Posts tagged ‘comfort’

September 11, 2012

Never Forget

by pastortimfowler

Honoring Victims of 9/11

THANK YOU!!! This goes out to all who serve the public. Military, police, firefighters, medical first responders and anyone else who puts their own well-being on the back burner in times of others needs. This has been happening for years, well before the attacks on 9-11, 11 years ago. People have been serving the public and sacrificing long before this happened and sadly, it took a tragedy like this to have our eyes opened to these daily heroes.
I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news of the first plane that crashed into the World Trade Center building. I was backing out of my driveway when the radio broke the news that an unknown explosion had taken place in NYC and that early reports from witnesses said it was a plane that had crashed into the building. I immediately pulled back into my drive and went in to watch the news, only to turn on the TV in time to see the second plane crash into the second building. It was then that everyone realized that this was not a terrible accident, but was probably something deliberate. As I watched in horror, the third and forth planes crashed and even more lives were lost and I began to pray for my wife who was in Charlotte. I did not know if this was something that was going to happen all across the country or was confined to a region. All I knew is that my wife was in a city with tall buildings and I was scared.
The news continued and I saw the first tower fall. Something inside of me knew that thousands of people were now dead. I began to pray and to cry and as I did, it was not long before the second tower fell and the pain inside grew worse. My only comfort was that I had heard from my wife and that she was okay. But meanwhile, I could only think of those who had died and those who were going to mourn for their loss.
Prior to the towers collapse, I saw footage of police and firefighters and EMS workers running into the burning buildings. I was overwhelmed with pride for their heroic actions. I thought about how many times they must have done that and how many times the lives of those in peril were saved because of their actions. This time, although there were some who made it out and the heroics were not for nothing, many never made out, including those who were going in to rescue the perishing.
Since that tragic day, as often as I can, I say thanks to everyone who serves the public as a first responder or military. If I have the money, I buy their lunch. If I have the time I tell them how much I appreciate everything they do on a daily basis and I shake their hands. I pray for their safety as often I they come to mind in my daily prayer time. I still weep when I hear of one of them loosing their life while trying to save someone else. I get really angry when I hear people who unfairly criticize police, firefighters and EMS as well as the military. Like in every other walk of life, there are those who don’t deserve the honor of the job because of abuse or corruption, but over all, those who work in these jobs are amazing people who deserve nothing but praise and prayers.
So again I say thanks to all who serve in the unselfish and sacrificial ways as public servants and military. Your sacrifices are known by many and appreciated and never forgotten. I pray for your safety and your families and for God’s grace on your lives. 9-11 is a constant reminder of the fact that there is evil in the world, but it is an even greater reminder that Christ’s words are forever true. Matthew 23:11-12
11 The person who is greatest among you will be your servant.
12 Whoever honors himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be honored.

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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.