Posts tagged ‘fight’

September 10, 2012

Opps…Emotions Stink

by pastortimfowler

stress

I feel like I owe an explanation for my sermon yesterday, for those who attend my church. If you don’t, then you won’t have a clue about why I am writing this until you read it. Everyone can have “one of those days”, including the pastor. Sundays are supposed to be wonderful events and a time to hear from God, not stress out. Except for pastors, and I think to some degree we all stress out over Sundays. It is our pinnacle moment for the church and we want everything to be perfect. It rarely works that way, so we get use to it. But then there are those days when one thing leads to another and before you know it, you are about to explode.
Here is my explanation and/or excuse. Friday night I took my 7-year-old grandson camping at the beach with his Cub Scout troop. It was a 3 and a half hour drive there and a 4 and a half hour drive back; I will explain later. I stress over being around little kids. I want to tolerate them but I have to really try. We had a good time, but sleeping in a tent on the ground does not help my back, which hurts all the time, and lately has been in one of those more painful stages. Saturday, I went to the beach to body surf with the kid. Body surfing is not good for your back either. But we had a blast. Then we went down the water slide which is not good for the back, and I found out that if you get to spinning too much, you can rip you toenail off. I didn’t understand that either, but it happened. We rode bikes for hours and then packed up and started home.
About 40 minutes into my drive it started raining. I know that God said that He would never flood the world again, but I think He was showing me how hard it had to rain to accomplish this.
7-year-old boys ask a lot of questions when it is raining that hard. Driving does not help my back and stress about heavy rain and a 7-year-old asking endless questions don’t help either. By the time we got home, the normal 3 and a half hour drive was 4 and a half hours. After unpacking, and hot shower, and a few moments of sitting around updating the wife, I went to bed.
Sunday morning I woke up stiff and hurting. That is the beginning of a rough day. I got to church and most of the first few people who I saw complained about something going wrong. I usually try to hide in my office and study for my sermon, but everyone knows where to find me and did. For some reason, everything that I wanted to say in this sermon was being pushed aside and i was not sure with what I was going to say. That is stressful.
There were some people didn’t show up to do their jobs, those who were filling in didn’t want to do it and let me know, and it seemed as if every person I talked to had a complaint or didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I still did not know what I was going to talk about until the last song was played and it was time for me to give my message.
I believe that I listen to God about what I preach. Sure, I like to joke and inject a few personal things to lighten the mood, but for the most part I feel as if I am saying what God want me to say. Of all morning for Him to want me to say some tough stuff, I felt like it was then. Sure, you could say I was not in a great mood and that affected what I spoke about. But after 20 years of doing this, you learn to put the petty stuff aside. I just had to say some tough stuff this time.
My sermon was about how God expects His people to do more than come to church on Sunday. Especially if you consider yourself to be a mature Christian. We are in a spiritual battle that is raging 24/7 and most Christians want to play weekend warrior. We want to be entertained and told stuff that feels good and that is not what the Bible does for us. It is very convicting and very critical of God’s people who should know better than to get complacent. So I said what I said.
It must have been close to what God wanted said. Two people became Christians Sunday morning. Several came to me afterwards and said that they knew I was stressed, but what I said impacted them in a positive way. WHEW!
That being said, I never want people to think that I don’t care and that I am self-centered. I do love me, but I love you guys too. I want people to be blessed by being a Christian. That is God’s intent. But in order to receive the blessings, we need to fight that good fight. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.
So I want to say that I am really sorry for anybody who I may have snapped at or made feel like I was being a jerk. If you really want to know what that feels like, ask my poor wife who sees the worst side of me more than anyone. She is a saint, and I appreciate her patience with me more than she will know. But I believe that she will tell you that I try my best to say the truth, say it with love, and say only what God wants said during my sermons.
I love my church, and I love the people who go there. I want them to unashamed of the God they serve and the God who gives unconditional love and forgiveness. Sometimes tough things need to be said. Where I fail is saying them with the proper temperance and for that I can only say, sorry.

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July 13, 2012

Still Married And Wanting More

by pastortimfowler

Next week my wife and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. That means I may not be blogging next week because we always take the week off and go somewhere. It is really strange saying that I have been married for 32 years. Most people my age have been married several times and few have that many years with the same person. I still remember when I thought that 30 was old. Now I have been married longer than that. I use to say that my wife married me when I was 12, but that still makes me older than I feel like I want to be.
I have been very blessed. I wish that everyone could experience the type of marriage that I have. I can honestly say that I love my wife more today than when we got married. We are still passionate and fun and learning each other. We love being together and trust each other when we are apart. We laugh, cry, and pray together and have no fears of dying with any regrets of what we could have done together. Our marriage is that special.
Now I don’t want you to think that we don’t have tough times. I tell everyone that my wife is the best of everything for me, including my best fight. No one can make me as angry as she can. But that is because we are passionate. But when we fight, we fight to make us stronger, and when that goes wrong, we forgive to make us humble. In our 32 years we have been on the brink of divorce twice. We have been in marriage counseling and we have been separated. We have been tempted to call it quits, but by the grace of God have never followed through with it. We have suffered through alcohol and drug abuse and self centeredness. We have had plenty of money and great careers and we have both been unemployed and dirt poor. All of these things have worked together to make us stronger.
We use our experiences to help others every chance that we get. We can look young couples in the eyes and tell them that we understand where they are and what they are going through. It brings us great joy to see a couple about to call it quits, turn things around and become stronger than ever.
As a husband, I can honestly say I am the best husband my wife has ever had. She knows this and will be the first to tell you that she has never married anyone that is as good as me. Of course, since I am the only husband she has ever had, I rank number one without any competition. That doesn’t change the fact that I am the best husband she has ever had though.
My wife is incredible. She is extremely smart and has the most incredible patience. She has worked her way to the top in corporate America, ran her own business, and helped to build our church. She has people skills that make her the type of friend that people dream of. As a mom, she is compassionate and nurturing and as a grandmother, or Mimi, she is the one responsible for spoiling the kids beyond repair. Add to all of this, she is unbelievably beautiful and sexy. Yes, I am truly blessed.
So next week, we are heading out to spend a week away from work and church and family and friends. We are going to ride the motorcycle, dine out, watch movies and read books. We are going to forget about the stresses of life and enjoy being together and reflect on how awesome it is to be married to each other. This will mean, no blogs, no Facebook, and no phones.
When we walked down that aisle and said our vows 32 years ago, no one thought that we would make it. Our dads even made bets about how quickly it would end. They said that we would never make it because we were too young and I was too messed up. They were correct about me, but God does work miracles. I was so happy to get married that day. It was the best thing that I could have ever done. I am happily and joyfully married and can’t wait to see what is coming in year 33 together and beyond.
Happy Anniversary to my bride and girl of my wildest dreams. Thanks for loving me and letting me love you.
I am still married and wanting more!

July 5, 2012

Freedom Fading

by pastortimfowler

US Flag

I love our country. As yesterday celebrated the birth of our freedom, I couldn’t help but get a bit nostalgic. I served in the US Navy for nine years and come from a family where my dad was a twenty year Navy vet. From the time I was a child, I was taught to love our country and its freedoms. Standing at a baseball game while the National Anthem played, removing my hat and placing it over my heart was a regular event in my childhood. We would go to cemeteries and place American flags on the graves of veterans for patriotic holidays like the 4th of July. In elementary school I got to be the one to raise and lower the flag and was selected because my dad had taught me the proper way to fold it.
The freedom that we have here was earned and won on the battlefields through the years. Freedom does not come without a price and that price is a high one. But men and women from the beginning of our country’s founding have thought it worth paying whatever price needed to secure it. Every generation has those who question the times and fear that freedom is fading. Our founding fathers put many layers of protection into the documents of our government to help protect what had been won and to remind each generation of the fragile nature of freedom.
Today we are experiencing many things that threaten our freedom. People who use this freedom to fight against free markets and religion don’t realize that if they are successful, they could lose the very freedom of speech that they are using to fight what they disagree about. The attack on our free market society is one that scares me. The demonizing of people who own companies that hire good, hard-working Americans is counter-productive to our freedom. The idea that if you work hard and achieve the American dream of owning a business and having it be successful is somehow made to seem wrong. Instead, we are being force-fed that our country is about fairness rather than freedom. And, somehow we are supposed to think that fairness means taking what someone worked for and giving it to someone who does not work? I am confused.
I also worry about how our schools and local government make anti-American laws and policies. I am always hearing about cities and communities who won’t allow the flag to be displayed, even on the graves of veterans. Or schools that don’t allow the pledge of allegiance or patriotic shirts because they might offend those who are here illegally. That flag represents a country that loves those who come here for help and offer opportunity for all who are willing to work hard and legally to make a better life. Our schools are a place to teach children how to read and do math and science and to grow up to be productive members of a society of free people. Nothing is offensive about that and pledging to support our country and our freedom is not a bad thing. If we quit supporting what this country stands for, we won’t have people coming here for freedom…duh!
Religion is another place that I feel our freedom is being threatened. Yes, I am a Christian. I am a pastor and I have a personal attachment to this part of freedom. I guess the two areas that I feel most threatened from freedom of religion standpoint it the way we are being told that separation of church and state is a constitutional issue. It is not. That phrase is not in the constitution; read it for yourself. This is what the constitution says about religion and government: The constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Separation of church and state was a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, talking about the intrusion of government into church business and how unconstitutional it was. Government is not to intrude in religion, not vice-versa. All legal citizens are free to participate in whatever level they chose in our government, no matter their religious beliefs.
Secondly, I feel freedom threatened by the bending over backward of our government to accommodate the Muslim religion and even to allow a perverted part of that belief, Sharia law, to override our countries laws, in some cases. Nothing against that faith, but that perversion of that faith allows for the killing of many people, including Christians. How can our government work so hard to suppress Christianity, which is responsible for more charity work all over the world than any other organization, and promote, often through silence, or making of special exceptions, a religion that kills those who don’t believe their way? I know these are isolated cases, but this is a serious issue that must be watched.
I am not in a panic mode, but I think that we should take a hard look at how some are attacking freedom. No, it is not a perfect country that we live in, but it is the best country and the most generous country in the world. I was happy to celebrate its independence yesterday and look forward to continuing the annual celebration. Freedom can only fade if we let it. Let freedom shine brightly for the world to see!

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!

March 26, 2012

For The Love Of Bacon

by pastortimfowler

Broadbent Bacon line

Romans 14:1-4
1 Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don’t get into an argument over differences of opinion.
2 Some people believe that they can eat all kinds of food. Other people with weak faith believe that they can eat only vegetables.
3 People who eat all foods should not despise people who eat only vegetables. In the same way, the vegetarians should not criticize people who eat all foods, because God has accepted those people.
4 Who are you to criticize someone else’s servant? The Lord will determine whether his servant has been successful. The servant will be successful because the Lord makes him successful.
In this particular few verses, we see that Vegans have been causing trouble with meat eaters, at least that is the way I see it. Vegans are a weird bunch of people who just don’t understand how wonderful bacon really is. One of my best friends is a vegan and she will tell you that I am right. Vegans are weird. But I should refrain from making such comments so not to start an argument. Notice that I didn’t say that they are wrong, just weird. Wrong would be forcing my opinion of food on another and these verses say we shouldn’t. Weird says, I can’t believe that you don’t love bacon! Even God changed His mind about eating bacon. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 11:7 , You must never eat pigs. (Because pigs have completely divided hoofs but do not chew their cud, they are also unclean.) he told the Jews not to eat pork, but in the New Testament, Acts 11:8-9 8 “But I answered, ‘I can’t do that, Lord! I’ve never put anything impure or unclean into my mouth.’ 9 “A voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Don’t say that the things which God has made clean are impure.’
He changed His mind and I am pretty sure it was all about bacon. Bacon is heavenly, in my opinion.
By now, Vegans and others who think that I am making light of the Bible in general are mad at me and ready to argue. But I am wise and I hide behind a computer to these controversial things. Sure you can respond and I have the choice of publishing your response or not, but I will not cause a scene in public over this powder keg of Biblical interpretation. I will only remind you of what Paul says in the first verse of this opening scripture and welcome you of weak faith to my world. A world where every meal is wrapped in bacon and every Vegan is weird. But just like the bacon, the Vegan is loved. I love you and God loves you and I believe if it were possible, bacon would love you.
I love what verse one says. Sadly it is ignored by way too many Christians. We just can’t resist a good argument. There is just something fulfilling, in the wrong way, about arguing. Of course I would love to have everyone agree with me on all of my points of view, but that would mean I would have less of a drive to blog as often as I do and you would be less fun to mess with. You, being anyone who does not believe the way I do.
God loves unity, but most people would argue that the church who believes in this God of unity, sure doesn’t love the unity that He does. After all, many wars have fought over religion or something to do with it. On any given day you can start a fight between two people who say they believe in the same Jesus just by asking them to explain the difference in what they believe. I know it sounds like a lot of fun, but us believers we really ought to think twice before we open our mouths sometimes. I have met more people who refuse to believe in the God of the Bible because of Christians than I ever have because of their own research.
I started off poking fun, and yes it was just that, to prove a point. Arguments over such things have been going on for quite a while and to be honest, they are not important in the way that God thinks about us. Humans will never be able to fully understand God’s love and patience with us. But other humans will never understand Christians who set out to do battle with anyone who has an opinion different from theirs. The church, is made up of people from every walk of life and the only constant is a God that we can’t fully understand. He has made it simple to be part of His family, but not exclusive to the interpretation of any one person or group. It all boils down to this. We are sinners, God is not. God loves us, we love self. So God gets to call the shots and is fully capable of straightening out any mess that we make, even when it involves bacon.

November 25, 2011

Ism’s

by pastortimfowler

If you know me then you know that I love Facebook and that I am a sick man. Anyone who loves Facebook must be sick. But I do and I love to goof off and mess with people, while at the same time, try to remember that I have a responsibility to share my faith with others and to defend my faith as well. But you know what that means…trouble. So I should learn to listen to my dad who said to just walk away from a fight. Unfortunately I didn’t walk away from many physical fights when I was young and I didn’t walk away from a Facebook fight the other day. I thought that I would share what I learned and then add some brilliant commentary.
A good friend of mine is a vegan. No, not an old car made by Chevrolet, a person who doesn’t eat meat. I don’t know why I like someone so silly, but I do. She will occasionally post some stuff letting me know how ignorant I am about animal feelings and I can’t resist telling her that I only see a meal. We joke often, but deep down she knows that I am right and that she really wants a steak. It is because of this that I am considering a vegan converting scheme that will cause her to stock a freezer full of yummy beef products. I am going to start a farm where cows are raised and pampered and groomed and only eventually die of old age, and then butchered while soft, sad music is playing. What vegan could resist this? And before you say it, I know, this is a stroke of genius.
Now back to my original thought. I had a few folks who were determined to convince me that anyone who ate meat was sinning. Even though I presented several verses of scripture that showed otherwise, they were insistent that even the killing of an animal was a sin, which would mean that God was a sinner and everyone who ate the Passover meal was a sinner because they were doing what God said. The discussion went back and forth for a while, longer than I should have had an interest in it, and finally ended as I drew everyone’s attention back to my friend by making jokes at her. (She loves it).
I believe that making a choice to be a vegan, eating only plants and plant products is perfectly fine. I believe that if you make this choice because you have great compassion for animals it is perfectly alright. But as soon as you allow this to pervert what God’s word says, it becomes an “ism”. Here is the definition of an “ism” from the dictionary: (noun)- informal, derogatory, often an unspecified doctrine, system, or practice. This is done with race, socio-economic status, beliefs on evolution (Darwinism) and many others.
We don’t like to think of the world in a purely good and evil sense, but it is. Jesus said if you are not for Him, you are against Him. Satan will use anything to drive a wedge between you and God, even the food we eat. The Apostle Paul spent some time explaining that eating meat that was sacrificed to idols was okay, unless it offends the weaker believer. The Pharisees tried to tell Jesus that His disciples were sinning because they ate without washing their hands. Anything that can cause us doubt about God and His word is dangerous to us and is a result of evil forces working against us.
If you believe that evolution supersedes creation as described in God’s word, you are wrong and are influenced by Darwinism. If you believe that following the ten commandments gets you to heaven when the Bible is clear that Jesus is the only way, you are wrong and are following Legalism. If you believe that your race makes you better than another race, you are wrong and following Racism. If you believe that eating only plants is correct and eating meat in a sin, as it was told to me in the Facebook discussion that the Bible says “Thou shalt not kill”, you are wrong and are following Veganism.
I am proud to be white, but white don’t make me right. I love my race, but hate racism. I want to try to follow the ten commandment, but realize my need for a Savior as a law-breaker. I do not abuse animals and I am perfectly aware of some who do, and they are wrong. But eating meat is perfectly acceptable in the eyes of God. Veganism can be dangerous if it perverts the word of God. Many movements start out with great intent but get twisted by people who are misleading, then they risk becoming “ism’s”.
Being a vegan because you have compassion for God’s creation and you made this choice because of your inner conviction, makes you, well, like my friend, the vegan Christian. She can take the jokes as well as dish them out. She stays true to her convictions, and, although I can’t read her mind, I feel pretty confident that her most important “ism” was her baptism.
Be careful little child what you see, be careful little child what you read, be careful little child what you hear. There’s a Father up above, And He’s looking down in love So, be careful little eyes what you see.