Archive for ‘Salvation’

September 6, 2011

Heart Troubles

by pastortimfowler

I went to see a friend today that just had a triple bypass heart operation. He was doing remarkably well for someone who 4 days ago had his chest cracked open. I laughed because I drove about 40 minutes, and only stayed about 2 minutes because he said he was hungry and sleepy, then had to run in the rain back to my truck to drive 40 minutes back. But it was a great use of my time to see an answered prayer face to face.
The human heart is an amazing organ. It pumps blood 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year for on average, almost 80 years. When something goes wrong with it we know it. We get tired, short of breath, and often feel pains like we have never felt before. What my friend had was what is most common for heart problems and that is blocked arteries that supply blood to the thing that pumps the blood. When this happens there are a couple of things that can happen. In the best cases, we can change our diet and exercise, and start taking some medications to help clear things out. A little worse and you get to have a roto rooter job done on the arteries and have stents put in to open them up. This too usually comes with diet and exercise changes and some meds. The last and most severe cases get the ol’ bypass operation. This is where they crack open your chest, clip some spare parts from other locations and install them in the heart to get the blood flowing again. Once this takes place they again tell you to change your diet, exercise and take some meds. With advances in medicine, most people are living 20 or more years after this procedure and regaining their health to a level that was better than before. Incredible!
The human heart is not only the amazing organ that keeps us alive but has also become the symbolic place of our emotions and our conscious. We ‘wear our hearts on our sleeves’ if we show emotions to easily for some and we are quick to say that ‘God knows our hearts’ when talking about our intentions to do good. God is called the Great Physician because He can physically heal our bodies when doctors say there is no hope, but what He does to our heart that we claim controls our inner being is even more amazing.
I have had a bad heart since I was born. The organ is fine, but the inner me is really in need of some help. My condition fluctuates from one degree to the other, but either way, without the help of the Great Physician, I would be dead. When I was about 20 years old I realized that my heart was really bad and God actually gave me a transplant. He put in me a new heart that He had designed to overcome my sin problems. He told me that if I would eat right and exercise that I would have no problems but if I ever decided to go back to my old habits, I would have problems. He restores the blood flow that gives life. That blood is the blood of Jesus. My diet is the word of God and the exercise is my faith of which I need to walk daily with.
There have been times when I ignored the Doctor’s orders and went back to eating the same old junk I use too and I have needed the bypass. It was painful and even embarrassing to think that I messed it up so bad. But I regained my spiritual health and started eating better and exercising and things went good. He restored the blood flow and sin was no longer clogging the way to my heart.
Today, there are still times that I have to allow the doctor to check me out and He usually fusses if I am straying off my diet and exercise. He prescribed a daily dose of His word to me back when I got my transplant and it is usually when I don’t take it like I should that the problems start-up. But every time that I get back on my daily routine that was prescribed, I feel better and my heart feels good.
The doctor really gets great joy when he sees a patient years after an operation and the patient is doing well. I don’t think anything is more disappointing to them than to see a person waste such a wonderful opportunity get their lives back. The doctor can only do so much, we must take responsibility for following His prescription for good health.
Every day now I check in with my Doctor. He is great in that He never gets tired of my calls. He never stops encouraging me to live the lifestyle that He prescribes and promises that no matter how much damage I do, He can fix it if I will let Him. The old part of me still desires the stuff that messes me up, but the more I stick to His plan the better my heart really is.
I hope that you never have to experience a heart bypass, but if you do, be encouraged that it will work and your heart will get better. I hope that everyone will let the Great Physician replace your old heart with a new one and that you to can have a life that is eternal. But don’t ever try to crack your own chest open and do it yourself. You will die. And you know what? You can’t fix your spiritual heart either and that death is forever. See the Doctor and get it done right
Ezekiel 36:26-28
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stubborn hearts and give you obedient hearts.
27 I will put my Spirit in you. I will enable you to live by my laws, and you will obey my rules.
28 Then you will live in the land that I gave your ancestors. You will be my people, and I will be your God.

June 28, 2011

A Better Pastor

by pastortimfowler

copyrighted photo

I had a wonderfully humbling experience today. I was talking to a couple about their upcoming wedding when it was brought to my attention that the future husband was not a Christian, but the bride is. I know that this is going to stir up a lot of feelings in people but I am hoping that you will understand the big picture. The Bible tells Christians not to marry someone who is not a Christian. In the Old Testament God told Israel not to marry those outside of the Jewish faith, so this is a consistency with God and there is a reason for it. Humans have this tendency to think about what is immediately in front of them and let God and His will be put aside for what we want. That often leads to sin and that is what God sent Jesus to die for, our sin. Because of that high price, He doesn’t want us to do things that will make it easier to sin and being married to someone who is not of the same faith as we are makes it easy to follow our spouse rather than God. This is not the total point of this blog but it does have its place here.
You see as a pastor I have to do what God says, even if I don’t understand it fully. I know it would be better for a couple to be married and live together than to not be and live together. But, living together before marriage is a sin too. My dilemma is that I can’t marry someone who God says shouldn’t be married even if I think it would be better than the other choice.
SO…I am talking with this couple and the guy is a very unique person who was saying a lot of the right things, but something was not sitting right with me. I thought that he was being argumentative, and so I was putting up my shield and getting ready to fire back but I just couldn’t get a peace about how I was trying to handle things. I was seeing our conversation getting nowhere and I kept remembering my earlier blog about judging others. I was judging this guy and I was convinced that I was using the right standards to judge and at the same time, something kept telling me I was wrong.
So I asked the young lady to leave the room and asked the guy if I could talk one on one with him. He said yes.
I told him first that I was wrong to draw some of the conclusions about him and asked him to forgive me. He did. I told him why I had my convictions and to the best of my ability why I had to stick by my guns about not marrying them, but I saw that he really had a good idea of what marriage was about and asked if he would explain how he thought of God. So he did.
He began to explain how he had been hurt in some previous attempts to seek answers and ask questions about his opinions of God. He said that other pastors had gotten defensive and very matter of fact on him and he felt like he was being pushed away, not by God, but by those who should be teaching him about God. So he decided to form his own opinions with as much conviction as he could have and trust that God was as understanding as he hoped that He would be. Sadly this guy understood God better than those pastors did, or at least acted.

I asked if I could show him in the Bible exactly what God wanted from us and the extent to which God had gone to forgive us and make us His. I told him the God loved him as much as he thought, and more. I was able to show him that the only thing that he was missing in his opinion of God was the point to which Jesus was the sacrifice for our sin and it was through Jesus that we receive forgiveness and eternal life.
He told me that it was really cool to be able to talk about this and get clarity about God and forgiveness and when I asked if I could lead him in a prayer to ask for forgiveness and salvation, he said, no I think I have the right words and he prayed the best prayer of salvation I have heard in a while, because it was real and it was from his heart.
Real quickly I want to say that he had told me when we first met that he didn’t go to church because he did not like crowds. I have heard that before, but not in truth. So I remembered a line I had used many times before and had to live it. Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. It helps you grow as a Christian, but is not the standard to judge by. What God wants from us going to church is fellowship and accountability. So I told him that if he wanted to, until he felt comfortable enough to come to church, I would meet with him as often as he would like and him and I would build a relationship and learn about God together. He accepted.
So I am proud to say that the wedding is on and I have a new brother in Christ and I am excited about building a new friendship with someone who taught me to act more like Jesus than a pastor, and in that I think I will be a better pastor.

May 17, 2011

Jesus a liar?

by pastortimfowler

One of the oldest arguments in the Christian world is whether or not one can lose their salvation. I think that is the best argument in the universe for Satan to have Christ’s people arguing about. After all, we call Satan a liar, so in this argument, someone is calling Christ a liar. No, I don’t mean that you are saying, ‘Jesus is a liar’, but someone is believing and following a lie if God’s people disagree on this important doctrine. These are the words of Jesus out of John’s Gospel:
John 10:28-30
28 and I give them eternal life. They will never be lost, and no one will tear them away from me.
29 My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than everyone else, and no one can tear them away from my Father.
30 The Father and I are one.”
In John 3:16 we are told that whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life.
In these verses there are words that make Jesus a liar if we can lose our salvation. Here are Webster’s definitions for these important words’
Eternal- 1. without beginning or end; lasting forever; always existing ( opposed to temporal ): eternal life. 2. perpetual; ceaseless; endless
Never- 1. not ever; at no time 2. not at all; absolutely not
Everlasting- 1. Lasting forever; eternal

Now I am not sure if Jesus was confused when He said these things, but they seem to be leaning toward not being able to lose your salvation. It is hard to imagine that Jesus really meant you could lose it and I will unsave you if you do something bad enough. After all, there is nothing we can do prior to salvation that is bad enough for Him to say, “No, I don’t think I will save you. You have been too bad.” But somehow, now that we are saved, there will be something that is bad enough for Jesus to lose someone from His own hands; you know, the ones that were nailed to the cross for us.
What kind of cruel God would allow His Son to die for the sins of the world but that death not be good enough to keep you saved once you are saved? That would mean that our sins we commit after salvation are worse than the sin that Jesus died for before our salvation. That would mean that we can’t work to earn salvation but we have to work to keep it. And that would make not only Jesus a liar, but the Apostle Paul a liar too when he wrote this:
Ephesians 2:4-9
4 But God is rich in mercy because of his great love for us.
5 We were dead because of our failures, but he made us alive together with Christ. It is God’s kindness that saved you.
6 God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him.
7 He did this through Christ Jesus out of his generosity to us in order to show his extremely rich kindness in the world to come.
8 God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God.
9 It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it.
My strongest argument of eternal salvation comes from Jesus words in John 3:3, when He said that no one can enter into heaven unless they are born again. And then this verse, Galatians 4:6, Because you are God’s children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into us to call out, “Abba! Father!” .
If we are truly children of God, then we can NEVER not be children of God. We can be rebellious children and we can even be children who say that we don’t even know who our Father is, but that can’t change the fact of who our Father is. He is the one who saves us from our sin. Even the stupid sin of a rebellious child who decides that he/she does not like the rules of the Father and chooses to run away and change their identity. Because of the blood, especially the blood of Jesus, we can’t change who our Father is. We can deny Him, but that does not stop Him from being who He is; Our Heavenly Father.
Deep in our heart, we know if we were truly born again. That is the real question. If it was real, we can’t lose it. JESUS said so. Salvation is HIS and WE are HIS. But if we are playing a game of “get me out of the mess I’m in” and not truly seeking forgiveness, then you are not a child of God and Jesus is not the liar, you are.
So, are you a child of God? Do you have eternal life? If so, you can never lose it, it is not yours to keep. You are His to keep and He is perfect, the perfect keeper of His people, His children.
Jesus is not a liar.

May 5, 2011

Do whatever you want

by pastortimfowler

I was talking with a good friend the other day about how some Christians think that they can do whatever they want because they believe that they won’t and can’t lose their salvation. First let me say that I too believe that salvation is not something that you can lose. We are not saved from a one time sin, we are saved from facing the Righteous Judge and His penalty for sin and this happens when we are born again and our Judge becomes our Father. Your father will always be your father no matter how stupid you are. But that is not the purpose of this blog.
This idea that we can sin freely because God’s grace covers our sin has been something that has been in people’s mind from the beginning of the church. The Apostle Paul wrote about this in Romans when he said this: (Romans 6:1-2) What should we say then? Should we continue to sin so that God’s kindness (grace) will increase? That’s unthinkable! As far as sin is concerned, we have died. So how can we still live under sin’s influence?
Salvation is not your insurance from going to Hell. It is your undeserved rescue from Hell. God loves us that much. He does not want anyone to die and go to Hell so He made the way to become His child. When you become a child of God you pass from a criminal who broke the law to a child that needs to be raised. Fathers are good at discipline though. It is how we learn to be good children. But every child still has free will to accept the Father’s discipline in love or rebel further.
So if you are a “child of God” and you are not being disciplined for sinning freely and openly because you know God won’t send you to Hell, you may want to consider whether or not you are truly a child at all. (Proverbs 3:11-12) Do not reject the discipline of the Lord, my son, and do not resent his warning, because the Lord warns the one he loves, even as a father warns a son with whom he is pleased. God does discipline His children. If you are not receiving discipline, you might not be His child.
Becoming a Christian comes with many challenges and many misunderstandings. I do believe that someone can become a Christian and not act like one. But that comes with regret and conviction for that person. I believe that you can become a Christian and be taught wrong by the leaders that you chose to follow, because, like a child, we often pick people to hang out with that mom and dad don’t approve of. But I also believe that many people play a dangerous game of thinking they can fool God by saying a prayer and going to church. If you do this with the idea that you now have a free pass to sin like you always have, then be prepared to be judged like you were always going to be.
A friend once told me that he made a wish for a new Corvette, then parked his bicycle in the garage and closed the door. A week later when he opened the door, he still had a bicycle. Saying a prayer and going to church without the faith to accept God as your Father is no different.
So to test your salvation experience, it is pretty simple. Keep in mind that God will correct His children for rebellious acts just like a loving father corrects his children, and this is how He shows His love. To see if you are His child, go ahead, do whatever you want.

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