Posts tagged ‘die’

August 31, 2012

Expert Predictions

by pastortimfowler

20082005

College football season started in my house last night. I am a huge SC Gamecock fan and have been all of my life. Last night they barely won a game that should have been a blow out according to the experts. I really hate it when the experts say stuff like that and I buy into it. In football, anything can happen and usually does especially when you are talking about college ball.
I listen to a lot of experts predict things and I can’t tell you how often they are wrong. For instance, the weather forecaster on TV. They are considered experts in weather and yet they probably only get it right half. I was watching the forecasts for hurricane Isaac and a week before it came close to Florida, they were saying that it would hit Tampa. It made landfall in New Orleans. Just this morning I heard the forecast for my area was to be mostly cloudy and I am sitting in bright sunshine without a cloud in the sky.
Experts in the financial world are not much better. Every time we get a jobs report it is worse than the experts predicted. Stocks go up and down every day despite what they say and those same experts who blame speculators for oil prices going sky-high, never mention the speculators when it drops to record lows. Three years ago many of the experts said that we would be well recovered from the recession we are not still in, and yet unemployment went up in over 30 states just last month.
Experts predicted that in the year  2000 AD on New Years day all computers would freak out and it didn’t happen. Experts said that cars were not going to catch on and flying would never happen. They said that everyone would be flying around instead of driving by now and that a new ice age was coming, but now its global warming. They said salt would kill you, now it won’t, saccharine would kill you, but not really now, red meat was good but now its bad, and that if you would just take this pill or that one you would never get fat.
So far the experts have messed up a lot of predictions. There is one source of predictions that I have found to be really accurate; the Bible. The Old Testament is full of predictions that Jesus would come to earth and die, and He did. In fact almost 1000 years before it happened, great details of the crucifixion were written in Psalm 22. The Bible predicted that the temple in Jerusalem would be totally destroyed and it happened. It predicted that several super powers would fall and gave a time frame to when it would happen, and it did. Very few historians disagree with the historical accuracy of the Bible. It is used as a historical document far more than most would ever guess. What is disputed is the claim to be the word of God and that the God of the Bible is who it claims Him to be. But with all of the weird and far out predictions the Bible has already gotten right, it does make you wonder if it could be right about God too.
In the New Testament there are some really far out claims that when made could never be imagined and today are not far away from being a reality. It says that there will be a time when money will be useless and that no one will be able to buy or sell without a certain mark. When that was written 2000 years ago it was absurd to think about that possibility and even as little as 20 years ago it seemed far-fetched. Yet here we are today with fewer and fewer people using cash and the need to carry cash is almost obsolete. It tells us that Jesus will return to earth one day and when that happens, everyone will see it. Today that is as close to a possibility as ever before with the video phone capability that everyone has.
With so many experts being so wrong so often and the Bible being right so often, why do people doubt the simple things that the Bible claims? Like all humans are sinners. No one has to be taught to lie, it comes natural. It says that all sinners will be judged by God and that we either stand on our own merits or we can stand on the merits of Christ. His death on the cross, also not disputed by historians, is an acceptable sacrifice for our sins and all we have to do is ask for forgiveness. What is disputed is that Christ rose from the grave. It says that God loves us enough to allow His Son to die for us and that if we will live for Him, He will give us eternal life.
Eternal life is something many experts agree that humans have or will have. What form it takes and how we achieve it is what is in question. Some say that we earn it, the Bible says it is a gift. Some say it is a never-ending cycle of coming back as other creatures. Some say that everyone goes to heaven and the Bible says that only those who trust in Christ go. Some say that eternal life will be achieved through modern medicine and this causes those who are rich to spend millions to preserve their corpses in hopes that they can be revived when that time comes. The Bible says that we all die and after that there is judgement. Judged on our own works or on what Christ did for us.
So given the accuracy of the expertise of man and the expertise of God, I will choose to go with God. After all, if last nights game was any indication of the expert’s ability to get it right, I don’t want to risk my soul to that.

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March 13, 2012

Give It Up

by pastortimfowler

My wife and I were watching TV last night and saw a commercial that made us both laugh. Perhaps the seriousness of it was not meant to make us laugh but there was a line that caused us both to laugh very hard. The commercial was for one of these devices that you wear around your neck and press a button if you need medical assistance. What got my attention is that everyone on this commercial was a woman. I thought to myself that maybe only women were allowed to buy them and maybe I had a discrimination law suit against them. But what got us laughing is that one woman said that she loved her device so much that she would give up beer, wine, and cigarettes to have her little button around her neck. Image that. Willing to give up tobacco and alcohol to save your life. But my thought was, if she gave up the alcohol, maybe she would not fall down as much and could see the numbers on the phone to dial 911.
In my life I have given up alcohol and cigarettes. I have given up drugs, chasing women, and driving like crazy too. All of which can be dangerous to your health. I can’t say that my motivation was to give them up for health reasons as much as because of my relationship with God, but I have quit a few bad habits for a reason.
What are you willing to give up and what is your motivation? Many people have bad habits that would benefit us to give up. Health reasons are not enough. Money is not enough either. Wives, husbands, and children are not always enough either. So what is it that makes us decide to give up something that we think we enjoy but don’t need?
I am of the opinion that until we decide that we want to quit something it is virtually impossible to quit a bad habit. For years I drank alcohol and drank habitually. I knew that it was not good for my health, but that was not the motivation. I even got to the point to where it was ruining my marriage and my wife told me to quit or else, but that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until I got to the point that I wanted to quit, and yes those things were a motivational part of my decision, that I finally had what it took to quit. I guess the bottom line is that we are the only ones in control of our lives.
This is why so many attempts to quit something fail. It is the reason why attempts at religion fail. It is why we don’t continue going to the gym or keep other New Year’s resolutions. We will never do the hard stuff until we decide that we really want it. That runs deeper than a decision made from disgust or peer pressure, it is a heart matter.
It would be nice if someone would invent a button that we could wear around our necks to push when we decided to do something tough. Just push the button and it does all the work for us. When we have fallen and can’t get up, we just push the button and we are set free. But it just isn’t that simple. That little button that was advertised was a method of calling someone to save you. The only problem is that you still had to wait for them to get there. You still had to hope that someone on the other side got there in time to do any good. Even if the lady gave up the beer and cigarettes, and could afford the service, it could still fail. But I guess if you are old and your mobility if limited, it is a nice thing to have at whatever cost.
Humans all have a need to be saved. Maybe it isn’t our health that is the problem. Perhaps we have a sin problem. Perhaps a physical death is not what we really need to be saved from. What happens when you die? What if you had to stand before a Holy God that did not tolerate any sin of any type when you die? How would you be saved then? Well there isn’t a button to push, but there is a very simple way. God says through the Bible that whoever will call to Him through Jesus Christ with faith that Jesus died in our place, will be saved. It is the method that I chose to believe and it has not failed me yet. There are many other promises that come with the promise of forgiveness and salvation, one of which is the power to overcome the things of this life that hold us back. That is how I quit smoking, drink, chasing women, and many other things that would kill me. I decided I wanted to change and God said He would help. Who knows, maybe you could be so bold? But like I said, until you decide you want it, it is probably not going to happen.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

January 11, 2012

Crash

by pastortimfowler

Today I got to experience something that I have never done before. I spun out my truck on the interstate doing 65 mph. I am fine. My truck is beat up, but drivable, and I have insurance to cover any damages. I did take out about 100 yards of fence and a small tree, they did not survive. This was the result of a sudden lane change by a truck and wet roads that cause me to start spinning when I stomped on my brakes. I do not recommend this to anyone, even though is was quite the adrenalin rush.
What was the most shocking of all is the fact that no one stopped to see if I was okay. I am, and I did not even need help getting back on the road, but there were at least a few other cars in the general area that this happened including the truck who ran me off the road. It was just weird that no one even pulled over to yell out the window at me. I expected someone to maybe stop and yell out a score for the spin moves that I did quite effortlessly. But no, not even a score for style points or difficulty factor.
Tomorrow I have an appointment with the insurance adjuster to access the damage. Although my truck is drivable, there is damage on every side. The passenger side door is warped and the side-view mirror on that side is busted. The rear quarter-panel is dented and scratched as well as the roof, from barbed wire that flew around from the fence I took out. The rear bumper is bent and the back up sensor is damaged. That bothers me because I like hearing the beeping as I get close to something. Both of my tail lights are out, one worse than other. The driver’s side has scratches and the front bumper is dented. So, like I said, it is damaged on every side.
Through all of this, I can’t forget the fact that no one was injured. There were vehicles all around me as I started spinning. I had just crossed under a bridge that could have caused some real damage to me and the truck if I had spun into it. A few miles back I crossed over a river, and that would have been cold, not to mention that I did not have a fishing rod with me. I can only thank God that He was looking out for me and although I am ready to die, I was not expecting it yet. I do have a vacation planned in a couple of weeks.
On another note, if I had gone off the road and been stuck for days before being found, I do have everything that I need to survive. I have an emergency kit that includes a flashlight, emergency blanket, and first aid kit. I have a couple of knives, a lighter and one of those magnesium and flint combos so I can start a fire and purify water or cook a meal. I even had my laptop that, by the way, did not even fall off the seat during the crash. That way I could have at least continued to blog. No, I couldn’t post right a way, but at least I could post them after I was rescued or found my way back to civilization. And if anyone doubts my survival skills, I am an avid watcher of most of the survival shows on the National Geographic Channel.
Now that I have checked this experience off my bucket list, I would really like to work on the next item, taking a cruise with my wife.

November 17, 2011

Life Insurance

by pastortimfowler

Rock Hill SC is not tornado alley, but that does not change the fact that a tornado touched down and took the lives of 3 people yesterday. It is hard to imagine that yesterday morning, if you had asked these people, “do you think that you will die in a tornado today?” that they would have done anything other than laugh at you. Yet here we are facing the horrible truth that it happened and they are gone.
As always, I hope that these people knew Jesus as their Savior. I did not know any of them, but that doesn’t change the sorrow I feel because of this tragedy. It does not change that I hope they had eternal security and if that is true, ultimately they are okay now. I pray for the family members that are left to question why this happened and that they will find peace that only comes from God. Again I will continue to pray for them and there are already efforts to reach out and help those who have lost there possessions as well.
Most of us have probably thought about a scenario in which we meet our death. No, I am not being morbid, just blunt. Every time I fly I think about it. Often when I ride my motorcycle on long trips I think about it. But most of the time death is the farthest thing from my mind. And on most days which start off as normal as yesterday did, I don’t think about death at all.
Here is the problem. If we don’t think about death, and most importantly, what happens after we die, we are leaving eternity to chance and that is a chance I had rather not take. Very few people truly think that when you die, that’s it, the switch is off and nothing else happens. But we are confused on what to believe about the many possibilities. Even those who are Christians have some differing thoughts about what happens after death and I find that strange. Maybe we make it too complicated. Here is what the simplicity of the Bible says.
Hebrews 9:27 People die once, and after that they are judged. To be judged, there must be a conscious state after death. To be judged, there must be a standard of judgement. To be judged, there must be a Judge. To be judged, there must be a crime.
The crime, is called sin. An eight year old once gave me this definition of sin and I like it and think it is biblical. Sin is anything that you think, say, or do, that does not please God. The standard of judgement is holiness. God is holy and tells us that we are not. Sins reward is death and death is the vehicle in which we are brought to trial. No one is holy, not among humans. We all sin. One sin means that we are not holy and thus death is imparted. God is our judge, through Jesus Christ as our advocate. If you have accepted the death of Jesus as payment for your sin, He proclaims your penalty paid in full and commutes your death sentence to life in Heaven. If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, He says that He does not recognize you as His client and the death penalty is carried out. Not believing in Jesus or God will not stop this trial nor will it get you leniency. Proclaiming that you did not see the speed limit sign does not stop the officer from giving you a ticket.
We are not sure if we will have a tomorrow. Death can sneak up on us in many ways and much too often, when you least expect it. That is why many people carry life insurance, which provides for the family after you are dead. It does not return life to those who die. The only way that can happen is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. This is life insurance that helps those who die. It is free and not because of a government mandate. It is free because God loves us and does not want to have to judge us as guilty sinners, but rather forgiven children. To get this insurance all you have to do is ask. Romans 10:13 So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

October 26, 2011

No Accident

by pastortimfowler

A good friend of mine has been in the hospital for the last few days and thankfully he is about to be released. It was really weird the way it happened and how quickly it turned dangerous. One day he is at the doctor for a minor problem, an infection, and the next day he is in ICU because his blood pressure had bottomed out. I will probably regret saying this, but thank goodness his wife kept nagging at him to go to the emergency room and get checked out. I know that she will not call it nagging, but us guys know what I’m talking about.
Whenever this type thing happens it always causes me to reflect on how short this life is and how quickly we can lose it. My friend is a guy about my age, so young, and relatively healthy and a week ago you would have never thought that he would be in the hospital, much less ICU. We can have someone we love with us today and tomorrow God can take them away. It reminds me of this verse from the Bible: James 4:14 You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. We rarely think of life this way until we are faced with these things.
So, what are you doing to make the most of this life? If you are like me, I often think about selfish things, like watching the football game or going fishing. But I am talking about making the most of life so that others can have it better. We are put here for a reason and somehow I don’t believe it was to be selfish. If so we are only here by mistake and there is no Creator, and if that’s the case, forget everyone, I’m going fishing.
When faced with the possibility of death being near, we often think, is there anything after this? There are very a few choices for what happens after death. If there is no God, no Creator, no Higher being who has any moral fortitude, then we don’t have to worry about what we do in this life. Unless you believe in reincarnation, but even then if there is no judge of what is a good life, then it is just the luck of the draw. With my luck, I would come back as a cricket or a worm being sold in a bait shop. But if we die and that is it, life just ends, we should not worry about doing anything more than what feels good to self. I can’t even make a good argument for being a good husband and father if there is no moral higher being that we have to answer too when we die.
As a pastor I have had to sit in hospital rooms with people who are dying, both young and old. I can’t recall anyone ever saying that they wished they had done more for themselves, but rather the opposite, they wish they had done more for others. Funny how people closest to death think very seriously about what is after death and those of us who seem to be a long way from death seem to be quite selfish thinking. But with what happened to my friend, healthy one day and in ICU the next, we all should be thinking a little more about how close to death we might really be.
I wrote in my blog yesterday that I wished that people would think a little more for themselves about things instead of listening to what others say. I think that holds true for how we think about God. I believe that there is a Creator who loves me and will judge the things that I have done. I believe that He offers forgiveness because He loves me and that He wants me to know Him. I believe that God wants everyone to know Him and that if we just thought logically, we might have reason to think that perhaps there is a God. Just look at the world around us. It has design and purpose and where there is design and purpose there is a designer. Let me leave you with this to think about.
If you had never seen a watch, but found one as you were walking along the beach one day, would you think that the watch formed by accident? After all, the sand contains the minerals needed to make the watch and the force of the ocean and gravity and the occasional asteroid crashing into the beach would create the heat needed to form the glass and if lightening stuck at the right time it would cause an electrical charge that would power the watch, right? Of course not. Although you couldn’t explain it, you would think that someone made it. Perhaps a watch maker.  And if you searched, you could find this watchmaker or at least someone who knew him or enough about him to learn what the watch was and how to use it.
I can tell you about my Creator, if you really want to know. Life is not an accident.

August 23, 2011

Tell The Truth

by pastortimfowler

The hardest sin in the world to not do is lying. I am sure that someone is already saying that they don’t lie, so that should be proof that we all do it. Personally I struggle with approximately 783 different sins on a regular basis, but I am special. In those, lying is incorporated into half of them. There are times when I want to lie so bad it almost hurts not to. I feel the convictions all the time and often rip my cloths like they did in the Old Testament when they were upset. Can anyone see that there may be a few lies mixed in to this already? I like to call them artistic liberties.
Lying is deeply engrained in us. It starts as babies when we learn that we can cry for no reason and mommy will come get us. No one ever taught us how to lie, it just starts to happen. When mom or dad asks us if we did it and we say no, knowing that we did and that our parents know it before they asked. The Bible tells us that Satan is the father of all lies and so he uses that against us all the time.
I am not saying that everyone is a habitual liar or chronic liar, or lying for evil ways. I am just saying that we all lie and it always ends up coming back to get us. We are taught in children’s stories like The Boy Who Cried Wolf, that lying is wrong and has consequences. Our parents and teachers tell us that we shouldn’t lie and yet we still do it. And, I can think of a few times when lying has seemed like the right thing to do and therefore justified it. I am not proud of that fact, but this is one time I am not lying.
Let me give a few things that most of us have lied about. Our age, even jokingly, we do that. As young boys noticing girls for the first time, especially the older ones who liked only older guys, we often said that we were a few years older than we really were. Women as they get older never get older. Our occupation. This usually has to do with impressing the opposite sex too. I have held several fictitious positions in my life. Our income. Again, often tied to impressing the opposite sex, but sometimes we do it to get credit that we don’t think we qualify for. Our weight. Most of us are heavier than we say we are. Why that matters, I am not sure, but it is a lie for most of us. Our availability. You know what I mean. Sorry, I am busy that day or time, when really you just don’t want to be around that person. Our family. Sounds strange, but I had this uncle growing up that did everything and had everything and took me everywhere, even though no one ever met him. Wrong number. Who hasn’t used this one? I did not know what the speed limit was through here. HA! Yes we do, we just didn’t plan on the cop using radar that day.
Most of these are common and relatively harmless, except for the fact that God hates lies and He did not say only the big ones. He does not like “stretching the truth”, fibbing, or little white lies. He doesn’t even like it when a husband says, “sure honey, that looks fine” so that the wife doesn’t get mad at you.
That being said, how can we deal with this lying thing?
I have found that often a lie can be averted by asking the question, do you really want me to answer that truthfully? That causes people to at least think long enough for you to think about how to tell the truth tactfully. You don’t have to scream to your wife, “Oh my gosh, that thing is hideous!” You could say that you don’t think it compliments her like some other dresses she wears. You can just tell the truth and let people know that if they ask you something they can expect the truth and most people will then be very careful what they ask you after a while.
I have some good news and I have some bad news about lying.
The bad news is that lying is a sin. God hates it and expects better from those who claim to know Jesus as Savior. The good news is that He forgives us if we ask and make an attempt to change our ways.
The bad news is that many people lie about knowing Jesus as Savior. They act the part, but it has never been a real conversion. The good news is that God waits patiently for those who don’t know Him and freely gives salvation to those who trust Him by faith.
The bad news is that many people die thinking they were good enough to get to heaven, but they believed a lie. No one can be good enough. We are all sinners and need to be forgiven and need to ask for it. The good news is that no one has to die and go to hell. Jesus said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If you trust the truth, you will be forgiven. God loves us that much.
I was told that if you lie, you will eventually have to tell another lie and then another and so on. But if you tell the truth you never have to remember which lie you told to who. I guess that is what makes God so awesome. He only tells the truth, He never has to change it and He never has to apologize for it. When Jesus told us to let our yes be yes and our no be no, He was simply saying…tell the truth.

July 27, 2011

What Jesus Looks Like

by pastortimfowler

I had the honor of doing a funeral today for my friends, the West family. It was for a member of the family who just happened to have been homeless most of his adult life for one reason or another, and why is irrelevant. Often I am challenged to think about different things as I prepare for a funeral and too often I am struck right between the eyes with things that I need to make right or rethink.
My biggest fear of doing funerals for people who I don’t know is that I am not sure of their eternal destination. Let me rephrase that; I have no personal knowledge of their profession of faith, because the bottom line is, we can only present evidence to the world of our salvation, we can never prove it.
I like to think that people can look at me, my life, and how I live it, and determine that based on the evidence that shows, they can tell I know Jesus. After all you can tell a tree by the fruit it bears. But anyone can look at a tree full of peaches and say that is a peach tree, it takes a deeper look if there is no fruit. So what I am saying is that in the dead of winter, a peach tree is still a peach tree even though there is no fruit or even any leaves.
I have tried to convince people of this fact for as long as I have been a pastor. Too often, Christians try to judge what a Christian should look like based on the perfect conditions of being a Christian and over look the fact that none of us continually live under perfect conditions.
So as I was searching for scripture to use for the funeral I came across one of those eye-opening things that happens to me from time to time. The kind of thing where God says, HEY! Your are missing ME in all this. So I started reading and I saw Jesus in a homeless man…here is what I’ talking about.
Luke 9:57-58
57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to Jesus, “I’ll follow you wherever you go.”
58 Jesus told him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to sleep.”
Matthew 25:42-45
42 I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink.
43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me.’
44 “They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’
45 “He will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant {they seemed}, you failed to do for me.’
Jesus said in Lk. 9:57,58 that He was homeless too. Earth is not our home it is our journey to eternity. Then in Mat. 25:42-45, He says that He was the hungry, thirsty, sick, and in prison. He did not say that as a joke, He said it to make a point. Remember the peach tree? Not only will it not bear fruit in the winter, but it will not bear fruit when it is hungry, thirsty, sick, or not planted in a good place. These are the trees that need the most attention. These are the ones that God says He would die for and that need the help the most.
I like to have my pretty Jesus. You know, the one that is a good-looking, with hair flowing in the breeze, smiling ’cause He’s happy, and all is right with the world. But the Jesus that took my sin to the cross was a prisoner, condemned to die for sins He did not commit. He was stripped of His clothes, hungry and thirsty. He had no home. Few recognized this Jesus, but that is the one we all meet first in the path to salvation. Only after we are saved can we see the resurrected and glorified Jesus.
Few would think that a Christian is that homeless guy, strung out on drugs, begging for a dollar to buy a drink or a smoke. Few would think that a Christian would not have a good job and nice clothes to wear to church, like I have. But aren’t we all forgetting that we are not supposed to look like Christians, we are supposed to look like Jesus.
And I believe that sometimes Jesus saves the homeless and downtrodden and allows them to stay that way for those of us who look good to have a real look at the cost of sin. Jesus looked even worse when He took all of our sin the day He died on the cross. And He died for sinners, not saints.
I think I might have had a chance today to get a better picture of what Jesus looks like.