Posts tagged ‘holy’

May 15, 2012

There Is No God

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturegal/4267190771/

As a pastor and a Christian, I have heard many criticisms of my faith. I am cool with that, after all, there was a time when I did not believe and offered as bad, if not worse criticisms myself. One of the things I often hear is how cruel and intolerant God and the Christian faith is. I have to admit that most of the harsh things said about Christians are earned by those who call themselves Christians, but God is a different story. He is called cruel and intolerant for a lot of wrong reasons and mostly because people refuse to read the whole Bible and take things in context. I include Christians in this. They are just as bad to quote one liner to point out how bad someone or something is and tell you that you are going to hell. The Bible was never meant to be a book to prove our point by pulling out what fits our argument. It is meant to show how God is God and we are not and that there is morality that matters in this world and those morals are based on who He is and not what we think it should be.
So for a moment I am blogging as if there is no God.
If you disagree with me about anything, you are a scumbag. I make the rules and I am right. Who are you to disagree with me? Nature put me at the top of the food chain and my opinion of what is right is right. Sure, you can have an opinion, but I don’t care what it is and that makes you intolerant because you won’t even try to understand why I am right. I made myself to be the god of this blog and anywhere else I am. My beliefs are right because I believe them.
I, for this blog, now believe in evolution and natural selection. It is good science and it is right. Natural selection is the process by which biological organisms with favorable traits survive and reproduce more successfully than organisms that do not possess such traits, and, conversely, organisms with deleterious traits survive and reproduce less successfully than organisms lacking such deleterious traits. (New World Encyclopedia) Because of this, I must be superior or I would not have survived. Therefore, people who are inferior to me will be or should be dead and cease to exist. This includes homosexuals who cannot reproduce for themselves and therefore must be inferior. They should not survive the evolutionary process and should be dead. Don’t get mad at me, there is no God and I am making the rules. Who are you to try to force your morals on me? You fascist pig. That is real science that backs me up. Only someone who believes in a loving God who provides a way for all of a fallen humanity to be forgiven would ever think that homosexuals have a right to exist on this planet. Real humanists know that evolution is right and never would allow for anything that can’t even reproduce itself to continue to evolve. That would be unscientific and mean that evolution is flawed and cruel. It would mean that weaker things could not continue and have to be replaced by better things, like me.
Okay, back to reality. I do believe in God. Yes, God allows for sin to be punished by death, but at least it is because of a sin of choice rather than being born a certain way that condemns us. Humans are all going to sin. I too have and do still sin. Over time God dealt with sin in different ways. But every time He dealt with sin, He offered a chance to repent first. Read the whole Bible before you challenge me on that one. God never just kills innocent people. God even cares when an animal dies. But nature and evolution, have no conscious or morals and the weak and inadequate will die with no hope. And if there is no God or higher authority, who are you or anyone else to tell me how to live? If there is no God, then I will be God to myself and you can not.
God is love and chose to give a way to be forgiven through the death of His Son. He is holy, we are not. But God made it possible for us to become one with Him. Not through evolution or natural selection, but through redemption. No sin is worse than another. We don’t get to choose what sin is, God does. We don’t get to condemn either, so stop it Christians. We need to remember that we are only going to heaven by the grace of a loving God, not because we are special. And none of us have become perfect in this body. (I am close).
The Bible is a beautiful book of God’s love for a fallen creation and His provision to restore us. He has, does, and will judge sin that is not forgiven, but did, will, and does forgive any and all sin when asked. And there are no bigger sins than another. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

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March 12, 2012

Three Things I Learned

by pastortimfowler

I just finished reading the Bible through again for at least the 20th time. No, I am not bragging, it is just a fact. I started out several years ago trying to read the Bible from beginning to end at least once every year. For the most part I have been successful and sometimes I get through it twice and other times I fall a bit short. But I have noticed that every time I read it through I learn something different or strengthen what I thought I believed and every now and then I have to change my mind on something. Either way I am never disappointed. Another reason I do this is because I tell my church all the time that they need to read the whole bible for themselves and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.
I believe that at least 75% of Bible conversations contain some sort of misinformation. Not intentional, but out of ignorance. The Bible is an incredible group of writings that span thousands of years and many cultures. That can make proper interpretation difficult, but certainly not impossible. The reason for this misinformation is that people who say that they are Christians do not read the Bible with the intent of learning what God says, but they read it to pick out what they want to believe He says. Throw in the fact that translation any language to another can be difficult to insure the purity of the thought is intact and you can have some really wild stuff come out in conversation. But that is not the purpose of this blog.
Here are three things I learned this time.
1. God is not a liar. Now I knew this and didn’t doubt it, but I kept being reminded every day that if God says it He means it. He said that sin would cause death and it does. He said that He forgives and He does. He said that Israel would never cease to exist and despite all odds, they have not. There are prophesies that were written hundreds of years before they came true and the accuracy in which they came true are incredible. History has some amazing records of what the Bible says coming to be true. Sure there are still things that I don’t understand and have not come true, but the more I read it the more I believe it.
2. What I thought were inconsistencies are not. This is very close to repeating what I said in the first thing, but I want to elaborate. There are things in the Bible that seem to contradict itself. Yet the same Bible says that there are no contradictions and that the Bible is God’s infallible word. This is the source of friction between denominations and churches and believers and non believers. As of right now there are things that I don’t have an answer for when it comes to this subject. But every time I read the Bible, I find that the inconsistency is not in the Bible but in my interpretation of it. That is why I said that there are times when I change my mind on something that I thought before. Some call this flip-flopping or manipulating, but I just know that the God I believe in says that He is perfect and I am not. So if anything needs to change it must be me. No human will ever fully understand God until we get to heaven and He reveals to us His truth perfectly, without our sin nature getting in the way. Meanwhile, I will keep searching and adjusting to my faith to agree with God and His word.
3. God really loves me. The Bible says that God is holy and we are not. Sin keeps us from God and God hates that. So He made a way for us to be close to Him through the sacrifice of His son Jesus. Let me take a moment to clarify. I didn’t just learn that God really loves me. I just keep learning how much more He really loves me. The Bible is not a book full of perfect people who do perfect things to please God. It is just the opposite. It is full of messed up people doing stupid things that ruin our relationship with God and He has to fix it. He allows us to make a choice to trust Him or not. He never forces Himself on people but always tries to draw us close to Him. He is patient with us and waits for us to give Him a chance to show His love for us. There are hundreds of stories of people who tried and failed and still God kept wanting to mend the relationship and always accepted the repentance of those who asked for forgiveness.
Because the first two points I made are ever on my mind, I know that God has every right to kill me. I sin. But because He loves me unconditionally and I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, God has made me one of His children and fathers don’t disown their children, not loving fathers ant certainly not the perfect Father, God. Every time I mess up, God convicts me. It may take a while for me to see it His way, but when I do, He always forgives me and His love never changes. I tell you this because I mess up more than most think a pastor should. I tell you that because I want you to know that He will forgive you no matter who you are and what you have done. God really loves us!
There are several other things that I learned this time through, but I wanted to express these three because they are consistently being strengthened in my heart and mind every time I read the Bible. I challenge you to try reading it all, and then do it again. Don’t look for the gotcha moments, but look for the consistent truth that runs deep about a God that has every right to judge us, but does everything possible to redeem us.

November 17, 2011

Life Insurance

by pastortimfowler

Rock Hill SC is not tornado alley, but that does not change the fact that a tornado touched down and took the lives of 3 people yesterday. It is hard to imagine that yesterday morning, if you had asked these people, “do you think that you will die in a tornado today?” that they would have done anything other than laugh at you. Yet here we are facing the horrible truth that it happened and they are gone.
As always, I hope that these people knew Jesus as their Savior. I did not know any of them, but that doesn’t change the sorrow I feel because of this tragedy. It does not change that I hope they had eternal security and if that is true, ultimately they are okay now. I pray for the family members that are left to question why this happened and that they will find peace that only comes from God. Again I will continue to pray for them and there are already efforts to reach out and help those who have lost there possessions as well.
Most of us have probably thought about a scenario in which we meet our death. No, I am not being morbid, just blunt. Every time I fly I think about it. Often when I ride my motorcycle on long trips I think about it. But most of the time death is the farthest thing from my mind. And on most days which start off as normal as yesterday did, I don’t think about death at all.
Here is the problem. If we don’t think about death, and most importantly, what happens after we die, we are leaving eternity to chance and that is a chance I had rather not take. Very few people truly think that when you die, that’s it, the switch is off and nothing else happens. But we are confused on what to believe about the many possibilities. Even those who are Christians have some differing thoughts about what happens after death and I find that strange. Maybe we make it too complicated. Here is what the simplicity of the Bible says.
Hebrews 9:27 People die once, and after that they are judged. To be judged, there must be a conscious state after death. To be judged, there must be a standard of judgement. To be judged, there must be a Judge. To be judged, there must be a crime.
The crime, is called sin. An eight year old once gave me this definition of sin and I like it and think it is biblical. Sin is anything that you think, say, or do, that does not please God. The standard of judgement is holiness. God is holy and tells us that we are not. Sins reward is death and death is the vehicle in which we are brought to trial. No one is holy, not among humans. We all sin. One sin means that we are not holy and thus death is imparted. God is our judge, through Jesus Christ as our advocate. If you have accepted the death of Jesus as payment for your sin, He proclaims your penalty paid in full and commutes your death sentence to life in Heaven. If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, He says that He does not recognize you as His client and the death penalty is carried out. Not believing in Jesus or God will not stop this trial nor will it get you leniency. Proclaiming that you did not see the speed limit sign does not stop the officer from giving you a ticket.
We are not sure if we will have a tomorrow. Death can sneak up on us in many ways and much too often, when you least expect it. That is why many people carry life insurance, which provides for the family after you are dead. It does not return life to those who die. The only way that can happen is through Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me. This is life insurance that helps those who die. It is free and not because of a government mandate. It is free because God loves us and does not want to have to judge us as guilty sinners, but rather forgiven children. To get this insurance all you have to do is ask. Romans 10:13 So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

October 17, 2011

Dead Dreams

by pastortimfowler

Here goes another blog on a subject that will probably irritate some people and I have to say that the idea was not mine, but that dear friend of mine whom I keep referring too and who I think must like to see me get yelled at, (figuratively). This one is, what I think about people who die and get visions or messages from the other side then come back to tell others what they have seen. She wants MY OPINION, not hard-core facts, unless I have hard-core facts, and I have a few.
My first thought on this is that people want to write a book and get rich. There are a few who have done this and because of the success of a few, others want to follow. But that does not explain that some of these folks may have had something that they think is an out-of-body experience that lead them to heaven or hell during a near death or coma experience. Because I have never had one of these visions, although I have almost died a few times, mostly my stupidity that caused it, I can’t speak from experience. So to say that people did not see something would be a tough one for me to do. But I do not believe that people are really going to heaven or hell. I think that there are two possibilities.
First, people are dreaming. Some would say that these dreams are too similar to be coincidences. But I would say that people have similar dreams all the time and I am talking about people who do not know each other and live nowhere near each other. How about the dreams of falling in your sleep? What about dreams of winning the lottery? What about the dreams of someone chasing you in a dark alley and you can’t scream? All these are dreams that many people have and they are all similar and we can’t explain why, other that our sub-conscience has ways of dealing with things through dreams. Maybe this is a common dream for people who are very sick or near death.
Second, scientists who study the brain will tell you that when someone is near death, certain chemicals are released and can cause hallucinations or the “white light” experience. I got hit in the head really hard one time and was almost knocked out.  When I was hit I briefly saw a bright light. Many people say they see white light when they are about to pass out or even just before “going under” anesthesia. This explains some of the similarities in what is seen, and we don’t know that people who nearly die or in deep comas don’t dream, hear people in their room, or even the TV, when it is left on. All these things could be confused and this might explain the “message” people get from God, or Satan, or Zeus, or whoever they think they heard from.
Biblically I can only refer to these verses to dispute this claim of new words from God. Revelation 22:18-19 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy in this book: If anyone adds anything to this, God will strike him with the plagues that are written in this book. 19 If anyone takes away any words from this book of prophecy, God will take away his portion of the tree of life and the holy city that are described in this book.
This seems to be clear to me, a Christian, that God is not giving out new words for humanity in general. I do believe that God speaks through people, like pastors and teachers and even regular old Christians who are sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I have spoken, what I believe are God inspired messages and have had others speak them to me, but this differs from something that would be added to what the Bible teaches. These would only confirm, compliment, or is inspired by scripture.
So that leaves it open to think that it could be possible to hear from God in a dream, I believe I have in the past. This could happen to someone near death or in a coma. But most of what I have read or heard from these books or stories, is often conflicting to what the Bible says or just doesn’t feel right to me. I think that there is a lot of interest in the afterlife and rather than trust the Bible, people want to hear it from people like themselves. And that holds true about many other things. But I will leave you with this last scripture to keep in mind. Proverbs 14:12 s There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually it ends in death.

October 11, 2011

Is It Fair?

by pastortimfowler

Sometimes it is impossible to understand God. If you are simply a human, it would be easy to think that God is cruel. This is especially true when things happen in our lives that really suck, and we think it should happen differently. A friend was telling me last night about a tragedy that happened where a young husband and dad died unexpectedly and that he couldn’t help but feel like it was not fair. It stinks, hurts, sucks, and a whole lot of other things, but I am not sure that fair is the right way to look at it. Don’t misunderstand, it is a legitimate question and the feelings are normal, but what is fair?
Here are the first two definitions in the dictionary for fair:
1. free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.
2. legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.
If we use these definitions, then God is fair. God said to Adam and Eve, the day you disobey me, you die. He clearly stated in the law of Moses that some sins were punishable by physical death, and, we are all told that what we deserve for sin is death. We are told that it is inevitable that humans die and after that we are judged. So in death, God is fair. Does that mean we understand it? No. Does it mean we agree? No. Does it mean that God is cruel? No. He is fair, free from bias, dishonesty or injustice. He is a fair judge. What He does is proper under the rules. In every definition of fairness God stands the test of fairness.
We want fair to be, pleasing. We want fair to mean nobody wins and nobody loses and nobody gets hurt. That is not fair. Jesus told us that in this world we will have troubles. He did not tell us to follow Him and He will never allow pain to come our way. He did say that He would never leave us alone in our pain and that He would make everything that we go through on this world worth it if we trust Him.
Where would we be if there were no pain in the world? What would it be like if we never had to hurt again? Would it be fair? Maybe, but I don’t think it would be that great either. We learn more from pain than we ever do from pleasure. When we place our hand on a hot surface, even after we have been told that it is hot, it is the pain that finally teaches us to listen. But if pleasure was such a good teacher we would have fewer people addicted to drugs and alcohol. Think about all the things that you learned from pain and then see if the pain was a good teacher now that you can look back on it. Most people would never want to suffer the pain again, but would definitely value the lesson learned.
Not much can be done to take away the hurt and feelings that come with someone close to you losing their life. Even Jesus wept when His good friend Lazarus died. But the fairness of God offers hope to those who mourn those losses. It is a hope that is hard to understand because it goes against what we want to feel at such times. It is a hope that does not come from ourselves, but from God and His promise of fairness. He promises that ANYONE who trusts Him and asks for the forgiveness of their sin will receive full pardon and not be given what we deserve, but instead be given eternal life. We can pass from this life of pain and suffering to a life free of all pain and suffering.
You see this life is but a vapor, but there is an eternity and you will be there in one way or another. Eternal death, is the eternal separation from God in what we hear of as Hell. Eternal life is when we pass from this life to forever with God in a place where death and pain and what we call unfairness will never happen again. God is so fair that He offers this to ANYONE who will ask. No matter what you have done, no matter how bad you think you may be, God’s love is fair to all and His forgiveness is complete to all. Don’t be fooled, His judgement is just as fair to all who refuse is forgiveness, no matter how good you have been or how good you think you are. God is holy, we are not, and without His forgiveness we stay unholy. It is that simple, because God is that fair.

March 2, 2011

Thoughts on Leviticus

by pastortimfowler

Sacrifice

In my journey to read through the Bible again this year I have been reading through the Old Testament book of Leviticus. This is where Arron and his sons become the official priests of Israel and what it takes to achieve a holy standing before God.
First of all I am really glad that I am a Christian when I read about the stuff that had to happen. The amount of detail and effort that it took is mind numbing. What makes it more difficult is that this status of being holy was only temporary and the sacrifices had to be repeated over and over.
When God gave the instructions to build the tabernacle He told the people to give gold, silver, bronze, jewels, and most of the precious stuff that they had. They did it and as far as I can tell they did not do a lot of whining about it. Christians are only asked to give 10% to maintain the church, and none of it in jewelery.

But back to Leviticus. The priests had to sacrifice a bull to make the tabernacle holy. Then they had to sacrifice a bull to make the clothes holy. Then they had to sacrifice to make themselves holy before they could sacrifice to make the person offering the sacrifice holy. And that was just the sin offering.
There were guilt offerings, grain offerings, fellowship offering, praise offerings and an ordination offering. The priests had to put blood from the bull, goat, lamb, or dove on about everything, including their big toe!
I know it was an extreme honor to be one of those priests. I know that they got to experience the presence of God every time they offered a sacrifice. I know that the clothes must have been really awesome to wear because they set you apart from everyone else. But it they messed up at any level, it was all for nothing. If they forgot to confess ALL their sins before entering the Holiest part of the tabernacle, they would die.
So being a Christian is pretty cool. Our holiness does not depend on a bull, goat, or dove. It does not depend on someone wearing the right clothes or having the right set of rituals. It depends on what Jesus did and that alone. He shed His blood, forgave my sin, and that was good enough to never have to be repeated.
Sure I have my part to do in all this. But it won’t cost me my life if I mess up. I am the son of the King! The Chief High Priest and Judge of all has found me forgiven of all charges and set free!
My part is simple. Ask for forgiveness when I sin. Love others freely like God loves me. Give like I trust God to give to me and to help others like God helps me. Have a relationship with my Savior and forget the whole religious thing. No stinkin’ animal blood on me.
Wait a minute…it does mean the blood of Jesus covers me. Like the old hymn says; What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.