Posts tagged ‘friend’

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.

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July 27, 2012

So Long My Friend

by pastortimfowler

I asked you guys to pray for my friends the other day and I am grateful to all who did. I have to give you an update, and at first it seems sad. James died of complications of his illness last night. Because of this, I ask you to continue to praying for his wife and kids. As much as this sucks for them right now, I know that time and God’s grace will allow for things to get better.

James was a Christian. That means now he is better. No more sickness or pain, for him. That sounds great and is true according to what the Bible teaches and in that case I am jealous. But on the other hand, family and friends are left to deal with the sorrow and heart-break of his death. Nothing but time will help that and it is easy to begin to doubt God. That is okay though; God can handle that. He knows what it is like to have someone close die.

God knows that death is an enemy and we are told that the last enemy to be defeated is death. It is a momentary hiccup in the fabric of time that separates what we know and what God knows. Eternity is that close, and wow, in times like this, it is closer than I ever thought. But we are not left to guess what happens after someone dies. For those who believe in this stuff, God says if you have asked Jesus to take your sin penalty for you, you go to heaven. James made that decision several years ago and handed death over to God and accepted the gift of life.

James and I were really getting to know each other in the last year. I thought I knew him, but didn’t. He was really an intense guy who had a wacky past like me. He was funny, while at the same time kept it real. I found out that his faith was stronger than I thought and that was so refreshing.

While we didn’t have enough time with James for my satisfaction, God has promised us an eternity when this life is over. Now, his faith is no longer about what he believes. He has seen it for himself that God is real. He understands what we don’t; the answer to the question, why? He is laughing at our doubts and if I know James, laughing at me and some of the ways I struggled giving answers to things in the Bible that make no sense to us, but now make perfect sense to him. He has seen the beginning of life and knows that there is now no end. He is probably not worried about whether the chairs in the worship center are lined up straight or not. He knows the words to songs that Wanda tries to get us to sing louder and knows the words to songs that only those in heaven can sing. He even knows why that stupid video system doesn’t always work that drives me and Sheila crazy. Somehow I don’t think we will let it bother us as much anymore. (Hey James. Could you at least ask God to let it all work together just once for us?)

There is still a need for prayer. There is still a need for time and for sure, a need for God’s grace. I thank you all for your part. I thank God for the grace and for the time we had with James. I will straighten the chairs this week James, I am sure you have more important things to do.
So long my friend.

June 4, 2012

Sorry Mars

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/anniewong/112799109/

My last blog of last week was barely posted when I started getting replies. The very first reply was supportive and joking in response to my rebuttal of an article that I read on how we would have people living on Mars by 2023. So I could not wait to see more replies. Much to my surprise, they began to get nasty. Imagine my feelings, as fragile as they are, and how they must have hurt with some of your responses. There must have been a disconnect between the humor and sarcasm toward the article that I was writing about and the people who thought that I was being hateful and disrespectful to “green” people and the occasional vegan. To those who had their feelings hurt and might have been offended, I am truly sorry and will be very careful to never offend little green men from Mars again. No, wait, I mean “green” people who think that batteries are somehow better for the environment than my gas guzzling truck, which I love.
To the vegans who were offended or had their feelings hurt; I am truly sorry and will be very careful to never offend little green men from Mars again.
My dad once told me that if you had to explain a joke then it was not a good one or that you told it bad. My dad left off another possibility…Maybe the audience is too stupid, no that isn’t how you spell what I am trying to say. Umm, Maybe the audience is too self righteous…no that isn’t how to say what I am trying to spell. Well never mind. I guess some people just don’t appreciate or can not understand my supreme intellect when dealing in humor or they are too focused on themselves to be able to understand sarcasm. Either way, it was a fabulous blog filled with great jokes and sarcasm.
I love “green” people. I once sent a whole box of batteries to a the recycling place after I found out they don’t work if you mix them in the gas tank of your lawn mower. See, two attempts at being green in one failure. I even give some of my tax money to support the two electric recharging stations that are at the county park and no one can park there except people who own electric cars. I have seen one parked there in the months since they were installed. I am not sure if it is because people can’t afford electric cars or can’t afford to drive them after paying way too much for them or maybe they ran out of battery power before they got to their free electric charging station that I am helping pay for. You know, I was just thinking, I bet the won’t have that problem on Mars.
I love vegans too. In fact we have one that comes to our church. She is so cute when she gets angry. But I checked with her and she said that everything that I said in my blog was perfectly said and that she wouldn’t change a thing. At least that is what I think I heard her say. But I would have no problem with a meatless Mars; seriously.
I am glad that I got to clear all of this up and everyone is now happy again. I knew it only take one more blog to fix what you were thinking. Thanks for being so patient with me and for understanding. I do feel much better now. So to celebrate I am getting in my truck and driving to the farthest store in town that sells beef jerky and I am going to come home and eat it while I crank the AC down a few degrees so that I can enjoy it after I finish running all of that bad gas out of my lawn mower.
One last thing…I heard absolutely no complaints from talking robots, Klingons, or Romulans. I appreciate them more and more with every blog.

March 2, 2012

Child Addiction

by pastortimfowler

My wife is addicted to little children. Our own children are grown and cannot or will not produce babes fast enough for her. So she has a plan to have every baby and little kid at our church think that she is their Mimi too. I am pretty sure that this is not dangerous, but I do think it is an addiction.
Last night she went to help a couple with a baby that is only a month or so old. Both of them are sick and they are new parents and they were just worn out. My wife is a very compassionate woman. She will help almost anyone. But when she sees an opportunity to hold and spoil a baby she quickly jumps to feed her habit. I got the call that she was going to their house about an hour before she got off from work and was told that they were desperate and needed her help. I immediately knew that she just needed a baby fix.
Guess what she is doing tonight? Going to visit our son who lives a couple of hours from here so that she can “help” them. And guess what they have at their house? Yep. A baby. She is staying there for the weekend and my suspicion is that she is gonna be so wired up on baby that she won’t be able to drive home and that is why she is staying the weekend. She really does not know how to take babies in moderation. As an ex addict myself, not to babies, I know the signs. You always try to justify what you are doing, but no matter how much you try you always end up over indulging. There have been times when she would come home from “helping a friend” and she would smell like baby or small child.
Don’t misunderstand, she is not dangerous and I am not scared of her when she is using. Rarely has she ever missed work and she has never lost a job because of it. She has never threatened me seriously with violence and for the most part it does not interfere with our marriage. There are times when I will choose to sleep on the couch because she is so strung out on babies and children, but it has not approached the point to where it threatens our relationship. From time to time she will stretch the truth about her habit. The other week she said that she was only going to have one or two kids and it ended up being six kids at once. I can tell you that one kid will take the edge off, but she is not satisfied until she is totally loaded with kids.
She tries to limit getting children from only people that she knows. Family and friends are her biggest suppliers. But she will quickly run to anyone who comes into our church with a child and try to, as she likes to call it, “love on them”. I have seen her trying to talk to strangers about their children but for now, I feel she can restrain herself.
I have to watch her closely. We cannot have children anymore. I thought that doctor had fixed the problem, but occasionally she will mention adopting. I am strong for her and I remind her that she is an addict and does not need children in the house all the time. Sure, I should probably put my foot down and get her some help, but without children, she can be difficult to live with, so I turn a blind eye and just try to help manage her addiction.

February 2, 2012

Philippine Prayer

by pastortimfowler

I have a friend who lives in the Philippines and he is someone who starts churches and helps pastor of the churches that he starts. I talk to him regularly on Facebook and occasionally on the phone. We first met about nine years ago when he visited my church while here in the states raising funds for his work. For whatever reason God bonded us in friendship and we have stayed in touch and I feel much closer to him than the distance of being half way around the world from him should allow.
The Philippines is for the most part a poor country, and especially where he is. Many people there do not have running water or sewage. He told me the other day about a 3-year-old who died from complications caused by drinking from the river because they do not have the ability to drill deep wells for safe drinking water. His church had to get the body from the morgue for the family who could not afford it. This family of 6 live in a 3 meter by 3 meter room.
Although my friend is younger than I am, he is not in the best of health. He is a diabetic and has hepatitis. On top of that, he has bad allergies that cause frequent sinus infections. Every time I talk to him I tell him that he needs to take care of his health and he tells me that he stays busy so that he doesn’t have to think about it. The availability of medicines is not the greatest and the doctors and hospitals are nothing like what we have here in the states, so even if money were not an issue, the quality of care can be questionable at best.
This morning I got a Facebook message from his wife telling me that he is in the hospital. I have not heard what is wrong or how serious it is. There is a 13 hour time difference that makes talking a challenge, so I am waiting for a reply. I am asking those who believe in God to pray for him. He is an amazing person who cares for his people with great compassion and with very little concern for his own well-being. His wife and kids are amazing people too and they have supported him and his ministry with uncompromising dedication.
I also ask you to pray for that nation. There is a wide variety of beliefs in that country and many are in direct conflict with Christianity. Some even resort to violence against those who don’t believe as they do. There is little help from the government in the form of protection for those who are trying to start the churches. Being a nation of islands, many of the smaller or more remote ones are often ran by those who have little regard for the law. The church in the Philippines is not the powerful force of money and resources as we see in the states. It is much more like the church of the early New Testament, a group of believers who join together to help those in need. Its kind of refreshing when you think about it like that.
There is a need in my friend’s church and ministry for financial help if you were to feel led to do so. I normally would never mention something like this, but I have personal knowledge of the legitimacy of the need. If you are interested in helping out that way, you can contact me via email or message me on Facebook. My email is emanrev@msn.com. I will give you a direct contact source or you can give through our church. But most of all I ask for your prayers for my friend’s health, his ministry, and his country.
Thanks for the prayers and I will update this as soon as I hear about why he is in the hospital or that he is out and all is okay.

October 26, 2011

No Accident

by pastortimfowler

A good friend of mine has been in the hospital for the last few days and thankfully he is about to be released. It was really weird the way it happened and how quickly it turned dangerous. One day he is at the doctor for a minor problem, an infection, and the next day he is in ICU because his blood pressure had bottomed out. I will probably regret saying this, but thank goodness his wife kept nagging at him to go to the emergency room and get checked out. I know that she will not call it nagging, but us guys know what I’m talking about.
Whenever this type thing happens it always causes me to reflect on how short this life is and how quickly we can lose it. My friend is a guy about my age, so young, and relatively healthy and a week ago you would have never thought that he would be in the hospital, much less ICU. We can have someone we love with us today and tomorrow God can take them away. It reminds me of this verse from the Bible: James 4:14 You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. We rarely think of life this way until we are faced with these things.
So, what are you doing to make the most of this life? If you are like me, I often think about selfish things, like watching the football game or going fishing. But I am talking about making the most of life so that others can have it better. We are put here for a reason and somehow I don’t believe it was to be selfish. If so we are only here by mistake and there is no Creator, and if that’s the case, forget everyone, I’m going fishing.
When faced with the possibility of death being near, we often think, is there anything after this? There are very a few choices for what happens after death. If there is no God, no Creator, no Higher being who has any moral fortitude, then we don’t have to worry about what we do in this life. Unless you believe in reincarnation, but even then if there is no judge of what is a good life, then it is just the luck of the draw. With my luck, I would come back as a cricket or a worm being sold in a bait shop. But if we die and that is it, life just ends, we should not worry about doing anything more than what feels good to self. I can’t even make a good argument for being a good husband and father if there is no moral higher being that we have to answer too when we die.
As a pastor I have had to sit in hospital rooms with people who are dying, both young and old. I can’t recall anyone ever saying that they wished they had done more for themselves, but rather the opposite, they wish they had done more for others. Funny how people closest to death think very seriously about what is after death and those of us who seem to be a long way from death seem to be quite selfish thinking. But with what happened to my friend, healthy one day and in ICU the next, we all should be thinking a little more about how close to death we might really be.
I wrote in my blog yesterday that I wished that people would think a little more for themselves about things instead of listening to what others say. I think that holds true for how we think about God. I believe that there is a Creator who loves me and will judge the things that I have done. I believe that He offers forgiveness because He loves me and that He wants me to know Him. I believe that God wants everyone to know Him and that if we just thought logically, we might have reason to think that perhaps there is a God. Just look at the world around us. It has design and purpose and where there is design and purpose there is a designer. Let me leave you with this to think about.
If you had never seen a watch, but found one as you were walking along the beach one day, would you think that the watch formed by accident? After all, the sand contains the minerals needed to make the watch and the force of the ocean and gravity and the occasional asteroid crashing into the beach would create the heat needed to form the glass and if lightening stuck at the right time it would cause an electrical charge that would power the watch, right? Of course not. Although you couldn’t explain it, you would think that someone made it. Perhaps a watch maker.  And if you searched, you could find this watchmaker or at least someone who knew him or enough about him to learn what the watch was and how to use it.
I can tell you about my Creator, if you really want to know. Life is not an accident.

August 30, 2011

Charity Is Alive And Well

by pastortimfowler

A couple of days ago, my good friend tweeted that one of his friends had lost their home to a fire and had gotten out with only the clothes on their backs. They did not have insurance, they lived in an apartment, so they have little means to get back the things that were lost. I know that they are really glad that they survived, but survival can be a scary thing when you have no idea how to move forward and get back on your feet.
Within a day of posting this, he was receiving calls from all over South Carolina and even other states. Some were wanting to donate furniture, some money, some clothes and all were offering prayers. I was overwhelmed with the response because of the magnitude and the swiftness. There is something about Americans that is deep in our nature to help others.
Last night I asked a few folks from my church to help. Within a few hours, we had cash and clothes. I took 4 bags of clothes to the family today and a gift card from Wal-Mart that I bought with the cash. As we stood out in the parking lot of Wal-Mart, my friend told me how overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness this family was. He also told me that he was blown away from the response on one tweet. One tweet that asked for prayers amounted to hundreds of prayers and hundreds of dollars and loads of clothes and furniture. Jesus told His disciples that they did not have because they do not ask. He said ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find and a couple of thousand years later, asking does get results and God should get all the glory.
In the Bible, there are some words that we don’t get the full meaning of unless we study the original texts. The word love is like that. There are several words from the Greek that we translate into love. But the one that is the ultimate type of love is “agape”. Although many modern translations of the Bible use the word love, the King James Version however uses the word charity. Although we think of charity today as some kind of organized group to help the needy, the true meaning has more to do with the pure, unselfish nature of the giving that comes from a heart of compassion. It is the type of love that God has for us and is the reason behind Him giving His Son Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Our disaster of sin left us with no hope of survival unless someone showed us some “agape”. That is the word used in this most famous verse.
For God so loved, (agape), the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life…John 3:16.
Charity is alive and well!

June 14, 2011

Say It Now

by pastortimfowler

I had the honor today of doing a funeral for a friend whose uncle died the other day. Funerals are how we say good-bye to those who leave this life. It is one of the hardest things for a family to do, to plan a funeral that encompasses the wants and desires of every family member hoping to say I love you one last time in one last way. As a pastor, I get to listen to those stories and try to tie it all together in a way that offers hope and at the same time give the sense that I heard what they hoped to say.
We all live with family and friends in a world that has us so connected that we literally don’t go much more than minutes and at best hours without talking to someone either through voice or text or a social network. I find myself looking for something funny to say, just to say something to let my friends and family know that I am think about them. Sometimes I want to call my wife and just say I love you in hopes of brightening her day, but she can’t always take my calls at her work. But too often I say the silly things instead of saying the important.
Life is short. The older you get the more you realize this. I remember as a kid thinking that the summer was such a long time, and now, summer had just started and I can already think about fall and the cooler weather to come as if it were coming tomorrow. Birthdays and anniversaries fly from one to the next and a year seems far too short now. Days can be missed with the blink of an eye and children grow into adults faster now than ever before. In reality, time does not go faster, a year is still 365 days, but the perspective on that time is really different with more time spent on this earth.
After every funeral I do, I spend time thinking about what is really important in life. I think about spending better time if I can’t spend more time with the ones I love. I think about what I need to teach those who are following behind me and if what I am teaching will mean anything after I am gone. One thing that I am always reminded of is that saying I love you and acting like it really need to match up. Teaching the importance of taking responsibility for things in life that you are responsible for and that people are watching everything you do, so do it well. I also remember that because people are watching, I need to act like the Jesus that I tell people about.
But most importantly, I need to remember that once I am gone, and others are telling people about me and my influence in life, that I have nothing more to say. When life ends, so does the chance to tell someone who you love them and that you are proud of them and that Jesus loves them. When life ends, so does your ability to say those things, so say it now!