Archive for ‘Truth’

October 9, 2012

Prove It

by pastortimfowler

évidence

Proof- evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true.
Last night in our men’s Bible study we talked about proof of God. We were mixed on whether or not you can prove that God exists. I say no you can’t. But, you also can’t prove that He doesn’t exist. This all started as we were talking about evidence and particularly the verse in the Bible that says that faith is the evidence of things hoped for and the substance of things unseen, (Heb. 11:1) We were actually studying from Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Corinth and he was telling them that Christians need to live their lives as if we believe in this unseen God and therefore provide evidence of His existence to those who don’t believe.
Sadly the most common statement made about Christians by those who are not Christians is the we are hypocrites. Not a great witness if we are trying to provide proof of God. We tell people about a God that loves them and provides for them and is our source of happiness and complain at the first hint of trouble in our lives. We tell people who God has blessed us with a great job but don’t give from the money that the God-given job provides. We say that God made our lives better but are the first ones to post on Facebook how miserable we are at work, school, with our relationship to others. We tell people that we pray to a God that answers us and yet we have no idea what answer we got because our prayers are basically, “Bless them”.
Years ago a man wrote a song called Amazing Grace. Now there is evidence of God. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. We need to live like we have been saved. We need to live like we have been found. We need to live like we received our sight. We need to live like we use to be something that now we are not.
Because we are not made perfect in the flesh there will always be some hypocritical ways left in us. But those need to decrease with time and while we are struggling with this new-found grace, we need to allow God’s grace to cover us. We need to be able to tell others through our actions that God is changing us and let the words be reflective of our actions.
We will never be able to prove that God exists at least in the sense of being able to touch and see Him. We can only offer evidence as we discover Him through the truth of the Bible and put those truths into practice. If the evidence we present is contaminated with lies and inconsistencies then it will be hard to convince others that God is anything more than Santa or the Easter Bunny. But if we live our lives with integrity and true change that comes from God’s strength and words, then over time, as the evidence continues to mount up, people will have no choice but to weigh the evidence and find that the evidence is overwhelming, and the only verdict that can be rendered is that of, yes, there is a God.
How does your life as a Christian present the evidence? Is it convicting enough that you live like you believe it in order for others to begin to believe too?

August 2, 2012

The Internet Friend

by pastortimfowler

Internet Sign

As a pastor, I have studied the Bible for almost 20 years now. I have my Masters and worked toward my Doctorate until I got tired of going to school. I have challenged traditional teaching and made it a point to never take someone’s word about the meaning of any one liner quoted by anyone trying to prove a point. I have gotten used to people questioning me and my faith and I understand where they are coming from most of the time because I used to do the same. But I was not satisfied with the fact that logic kept screaming at me that things that have design don’t happen by chance, they happen because of a designer. I never once came across something that I, in seeing it for the first time, like a liquor bottle-shaped like the state of South Carolina, immediately thought that it was a mistake or chance of nature rather than something designed by a designer and then intelligently made it. Call me stupid if you want, but I just never thought like that.
I have on rare occasions gone to the doctor and wanted him to help me figure out what was wrong with my body. Not that there is anything wrong with it as it is, just sometimes I do get sick. When the doctor comes back with the diagnosis, I don’t argue with him and tell him he doesn’t know what he is talking about. I trust him as an educated guy who has studied the human body and how to help it heal. Sure, there are some corrupt doctors who use this knowledge for profit, but overall, their intentions are good and honorable. Somehow, as a pastor and someone who has spent years studying the Bible, I and others like me, are made out to be wackos and manipulators. A wacko I may be, but not a manipulator. I am not profiting from telling someone what the Bible says. I am, like the doctor who trys to help someone who self diagnosis’ himself , only trying to give accurate facts to help that person better understand the Bible.
Yes we all make mistakes. Yes we all have our own beliefs. But there is this thing called absolute truth and there can only be one truth. If you don’t think so, then please answer this one question. Are you absolutely sure that there is no absolute truth? God says that He is truth and that His word is truth. He also tells us that we are not God. I am going to lean toward the God’s side of that argument.
Lately I have had several discussions with people about how they disagree with me and the Bible. When I ask where they get their interpretation of the Bible, they often quote a verse or two and tell me that they read an article on the internet. That is like me saying that I read part of an anatomy book and saw an article online and that is why the doctor is wrong.
We all have friends who know everything. I have a friend who is an expert mechanic. He knows everything about cars. He went to school to be an accountant and works in a firm as an accountant, but he can tell me everything that is wrong with any car. Those stupid mechanics at the dealership often disagree with him. Go figure. Another friend is an expert in football. He can tell you why every team loses their game and what should have been done differently. He knows this because he played little league football when he was 8 years old and has the NFL channel. He did not go to college and rarely even goes to NFL games or college games, and he works as a salesman. My friend who coaches the local high school football team never asks the salesman for advice. Hmmm.
So as you know, our friend, the internet, knows everything too. Like television, if it is on the internet it has to be true.
I don’t suggest making a life or death decision about your health based on what you read on the web. I don’t suggest replacing the whole engine in your car based on the chat room conversation with the guy who is a master mechanic. I don’t suggest making your decision on who God is based on one or two lines quoted by your friend or the internet either.
We can agree to have our differences about what the Bible says about marriage and drinking and gambling and other stuff, but what it says about eternity needs to be considered more seriously. If you mess up in one of those other areas, God still loves you and will forgive you if you ask. If you mess up in whether or not God is who He says He is or if He is real or not, just because you think you or the internet are smarter than Him, that could be a tough one to get around. Don’t let a friend be your doctor if he is an accountant and don’t let the internet friend be your god. Both can cause an irreversible death.

January 10, 2012

Beautiful Women

by pastortimfowler

Every year, several magazines name the world’s top ten most beautiful women and they always get it wrong because my wife is not on the list. Because of this, I refuse to take anything they say seriously when it comes to beauty. It is obvious that they have no clue of what true beauty is, nor do they really care. Their idea of beauty is what they can manufacture through the sales of the products advertised in their publications. Besides the make-up and surgical enhancements, a computer makes the women of these lists look like they do and it is something that God has never created and intended a woman to look like.
Now let me admit that I love it when the most beautiful woman in the world gets all dressed up and puts on some make-up and fixes her hair and then we go out in public and people stare at me wondering how did I get so lucky. But I love it just as much when I wake up next to this same woman and she has no make-up on and her hair is a bit wild-looking. She is just as beautiful then.
Our church is full of beautiful women too. It is difficult to be a pastor and admit that in a blog that many of our church members say that they read, including the most beautiful woman in the world. But the truth is what it is. I guess it sure beats looking out at a bunch of ugly women every Sunday. But what I was getting at is that these women are beautiful just as they are.
Several of them are on this health kick and have started a Zumba class. I am not sure what that is. All I know is that when they start, they shut and lock the doors and threaten people who dare to come in while the class in going on. From that, I assume it is an anger management class. Nothing like a bunch of beautiful, angry women, locking themselves behind a closed-door, huh?
They also have been gambling. That’s right, in the church. They collect money in a pot to see who will lose the most weight. Silly women, who said that you needed to lose weight anyway? I bet the husbands would rather take you out on a hot date for ice cream with that money than have you come home sweaty, tired, and mad that you didn’t win.
I guess as long as they are doing these things for health reasons and not beauty reasons I am okay with it. I do know that exercise, if it doesn’t cause injury or heart attacks, could be good for you. But, I was watching the football game last night and saw these amazing athletes involved in a game that required them to exercise regularly and several of them got hurt. Meanwhile there was about 90,000 people sitting in seats watching and half of them were fat and out of shape and yet none of them got injured. So perhaps this exercise thing is not what it’s cracked up to be.
Let me stop with the amazingly witty and ingenious humor and get serious for a minute. God made you to be beautiful in His eyes. If you don’t feel that you are beautiful, it is not His fault, it could be that you have been fooled by some people who don’t love you. God loves you. God made the first woman, Eve, before there were even any stores that sold make-up and before there was even a door to hide behind to do Zumba. When He created her, Adam looked at her and said, WO! MAN!, Thus she was called woman, because she was beautiful, without make-up, surgery, or a magazine to tell her or her husband what she should look like. Sure, if you have read the Bible, you know that Adam got to see her naked first, and I am sure that helped with his perception of beauty, but still, she didn’t have to work at it, God made her that way.
So to the beautiful women of my church, who appropriately call themselves “The Body Babes”, zoom on in your Zumba class. Eat as little as you think will help to drop a pound or two. Get healthy and feel good. But at the end of it all, as I sit back and eat my chocolate chip ice cream and cheese curls and I watch the game and those commercials come on trying to convince me that you are not perfectly beautiful, I will turn away from the TV, dip my cheese curl in my ice cream, raise it in a toast, and look at the most beautiful woman in the world.

November 22, 2011

You’re So Vain

by pastortimfowler

This morning I was reading the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes and as always, spent more time pondering than reading. That’s right, I ponder. This was written by Solomon, the fellow who God gave him anything that he asked for, and Solomon chose wisdom. He was the wisest man to ever live and in his writing this, the wisdom has driven him to understand things that are often not what humans want to know.
I believe that humans will naturally try to find a way to put the “me first” factor into everything. Even the most mature Christians that I know, myself included, (see, I just injected me into the thought), want to think that somehow life is all about them. Our best attempts at humility are much too often filled with thoughts of how to look humble and get recognized for our humility. So Solomon starts out saying that it is all vanity of vanities. I love the translation God’s Word and the way it reads: Ecclesiastes 1:2 Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.” But that is what vanity is, pointless. If life is all about me/you, then this life is pretty pointless. This all reminds me of the old song by Carley Simon, You’re So Vain.
When reading this amazing book of the Bible it is easy to misunderstand what he is saying. He says over and over that this life is pointless. It is almost like he is saying that we shouldn’t even have a desire to live. At one point he says that one generation dies and another one lives, but the earth lasts forever. It as if he is saying that we are worthless on this earth, but that is not the point of this writing. But Solomon understoond something that few ever will. Imagine being able to understand everything. The longer you live, the more you understand.
Many times I have people in the church come to me and suggest that we do a certain ministry or project. Part of being the pastor is to try to understand the impact of what our church does and what the impact of what each ministry or project has on the overall mission of our church. Way too often I have to think about the underlying motives of these suggestions. Most of them are not made with any ill intent, but they are made with a selfish motive that generally is not even recognized by those doing the suggesting.
For instance, if someone comes to me with an idea for the children’s ministry of our church and they have children, that idea is usually something that they think will be best for their children. That is not wrong, but it is self motivated and that is vanity. If someone comes to me with an idea to feed to homeless, and I don’t mention that it was their idea, often they get their feelings hurt, even if we implement the idea exactly like they suggested. Vanity.
Solomon said this: Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen everything that is done under the sun. Look at it! It’s all pointless (vanity). It’s like trying to catch the wind. The older he got the more he saw that everything that humans did had a touch of vanity in it. Remember that this is not me talking, this is the man that God granted wisdom.  Wisdom that had never before and never will again be given to a man. And let me add this: If you are saying to yourself, I am not like that, you are being vain. What Soloman was realizing in this wisdom was that man was more about man than about God. That it was God that is the center of the universe, not man. Even the best of man is nothing compared to God. It is indeed vanity and the wisdom that he thought would bring him great joy, in the end only showed him how short he came when compared to the glory of God. This is how he ends Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 After having heard it all, this is the conclusion: Fear God, and keep his commands, because this applies to everyone. God will certainly judge everything that is done. This includes every secret thing, whether it is good or bad.

September 16, 2011

Be Careful What You Believe

by pastortimfowler

I hear a lot of negative feedback about politicians who “flaunt” their Christian faith on the campaign trail. The constant bombardment of assumptive statements that make people of faith sound like the blind following the blind. If I didn’t find it so amusing I would get angry. No one ever questions a Muslim as if they were stupid. No one ever questions someone with no religious beliefs as if they were stupid. Only the Christian faith. That leads me to believe that I am following the right beliefs.
But I have to caution people about who and what you believe, even as a Christian. There is a big flap about Pat Robertson and some statements that he made concerning a man divorcing his sick wife. Pat may be someone who professes to be a Christian, and I won’t question his status there, but I do know that his teaching is not what the Bible teaches. My biggest concern is not about the issue of whether or not you can get a divorce, but whether or not you should break your promises. Every wedding I have ever been part of, and that is plenty as a pastor of almost 20 years, has both parties make a promise to love each other “until death do you part”. To divorce someone because they are terminally ill would be breaking that promise and the Bible clearly teaches that breaking our promises is wrong.
The other side of the being careful what you believe comes from what you read and hear from the media and special interest groups. In our city, we are in night 3 of a 3 day city-wide revival where 12 churches have come together to say that unity is more important than race. Our local newspaper was there early the first night and the reporter left 30 minutes before the 7pm starting time. Not only did he get names wrong of people he talked with, he grossly mis-reported the number in attendance. He did an estimate of about 100 at 6:30pm and left. When we started at 7pm, there were over 600 in attendance. Now there is a buzz on their website from readers who are mocking the effort of the churches and the poor attendance for this worthy effort. There are also reports of people being turned away because of what they were wearing and no one was turned away. Supposedly about 12 bikers were there the 2nd night and weren’t allowed to come in, but that night, no bikers showed up and again, no one was turned away.
Special interest groups are trying to scare people with reports that everything will kill you. One famous TV doctor reported that there was arsenic in apple-juice, but failed to mention that there are two types of arsenic and one is naturally occurring in nature and poses no threat to humans. If we drive too big of cars we are killing our atmosphere but if we drive electric cars were pose no risk of pollution at all; right. Electricity magically appears from nowhere, not coal or oil-fired generators. Not to mention that evil plastic that bottled water comes in, but is okay if it wraps a chemical laden battery. I have news for you. Man will not destroy the planet. God said that it is His to judge and what He has in mind does not need our help.
It is important that Christians not get discouraged from bad media coverage. We should also guard against jumping wholeheartedly into anything that does not match up with what God says in His word. Although the Bible was written thousands of years ago, we must always remember that God is the one who directed its writing and God is not taken by surprise about how we have developed. He made us and the universe we live in. He knows our needs and knows our hearts. He knows our bodies and what we put into them. He expects us to listen to Him before we listen to anyone else.
If God has put it in His word, the Bible, we should judge all things through it, not what the media or even a scientists may say. No, I am not saying that we don’t need to listen to scientists, but I am saying, be careful what you believe. Some people have an agenda against Christians and their belief in what God says, and far too often, media, scientists and special interest groups will say anything to sway our beliefs.

August 25, 2011

Responding to the Response

by pastortimfowler

Photo copyrights see http://www.flickr.com/photos/capturecreation/5733866534/in/pool-inspiks

Not understanding God is does not mean that He is wrong or what His word, the Bible, says is wrong. In fact, it is confirmation that what the Bible says about God is correct. Isaiah 55:9 “Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.” I constantly remind myself of this verse. But that does not mean that we can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t try to understand the things that challenge us.
One of my last blogs was responded to more than any other in quite a while. The one about lying. Many agreed with me, which by the way, is the right thing to do, but I was surprised at how many tried to justify that there was a good time to lie. I have to admit and remind you that I too said that it was very difficult and at times it seemed right, but God disagrees. If Jesus is the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life, then anything not the truth is not the way to go.
Many of you gave scriptural references of people who lied. Abraham, Moses’ family and others were brought to my attention. What you have to realize is that God did not put those in there as an example of what to do, but rather as an example of how He could still use a fallen mankind. In the case of Moses, it is important to remember that the whole reason Israel was in Egypt was because of a lie. Joseph was left for dead, sold as a slave and dad was told that he was in fact dead. Only by God’s grace and favor on Joseph did his family eventually move to Egypt during the famine and eventually ended up as slaves. Lies and sin never go unpunished. God is a just God and cannot allow sin to go unchecked.
Sure, there were always good things that came from the situations but that is not because of man’s sin, it is solely because of God’s grace. His grace is greater than all of our sins. Jesus did not die for the righteous, but for the sinner. It was a lie that convicted Jesus, but God used that lie as part of His plan to redeem fallen man. The only way an innocent man can be convicted is through a lie or the truth being ignored, call it what you want.
In the past several months I have been pounding into the ears of my church and anyone who will listen the fact that God wants us to read the entire Bible starting at Genesis 1:1 and all the way through to Revelation 22:21. Only when we take the entire Bible into account can the whole truth be revealed. Stories, chapters, or verses always build on or compliment the rest of the Bible. It is not a book of one liners to prove our point or children’s stories to teach a fable. It is the living word of God, the Truth, and the story of the redemption of a fallen man.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 16 Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. 17 They equip God’s servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things. Our human nature wants us to lie. It wants us to find a reason to justify our actions when they contradict the Bible. But if you are a Christian, your human nature must be replaced with God’s nature and a desire for the truth. Satan is the father of ALL lies, and we are no longer his children but rather Children of God, born into the family by the Truth, Jesus Christ.
Thanks so much for being honest about what you think about my blogs. Thanks for being honest enough to say that you struggle with some things that God says. We all do. In fact, let me leave you with one last scripture to help when you struggle.
Romans 3:2-4
2 There are all kinds of advantages. First of all, God entrusted them with his word.
3 What if some of them were unfaithful? Can their unfaithfulness cancel God’s faithfulness?
4 That would be unthinkable! God is honest, and everyone else is a liar, as Scripture says, “So you hand down justice when you speak, and you win your case in court.”

August 18, 2011

Doctor’s visit

by pastortimfowler

My wife and I are among the many who do not have health insurance. Because of this we do not go to the doctor very often. Even when we had insurance, years ago, we did not go that often. I hear people complain all the time about how much their out-of-pocket expenses are even with insurance and have to fight back the laughter. They are complaining about paying $20-50 in co pays for an office visit and we just paid a lot more than that. Even at ten times what your deductible is, this visit was cheaper without insurance. How? Because you are paying for your insurance every paycheck whether you go to the doctor or not.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have insurance for when something major happens. But for regular illness and injury stuff, I had just as soon pay them out-of-pocket. At least then I can negotiate and ask for options without an insurance company to tell me what I have to do.
So you are probably thinking that I don’t like insurance companies. Wrong. I could care less about them. What I don’t like is how people think that insurance is such a great deal and use it all the time. If more people would quit using insurance to cover colds and sniffles and bumps and bruises, all of our medical costs would go down, and the cost of insurance would too. Doctors can’t cure the common cold, make a bruise or pulled muscle heal any faster or prevent you from ever getting sick or injured. With the way people flood the doctors with trivial stuff that would get better on its own, doctors spend far less time than they need to on the big issues that require their services. I wonder how much better attention a patient with a major illness would get if the doctor had not just treated 10 snotty nosed kids who have a cold.
God made our bodies to be amazingly resilient. They can and do fight of all sorts of germs and viruses. They can mend cuts, tears, and bruises. They learn to make defenses against the germs that make us sick and do an incredible job at it, without the aid of a doctor. Believe it or not, most pills only help the symptoms not heal the problem. Sure they can aid in the work that you body does, but rarely do you get better any faster.
I do believe in some preventive medicine. Immunizations are great at keeping us safe from some pretty nasty stuff. Eating well and exercising are good to maintain a healthy weight and fend off illnesses cause by being overweight. Doctors are experts at spotting certain things that can be stopped early, like cancers, and as we age there are things they can help monitor in order to begin treatment as soon as possible to extend our life expectancy.
My point of this is in hopes of people getting back to some common sense living. Insurance companies are not evil. They do not exist to offer us the cheapest possible medical care possible. The exist to make money. That is what companies do in America. If companies don’t make money, you don’t have a job. Making money is not wrong and we can’t blame insurance companies for it either. If you don’t want them to make so much money, quit using them so much. Cut back on coverage. Pay for more stuff out-of-pocket. Let you body and your kid’s bodies heal themselves like God designed them to do.
Can you imagine what it would be like if we used car insurance like we use our health insurance? If every time we were due for an oil change, we filed a claim, flat tire, file a claim, wiper blades, file a claim. No one would be able to afford auto insurance and those who didn’t have it would pay outrageous prices for what is now very common procedures, or not get them done at all.
Thankfully, my wife’s appointment went fairly well. She had a few minor issues, a few screws loose, (haha), and got a few prescriptions. We have the money in the bank, or had it there, and we have found that we both could lose a few pounds, so not eating every other day will help there since the money is now gone. This was a needed visit though and I am glad that we did not have to have insurance just so she could go.
There was a day when our moms would give us some soup and juice and a warm blanket and love us through the sniffles. She would put a band-aid on the cut after she boiled it out with peroxide and we rarely saw the doctor. Maybe we need to return to some of that and quit having so many trips to the doctor’s office.

July 26, 2011

This Will Be Tough

by pastortimfowler

Day two of the return from vacation and it is like I was never gone, except for this huge back-log of stuff that needs to be done because everyone else did not take vacation the same time that I did. I think next time it should be mandatory that we all take vacation at the same time, and that way no one will come back and be behind.
While I was gone I was praying about my next series that I will be preaching. I have struggled from day one of having the thoughts that perhaps this is where God wants me to spend some time teaching and preaching. I have even questioned the fact that this was the direction that God was leading because I was having such a difficult time with it. Then it dawned on me that I was about to preach the most incredible series that God has ever allowed me to preach and that was why I was struggling so much. You see, I believe with all my heart that Satan does not want this series to happen.
Even as I am writing this blog, I am not 100% sure of the exact direct that God is going to take me or even how long the series will be, but I do know that it is biblical, bold, and basic. The series if about how we deal with the truth. The truth is so simple, so easy, so basic, but yet everyone messes it up.
From the beginning of time, the truth has been challenged. If you are reading this as someone who does not believe in God, you still deal with this struggle only from a different angle, but in the beginning of human’s existing on earth, the truth was twisted to deceive us. For those who don’t believe in God, your struggle is who decides what is true. But either way, truth exists and when we stray from it, we get into all sorts of dilemmas.
Some say that there is no such thing as absolute truth, that truth is somehow relevant. My argument is that there has to be at least one absolute truth, even in that argument. Here it is; it has to be absolutely true that there is no absolute truth. I don’t want to linger here, maybe another blog.
I want to challenge Christians to live the truth. If you believe that God’s word is true, then we must live like it is true, and if you are a Christian that doesn’t believe that, you can’t be sure that you are a Christian at all. Trusting anything but the truth is dangerous. All lies are for someone else’s benefit, not yours. The truth is for the good of everyone and I say that because Jesus says that He is the truth.
I ask for Christians to pray for me as I study and preach this series. I ask you to pray that you are able to not just hear the truth but to trust it enough to do it. In the Bible, James tells us that without doing what we hear from God’s word we are just fooling ourselves. I would love for you to hear this series and I normally don’t do this, but if you are not in the Rock Hill, SC area, you can listen to it online. All of our sermons are posted within a couple of days after they are preached and often they are posted that Sunday. Go to http://www.thebodylive.com and listen to this. It will be tough, but it will be, the truth.