Posts tagged ‘Apostle Paul’

October 18, 2012

Me Me Me…

by pastortimfowler

Help Others

Mark 9:33-34 33 Then they came to Capernaum. While Jesus was at home, he asked the disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 They were silent. On the road they had argued about who was the greatest.

Ministry is a beautiful thing. It allows the church to help those in need. It is a source of great joy. Unfortunately it can be a source of arguing and troubles. No, this did not start with my church or your church or even your grandparent’s church, it started with the very first people who were followers of Jesus. (see above)
The reason this happens is that we forget to put self aside and be more considerate of those in need. The Apostle Paul said that he died daily to himself so that he could live daily for Christ. Far to often Christians forget that this is needed in our lives. We forget that once we are saved, we become workers with Christ for God. We are to become like Christ to people. Christ died for people and lived for God’s will to be done.
The church is not a place to complain because someone else did something to help another. It is a place to rejoice because someone was helped by Jesus and Jesus happened to use one of His own. It is a place to find joy that others are ministering to those in need, even if we can’t or aren’t part of it. Jesus knows our hearts. He knows if we are doing things out of love or for self glory. I trust that and let Him worry about it. Meanwhile, if a person in need gets help and it is from a believer, I give God the glory.
When these disciples were arguing about who was the greatest, they were as far from being Christ-like as they could possibly be. Jesus goes on to tell them that they must be childlike, not childish, in order to become great. Children are obedient. He later tells them that if they want to be great they need to become servants. Servants don’t think that they are great, they too are obedient.
As we grow as Christians we must always be aware that not everything can be explained. Not everything can be communicated. And not everything is meant for us to do. I am sure that others who saw Peter walk on water were a bit jealous that it wasn’t them. I am sure that some may have wished it was them who received the vision of the book of Revelation. But the important thing to remember is that the people who God wanted involved were involved in the things that He wanted done. It just is not about us once we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We must also remember that others are watching how we handle adversity. Every Christian has someone watching how we handle things to see if they want to follow us or not. It is not about them following you or me, but are we following Jesus and therefore they should follow us. Some may see our attitude and be offended because they don’t understand why we are upset. It may involve a weaker person and our reaction causes them to fall away. So be careful how you react to things.

Remember that children and servants are to be obedient, not important. Jesus is the important one and so is that person who needs help. We don’t want to hurt someone who is a weaker and younger believer.

Matthew 18:6-7 6 “These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be drowned in the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.
7 How horrible it will be for the world because it causes people to lose their faith. Situations that cause people to lose their faith will arise. How horrible it will be for the person who causes someone to lose his faith!

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August 22, 2012

Forgive It

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/26015375@N06/3914730774/

2 Corinthians 2:5-11
5 If someone caused distress, I’m not the one really affected. To some extent—although I don’t want to emphasize this too much—it has affected all of you.
6 The majority of you have imposed a severe enough punishment on that person.
7 So now forgive and comfort him. Such distress could overwhelm someone like that if he’s not forgiven and comforted.
8 That is why I urge you to assure him that you love him.
9 I had also written to you to test you. I wanted to see if you would be obedient in every way.
10 If you forgive someone, so do I. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did in the presence of Christ for your benefit.
11 I don’t want Satan to outwit us. After all, we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming.

The Apostle Paul is talking to a church who is not forgiving one of its members. I am not sure what was done, but what I do know, because of his other teachings, is that this person must have asked for others to forgive. You see, it is biblical that if you have wronged someone who you should ask for the forgiveness and if you ask another Christian, they are required to give the forgiveness. If someone does not ask, there is no repentance, and no forgiveness is required to be given. I am sure that someone is going to challenge me on this, but I am talking about a situation that is being dealt with in this church and this spans both letters that Paul wrote to the church at Corinth.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things for anybody to do. When we get hurt, it is somehow in us to return the hurt rather than forgiving. Sure, some of this comes from that person not asking, but far too often I hear people saying that they just won’t forgive.

Paul says that in the case where it has been asked, and withheld, we risk overwhelming that person. Later in this same letter Paul states that Christians have been given the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, we are to fix broken relationships, not shatter the pieces even further, making things beyond repair. So when we are asked to forgive, we should, and in that, we strengthen that person and encourage that same pattern of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Paul tells them that by forgiving, they are assuring that person of the love they have from us. It is easy to love those who treat us right. Anyone can do that. But Christians are supposed to love like Christ loves, and we must remember that while we were still His enemy, Christ died for us, showing His love. Love is not warm fuzzy feelings and never having to say you are sorry. Love is patient, kind, not selfish and doesn’t keep track of wrongs, according to the Bible.
Far too many Christians miss being like Jesus when they don’t forgive. Many others miss feeling the love of Jesus by not asking for the forgiveness. Forgiveness is the act of giving up our right to be angry and instead of holding a grudge, hold our relationship with people higher than our pride. Far too many marriages crumble because they are too busy pointing the finger of blame rather than opening the arms in love.

I encourage you to ask if you need forgiveness and give it when asked. Satan wants Christians to hold grudges and act like we don’t love people. Paul says that we should not be outwitted and that we should know that this unforgiveness thing is part of Satan’s scheme. Kick Satan in the butt and forgive. You will be more like Christ if you do, and something tells me that you will feel better than if you continue to hold that grudge.

July 11, 2012

Attitude Checks Can’t Be Mailed

by pastortimfowler

Outlet says oh

I am in the process of doing some organizing at our church, mainly with staff and volunteer leaders. This means meetings and reminders of what our vision is and what we are trying to achieve and, of course, attitude checks. Most of them are good attitudes, but from time to time, some attitudes get negative, including my own. Positive attitudes are vital to success and way to often we forget this. Sometimes we think that our negative attitudes are the most important in the room and, that may be so in your own mind, but usually is the farthest from the truth in the minds of others. And…in the church it is supposed to be more about others than ourselves.
I saw a sign over the entrance to a bar one time that said please check firearms and attitudes at the door. I love that. Maybe we should hang that sign over the church door. But then I would have to leave my firearm outside and if you forget to check your attitude one day I would be left defenseless. But it would be nice to leave our attitudes at home when we come to be servants like Jesus. Jesus had a right to have an attitude. He was getting accused of wrong doing when in fact He was innocent. I may come close, but the rest of y’all are far from innocent. We are fortunate that God retired the old ways of just killing everyone who had a bad attitude. Church attendance would have dropped by several after my last meeting if He was still dong it that way. Why in some churches they would even have to find a new pastor every other week or so. But that is not how God chooses to deal with us. Instead He let Jesus take the death for us and then constantly reminds Himself that His death was in our place and therefore He shouldn’t kill us, yet.
Listen, church people have it tough. We are supposed to be “good” and yet we are stuck in these bodies that scream out, “ME! ME! ME!” No not the singing, Mi Mi Mi. The “me” factor is what causes people who don’t believe in God to think that they don’t need to believe in a God that lets His people act like some of us do. So no matter how hard we try to be good, we screw up and act selfish and forget about checking our attitudes at the door. I think that we should check them at the door both coming and going.
The Apostle Paul said in one of his writings that he died daily to self so that he could live better for Christ. Most people don’t even want to think about dying themselves and certainly don’t want to live under someone else’s guidelines, especially when they go against “what’s in it for me”. But that is exactly what being a Christian is supposed to be about. Giving up selfish desires and thinking about what is best for someone else. Far too often we fail, but that is what grace is for.
Attitudes are often a great indicator of what is in our hearts. If our hearts are full of me stuff then our attitudes are going to quickly become negative when someone asks us to do something for others. If our hearts are full of God stuff, then it is harder to have a bad attitude when we are asked to serve others. So, checking our attitudes often is important, especially if we are going to tell others that we are Christians and even more so if you are going to assume the role of a leader in a church. I may print a sign for this weekend to check the attitudes at the door. But maybe it should read, “attitude checks can not be mailed, they must be made in person”.

June 6, 2012

Cliques

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/maandag/2881628357/

I am not sure why I am blogging about a word that I had to look up in order to spell it properly. I want to spell it the way it sounds, click, but NOOOOO, it has to be spelled like a french word or something. Anyway, I was reading in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 today about a problem that the early church was having when people got together in small groups and started being exclusive to the point of being snobbish. This is how the Apostle Paul states it, 1 Corinthians 11:18, In the first place, I hear that when you gather as a church you split up into opposing groups. I believe some of what I hear. I hear from people all the time about their dislike of cliques, especially in the church and how rude they think it can be. So I got to thinking about what this really is and how did it come to be in an organization like the church where we are to love each other as brothers and sisters.
There is a huge difference in a clique and a small group, as most churches call there Bible studies and fellowship groups. Small groups are very biblical and are important to the Christian life. The average Sunday morning church attendance in the US is 75 people. That sounds low, but there are far more small churches than there are mega churches. It is not uncommon in many rural areas to have only 10 to 20 in attendance on any give Sunday. From that, the average small group consists of 5-8 people. Many try to make their small group the largest in a church, but that begins to get into the topic that Paul wrote about in the verse above.
Most people only have between 2 and 8 people in their lives that they can call real friends. I am talking about people that they socialize with on a regular basis and have more than a casual relationship like you see in most churches. Most people who attend church together only see each other on Sunday morning. Fewer than half of the people who attend on Sunday morning will attend a small group of any type related to the church. It is one of the reasons for the decline of church attendance if you ask me. Before every family had a car and most lately 2 and 3 cars per household, it was most likely that someone attending church was going to a local house of worship with fellow family members and folks that farmed or worked in the same community. This meant that they really knew each other and were able to better help in times of need. It also meant that relationships were more than superficial.
So the small group was started by Jesus who picked 12 disciples to teach and hang out with regularly. Then the modern church started Sunday school classes for age appropriate classes and even had male and female and married couples and singles classes. It was very common to have one class have the patriarchal family members in it that class and it became the class that had the most pull when it came to decisions in the church. This was never the intent of Jesus when He started a small group, but that is how we came to the point of having cliques. It is those cliques that cause people to become divisive and others to feel like they don’t fit in, not only to a small group, but to a church.
I love small groups. It is a great place to hang out with people who I can get close to. People who share my struggles as a parent, husband, or whatever my uniqueness is that draws us to that group. It is not a clique to have a group of guys who like to fish, hanging out together on a regular basis. It is a clique if those guys think that they are more special than another group and begin to make it impossible for anyone else to ever fit in with them.
I have been able to bring people to my small group who did not yet feel comfortable coming to Sunday morning worship. Through the small group they have made friends and found it easier to then come for the regular worship time. That is one of the great purposes that every small group should be striving for. We do have some groups that are a little more exclusive by the nature of what they are talking about. Our recovery classes help people with addictions and although I think that they would make someone feel welcome, it would just not be appropriate for someone who does not have an addiction they need help with. That is not a clique.
So if you have small groups in your church, use them as a tool to welcome others and never to exclude. If your small group is excluding others just because they don’t want new people, it might be time to change groups or even churches. There are a lot of great churches out there and we should never let a bad experience stop us from making friends or attending worship on a regular basis.

May 1, 2012

Sowing and Reaping

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7726011@N07/5263126267/

Galatians 6:8 …If you plant in the soil of your corrupt nature, you will harvest destruction. But if you plant in the soil of your spiritual nature, you will harvest everlasting life.
Sowing and reaping are words that we don’t use a lot anymore except in church. But when the Apostle Paul was talking to the church in first century, everyone understood those terms. Sowing has to do with the method of planting seed, especially grain, which meant that you took a hand full of seed and threw it out in a sweeping motion in order to cover as much of the plowed ground as possible in as even a pattern as possible. Reaping was the method of harvesting the grain after it was fully developed. It was the point of the harvest where you realized how much of the seeds really developed into usable crop. There were weeds that commonly grew in wheat called tares, that looked like wheat until it was harvested and then you saw the seed-head.
Paul used this to teach about spreading the word of God. Unlike today where we can buy seed that is 99.9% pure seed and plant rows that are identical and harvest almost pure wheat, they could not do that then. They had to rely on spreading lots of seed over as much of the ground as possible in order to get the biggest harvest. That was the idea of spreading the gospel too. Not to be picky about who heard it, but to let as many as would listen hear it and let God produce the fruit. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, Paul uses this analogy to teach about how the seed of the word of God is what we spread to the hearts of people and God is the one who ensures the growth.
As usual, humans mess up what God intends to be good. We have taken the sowing and reaping and turned it into a name it and claim it mentality (Sow $20 and you will reap 10 fold). As much as I believe that God honors our giving and will bless it, there is no promise to make us rich. God could care less about our money if we care less about lost souls. Jesus died to save us from our sin and not to make our financial messes go away. Paul continually reminded churches of the need to stay focused on preaching the message of Christ crucified and not getting caught up in worldly things. Paul was concerned with sowing spiritual things and reaping spiritual things.
I know that right now many are typing their rebuttal to this telling me how wrong I am about the name it claim it statement. I have come to appreciate the chance to ruffle a few feathers for the sake of getting you to focus on what God sent Jesus to do and not what you think He will do for you because you sow your money. That is the focus of some, not all. There are ministry need that include money, but we must never forget that God can do it without our money if we are willing to sow the spiritual seeds that He has intrusted us with. Paul was a rich man before he became a Christian. He gave up most of his riches for heavenly rewards that are eternal. He worked hard to sustain his daily needs and God blessed him and met his needs. But Paul’s number one concern was for the spreading of the word not the spreading of the wealth.
There is nothing wrong with having money. God can bless us with earthly things. Some, I believe, have a special call to give financially to help other do ministry. But if you never had a dime to your name and you sow to the things of God, you are rich. No dollar amount can be placed on the forgiveness of sin and salvation given to us by what Jesus did on the cross. The reaping of souls, grown by the sowing of the seed, called the word of God, is a harvest that the modern church has for too often replaced with the reaping of a dollar because they sow their money far more than they sow God’s word.
Love ya. Mean it.

April 25, 2012

Personal Suffering

by pastortimfowler

Wow. I asked for some blog ideas yesterday and got quite a few suggestions. One of the questions has to do with personal suffering. This is something that most of us can relate to and there is much controversy over its place in the Christian community. The reason that I am responding to this one first is because I have had several people ask questions about this in the last week.
First place to start is why do we suffer stuff like sickness and disease? The simple answer is easy; sin. When God created Adam and Eve He intended for them to live forever. He told them that if they disobeyed that it would bring on death, and in that, pain and suffering. As we all know, they disobeyed and God kept His word. From that time on, pain and suffering were a part of our lives. As humanity reproduced, the sin nature is passed from generation to generation and therefore, we have and always will have pain and suffering.
This does not mean that God does not care about our physical well-being. However many churches make their claim to fame as one of healing the physical ailments of believers. Jesus was very compassionate when it came to those who were sick and lame. He healed them and committed much of His earthly time to this. But He healed more people who did not believe than those who already believed because He was dealing mainly with the Jews, they required miraculous signs to believe. (1Cor 1:22) Even in the early church when the Apostles performed miracles, most often it was to the unbeliever.
But God has never promised that we would always be healed of our physical ailments. In fact, even the Apostle Paul had physical ailments and wrote to the church about ways to help when they were physically sick. Not even Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead, was given permanent physical healing. One of the reasons for physical ailments in believers is so that we learn to depend on God’s grace to be sufficient. That is what God told Paul about his “thorn is the side”.
Jesus was asked why a boy was physically impaired and whether or not it  was because of his mother’s or father’s sin. Jesus told them that it was neither, but rather it was for God’s glory. Of course Jesus healed the boy and God was glorified, but still, the point was not that the ailment was a curse, just a fact of life. God wants us to ask Him for anything that we are concerned about. He does still heal today, but not everyone. Not even Jesus healed everyone that He came in contact with. So there is no promise of physical healing.
Many quote, and wrongly so, this verse from Isaiah, that says, by his stripes we are healed. They forget the rest of it. Isaiah 53:5 … But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. It was for our spiritual healing that He bled and died, not our physical. Way too many Christians become disappointed with God when they believe otherwise. We have the promise of eternal life, not this physical life.
Sadly, our society teaches us that if we don’t look like someone on a magazine cover that we are flawed. If we weigh more than this or don’t have muscles that show every detail, or our breasts are not the right size, or our hair is not bald, (I added that for me), them we are not right. But God made us unique and special to Him. The beauty that He sees is not on the outside, He looks on the inside. He sees the intent of the heart and loves us unconditionally.
Jesus said it best: John 16:33 …These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

April 18, 2012

What’s Next

by pastortimfowler

I asked my church last Sunday night what they would like to study in the next few weeks. We are finishing up a study on anger and I like to see if they have any ideas that I can turn into a good couple of weeks of teaching. One of the suggestions was the men of the Bible. My wife teaches a women’s group on Wednesdays and they recently studied the women of the Bible. I am sure it was a great study, but I don’t do those kind of studies very well. It would be a great study, but I think I will leave it to my wife and her Wednesday night crowd to handle that. I am not sure what I will teach next.
Maybe I will start a basket weaving class. That way we keep our hands occupied and can take something home with us after we are finished. Everyone likes baskets and few folks nowadays know how to make one from scratch. If we get enough participation we can fill them with Easter eggs next year and sell them to the Easter Bunny.
Whatever I teach next I want it to be something that we can walk away from with an idea of how to do what we were studying. So many Bible studies just give us head knowledge. We walk out knowing something in our minds but have no idea how to put into our lives in a way that others see a difference. I really think that Jesus wants people to see how much we know by the way we act instead of how much we talk. Talking is the easy part.
I wonder what kind of Bible study it would be if we studied how Jesus and His teaching changed the way we act? Would it be a quick, one night study where we all agreed that we are doing fine? Would it be a boring night that is so boring no one will come back? Will it be weeks of talk about how messed up he or she is? Would it be a continual story of all the great things we think that we have done?
The Apostle Paul was an amazing fellow. He often had to talk about his self. When he did it was usually a defense of his calling into the ministry, because he was a very bad dude before he met Jesus or a reminder of the fact that before he met Jesus that he was a very bad dude. Paul said of himself that he was the worst of all sinners. He told people that he was nothing without Jesus and rarely talked about how good he was and never compared himself to others. He never bragged about his church or his group that he hung out with, but rather he bragged about God’s mercy and grace and calling in his life to preach the gospel.
The reason Paul talked like this is not because he spent time studying the deep secrets of the Bible. He knew them and for the longest time, before he met Jesus, went around quoting the Bible to people. He was a very religious man. Once he met Jesus, he got away from religion and started having a relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. He began to recognize that the less he talked about Paul, the more people would see Jesus. He showed people through his actions what he knew from the word of God. He lived each day as if it were his last and did not focus only on Sunday gatherings. One of his greatest teachings was to the church in Corinth when he taught about love. He said that even if he could do all things spiritual but did not have love, then it was all worthless. Love is the overwhelming factor that changes someone from a religious person to a person in a relationship with God. It changed Paul’s life.
Sounds like I may have found a good next topic for my Sunday evening Bible study.

April 3, 2012

Not Discouraged

by pastortimfowler

untitled - raising my hands to the sky

I was reading through the Apostle Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Corinth. This was an amazing dude. He was either absolutely a lunatic or he knew something very special. In his first few paragraphs he writes that he was not discouraged with all that was happening to him. In short, he was imprisoned, put in a dungeon, beaten, and given a death sentence all for preaching about Jesus. On top of that, many of his friends and church people who he helped, often turned against him. Many openly doubted that he was really an apostle and the Jews thought that he was a traitor. Through all of this, he maintained a positive attitude toward what he was doing and over and over told people who it was worth it.
What kept this man so motivated? Most normal people would have given up and changed their mind about this new-found faith. As a pastor, I see new believers forsake their faith when tough times hit far too often. I think people have confused a relationship with God and what the Bible tells us with a fairy tale that says, and they all lived happily ever after. No where in the Bible does it say being a Christian would be easy and that no more hard times would ever come our way after we prayed for forgiveness. In fact, it is quite the opposite and Paul wrote about this in most of his letters.
What motivated Paul was his belief that what was on the other side of death was worth it. He believed Jesus when He said that in this world we will have troubles, but what awaited us after we died was a reward that could not be imagined by the human mind because it was so great. He also knew that every person that he was able to convince of this would not spend eternity in Hell, a place the he and Jesus were convinced was real, but the Heaven that they both believed in was far greater than anything this life had to offer and therefore the struggles here were worth it.
Paul knew of the crucifixion that Christ suffered and how brutal it was and that Christ died that horrible death for sinners like him and like me. He knew that Jesus was falsely accused, wrongly sentence and beaten and put to death, as well as rejected by friends and the Jews. Paul often wrote that he considered it an honor to suffer for the cause of Christ.
Now don’t misunderstand me, Paul had some awesome times and he wrote about them too. But his idea of a great time differed from what we would often think of as a great time. He got the chance to preach to kings and governors. He got a chance to see new churches start and become thriving examples of Christianity in cities where immorality was rampant. He saw young men and women leave behind false gods and idolatry and become workers for the cause of Christ. He saw thousands of people change their direction from one that leads to Hell to one that leads to eternity with God. He saw hope given to hopeless and believed that Jesus Christ Himself would greet him one day and say, “Well done, my good faithful servant”.
Yep, things in this life can get you down. It can be hard to cope with losing jobs, seeing loved ones get sick and die, have friends turn on you and face the fact that one day our own lives will come to an end. But we can be encouraged by that hope that Paul had. This hope is that God loves us. He loves us so much that He allowed Jesus to take our death and gives us eternal life when we ask for forgiveness. After that, He allows us to tell as many people as we can about this same hope and the chance of one day hearing those words of “well done” from a Savior who thought it worth the price of His own life so that we could know Him personally.
I was glad I read about Paul and his encouraging message. I was feeling a bit down today, you know, the hassles of living that make you feel blah from time to time. But then I was reminded of the hope that the Bible gives and the fact that this world is not my home. I am only a traveler through it and one day, I will see Jesus face to face. Now, I am not discouraged.

January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr

by pastortimfowler

Today is a national holiday in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have to admit that I have never studied this man in-depth and what I know of him is limited to a few brief bio’s that I have skimmed over and what I have heard from the media, which scares me to think that I would even trust those. I do know that his desires for racial unity were good and honorable and to that I applaud him. He was a Minister of the Gospel and his compassion for the human race was rooted there.
I think that in the media’s reporting of his life there has been a severe lacking of linking Dr. King with Christianity. Again, I am not an expert on him, but just casually trying to recall all that I have heard reported about him and his life, I rarely hear that He was a minister. If I am wrong, I apologize, but to me he is made to sound more like a community activist than a man who was taking the love of Christ to the streets with a belief that it would change the world. Personally, I believe that is exactly what he was doing.
Jesus taught that those who call themselves Christians should love not only each other, be even our enemies. He taught that our neighbor should be loved like we love ourselves and that our neighbor was our fellow-man. Jesus did not segregate. He did observe the laws and customs of the day, which compared to modern American laws and customs could seem bigoted, but Jesus had compassion on all of humanity.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that he became all things to all men in hopes that he might win some of them to Jesus. This was not a statement of someone who was trying to please everyone all the time, but rather of a man who loved people enough to meet them where ever they were in life, rich or poor, Jew of gentile, Christian or not. He taught that in God’s eyes that all were sinners and that Christ died for all; red yellow black or white, it did not matter.
The Apostle James warned the church about being the type of Christians that only hear what God says but do nothing to show our faith. He warning about judging someone based on their financial status and what they wore. He challenged Christians to pray for those who were less fortunate and then to put feet on our prayers.
So Dr. King was echoing the Bible and the heart of God when he proclaimed his dream that one day little black children and little white children would live together in a world with equal rights and equal opportunity. He was echoing the Gospel as he proclaimed that we all have a responsibility to teach our children to love each other and to not look at the outside to judge one’s worthiness. Dr. King did not walk the streets shouting angrily at the injustice of the white man or the government, but rather he walked in faith knowing the truth of the Gospel was more powerful than the lies of hypocrisy and racism. He knew that the church, which is the body of Christ, was the answer and the key to all men not only being created equal, but being able to live that way in America.
Today I have the honor of working with some bold and brave black pastors who have decided to carry on the call of Dr. King look beyond race and look to Jesus to solve the issues that face of today. They have taught me more about the true person of Dr. King, the minister on the Gospel, then any book and media report I could ever hear or see. They have embraced the call for reconciliation and recognize that only Christ can truly change the heart of a man, but without the examples of men who know this truth, all is in vain. I thank them for showing me an example of the greatness of a man who loved God and loved his neighbor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

October 4, 2011

Ashes To Ashes?

by pastortimfowler

My dear friend is at it again; asking me to blog about stuff that is not the easiest to explain and of course, I don’t just explain, I opine. I often wonder what is really at work inside my friend’s head and I am sure that I don’t really want to know. So…the question was about cremation and should Christians be cremated.
If you watch much TV you have heard the minister at a funeral say something like, ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. It sounds good, but we did not come from ashes and the Bible never mentions coming from ashes or returning to ashes. The Bible does say that we came from dust and will return to dust. That is one reason for a Christian to believe that it is proper to be buried. So before I go any further I will state that cremation is not a Christian or Jewish tradition or religiously appropriate way of disposing of a dead person, (or a live person in case you were wondering).
I can’t find where there is a specific punishment for cremating a body, either for the living who instruct this to happen of the dead who is burned. This body that we live in is perishable and not the one that Christians believe to receive after physical death. That will be a glorified body, immortal and incorruptible according to the Apostle Paul’s writings. This does not mean that we are not to follow the examples of the Bible though. If you see something that is only practiced by the people of God and another practiced only by those who are not people of faith in God, then it is a logical assumption to do what that example says, even if there are no consequences mentioned. One of the commands of Jesus is to follow Him. Guess who was buried? Jesus. When Moses died, according to Deuteronomy 34:5,6, God buried Moses. Every mention of Godly men and women who die in the Bible stated that they were buried. Some may argue that Jesus was placed in a tomb, but it was not a man-made structure, rather a cave or dug out place in a hill. Genesis 3:19, Psalm 104:29 and Job 10:9 all state that we return to dust, reflecting burial in the ground of some sort.
There are several mentions of cremation in the Bible. The term cremate is not generally used, but it is stated that the dead were burned. Some modern translations of the Bible may use the word cremate, but I am not sure. These cremations were always mentioned when disposing of those who were wicked or rebellious. 1Samuel 31:12, 2Kings 23:20, and Amos 2:1 all speak of burning the dead and those who were being burned were not God’s people.
One reason for cremation not being a Christian way of disposing of a body is because burning was also a way of offering sacrifices. On the altar of God, the blood and the fat of the animals sacrificed were burned and the meat was eaten. This was an act of worship that God instructed for as long as the sacrifice has been instructed. Pagan religions also offered sacrifices and some even offered human sacrifices, thus burning the bodies. It was not just the blood and fat, but the whole body that was burned, because except in the extreme cases of cannibalistic people, it was never appropriate to eat human flesh. Even the Israelites fell into the hideous traps of human sacrifice and began to offer their children as burnt offerings. God finds this appalling.
So that is why I never suggest to anyone that they cremate a loved one who has died. Sure it may be cheaper to cremate, but it is not the way that God shows us to dispose of the human body once the soul has left it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to that dead person, and I am not sure how it may affect the living who make that decision, but if we are to follow God’s example, we will bury the dead. Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow, you will produce food to eat until you return to the ground, because you were taken from it. You are dust, and you will return to dust.”