Posts tagged ‘differences’

August 29, 2012

Hateful Speech

by pastortimfowler

Speech is Silver

I saw this on Facebook today: Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. When I read it I thought about our nasty political climate and presidential campaign and it made me think about these verses of the Bible:
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (GW)
1 First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people,
2 for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way
.
Christians should really think before they post things on Facebook or anywhere else that are full of hateful words. I think that it is very easy for us to lose our credibility as the people of love that we are supposed to be when all people see or hear from us is hateful slams of those we disagree with. Some of you may quickly say that in America, we have freedom of speech, and that is true, but as Christians, we have freedom from sin and using hate filled speech is sinful.
Years ago, I got out of the Navy and because I needed a job to provide income immediately, I went to work as a car salesman. One of the things I had to do is learn about the competition’s cars. All car makers make a model to compete with the others, like compact, mid-sized, full-sized, and pick-ups. What you learn is that there are subtle differences between each of them and that a good salesman could tell you what they are. My boss told me to learn those differences, not to talk down about the other make of cars, but to point out the ways your make of car was better. For instance I might say to a customer, Yes sir, the Chevy does have good towing capability, but the Ford we sell will tow a thousand pounds more than that. Given the fact that they are both fine vehicles, wouldn’t you get more for your money with our better towing capability?
But for some reason, people like to talk about the bad stuff or the different stuff as if it were bad. I was told years ago that different is not always wrong, it is just different. That is the way our country was built, to respect and give freedom to be different. But in the case where different is in deed wrong, slamming that wrong publicly rarely results in change. That is where Christians need to remember the words written in the verses above. Whatever leader is in place, it is because God has allowed that leader to be there. We are to follow the laws of the land and to respect those who are in authority over us and most of all we are to pray for them. Romans 13:4 The government is God’s servant working for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid. The government has the right to carry out the death sentence. It is God’s servant, an avenger to execute God’s anger on anyone who does what is wrong.

So I challenge you to promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. Love covers a multitude of sin.

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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.

May 30, 2012

Its ALL Your Fault

by pastortimfowler

Different Sides

Now that Mitt Romney has gained enough delegates to officially receive the Republican presidential nomination, the campaign is gonna get nasty. If you think that what you have heard up until now was bad, wait for what you are going to see in the next few months. These guys better put on their toughest skins and hang on for dear life.
I would be lying if I said that I totally hate the political season. I do get tired of the lies that are told from both sides. I also get tired of the smears of a personal nature. I wish that the candidates would just say what they are going to do and how they are going to do it and let us decide for ourselves about their character. But there has to be some way of knowing about a person’s past and who they associate with. It would be nice if the media would research this and put out an information source for those who want to read it. But that won’t happen and we, the voting public, will have to sort through the slants and angles that is called the news.
I guess what bothers me the most about this time of year is how I am almost forced to choose sides between friends. I know that I often voice my opinion in my blogs, but I try my best to keep it civil. I also feel that a blog is a place for thoughts, feelings, and opinions to be voiced. But sometimes Facebook, and yes I know I post this on Facebook, is a place where some really hateful stuff is posted that is very stereo typical and often down right ignorant and hateful. I am talking about people who I consider in many cases, personal friends. But they use Facebook to say things that I have never heard them say in person and it is often very decisive. I have seen this especially in the political realm. Right and left hate blurbs that are meant to somehow make you seem involved, often make you think about who your friends are. If they feel that strongly about their point of view and people who view things differently, then maybe the friendship needs to be examined.
Right now many of you are jumping to the conclusion that I am talking about you. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that I care that much about your stupid rants on Facebook. I care more about what they do to relationships. I never knew some things about some of my friends until they made that one really thoughtless posts that said something that lumped me into the group of worthless, lowlife, scum that you were talking about. And I bet you didn’t know that about me. Maybe we need to spend more time talking to those who are different from blasting a stereo type on Facebook.
Here is something that I know about differences. They are healthy in a relationship. My wife and I are almost complete opposites in many areas. We have been married for over 30 years even with those differences. But I never post something hateful about something that I know that she feels strongly about. That would hurt our relationship. Instead I appreciate our differences and have found that they make us a stronger couple. There are some things that I am passionately against that she likes, but that does not make her wrong or lump her into a group of hate mongers. I have found that some of those things make her far better at dealing with some situations than I could ever do.
In our political arena, we have become so polarized that we can see no good in the other party. But that is not the way our founding fathers intended it to be. They understood that there must be checks and balances in our leadership and that if each party used its strengths, together we would have a great country, like the one that we are in danger of losing if we continue the trend toward total one-sided hatred. Healthy debate is a wonderful thing, but stereo typing gets you to the point where nothing gets accomplished. Sadly we see this in Washington today. And I am sure that you know exactly which side is the problem (HAHAHA).
I have learned in my years of dealing with life and relationships that there is never only one side who can take all the blame. Sure there can be a degree that is greater on one side than the other, but never is it completely one-sided. We shouldn’t let politics divide us to the point of losing our ability to listen to other opinions and solutions to problems that need to be solved. And if we can’t agree that one side’s ideas are right for us, we don’t have to throw them into the category of evil.
We just celebrated Memorial Day to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom. I served in the Navy with people from every walk of life and never once did we let our differences stop us from serving the country that we love. It is freedom that allows us to have our opinions and to voice them. It is freedom that allows us to be different and still be Americans. So be careful not to get locked into the polarizing speech that causes folks to choose a side over a friendship. Strong friendships are far more valuable than strong opinions spoken behind the screen of a computer.

May 2, 2012

Church Denominations

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/buou/1541519972/

 

I hear all the time that people are confused about the different beliefs of churches, especially the different denominations, like Baptist, Methodists, and so on. People tell me that denominations are wrong and not what Christ intended for the church. Someone just yesterday told me that they were about to quit going to church because of the confusion. I don’t believe that this is a problem and certainly don’t think it should cause people not to go to church. I think the biggest concern would be why the church can’t give a good reason for our differences.
Why are people not confused about food? There are so many restaurants out there and they serve so many different foods. What about cars? There are so many different car dealerships and they all say that their brand is better than the other. They can’t all be right. Maybe I won’t ever drive a car then. Even football teams are different. They have different colored uniforms and some run the ball and others throw the ball. Some are more focused on defense and while others are focused on offense. Why some even specialize in special teams. This has never stopped people from buying cars, eating out, or watching football. We all know that diversity is good for the food industry and the automobile industry. We all know that football teams have to be different and that it is good for the game. So why can’t churches be different without being wrong?
1 Corinthians 12:12 For example, the body is one unit and yet has many parts. As all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ. Churches are supposed to be different. We have different functions in the Body of Christ. My hand and my foot have two totally different functions but are still part of me. They don’t hate each other, but compliment and support each other. Because they are different does not mean that one is wrong and the other is right. Why we even have doctors who specialize in different body parts because they are so different, yet each doctor is caring for the same body. I am wearing contacts now, and even among my eyes there is a difference. One eye has a contact for seeing up close and the other has one for seeing far away and yet they function together for me to see well at any distance.
Denominations were formed out of the need for different people groups to join together with each other and worship and to serve. Sure there are some minor disagreements on things of the Bible, but that is not hard to understand given the fact that no one can fully understand God. Our minds just can’t fully grasp an almighty and holy God. So we will have some differences. What we do agree on is that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world and God loves us enough to forgive us if we ask. He thinks so highly of our unique needs that He gives us different churches so that we can find a place where we feel comfortable and can best serve the greater good of the Body of Christ.
As Christians, we need to defuse the idea that our differences prove that there is no God and explain that it instead shows the amazing love of God as He cares enough to not make us to be some sort of robots that have no individuality. The Apostle Paul said that we are to be all things to all men that some might in some way win some to Christ. If you need a more strict teaching then there is a church for that. If you need to be more free-spirited and like to shout, there is a church for that. If you need to perform certain rituals in order to feel closer to God, there is a church for that. I love my church. I think it is perfect for me. But I don’t dislike your church because it is not right for me. As long as the Bible is the guide, and Christ is the focus, then there is a purpose for that church.
God is THE Creator. He created different planets and solar systems and galaxies. He created different plants and animals and people. Why is there a problem with Him creating different churches? The answer is simple. There is no problem, yet rather a wonderful solution to the different types of people who He loves and wants to have a relationship with.

September 14, 2011

Racism

by pastortimfowler

Tonight is the first night of a city-wide revival that has been planned for several months now. I have had the privilege of working with about 10 other pastors in trying to put this together. Our goal was to get black, white, and Latino pastors together with their churches to address racism and how the church can help overcome this stress on society. As it turned out there are 9 black pastors and me, who just happens to be white.
I can’t help being white, I was born that way. It runs in our family and many of us have had other white children. My wife’s mother came from a family that had 12 white kids and so far all of our children have been white and now our grandchildren are white too. So this seems to be something that we are stuck with.
I do not believe that I am racist. I grew up a Navy brat and was always around other races of people. I don’t remember my parents ever using derogatory words to describe folks of different color and it wasn’t until I was in the third grade that I remember hearing the word “nigger”. When I did hear it, I thought that the person was uneducated and could not speak proper English, or well, in this case Spanish, because I thought that they were trying to say negro, the Spanish word for black. Little did I know that it was such an offensive word to those who were black, or negro. It is funny how one man’s stupidity can be another man’s butt kickin’.
I am of the opinion that racism is a choice that we make. I believe that as long as we are willing to meet people for who they are instead of the color of their skin, that we can get along just fine. I also believe that the color does come with cultural differences and differences can cause misunderstanding and misunderstanding can cause division. But, where there is difference and misunderstanding there is a great opportunity for communication to bring forth understanding and unity. If I don’t like a person who happens to be black, I am not a racist. If I don’t like a person because they are black then, that, makes me a racist.
God says that He has given His church the ministry of reconciliation. It is our service to others to reconcile differences and spread the love of Jesus Christ. God is not a respecter of persons. He does not see color, He sees a helpless sinner in need of a Savior. When Christ died, He died for the human race not a specific race. That means that those of us who proclaim to be Christians should be willing to lay down our differences in order to reach anyone in need of Jesus.
I am perfectly fine with a church that has all black or all white people as their members as long as it is not a purposeful effort. We certainly have churches who are all from the country or the city and that is not a problem. But I want to know that if a white church has a need and a black church can help or the reverse, that no one sees the color before they see Jesus. We are one body, the Body of Christ.
I pray that we can make a stride over the next few days to help people see that racism is wrong. I believe that it is a sin against God who made one human and from that one human we all are related. But even greater than that blood line, we who are of the Body of Christ ,also have a common blood line; the blood of Jesus, and through that blood we are all reconciled to God