Posts tagged ‘churches’

August 27, 2012

She Was A Mutt

by pastortimfowler

 

 

People always ask you what breed your dog is and for many, the only answer is mutt. That is the mixed breed that usually gets rescued from a shelter or given to you because someone got them for free and couldn’t keep them. Abby was a mutt, given to me by my daughter when she was first living on her own and obviously did not realize that raising animals cost money. Abby was a mix breed of beagle, basenji, and human. I threw in the human part because I believe she really thought she was a human.
I got her when she was big enough to fit in my hand. At that time I was in between churches, a rough time for a pastor, and she was a convenient thing to occupy my mind and my time. During that year, we did everything together. I taught her how to do tricks, she went fishing with me, and she even road the motorcycle with me. I had never had an inside dog, and to be honest, never intended to have one, but, she worked her way in.
I have a habit of giving people and I guess pets too, nicknames. She had two. G-dog, that stands for girl dog. She would respond to that and as the years went by, she even knew that I was talking to her when I just called her G. Her other nickname was Babygirl. That was what I called her when it was just me and her and we were chilling together, either kicked back in the recliner together or laid out on the couch. If I called her that, she expected some lovin’. I heard that you really only give nicknames to people and things that you are really fond of. I guess that’s true.
Abby was 12 years old. She got sick Friday night, nothing to be alarmed about, just some pukin’. For a mutt, she was very expensive. She had a sensitive stomach, she had incontinence and had been on meds for that forever. I think I spent more on her than anyone could spend on the most elaborate pure breed. But this time, I guess it was worse than an upset stomach like it had been so often before. By Sunday morning she had not eaten in two days. She loved eating, so I knew that to be a problem, but she was still walking around and looked okay. I was going to take her to the vet first thing Monday morning, and even cancelled going fishing with a friend because of it. Sunday night she was sleeping in my recliner, then got up and went to lay under the AC vent. About 3am she had her first seizure. It was bad and I pick her up to comfort her, and knew that she would not be here much longer. After several more seizures and an hour later, she died in my arms.
Someone once told me if it hurts really bad, it must be love. It was just a dog though. But God gives us opportunities to experience love in some crazy ways. Some might question why God would let us love something so much then take it from us. I look at it differently. He could let us never love at all. Everything on this earth is His and He loves us enough to let us experience loving His creation.
Job 12:10 –The life of every living creature and the spirit in every human body are in his hands. God does not have to let us love things that He owns. The years of pleasure and joy and yes, love I experience with G-dog was worth the hurt I feel right now.
I don’t know if dogs go to heaven. I told people that she would because I helped her accept Jesus. But I do know that every creature on this earth is precious to God. Matthew 10:29 –Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s permission. So God knew when Abby was taking her last breath. It was His plan. God knows our pain and knows our sorrow when people and things close to us die. Death does have a sting, because it is the enemy. It takes the things we love. But what if we never knew that love?
But death can’t take the memories and the joy. It can’t take away the love. Love lasts forever. Time will ease the pain, but the pain is a reflection of the love, now with no recipient.
I am really gonna miss my dog, even if she was a mutt. Thanks be to God for letting me take care of her for 12 years. It was worth every minute, even the last few painful ones.

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February 1, 2012

To Work or Not To Work?

by pastortimfowler

To work or not to work? Poverty is a problem world-wide. It always has been and always will be. In Matthew’s gospel, the 26th chapter and 11th verse, Jesus said that we would always have the poor with us and I believe what He says. That does not mean that we should not care about them, the question is how should we care for them? Our country has an ongoing argument about how the poor should be dealt with and I have talked about this before in a few blogs.
The best thing a poor person can do is to get a job. I am not saying that we should not provide for those who can’t work, and I am not saying that it is a simple thing to get a job. I am saying that if you can get a job it is better than living off handouts. In fact the Bible says that if a man will not work, he should not eat. Sadly we have developed a culture of people who believe that they deserve to have the government and anyone else who will, take care of them. I get many calls a week from people who are “professional” beggars that have developed a phone script to ask for handouts from churches. They know the agencies that I try to refer them to before I can even get the list out of my drawer. I ask them if they are willing to come do some work around the church and they almost always say no. FYI, I have never turned someone away who is in true need of food or shelter.
Many people who are poor are going through a difficult period in their life that is due to circumstances beyond their control. Sadly they often become comfortable with having the unemployment checks sent to them and begin to enjoy not having to work for their money. Soon they stop looking for work and become a burden on society. Often the excuse in the beginning is that they can’t find a job making enough money. Many times people are not willing to do a job for less than what the last one paid but are more than willing to take less for doing nothing. I have a problem with that.
Working more than one job can overcome the difference in salaries. I know of multiple places that are hiring right now if you are willing to work for minimum wage. Having two and even three jobs is not a bad thing if it pays the bills. Many of our parents and grandparents worked multiple jobs as a way of life. It is not something to be ashamed of. And before you jump to the conclusion that I don’t know what it is like to work two jobs, I do. I have done it as recently as last year. Why? Because I needed to pay my bills and I was not willing to sit around and sponge off others when I could do something to help myself.
Being on government welfare is too often the hindrance of people who would work, but don’t because of convenience. Unemployment insurance should not be extended automatically to everyone who is accepting it. The money does not come from the government, it comes from the tax payers. Sure, most pay unemployment insurance while they are working, but it is not for indefinite benefits. After the allotted time for those benefits, it becomes other people’s money that pays for it. If the checks stop, people are more likely to look harder and take whatever jobs needed to feed themselves and their families.
The bottom line is not about being compassionate or not. It is about enabling those who are fully capable of working but won’t. People who can’t work and are in need must be helped. It is the right thing to do. One of the commands of the Bible is to help those who are in need. But personal responsibility is also a command of the Bible. Laziness is a sin. Not supplying the needs of your family when you are able, is a sin. The church nor the government, should ever help someone sin. But we better be ready to help those who can’t help themselves. If we don’t, then we sin.
But when someone can work, they should. We do no favors by letting people have handouts when they could find a job. While they are in that difficult spot of in-between jobs, we need to help. We need to assist in food, housing, and the overall well-being of anyone in that position. But we must remember that old proverb that says, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. To work or not to work? WORK!

January 31, 2012

Tourist Trap Christians

by pastortimfowler

So, we were in the Bahamas for a port of call during our recent cruise and decided to play tourist. We left the ship to go shopping in the town and see if we could buy a few souvenirs and gifts for the kids back home. We went into what was called the Straw Village which was lined with row after row of locals selling trinkets and t-shirts and hats. After the third row of probably 20 rows, I began to notice that nothing was much different from the row before. The same hats, the same jewelery, the same shirts, just a different display and a different person sitting there trying to get us to buy their stuff. There was no gap in between tables and only about five feet in between vendors. As we continued to make our way around to the next row and then the next, I began to see something that made me think about Christians.
Let me preface what I am about to say with the note that I never like to lump any group of people together with a blanket statement, even though there are many broad statements that could be said about many groups, including Christians. I am not accusing all Christians of being like what I am about to say, but there are enough that it could apply to a large portion of them.
Each vendor in this place knew that there were cruise ships in port that day. This was a regular stop and a popular place for tourists to shop. Most of the first time tourists like me, were expecting this enthusiastic greeting from all of the locals who they were trying to earn our business. Sadly, it wasn’t so. Instead of a warm welcome, we were greeted with a barrage of the same old lines repeated by each vendor there. “Slow down, look and touch. Great deal today.” This was said over and over by each vendor and was said with no enthusiasm and no meaningful voice inflections. And, because they were seated so close to each other, there was no recognizable difference in one vendor to the next. They were so used to tourists being there that it was not special to them, even though it was our money buying their goods that put food on their plates. They repeated the same lines so many times that it had no impact on them nor us, the tourists.
Christians have become a lot like this. We are free in America to speak the Gospel anytime, anywhere, to anyone. But we have heard it and spoke it so much that there is no meaning to our words anymore to the ones who hear it from us. Those who hear it from us have heard the same old lines repeated time and time again by a less than enthused Christian that it does not convict them to act, but rather compels them to hurry through the market of churches selling Christianity.
Every now and then we came across an individual in the market that had a smile and a belief that what they were selling was really worth you buying and they were willing to put the effort into making the most of their one opportunity to sell you what they had. And strangely, at these rare vendors tables, tourists were flocking and buying and walking away thinking that they had received something special from their visit to the Bahamas.
I know that my salvation, given to me from God through Jesus Christ is special. You can only get it from God and He has authorized me to be a vendor for it. He has put me in a market place that has groves of people walking through, looking for something and someone to convince them to buy it. I can either repeat the same old boring line that you have heard a million times before or I can sell it to you in a way that makes you know that what I have is special. The burden is not on the tourist walking by my table in life, but on me, the vendor, who has been given the wonderful opportunity to sell you something that will make you glad that you came by my table.
Most tourists only get to visit a place like this once or twice in a lifetime. Some will buy a trinket that will end up in the bottom of a suitcase and make a less than dazzling impression on others and may never get a second look after that. Some will remember the person who sold the trinket and tell the story of how wonderful the person who sold it to them was and convince others to try what they just experienced. But never forget that the vendors are the ones who truly make the difference to someone buying from them. They are the ones who make someone walk by in hopes of escaping, or, stop and buy what they are selling.
Christians are not selling to tourists the trinkets of a vacation, but a life changing, eternal hope of having favor with God and being able to show the benefits of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior. Churches are not the place that just happens to put food on the table, but rather are giving food for the soul. Jesus is far better than trinkets and t-shirts and certainly is better than a 5 day vacation in a tropical paradise. It is the hope of an eternal home in the paradise of Heaven with a God who loves us enough to pay our sin debt and allow us to share this awesome hope with others.