Archive for ‘Storms’

December 5, 2012

Surviving The Storm

by pastortimfowler

5879848337_329554c941_b

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13013135@N00/5879848337/

As you might have noticed, I have not been putting out blogs at the pace I normally do. There has been a lot going on that has demanded my attention and so I had to eliminate some things from my daily routine temporarily. As if the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are not busy and hectic enough, I have had to deal with several other issues that added to “the storm”.
I like to call things that keep me extra busy storms because it sounds much more dramatic than just saying that I have been too busy to do some stuff. A storm makes you think that winds are raging and thunder and lightning are threatening and the danger element is really high. So if I had to be really honest about it, I guess instead of a storm, I have been in a rain event.
Rain events are nothing to be laughed at. During a good rain, things can get really wet and even cold and that does not feel good. Rain can make you want to sleep more and forget about going outside to do other stuff. Rain may sound innocent, but let me tell you, until you have seen the rain that I have seen, you don’t have a clue. And then if it rains on a Monday, well, rainy days and Mondays always get me down.
Probably the worst thing about the rain in life is when you get those breaks where the sun comes out, so you go outside and don’t wear a raincoat or take an umbrella and you are scared that it may rain again and get your hair wet. That can cause a lot of stress. I mean, what if it really does start raining again? Then what?
I was out in the middle of a big field one time and did not have a raincoat or an umbrella and it started raining. At first it was a gentle mist, but then it became a constant mist, and, add in the wind, or breeze, and it was like being in the middle of a field getting wet and there was nothing you could do about it. Although it only lasted a few minutes, I got wet. And, although I shave my head and so my hair was not affected, I felt the stress that others who might have hair would have felt if they were out in that field too. And for those who would scoff at this, later that day, it rained really hard and I was a bit shaken at the thought of how, if that would have happened while I was out there, that I could have gotten really wet.
So, although what I have been through is not really a storm of life, but rather a rain event, I wanted you to know that I am fine. I have relied on my years of experience to get me through it. I also try to remember that even though the rain of life is tough, there are people who are going through the storms of life, and in those storms there is most often rain. So if you just think about the rain and block out the thunder and lightning and raging wind and all the really bad stuff that goes along with a storm, and just think about the rain, then you will understand what I am going through and you won’t be so critical about me not blogging for a while.
Yes, God can calm the storm. Sometimes He chooses to clam the child in the storm. But when it is just raining, God is still there.

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October 22, 2012

It Hurts

by pastortimfowler

You are Joy, Luisa!

It would be great to live in a world where there was no pain; physical, mental, or emotional. But if that were the case, would we learn anything about how precious life is? I write today from the point of view of a person who has lived with constant back pain for years. I have mentioned it from time to time before, mainly because I like the pity, but it has yet to yield someone to cut my grass for me. Life stinks, huh? And I am grateful to have a yard to cut.
To be honest, life does not stink and I think pain helps us to know this. I think if we will let our pain remind us of how precious it is not to have pain, we will be more grateful of those things that are void of pain. This past weekend I took my grandson camping and really enjoyed the time spent with him. But I found myself telling everyone how much pain I was in rather than how much fun I had. I should have been encouraging others to spend time with the ones they love instead of giving them excuses as to not do something that may cause pain. For that, I apologize.
Pain is a part of life. It is a teacher of what not to do. It is a motivator to push harder to accomplish a task. And it is a tool to remind us what is really important. You see this morning I was sitting at my house, in pain, and did not go into my office. There are other reasons that kept me home, but it started with pain. As I struggle to get my socks on, the pain reminded me of how grateful I was of slip on shoes. But as I sat there planning a pity party, I was reminded of a time when I could do about any physical activity and it did not hurt. As I reminisced about those days, I was nudged, I think by God, to think, “When was the last time you said thanks for all of those days of no pain?” As I thought about this, I realized that I had far more days in this life without pain than with it. I had been able to do more than many would ever hope to do. It wasn’t until recently that even the pain had put a limit on my activities. So I said thanks and took some Advil.
Here are some times in my life that pain made me remember the good and then I will sum thing up and quit bothering you today.
My mom died of cancer many years ago. It was a long battle and if you know anything about cancer, it is painful. But mom had a unique way of taking my mind off of her physical pain and mine emotional pain. She would break out old pictures of the kids growing up and we would laugh and remember the good times. I can’t remember ever sitting with my mom and hearing her complain about the pain. I could see it in her face and eyes and the way she moved, but never in her heart. She always saw the opportunity to remember the good stuff. So when she died, my last years with her were not filled with dread and sorrow, but of joyful memories and laughter. Her pain was beautifully used by God to show His grace in the toughest of times.
My dad died of heart failure. We did not have a good relationship and it was hard to get that phone call about his death when I had not talked to him in months. But, we did what all families do, we gathered to say good-bye and some began to argue over what stuff of dad’s they wanted. As this was happening, I looked on the wall over my dad’s chair and there was a picture of him and me. I had it bronzed and gave it too him when I was in the Navy. I was 4 years old and we were standing together with golf clubs in our hands and under it I had an inscription that said, “worlds greatest golfer and his dad.” It took me back to all the great things my dad was and I forgot all about the bad things that made me have so much emotional pain. In this moment of grief, God showed me that years ago He was preparing me to be the type of dad and granddad that I had become. He was giving me joy to over-ride the pain and memories that over-rode bitterness.
Recently, and I blogged about this, my dog died. It seems a bit unmanly to say that it really hurt and I cried when she died in my arms. But she was very special. I got her when I was going through a tough time in my life. I had never had a dog that I raised, it was always the family dog and I was never much of an animal lover. But she stole my heart and in the days after her death, I began to look for pictures of her. Every time I found one it was a moment of joy and happiness. I began to laugh and smile, even through the pain.
So this morning I was reminded to look for joy while the pain is there. Pain does not end joy nor does it take away good memories. Pain is not evil, it is a part of life. And life is a gift from God. This life has so many wonderful things to offer. Camping with my grandson is one of those and I was just looking at all the pictures I took this weekend to remind me. No, the pain in my back did not go away, but it was not bad enough to stop the smiles.
Jesus knows what pain is. He took a lot of pain to save humanity from our sins. His pain was physical, mental, and emotional. But through it all He never forgot the love that drove Him through the pain and to the cross. It was through that pain that we are forgiven if we believe. It is through that pain that we have hope of a life to come where pain is no longer a part of it all. But that hope and that future joy should only be a part of our focus because in this life, we have so much to bring us joy and share love with.

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 11, 2011

Is It Fair?

by pastortimfowler

Sometimes it is impossible to understand God. If you are simply a human, it would be easy to think that God is cruel. This is especially true when things happen in our lives that really suck, and we think it should happen differently. A friend was telling me last night about a tragedy that happened where a young husband and dad died unexpectedly and that he couldn’t help but feel like it was not fair. It stinks, hurts, sucks, and a whole lot of other things, but I am not sure that fair is the right way to look at it. Don’t misunderstand, it is a legitimate question and the feelings are normal, but what is fair?
Here are the first two definitions in the dictionary for fair:
1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.
2. legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.
If we use these definitions, then God is fair. God said to Adam and Eve, the day you disobey me, you die. He clearly stated in the law of Moses that some sins were punishable by physical death, and, we are all told that what we deserve for sin is death. We are told that it is inevitable that humans die and after that we are judged. So in death, God is fair. Does that mean we understand it? No. Does it mean we agree? No. Does it mean that God is cruel? No. He is fair, free from bias, dishonesty or injustice. He is a fair judge. What He does is proper under the rules. In every definition of fairness God stands the test of fairness.
We want fair to be, pleasing. We want fair to mean nobody wins and nobody loses and nobody gets hurt. That is not fair. Jesus told us that in this world we will have troubles. He did not tell us to follow Him and He will never allow pain to come our way. He did say that He would never leave us alone in our pain and that He would make everything that we go through on this world worth it if we trust Him.
Where would we be if there were no pain in the world? What would it be like if we never had to hurt again? Would it be fair? Maybe, but I don’t think it would be that great either. We learn more from pain than we ever do from pleasure. When we place our hand on a hot surface, even after we have been told that it is hot, it is the pain that finally teaches us to listen. But if pleasure was such a good teacher we would have fewer people addicted to drugs and alcohol. Think about all the things that you learned from pain and then see if the pain was a good teacher now that you can look back on it. Most people would never want to suffer the pain again, but would definitely value the lesson learned.
Not much can be done to take away the hurt and feelings that come with someone close to you losing their life. Even Jesus wept when His good friend Lazarus died. But the fairness of God offers hope to those who mourn those losses. It is a hope that is hard to understand because it goes against what we want to feel at such times. It is a hope that does not come from ourselves, but from God and His promise of fairness. He promises that ANYONE who trusts Him and asks for the forgiveness of their sin will receive full pardon and not be given what we deserve, but instead be given eternal life. We can pass from this life of pain and suffering to a life free of all pain and suffering.
You see this life is but a vapor, but there is an eternity and you will be there in one way or another. Eternal death, is the eternal separation from God in what we hear of as Hell. Eternal life is when we pass from this life to forever with God in a place where death and pain and what we call unfairness will never happen again. God is so fair that He offers this to ANYONE who will ask. No matter what you have done, no matter how bad you think you may be, God’s love is fair to all and His forgiveness is complete to all. Don’t be fooled, His judgement is just as fair to all who refuse is forgiveness, no matter how good you have been or how good you think you are. God is holy, we are not, and without His forgiveness we stay unholy. It is that simple, because God is that fair.

May 11, 2011

The Real Storm

by pastortimfowler

So last night I did a short blog about a storm of life, but little did I know that God was going to show me a real storm. Somewhere around 1am the first really loud clap of thunder rolled and woke me up. For the next couple of hours I was awake trying to calm the dogs. It was funny, I had no anxiety at all. I started thinking about how I had earlier blogged about a trial in my life that was testing my faith and my joy and peace. I think I am passing that one, but sometimes it is good to let others know that you aren’t as strong as you think. But as I was just reading my Bible this morning, I was reminded that when I am weak, God is strong and He is the source of all strength.
As the winds blew and the lightning flashed and the thunder shook the house, the power went out. As of 10am today it is still out at my house. It is funny how much noise little things make and when you lose power how quiet it can be. Quiet inside, but outside it allowed me to hear every raindrop and every limb that cracked.
I had heard that these were bad storms and that there was a chance of developing tornadoes. In the past few weeks other states have suffered incredible damage from storms and many lives were lost. As I lay in bed listening to the storm I was thinking about them. But it never crossed my mind that we could be in danger. God had given me an incredible peace and I just listened in amazement. I was not hearing God in the storm I was hearing His still calming voice. But wow He sure can create some awesome power.
I was told as a child that you can count from the time that you see the lightning until the time that you hear the thunder and for each second it takes to hear it, it equals about one mile of distance to where the lightning strikes. There were many times that I did not have to count. When you hear the thunder as soon as you see the lightning, you know that it is close. But as the storm moved on, that is what amazed me. There were times when I counted to ten before I heard the noise and then the low, long, window rattling rumble would start. To think that something that happened ten miles away could shake my windows with such intensity is amazing. The power of a storm is incredible. To think that a mighty oak tree can be slit in half by a lightening bolt or better yet, blown over by the wind is mind-boggling. These storms were nothing compared to what happened in other states in the past few weeks or the earthquake and tidal wave in Japan. All of this and it doesn’t even compare to the power of God who not only makes the storms but makes the universe that these storms exist in.
God has an incredible ability to allow devastating natural events to take place and in the middle of it all to allow His calm and protecting power to show up in great miracles and better yet, the small ones that we often take for granted in the way He just calms us in the midst of the real storm.