Posts tagged ‘died’

October 2, 2012

What It Means To Be Called

by pastortimfowler

I have been blessed to be the pastor of my church for 10 years now. In those ten years I have seen a lot of stuff that many might take for granted, but I am still amazed at. Like when people who are one day going to hell if they die and in the very moment that they ask God to forgive them they change their direction toward going to heaven. The church is a place where people from every walk of life should be able to come and find love and forgiveness. God loves people so much that He let His Son Jesus die on a cross as payment for our sin. Once a person accepts this forgiveness, God begins a process of growing us into people who serve others. He requires His people to take a personal role in developing new believers, called discipleship, and often calls men and women to become more than just believers, to become ministers of the gospel. In our church lately we have had several men who have said that they feel called to this ministry; wow!. It is the call that I answered almost 20 years ago and feel very privileged to have done so.
So what does it mean to be called? Everyone is being called to answer God’s call of salvation. Few are called to the ministry in an official capacity and that is what I am talking about. A pastor, evangelist, missionary, youth or children’s pastor all are things that come with a specific calling. The Bible gives some specific instructions in the books of 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus for those who are called. It tells us things like we should not be drunks, we should manage money well, and we should have our family in order. Sadly, many people don’t care about those things and they leave themselves open for criticism and corruption and Satanic attacks. But one of the main things that the Bible teaches about this call is that it is a call to be a servant and that few will be called, but those who are called are called for life.
It was Jesus who said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. God made salvation very easy to obtain but the call into the ministry unique. Way too often men answer the call to ministry with an idea of a position of authority. Perhaps they should think about Jesus washing feet, the job of the lowest ranking servant. Perhaps they should remember that Jesus said that the greatest among us will be the servant.
Titles can be worn by anybody. But they can only be exemplified by those who live out what that title requires. Pastor is a title that has its roots in being a shepherd. Shepherds were not highly thought of in society and rarely told people what to do. Instead they put their lives on the line for some pretty simple animals who needed protection. They have the position of a leader but the responsibility of a servant. Leading as a shepherd means having sheep follow, not telling them where to go and what to do.
Those who are called into ministry must learn to be humble. Humility is rarely a normal human quality. We are taught early and often to look out for number one and that we deserve the best. Jesus was the ultimate minister. He humbled himself even to the point of dying on a cross for those who hated Him. He healed sick, fed the poor, and raised the dead and yet never took the credit for doing great things. His main focus was saving the souls of a fallen mankind who cannot save themselves.
When you are called into the ministry it means that you get serious about becoming not only a teacher, but a student. Although God equips those that He calls, He expects us to submit ourselves to the teaching of those who have gone before us. Sometimes that means submitting to someone without a title or someone who’s personality clashes with our own. Sometimes it means serving in a position that no one else wants to do, not even yourself. Sometimes you have to do it for longer than you want to and remember that you have been called to serve God and man even if man doesn’t give the recognition that you want.
But ultimately being called into the ministry means that God knows that you can do what He has called you to do. What He calls you to do should be the highest priority and pleasing Him the goal. Sometimes the rewards are very obvious, but often they will only be recognized when we get to heaven. But the call to ministry is a life long calling that is worth every second that you serve. Romans 11:29- God never changes his mind when he gives gifts or when he calls someone. This means when you want to quit, you don’t. It means when you  get tired, you dig deeper for strength. It means when you don’t see rewards for your efforts that you remember where your rewards are stored, in heaven, and you keep serving in faith.
I have been blessed in that I have been able to make it through some tough times since I have been called. I have seen many souls saved and lives changed and now I am seeing others called. I would love to take credit for some of these things, but I must always keep in mind that if I don’t do what God calls me to do, there are others who will. I am not needed by God, but I am wanted by Him. He loves me; first enough to save me, and secondly enough to call me into this crazy life of ministry. What it means to be called into the ministry is really quite simple. It means that God is God and we have surrendered to Him no matter the cost.

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August 28, 2012

Just A Footnote

by pastortimfowler

I can’t remember feeling as crappy, emotionally, as I did yesterday and even some today, since Abby died. I keep thinking, but she was just a dog. But, I loved her and wanted the best for her and spent 12 years of my life taking care of her. Before I forget, thanks to all those who said kind words, I at least know I am not crazy (no wise cracks needed).
I told my neighbor about Abby and he said that he knew how I must feel, because He had said goodbye to several dogs in his 80 years. That really made me think.
Dogs lives are much shorter than ours. It is not uncommon to own several dogs in our lifetime and each one of them we can love and get very attached too. Because I still have another dog, I don’t think I will get another one for a while. But one day, I think I would like too. So why do we put ourselves through this if we know the hurt that comes from losing something we love and know that chances are we will feel that hurt again?
As I was driving to the church this morning I was thinking about this and God gave me a wonderful thought. If I can love a dog as much as I did, how much more do you think I (God) love you? I was a bit overwhelming. But think of the similarities. God knows that we are going to die before He does; He is eternal. God knows that we are totally dependent on Him and His provision. God knows that we are going to get into the trash and occasionally make other messes. But He continually lets others be born and born again and loves us despite us being “just humans”.
He loves us so much that He accepts us and makes a way for us to know Him and His love and expects very little from us. I believe that He knows that pain of death, after all, Jesus died a real physical death for us. And, let’s not forget that Jesus wept at the death of His friend Lazarus. So I am thinking that it is okay feel so sucky about Abby dying. But I get a lifetime of memories and 12 years of experience of loving something who only loved me because I first loved her.
Love is a wonderful thing to experience, especially when it is unconditional. God’s love is unconditional and He knows our pain. But better yet, He knows that death is not the end. As for dogs, I don’t what happens after they die. Something tells me I don’t have to worry, God has that in control too. So I will lean toward thinking Abby is looking out the window of heaven waiting for me to come home, just as she did everyday while she was here.
I am very grateful for God’s love and that He let me in on this little secret; If you give love away, you will never be sorry that you didn’t.

August 27, 2012

She Was A Mutt

by pastortimfowler

 

 

People always ask you what breed your dog is and for many, the only answer is mutt. That is the mixed breed that usually gets rescued from a shelter or given to you because someone got them for free and couldn’t keep them. Abby was a mutt, given to me by my daughter when she was first living on her own and obviously did not realize that raising animals cost money. Abby was a mix breed of beagle, basenji, and human. I threw in the human part because I believe she really thought she was a human.
I got her when she was big enough to fit in my hand. At that time I was in between churches, a rough time for a pastor, and she was a convenient thing to occupy my mind and my time. During that year, we did everything together. I taught her how to do tricks, she went fishing with me, and she even road the motorcycle with me. I had never had an inside dog, and to be honest, never intended to have one, but, she worked her way in.
I have a habit of giving people and I guess pets too, nicknames. She had two. G-dog, that stands for girl dog. She would respond to that and as the years went by, she even knew that I was talking to her when I just called her G. Her other nickname was Babygirl. That was what I called her when it was just me and her and we were chilling together, either kicked back in the recliner together or laid out on the couch. If I called her that, she expected some lovin’. I heard that you really only give nicknames to people and things that you are really fond of. I guess that’s true.
Abby was 12 years old. She got sick Friday night, nothing to be alarmed about, just some pukin’. For a mutt, she was very expensive. She had a sensitive stomach, she had incontinence and had been on meds for that forever. I think I spent more on her than anyone could spend on the most elaborate pure breed. But this time, I guess it was worse than an upset stomach like it had been so often before. By Sunday morning she had not eaten in two days. She loved eating, so I knew that to be a problem, but she was still walking around and looked okay. I was going to take her to the vet first thing Monday morning, and even cancelled going fishing with a friend because of it. Sunday night she was sleeping in my recliner, then got up and went to lay under the AC vent. About 3am she had her first seizure. It was bad and I pick her up to comfort her, and knew that she would not be here much longer. After several more seizures and an hour later, she died in my arms.
Someone once told me if it hurts really bad, it must be love. It was just a dog though. But God gives us opportunities to experience love in some crazy ways. Some might question why God would let us love something so much then take it from us. I look at it differently. He could let us never love at all. Everything on this earth is His and He loves us enough to let us experience loving His creation.
Job 12:10 –The life of every living creature and the spirit in every human body are in his hands. God does not have to let us love things that He owns. The years of pleasure and joy and yes, love I experience with G-dog was worth the hurt I feel right now.
I don’t know if dogs go to heaven. I told people that she would because I helped her accept Jesus. But I do know that every creature on this earth is precious to God. Matthew 10:29 –Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s permission. So God knew when Abby was taking her last breath. It was His plan. God knows our pain and knows our sorrow when people and things close to us die. Death does have a sting, because it is the enemy. It takes the things we love. But what if we never knew that love?
But death can’t take the memories and the joy. It can’t take away the love. Love lasts forever. Time will ease the pain, but the pain is a reflection of the love, now with no recipient.
I am really gonna miss my dog, even if she was a mutt. Thanks be to God for letting me take care of her for 12 years. It was worth every minute, even the last few painful ones.

May 29, 2012

One In A Million

by pastortimfowler

 

Four of us left out Saturday morning on our motorcycles for Washington DC to participate in the 25th Rolling Thunder, Memorial Day Parade of Motorcycles. This was my third time going and another guy’s 17th and the other two of them were going for the first time. It is impossible to describe what it is like to be in the Pentagon parking lot with one million motorcycles and their riders and passengers. We left out for our 410 mile ride to DC with anticipation of having some great fellowship and hopefully sharing Jesus with someone while we were there. At the end of our ride we were looking forward to a meal and a good night’s rest before the parade on Sunday.
Sunday morning we headed over to the Pentagon at 8am. When we arrived the lines of bikes stretched for what seemed like miles. We finally made it in to the parking area where over half of the parking lot was already full. It was barely 8:30am and the parade did not start until noon. So we got off our bikes and began taking pictures and talking to others who were parked beside and around us. We met people from all over the country and Canada and Australia. I don’t think the Australians rode their bikes there.
At twelve noon we hear the roar of motorcycles as the parade through the historic DC areas began. Bike after bike rolled out and the sound of the motors was like the name inferred, rolling thunder. After an hour and forty minutes of bikes leaving the parking lot, it was finally time to crank ours and head out through the parade route. Then another 20 minutes passed and the route came to an end. So we parked the bikes and did the tourist thing, looking at the different monuments and allowing the rich history of our country to sink in. After about two hours of sightseeing, the parade was about over. Motorcycles were finally ending the continuous flow from the Pentagon through the parade route. It was an incredible thing to be a part of.
All of this was incredible to see and hear and be a part of. The patriotism and fellowship with other veterans and the memories of those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom was worth it all. But that was not the most amazing thing that happened.
Out of the millions of people who were there that day, we met one fellow who seemed to be quite lonely. After an introduction and a short talk, he was asked about his thoughts on who Jesus Christ is. He did not know the answer but said he would be happy to hear anything that would offer him hope. He was told about the man who died for the freedom of humanity and the sins of the world. He appreciated the concept and related to what Jesus did. After a few more minutes of talking he asked to receive Jesus as his Savior.
Jesus was more than a one in a million. He is the only one who could do what He did on the cross. But He did it so that he could make a difference to anyone who would believe, even if you are the one in a million in the Pentagon parking lot for a parade on Memorial day.

May 24, 2012

Memorial Day

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/hpebley3/3504265592/

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend, when we unofficially kick off the summer. There will be races, baseball, concerts and cookouts. Schools will be letting out for the last long weekend and people will be making their first beach trips of the year. Yet none of this has anything to do with the original purpose for Memorial Day.
The original purpose was a day of healing and remembering the fallen soldiers of the Civil war when General John Logan ordered flowers put on the graves of the Union and Confederate soldiers buried in Arlington National Cemetery . Over the years flowers and flags have been place on all the graves in Arlington and through-out cemeteries all across the USA where fallen soldiers are buried. Most big events like the races and ballgames have a special events honoring these fallen heroes and I am grateful. But unless you go to an event like that, very little is mentioned about the meaning of this day among the people.
I will be heading up to Washington DC for Rolling Thunder. It is a motorcycle rally and parade through the DC area to honor the Vietnam Vets and especially the MIA, (missing in action) and POW (prisoners of war) who were never returned. There will be nearly a million motorcyclist gathered for this event that tops it all off with a parade that runs through the historic DC area. This will be my third time going and each time has been a blessing and an honor.
During a political season, especially one where the presidency is at stake, Americans practice their freedom of speech like never before. As much as I hate some of the hatefulness of the rhetoric, I am reminded of those who died for this freedom and I have to be thankful. Even if you hate everything about our country and you are a citizen here, you have rights that are yours because someone cared enough to fight for them. Many of those who fought for your right to speak freely, will never speak again with words from their mouth, but they continue to scream “You are free!” because of their actions on the battle field that sent them to the grave.
When General Logan decided to have a day honoring the fallen of both sides of the Civil war, his purpose was to have reconciliation and strengthen peace. A flower on a grave will never honor a fallen warrior as much as you having the freedom to speak of their heroics will. We can honor their service by putting aside our differences for a weekend and speaking of the good that came from their deaths. We can say thanks to those in uniform who are still serving. Why not give them some flowers or buy their lunch or simply shake their hands and say thanks. Don’t forget those who served in the past who are still alive. Many veterans struggle with a deep feeling of not being appreciated for the years that they served. If you know a veteran, tell them thanks for their service.
We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. The free are free because the brave are unselfish. Many of those brave gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to be free. They would want nothing more than for you to have a great time this weekend enjoying the freedom that they died for. But please don’t let this weekend go by without taking a moment to remember those whose gave it all so that we could have such a great place to live. God bless those who sacrificed. Jesus said, “No great love can a man have than to lay down his life for a friend.” God bless America!

October 4, 2011

Ashes To Ashes?

by pastortimfowler

My dear friend is at it again; asking me to blog about stuff that is not the easiest to explain and of course, I don’t just explain, I opine. I often wonder what is really at work inside my friend’s head and I am sure that I don’t really want to know. So…the question was about cremation and should Christians be cremated.
If you watch much TV you have heard the minister at a funeral say something like, ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’. It sounds good, but we did not come from ashes and the Bible never mentions coming from ashes or returning to ashes. The Bible does say that we came from dust and will return to dust. That is one reason for a Christian to believe that it is proper to be buried. So before I go any further I will state that cremation is not a Christian or Jewish tradition or religiously appropriate way of disposing of a dead person, (or a live person in case you were wondering).
I can’t find where there is a specific punishment for cremating a body, either for the living who instruct this to happen of the dead who is burned. This body that we live in is perishable and not the one that Christians believe to receive after physical death. That will be a glorified body, immortal and incorruptible according to the Apostle Paul’s writings. This does not mean that we are not to follow the examples of the Bible though. If you see something that is only practiced by the people of God and another practiced only by those who are not people of faith in God, then it is a logical assumption to do what that example says, even if there are no consequences mentioned. One of the commands of Jesus is to follow Him. Guess who was buried? Jesus. When Moses died, according to Deuteronomy 34:5,6, God buried Moses. Every mention of Godly men and women who die in the Bible stated that they were buried. Some may argue that Jesus was placed in a tomb, but it was not a man-made structure, rather a cave or dug out place in a hill. Genesis 3:19, Psalm 104:29 and Job 10:9 all state that we return to dust, reflecting burial in the ground of some sort.
There are several mentions of cremation in the Bible. The term cremate is not generally used, but it is stated that the dead were burned. Some modern translations of the Bible may use the word cremate, but I am not sure. These cremations were always mentioned when disposing of those who were wicked or rebellious. 1Samuel 31:12, 2Kings 23:20, and Amos 2:1 all speak of burning the dead and those who were being burned were not God’s people.
One reason for cremation not being a Christian way of disposing of a body is because burning was also a way of offering sacrifices. On the altar of God, the blood and the fat of the animals sacrificed were burned and the meat was eaten. This was an act of worship that God instructed for as long as the sacrifice has been instructed. Pagan religions also offered sacrifices and some even offered human sacrifices, thus burning the bodies. It was not just the blood and fat, but the whole body that was burned, because except in the extreme cases of cannibalistic people, it was never appropriate to eat human flesh. Even the Israelites fell into the hideous traps of human sacrifice and began to offer their children as burnt offerings. God finds this appalling.
So that is why I never suggest to anyone that they cremate a loved one who has died. Sure it may be cheaper to cremate, but it is not the way that God shows us to dispose of the human body once the soul has left it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter to that dead person, and I am not sure how it may affect the living who make that decision, but if we are to follow God’s example, we will bury the dead. Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow, you will produce food to eat until you return to the ground, because you were taken from it. You are dust, and you will return to dust.”