Archive for ‘Patience’

September 27, 2012

27 September, 2012 16:01

by pastortimfowler

Berkeley Bowl Cash Registers

My friend told me the other day about how he wanted to yell at someone in Walmart who was supposed to be working there but kept ignoring him and treating him as if he were in the way. I have blogged about my thoughts on customer service before and I feel his pain. I was at a sporting goods store today and there was one person working the register as 8 people were waiting to check out. Meanwhile there was a girl at the door greeting, or should I say supposed to be greeting, customers as they walked in. The two girls were talking to each other and even taking phone calls as we, the customers, waited. I began to frown.
We often say silly things like, “I wanted to slap them” or “I wanted to yell at them” when we are in these situations. We are conditioned to think that we should respond to a bad situation with something equally as bad. After all, don’t they deserve it? This sounds like the correct response, but if you are a Christian, it is not the right response at all. Romans 12:17- Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble.
If I had a dollar for every time that I heard a Christian say that they were justified by getting even with someone for what they had done, I would be a rich man. When I remind them about the verse above they often respond with, “But you don’t know what they did to me.” No I don’t, but I do know what Christ did for us and it was not giving us what we deserve. Need I remind you that in the same book of Romans we are told that what we deserve for our sin is death. God loves us and gives us forgiveness and life though. This surely is not what we deserve. I know that some of you were not as bad as I use to be, and can still be, and you may be thinking that you don’t deserve death for your sin, but none are righteous, not even one.
Arrogance and pride are what cause us to think that we should pay others back for not being as nice to us as we think they should be. The idea that if we were in a position to pass out judgement for things that others do and we would be completely righteous in our verdicts is quite funny. When we are rude or short with others, do we deserve a slap? Of course not. We are not as bad as that other person. Here is the problem with that thinking. When it comes to righteous judgement, only God can do that. He will use the standard of how you compare to Jesus and not how others compare to you or me. When that standard is applied, we all fall short. That is why God offers complete forgiveness when we ask and does not give us what we deserve until we face our final judgement and have rejected His Son’s payment for our sins.
So the next time you are in line and get treated worse than you expect to be, or the next time that someone really wrongs you and you think about revenge, think about what God does for us and decide to be more like Jesus than like, well, me.
Now excuse me while I go back to the sporting goods store and smile about the fact that I am fully able to stand in line and wait. That is a blessing that some are not able to do. Ain’t God good?

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September 7, 2012

Camping With A 7 Year Old

by pastortimfowler

 

Our Cub Scout troop from our church is taking a weekend camping trip to the beach this weekend. Because my son has to work, I, Papa, will be taking the 7-year-old boy. I have the tent loaded up, sleeping bags, flash lights, munchies, laptop, and wireless card, all necessities for this trip, ready to go. I will be picking him up as soon as he gets home from school and driving 3 and a half hours to the campground.
Because I have to be back for church Sunday morning, we will only be staying the night and most of the day tomorrow. The others will be staying through to Sunday. On the agenda is a beach clean up. cook out, and some fishing. We will have a good bit of free time Saturday, so there is no telling what else we may do. I am trying to decide if I want to take the bikes and or the dog.
Those who know me know that me and kids are a weird mix. I love them and enjoy watching them when they are with others. So now I get to hang out with a bunch of them and get to spend the night in a tent with my own 7-year-old boy. I WILL HAVE FUN!
I am looking forward to fishing and taking the boy to the beach. If I take the dog, I look forward to trying to get her in the water. This is the little white dog and she is not a big fan of swimming, but loves to wade. I look forward to cooking breakfast in the morning. There is nothing like bacon and eggs cooked outside after a night in the tent. I am going to work hard and show the boy how to serve with a smile. I am looking forward to seeing how many strange pictures I can take and post on Facebook.
Last month I did a blog on how God was testing me and how for some reason I was being blessed with being around a bunch of Kids. Well, God is still blessing me. I have got to figure out what I am doing right. Perhaps it is time for a week of rebellion? Just kidding. I am learning patience and I am being given some time to make memories. After the death of my dog this month, God has shown me just how precious time with someone or something you love really is. So I am going to make the most of this. I am going to remember that when I was a kid, I didn’t have a granddad that spent time with me. I am going to make some memories.
So please pray for my patience and pray that I stay focused on the blessing at hand. Pray that I remember to laugh before I scream and only scream if I am having that much fun. Pray that the 3 and a half hour ride down there and back goes quickly. Pray that it doesn’t rain, but if it does, the wi-fi works. Pray that this time next year the 7-year-old boy remembers how much fun we had and wants to do it again.

August 17, 2012

Trial by Children

by pastortimfowler

a boy and his steed

As I told you a few weeks ago, God was messing with me, I mean, blessing me with extra children around the house. My wife started baby sitting and we took an international student into our home for the school year. I believe the Bible; all of it. I don’t understand all of it and do have some questions for God when I get there. This verse is one I think I will question: Psalm 127:3 – Children are an inheritance from the LORD. They are a reward from him. A reward? Really?
So with the rewards piling up, I was trying to think about all the things that I must have done right to deserve these rewards. I know that I am an excellent husband and treat my wife better than she deserves. I get up early and fix her coffee. I do dishes and cook and sometimes the other way around. I keep the yard looking as well as could be expected and I am just an all around good guy. But to reward me with children for that? Couldn’t God have just given me a couple of free rounds of golf?
I am a great dad to my own children. A raised them for 18 years and through them out of the nest so that they would learn to fly. Sure they bumped their butts a little, but on the third or fourth bounce, they got it. All of them are out of jail and free of any communicable diseases, as far as I know, and they either have a husband who is like me or are a husband like me. That surely does not deserve more children back in my house does it? How about a fishing trip to the Amazon River in South America? That would be sufficient.
I am an awesome pastor too, just ask the people that I pay to say that who use to go to my church. I tell them that they are going to Hell and how to avoid it. I keep all of my sermons short and stay on point so that no one is forced to wonder what I am talking about. I rarely turn down a opportunity to have people buy my lunch if they want to talk to me and, I let people bring me peach milkshakes from Chic- Fil-A anytime they wish. Does this deserve the reward of children? Hardly. Perhaps an all expenses paid Bible conference in the Bahamas might be more appropriate.
And we can’t forget that I provide almost an endless supply of fantastic and informing blogs that keep you on the edge and have you begging for more. These blogs challenge your minds and imaginations and keep you laughing and therefore bring great joy to many lives daily. But reward me with children? No, I am not worthy. It would be more appropriate to send money to my church and designate it for the pastor’s vacation fund.
Yes, I feel like this may be a trial that I am going through. Perhaps a trial to keep me humble and learn patience. Perhaps a trial to learn to accept blessings of great magnitude, even though I may not deserve them, so I should just accept them. If this is so, I thank God for the rewards, but ask God to scale it back a bit and stick with the simple and less rewarding things like golf and fishing trips.

August 31, 2011

How Long Does It Take?

by pastortimfowler

Have you ever seen someone who a few months ago was doing really well and today they are hardly recognizable as the person you thought that you knew? What I am talking about is the type person that use to come to church, was very active in worship and serving and seemed to have their act together, and one day they just quit coming. So you run into them and they have began to live a lifestyle that has no resemblance to who you knew them to be just a little while ago. How does this happen?
Today I finished reading 2 Chronicles in the Old Testament. It chronicles the time in the Jewish history after the period of judges up to the captivity of the Babylonian empire. In short summaries we hear of each king and their actions and how their rule effected the people of Israel. Those kings who followed the ways of God and passed that on to their people were blessed and the nation was blessed and those who did not follow God’s ways brought on misery for the themselves and the people.
Because these are short summaries of each king’s reign it often looks like a rapid decline in morality, when in reality things progressed over a few years, but from time to time you could see the fall take place within months. In these cases the kings before them who tried to follow God, often forgot or refused to destroy the places where idols were worshiped. They would try to make people happy on both sides and play church when it was convenient and please the idol worshipers when that was convenient. As a result, when a king would come in behind him who did not follow God at all, the fall of the people happened very fast and often in months.
Becoming a Christian happens at the blink of an eye. The very moment that we repent and accept Christ as Savior, we become a Christian. The growth of Christians takes time and effort. We must build new habits and tear down the things that are not pleasing to God. Often times we will leave those bad things alone and just try to build our Christian faith around it. We do all the right things and ignore those that are counter productive to our growth. Often in this period of Israel’s history, a new king would come along and try to restore things to God but leave the idols and their alters in place. The effort was always full of conflict because it is easy to worship something that does not hold you accountable. Idols don’t, God does.
God wants us to tear down and destroy the things that distract us from following Him fully. If they are destroyed they can’t tempt later. But the people who fall away, like I mentioned in the beginning, are those who usually just tried to build around the old ways and not get rid of them.
There is no way the we can ever live a totally sinless life as long as we are flesh and blood. But the Holy Spirit in us does allow us to continually work toward holiness. We do need to build new ways into our lives. We need to lay a new foundation and use fresh, new material that God provides. But often before we build we need to spend time doing a bit of demolition. We must tear out the old foundation and things that our lives had been built upon. God is giving us a new foundation in Jesus Christ.
So when you see someone who has fallen away and it seems like they have only taken a short time to fall a long way, remember this. God wants the old stuff destroyed, not moved around or built around. He wants us to start over with newness and build on one solid foundation, not covering up the old one because we like it too much to get rid of.
I tell my staff all the time that we are all closer than we will ever want to admit to falling into our old ways. I warn them and they warn me of things of the past that need to be torn down and gotten rid of. I encourage you to take a few minutes in prayer and ask God to play building inspector and look around to see if there might be some things you need to work on. I surely don’t want to run into you one day and see you in a broken mess and wonder, how long did it take?

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.

July 5, 2011

5 July, 2011 15:40

by pastortimfowler

After a long weekend I should be rested and ready to go, but I feel tired and ready to stay. No rest for the weary at my house on the 4th of July weekend. Every kid in the ‘hood had fireworks and from the time it was almost dark until the wee hours it sounded like a war zone. Add to that a dog that is petrified of the noise and another who thinks that she should go outside and bark at them and that equals little sleep.
For any holiday that is celebrated with fireworks, the people of my community start warming up a couple of days before and usually continue for a couple of day after. This has been the norm for as long as I have lived there and that has been 8 years now. You might think that this is just a very patriotic crowd, but it is not. They may be patriotic, I don’t really know, but that is not the reason they do this. I can’t for the life of me understand the obsession, but I wish that I could open a fireworks stand for those weeks because then I could probably afford to move.
When we moved here we did it because of our church. We want to live in the place that we serve in. We really want to know the people and help if we can and be part of their lives in some way. For years we helped with food, clothing, shelter, utilities, and education. We tried to learn where folks were hurting and how our church could help ease the pain. But something weird keeps happening and it is not just in our ‘hood, it is everywhere in America that there is a “low-income neighborhood”. I remind you that I am qualified to say these things that I am getting ready to say because I live there and am trying to be part of the solution.
How can someone be so poor that they can’t buy food without food stamps but can afford enough fireworks to last for days? You can’t pay your light bill or your rent, but you can keep me awake all night with the explosions you can afford. This makes no sense. It is not just fireworks, but almost every kid in the ‘hood has a cellphone and are using it all the time. We could not give away Wranglers and generic shirts because they weren’t FUBU. I went to buy me a FUBU outfit and couldn’t afford it, but the people I am trying to help can.
I had one family who wanted us to pay their rent, pull up in a fairly new F-150 pulling a very nice grill and smoker combo on wheels. I know that I could have sold that combo for about $1000 and that covers anyone’s rent in that ‘hood for sure. I don’t think these guys were originally from here because they didn’t speak English and when I ask if they were legally here they quickly drove away.
I love our country and the opportunities it offers. I love the generosity of the people in the USA and the way we go out of our way to help those who are in need. Yet I hear people all the time getting upset about poor people and illegal people misusing the system. Being poor is never going to be eliminated and because of that, there will always be ministry for those who want to help. The problem is trying to wade through the stupidity of those who ask for help while wearing designer cloths, talking on their cell phone and shooting hundreds of dollars of fireworks all night long, as they beg for help to pay their light bill and helping someone who is truly in need.
I pray for wisdom as I continue to live in the ‘hood. I pray that people will wise up and quit blowing money on fireworks and start paying their bills. I pray that I will always have a heart for those less fortunate than myself and that if I have to lose sleep it will be because of my burden to help not because of the noise of fireworks that they can’t afford.

May 12, 2011

Instant Gratification

by pastortimfowler

In a world that thrives on instant gratification it can be extremely hard to keep your priorities in focus. I think that it is so funny, the way we get all uptight about things that don’t happen fast enough. I will probably show my age with a few examples, but that’s okay.
When I was a kid, we had a phone that had a dial. You actually put your finger in a hole and spun the dial to indicate a number and you had to dial every number of a phone number. No matter how fast you were, you could only dial as fast as the dial would spin. Now we don’t even remember someone’s number because our phones have a name or a picture to touch in order to place a call. But don’t you get ill when you touch the number you want to call and it take a few seconds for it to start the connection?
I think its funny when people I play games with online get upset because I use the whole 10 seconds on the timer to make my play. Think about that. You are playing a game. If you are doing this at work, you should not get upset with me for taking 10 seconds; you should be doing your job. If you are not working and you are playing for fun, how stressed are you with life if 10 seconds seems that long anyway?
Downloads are fun to watch people freak out over: that or waiting for a page to load. Either way, today it rarely takes more than a few second to a minute. When we got our first computer and put in the floppy disc and began loading the program, we went upstairs and began cooking supper as we waited for disc 1 to load. Then while disc 2 was loading we ate supper and for disc 3, we did the dishes and disc 4 we all got our baths. And that was for 1 program. By the way, do you even know what a floppy disc is?
One of my favorite things to watch is people driving. I make other drivers really mad because I drive the speed limit. Did you know that the speed limit is not how fast you must drive, but rather it is the fastest you can legally drive? But people will get right up on my bumper and bang the steering wheel, throw their hands up, yell, and even blow the horn at me. They really get ill when I point at the speed limit sign as we pass it. Rather than leave a few minutes earlier to get where we need to go, we tend to wait to the last possible minute that gives us any chance to even coming close to making it on time. So we drive faster. Even if we are going on vacation or out for an evening of entertainment, people want to get there NOW.
I try riding a bicycle to work every now and then and although it is only a 20 minute bike ride, I can get there in 5 minutes in my truck, and I get impatient as I ride. When I was a kid, I rode my bike everywhere and could get there super fast! I loved reaching the top of a hill and reaching top speed as you go down the other side. I tried that the other week and was yawning by the time I reached the bottom.
Society tells us that we deserve everything and we deserve it now. Instant access to movies, news, and games makes us even more impatient. We don’t have to wait to have our credit approved to by a car or a house. We don’t have to save to get a down payment. We don’t have to wait on the mailman to bring a letter, and we don’t have to wait to see someone when they get back from a trip. Instant credit reports online no money down schemes when we buy stuff, texts, Twitter and Facebook get our written communication to us instantly and Skype and streaming video let us show the world where we are and what we are doing as we do it.
Now we turn to God and He says wait. He says patience is a good thing. He does not text us right back if send Him an instant message. So we give up on God and turn to those who can tell us what we want to hear right now.
Think about this though. Everyone wants to live a good long time. I personally want to live at least 120 years and if I am ever put on life support, I want to stay plugged up as long as I can. I believe that will help others to have a job taking care of the bald guy attached to circuit breaker 13. But I really want to live that long and not have to rely on anyone to take care of me. I have a weird phobia about someone else helping me use the bathroom. Wouldn’t it be freaky to have someone holding the newspaper while you do your business?
But if you want to live a long time, you need to enjoy time. God has so many things that He wants you to do and many of them take years of patience. Some things you will not see fulfilled in your lifetime, yet the task and the journey is important. There is a line in a song by Aerosmith that says, “life’s a journey, not your destination.” Think about it and enjoy the journey. Slow down, be patient. Not everything is worth instant gratification.

March 20, 2011

Spaghetti at the Japanese Steakhouse

by pastortimfowler

My son and daughter wanted to take me with them to a Japanese steakhouse for lunch after church. With us were 4 kids under the age of 6. I love my grandkids and love to listen to them talk about things that are interesting to them. It is funny how little things fascinate them and the things that an adult finds interesting just has no appeal to kids.
The first thing that was funny to them was when the cook poured water on the grill and the steam rose up to the vent. Then he prepared to light the oil on fire and that did nothing for the kids. Next he started cooking the fried rice by cracking an egg with the spatula and they were amazed that he was cooking eggs, not the tricks he did to crack the eggs.
Next was the lo mien noodles. All he did was lay a hand-full on the grill, nothing else. Then he started cutting shrimp and chicken and steak while flipping the knife and fork and banging the salt and pepper shakers and flipping them. I was amazed that he didn’t burn himself and the kids were all fascinated that he was cooking spaghetti.
Japanese steakhouses are not the best place in the world to take kids. They do not sell cheeseburgers or chicken nuggets or french fries. They sell rice and stirfry veggies and real meats like chicken and steak. The soup has green and brown things floating in it and it is loud. Surprisingly the loudness bothered the kids more than the adults. But one thing that they did like and I would have never though about it was spaghetti at the Japanese steakhouse.

March 9, 2011

Why Tribulation?

by pastortimfowler

The Bible says that it is through tribulation that our patience grows. Whys that? It would have been a lot easier to be patient if we were waiting through a really good ice cream sundae or a parade of our favorite songs on the radio. But no, God chose tribulation or troubles. You have to have had “one of those days” to understand where I am coming from. You know, the ones that everyone and everything seemed to be going against you and your plans.
God even says that the first thing love is, is patient. Now I am expecting the wife to come home in a bad mood. Somehow I would have never put love, patience and tribulation in the same thought pattern. Like the old Sesame Street song says, “one of these things is not like the other…”
I have been around someone all day that gets on every one of my last three nerves. The way they talk, the way they look, and even the way they think bothers me. I was ready to slap them if given half a chance. I kept thinking, come one step closer, please, then BAM! Let them have it.
But God says to love even our enemies. I say “I need more patience to do that.” God says “okay, you can see them again tomorrow.” I say, “but that will cause trouble.” God says, “then you will have more patience.” I say, “I don’t want any more patience.” God says, “I feel the same about you sometimes.” I say, ‘ but you love me, God,” God says, “and that takes a lot of patience, Tim.”
You just can’t win an argument with God. But it think I will take some ice cream now.