingers. If they did you probably wouldn’t eat them. I have been told that most chickens have arsenic in them, and I think that these had a bit too much. But I was hungry and ate them anyway, but made sure that I complained about them to anyone who would listen.
After I ate the arsenic laced chicken fingers, I went back to the surgery waiting room. They Braves were playing and the game was on the flat screen, but it was connected directly to a dish and a storm started and caused the game to go off and all I could see was the “lost signal” message. I told another fellow who was in the room with me that it should be illegal to make someone wait as long as we had been waiting AND to allow the Braves game to be interrupted. So we waited and waited and around 7pm I got hungry again. The surgery was going to be a couple more hours, at least, so I decided to go get something to eat. I managed to stay away from the arsenic laced chicken fingers and opted for the fresh out of the oven, all meat pizza. It was good. But what happened on the way down made me decide that I would not complain again while I was waiting on Jake’s surgery to be completed.
As I got on the elevator that took forever to get to my floor, I was standing next to a man who wanted to share my ride down. I was telling him how long I had been there and how irritated I was at how they made you wait for everything, including the elevator. He just smiled and agreed. I asked him why he was in the children’s hospital and he told me that his son, who had overcome cancer, was there being treated for radiation sickness. He said that he had been there for 7 weeks now and although he was confident that his son’s cancer was gone, they weren’t sure if he was going to pull through the damage that the radiation did. I asked him if I could pray for his son, whose name is Tom. He said that he was only 14. So we prayed. I have prayed for him often since then. I keep thinking about how long this guy has been at the hospital and how I bet that he is thankful for every single delay and every single event as long as it means Tom is still alive.
I finished waiting on Jake to come out of surgery. I sat around and talked with a few more people and told them about Tom. It took another couple of hours before Jake was out and even another couple of hours before the family could get back to see him. Jake is doing fine and has still got a long ways to go in his recovery.
I did not complain anymore last night about how long I had been there, instead I tried to thank God for allowing me to wait around long enough to meet Tom’s dad and learn how precious waiting can be.

June 23, 2011

Working On Humility

by pastortimfowler

I know that many of you who read my blogs were relieved yesterday that I did not post a new one. Of course there are a few who live to read my blogs and they were in a state of panic. But have no fear! I’m back. I was on a mission from God yesterday.
I have a friend who believes that God has called him into the ministry. If you knew him you would begin to question God’s judgement. Would God really call a hair dresser into the ministry? No, of course not. But, my friend is also a fisherman, and that is what gets him into the secret society of ministry and thus God’s judgment is perfect.
We meet a couple of times a month to talk about what he can expect once the transformation takes place. Most people, ordinary people, will never know or understand what a person goes through to be in the ministry. A real metamorphosis must take place. You must be stripped of all memories of who you were and reprogrammed into an almost superhuman. Those who know me well know my superpowers and think that I make this look very easy, but I was only a fisherman and never a hairdresser in my past life.
Here are some things that everyone in the ministry must be able to do. This is not a complete list, but it does highlight the need for such transformation into superhuman status.

Ministers must be able to please everyone, all the time. If your ministry leads to pastoring a church you must be able to adjust thermostats so that people sitting next to each other feel comfortable no matter how hot or cold it is. You must be able to listen to everything that is said to you in a course of 2 minutes as people are exiting the building and giving feedback on your sermon and what you preach next week. You must be able to preach next week and make them think you were listening even if you weren’t. You must be able to turn mere mortals into eternal beings while encouraging them to reach the superhuman level that you have and hoping they to are called into the ministry.
If your ministry leads you to being an evangelist, you must be able to preach sermons that no pastor could ever preach, while making everyone in that particular church love what you said, but hate the pastor when he tries to make those changes. You must be able to preach three sermons as if they were new every time you preach them, even if you preach them 100 times that year. You must be able to listen to every comment given in the 2 minutes as people exit the church, BUT, you don’t have to worry about remembering what they said cause they will never have you back anyway.
If your ministry leads to the mission field, you must learn to eat food that they only eat on the National Geographic channel and act like you like it. You must learn to preach sermons that every pastor in the US would love to preach and you must be prepared to have people act like they listened to you. You must learn to live in homes that have no cable and restrict your ability to watch the NFL. This is the most demanding of all callings and is why superhuman status must be obtained first
So this is why I missed my blog yesterday. Helping a mere hairdresser, but yes a fisherman, answer the call to be a superhuman. Minister’s lives are filled with challenges and struggles as we deal with you, the blog reader, and our beloved followers.
Matthew 23:11-12
11 The person who is greatest among you will be your servant.
12 Whoever honors himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be honored.
The next time we meet, I will be working on humility.