Posts tagged ‘accountability’

November 28, 2011

Expect Versus Demand

by pastortimfowler

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

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June 28, 2011

A Better Pastor

by pastortimfowler

copyrighted photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/mike_leach/

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.