Posts tagged ‘call’

September 24, 2012

Answer The Call

by pastortimfowler

Old Bibles, Book Craftsman 7-2012

Over that last two weeks there have been two men in our church who have stepped up to say that they believe that God is calling them into the ministry. I remember when I finally made that announcement and it was very difficult because of the disbelief that God could use someone like me. But, 18 years later, I am the pastor of a church that is growing like crazy and now has men who are being called. It is truly a humbling experience.
I remember back before President Obama was even the nominee, when Hillary Clinton ran an ad asking the question, who do you want answering the call at 4am when the world’s peace is at hand. It was questioning whether or not the other candidate was qualified to be put in such a position of authority and responsibility. I thought that it was a great ad, but obviously it was not met with the answer that she wanted people to give.
All throughout the Bible, God calls men and women to serve Him and they begin to doubt that they are qualified. The truth of the matter is that no one is qualified on our own merits. You don’t get qualified by going to school or even seminary. You are not born with a knack for pastoring a church or preaching the gospel. It is purely a call from God. Because of this, no one feels worthy of the call. Moses argued with God when he was told to go and speak to Pharaoh. Ezekiel argued that he was just a youngster. None stepped up to say something like, ‘Finally, God. I was wondering when you were going to pick the right person’.
There is an old saying that I wish I could take credit for but I can’t. God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. It is one of the most truthful sayings ever made. Somehow, God takes messed up people and uses them to win souls and spread the message of hope. He takes people like me, who were drunks and drug addicts and sets them free and lets that horrible past become a testimony of God’s awesome love and power.
These two guys are part of a group of 5 others who have expressed a “call” in their lives by God to do something other than just come to church. I meet with them every Thursday morning at 6am for breakfast and try to share from my experience some useful bits of information that may help them along the way. Most of the time I spend sharing God’s words and my mistakes. They say that we should learn from our mistakes and I therefore may be the smartest man in the world if that is how I am learning. But I really want to encourage these guys to trust in God and give Him everything they can to fulfill the call.
Everyone who claims to be a Christian needs to know that God is calling you to do more than sit in a pew or a chair on Sunday. That is not why Jesus died on a cross. We are all called to share the love of Christ with others. Not all are called to pastor a church and lead mission trips around the world, or hold crusades like Billy Graham. But, we are all called to let our light shine before men and glorify our Father in heaven. Because of this, we need to answer the call. What can you do to be more than someone who just goes to church? It may be as simple as smiling and saying hello to someone who is lonely. Perhaps you can call people throughout the week a let someone know that you are praying for them. Maybe you can give extra so that someone else can go where you can’t. Whatever it may be, if God is calling, you will not be sorry for answering. I know that I have never regretted the moment that I said yes to God and I know that you won’t be either.
Answer the call.

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July 25, 2012

Comfort Zone

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uncorrectedproofs/3483703050/

I like being comfortable, don’t you? My bed, my truck, my way. All of these make me comfortable. I don’t like sleeping in strange beds, riding in someone else’s car, or doing things someone else’s way. That being said, why does God always seem to be getting us out of our comfort zones? I think He has a weird sense of humor and likes watching us say things like, “I will never do that”, or “God would never ask me to do this”. I learned years ago to not say those things very often and thought that I had gone unnoticed for a while. But…NOOOOoooo. I had to tell someone who getting an exchange student was not for me and I didn’t think that God would want me to do that.
So, a friend, and I use that term loosely now, told me that she needed someone to take an exchange student for a month until she could find a longer term family for him to stay with. My first response was not what I wanted to say. I told her she could talk to my wife about it. Remember her? She is the baby addict who loves all kids and would have 100 of them at my house all the time if I would let her. I know what she is going to say.
Now don’t go freaking out yet. It is not final. God could change His mind. And the point of this is not to tell you about us getting an exchange student. It is about not getting comfortable with God. It is about making yourself available to share the love of Christ with anyone, anytime, even at my house, even if you don’t live there.
Last month I went to Cuba. I had just told someone, a few months prior to being asked to go, that I did not think that God wanted me to go outside the country to serve Him. God had me just where He wanted me and I knew it. So, off to Cuba He sent me and it was one of the most incredible times I have ever had. About 11 years ago I was very comfortable in my hometown of Spartanburg and knew that God wanted me to stay there forever and serve in churches there. I have been living in Rock Hill now for 10 years and it is amazing. 33 years ago I was perfectly happy living the life of a bachelor and now I just celebrated my 32nd wedding anniversary…happily.
As a pastor I am constantly challenging people to listen to God and hearing them say that God is telling them to stay with what they are doing and remain comfortable. I laugh at them, on the inside, and tell them to be careful because God is always listening. Comfort is not God. Peace is God. Comfort makes you go to sleep. Peace makes you able to stay focused even though the storm is raging around you. Comfort is doing the same thing week in and week out and not seeing much different happen. Peace is not knowing why things keep happening all around you but wow, people’s lives are being changed by the presence of God.
About 20 years ago, I felt like God was calling me into the ministry. I was a few months removed from being a complete drunk and self-centered jerk. Very few people believed that God would call me to be a pastor, but I knew it was happening. I did not like it. I did not want it. I just knew it was happening. Today I have been the pastor, for ten years, of a church that is unbelievably growing with folks that are a lot like I was 20 years ago. They are not sure of why, but are sure of Who is calling them to be different. Some are facing the call to trust God for something more. Some are stepping out in faith and finding that they really can trust God to do everything that He says He will do. Some are just getting the courage to invite a friend who is still struggling with life’s constant bombardment of crap to visit this place that will accept them without judging them. It is so exiting to watch.
So let me encourage you to get uncomfortable with God for a while. If you call yourself a Christian, you should not be comfortable around God, you should be at peace. There is nothing comfortable of being around perfection when you are so far from it. But it is mind-blowing to be considered the child of God who is using you to do something that you never thought possible and finding out you love it.
Meanwhile I am still hoping that God is only messing with me about this exchange student and soon I will hear Him say, “PSYCH!”, ’cause this has me way out of my comfort zone.