Posts tagged ‘gospel’

October 2, 2012

What It Means To Be Called

by pastortimfowler

I have been blessed to be the pastor of my church for 10 years now. In those ten years I have seen a lot of stuff that many might take for granted, but I am still amazed at. Like when people who are one day going to hell if they die and in the very moment that they ask God to forgive them they change their direction toward going to heaven. The church is a place where people from every walk of life should be able to come and find love and forgiveness. God loves people so much that He let His Son Jesus die on a cross as payment for our sin. Once a person accepts this forgiveness, God begins a process of growing us into people who serve others. He requires His people to take a personal role in developing new believers, called discipleship, and often calls men and women to become more than just believers, to become ministers of the gospel. In our church lately we have had several men who have said that they feel called to this ministry; wow!. It is the call that I answered almost 20 years ago and feel very privileged to have done so.
So what does it mean to be called? Everyone is being called to answer God’s call of salvation. Few are called to the ministry in an official capacity and that is what I am talking about. A pastor, evangelist, missionary, youth or children’s pastor all are things that come with a specific calling. The Bible gives some specific instructions in the books of 1st & 2nd Timothy and Titus for those who are called. It tells us things like we should not be drunks, we should manage money well, and we should have our family in order. Sadly, many people don’t care about those things and they leave themselves open for criticism and corruption and Satanic attacks. But one of the main things that the Bible teaches about this call is that it is a call to be a servant and that few will be called, but those who are called are called for life.
It was Jesus who said that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. God made salvation very easy to obtain but the call into the ministry unique. Way too often men answer the call to ministry with an idea of a position of authority. Perhaps they should think about Jesus washing feet, the job of the lowest ranking servant. Perhaps they should remember that Jesus said that the greatest among us will be the servant.
Titles can be worn by anybody. But they can only be exemplified by those who live out what that title requires. Pastor is a title that has its roots in being a shepherd. Shepherds were not highly thought of in society and rarely told people what to do. Instead they put their lives on the line for some pretty simple animals who needed protection. They have the position of a leader but the responsibility of a servant. Leading as a shepherd means having sheep follow, not telling them where to go and what to do.
Those who are called into ministry must learn to be humble. Humility is rarely a normal human quality. We are taught early and often to look out for number one and that we deserve the best. Jesus was the ultimate minister. He humbled himself even to the point of dying on a cross for those who hated Him. He healed sick, fed the poor, and raised the dead and yet never took the credit for doing great things. His main focus was saving the souls of a fallen mankind who cannot save themselves.
When you are called into the ministry it means that you get serious about becoming not only a teacher, but a student. Although God equips those that He calls, He expects us to submit ourselves to the teaching of those who have gone before us. Sometimes that means submitting to someone without a title or someone who’s personality clashes with our own. Sometimes it means serving in a position that no one else wants to do, not even yourself. Sometimes you have to do it for longer than you want to and remember that you have been called to serve God and man even if man doesn’t give the recognition that you want.
But ultimately being called into the ministry means that God knows that you can do what He has called you to do. What He calls you to do should be the highest priority and pleasing Him the goal. Sometimes the rewards are very obvious, but often they will only be recognized when we get to heaven. But the call to ministry is a life long calling that is worth every second that you serve. Romans 11:29- God never changes his mind when he gives gifts or when he calls someone. This means when you want to quit, you don’t. It means when you  get tired, you dig deeper for strength. It means when you don’t see rewards for your efforts that you remember where your rewards are stored, in heaven, and you keep serving in faith.
I have been blessed in that I have been able to make it through some tough times since I have been called. I have seen many souls saved and lives changed and now I am seeing others called. I would love to take credit for some of these things, but I must always keep in mind that if I don’t do what God calls me to do, there are others who will. I am not needed by God, but I am wanted by Him. He loves me; first enough to save me, and secondly enough to call me into this crazy life of ministry. What it means to be called into the ministry is really quite simple. It means that God is God and we have surrendered to Him no matter the cost.

September 24, 2012

Answer The Call

by pastortimfowler

Old Bibles, Book Craftsman 7-2012

Over that last two weeks there have been two men in our church who have stepped up to say that they believe that God is calling them into the ministry. I remember when I finally made that announcement and it was very difficult because of the disbelief that God could use someone like me. But, 18 years later, I am the pastor of a church that is growing like crazy and now has men who are being called. It is truly a humbling experience.
I remember back before President Obama was even the nominee, when Hillary Clinton ran an ad asking the question, who do you want answering the call at 4am when the world’s peace is at hand. It was questioning whether or not the other candidate was qualified to be put in such a position of authority and responsibility. I thought that it was a great ad, but obviously it was not met with the answer that she wanted people to give.
All throughout the Bible, God calls men and women to serve Him and they begin to doubt that they are qualified. The truth of the matter is that no one is qualified on our own merits. You don’t get qualified by going to school or even seminary. You are not born with a knack for pastoring a church or preaching the gospel. It is purely a call from God. Because of this, no one feels worthy of the call. Moses argued with God when he was told to go and speak to Pharaoh. Ezekiel argued that he was just a youngster. None stepped up to say something like, ‘Finally, God. I was wondering when you were going to pick the right person’.
There is an old saying that I wish I could take credit for but I can’t. God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. It is one of the most truthful sayings ever made. Somehow, God takes messed up people and uses them to win souls and spread the message of hope. He takes people like me, who were drunks and drug addicts and sets them free and lets that horrible past become a testimony of God’s awesome love and power.
These two guys are part of a group of 5 others who have expressed a “call” in their lives by God to do something other than just come to church. I meet with them every Thursday morning at 6am for breakfast and try to share from my experience some useful bits of information that may help them along the way. Most of the time I spend sharing God’s words and my mistakes. They say that we should learn from our mistakes and I therefore may be the smartest man in the world if that is how I am learning. But I really want to encourage these guys to trust in God and give Him everything they can to fulfill the call.
Everyone who claims to be a Christian needs to know that God is calling you to do more than sit in a pew or a chair on Sunday. That is not why Jesus died on a cross. We are all called to share the love of Christ with others. Not all are called to pastor a church and lead mission trips around the world, or hold crusades like Billy Graham. But, we are all called to let our light shine before men and glorify our Father in heaven. Because of this, we need to answer the call. What can you do to be more than someone who just goes to church? It may be as simple as smiling and saying hello to someone who is lonely. Perhaps you can call people throughout the week a let someone know that you are praying for them. Maybe you can give extra so that someone else can go where you can’t. Whatever it may be, if God is calling, you will not be sorry for answering. I know that I have never regretted the moment that I said yes to God and I know that you won’t be either.
Answer the call.

July 6, 2012

Youth Gone Wild

by pastortimfowler

Today I saw our church youth and their leaders off for their first ever retreat and mission trip. Because our church is a young church, only 6 years old, missions has been slow to develop and certainly youth missions have lagged. But God has been doing some incredible stuff this past few months and is preparing our church to be a mission minded church. For those of you who aren’t “churchy”, missions is the command from Jesus that says to go into all the world and preach the gospel. It includes helping those in need and sharing a message of hope.
In the last year our church has had the opportunity to help several missionaries as well as take a few trips, including our recent trip to Cuba. Our youth are going to the beach to have a time of bonding and growing spiritually and to serve at a campground in the area as the missions part of the trip. I know it sounds minor, but before you can walk you must first crawl.
At last count there are 13 youth and 7 adults who are gone. I worry about the adults, especially those who are taking their first trip of this type. I can only imagine the fun that they are going to have. We had prayer with them before they left and I told the youth to behave, but I feel like perhaps I should pray for angels to surround the adults. When all is said and done, they will return with many stories of jokes and pranks and good times that will cause them all to be closer with each other and hopefully, closer to God.
So to end this very short blog, please pray for our youth and the leaders who took them. If you don’t believe in prayer, then buy the upcoming video, Youth Gone Wild, featuring youth from our church duct taping youth leaders from our church to various utility poles all around the Myrtle Beach area.

May 1, 2012

Sowing and Reaping

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7726011@N07/5263126267/

Galatians 6:8 …If you plant in the soil of your corrupt nature, you will harvest destruction. But if you plant in the soil of your spiritual nature, you will harvest everlasting life.
Sowing and reaping are words that we don’t use a lot anymore except in church. But when the Apostle Paul was talking to the church in first century, everyone understood those terms. Sowing has to do with the method of planting seed, especially grain, which meant that you took a hand full of seed and threw it out in a sweeping motion in order to cover as much of the plowed ground as possible in as even a pattern as possible. Reaping was the method of harvesting the grain after it was fully developed. It was the point of the harvest where you realized how much of the seeds really developed into usable crop. There were weeds that commonly grew in wheat called tares, that looked like wheat until it was harvested and then you saw the seed-head.
Paul used this to teach about spreading the word of God. Unlike today where we can buy seed that is 99.9% pure seed and plant rows that are identical and harvest almost pure wheat, they could not do that then. They had to rely on spreading lots of seed over as much of the ground as possible in order to get the biggest harvest. That was the idea of spreading the gospel too. Not to be picky about who heard it, but to let as many as would listen hear it and let God produce the fruit. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, Paul uses this analogy to teach about how the seed of the word of God is what we spread to the hearts of people and God is the one who ensures the growth.
As usual, humans mess up what God intends to be good. We have taken the sowing and reaping and turned it into a name it and claim it mentality (Sow $20 and you will reap 10 fold). As much as I believe that God honors our giving and will bless it, there is no promise to make us rich. God could care less about our money if we care less about lost souls. Jesus died to save us from our sin and not to make our financial messes go away. Paul continually reminded churches of the need to stay focused on preaching the message of Christ crucified and not getting caught up in worldly things. Paul was concerned with sowing spiritual things and reaping spiritual things.
I know that right now many are typing their rebuttal to this telling me how wrong I am about the name it claim it statement. I have come to appreciate the chance to ruffle a few feathers for the sake of getting you to focus on what God sent Jesus to do and not what you think He will do for you because you sow your money. That is the focus of some, not all. There are ministry need that include money, but we must never forget that God can do it without our money if we are willing to sow the spiritual seeds that He has intrusted us with. Paul was a rich man before he became a Christian. He gave up most of his riches for heavenly rewards that are eternal. He worked hard to sustain his daily needs and God blessed him and met his needs. But Paul’s number one concern was for the spreading of the word not the spreading of the wealth.
There is nothing wrong with having money. God can bless us with earthly things. Some, I believe, have a special call to give financially to help other do ministry. But if you never had a dime to your name and you sow to the things of God, you are rich. No dollar amount can be placed on the forgiveness of sin and salvation given to us by what Jesus did on the cross. The reaping of souls, grown by the sowing of the seed, called the word of God, is a harvest that the modern church has for too often replaced with the reaping of a dollar because they sow their money far more than they sow God’s word.
Love ya. Mean it.

January 31, 2012

Tourist Trap Christians

by pastortimfowler

So, we were in the Bahamas for a port of call during our recent cruise and decided to play tourist. We left the ship to go shopping in the town and see if we could buy a few souvenirs and gifts for the kids back home. We went into what was called the Straw Village which was lined with row after row of locals selling trinkets and t-shirts and hats. After the third row of probably 20 rows, I began to notice that nothing was much different from the row before. The same hats, the same jewelery, the same shirts, just a different display and a different person sitting there trying to get us to buy their stuff. There was no gap in between tables and only about five feet in between vendors. As we continued to make our way around to the next row and then the next, I began to see something that made me think about Christians.
Let me preface what I am about to say with the note that I never like to lump any group of people together with a blanket statement, even though there are many broad statements that could be said about many groups, including Christians. I am not accusing all Christians of being like what I am about to say, but there are enough that it could apply to a large portion of them.
Each vendor in this place knew that there were cruise ships in port that day. This was a regular stop and a popular place for tourists to shop. Most of the first time tourists like me, were expecting this enthusiastic greeting from all of the locals who they were trying to earn our business. Sadly, it wasn’t so. Instead of a warm welcome, we were greeted with a barrage of the same old lines repeated by each vendor there. “Slow down, look and touch. Great deal today.” This was said over and over by each vendor and was said with no enthusiasm and no meaningful voice inflections. And, because they were seated so close to each other, there was no recognizable difference in one vendor to the next. They were so used to tourists being there that it was not special to them, even though it was our money buying their goods that put food on their plates. They repeated the same lines so many times that it had no impact on them nor us, the tourists.
Christians have become a lot like this. We are free in America to speak the Gospel anytime, anywhere, to anyone. But we have heard it and spoke it so much that there is no meaning to our words anymore to the ones who hear it from us. Those who hear it from us have heard the same old lines repeated time and time again by a less than enthused Christian that it does not convict them to act, but rather compels them to hurry through the market of churches selling Christianity.
Every now and then we came across an individual in the market that had a smile and a belief that what they were selling was really worth you buying and they were willing to put the effort into making the most of their one opportunity to sell you what they had. And strangely, at these rare vendors tables, tourists were flocking and buying and walking away thinking that they had received something special from their visit to the Bahamas.
I know that my salvation, given to me from God through Jesus Christ is special. You can only get it from God and He has authorized me to be a vendor for it. He has put me in a market place that has groves of people walking through, looking for something and someone to convince them to buy it. I can either repeat the same old boring line that you have heard a million times before or I can sell it to you in a way that makes you know that what I have is special. The burden is not on the tourist walking by my table in life, but on me, the vendor, who has been given the wonderful opportunity to sell you something that will make you glad that you came by my table.
Most tourists only get to visit a place like this once or twice in a lifetime. Some will buy a trinket that will end up in the bottom of a suitcase and make a less than dazzling impression on others and may never get a second look after that. Some will remember the person who sold the trinket and tell the story of how wonderful the person who sold it to them was and convince others to try what they just experienced. But never forget that the vendors are the ones who truly make the difference to someone buying from them. They are the ones who make someone walk by in hopes of escaping, or, stop and buy what they are selling.
Christians are not selling to tourists the trinkets of a vacation, but a life changing, eternal hope of having favor with God and being able to show the benefits of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior. Churches are not the place that just happens to put food on the table, but rather are giving food for the soul. Jesus is far better than trinkets and t-shirts and certainly is better than a 5 day vacation in a tropical paradise. It is the hope of an eternal home in the paradise of Heaven with a God who loves us enough to pay our sin debt and allow us to share this awesome hope with others.

January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Jr

by pastortimfowler

Today is a national holiday in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I have to admit that I have never studied this man in-depth and what I know of him is limited to a few brief bio’s that I have skimmed over and what I have heard from the media, which scares me to think that I would even trust those. I do know that his desires for racial unity were good and honorable and to that I applaud him. He was a Minister of the Gospel and his compassion for the human race was rooted there.
I think that in the media’s reporting of his life there has been a severe lacking of linking Dr. King with Christianity. Again, I am not an expert on him, but just casually trying to recall all that I have heard reported about him and his life, I rarely hear that He was a minister. If I am wrong, I apologize, but to me he is made to sound more like a community activist than a man who was taking the love of Christ to the streets with a belief that it would change the world. Personally, I believe that is exactly what he was doing.
Jesus taught that those who call themselves Christians should love not only each other, be even our enemies. He taught that our neighbor should be loved like we love ourselves and that our neighbor was our fellow-man. Jesus did not segregate. He did observe the laws and customs of the day, which compared to modern American laws and customs could seem bigoted, but Jesus had compassion on all of humanity.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth that he became all things to all men in hopes that he might win some of them to Jesus. This was not a statement of someone who was trying to please everyone all the time, but rather of a man who loved people enough to meet them where ever they were in life, rich or poor, Jew of gentile, Christian or not. He taught that in God’s eyes that all were sinners and that Christ died for all; red yellow black or white, it did not matter.
The Apostle James warned the church about being the type of Christians that only hear what God says but do nothing to show our faith. He warning about judging someone based on their financial status and what they wore. He challenged Christians to pray for those who were less fortunate and then to put feet on our prayers.
So Dr. King was echoing the Bible and the heart of God when he proclaimed his dream that one day little black children and little white children would live together in a world with equal rights and equal opportunity. He was echoing the Gospel as he proclaimed that we all have a responsibility to teach our children to love each other and to not look at the outside to judge one’s worthiness. Dr. King did not walk the streets shouting angrily at the injustice of the white man or the government, but rather he walked in faith knowing the truth of the Gospel was more powerful than the lies of hypocrisy and racism. He knew that the church, which is the body of Christ, was the answer and the key to all men not only being created equal, but being able to live that way in America.
Today I have the honor of working with some bold and brave black pastors who have decided to carry on the call of Dr. King look beyond race and look to Jesus to solve the issues that face of today. They have taught me more about the true person of Dr. King, the minister on the Gospel, then any book and media report I could ever hear or see. They have embraced the call for reconciliation and recognize that only Christ can truly change the heart of a man, but without the examples of men who know this truth, all is in vain. I thank them for showing me an example of the greatness of a man who loved God and loved his neighbor, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

January 4, 2012

Dont Read The Book

by pastortimfowler

Every time I get the chance, I tell my church and the people in the Bible studies that I lead, to read their Bibles from the beginning to the end and to do it often. I remember the first time I did it and it was life changing. I have never had such a great feeling of accomplishment than when I finish it the first time and then again and again. I never get tired of seeing new things that He reveals to me. I will admit that I do get nervous with some of the things I am confronted with. Often it is my failures and my insecurities and my lack of faith. But with each reading I gain the trust and faith in God to step a little closer to what He has in store for me and a little bolder to speak with faith the love of God for humanity.
I am not an avid reader. Other than the Bible, I have to make myself read books. A few years back I committed to reading at least 6 new books each year. That does not sound like much to some, but there was a time just before this commitment that I could count on one hand the number of books I had read completely.
The other day I was given a book to read by someone who works with me in the ministry. I had heard about it and had thought that one day I would get around to reading it. But now it was in my hands and so I started. RATS! DARN! FIDDLESTICKS! and other words of frustration.
I tell people who reading is great and beneficial and I encourage it. I caution people who when it comes to Christian books, especially those who claim to explain the Bible that they should be careful. I tell them that they should never let a book interpret the Bible, but to let the Bible interpret the book. Of course this is not possible if you have never read the Bible from beginning to end. So, seeing how I have read the Bible from beginning to end, I can allow this to happen, and this book is very biblically sound.
It is challenging Christians, and I are one, to take to heart the command to “go into all the world” like Jesus commanded. Not just to go, but to do and to equip those who do. It suggests that the American church is not doing much that requires God to help. It suggests that what most churches are doing are done through man’s desire and not really God’s desire.
Never the less, this book does not challenge churches, it challenges individuals, just like the Bible. I have been challenged, and I am going to try to take up this challenge. I am not going to give details right now, because it is a bit overwhelming for me. I am going to start looking at doing what we can’t do unless God is involved more than what we can do and it would be nice if God would join in with us.
I ask for your prayers. It is crazy to know that you are a Christian who serves a God who created the universe and know that most of what you are doing doesn’t require God to be part of it. As I read the Bible, I read accounts of miracles. Not stuff that can’t be explained, but stuff that can’t happen unless God does it. Sadly I don’t see that in much of my ministry. I do see God working through our church and we are reaching people with the Gospel. To that I am thrilled! I just want to know more of God’s will and less of my own.
Don’t read this book! Don’t read the Bible! Don’t do either if you are just doing it because you feel obligated, as if God were some dude that you owed the favor. You don’t owe God a favor, you owe Him your life. It is His. He promises that if we will do what He asks, that we will see Him do what He says. He said, and this is a paraphrase, don’t read the book, do the deed. (James 1:22)

June 2, 2011

Everybody Has a Butt.

by pastortimfowler

I told everyone yesterday in my blog that I went to a forum on Tuesday and how I was so turned off by the overwhelming negativity of the event. I want to now put a positive twist on it because I felt a little like I was no better than anyone else at the meeting by saying the negative things that I did. Sometimes “venting” helps you feel better, but usually God convicts when that venting does not give Him all glory.
My main complaint was that this was supposed to have been a meeting about how to better reach people and share the Gospel with them. It turned out to be a rehashing of the same old divisive rhetoric as always. My shields were probably up before I even got there so I want to do an “after blog” blog to clear my conscience.
Philippians 1:18
But what does it matter? Nothing matters except that, in one way or another, people are told the message about Christ, whether with honest or dishonest motives, and I’m happy about that. Yes, I will continue to be happy.
This is the Apostle Paul’s response to folks telling Him that people were doing things different. As you can see, he took a better perspective than perhaps I did. I can share other verses that tell you that there is a definite danger in people who pervert the Gospel, and God will be there judge, but this event that I attended was not that and neither are the churches and pastors that were being talked about in the forum. It is just a difference in opinion and people are told the message of Christ and that makes me happy too.
This denomination who put on this forum has a long history of preaching the Gospel. For a long time they have been a driving force in sharing Christ with people and continue still today. I think the reason I get upset is because I believe in their message and love their theory, I just see them withering in the path of tradition and it makes me sad.
One day I will be old and not understand what a new movement in church is doing. One day I will probably be more critical than I should be. I thank God that there are older Christians who watch out for false teaching and dangerous trends in the church. I want to be that way too. I only hope that I have wisdom enough to know the difference between danger to the church and pride in my ways.
Everyone who calls themselves Christians needs to be on guard for false teaching. Every New Testament book warned the church of it. We should be grateful for those who watch over the well-being of the best of our traditions because not every tradition is bad or wrong by any means. We must be careful that our desire for something new and fresh does not overpower the tried and true methods of the past. But, by the same token, if a tradition is no longer evangelical and it only appeases those in our church who want to hold on until they die, then we need to be bold enough to embrace change for the sake of those who need Jesus.
The wisdom of the Bible and God that tell us that the church is the body of Christ and this can help us look at the need for denominations and different styles of worship and evangelism. Just as our hands need gloves and our feet need shoes, our church needs difference too. They do totally different functions in the body but each one are vital to the body. My hands would never war against my feet because they hang out in smelly shoes and don’t get washed several times a day. My eyes don’t get mad at my ears for hearing and my tongue doesn’t talk bad about my lungs for breathing.
So in closing, I thank everyone for letting me vent, and I am sorry for being negative toward my fellow body parts. Christ is the head of the body, no doubt. I am still trying to figure out my part. God made all parts to work together for His glory and even if we don’t like it, that fact is, every body has a butt.

June 1, 2011

It’s Not a Program

by pastortimfowler

For the last 5 years I have purposefully removed myself from participating in any of the mainstream denominations because of the politics and what I consider to be a lack of genuine care for the churches that are not big money givers. I have given myself time to focus on our church and ensuring that biblical values are taught and that people understand that Christianity is more than coming to church and participating in a program.
The other day I got a call from the state office of a well know denomination asking me to take part in a forum that would discuss evangelism and because our church has averaged over 50 baptisms a year for the last 3 years, I was one of 25 pastors selected to participate. I was honored to be asked and even though it was a particular denomination, I thought that maybe they were changing and I am for giving anyone who promotes evangelism a chance.
In this denomination, there are churches that belong to local and state group within the national group. Usually those who participate in the policy of the denomination are those who pastor the big churches and therefore give the big money. Rarely do the smaller churches get much of an input that actually gets given much consideration and that frustrates me. Just because a church is not large and rich does not mean it is not doing God’s work.
So this forum on evangelism began by hearing a fellow speak from his heart about what evangelism is. Evangelism is nothing more than sharing the gospel. Telling someone Jesus died for their sin, rose from the grave, will forgive if they ask, and is coming again. How this is done is often the center of my headache. But this guy laid it out very passionately and very plainly. He said that in order to effectively share Jesus, you must have a relationship with Jesus and have a burning desire to see people who don’t know Jesus get to know Jesus. All of which I agree.
Then the fun started. We were told to break off into groups and discuss what we could do to overcome the downfall in baptisms of this particular denominations. You see, the total number of people within this denomination who were baptized last year had dropped 23% and this has been the trend for the last 5 years. In the small groups I was hoping to hear that maybe it was time to examine real change instead of superficial change. I was disappointed.
Here is a fact that I left out of how churches in this denomination were grouped. Most are part of the county group within the state and then all are part of the state and national group. But in the state of SC there are perhaps 40 or 50 churches who are part of the state and national but not the county group. The reason is the denomination has excellent doctrine but horrible politics and leadership. So these 40 or 50 churches are still counted but in a separate group. So let me share these statistics.
There are almost 1900 churches in this denomination in the state of South Carolina. The 40 or 50 churches that are separated like I was saying are usually churches who teach the doctrine but have forsaken the traditions and the politics and even the title of this denomination within their own name. Well those churches did twice as many baptisms as the other nearly 1900 churches combined. And guess who was not represented at this meeting (other than myself)?
In fact not only were there not anyone else from these churches at this meeting but those who were there began to talk about what was wrong with these 40 or 50 churches. You know, the ones that doubled their baptisms with over 1800 fewer churches. And now I remember why our church became unaffiliated years ago.
You see the programs that organized religion does were one time great ideas that were effective tools to reach people who need Jesus. But somewhere, some one forgot that the world continued to chance and that everything else changed the way they reached people; business, schools, government, but not churches. They got stuck in the rut of traditionalism and politics and forgot that evangelism is the act of sharing Jesus, not a program.
My son attends a church that has radically evangelized the state of South Carolina and is now reaching the world for Jesus. It is also one of those churches that are part of the larger group, but, have distanced themselves from the denomination. This church alone baptized almost as many people as those other 1900 churches in this denomination. And sadly, this pastor was mentioned by name, at my table, as what was wrong with where the denomination was heading, instead of looking in the mirror and telling themselves that evangelism is about reaching people with the Gospel, it is not a program.
I pray that one day they will get it. But until then, I expect that the churches who have decided that evangelism is more important than politics will continue to baptize more people and those who play politics and religion will continue to wonder why their numbers are declining. It’s not a program!

April 8, 2011

Free to Speak

by pastortimfowler

Today a good friend of mine is going to preach in a public forum in Saudi Arabia. He was invited by the only known Christian church in that country and they have government approval to hold this public event. This is a country that routinely imprisons Christians and it is not uncommon to see them killed. My request is for you to pray for him. I know that by the time most read this he will have finished his sermon and moved on, but God will still be working, so pray that lives are changed today in this country.
In the USA, we face a different danger. Last time I checked it was not illegal to preach the Gospel in our country. We can still tell others, even government officials that we are follower of Jesus Christ and not be punished. I guess my question is, why don’t we? Why do so many American Christians hide their Christianity in a country that allows us to display it? I think the danger is not from being imprisoned by man but rather by our lack of passion for the Gospel. what is the danger there? Disobedience to God.
Could it be that we are more afraid of being publicly ridiculed by someone who thinks that we are imposing on them? I though that freedom of speech allowed that. There is certainly not a problem with those brave union workers who fill state houses and shout obscenities to elected official who they disagree with. There is not a problem people trying to save animals picketing or even those who gather to debate who is the better team on college campuses all around our country. But display your desire to share the Gospel and we are forcing our morals down people’s throats. Shame on Christians for worrying about it, but shame on the way it is done too.
Maybe it is not what we are trying to say then. Maybe it is how we are saying it. Could it be that the way some are making a public mockery of Christianity is the problem. After all there are those who think that protesting a funeral of a fallen soldier somehow constitutes God’s love. (Sick Bastards) And before you get all “offended” on me, a bastard is an illegitimate child and I can’t believe that these are God’s children doing something so sick.
Maybe it’s that Christians should not be the type to so quickly tell someone they are going to hell before they even know them enough to share the love. Or maybe Christians don’t even need to go into public places to be rude and unaccepting when people can just walk into some churches on Sunday and “feel the love” if you are not like them.
Sounds harsh I know, but I get so irritated with the church having so much freedom here in the USA and taking it for granted. Jesus welcomed all in love and so many Christians today don’t know how to love. They get caught up in religious activities and weekly programs and miss the love that compels people to travel around the world to risk it all to share the gospel.
Today in Saudi Arabia thousands will risk their freedom and their lives to hear the Gospel. Sunday in the USA, many will struggle with the decision of going to worship or going to the lake. Today in Saudi Arabia, a man will risk his life and ability to return home so that others will hear the Gospel. Today in the USA many will not hear it because a Christian does not have the time, or doesn’t want to be embarrassed.
I pray that here in the USA, the church will learn to appreciate its freedom. That we will pray for men and women, who like my friend feel so strongly about how special Jesus is that they risk it all to tell others. I pray that we would do it in love. There is so much love to share that we could start today and not have to be rude and hateful to anyone for weeks. I pray that I will have the boldness to speak works of love and encouragement to others and that Christians in the USA would take advantage of the fact that we are free to speak.