Archive for ‘Praise and Worship’

November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving

by pastortimfowler

thank you note for every language

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I love this holiday. I have more than I can name to be thankful for, but I always like to mention a few.
I am thankful for my wife. She is the girl of my dreams and the love of my life. Everything I ever wanted in a woman is fulfilled in her, except the fact that she does not fish or like baseball. (I have to keep her humble) Other than that, she is everything I could dream of in a wife.
I am thankful for my kids and grandkids. They are far from perfect, but, I still like them. None of them have become filthy rich yet so I will probably have to work until I am really old. I am still thankful for them.
I am thankful for my church. It is full of really weird people who remind me that God made none of us perfect. Some of them look weird and most of them act weird. They will make it possible for me to continue working as a pastor until I am really old.
I am thankful for the friends that I have. Really.
I am thankful for my salvation through Jesus Christ. I do not deserve what He did for me.
I think that is all I want to mention right now. There has been plenty that I did not mention for someone to get their feelings hurt because I did not mention them or what they did.
I want to close out this blog by telling you who I am thanking. Way too many people say that they are thankful, but don’t really think about who they are thankful too. In my case it is God. Not a god, but the one true living God. The one who forgave me, started fixing me, and will always love me. The God that gave me everything I mentioned above and everything I failed to mention. He made the turkeys that we will eat and the families that we will be hanging out with. He gave His Son to die in my place and His Spirit to guide me through this life. Without Him I am nothing but a body waiting to expire. With Him I am anything He wants me to be and even though this life is temporary, He has assured me of a life that will never end. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. That is who I am thanking. Not just during this great holiday, but everyday that He lets me live on this earth.
Thanks God! And Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

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October 4, 2012

Questions about Psalm 100

by pastortimfowler

psalm 100 1 microphone 1440x900

Psalm 100
1 Shout happily to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Serve the LORD cheerfully. Come into his presence with a joyful song.
3 Realize that the LORD alone is God. He made us, and we are his. We are his people and the sheep in his care.
4 Enter his gates with a song of thanksgiving. Come into his courtyards with a song of praise. Give thanks to him; praise his name.
5 The LORD is good. His mercy endures forever. His faithfulness endures throughout every generation.

What if everyone who claims to know God took this Psalm as serious as it was meant to be taken? What if we only did it this Sunday? Would what you do be any different? What if you walked into church and as soon as the worship service started you began to shout as if you were the happiest person on the whole planet? Do you think that anyone would notice? Do you think that anyone would care? Do you think that you might be asked to calm down? Do you think that someone beside you might shout too? Will we ever know?
What if you served the Lord cheerfully this Sunday? What if you took on whatever role was needed and smiled like a mule eating briars? What if you greeted every guest and every member as if they were they were a rock star? What if you welcomed everyone with a joyful song as you walked into the church? Would people think you were crazy? Would anyone come back the next week? Would others smile and start singing with you? Will we ever know?
What if we acted as if God were the God that He says that He is? What if we acted as if He was the King of the universe and the Lord of our lives? Would anything be different this Sunday? Would anyone notice? What if you ate the spiritual food and drank the spiritual water like a sheep eats the grass and drinks from the stream when the shepherd leads them? Would there be any complaining about what you ate? What if you acted as if all of your well-being depended on God alone and you were not in control at all? Would it change anything that happens this Sunday? Will we ever know?
What if you thanked everyone and thanked God for everyone you saw this Sunday at church? What if the minute you walked through the door you cried out “thank you God for letting me walk through the doors of your church? What if you started singing before the band ever started playing? What if you sang in the vestibule as everyone else walked in. What if you thanked God for every person that walked in the door, and for the door, and for the life that let you walk through it? Would it make a difference Sunday? Will we ever know?
What if everything that happened Sunday you considered good, even if you didn’t like it, because you know who the Lord is and that He is good? What if you acted as if the mercy of God was much more precious to you than the clothes you wear or the building you are in? What if you acted like you knew that same mercy was available every minute of the day this Sunday? What if you acted like you knew that God is truth and His faithfulness was precious and that your children and their children would know it by the way you acted this Sunday? Would it make a difference in the way church went? Would people see God in a different light than any other Sunday? Will we ever know?

June 8, 2012

What’s New?

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/darrentunnicliff/3717968862/

Change is a natural part of life and yet so many people fear and even loath change. If change never happened, we would spend much of our lives beating on vending machines…get it? Change? Vending Machines? I kill me. But seriously, change gives us butterflies, frogs, ice, and a new diaper.
Recently my wife has been feeling like it is time to change. No, not husbands. No need to lower her standards. Her job has been a real pain in the neck and even a few months before the recent stretch of difficult times in her office, we have been talking about how perhaps God was leading her to go elsewhere.
Changing jobs can be quite nerve-racking in the best of times, but throw into the mix a bad job market and it gets even more difficult. But when my wife told me that she had turned in her two weeks notice, she said that she felt peace about it. I knew then that she was hearing from God. The Bible tells us that God gives us peace in difficult times as a way of knowing that we can trust Him. I know my wife is a woman who prays about things and listens to God for direction. This is no different.
There have been many times through the years that we have had to make tough decisions about jobs that did not make the most sense to some at the time it happened. Early in my ministry I also ran my own VCR repair business. Yep, I said VCR. It was during the time in my ministry when I was only getting part-time pay as a youth pastor and was feeling like I was not being effective in my ministry. At the same time I had an opportunity to expand my business to become a part of a national company and the money part of it was quite awesome. In the same week I learned that the church was cutting my part-time salary and that God, through my prayer life was telling me to close my business; you know, the one that just showed promise of a national account. But I had been asking God to make something happen and that I would trust Him when he did. I had peace about my decision and my wife supported me, so I closed the business and within a week was called to interview for my first full-time pastorate.
I had never thought about moving from the town we lived in. It was home and it was where my church was and all was fine. I had been at my church for almost 4 years and it was growing. But in my prayer time I felt like God was telling me that another change was coming. Within a few months there were things that happened that caused me to resign from my church and spend almost a year not being a pastor of any church. It was one of the toughest things I had ever done, but I knew it was right. One day I got a call from a church in the town I currently live in wanting to interview me for the pastor of their church. I had no intention of moving to another town and neither did my wife,but after the interview I had a peace about it that I couldn’t understand and within a month the move was on.
My wife was an executive at a major cellular company. It was a job that most people only dream of and the financial part of it was incredible. But shortly after taking the church, she began to feel like she needed to leave the company. Although we both knew that this meant dramatic financial cuts, we also knew that God was behind it because we both felt a peace about it. So she took early retirement and resigned. Because of that, she was able to work with me at the struggling church that hired me. We were leading it through bold changes and I needed her management skills like never before. Because she listened to God, we were able to lead the church through a change that resulted in the church that I currently pastor. This is a church where we are seeing people’s lives changed on a daily basis. It has grown from a church of barely 30 people who worshiped on Sunday morning to a place where over 150 people worship on Sunday morning. Not only that, but the amount of people who have gotten saved here is incredible. This all happened because of making tough decisions about changing jobs at weird times and trusting God instead of what logic says.
So I am excited to see what God has in store next for My wife and I. She has so many skills and gifts that can be used in so many ways that I am having a hard time imagining the awesome experience that is coming. Sure, there may be a few challenges along the way, but that is why God gives us the skills that we have and the peace that comes from His promise to provide all of our needs according to His riches in Glory!
Something new is on the way. I like new! I am made new by the power of God and what Christ did for me on the cross. In heaven, everything will be new all the time and that is hard to understand. So, new is good and new can only come with change. God says that He will change us into new creatures in Christ and lead us through the change every day. How can we go wrong. I am excited about what’s new!

March 22, 2012

Cuba

by pastortimfowler

Cuba, La Havane

Yesterday I found out for sure that I was going to Cuba in June for a week-long mission trip. I am amped up! 7 years ago I went and was blown away by the experience and have wanted to go back but never was able to make it happen. Then a few weeks ago a friend of mine told me that he was going and invited me to tag along. So I filled out the application and sent in my deposit and yesterday I spoke to the guy heading it up as he told me I was going to be part of the group.
Cuba is a fascinating place. Many think that the old cars you see in pictures are collections of classic cars, but they are not. They are the last cars from America that were ever sold in Cuba and to many, the last cars they were able to buy. Cuba is a very poor country, but so beautiful. The people are amazingly friendly and warm and their hospitality is unforgettable. Even the government officials that I met there were friendly and although extremely professional, they were not rude, but rather very likable.
We will be helping to build a seminary while we are there and helping to encourage the church leaders. My feeling is that we are probably going to be the ones who are encouraged. When I came back from my last trip I was filled with joy and re-energized to do ministry here.
So I am asking for people to pray for us as we prepare for this trip. Pray for our safe travels, a smooth passage through customs on both sides, and for lives to be changed because of the unique opportunity to meet fellow believers in a country that many Americans don’t get to travel to. I am also going to be asking for donations to help cover the costs. If you were to feel led to donate you can give through our church website, http://www.thebodylive.com/onlinegiving.html and just be sure to note that it is for the Cuba trip. That way your gift will be tax-deductible.
I told you that God keeps blowing my mind with the things He is doing in my life. It is hard to express the joy that I feel. I am even blown away by the fact that He lets me blog and people really read it.
Thanks!

March 7, 2012

Billionaires

by pastortimfowler

I read today that there are now 1226 in the world. It pains me to report that I am not on that list. I remember when Mr and Mrs. Howell were considered extravagantly rich. I guess being stranded on a deserted island with only 5 other people makes a millionaire seem really rich. I miss Gilligan’s Island. This same report said that the richest of these billionaires can lose as much as 11 billion in one day. I wish they would lose a billion my way.
I would be lying if I said that I would not want to be rich. Being rich offers a lot of benefits. It lets you eat the food you want to eat. It lets you vacation in better hotels and locations. It allows you to pay your mortgage and power bill while filling your gas tank all on the same day. Being rich can even allow you to get season tickets to see your favorite team and not have to park a mile down the road where it only costs $20. If I were rich I would park in the $50 parking just because I could.
But I am not jealous of those super rich. I have been blessed with more than I ever deserve. First, I have a beautiful family. My wife and I have been happily married for over 30 years. Money had little to do with it. We have three grown children who all have children of their own. We have a home that we can afford and automobiles that will get us to the jobs that we have. We have a church family that loves us and loves other people. We have friends who like us because of who we are and could care less how much money we have; thankfully. We are in relatively good health and don’t have too many enemies. Most of all, we know Jesus Christ personally as our Lord and Savior.
Being rich is not the way to happiness. God wants to give us happiness and have it not depend on how much money we can make. Jesus says that He wants us to have the joy that He has and to look to Him for our blessings. We are told that the things we have on this earth like money and houses and cars will all fade away. But things like family and friends are eternal when they are built on faith in Him.
No, I did not get my name on the list of those 1226 billionaires in the world, but I do have my name written in the Lamb’s book of life. Yep, I am rich beyond measure!

December 30, 2011

2011 Stickers

by pastortimfowler

Here are a few things that 2011 left stuck in my brain:
1. The 7th grandkid is as awesome to welcome to the family as the 1st. My youngest son and his wife brought into the world, Bryson, and it was as exciting as ever. I am always blown away by seeing a newborn and especially from one of my own children. God gives us a special miracle in every child and as we were blessed with our now 7th grandkid, I am still in awe. SEVEN grandkids!!! WOW!!!
2. Jake got a kidney. Jake was born with many medical problems and one that effected many of the others was his need for a working kidney. Early in the year he got his new kidney and since then his improvement has been nothing less than miraculous. At 2 years old, he could not eat solid food, his speech was extremely limited, and just the hassle of dialysis was horrible. But since the transplant he has began to eat, talk, and so many of the other problems have shown improvement. He was not supposed to ever be born alive, but God had other plans. Now he is more alive than ever.
3. Our church has grown. 2010 was a very tough year in many ways and made 2011 start off with much anticipation and even some anxiety. We had bought a building and the economy was tanking and our people were struggling to keep and find jobs. Financially it was tough. We needed to make some improvement to the building and numerical growth was minimal. But our people made tough choices and sacrificed and we survived. This last year we have seen our finances grow to allow us to make the improvements needed and our numerical growth has been incredible. We saw over 70 people raise their hand to salvation and over 50 of those were baptized. But what is the best growth of all came in the spiritual side of people. God brought up and brought in leaders. Many of our new folks grew into servants and servant leaders. We reached out to our community in ways that exceeded all expectations. We gave to help meet the needs of most anyone who asked and to many who didn’t. We did not grow to be the biggest church in town, but I do believe we may have grown the biggest heart for people in need. God has to be pleased with their unselfishness and love for our neighbors.
4. I am still married. No, we were not nearly divorced. But I consider myself to blessed beyond measure every year that I can say that I am married to her. If you only knew me like she knows me, you would know that she must be something special to put up with me. As shocking as that may sound, because I can be wonderful, she gets that part of me that is, how should I say, not so wonderful. Proverbs 18:22 Whoever finds a wife finds something good and has obtained favor from the Lord. I have to smile and even laugh to think that God shows me favor. If there has ever been a guy who did NOT deserve God’s favor it would be me. But because of His great love, mercy, and forgiveness and because Jesus paid my sin debt, I am not just a Christian, but God loves me and even shows it in giving me my wife.
I look forward to 2012. God has great things in store for me and for you.

November 28, 2011

Expect Versus Demand

by pastortimfowler

Luke 12:48 But the servant who didn’t know what his master wanted and did things for which he deserved punishment will receive a light beating. A lot will be expected from everyone who has been given a lot. More will be demanded from everyone who has been entrusted with a lot.
This verse comes from the teaching of Jesus about an evil servant and a faithful caretaker. It teaches that there are degrees of punishment and reward as well as degrees of responsibility. I want to focus of the last half of the verse that has been italicized.
Yesterday was an awesome day for me. I celebrated my 50th birthday and the highlight, other than spending the day with my wife, was preaching that morning. I love to preach and on those rare years that my birthday falls on a Sunday I had much rather preach than take the day off. This was no different and as always it was special. I usually give my testimony and this was no different and at the end of it when the invitation was given, 3 people accepted Jesus and I now share my birthday with the day that they were born, again.
Being 50 is not much different from being 49. I am sure that will change as the year goes by. I hear that 50 is the new 27, so that is exciting. But 50 does bring a time of reflection or at least it did with me. I sat up Saturday night waiting on midnight to roll around and then I spent some time looking back at what I had done with my life. I realized that I had wasted far too much of it on things that did not matter. So I thought about the things that do matter and found them to be lacking and decided to see if I could change that in the next 50 years. So far, I have done a great job of keeping the things that matter outweighing the things that don’t.
One of the reasons that we don’t do the important things in life is because they matter to other people and there is a huge level of accountability involved. That is what the last half of the verse above says. But notice that even the last half of the verse can be broken into 2 statements. Lets look at them for a minute.
A lot will be expected from everyone who has been given a lot. I believe that there is something that God puts into all of us that says that we should be a compassionate people. I also believe that most people know that there is a God who is responsible for everything that we have. After all, only a fool says in his heart. “there is no God”. I also believe that God has an expectancy of those whom he created to be responsible with the things they have. If you have a lot, you have a lot expected of you. I believe those who have a lot will be judged more harshly than those who do not. I think that there is that teaching in this story where this verse comes from. I believe that this is talking to people who do not have a relationship with God of their Father.
The second half, More will be demanded from everyone who has been entrusted with a lot, I believe he is talking to those who know Jesus as Savior and God as Father. Here is why. It uses the word entrusted verses the word given. I did a study on these two words and found that given, as used here, is most commonly used when speaking of giving servants their work load. The word entrust is most commonly used when giving an inheritance or a trust to a family member. God therefore entrusts those who are His children with a task far more important that those who are merely slaves. The good name of the family is at stake and that is why more will be demanded of us.
Now here is the difference in two more words. Expect versus demand. Expecting comes with an uncertainty of accomplishment. Demands come with a certainty of accomplishment. If you have high expectations of a new college graduate quarterback to become a great pro quarterback and he fails, he didn’t live up to expectations. If he makes the team and is made the starting quarterback, the team then demands his continued best.
In that context, you can think of someone blessed with much but not knowing God as Father as being expected to do what is right, but those who know God as Father, are demanded to use what they have been entrusted with to protect the good name of the Lord.
I want to spend my next 50 years meeting the demands of what I have been entrusted with; The good news that Jesus loves and saves those who are lost.

November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving

by pastortimfowler

I am not an expert on the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday in America nor do I want to be. I know what I was taught in school when I was a kid, and I know some of the stuff that is being taught now and I also know that there is a lot of controversy over who is right and who is wrong. My concern is that we have lost focus on the purpose of it all together, to give thanks for what we have. Not only to give thanks, but to thank the one who provides us with all we have, God.
It is a holiday that is a challenge for people who don’t believe in God. I can understand the anger and frustration because to be thankful, you must know who you are thanking. You can’t be thankful to no one and it is really narcissistic to thankful to yourself. We don’t have food, air, life, liberty, or family because of government, or because of what we do, it is because there is a God who loves us. Don’t be hate’n if you disagree, be thankful for a great country that allows you the freedom to disagree. Oh yeah, if you don’t believe, you don’t know who to thank…never mind. So for this blog, I will concede to those who want to thank themselves.
At least if you don’t believe in God you can pretend to be grateful to someone. Isn’t it nice to have freedom, family, health, food, and air to breath. I know us humans are doing our best to destroy the perfect air of nature, which God created, but some of you are trying hard to save the planet, so be thankful for that. Stop trying to ruin my Thanksgiving because you are miserable. Pretend that everything is the result of human actions whether it is good or bad and be thankful. If I want to thank a God that you don’t believe in, let me do it and I will be fine if you thank, uh, what ever.
There is no perfect world. If we all focus on what is wrong, we will all be miserable. Why not call a time out this Thanksgiving and focus on only what you are thankful for, not what I am doing that you consider wrong. Thank whoever or whatever you want, even yourself. Tell yourself how grateful you are for what you are doing and let me thank God for what He has done and is doing. When we have a national holiday to gripe and complain and point fingers at everyone that we disagree with, I promise to participate and not be thankful anything anyone else is doing, but for now, we don’t have that and we do have Thanksgiving so be THANKFUL!
Happy Thanksgiving.

November 15, 2011

It Sucks. Yep, I Said It

by pastortimfowler

The last few days have been tough. It seems like every way that I turn, something is going wacky. I heard someone use a term one time and not sure how nice it is, but it goes something like this: This sucks! Now of course I would never use this term for any other reason than to make the point of this blog. No one can ever accuse me of acting like anything other than the perfect Christian guy. If they do, they suck.
Hear is are a few things that have happened lately that have provoked this blog.
Last Friday, I woke up to back spasms, again. You would think that I would get use to this, but I haven’t. They are a common part of my everyday life, only some days they are worse than others. I know, if you have followed my blogs for a while you may have heard about them before, but like my blog, they are my spasms and I can whine about them when I want too. Friday they were pretty intense and I had to go pick up the red-head twins for the weekend with Mimi, who just happens to live at my house.
When I got there to pick them up, it was right in front of the USC Gamecock stadium and I was reminded that I really wanted to stay there and see the game , but neither of the red-head twins are old enough to drive yet so I had to load them in my truck and drive an hour back to my house. The whole time they were yelling and screaming and acting like little kids and I was trying to yell with them and I actually hurt my vocal chords while we were seeing who could yell the loudest. (It was a game)
Saturday, was not that bad, except for trying to get those leaves out of my yard. When I woke up Saturday, my back felt better and that was a relief, but as I was trying to get an extension cord untangled, my dog thought it would be funny to sneak up behind me and see me trip over her. Guess what that started? Back spasms. So I got the leaves out of the yard and went in to watch the football game that I really wanted to see live. It was a good game and my team won.
Some time during the game the dog wanted to play again and as I was wrestling with her, something popped in my elbow and it has not stopped hurting since. As if that wasn’t enough, I took a couple of Tylenol to ease the pain and did not realize that there were two other letters on the bottle, PM. So I took a nap on the couch. It was only a short nap because soon the wife come home with the red-head twins and two others who were still playing the game, let’s see how loud we can yell. As I sat up from my nap, I had a back spasm which caused me to flinch and I got a “crick” in my neck.
Because I had a nap so late in the day, I did not sleep much Saturday night and Sunday morning came way to soon. It was a big day at the church with several things that were starting up. I am on edge on Sunday mornings anyway, just because I want everything to go well. Some people started not showing up at the times that they were supposed to and one person went home early and another said they couldn’t do what they were supposed to. On top of everything else, I was not preaching that morning. I get bummed out when I don’t get to preach. Not because the person who is preaching will not do a great job, but because after all that had been going wrong, the one thing I believe I can do right is preach. It allows me to forget everything else and talk about the One who is always right. God.
Later that day, I was called by a friend to tell me that a family member was in ICU, and another friend of mine was having some other personal issues that I didn’t have an answer for him. I think my phone rang 4 or 5 times with bad or disturbing news.
Monday, was a new week and had to get better; wrong. As if it weren’t bad enough that my run of bad luck seemed to be continuing, the wife had a really bad day. I hate it when she has a bad day cause if I’m not careful it can turn even worse because I am so sensitive. Okay, maybe sensitive is the wrong word, but I can’t use the one she called me. So add it all up and the last few days have been worth taking the risk to say, this sucks.
So Monday night we have our men’s Bible study and God decides to show off and remind me that no matter how much I think it sucks, He doesn’t. He reminded me that His grace is sufficient and that His love can overcome anything that I allow to bother me. He reminded me that it is not the things that bothered me that sucked. What sucked was that I let them bother me so long before turning my focus to HIM.

October 10, 2011

Gratitude

by pastortimfowler

Yesterday in my series on Foundations of Our Faith, I preached about gratitude. It was one of the most rewarding Sundays that I have experienced in a while. For me to say that and you to get the understanding of it is difficult, because I am extremely blessed to pastor this church and every Sunday is rewarding. We average seeing 3-5 people each week come to know Jesus for the first time and the people who call this their home church are incredible in their pursuit of true Christianity. They love each other and they make those who come for the first time feel like they are welcome and like they can be themselves. They are unashamed to invite folks who don’t “do church” to come because they will not feel like an outsider or treated as if they are another notch in our cross or something like that.
So what was so special about this Sunday? I have to say that I am not sure that I can articulate it in a way that everyone will understand, but I will try. One thing that happens every week that freaks me out, is that people really listen to what I am saying. That shouldn’t be weird, but I have preached in churches where I thought that I was all alone and the building was full. But there was a different atmosphere this week. Every week these guys listen and I am thankful, but not only were they listening this week, but they were responding with understanding . When our praise band finished their last song, just before we did baptisms, the band was called back for an encore. Sure I may have started it, but the feeling was real. Then instead of people rushing out to get home, they all stayed as we baptized 12 people. It was funny to watch folks jockeying for position to take pictures and videos and then to see them posted on Facebook by the time I got home. We had kids as young as 8 and adults as old as 40 getting baptized for the first time and even had a whole family get baptized. It was fun. It was not a religious experience, it was a family affair. No one rushed out after the baptisms were through, most everyone stayed to clean up water, hug wet people, and laugh about the fact that we need higher ceilings so that we could flick lighters next week when they call the band back for another encore. The whole thing even spilled over to today, as I checked out Facebook and Twitter to see people posting how they were grateful for one thing or another.
It is experiences like this that make you grateful to be a Christian and for me to be a pastor. I have always taught that God does not want us to have religion, but rather He wants us to have a relationship. First, He wants a relationship with us, then He wants us to have a relationship with each others. I know that there are churches everywhere that say they have that type relationship, but I really think ours is special. Yep, I am a bit prejudice, but it is true. We don’t just hang out together on Sundays, but we hang out all throughout the week. Last week, about 30 women from our church spent the weekend at the beach together and skipped church. Something tells me they were more like what God intends the church to be during that time than most people an any given Sunday. Friday and Saturday of this week there were 9 of the guys took off for a motorcycle ride around the perimeter of South Carolina for no other reason than to hang out with each other and have some fun.
To wrap up Sunday, after our evening Bible study, about 20 of us went to eat at IHOP. Moms, dads, kids, pastors and lay people, just eating and laughing. Nothing organized, nothing fancy, but everything about it screamed, “we love each other”. The Bible says that people will know that we are disciples of Jesus by the way we love one another. I think people know this about our church, and although I have felt this for a while, this Sunday it all just seemed to come together in every way.
Nothing says you believe in what you are doing better than having a grateful heart and showing that heart to others. That is what made it all so special: gratitude.