Archive for ‘Praise and Worship’

September 26, 2011

Monday is Funday!

by pastortimfowler

Why do we hate Mondays so much? It is almost like on Monday we lose all hope in humanity and ourselves and go into a deep depression. I laugh at the negativity on Facebook and Twitter as people moan and groan about going to work. You would think that just the opposite was happening, that they had found out that they had no job and couldn’t go to work.
As a Christian, I find it so wrong to be this negative, just because it is Monday. I have always thought that we should be the most positive on Monday and if we were going to be negative, it would be somewhere near the end of the week. I think that we have been influenced too much by a society that has become very ungrateful. I think that Christians are too focused on self, instead of others. Let me elaborate.
If you go to church on Sunday and you have an experience that puts you closer to God and His people and you fill up on God’s word and see Him working in people’s lives, shouldn’t we be excited about getting to work Monday? A friend of mine once told me that church was the a pit stop in a race. The race was what happened Monday through Saturday and on Sunday we pulled in for a filling of fuel, refreshing drink, some new traction, and have our windshield cleared. After that, it is back on the track where the race is won. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a race-car driver not want to get back into the race.
Church people have been too influenced by those around us instead of being the ones who influence. We allow all the negativity of a worldly point of view to cause us to lose our joy and when we lose our joy we are no different that anyone else. We are to be salt that flavors the world and light that brightens the world. We are to be thankful for the blessings we have and joyful for the life God has given us. We are to show hope to the hopeless and love to the unloved. We are supposed to have a relationship with a God that is so awesome that He makes even the worst situations better and yet we hate Mondays.
There is an old song that the church used to sing and it goes like this. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings and you will see what God has done. I don’t think we are counting our blessings much anymore. In this economy, if you are going to work on a Monday, you should be singing God’s praises and not complaining because its Monday. If you have a boss who is a jerk, you should be praising God for the opportunity to show what a difference being a Christian makes by working harder and better than anyone else so that the jerk sees Jesus, not you. If you have a home, and family, and job, your health, a car, your salvation, then you should be smiling all the way to work on Monday and keep on going as Friday rolls around.
Mondays are a great day to see how many people you can tell about how thankful to God that you are to have that job and them as co workers and that you feel extremely blessed to be working when so many are without. If your work is a dark place, turn on the light! If it is a miserable place, spread some joy!
Here is a suggestion for those who are Christians but you still hate Mondays. If you hate going to your job, tell God that you are not appreciative of what He gave you and maybe He will take it away from you so that you can rejoice in unemployment and poverty. Then you can really look forward to Mondays, because it won’t be any different from any other day that you DON’T go to work.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Always be joyful.
17 Never stop praying.
18 Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.

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September 15, 2011

We Love To Give

by pastortimfowler

Early this morning I read the Old Testament book of Esther. It is a strange thing that not once in the whole book does it mention God. Yet the theme of salvation and deliverance run throughout. At the end of the book, Mordecai proclaims an annual feast and celebration called Purim, that involves the giving of gifts to people all around you. It is a celebration that sounds a lot like our modern Christmas celebration.
I do not know of a more joyful time than Christmas morning when you get see someone opening the gift that you thought so hard about and looked for days or weeks to find just the right thing. Or watching a child get that toy they have talked about all year-long. I love seeing a mom get that home-made gift from a child who is so proud of what he or she made and mom beams with love even if the gift is obviously made by a small child. What about the young woman who parades her new engagement ring around, showing it to everyone and the guy who gave it to her smiling with great pride as she does?
Giving gifts is a wonderful thing that is full of reward and joy for the giver as much as it is for the receiver. There have been times when I have heard people during a birthday party shout from the crowd, “That one is from me!” because they are so excited about giving the gift. Yes, giving is a wonderful thing and we love to give.
Then there is church. We spare no expense on gifts for our spouse, children, or even friends. We are willing to go into debt by the thousands of dollars during Christmas in order to give. But when it is time to give at church, we suddenly become cynical. We forget that giving brings us joy and we turn into Scrooge as we grumble to reach into our pockets for change.
I think part of the problem is that we are thinking about giving to an institution called the church instead of giving to a God who loves us enough to forgive our sins and allow His Son to die in our place so that we can have eternal life with Him. It would be a lot more difficult to give my wife something if I constantly thought about what I was giving to the institution of marriage instead of the mother of my children. But because it is personal, I give with joy. We need to get that mindset with giving to God.
The church is God’s way of being personal with people. We are His arms and feet and lips. It is organized and sure there are flaws, but only because humans are flawed, not God. But the church is how people who don’t know God, get to know God.
The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver. That does not mean that we are not loved if we give begrudgingly. It means when we give with joy, He receives with joy. We love to bring joy to children when we give. We love to bring joy to our spouse when we give. We need think about bringing joy to God when we give. We love Christmas and birthdays and giving to those in need. God loves us so much that He gave His Son. So when it comes to God, shouldn’t we love to give?

September 7, 2011

I Can’t Hear You!

by pastortimfowler

When I was a kid one of my favorite TV shows was Gomer Pyle USMC. Gomer was a dufus who got on his sergeant’s nerves because he smiled at everything. One of the things that you heard from Sgt. Carter every episode was, “I can’t hear you!!” Old drill sergeants were always yelling to get you to yell back.
So, this morning I was finishing up reading the OT book of Nehemiah and toward the end, when the city walls had been rebuilt and the people were moving back to the city, it says that the people of God were praising and worshiping God so loudly that folks outside the city could hear them. In the book of Ezra it says that when the foundation for the temple had been laid, that the shouts of praise could be heard far away.
Last Saturday I went to the opening game of USC Gamecock Football season. I love college football and have to be careful how I act. We had an obnoxious fan from the other team sitting in front of us for this game and he was very loud when his team started winning early in the game. But once we got on track, things changed and the crowd went crazy and so did I. I was told that you could hear the cheering all throughout the downtown area.
In our church we have a children’s area that is separated from the worship center by a greeting area. It is not a very large area, but it does provide a buffer so that the babies in the nursery can sleep and the kids can have their lesson taught without the teacher having to yell. Our praise band is incredible. They are talented and inspired to make music that sings out praises to God. They do play loud and that is another benefit to having that separation from the children’s area. We have a great sound system that can blast out the music like you wouldn’t believe.
Every Sunday we try to follow the biblical command to “build the church”. We are told that this happens one soul at a time as people get saved. I can’t tell you how blown away I am as the pastor when week after week, new people come to know Jesus as Savior. I can’t remember the last time that we had a Sunday worship time that someone did not join the family of God. So here is my dilemma.
Why is there not an earth shattering outburst of praise every Sunday? Our band is great and the music is in worship to God, the lover of our souls, and He responds to our praise and the preaching by adding to the family. There should be an overwhelming emotional response, right? Please don’t take this as fussing, I am really wanting to understand this lack of enthusiasm. There is absolutely no biblical evidence that we should be reserved in our response to God. I can list time after time of instances in the Bible where people were praising God so enthusiastically that folks heard them over everything else that was going on.
We don’t have a problem cheering loudly for our team when they win. We don’t have a problem cheering our favorite band at a concert. We don’t have a problem cheering at our kids play at school. But at church we become very refined and unresponsive to what is truly a supernatural move of God. I am as guilty as the rest, some times. But I do try to lead by example. I have been accused of getting a bit rowdy when I preach, and I will clap and lift my hands while the band plays. But at the end, when the invitation is given and people make that life changing decision to trust God for salvation, the silence is disturbing. I know we need to be reverent to the immediate time of response, but afterward, I think the celebration should begin. I think it is time to wake the babies and cause the neighbors to call the police. Wouldn’t it be wild to have the news lead off with the story of churches all across America disturbing the peace each Sunday around 12 noon?
Let me challenge you to put your game face on Sunday. Become a cheer leader for Jesus. Forget about the refined people in church and act like those in the Bible who were truly thrilled to see God do something. If you want to be quiet, go to a church where God is not saving a soul, but if you are in a place where He is saving people, CELEBRATE! Because what if God is saying “I CAN”T HEAR YOU!” and we are saying “SHHHH, you’ll wake the babies?

August 19, 2011

A Job Well Done

by pastortimfowler

The other day I talked with someone about why they need to stay on their job. It was hard to believe that they were even considering quitting a job in this economy. They wanted to quit because they did not like anything about the job. The people were difficult to work with, the pay was lousy, the job was difficult, and the hours were unpredictable. That has to be tough, but is there a positive twist you can put on it?
First, from the standpoint of the economy, we could all probably give an account of someone we know that does not have a job and can’t find one. Few places are hiring and those who are have so many applicants that they can be very picky over who they hire. Many people are looking for any job, and that means employers can set the highest of standards. Add to that the number of people who are applying for these few jobs and it is tough. Quitting a job now is a recipe for even harder times if you do not have another job to transfer into.
Second, let me share a biblical point of view. This will be fun, so read on.
God gave you that job. Rejoice and be glad in it. He said that He would meet our needs not our wants. Perhaps God wants us to show faithfulness in the small things before He gives us the big things. The workplace today needs to see what a good work ethic is. It would be a great witness, to those who don’t believe, to see a Christian work hard and honor those in authority. People need to hear and see that our actions match up. They need to see that we believe that good things come from God and a job of any type right now is a good thing.
Sometimes we forget that the strongest witness we can give to others is in our workplace. Another time is when we are going through a struggle. Combine the two and there is a real opportunity to let our faith shine. We live in a world that promotes a victim mind-set. People really believe that life should be fair and I have never found that to be true. The only two things that are fair in life is the fact that we all face judgement, the same judgement, for our sins and God through Jesus Christ forgives us, any of us, if we ask. Other than that, fairness is only equal to the opportunity that is in front of us not the results of it. If fairness is what was important, it would only be fair that a blind man could drive a car on our interstates and I could be a brain surgeon even though I know nothing about it. I mean, it just isn’t fair that I don’t get to do what I want, is it?
I believe that God puts us in various situations to see if we remember to honor Him in all things, not just the stuff we think is good. Difficult work means a chance to test our perseverance. Those people who are so hard to work with may need to see Jesus in you. You may be that only example of Jesus that they will see. Low pay means a chance to practice good stewardship and faith that God will provide. Unpredictable hours mean a chance to be ready to share our faith in season and out of season.
Let me leave you with this example of someone who had a tough job, with tough people to work with, unreasonable hours, and their pay sucked. His name is Jesus.
He was hired to work with fishermen and tax collectors. He left Heaven to work on earth during a tougher time that we know now. He was on call 24/7 and never got the pay that He deserved. No matter how hard He tried, people turned on Him and ended up firing Him from His job in a most cruel way. All the time He never quit, never gave up, and never stopped honoring God. In return, many were saved, He is the example for all to follow, and God said, “A job well done!”

August 11, 2011

Makes You Go Hmmm

by pastortimfowler

As you read through the Old Testament you can run across some stuff that will make you scratch your head and wonder. Some things seem cruel, some things are just bizarre, and others like what I read today, just makes you go Hmmm. That would make a great song wouldn’t it, “things that make you go Hmmm”?
In 1 Chronicles, we are given a summation of King David’s life. Toward the end, David begins to prepare his son Solomon to take the kingdom and to build the temple. Part of doing this is designating the priests’ assigned duties. There were thousands of them who made sure that the temple was maintained and ready for worship. This is what I found that made me go Hmmm. David appointed almost 2000 priests with the sole purpose of giving thanks in the morning and in the evening. Hmmm. See? Did it again.
My first thought is that this would be a really easy job and where do I apply. Imagine this as your workday: Alarm goes off at 6:30am and you eat breakfast, shower and shave, although the priests did not shave, fix your lunch, and head down to the temple. Once there you clock in, walk into the office, say “Thanks”, tell the boss and your fellow priests, “see you later”, go prop your feet up on the desk and play Angry Birds until 4pm, walk in say “thanks” and clock out. Then go home and tell the wife to keep the kids quiet, you have had a rough day. Sounds pretty cushy, doesn’t it?
Here is the catch. These guys had to spend their days looking for and recording the things that they would offer thanks for. I wonder how hard that must have been some days. You know the days I am talking about. When you get up on the wrong side of the bed and so does every one else. The kids don’t want to eat their breakfast and they don’t want to wear the clothes you laid out for then and you don’t want to wear the clothes you just put on. The coffee maker broke, the toast burnt and that re-heated cup of coffee from yesterday just spilled down the front of your white shirt. You get to work and your boss lets you know that everyone that helps you has called in sick and everything that they did needed to be done by noon. You call to have lunch brought in and once they finally get there, your order is wrong and you left you wallet at home and the person who you usually can borrow a few bucks from is one that called in sick. On the way home you have a flat and its raining and the spare tire was never fixed from the last time you had one of these days, and your cell phone is dead from using it so much at work. Once you finally make it home, you don’t feel like cooking so you decide to go out but realize that there is no money in the bank because the mortgage is due and you received a note from the IRS today in the mail saying that they made a mistake and you owe them $1500 more.
With all of this you finally make it to bed and you realize that you have not stopped to pray or read your Bible all day. So quickly you grab your Bible open it and decide that you will read where ever you open it too and this is what you see: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this. Isn’t that just like God to ruin an already sucky day by tell you to be thankful?
Don’t you know that those priests had days like that too? But that did not stop them from having to fulfill their duties and it was their duty to give thanks in the morning and the evening, daily.
What do you do on a day like that? Here are a few things that we can always give thanks for:
~ You were alive to have such a bad day.
~ You have a job
~ You have a home and a family
~ The perseverance that you show will encourage others
~ God loves you
~ You have a brain that works because of things that make you go Hmmm.

August 8, 2011

Welcome Bryson Daniel Fowler

by pastortimfowler

It is hard to fathom that today our 7th grandchild was born. Bryson Daniel Fowler, was born via C-section at 3:39pm today. He weighed 7lbs 3ozs and was almost 20 inches long. Mom and baby are doing fine, dad is a bit rattled but expected to pull through. Papa is doing fine and should not suffer any ill effects until Mimi starts to spoil him.
God has blessed me beyond my ability to understand. All of my children now have children and they are all awesome! No matter how hard I try, I am at a loss for words to describe this feeling. So I guess I will just say praise God!
Sadly we will have to drive home tonight, but the weekend will be here before we know it and we will be back.
Thanks to everyone for your prayers. Thanks to God for a healthy baby boy! Welcome, Bryson, we are thrilled to have you here!

August 1, 2011

Nostalgia

by pastortimfowler

Every now and then, I wake up feeling nostalgic. I was reading through some old sermon notes and remembering some of the early years of my ministry. It is so funny to see where my focus was then and where it is now. My first church was a small country church that was literally built by a few families in the church. They were located in an area that was no longer a farming community but had become a part of the sprawl of city growth. They needed to change and re-focus.
My sermons and teachings were focused on trying to get the people who grew up in that church to see their need to change in order to reach the new demographics. I could tell the times that they were getting it and the times that they were resisting it. I could tell the times when I felt encouraged and the times that I felt like stepping in front of a moving train. But for the most part it was a great time of learning to trust God. He was preparing me for something better.
One of the big differences between then and now is the presence of my children. They were growing up then and were always at church. They were the core of the youth group and that meant fun times for the youth pastor. Now all of my kids are grown and have children of their own and attend church elsewhere. As much as I loved them being part of my church and ministry, I know that they are relieved to not be the center of the attention.
Although I had made some good friends and had some good co-workers in the past ministries, there is nothing like what I am doing now. I do believe that if I could sit down with God and draw up plans for my perfect church to pastor, that this one would be it. Not that there isn’t challenges, but the style of ministry is perfectly suited for who I am. Looking back on some old ministries just made me realize this even more.
It would be hard to think of ever serving anywhere else. The people here are genuine and are learning to take ownership of their church. Not in the way that results in negative attitudes towards change, but in a way that represents the love and hospitality of our people. I can’t wait to look back on this in years to come when that nostalgic feeling hits me, and I will be able to see the amazing journey of The Body, A Church for Anybody, as it began to blossom into an incredible work of God.
Before I end this, I want to tell you that there are two consistencies that have always given me hope and motivation. First is God who has given wisdom as needed, grace, more abundant that all my screw ups, and keeps the fire inside me burning with His love. Secondly and just as consistent is my wife. I have been blessed with someone who is my partner through thick and thin and she loves the Lord as much as I do and loves His people. I would not and could not be the pastor that I am without her.
Thanks God for the memories…Now, back to work!

June 24, 2011

What Will We Eat For Lunch?

by pastortimfowler

My youngest son and his wife are on their way to see us and have a baby shower tomorrow. She is due to have our 7th grandchild, a boy, in August. They live in Florence which is about 2 hrs from here, 1hr 5minutes if my favorite wife is driving. Because of our work schedules it has been really tough getting to see them, so this will be awesome.
It is hard to believe that our youngest is getting ready to have a child. They have been married for several years and between school and jobs have traveled most of their married life. Now he seems to have landed his dream job and settled down and they are ready to have 10-15 children and start a small farm. I can’t wait to have some fresh bacon and eggs picked right off the vine!
I know that many of you are still in awe that I am a grandfather. Actually, now that I read that word “grandfather” I don’t like the sound of it and prefer the term “those kid’s dad’s dad”. You may not be aware of this but my wife is older than I am. I was a child when we met and I was actually sold to her off a Russian bride/groom website. It was my 12th birthday when we got married and although I was scared, she wanted children right away and that explains the reason that I already have grandkids.
It was funny how in the early years she use to call me her “fine breedin’ stock” and how she use to giggle as I blushed…but that is another blog for another time.
I have lived a blessed life until now. No, I don’t expect it to change, but I am sure of my past. I have a great wife, who practically raised me too, great kids, who are all beautiful like their dad, and yes, even grandkids. I know that God has given me favor, because I prayed that each of my children would have a child just like them and so far, so good. I can’t wait to see how this one is going to turn out. He will probably be musically inclined, have great taste in women, love to fish, and like to tell on his siblings when they have the next 10 or so. He will love to play games with his dad and practically worship the ground that he walks on. Because this son was our “good child” it will be hard to name too many annoying things that the grandson should do.
No matter what he is like, I am super stoked about seeing him for the first time. No, I don’t consider that thing that looked like mom had swallowed a jelly bean, a real picture. I’m talking the little smiling, slobbering, face after he comes out of hiding. I am sure that he will continue the trend of great looking Fowler men who dazzle the world with their smile and woo the women, no matter how much older they are.
I live a blessed life. I am not sure what I did to deserve it, but I’ll take it. God’s grace is so awesome!
I just got a text and they are close. I wonder what we will eat for lunch?

June 15, 2011

Better Than Anything

by pastortimfowler

I am reading through the book of Hebrews in the New Testament now and this can be a challenging book to read and understand. I love it. I think it is one of the most important writings of the Bible because it clearly lays out the deity of Jesus Christ and our need to put Him above all else. The main theme that sums up Hebrews is this: Jesus is better. Better than angels, better than prophets, better than Moses, better than anything!
Every time I read it I am forced to rethink how I respond to being told that Jesus is better than anything. Most Christians will have no problem agreeing with that premise in word but we have a hard time agreeing with it in actions. So I want to challenge you to think about whether or not you truly believe that Jesus is better by how you live your lives. Trust me, I am only writing from experience in my own life. If we take this as a challenge and try to act on it in a positive way, there is no telling how God may turn around and show us His better side.
Let’s start with one that my wife will have to deal with. Jesus better than coffee
When we need to get our day started, do you reach for Jesus or make coffee? So often I hear that people don’t have time to read the Bible, the words of Jesus and His instructions for life, but we always have time to make coffee. Right now some are saying, not me, I drive through Starbucks to get my coffee. So is that not at least an extra 5 minutes? I am not a great reader and certainly not a speed reader, but I can read any number of Psalms and even a whole chapter of most books in 5 minutes. Jesus is better than coffee because He is the source of our strength and wisdom and if we drink from His word, we get eternal life, not life that ends in a crash ’cause the caffeine has worn off.
Jesus is better than Facebook.
I love Facebook. I love reading about people who are riding to work in heavy traffic and can’t handle the stress that comes from just getting to that job, much less that job. But let me ask you this, would it be better to risk your life to post on Facebook all your frustrations and risk crashing or would it be better to talk to Jesus, since you are not getting anywhere fast anyway? Maybe instead of telling the world about your problems, and they can only post something cute and sarcastic back, what about telling Jesus your cares and see if He responds. I am sure that what He will tell you will be better than what I may post on your wall.
Jesus is better than your opinion.
I know that we have all heard the opinions are like things we all have, however the problem is that often our opinions are based on what is popular and not what Jesus would really say if He was asked. We need to be ever mindful of the fact that the only time some people will ever hear from Jesus is when we are talking. So if what we are saying isn’t biblical, then it can’t help. We need to be more concerned with helping others than we are helping our own popularity. Jesus cares about others and wants us to share that care through giving better advice than when we preface what we say with “I know this is only my opinion, but…” So if you add another “t” to but and put a hole in it, you get the value of your opinion and Jesus is better than that.
Jesus should be the center of our lives. He is better than everything else, but what we think is that He wants us to give up everything else. I don’t think that is true. If we can make time for Jesus, He will make your coffee time better. If we make time for talking to Jesus, he will make those traffic jams seem better. If we will make our opinions less important than God’s word, Jesus will make our opinions better.
Jesus made me better by forgiving my sin and placing a new desire in my heart. I need to follow that desire and allow Him to continue to make the things I do better so that others know the He is better. But it is hard to believe that Jesus is better than anything when we act like anything is better than Jesus.

March 9, 2011

Complaining about the mud.

by pastortimfowler

My old pastor once told me that if you prayed for rain, you should not complain about the mud. But I hate the mud. Mud ruins your carpet, your shoes, your ability to let the dogs use the doggy door all day, it just messes things up.
In the Old Testament book of 1Kings, chapter 17, Elijah the prophet said it would not rain for 7 years and it didn’t. Can you imagine 7 years with no rain. You go 7 weeks around here with no rain and people start freaking out. They did not have water systems back then like we do today that can bring water from miles away they had to depend on what fell from the sky and that was about it. 7 years with no rain would cause many problems. Imagine what the gardens were like. After a while there would not be any gardens and if you didn’t store up years worth of food, you and your family would starve.
After a few weeks drinking water would begin to run low. Washing dishes would cease. I think this is the first place that paper plates were thought of. I’m just sayin’…
Bathing would have to be all but stopped. That would make for some smelly people. Can you imagine some of your friends who smell now because they don’t bathe every day and what they would smell like after a month or two? Of course kids would be happier. They never like to bathe anyway.
I am sure that many of the golf courses back them had to shut down and football fields switch over to Astroturf.
How many of the folks do you think were praying hard for rain after a few months? How about after a few years? Can you imagine the praying going on in year seven? I bet everyone who knew God, thought they knew God, thought that others knew God, and even those who knew they didn’t know God were praying. It is funny how many and who prays when a disaster hits. I heard a guy asking people to pray for his mom who just found out she had cancer and he was an atheist. It’s like someone once said, ‘There are no atheists in foxholes’.
So as the story goes, after seven years with no rain, this same guys prayed for rain and it happened. How many others do you think took credit for the praying that day? Everyone who was ever a religious person of any sort was taking credit for that one.
The story I am talking about does not go here, but I wonder, how many people, shortly after it was raining a while and there was mud all over the place, started complaining about all the mud? You know it and I know it, people complained. Stuff being washed away, houses being forced to get new roofs, cars being flooded.
My point is this. With every curse there is a blessing and with every blessing there is someone going to complain.
Think about what you ask for, you just might get it.
So, if you pray for rain, enjoy playing in the mud for a while.