Posts tagged ‘blessings’

September 10, 2012

Opps…Emotions Stink

by pastortimfowler

stress

I feel like I owe an explanation for my sermon yesterday, for those who attend my church. If you don’t, then you won’t have a clue about why I am writing this until you read it. Everyone can have “one of those days”, including the pastor. Sundays are supposed to be wonderful events and a time to hear from God, not stress out. Except for pastors, and I think to some degree we all stress out over Sundays. It is our pinnacle moment for the church and we want everything to be perfect. It rarely works that way, so we get use to it. But then there are those days when one thing leads to another and before you know it, you are about to explode.
Here is my explanation and/or excuse. Friday night I took my 7-year-old grandson camping at the beach with his Cub Scout troop. It was a 3 and a half hour drive there and a 4 and a half hour drive back; I will explain later. I stress over being around little kids. I want to tolerate them but I have to really try. We had a good time, but sleeping in a tent on the ground does not help my back, which hurts all the time, and lately has been in one of those more painful stages. Saturday, I went to the beach to body surf with the kid. Body surfing is not good for your back either. But we had a blast. Then we went down the water slide which is not good for the back, and I found out that if you get to spinning too much, you can rip you toenail off. I didn’t understand that either, but it happened. We rode bikes for hours and then packed up and started home.
About 40 minutes into my drive it started raining. I know that God said that He would never flood the world again, but I think He was showing me how hard it had to rain to accomplish this.
7-year-old boys ask a lot of questions when it is raining that hard. Driving does not help my back and stress about heavy rain and a 7-year-old asking endless questions don’t help either. By the time we got home, the normal 3 and a half hour drive was 4 and a half hours. After unpacking, and hot shower, and a few moments of sitting around updating the wife, I went to bed.
Sunday morning I woke up stiff and hurting. That is the beginning of a rough day. I got to church and most of the first few people who I saw complained about something going wrong. I usually try to hide in my office and study for my sermon, but everyone knows where to find me and did. For some reason, everything that I wanted to say in this sermon was being pushed aside and i was not sure with what I was going to say. That is stressful.
There were some people didn’t show up to do their jobs, those who were filling in didn’t want to do it and let me know, and it seemed as if every person I talked to had a complaint or didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I still did not know what I was going to talk about until the last song was played and it was time for me to give my message.
I believe that I listen to God about what I preach. Sure, I like to joke and inject a few personal things to lighten the mood, but for the most part I feel as if I am saying what God want me to say. Of all morning for Him to want me to say some tough stuff, I felt like it was then. Sure, you could say I was not in a great mood and that affected what I spoke about. But after 20 years of doing this, you learn to put the petty stuff aside. I just had to say some tough stuff this time.
My sermon was about how God expects His people to do more than come to church on Sunday. Especially if you consider yourself to be a mature Christian. We are in a spiritual battle that is raging 24/7 and most Christians want to play weekend warrior. We want to be entertained and told stuff that feels good and that is not what the Bible does for us. It is very convicting and very critical of God’s people who should know better than to get complacent. So I said what I said.
It must have been close to what God wanted said. Two people became Christians Sunday morning. Several came to me afterwards and said that they knew I was stressed, but what I said impacted them in a positive way. WHEW!
That being said, I never want people to think that I don’t care and that I am self-centered. I do love me, but I love you guys too. I want people to be blessed by being a Christian. That is God’s intent. But in order to receive the blessings, we need to fight that good fight. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.
So I want to say that I am really sorry for anybody who I may have snapped at or made feel like I was being a jerk. If you really want to know what that feels like, ask my poor wife who sees the worst side of me more than anyone. She is a saint, and I appreciate her patience with me more than she will know. But I believe that she will tell you that I try my best to say the truth, say it with love, and say only what God wants said during my sermons.
I love my church, and I love the people who go there. I want them to unashamed of the God they serve and the God who gives unconditional love and forgiveness. Sometimes tough things need to be said. Where I fail is saying them with the proper temperance and for that I can only say, sorry.

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August 17, 2012

Trial by Children

by pastortimfowler

a boy and his steed

As I told you a few weeks ago, God was messing with me, I mean, blessing me with extra children around the house. My wife started baby sitting and we took an international student into our home for the school year. I believe the Bible; all of it. I don’t understand all of it and do have some questions for God when I get there. This verse is one I think I will question: Psalm 127:3 – Children are an inheritance from the LORD. They are a reward from him. A reward? Really?
So with the rewards piling up, I was trying to think about all the things that I must have done right to deserve these rewards. I know that I am an excellent husband and treat my wife better than she deserves. I get up early and fix her coffee. I do dishes and cook and sometimes the other way around. I keep the yard looking as well as could be expected and I am just an all around good guy. But to reward me with children for that? Couldn’t God have just given me a couple of free rounds of golf?
I am a great dad to my own children. A raised them for 18 years and through them out of the nest so that they would learn to fly. Sure they bumped their butts a little, but on the third or fourth bounce, they got it. All of them are out of jail and free of any communicable diseases, as far as I know, and they either have a husband who is like me or are a husband like me. That surely does not deserve more children back in my house does it? How about a fishing trip to the Amazon River in South America? That would be sufficient.
I am an awesome pastor too, just ask the people that I pay to say that who use to go to my church. I tell them that they are going to Hell and how to avoid it. I keep all of my sermons short and stay on point so that no one is forced to wonder what I am talking about. I rarely turn down a opportunity to have people buy my lunch if they want to talk to me and, I let people bring me peach milkshakes from Chic- Fil-A anytime they wish. Does this deserve the reward of children? Hardly. Perhaps an all expenses paid Bible conference in the Bahamas might be more appropriate.
And we can’t forget that I provide almost an endless supply of fantastic and informing blogs that keep you on the edge and have you begging for more. These blogs challenge your minds and imaginations and keep you laughing and therefore bring great joy to many lives daily. But reward me with children? No, I am not worthy. It would be more appropriate to send money to my church and designate it for the pastor’s vacation fund.
Yes, I feel like this may be a trial that I am going through. Perhaps a trial to keep me humble and learn patience. Perhaps a trial to learn to accept blessings of great magnitude, even though I may not deserve them, so I should just accept them. If this is so, I thank God for the rewards, but ask God to scale it back a bit and stick with the simple and less rewarding things like golf and fishing trips.

January 12, 2012

The Weeping Prophet

by pastortimfowler

I am finishing reading the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and it has to be one of the toughest reads I have had in a while. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because his message was constantly rejected by his people. He was abused and imprisoned and called a liar to his face over and over for speaking the word of God. To try to imagine his pain and frustration is impossible and at times for me, a pastor, disturbing.
I have been in the ministry long enough to have been in churches where people would not listen to the truth. Even if you opened the Bible in front of them and read with them the truth of the word, they refused to see it. During those times it was painful and sorrowful but mostly if was angering. I can remember times when I even raised my voice in frustration, right in front of the one I was talking too. But to say that I can empathize with Jeremiah would be a stretch.
I am not saying that I didn’t learn from this or that I wouldn’t read it again, but I had to dig deep to see the positive in it all. So what did I get from it?
Well to start with, God is a very patient God. The people of Israel were in a very rebellious time in their history and had turned to idolatry. The message that God was sending them via Jeremiah was consistent with what they had always heard, so there was no reason for them to doubt that God was speaking truth through Jeremiah. But over and over when they heard from the prophet they rejected the warnings. God remained patient and offered chance after chance to change.
I also learned, well it was reinforced, that God means what He says and does what He says. When God says to turn from a sinful act, he is serious. God hates sin because it separates us from Him and He loves us. He would much rather bless us than to chastise us, but as the Bible says, whom the Lord loves, He chastises. The goal of chastisement is always to correct a behavior. If the behavior is not corrected there are always consequences. When God says that there are consequences, you can count on it. It is not His fault that humans are hard-headed, or should I say, hard-hearted.
Lastly, what I saw was the fact that He will always leave a remnant to rebuild with. The Old Testament can be difficult to reconcile for the casual observer. God was dealing with an earthly people who were promised eternity on earth and is not the church, who is promised eternity in Heaven. Jesus had not yet been sacrificed for our sin and therefore the physical punishments were often drastic and seemed harsh. But remember this, there was not a lack of hearing from God. There was not a lack of knowledge of the consequences that people would face for their disobedience.
The Jewish people were required to memorize the law before age 13 and in order to become an adult, they had to show that they had done so. This includes the part of the law that says “if you do this, this is the punishment”. And, they had seen God carry out these judgments for centuries. Think of it like this. We all have rules to follow in our homes. My parent told me that if I lied to them, I would get a whipping. So, when I lied, I got what they told me I would get. I did not, or should I say, I do not think that they were cruel, but I know that it was them being truthful and loving in their attempt to correct my inappropriate behavior.
God loves us more than we can imagine. We don’t fully understand Him and often believe that we know more than God, so we are quick to look at God as harsh or even unloving. But that is not true. When we respond with repentance, God blesses with restored fellowship and rewards. That is always His goal with us.
His love is so great that He allows His Son, Jesus, to be our sacrifice for our sins. From the beginning, God has told us that our sin will be rewarded with death. But with our asking for forgiveness, He waves the death penalty, (the eternal one) and gives us eternal life with Him in heaven. He is willing to do this for us and our only part is to have faith to believe Him. This means believe it all, not just the parts we like. Sometimes God sends us a message that we don’t like or don’t want to hear. We must trust Him as much then as we do with the promise of the blessings that we like.
So, Jeremiah relayed the message of repent or face judgement. The people chose to rebel and received the judgement that was promised. But, there was a group who decided to trust God, and as we all know, Israel is still here, just like God promised. They will never perish from the earth. As Christians, we are promised to never perish from God’s heavenly and spiritual world. Our obedience is still required and His blessings are as awesome as ever.
I am blessed to know that there are some who still believe and obey God and I am fortunate to not be a weeping prophet of modern times.

December 13, 2011

Omens

by pastortimfowler

By now you must be wondering where in the world do some of these ideas for my blogs come from. It is simple; I have some weird people who go to my church. This morning I get a Facebook tag about omens saying that I should blog about it. I am not sure why, but I thought okay, this could be a sign…get it? Sign? Omen?
As usual, I will start with the definition of the word omen. (noun. anything perceived or happening that is believed to portend a good or evil event or circumstance in the future; portent)
Let me be the first to say that I thought the movie was stupid. Also, I think the word is a weird word. I don’t even like the way it is spelled. Just by changing one letter it could be AMEN! Maybe that is a good direction to go with this blog.
The common fear of an omen is that it points towards the rest of a bad day staying that way or getting worse. We rarely hear of people talking about good omens. It certainly would not have sold a lot of tickets at the box office. People think that if you burn your toast that it is a sign that you will get fired, wreck your car, or be called to jury duty. I don’t believe that is true. Maybe its is a sign of something good. Let me elaborate.
You get up the morning of an important day and because you have been taught that breakfast is an important meal, you began to fix your toast, which by the way, hardly qualifies as a real breakfast. As you are fixing your coffee, which is an important part of a nutritional breakfast, you smell something burning and turn to see smoke rising from your toaster. The toast is burnt! An omen of a disastrous day to come or could this be the start of something really good?
Because the toast is burnt, you spend a little more time thinking about what makes this day so important. Perhaps it is your day to fix cupcakes for your child’s class party, or you have an interview for a job, or you are going to take your pastor a surprise gift, like money, or a free round of golf. You remember that verse from the Bible that you just read, either because you have been reading the Bible or you have been reading this blog. It says, (Acts 20:35) that it is more blessed to give than to receive, so you not only bake the cupcakes, but you grab some more money to give to your pastor, and head off to have a blessed day. If you had not burned the toast, you may have spent the money that you were going to give your pastor on store-bought cupcakes, and felt even worse than before, thus allowing the burnt toast to become an omen of bad things to come.
Romans 8:28We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom he has called according to his plan. God does not have bad omens for His people. He has only your best interest at heart. Even in the toughest things, God is preparing us for a blessing. Job who lost everything he had, was being prepared to receive double everything that he lost. Peter and the other fishermen were taken out in a terrible storm so that they could see Jesus speak and calm the storm. Onesimus, the runaway slave, was caught and thrown in jail, only to meet the Apostle Paul and find eternal life. Jesus was falsely accused, sentenced to die, and killed for the sins of others, only to rise from the grave and offer eternal life to all who ask.
So…Next time you think that you are getting a negative omen, be creative and change one letter and make it AMEN. With God, all things are possible.

September 26, 2011

Monday is Funday!

by pastortimfowler

Why do we hate Mondays so much? It is almost like on Monday we lose all hope in humanity and ourselves and go into a deep depression. I laugh at the negativity on Facebook and Twitter as people moan and groan about going to work. You would think that just the opposite was happening, that they had found out that they had no job and couldn’t go to work.
As a Christian, I find it so wrong to be this negative, just because it is Monday. I have always thought that we should be the most positive on Monday and if we were going to be negative, it would be somewhere near the end of the week. I think that we have been influenced too much by a society that has become very ungrateful. I think that Christians are too focused on self, instead of others. Let me elaborate.
If you go to church on Sunday and you have an experience that puts you closer to God and His people and you fill up on God’s word and see Him working in people’s lives, shouldn’t we be excited about getting to work Monday? A friend of mine once told me that church was the a pit stop in a race. The race was what happened Monday through Saturday and on Sunday we pulled in for a filling of fuel, refreshing drink, some new traction, and have our windshield cleared. After that, it is back on the track where the race is won. I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a race-car driver not want to get back into the race.
Church people have been too influenced by those around us instead of being the ones who influence. We allow all the negativity of a worldly point of view to cause us to lose our joy and when we lose our joy we are no different that anyone else. We are to be salt that flavors the world and light that brightens the world. We are to be thankful for the blessings we have and joyful for the life God has given us. We are to show hope to the hopeless and love to the unloved. We are supposed to have a relationship with a God that is so awesome that He makes even the worst situations better and yet we hate Mondays.
There is an old song that the church used to sing and it goes like this. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings and you will see what God has done. I don’t think we are counting our blessings much anymore. In this economy, if you are going to work on a Monday, you should be singing God’s praises and not complaining because its Monday. If you have a boss who is a jerk, you should be praising God for the opportunity to show what a difference being a Christian makes by working harder and better than anyone else so that the jerk sees Jesus, not you. If you have a home, and family, and job, your health, a car, your salvation, then you should be smiling all the way to work on Monday and keep on going as Friday rolls around.
Mondays are a great day to see how many people you can tell about how thankful to God that you are to have that job and them as co workers and that you feel extremely blessed to be working when so many are without. If your work is a dark place, turn on the light! If it is a miserable place, spread some joy!
Here is a suggestion for those who are Christians but you still hate Mondays. If you hate going to your job, tell God that you are not appreciative of what He gave you and maybe He will take it away from you so that you can rejoice in unemployment and poverty. Then you can really look forward to Mondays, because it won’t be any different from any other day that you DON’T go to work.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Always be joyful.
17 Never stop praying.
18 Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.