Posts tagged ‘challenging’

August 1, 2012

Missions

by pastortimfowler

 

Mission – a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work. Does that not sound awkward? Maybe it is the use of the word propagate, which means to spread, or maybe it is the use of the term religious organization, which could mean anything if you think about it. Sometimes definitions of words bother me and why I get into looking them up is beyond me, but for some reason I do.
When I was younger I use to watch Mission Impossible, the TV show. They were not a religious organization. I use to watch war movies and they would talk about “the mission” that they were on. I used the term, “I am a man on a mission” several times prior to becoming a Christian. Usually it was focused on finding a party or finding a girl or both. All of the examples I gave were to some degree exciting and challenging and even dangerous, especially the girl hunting. So I understand the term and what its root meaning is, and it fits in well with what God has called Christians to do, but, we are not all acting like we have a mission that is exciting and challenging and rarely dangerous.
This whole missions thing is on my mind lately because of my recent trip to Cuba and the fact that my friend from the Philippines will be here this week. Going to Cuba is exciting and challenging and even a bit dangerous. If things go well I will be going to the Philippines too, and that will be exciting and challenging and dangerous. My friend left his family in the Philippines to come here for a few months and they are in an area that recently had a major earthquake it is not uncommon to get typhoons through there this time of year. Why do people do this? Because it is needed.
Much like a soldier has a mission or a secret agent has a mission, God has given Christians a mission. We are to go into the whole world and preach the good news. Yep, the Philippines, and Cuba and Africa and Rock Hill and New York and Los Angeles and, well everywhere. No one said it had to be a foreign country, we are just supposed to go.
Some people think when Jesus said, “go”, that He meant to church on Sunday. Sorry; not what He was talking about. He meant to go where ever there are hurting people who need to know Jesus. Going to church is not what we are called to do. It is important to go to church. I like to think of it as the pit stop in the race. The race is out on the track driving as fast as possible to win, but from time to time you have to pull into the pits to get fuel, tires, and a cool drink of water. This is a short pause with the intent of getting you back out on the racetrack trying to win. Missions is the race, church is the pits.
Maybe you find it nearly impossible to go to a place like Cuba or the Philippines, but everyone goes to the grocery store. Kids go to school and parents go to work, and sometimes we get to go the beach or the mountains. Where ever we go we are on a mission. We are out to show Jesus and God’s love to whoever we come in contact with. It doesn’t mean we sit everyone down and give them the old “Bible beat down”, but we can help someone at the grocery store who may be overloaded and have kids, or we can help that new kid at school who doesn’t have a friend yet, or we can fill in for that co-worker who needs to be with a sick child. We can always be that shoulder to lean on or that ear to listen and that can go a long way into sharing the love of Christ with those who need it.
Some of you are thinking that this doesn’t sound exciting or challenging, and certainly not dangerous. If this is what you are thinking, you must ask yourself, what is more exciting or challenging and sometimes dangerous, than sharing the love of God with someone, no matter where they are? Why do we have to be in another country to do what God has called us and allows us to do anywhere? Maybe you are looking back at the definition and thinking that you have not been commissioned by a religious organization to propagate you faith. That is probably a good thing. Because Jesus should be and is the one who has commissioned His people to go into all the world. But if you think that you need an organization to commission you too, talk to your church and your pastor about it and I am sure they will agree with Jesus and say, GO!

Advertisements
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.

January 4, 2012

Dont Read The Book

by pastortimfowler

Every time I get the chance, I tell my church and the people in the Bible studies that I lead, to read their Bibles from the beginning to the end and to do it often. I remember the first time I did it and it was life changing. I have never had such a great feeling of accomplishment than when I finish it the first time and then again and again. I never get tired of seeing new things that He reveals to me. I will admit that I do get nervous with some of the things I am confronted with. Often it is my failures and my insecurities and my lack of faith. But with each reading I gain the trust and faith in God to step a little closer to what He has in store for me and a little bolder to speak with faith the love of God for humanity.
I am not an avid reader. Other than the Bible, I have to make myself read books. A few years back I committed to reading at least 6 new books each year. That does not sound like much to some, but there was a time just before this commitment that I could count on one hand the number of books I had read completely.
The other day I was given a book to read by someone who works with me in the ministry. I had heard about it and had thought that one day I would get around to reading it. But now it was in my hands and so I started. RATS! DARN! FIDDLESTICKS! and other words of frustration.
I tell people who reading is great and beneficial and I encourage it. I caution people who when it comes to Christian books, especially those who claim to explain the Bible that they should be careful. I tell them that they should never let a book interpret the Bible, but to let the Bible interpret the book. Of course this is not possible if you have never read the Bible from beginning to end. So, seeing how I have read the Bible from beginning to end, I can allow this to happen, and this book is very biblically sound.
It is challenging Christians, and I are one, to take to heart the command to “go into all the world” like Jesus commanded. Not just to go, but to do and to equip those who do. It suggests that the American church is not doing much that requires God to help. It suggests that what most churches are doing are done through man’s desire and not really God’s desire.
Never the less, this book does not challenge churches, it challenges individuals, just like the Bible. I have been challenged, and I am going to try to take up this challenge. I am not going to give details right now, because it is a bit overwhelming for me. I am going to start looking at doing what we can’t do unless God is involved more than what we can do and it would be nice if God would join in with us.
I ask for your prayers. It is crazy to know that you are a Christian who serves a God who created the universe and know that most of what you are doing doesn’t require God to be part of it. As I read the Bible, I read accounts of miracles. Not stuff that can’t be explained, but stuff that can’t happen unless God does it. Sadly I don’t see that in much of my ministry. I do see God working through our church and we are reaching people with the Gospel. To that I am thrilled! I just want to know more of God’s will and less of my own.
Don’t read this book! Don’t read the Bible! Don’t do either if you are just doing it because you feel obligated, as if God were some dude that you owed the favor. You don’t owe God a favor, you owe Him your life. It is His. He promises that if we will do what He asks, that we will see Him do what He says. He said, and this is a paraphrase, don’t read the book, do the deed. (James 1:22)

December 31, 2011

No More This Year

by pastortimfowler

I have decided that this will be the last blog that I do for the rest of the year. I figure that I will start back sometime next year. Please be patient and don’t panic. For my last blog of 2011, I thought it would be good to say thanks to everyone who has read any of my blogs and share a few last thoughts for the year.
I do read every bit of feedback that I get. I do not post every reply because some are not appropriate to be posted on a church website, where all of my blogs are posted. Some are simply personal and other are redundant. But I do read and appreciate your feedback.
This year was the first time that I have ever attempted to blog on a regular basis. It has been quite challenging to not get repetitive and to continually come up with something worth reading. Some of you are waiting patiently for that to happen still. I have found some of the best ideas for blogs come from you guys. Many this year have come from one particular friend who loves to challenge me and I think that she likes to give topics that she knows that I will get blasted for. I do enjoy the challenge and I hope that next year more people will offer suggestions for topics. As you can tell, I don’t shy away from many, even though I probably should.
It has been my goal to be honest, biblical, and funny. To challenge you to think outside of what is comfortable and to learn from the things that others respond back with. I try hard to state plainly when it is an opinion and I try even harder to not offend, although that is virtually impossible. I do wish that some people would not get so uptight about things that are clearly one person’s opinion or even an attempt at humor. Humor is one of my favorite tools, no matter how lame the attempt.
My life has been a roller coaster of experience from one extreme to the other. Through it all, God has been very merciful and has not yet killed me for being stupid from time to time. Instead, He has allowed me to learn from my mistakes, given me an abundance of chances to change for the better, I hope. I believe that it is God that motivates me to share my life and thoughts through these blogs and I will do my best to always give Him the WOOHOO’s that He deserves.
Thanks again for reading. 2011 was pretty good, 2012 is going to be great!