Posts tagged ‘heart’

October 15, 2012

Appreciation

by pastortimfowler

October is pastor appreciation month and this Sunday our church celebrated. The Pastor Bunny brought everyone heart-shaped gifts full of eggs and fireworks, wrapped in mistletoe. Not really. We did not have fireworks.
I was so grateful for the dinner and gifts and kind words. I am the one who should be giving the gifts and tokens of my appreciation.
I don’t hide it; I love my church and my church family. They never miss an opportunity to show God’s love to people. They make it easy to be a pastor and for the record, it is not always as easy as I make it look. After all, I am a trained professional.
So today I wanted to give a shout out to everyone at The Body, A Church for Anybody; my church! I wanted to say how much I love you guys and how blessed I feel to have the privilege of serving as your pastor. I wanted to say that gifts and meals and cards are wonderful, but pale in comparison to the love I feel all the time from you guys. There is never a time that I doubt your love or don’t feel like I am appreciated. And although I rarely like to speak for other people, I believe that I can say the same is true for my associate pastors as well.
One of the great things that you do for me on a regular basis is love my wife. In fact, I think that we can tone that back a bit. She is beginning to think that she is more important than me. Just kidding. She is humbled by your love and affection for her. In no other church that we have ever served in has she felt so genuinely loved. And if anyone wants to win over my heart, that is the best way to do it; love and appreciate my wife. For that I say thank you, very much.
Our church is on an amazing journey. We are growing both numerically and spiritually. We see folks introduced to Jesus every week because you guys are bringing others. Those people are coming because they see your love for God and your belief in our church to show that love. We are seeing people who’s lives are being changed in every aspect of life. Marriages being restored, friendships being developed, people called into ministry and to the mission field. None of this happens in a church because of a great pastor. It happens in a church because of great people who serve a great God.
So since I have had my time in the spotlight for pastor appreciation month, I would like to make the rest to this month about me, the pastor, showing my appreciation for the people I get to serve. I am sad to say that I won’t be able to buy everyone a gift or cook everyone a meal, but I will say thanks to God every time I pray and every time I think about each of you. I will try my best to smile and give you all a hug as often as I can and express my appreciation to you as best I can.
For anyone who does not attend my church, please show your love and appreciation for your pastor, not just this month, but all the time. Love his wife and his family and watch how God will bless you and your church. October is Pastor Appreciation month, so take some time to show it. If you aren’t sure how, I know a bunch of people who are experts at it and can show you anytime.
Thank you!!! The Body, A Church for Anybody!!! Your pastor appreciates you!!!

March 13, 2012

Give It Up

by pastortimfowler

My wife and I were watching TV last night and saw a commercial that made us both laugh. Perhaps the seriousness of it was not meant to make us laugh but there was a line that caused us both to laugh very hard. The commercial was for one of these devices that you wear around your neck and press a button if you need medical assistance. What got my attention is that everyone on this commercial was a woman. I thought to myself that maybe only women were allowed to buy them and maybe I had a discrimination law suit against them. But what got us laughing is that one woman said that she loved her device so much that she would give up beer, wine, and cigarettes to have her little button around her neck. Image that. Willing to give up tobacco and alcohol to save your life. But my thought was, if she gave up the alcohol, maybe she would not fall down as much and could see the numbers on the phone to dial 911.
In my life I have given up alcohol and cigarettes. I have given up drugs, chasing women, and driving like crazy too. All of which can be dangerous to your health. I can’t say that my motivation was to give them up for health reasons as much as because of my relationship with God, but I have quit a few bad habits for a reason.
What are you willing to give up and what is your motivation? Many people have bad habits that would benefit us to give up. Health reasons are not enough. Money is not enough either. Wives, husbands, and children are not always enough either. So what is it that makes us decide to give up something that we think we enjoy but don’t need?
I am of the opinion that until we decide that we want to quit something it is virtually impossible to quit a bad habit. For years I drank alcohol and drank habitually. I knew that it was not good for my health, but that was not the motivation. I even got to the point to where it was ruining my marriage and my wife told me to quit or else, but that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t until I got to the point that I wanted to quit, and yes those things were a motivational part of my decision, that I finally had what it took to quit. I guess the bottom line is that we are the only ones in control of our lives.
This is why so many attempts to quit something fail. It is the reason why attempts at religion fail. It is why we don’t continue going to the gym or keep other New Year’s resolutions. We will never do the hard stuff until we decide that we really want it. That runs deeper than a decision made from disgust or peer pressure, it is a heart matter.
It would be nice if someone would invent a button that we could wear around our necks to push when we decided to do something tough. Just push the button and it does all the work for us. When we have fallen and can’t get up, we just push the button and we are set free. But it just isn’t that simple. That little button that was advertised was a method of calling someone to save you. The only problem is that you still had to wait for them to get there. You still had to hope that someone on the other side got there in time to do any good. Even if the lady gave up the beer and cigarettes, and could afford the service, it could still fail. But I guess if you are old and your mobility if limited, it is a nice thing to have at whatever cost.
Humans all have a need to be saved. Maybe it isn’t our health that is the problem. Perhaps we have a sin problem. Perhaps a physical death is not what we really need to be saved from. What happens when you die? What if you had to stand before a Holy God that did not tolerate any sin of any type when you die? How would you be saved then? Well there isn’t a button to push, but there is a very simple way. God says through the Bible that whoever will call to Him through Jesus Christ with faith that Jesus died in our place, will be saved. It is the method that I chose to believe and it has not failed me yet. There are many other promises that come with the promise of forgiveness and salvation, one of which is the power to overcome the things of this life that hold us back. That is how I quit smoking, drink, chasing women, and many other things that would kill me. I decided I wanted to change and God said He would help. Who knows, maybe you could be so bold? But like I said, until you decide you want it, it is probably not going to happen.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

January 5, 2012

Fleece

by pastortimfowler

In the Bible there is a story of a man named Gideon who was told by God to do something that he did not think was possible unless it truly was of God and Gideon wanted to be sure of it. So in order to be sure that he had heard from God correctly, he asked God to do something that only him and God knew and something that only God could accomplish as asked. He took a piece of wool, or a fleece, and set it out in the open field and told God that the next morning he wanted to see dew everywhere except on the fleece and then the next night, after God did this, he asked God to do just the opposite. God did what He was asked to do and Gideon knew that God was in fact the one who prompted him to do this God sized task. You can read the account in the book of Judges chapter 6 if you want to get the whole story.
I have asked God for something like this fleece deal in trying to make a couple of tough decisions. I feel weird even saying it, but I can’t wait to see it happen. As I wrote yesterday, there have been some things that challenged me as I have been reading the Bible and a book that a friend gave me. The timing of these two things and my feelings as well as some conversations that I have had with my wife over the last several months have caused me to be quite agitated. Not in a bad way, but in a way that I believe that God is wanting me to do some things that are out of my comfort zone in a major way.
I do not recommend the fleece method of clarifying what God is asking you to do. Gideon was not a weak man of faith, but rather his task that God gave him to do was beyond Gideon’s authority and comfort level to do on his own and he wanted no doubt that it was God telling him what to do. I believe that most of what we need to do for God is written plainly in the Bible and we are not doing them, so why would God ask us to go beyond expectations and why would we need to clarify what is plainly written for us.
No, I am not the perfect person at following everything that God says. I wish I was, but I am not. I do try to live a life of example to the best of my ability. But when it comes to everyday life, God is very clear on how we should live and what we should do. There is not much to fleece God about. And if we ask Him to show us a sign for something so very obvious, I doubt that He will waste His time showing us His miracles when we are not showing Him our faith.
Part of this experience of mine is a gut check of what I should be doing daily. Reading and studying the Bible, prayer for others, sharing my faith, and so on, are being checked and rechecked to be sure that I am not missing the obvious. In fact I would suggest this to every Christian to do on a regular basis. I get this feeling that one of the reasons that the church of today is not seeing the miracle-working power of God as we read about in the Bible is because we have boxed up God into our own little package of religion. If the church were to begin following the commands of Jesus in all that we do, I believe that some things that we consider miraculous today would become routine then.
No, I am not getting ready to play “super Christian” and start freaking everybody out, but I am taking an inventory of what I do and whether or not it is in line with what I preach and read from the Bible. It is not a New Year’s resolution, it just has the timing to be suspiciously like one. But I am tired of hearing that God did this or God did that and everything that happened could have happened even if God did not exist. I want people to see the God of the Bible in the heart of His servant and in the midst of His church. We don’t need a fleece for this, we need to trust God in our actions not just our words.
As far as my “fleece”, I will be just as satisfied if the answer from God is not in line with what I ask of Him, as long as it is in line with what He asks of us.

September 9, 2011

What I Learned Today

by pastortimfowler

Here is a very short blog that will summarize what I learned today at a leadership conference.
*You can drink from a fire hose.
*Christian leaders are not superstars, they are servants.
*If you aren’t grateful for what you have, God can always take it back.
*Your spouse needs to be your friend, not just your lover.
*Christians need to run towards the mess.
*Leaders need to be a bit crazy.
*Christ is enough.
I told you this would be short, but look out in the days to come as I want to elaborate on a few of these. My heart is running over with joy and excitement.
A very special thanks to the people at NewSpring Church in Anderson SC for their hospitality during this amazing conference.

September 6, 2011

Heart Troubles

by pastortimfowler

I went to see a friend today that just had a triple bypass heart operation. He was doing remarkably well for someone who 4 days ago had his chest cracked open. I laughed because I drove about 40 minutes, and only stayed about 2 minutes because he said he was hungry and sleepy, then had to run in the rain back to my truck to drive 40 minutes back. But it was a great use of my time to see an answered prayer face to face.
The human heart is an amazing organ. It pumps blood 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year for on average, almost 80 years. When something goes wrong with it we know it. We get tired, short of breath, and often feel pains like we have never felt before. What my friend had was what is most common for heart problems and that is blocked arteries that supply blood to the thing that pumps the blood. When this happens there are a couple of things that can happen. In the best cases, we can change our diet and exercise, and start taking some medications to help clear things out. A little worse and you get to have a roto rooter job done on the arteries and have stents put in to open them up. This too usually comes with diet and exercise changes and some meds. The last and most severe cases get the ol’ bypass operation. This is where they crack open your chest, clip some spare parts from other locations and install them in the heart to get the blood flowing again. Once this takes place they again tell you to change your diet, exercise and take some meds. With advances in medicine, most people are living 20 or more years after this procedure and regaining their health to a level that was better than before. Incredible!
The human heart is not only the amazing organ that keeps us alive but has also become the symbolic place of our emotions and our conscious. We ‘wear our hearts on our sleeves’ if we show emotions to easily for some and we are quick to say that ‘God knows our hearts’ when talking about our intentions to do good. God is called the Great Physician because He can physically heal our bodies when doctors say there is no hope, but what He does to our heart that we claim controls our inner being is even more amazing.
I have had a bad heart since I was born. The organ is fine, but the inner me is really in need of some help. My condition fluctuates from one degree to the other, but either way, without the help of the Great Physician, I would be dead. When I was about 20 years old I realized that my heart was really bad and God actually gave me a transplant. He put in me a new heart that He had designed to overcome my sin problems. He told me that if I would eat right and exercise that I would have no problems but if I ever decided to go back to my old habits, I would have problems. He restores the blood flow that gives life. That blood is the blood of Jesus. My diet is the word of God and the exercise is my faith of which I need to walk daily with.
There have been times when I ignored the Doctor’s orders and went back to eating the same old junk I use too and I have needed the bypass. It was painful and even embarrassing to think that I messed it up so bad. But I regained my spiritual health and started eating better and exercising and things went good. He restored the blood flow and sin was no longer clogging the way to my heart.
Today, there are still times that I have to allow the doctor to check me out and He usually fusses if I am straying off my diet and exercise. He prescribed a daily dose of His word to me back when I got my transplant and it is usually when I don’t take it like I should that the problems start-up. But every time that I get back on my daily routine that was prescribed, I feel better and my heart feels good.
The doctor really gets great joy when he sees a patient years after an operation and the patient is doing well. I don’t think anything is more disappointing to them than to see a person waste such a wonderful opportunity get their lives back. The doctor can only do so much, we must take responsibility for following His prescription for good health.
Every day now I check in with my Doctor. He is great in that He never gets tired of my calls. He never stops encouraging me to live the lifestyle that He prescribes and promises that no matter how much damage I do, He can fix it if I will let Him. The old part of me still desires the stuff that messes me up, but the more I stick to His plan the better my heart really is.
I hope that you never have to experience a heart bypass, but if you do, be encouraged that it will work and your heart will get better. I hope that everyone will let the Great Physician replace your old heart with a new one and that you to can have a life that is eternal. But don’t ever try to crack your own chest open and do it yourself. You will die. And you know what? You can’t fix your spiritual heart either and that death is forever. See the Doctor and get it done right
Ezekiel 36:26-28
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stubborn hearts and give you obedient hearts.
27 I will put my Spirit in you. I will enable you to live by my laws, and you will obey my rules.
28 Then you will live in the land that I gave your ancestors. You will be my people, and I will be your God.

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 28, 2011

A Better Pastor

by pastortimfowler

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

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

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