Posts tagged ‘disciples’

October 18, 2012

Me Me Me…

by pastortimfowler

Help Others

Mark 9:33-34 33 Then they came to Capernaum. While Jesus was at home, he asked the disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?” 34 They were silent. On the road they had argued about who was the greatest.

Ministry is a beautiful thing. It allows the church to help those in need. It is a source of great joy. Unfortunately it can be a source of arguing and troubles. No, this did not start with my church or your church or even your grandparent’s church, it started with the very first people who were followers of Jesus. (see above)
The reason this happens is that we forget to put self aside and be more considerate of those in need. The Apostle Paul said that he died daily to himself so that he could live daily for Christ. Far to often Christians forget that this is needed in our lives. We forget that once we are saved, we become workers with Christ for God. We are to become like Christ to people. Christ died for people and lived for God’s will to be done.
The church is not a place to complain because someone else did something to help another. It is a place to rejoice because someone was helped by Jesus and Jesus happened to use one of His own. It is a place to find joy that others are ministering to those in need, even if we can’t or aren’t part of it. Jesus knows our hearts. He knows if we are doing things out of love or for self glory. I trust that and let Him worry about it. Meanwhile, if a person in need gets help and it is from a believer, I give God the glory.
When these disciples were arguing about who was the greatest, they were as far from being Christ-like as they could possibly be. Jesus goes on to tell them that they must be childlike, not childish, in order to become great. Children are obedient. He later tells them that if they want to be great they need to become servants. Servants don’t think that they are great, they too are obedient.
As we grow as Christians we must always be aware that not everything can be explained. Not everything can be communicated. And not everything is meant for us to do. I am sure that others who saw Peter walk on water were a bit jealous that it wasn’t them. I am sure that some may have wished it was them who received the vision of the book of Revelation. But the important thing to remember is that the people who God wanted involved were involved in the things that He wanted done. It just is not about us once we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.
We must also remember that others are watching how we handle adversity. Every Christian has someone watching how we handle things to see if they want to follow us or not. It is not about them following you or me, but are we following Jesus and therefore they should follow us. Some may see our attitude and be offended because they don’t understand why we are upset. It may involve a weaker person and our reaction causes them to fall away. So be careful how you react to things.

Remember that children and servants are to be obedient, not important. Jesus is the important one and so is that person who needs help. We don’t want to hurt someone who is a weaker and younger believer.

Matthew 18:6-7 6 “These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be drowned in the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.
7 How horrible it will be for the world because it causes people to lose their faith. Situations that cause people to lose their faith will arise. How horrible it will be for the person who causes someone to lose his faith!

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July 3, 2012

Third Option Men

by pastortimfowler

 

I want to tell you about an organization that is worth checking out. It is called Third Option Men. The founder is a guy named Evan, and him and his dad were the ones who made our trip to Cuba possible. I encourage you to check out the website and/or Facebook page. The website is www.thirdoptionmen.org and just type in the name to find them on Facebook. The purpose of this group is to encourage guys to develop relationships that allow for accountability and more than just a Sunday morning type relationship that is far to common in the church today. It is about the type of relationship that Jesus had with his disciples, close and personal.
Far too often men tend to take their Christianity way too casually. We want the type of relationship that does not allow another man to get close enough to ask the hard questions or hear the brutal truth about how we are struggling in our relationships at work, home, and with God. Evan describes this beginning and often only type of man to man relationship of Christian males as the ‘awkward handshake’. The kind of relationship where we know your name and your favorite football team but never know that your marriage is falling apart and you might be struggling with an addiction. He encourages us to develop relationships that are real, relevant and reliable, just like Jesus and His relationship with others.
Basically, men have only three options in life. We can live for self, live for worldly gain, or live for God. Christian men need to choose the third option…get it? Third Option Men?
Living for self is easy. Looking out for number one is the way we are taught through most of life and the media. This is much like the “if it feels good do it” mentality. I saw a commercial the other day about a company that does cosmetic surgery and one of the women made the statement that if there was something that someone could do to make them feel better about themselves that they should do it at any cost. So if you think the way God made you is not good enough and that He made a mistake, a doctor can fix it and you will feel good about yourself. Sadly, surgery does nothing for that God shaped hole we are all trying to fill. So self-indulgence is not the answer.
Living for worldly gain sounds good. If we could only have more money, a bigger house, or a nicer car, we would feel better. Even if we could have bigger breasts (not men, but our wives) and less wrinkles, that would help, but you need to have the money for that. After all, we see how happy all the Hollywood crowd is with their plastic surgery and successful marriages and lack of drug and alcohol abuse, (Sarcasm). I actually saw more satisfied people in Cuba making $20 a month than I see in Hollywood making millions. Before you disagree, think about the number of famous people who are divorced, in rehab, gone broke, or even killed themselves. Jesus said it best about this option; Matthew 16:26, What good will it do for people to win the whole world and lose their lives? Or what will a person give in exchange for life?
The third option, to live for God, requires one to deny self and think of others. It requires you to build a relationship with someone who cares enough to invest time in you or vice versa. It requires you to give and to love and to get involved with someone to the point that you know what is really important and what can really help. It is what Jesus did with the men that He decided to hang out with. It is what we need to do as Christian men.
We took this message into Cuba and found that men there have the same reservations as we do in America. But when laid out in plain and biblical truths, it is undeniable that it works and is needed. Not the program or the book, or even the title, but the lifestyle. Third Option Men has a heart for those who are hurting and is going into churches and communities and countries to help men get over that macho attitude of self-reliance and teaching them to live for God.
I chose the third option. It is not easy and I fail often, but I have some friends who know how to help and care when I struggle. They too have chosen to follow God. God does not want men to be loners, but to have vital relationships to help us through that many paths that He may lead us.
Check it out…Third Option Men.

June 6, 2012

Cliques

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/maandag/2881628357/

I am not sure why I am blogging about a word that I had to look up in order to spell it properly. I want to spell it the way it sounds, click, but NOOOOO, it has to be spelled like a french word or something. Anyway, I was reading in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 today about a problem that the early church was having when people got together in small groups and started being exclusive to the point of being snobbish. This is how the Apostle Paul states it, 1 Corinthians 11:18, In the first place, I hear that when you gather as a church you split up into opposing groups. I believe some of what I hear. I hear from people all the time about their dislike of cliques, especially in the church and how rude they think it can be. So I got to thinking about what this really is and how did it come to be in an organization like the church where we are to love each other as brothers and sisters.
There is a huge difference in a clique and a small group, as most churches call there Bible studies and fellowship groups. Small groups are very biblical and are important to the Christian life. The average Sunday morning church attendance in the US is 75 people. That sounds low, but there are far more small churches than there are mega churches. It is not uncommon in many rural areas to have only 10 to 20 in attendance on any give Sunday. From that, the average small group consists of 5-8 people. Many try to make their small group the largest in a church, but that begins to get into the topic that Paul wrote about in the verse above.
Most people only have between 2 and 8 people in their lives that they can call real friends. I am talking about people that they socialize with on a regular basis and have more than a casual relationship like you see in most churches. Most people who attend church together only see each other on Sunday morning. Fewer than half of the people who attend on Sunday morning will attend a small group of any type related to the church. It is one of the reasons for the decline of church attendance if you ask me. Before every family had a car and most lately 2 and 3 cars per household, it was most likely that someone attending church was going to a local house of worship with fellow family members and folks that farmed or worked in the same community. This meant that they really knew each other and were able to better help in times of need. It also meant that relationships were more than superficial.
So the small group was started by Jesus who picked 12 disciples to teach and hang out with regularly. Then the modern church started Sunday school classes for age appropriate classes and even had male and female and married couples and singles classes. It was very common to have one class have the patriarchal family members in it that class and it became the class that had the most pull when it came to decisions in the church. This was never the intent of Jesus when He started a small group, but that is how we came to the point of having cliques. It is those cliques that cause people to become divisive and others to feel like they don’t fit in, not only to a small group, but to a church.
I love small groups. It is a great place to hang out with people who I can get close to. People who share my struggles as a parent, husband, or whatever my uniqueness is that draws us to that group. It is not a clique to have a group of guys who like to fish, hanging out together on a regular basis. It is a clique if those guys think that they are more special than another group and begin to make it impossible for anyone else to ever fit in with them.
I have been able to bring people to my small group who did not yet feel comfortable coming to Sunday morning worship. Through the small group they have made friends and found it easier to then come for the regular worship time. That is one of the great purposes that every small group should be striving for. We do have some groups that are a little more exclusive by the nature of what they are talking about. Our recovery classes help people with addictions and although I think that they would make someone feel welcome, it would just not be appropriate for someone who does not have an addiction they need help with. That is not a clique.
So if you have small groups in your church, use them as a tool to welcome others and never to exclude. If your small group is excluding others just because they don’t want new people, it might be time to change groups or even churches. There are a lot of great churches out there and we should never let a bad experience stop us from making friends or attending worship on a regular basis.

January 6, 2012

Make Disciples

by pastortimfowler

By now those who follow my blogs have noticed that these early 2012 blogs have been rather serious. Don’t lose heart, the humor is still here, but the challenge to tweak a few things in my life has hit me pretty hard. Many in our church have been saying for months that we felt like God was going to do something big in our church this year and I agree. But I have always believed that God will start with the leader and this time is not different.
Jesus gave the command to go into all the world and make disciples, and, this is something I love, but can improve on. Standing before a group of people on Sunday mornings preaching a sermon is not making disciples. It is an important part of my calling and I love it, but God expects all of us to help others grow in their Christian life. This is not any different from any other family. Older brothers and sisters should help teach the younger siblings how to be productive parts of the family. Since the church is full of brothers and sisters in Christ with God as our Father, it only makes sense that we help the young to grow in their faith.
My wife and I have taken this challenge serious for years, and I can look back through the years at the younger brothers and sisters that have grown and are now teaching others. This year we are purposefully picking a few young men and women to pour our lives into. We are not going to teach them to be deacons or Sunday School teachers, but we are going to teach them how to know what God has in store for them and help them pursue that.
A wise man once told me that you only have to be one step ahead to lead. This sounds simplistic and it is true. But what we are missing is the fact that much too often, those who are a step ahead end up sitting still and stay where they are, thus they quit leading and began gathering a crowd. Jesus was not about gathering crowds, He gathered a group of people to live with and teach a lifestyle to, not a position in the church. He taught them about life as His follower, not how to act in a building on Sundays.
Nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to teach people how to have church. We are to teach people how to have Christ, then how to live as Christians. Christianity is meant to be a life of discipline in the ways of Christ. That is what a disciple is, someone who is disciplined. Discipline is not punishment, it is living under control and in subjection to the ways of Christ. It is about learning how to do what the Bible says and not just learning what it says. And, for a person to do this they must first see it in action.
If you are one step ahead, keep taking the steps needed to lead. Don’t rest because you feel as if you have reached your potential. God has no limits and neither do the ones who follow His ways. Church is not the place where Christians live, it is the pit stop in the race to the finish. It is where we rest and fuel up and get a cool drink of living water in order to go back out and run the race.
I am looking forward to leading this group of young men. I eagerly look forward to the day that they are leading others and so on. After Jesus left this world to go and prepare a place for us, he left behind men and women who understood that the leading was now on them. Each one of them was responsible for leading others and then those were responsible for even more. Fast forward and couple of thousand years and millions upon millions have come to know Christ. The family has grown and yet somehow we seem to have reached the point where we are satisfied with a weekend meeting. It is time to rethink what the church has become and return to the command of Christ to make disciples.

June 29, 2011

Just Do It!

by pastortimfowler

In the book of James, Christians are challenged with an “in your face” look at who we should be. Just in to the first two chapters most who claim to be Christians could walk away with a deep need to re-examine what it means to be a Christian. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is this one: James 1:22 Do what God’s word says. Don’t merely listen to it, or you will fool yourselves. Doing what we hear is a test of our faith. I know way too many folks who can quote the Bible very well and yet they do very little of what they quote. Apparently this is not a new problem since James was writing about it almost 2000 years ago.
James also says that faith without doing something with it is basically dead, or worthless. He tells us that even demons believe in God and even tremble at His name. What that means is that saying you are a believer is not enough. We must begin to do what the Bible teaches if we want to be called Christians. With that statement I mean others should be calling us Christians by the way we act, but we all know that most folks outside the church world call us hypocrites.
Can you imaging how many people would be following Jesus if He acted like many Christians act? What if He only quoted scripture and never did anything? What if he only said He was going to die on a cross and be raised the third day? Where would we be today?
By the same token, many people who don’t read the Bible, or don’t go to church, see people who are supposed to represent Jesus and all he taught and what they get is words and not enough actions. James said that if someone asked for food or clothes that really need them and all we do is tell them that we will pray for them that our faith is dead.
Faith should cause us to do good things for people. It should cause us to give because we know that God honors our giving. It should cause us to serve, because Jesus said the greatest among us will be servants. It should cause us to teach because you can’t make disciples if they don’t know what to do. It should cause us to lead children to worship and know Jesus because He said that they were precious to Him and that we must come to Him like a child does.
So here is my challenge. If you are a Christian, and you are not involved in doing what you hear taught from the word of God, start doing something. Here are a few suggestions:
You can pray. This is needed and was modeled by Jesus. Luke 18:1 Jesus used this illustration with his disciples to show them that they need to pray all the time and never give up.
Pray for someone, by name, that you know does not know Jesus. Pray for your church leaders that they are wise and not scared to do what they need to do. Pray for our nation, that we return to are Christian roots.
You can help in the children’s area at your church. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar. You just need to love kids and love Jesus. Mark 10:15-16 I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn’t receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it.” Jesus put his arms around the children and blessed them by placing his hands on them.
Not matter how big your church is, there is never enough help in that area. Some people rarely ever get to worship with “the big people” because they are loving kids. Even if you only help once a month it helps.
You can go out daily and invite people to your church. Luke 14:23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go to the roads and paths! Urge the people to come to my house. I want it to be full. This is nothing more than telling people, with enthusiasm, how much you love the Lord and your church. What? You don’t have enthusiasm about one or the other? Perhaps it’s because you are not doing what you have been taught and your faith is dead.
Its time to come alive and show your faith! Faith means you really believe it. You sit in chairs because of faith. You drive your car because of faith. Showing people what you know about Jesus should be just as natural because of faith. Like Nike says…Just do it!