Posts tagged ‘baptized’

November 19, 2012

God In The Irritations Of My Life

by pastortimfowler

God is our...

Sorry for the lack of blogs lately. I have been dealing with the aftermath of the church fire, extra people in my house, and a barrage of other stuff that has had me a bit distracted. Through it all, God has been in touch with me, mainly through Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes right in my face. I thought that I could share a few things that He showed me.
He is in the stuff that I find irritating. I know that this may sound as if I am saying that God is irritating, and I am not. I do get rather flustered with Him from time to time because He refuses to let me be in charge or He lets me and everything gets all messed up. But, God is in the stuff that has been irritating me in some really cool ways.
I love my grandkids and I love the kids in my church. But kids irritate me. Unlike my wife who is a kid addict, I can only tolerate kids in small amounts and in short bursts. So with the fire at our church rendering our children’s area unusable, the kids have been coming into the adult worship area while I am preaching. The result; several of them have accepted Jesus as their Savior and I got to baptize 5 of them in the last two weeks. Many of them have come up to me and told me with all the excitement of a little child about how cool it was and thanked me for it. WOW! God is all in that irritation.
Lately I have been trying to do more with my grandkids, especially my oldest grandson who is 7. He lives with his dad and mom and a bunch of girls, and girls are trouble, we all know that. His dad works rotating shifts and does not get to take part in things like scouts and a lot of weekend stuff, so I am trying to fill in. In the past few months I have been to three camping events with him and slept in a tent and gone without a shower and fed him more junk food than he should have ever been allowed to eat.
I also took him to a Gamecock football game this weekend. There is about an hour drive to the stadium from my house and to help keep him entertained, I took the wife’s tablet so he could play games. I find it hard to have meaningful conversation with a 7-year-old for more than a couple of minutes, much less for an hour. Guess what? The tablet was not charged. So for an hour, we talked. Did you know that a 7-year-old can talk continuously for 15 minutes without stopping or even breathing? And I learned that I could throw a Chees-it and hit him in the mouth while I was driving but can’t catch one when he throws it. I also learned that if you slowed down beside the semi truck while he pumped his fist, that after several miles, even the toughest truck driver will eventually blow his horn.
I love to watch the Gamecocks play. Having a 7-year-old with you limits that ability. But when it is really cold and the wind is blowing hard and you told the kid to leave his jacket in the truck because you were not taking yours, kids can be an excellent heat source. So he sat in my lap most of the game and that was a great way to talk about the game, and eat pizza at the same time. And because it was military appreciation day, I got to tell him how God allowed us to be free to do what we are doing because of their service. Then to hear him say, ” God wanted us to be here today” was the icing on the cake.
I came home that night to find my 1-year-old grandson there. He will be staying with us for a few days. I don’t get to see him that often because his parents live a couple of hours away. But when I walked in, he ran to me. I tried to run away, but God wanted him to hug me and kiss me. I get really irritated when slobbery little kids try to kiss me, especially when I am not ready and they kiss me in the mouth. (gag). I am not sure why I felt the overwhelming presence of God at that time, but I did.
And finally, the fire at the church. What a pain. But I have met some really awesome people who are working to clean up the mess. I have talked to them about our church, invited them to attend, and had several tell me that they will come. My church folks have been amazingly understanding about the inconvenience and have stepped up in more ways than I can count to make this really irritating circumstance more than bearable.
God has really been in the middle of this most irritating time. He has been the peace when things are hectic. He has been the wisdom when things are crazy. He has been the love when I felt like I did not want to love or be loved. But I don’t know why I am surprised. He promised that He would never leave me or forsake me. He never lies and never disappoints. He gives me so many reasons to be thankful and just in time for Thanksgiving. What an awesome God I serve!

December 30, 2011

2011 Stickers

by pastortimfowler

Here are a few things that 2011 left stuck in my brain:
1. The 7th grandkid is as awesome to welcome to the family as the 1st. My youngest son and his wife brought into the world, Bryson, and it was as exciting as ever. I am always blown away by seeing a newborn and especially from one of my own children. God gives us a special miracle in every child and as we were blessed with our now 7th grandkid, I am still in awe. SEVEN grandkids!!! WOW!!!
2. Jake got a kidney. Jake was born with many medical problems and one that effected many of the others was his need for a working kidney. Early in the year he got his new kidney and since then his improvement has been nothing less than miraculous. At 2 years old, he could not eat solid food, his speech was extremely limited, and just the hassle of dialysis was horrible. But since the transplant he has began to eat, talk, and so many of the other problems have shown improvement. He was not supposed to ever be born alive, but God had other plans. Now he is more alive than ever.
3. Our church has grown. 2010 was a very tough year in many ways and made 2011 start off with much anticipation and even some anxiety. We had bought a building and the economy was tanking and our people were struggling to keep and find jobs. Financially it was tough. We needed to make some improvement to the building and numerical growth was minimal. But our people made tough choices and sacrificed and we survived. This last year we have seen our finances grow to allow us to make the improvements needed and our numerical growth has been incredible. We saw over 70 people raise their hand to salvation and over 50 of those were baptized. But what is the best growth of all came in the spiritual side of people. God brought up and brought in leaders. Many of our new folks grew into servants and servant leaders. We reached out to our community in ways that exceeded all expectations. We gave to help meet the needs of most anyone who asked and to many who didn’t. We did not grow to be the biggest church in town, but I do believe we may have grown the biggest heart for people in need. God has to be pleased with their unselfishness and love for our neighbors.
4. I am still married. No, we were not nearly divorced. But I consider myself to blessed beyond measure every year that I can say that I am married to her. If you only knew me like she knows me, you would know that she must be something special to put up with me. As shocking as that may sound, because I can be wonderful, she gets that part of me that is, how should I say, not so wonderful. Proverbs 18:22 Whoever finds a wife finds something good and has obtained favor from the Lord. I have to smile and even laugh to think that God shows me favor. If there has ever been a guy who did NOT deserve God’s favor it would be me. But because of His great love, mercy, and forgiveness and because Jesus paid my sin debt, I am not just a Christian, but God loves me and even shows it in giving me my wife.
I look forward to 2012. God has great things in store for me and for you.

October 10, 2011

Gratitude

by pastortimfowler

Yesterday in my series on Foundations of Our Faith, I preached about gratitude. It was one of the most rewarding Sundays that I have experienced in a while. For me to say that and you to get the understanding of it is difficult, because I am extremely blessed to pastor this church and every Sunday is rewarding. We average seeing 3-5 people each week come to know Jesus for the first time and the people who call this their home church are incredible in their pursuit of true Christianity. They love each other and they make those who come for the first time feel like they are welcome and like they can be themselves. They are unashamed to invite folks who don’t “do church” to come because they will not feel like an outsider or treated as if they are another notch in our cross or something like that.
So what was so special about this Sunday? I have to say that I am not sure that I can articulate it in a way that everyone will understand, but I will try. One thing that happens every week that freaks me out, is that people really listen to what I am saying. That shouldn’t be weird, but I have preached in churches where I thought that I was all alone and the building was full. But there was a different atmosphere this week. Every week these guys listen and I am thankful, but not only were they listening this week, but they were responding with understanding . When our praise band finished their last song, just before we did baptisms, the band was called back for an encore. Sure I may have started it, but the feeling was real. Then instead of people rushing out to get home, they all stayed as we baptized 12 people. It was funny to watch folks jockeying for position to take pictures and videos and then to see them posted on Facebook by the time I got home. We had kids as young as 8 and adults as old as 40 getting baptized for the first time and even had a whole family get baptized. It was fun. It was not a religious experience, it was a family affair. No one rushed out after the baptisms were through, most everyone stayed to clean up water, hug wet people, and laugh about the fact that we need higher ceilings so that we could flick lighters next week when they call the band back for another encore. The whole thing even spilled over to today, as I checked out Facebook and Twitter to see people posting how they were grateful for one thing or another.
It is experiences like this that make you grateful to be a Christian and for me to be a pastor. I have always taught that God does not want us to have religion, but rather He wants us to have a relationship. First, He wants a relationship with us, then He wants us to have a relationship with each others. I know that there are churches everywhere that say they have that type relationship, but I really think ours is special. Yep, I am a bit prejudice, but it is true. We don’t just hang out together on Sundays, but we hang out all throughout the week. Last week, about 30 women from our church spent the weekend at the beach together and skipped church. Something tells me they were more like what God intends the church to be during that time than most people an any given Sunday. Friday and Saturday of this week there were 9 of the guys took off for a motorcycle ride around the perimeter of South Carolina for no other reason than to hang out with each other and have some fun.
To wrap up Sunday, after our evening Bible study, about 20 of us went to eat at IHOP. Moms, dads, kids, pastors and lay people, just eating and laughing. Nothing organized, nothing fancy, but everything about it screamed, “we love each other”. The Bible says that people will know that we are disciples of Jesus by the way we love one another. I think people know this about our church, and although I have felt this for a while, this Sunday it all just seemed to come together in every way.
Nothing says you believe in what you are doing better than having a grateful heart and showing that heart to others. That is what made it all so special: gratitude.

September 21, 2011

My Team Is Winning!

by pastortimfowler

If you have followed my blogs for any time you will know that I love baseball and college football. Specifically, my team in baseball is the Braves and in college football its the SC Gamecocks. This made for some tough times through that years because both teams had some really lousy years. But there have been some great years, like with the Braves making the play-offs for 13 years straight and the Gamecocks lately have at least been in the top 25 rankings. It is good to be able to say, “My team is winning!”.
This morning I was reading blog from Pastor Perry Noble of Newspring church in Anderson SC. It was about whether or not churches should keep track of numbers and even publicize them. He has been accused by many leaders in some mainstream denominations as being boastful. I think that they are just jealous.
You see last year, Newspring Church baptized more people than most of the largest 1st Baptist Churches in South Carolina combined. Now let me agree with something that Pastor Perry said, we need to celebrate even 1 person getting saved and following in believer’s baptism because heaven certainly does. But to be upset because a church is baptizing thousands is nothing but jealousy, in my opinion. I love Newspring church and what they are doing. It is fresh and alive and they are winning souls. Although my own church is still my favorite, I love to watch other churches kick the enemy’s butt!
The church needs to remain focused on what is important. That is not the fact that another church is larger than yours or reaching more people than yours, but rather that when any church reaches a person who accepts Christ as Savior, we all should rejoice. But because the local church is important to how Jesus told us to function as His Body, we need to have a deep passion for our own church and who we are reaching.
I think that we should be calling out the churches who are not reaching anybody for Christ instead of those who are reaching multitudes. Each year in my city alone there are churches who baptize no one. They don’t care and they mind the fact that they have not grown in years. This is not because there are no people around either, but a case of the old “us four and no more” mentality. These are the churches that if anyone should be upset, it should be them.
But every church has people in it who can make a difference. If you are in a church that is not or has not reached people in a while, that can all be changed by you. We have all seen the team that gets that one player who will not let the past losses stop them from playing to win. Even if the whole team refuses to play, you can win for Jesus. And when that happens you need to celebrate. If you give it your best and the church you attend continues to hold you back, leave and find a church that wants to keep score and wants to win.
I feel so blessed to be part of a local church who is playing to win. I want to be there every time that I can and wear its colors boldly. Yes, we have a church shirt designed that I wear like I wear my Gamecocks stuff. I proudly tell people of the great things that we are doing and that the reason we are doing them is because of Jesus. He gets the glory, the honor, the praise, because He gave us the victory. Whenever we lead another person to Jesus and they get baptized, I want Jesus to act like I act when the winning run is scored or points are put on the board. I want Jesus to say, “MY TEAM IS WINNING!”.

March 19, 2011

Some people are just clueless

by pastortimfowler

I have the privilege of being the pastor of one of the greatest churches that I have ever seen. I know that is said by many pastors, but I think that I have the statistics to validate it. And yet there are still some who find fault and make claims that we are not all that. Some people are clueless.
We average about 120 on Sunday mornings when you count children and workers in the nursery and children’s areas. Today during a work day where we started at 9am and did not finish until 2pm, there were as many as 25 people working at any one time. 20% of your church doing anything volunteer is a lot. We have about 65% of our church attending a small group on any given week. The average church only has about 25% attend Sunday School, which we don’t have, but it is still a small group no matter what you call it.
Last year we had a slow and rather rough year for our church. We only baptized about 40 people. Most churches our size would love to see 12 baptized. This year we have already seen 18 salvations and many of them will be baptized soon. Our membership is growing because people are taking ownership. You see members have rights but owners have responsibilities. Only 1 or 2 Sundays this years have we not seen a new family or person visiting our church. Many of those are choosing to stay and are bringing their friends.
Our giving, which is a sore spot for many churches to talk about has increased by almost 50% this year alone. Ministries are being started and funded and are healthy in all areas. Considering the average age of our church is probably 30-35, and most are people who are new Christians or people who were hurt in a previous church and are just coming back, that financial status is amazing. It often takes people a while to trust God with their finances.
Despite all this and I know I can share more, there are still one or two who would say that we are not doing things right and not what they would like to see in a church. I would like to say that they are not in many of the amazing statistics that I just shared either, so it is no wonder that they are clueless.
My job as pastor is to love the folks that God has given me to watch over. To teach them about the love and grace of God. To encourage them to serve and to tell others about their church and their Savior. But not to kiss butt, babysit, or play favorites. Oh yeah, I have the responsibility of protecting our church even from someone who refuses to see the good and only point out the negative and to try to do so with love.
As long as there are people in churches, there will be imperfections. My prayer is that eyes will be open to look at the good and speak loudly about it, and to see the negative and find solutions if there is a problem and to be quiet unless you are part of the solution. We are different by choice and that can be hard to understand, but we love the Lord and love each other and even love those who think we don’t care.
I hope that you don’t read this and start thinking of who I could be talking about. Most will never know. Many pastors face this same thing but far greater than I ever have at The Body. My goal is to love more, forgive more, teach more, offer solutions to problems and not complain. That is what most everyone in our church does and I can’t be more proud!
But some people are clueless.