Posts tagged ‘fellowship’

September 20, 2012

No Moonshine Needed

by pastortimfowler

This weekend is our second annual church camping trip. Our participation has doubled from last year and so the pressure is on to make it as much or more fun. I don’t think that this will be a problem. As I have said so many times before, I love the people of my church. They are weird, whacky, and fun to be around.
Last year we did our camping in late October and it just happened to be the coldest October in the history of the planet. Okay, that may be an exaggeration, but it was cold. The low temps were in the 30’s, although my feet said that it was more like 20 below. But we had plenty of firewood, warm clothes, blankets and moonshine. Just kidding, we didn’t have any moonshine, but you would think that some of these people were drinking. There was way too much laughing and cutting up for that many people to be sober, right? Not this bunch. We are had rather be filled with the Spirit rather than strong drink.
So this year we moved the trip back a month and the weather is supposed to be perfect. Highs in the upper 70s and lows in the upper 50s. The rain has moved out and the sun is supposed to shine abundantly. We were a bit worried, as all this week it has rained several times very hard; I am talking inches of rain.
Something about camping just makes for a lot of fun. Fishing, making smores, singing around the campfire and hiking are just a few things that lend to the fun. My favorite thing is eating food cooked over a fire. Hopefully there will be some fresh fish this year. But what I look forward to the most is the fellowship with my friends and family and the worship on Sunday morning. Last year my friendship with those who went grew exponentially and I believe that this will happen again this year.
Worshiping around a campfire on Sunday morning with a bunch of friends is an awesome experience. This year I won’t have to try to play guitar with frost-bitten fingers. In fact, won’t have to play guitar at all. We are going to be treated to worship led by our international student that has invaded my house. He is an incredible musician and will be playing and singing. I have asked him to not only lead us in English but to sing a song in Korean. Why? Because God uses praise to speak to our hearts, not our ears. So the worship time will be very special. Then I get to preach with coffee in hand and still wearing my pajamas. No, not the sexy ones that you think I wear, those are for my favorite wife, who will be in her pajamas, and well, she makes them all look…never mind. Back to the preaching.
I love preach/teaching in an intimate atmosphere and being around a campfire is as good as that gets. God’s creation glorifies Him and puts the pressure on us to glorify Him. I am not sure what I will talk about, but it will be different from my normal preaching schedule this year. I want to be sure that we get a chance to experience worship and fellowship in a way that makes us all desire to be back next year with even more friends and family.
I love my church! I can’t wait to hang out with them and experience God’s fellowship with us.

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December 21, 2011

Christmas Giving

by pastortimfowler

Christmas is a strange time of year. It is the time when most people are the most joyful, and at the same time it can be a time when they are at their lowest. It is a time of giving and receiving and spending time with family and friends. This is the time when we celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. I would like to share what I get to be a part of every year at my church and I will try to remain as humble as possible, but at the same time I am running over with pride.
We are a medium-sized church of about 150 people and this number changes, lately it has been increasing. We reach a unique group of people, mostly young families and people who do not fit the typical “churchy” crowd. Like their pastor, many of these have been turned off by religion at one time or another and even hurt by the politics that often ruins what church should be. But for whatever reason, God has seen fit to bring us together under the roof of a building and in a church family called The Body, A Church for Anybody.
With the economy being as bad as it is, we find ourselves in fellowship with several families that are struggling to make ends meet and because these are families with kids, it is a difficult time to celebrate Christmas when some may not be able to give gifts to their kids. Giving gifts is a custom of the season that allows us to escape the reality of hard times and focus on putting a smile on the face of children, but when you lose a job or income gets cut, it can be difficult to make this happen on your own. Without a second thought, the people in our church have taken to the spirit of giving and made sure that these kids smile on Christmas morning. There are 5 families that will be blessed by receiving, but probably 20 more that will be blessed by Christmas giving.
One family told me today that they sacrificed giving their adult children gifts, with those adult children’s blessings, in order to provide for another family with children who still live at home. They took the $100 that they would normally spend for those gifts and bought for someone else. Today I was told that they received an unexpected bonus from work that doubled that amount. You just can’t help but think that God was showing how much He likes Christmas giving too.
On Christmas day, we will gather for a morning worship and after church several of us are going out to a restaurant that is open to sing a Christmas Carol and give a gift to those who are working. As grateful as they must be to have a job, it has to be tough to work on Christmas day. So we have been collecting “tips” for about two months now for the purpose of giving to those who are waiting tables and serving others on Christmas day a bit of Christmas cheer that will hopefully make their Christmas sacrifice well worth it. We have chosen a restaurant that only has 5 or 6 people who are working that day and because of the generosity of the people in my church, each person who is working will receive a Christmas card with over $100 in it.
Again, it is hard to be humble when you talk about something that you are involved in, but I am blown away by the love of the people who I serve at this church and it does truly humble me to know them. They love others and show it through their actions and the biggest action this time of year is in their Christmas giving. I love it!!!
Merry Christmas!

December 19, 2011

Christmas meal

by pastortimfowler

Yesterday was our church’s annual Christmas meal and this has become one of my favorite things about our church. We take all the chairs that normally form a semi-circle seating pattern for worship and set up tables and chairs for a family style eating extravaganza. Extravaganza is one of my favorite, but least used words in my vocabulary. The men and women of the church cook turkey and ham and all the favorite holiday type foods that you can imagine and after a brief, yet wonderful sermon, we eat and laugh and hang out until most of the food is gone. Then those who are able, load people into wheelbarrows and take them out back to sleep it off.
Our church is my family. No, I am not dissing my wife and kids, but this is a special relationship that we all share and it is truly family. We share food, share laughter and share tears. No one is left alone and everyone does their part of making it all work. Like in most families, there is always the grumpy person and the weird aunt or uncle that everyone tries not to act like we are avoiding, but other than that we can’t get enough of this special fellowship.
God wants His people to have a closeness. We are told that people will know that we are His because of how we love each other. I don’t think that there would be much doubt of that if you were to have been there yesterday. And, I can proudly say that most anytime that you visit, you will find the same love among the people. None of us are “holier than thou” and many of us are as “messed up as thou” and that makes it easy to find common ground.
As in most churches, there are always a handful who work hard to manage the chaos and organize the efforts. Those who did it this time are amazing in how well it was done and the love at which they used to bring us all together. It was not just a list of things to do but an effort to think of how people’s needs would be met. I believe the biblical term would be ministry, which means serving, which Jesus says makes you great, and I can only say that there were some great people organizing this whole thing.
The day did not end when the meal was over. Lots of folks stayed to help with the clean up. After that, many of the guys and youth stayed to watch football as many of the moms took the younger kids to see Santa. They are the brave souls in the crowd.
Later that night our youth had their Christmas party and another group of servants showed their greatness to make that happen. With nearly twenty youth and a handful of adults, the music was loud, the games were wild and the family was happy. I was the smartest of all; I went home after welcoming them and opening the party in prayer.
Christmas is a special time and can be difficult to those who don’t have family. Some people are alone because they have moved, other because of hardship. Some have been shunned by family and friends and others have condemned themselves because of past experiences. My plea is that you not allow the past to ruin the future. God can and will forgive you for whatever the past holds. God will provide a place and people for you to celebrate if you chose to seek it. I would like to invite you to be a part of my family and our celebration of God’s great love. We don’t judge, we don’t condemn, we don’t exclude. We are The Body, A Church for Anybody, and especially you.
Merry Christmas!

June 28, 2011

A Better Pastor

by pastortimfowler

copyrighted photo http://www.flickr.com/photos/mike_leach/

I had a wonderfully humbling experience today. I was talking to a couple about their upcoming wedding when it was brought to my attention that the future husband was not a Christian, but the bride is. I know that this is going to stir up a lot of feelings in people but I am hoping that you will understand the big picture. The Bible tells Christians not to marry someone who is not a Christian. In the Old Testament God told Israel not to marry those outside of the Jewish faith, so this is a consistency with God and there is a reason for it. Humans have this tendency to think about what is immediately in front of them and let God and His will be put aside for what we want. That often leads to sin and that is what God sent Jesus to die for, our sin. Because of that high price, He doesn’t want us to do things that will make it easier to sin and being married to someone who is not of the same faith as we are makes it easy to follow our spouse rather than God. This is not the total point of this blog but it does have its place here.
You see as a pastor I have to do what God says, even if I don’t understand it fully. I know it would be better for a couple to be married and live together than to not be and live together. But, living together before marriage is a sin too. My dilemma is that I can’t marry someone who God says shouldn’t be married even if I think it would be better than the other choice.
SO…I am talking with this couple and the guy is a very unique person who was saying a lot of the right things, but something was not sitting right with me. I thought that he was being argumentative, and so I was putting up my shield and getting ready to fire back but I just couldn’t get a peace about how I was trying to handle things. I was seeing our conversation getting nowhere and I kept remembering my earlier blog about judging others. I was judging this guy and I was convinced that I was using the right standards to judge and at the same time, something kept telling me I was wrong.
So I asked the young lady to leave the room and asked the guy if I could talk one on one with him. He said yes.
I told him first that I was wrong to draw some of the conclusions about him and asked him to forgive me. He did. I told him why I had my convictions and to the best of my ability why I had to stick by my guns about not marrying them, but I saw that he really had a good idea of what marriage was about and asked if he would explain how he thought of God. So he did.
He began to explain how he had been hurt in some previous attempts to seek answers and ask questions about his opinions of God. He said that other pastors had gotten defensive and very matter of fact on him and he felt like he was being pushed away, not by God, but by those who should be teaching him about God. So he decided to form his own opinions with as much conviction as he could have and trust that God was as understanding as he hoped that He would be. Sadly this guy understood God better than those pastors did, or at least acted.

I asked if I could show him in the Bible exactly what God wanted from us and the extent to which God had gone to forgive us and make us His. I told him the God loved him as much as he thought, and more. I was able to show him that the only thing that he was missing in his opinion of God was the point to which Jesus was the sacrifice for our sin and it was through Jesus that we receive forgiveness and eternal life.
He told me that it was really cool to be able to talk about this and get clarity about God and forgiveness and when I asked if I could lead him in a prayer to ask for forgiveness and salvation, he said, no I think I have the right words and he prayed the best prayer of salvation I have heard in a while, because it was real and it was from his heart.
Real quickly I want to say that he had told me when we first met that he didn’t go to church because he did not like crowds. I have heard that before, but not in truth. So I remembered a line I had used many times before and had to live it. Going to church does not make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car. It helps you grow as a Christian, but is not the standard to judge by. What God wants from us going to church is fellowship and accountability. So I told him that if he wanted to, until he felt comfortable enough to come to church, I would meet with him as often as he would like and him and I would build a relationship and learn about God together. He accepted.
So I am proud to say that the wedding is on and I have a new brother in Christ and I am excited about building a new friendship with someone who taught me to act more like Jesus than a pastor, and in that I think I will be a better pastor.