Posts tagged ‘comfortable’

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.

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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!