Posts tagged ‘conversation’

November 19, 2012

God In The Irritations Of My Life

by pastortimfowler

God is our...

Sorry for the lack of blogs lately. I have been dealing with the aftermath of the church fire, extra people in my house, and a barrage of other stuff that has had me a bit distracted. Through it all, God has been in touch with me, mainly through Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes right in my face. I thought that I could share a few things that He showed me.
He is in the stuff that I find irritating. I know that this may sound as if I am saying that God is irritating, and I am not. I do get rather flustered with Him from time to time because He refuses to let me be in charge or He lets me and everything gets all messed up. But, God is in the stuff that has been irritating me in some really cool ways.
I love my grandkids and I love the kids in my church. But kids irritate me. Unlike my wife who is a kid addict, I can only tolerate kids in small amounts and in short bursts. So with the fire at our church rendering our children’s area unusable, the kids have been coming into the adult worship area while I am preaching. The result; several of them have accepted Jesus as their Savior and I got to baptize 5 of them in the last two weeks. Many of them have come up to me and told me with all the excitement of a little child about how cool it was and thanked me for it. WOW! God is all in that irritation.
Lately I have been trying to do more with my grandkids, especially my oldest grandson who is 7. He lives with his dad and mom and a bunch of girls, and girls are trouble, we all know that. His dad works rotating shifts and does not get to take part in things like scouts and a lot of weekend stuff, so I am trying to fill in. In the past few months I have been to three camping events with him and slept in a tent and gone without a shower and fed him more junk food than he should have ever been allowed to eat.
I also took him to a Gamecock football game this weekend. There is about an hour drive to the stadium from my house and to help keep him entertained, I took the wife’s tablet so he could play games. I find it hard to have meaningful conversation with a 7-year-old for more than a couple of minutes, much less for an hour. Guess what? The tablet was not charged. So for an hour, we talked. Did you know that a 7-year-old can talk continuously for 15 minutes without stopping or even breathing? And I learned that I could throw a Chees-it and hit him in the mouth while I was driving but can’t catch one when he throws it. I also learned that if you slowed down beside the semi truck while he pumped his fist, that after several miles, even the toughest truck driver will eventually blow his horn.
I love to watch the Gamecocks play. Having a 7-year-old with you limits that ability. But when it is really cold and the wind is blowing hard and you told the kid to leave his jacket in the truck because you were not taking yours, kids can be an excellent heat source. So he sat in my lap most of the game and that was a great way to talk about the game, and eat pizza at the same time. And because it was military appreciation day, I got to tell him how God allowed us to be free to do what we are doing because of their service. Then to hear him say, ” God wanted us to be here today” was the icing on the cake.
I came home that night to find my 1-year-old grandson there. He will be staying with us for a few days. I don’t get to see him that often because his parents live a couple of hours away. But when I walked in, he ran to me. I tried to run away, but God wanted him to hug me and kiss me. I get really irritated when slobbery little kids try to kiss me, especially when I am not ready and they kiss me in the mouth. (gag). I am not sure why I felt the overwhelming presence of God at that time, but I did.
And finally, the fire at the church. What a pain. But I have met some really awesome people who are working to clean up the mess. I have talked to them about our church, invited them to attend, and had several tell me that they will come. My church folks have been amazingly understanding about the inconvenience and have stepped up in more ways than I can count to make this really irritating circumstance more than bearable.
God has really been in the middle of this most irritating time. He has been the peace when things are hectic. He has been the wisdom when things are crazy. He has been the love when I felt like I did not want to love or be loved. But I don’t know why I am surprised. He promised that He would never leave me or forsake me. He never lies and never disappoints. He gives me so many reasons to be thankful and just in time for Thanksgiving. What an awesome God I serve!

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August 2, 2012

The Internet Friend

by pastortimfowler

Internet Sign

As a pastor, I have studied the Bible for almost 20 years now. I have my Masters and worked toward my Doctorate until I got tired of going to school. I have challenged traditional teaching and made it a point to never take someone’s word about the meaning of any one liner quoted by anyone trying to prove a point. I have gotten used to people questioning me and my faith and I understand where they are coming from most of the time because I used to do the same. But I was not satisfied with the fact that logic kept screaming at me that things that have design don’t happen by chance, they happen because of a designer. I never once came across something that I, in seeing it for the first time, like a liquor bottle-shaped like the state of South Carolina, immediately thought that it was a mistake or chance of nature rather than something designed by a designer and then intelligently made it. Call me stupid if you want, but I just never thought like that.
I have on rare occasions gone to the doctor and wanted him to help me figure out what was wrong with my body. Not that there is anything wrong with it as it is, just sometimes I do get sick. When the doctor comes back with the diagnosis, I don’t argue with him and tell him he doesn’t know what he is talking about. I trust him as an educated guy who has studied the human body and how to help it heal. Sure, there are some corrupt doctors who use this knowledge for profit, but overall, their intentions are good and honorable. Somehow, as a pastor and someone who has spent years studying the Bible, I and others like me, are made out to be wackos and manipulators. A wacko I may be, but not a manipulator. I am not profiting from telling someone what the Bible says. I am, like the doctor who trys to help someone who self diagnosis’ himself , only trying to give accurate facts to help that person better understand the Bible.
Yes we all make mistakes. Yes we all have our own beliefs. But there is this thing called absolute truth and there can only be one truth. If you don’t think so, then please answer this one question. Are you absolutely sure that there is no absolute truth? God says that He is truth and that His word is truth. He also tells us that we are not God. I am going to lean toward the God’s side of that argument.
Lately I have had several discussions with people about how they disagree with me and the Bible. When I ask where they get their interpretation of the Bible, they often quote a verse or two and tell me that they read an article on the internet. That is like me saying that I read part of an anatomy book and saw an article online and that is why the doctor is wrong.
We all have friends who know everything. I have a friend who is an expert mechanic. He knows everything about cars. He went to school to be an accountant and works in a firm as an accountant, but he can tell me everything that is wrong with any car. Those stupid mechanics at the dealership often disagree with him. Go figure. Another friend is an expert in football. He can tell you why every team loses their game and what should have been done differently. He knows this because he played little league football when he was 8 years old and has the NFL channel. He did not go to college and rarely even goes to NFL games or college games, and he works as a salesman. My friend who coaches the local high school football team never asks the salesman for advice. Hmmm.
So as you know, our friend, the internet, knows everything too. Like television, if it is on the internet it has to be true.
I don’t suggest making a life or death decision about your health based on what you read on the web. I don’t suggest replacing the whole engine in your car based on the chat room conversation with the guy who is a master mechanic. I don’t suggest making your decision on who God is based on one or two lines quoted by your friend or the internet either.
We can agree to have our differences about what the Bible says about marriage and drinking and gambling and other stuff, but what it says about eternity needs to be considered more seriously. If you mess up in one of those other areas, God still loves you and will forgive you if you ask. If you mess up in whether or not God is who He says He is or if He is real or not, just because you think you or the internet are smarter than Him, that could be a tough one to get around. Don’t let a friend be your doctor if he is an accountant and don’t let the internet friend be your god. Both can cause an irreversible death.

March 16, 2012

What Were You Thinking?

by pastortimfowler

 

My beautiful wife and I have been married a long time and one of the reasons is that we keep the romance alive. One of the ways we do this is by having regular date nights. Tonight is one of those and I am really excited about it. My one worry is that it is her night to plan it. Not that she doesn’t plan great things, but she usually has one thing in mind at the end of the date, and we know what I’m talkin’ ’bout. I guess it is a sacrifice that I will have to make.
Some of you are thinking some really weird things right now. I won’t even go into the details of what I know that you are thinking. What I will say is that your marriage could benefit from some of the same. It is sad that many marriages are lacking in this area. Couples much younger than us, are neglecting such an important part of their marriage. Why when we were in our twenties and thirties we use to do it for hours. Most of the time we would do it at home, but we were not afraid to do it in public. She actually likes to do it in public places. She says it shows everyone how lucky she is to have me. What can I say, I am blessed in that area.
I remember when we were first married, I thought everyone did it as much as we did. Many times we would do it several times a day and didn’t need a date night to start things going. Sometimes we would wake up and do it before we ever got out of bed. I use to love it when she would wake me up in the middle of the night for it. Wow, that just don’t happen enough anymore. One of my favorite places to do it was in the kitchen. One time we got into it so much that we forgot about the meal that was in the oven and had to go out to eat. Don’t get me wrong, we still do it in the kitchen, but now we use the microwave timer to keep us from forgetting about dinner.
Most people assume that this is something the pastor and his wife are naturally great at. Early in our ministry we would help couples to overcome some of their struggles in this area. It was always hard to get them to relax and be natural in front of us, but this was the best way that we felt we could help them. Sure they could have told us some of the struggles that they were having, but actually seeing it was best. We could politely interrupt and demonstrate what we do, then let them try it our way. Sometimes it was really funny when to watch the looks on their faces when we messed up. But most of the time our technique worked and both of them were satisfied.
God has blessed us with a great marriage and this one area is a major part of our happiness. I really think that if we weren’t so good at doing this, our marriage would not be so fulfilling. So that is one of the reasons we have date night. This is why she initiates it so often. Lets just say it bluntly. She loves it. Sometimes I swear, she can’t do it enough. I usually quit before she is ready to quit, but I let her finish while I just sit there. Thirty-two years together now and we still love to do it. Man, there is nothing like good conversation.
What were you thinking I was talking about?

March 12, 2012

Three Things I Learned

by pastortimfowler

I just finished reading the Bible through again for at least the 20th time. No, I am not bragging, it is just a fact. I started out several years ago trying to read the Bible from beginning to end at least once every year. For the most part I have been successful and sometimes I get through it twice and other times I fall a bit short. But I have noticed that every time I read it through I learn something different or strengthen what I thought I believed and every now and then I have to change my mind on something. Either way I am never disappointed. Another reason I do this is because I tell my church all the time that they need to read the whole bible for themselves and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.
I believe that at least 75% of Bible conversations contain some sort of misinformation. Not intentional, but out of ignorance. The Bible is an incredible group of writings that span thousands of years and many cultures. That can make proper interpretation difficult, but certainly not impossible. The reason for this misinformation is that people who say that they are Christians do not read the Bible with the intent of learning what God says, but they read it to pick out what they want to believe He says. Throw in the fact that translation any language to another can be difficult to insure the purity of the thought is intact and you can have some really wild stuff come out in conversation. But that is not the purpose of this blog.
Here are three things I learned this time.
1. God is not a liar. Now I knew this and didn’t doubt it, but I kept being reminded every day that if God says it He means it. He said that sin would cause death and it does. He said that He forgives and He does. He said that Israel would never cease to exist and despite all odds, they have not. There are prophesies that were written hundreds of years before they came true and the accuracy in which they came true are incredible. History has some amazing records of what the Bible says coming to be true. Sure there are still things that I don’t understand and have not come true, but the more I read it the more I believe it.
2. What I thought were inconsistencies are not. This is very close to repeating what I said in the first thing, but I want to elaborate. There are things in the Bible that seem to contradict itself. Yet the same Bible says that there are no contradictions and that the Bible is God’s infallible word. This is the source of friction between denominations and churches and believers and non believers. As of right now there are things that I don’t have an answer for when it comes to this subject. But every time I read the Bible, I find that the inconsistency is not in the Bible but in my interpretation of it. That is why I said that there are times when I change my mind on something that I thought before. Some call this flip-flopping or manipulating, but I just know that the God I believe in says that He is perfect and I am not. So if anything needs to change it must be me. No human will ever fully understand God until we get to heaven and He reveals to us His truth perfectly, without our sin nature getting in the way. Meanwhile, I will keep searching and adjusting to my faith to agree with God and His word.
3. God really loves me. The Bible says that God is holy and we are not. Sin keeps us from God and God hates that. So He made a way for us to be close to Him through the sacrifice of His son Jesus. Let me take a moment to clarify. I didn’t just learn that God really loves me. I just keep learning how much more He really loves me. The Bible is not a book full of perfect people who do perfect things to please God. It is just the opposite. It is full of messed up people doing stupid things that ruin our relationship with God and He has to fix it. He allows us to make a choice to trust Him or not. He never forces Himself on people but always tries to draw us close to Him. He is patient with us and waits for us to give Him a chance to show His love for us. There are hundreds of stories of people who tried and failed and still God kept wanting to mend the relationship and always accepted the repentance of those who asked for forgiveness.
Because the first two points I made are ever on my mind, I know that God has every right to kill me. I sin. But because He loves me unconditionally and I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, God has made me one of His children and fathers don’t disown their children, not loving fathers ant certainly not the perfect Father, God. Every time I mess up, God convicts me. It may take a while for me to see it His way, but when I do, He always forgives me and His love never changes. I tell you this because I mess up more than most think a pastor should. I tell you that because I want you to know that He will forgive you no matter who you are and what you have done. God really loves us!
There are several other things that I learned this time through, but I wanted to express these three because they are consistently being strengthened in my heart and mind every time I read the Bible. I challenge you to try reading it all, and then do it again. Don’t look for the gotcha moments, but look for the consistent truth that runs deep about a God that has every right to judge us, but does everything possible to redeem us.