Posts tagged ‘compassionate’

April 25, 2012

Personal Suffering

by pastortimfowler

Wow. I asked for some blog ideas yesterday and got quite a few suggestions. One of the questions has to do with personal suffering. This is something that most of us can relate to and there is much controversy over its place in the Christian community. The reason that I am responding to this one first is because I have had several people ask questions about this in the last week.
First place to start is why do we suffer stuff like sickness and disease? The simple answer is easy; sin. When God created Adam and Eve He intended for them to live forever. He told them that if they disobeyed that it would bring on death, and in that, pain and suffering. As we all know, they disobeyed and God kept His word. From that time on, pain and suffering were a part of our lives. As humanity reproduced, the sin nature is passed from generation to generation and therefore, we have and always will have pain and suffering.
This does not mean that God does not care about our physical well-being. However many churches make their claim to fame as one of healing the physical ailments of believers. Jesus was very compassionate when it came to those who were sick and lame. He healed them and committed much of His earthly time to this. But He healed more people who did not believe than those who already believed because He was dealing mainly with the Jews, they required miraculous signs to believe. (1Cor 1:22) Even in the early church when the Apostles performed miracles, most often it was to the unbeliever.
But God has never promised that we would always be healed of our physical ailments. In fact, even the Apostle Paul had physical ailments and wrote to the church about ways to help when they were physically sick. Not even Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead, was given permanent physical healing. One of the reasons for physical ailments in believers is so that we learn to depend on God’s grace to be sufficient. That is what God told Paul about his “thorn is the side”.
Jesus was asked why a boy was physically impaired and whether or not it  was because of his mother’s or father’s sin. Jesus told them that it was neither, but rather it was for God’s glory. Of course Jesus healed the boy and God was glorified, but still, the point was not that the ailment was a curse, just a fact of life. God wants us to ask Him for anything that we are concerned about. He does still heal today, but not everyone. Not even Jesus healed everyone that He came in contact with. So there is no promise of physical healing.
Many quote, and wrongly so, this verse from Isaiah, that says, by his stripes we are healed. They forget the rest of it. Isaiah 53:5 … But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. It was for our spiritual healing that He bled and died, not our physical. Way too many Christians become disappointed with God when they believe otherwise. We have the promise of eternal life, not this physical life.
Sadly, our society teaches us that if we don’t look like someone on a magazine cover that we are flawed. If we weigh more than this or don’t have muscles that show every detail, or our breasts are not the right size, or our hair is not bald, (I added that for me), them we are not right. But God made us unique and special to Him. The beauty that He sees is not on the outside, He looks on the inside. He sees the intent of the heart and loves us unconditionally.
Jesus said it best: John 16:33 …These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

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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!