Posts tagged ‘hope’

July 2, 2012

Back From Cuba

by pastortimfowler

I am back and wow, do I have a lot to tell you. Cuba is a place that is full of beautiful people and scenery and yet my heart breaks every time I go. Socialism and Communism have made it one of the poorest places in this hemisphere. The average monthly wage is around $20 per month and because the government has taken everything from those who were rich, now everyone is poor. The old saying that it takes money to make money is true. There is no way to equally distribute what I make in order to lift others out of poverty, it only makes me poor too. That taxation in Cuba assures that the government only has money and the people get “free” healthcare from doctors who are lucky to make $45 per month and would make more money if they drove a horse-drawn cart around for the public transportation system, which is how we got around in the city of 140,000 people.
But the church is alive and well and serving those in need like you would not believe. Their hearts are filled with hope and appreciation for God’s provisions, even if it means they can’t afford to eat anything more than rice and beans and plantains. But they share and help and love, even with those occasional American Christians who come to help. I truly believe that I learned more from them than I was able to teach the Cuban church. Humble takes on a new meaning for me now.
We are fooled by pictures of classic cars and beautiful facades on buildings that have been touched up to make them look good. The cars are not owned by collectors, but rather by people who bought them the last time that they had any money to spend on such a luxury. Most cars are only painted over rust buckets and few have any original working parts. The buildings are weathered and termite infested and crumbling. Not even the locals can drink the water from the public water supply because it is such poor quality.
But this does not stop the people of Cuba from taking pride in what they have and sharing it with others. They have little from the government to share but have found ways to make ends meet and share what they get through an undercover free market that shows hope of letting entrepreneurs make a little more that they can keep to provide for their own and those who need help just to survive on what the socialist way has taken away. I love the heart of these people. They know more than most, that government is not the answer and never will be when it comes to providing the needs of family. Hard work and free markets are the only reason that they were the once a thriving resort and leading producers of sugar and entertainers of years gone by. That is a fading memory now.
People in Cuba cringe when you mention the name Castro. They lower their voices and do not say his name themselves. The do not speak out against the oppressive socialist system that has plunged them into poverty like we in the USA have never seen. But they know the answer is freedom and free markets where people can achieve a level of prosperity that allows others to be employed and purchase goods produced by individually owned companies who can provide jobs to others instead of money to the government.
I cannot wait to go back. I will be sharing more about the things we did and saw, but I wanted to get this out first. So many people in America are thinking that the government is the answer and that socialism works. It is a failure everywhere it is tried and Cuba is a direct and devastating example of its results. Taking everything from the rich so that the poor have more only results in the rich becoming poor and no one able to provide jobs to those who need it. Handouts are only a temporary fix. The old saying, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime is true. But if you can’t even afford to buy a net or a fishing pole and there is no one now making them because no one can afford to buy them, what happens? People starve and suffer and no one is better off except the elite few who dictate oppression to the people who need a job.
Thanks for your prayers and support. God, please bless Cuba again. And God bless America!

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July 29, 2011

Going Inter-planetary

by pastortimfowler

I was blown away this morning when I opened an email response to a blog I wrote a couple of weeks ago. It was from England! It said that they were looking for help on a subject and did a search and my blog came up on top. Usually the only way my name or something I do comes up first is if I am getting blamed for something. So, I wanted to say thanks to everyone who read my blogs and to God for using me in something that I enjoy so much.
I can remember a few years back when I was really fighting the trend for tweeting, Facebook and blogging. It wasn’t that I was against them as much as I did not understand it all. For the record, I still don’t understand tweeting, but I continue to tweet. (I feel like a bird watcher every time I say that).
Blogging has gotten me several blasts from folks who disagree with what I write. Although I do try to speak the truth, blogging is just another way of voicing one’s opinion and we are all entitled to our own. My opinion is right and those who disagree with it are usually married to me, or vegan, or even people with hair, and God loves them too. But I enjoy the feedback no matter which side you are on.
One of my goals is to offer fuel for hope, and a bit of humor. I love to see and hear people laugh and I love it when people have to stop and think about something they thought little about before or even had firm feelings about something that now have to be at least given another look. Sometimes I purposefully blog about something that I know will ruffle feathers, but I never set out to hurt or offend and if you are ever offended by one of my blogs, get over it. See, humor, fact and hope, right there.
I never dreamed that anything I would say or write would ever have an impact on someone in England. I rarely ever thought anyone would care much outside of South Carolina or really, ever care at all. I hope this is nothing more than God showing me that He can still use any of His creatures to say something, even an ass, or me. (Referring to Balaam’s animal, nor what some of you gasped about).
I will never apologize for giving God glory, pointing to Him as the answer, or tell people about the God who allowed His Son Jesus Christ to die for the sins of humanity. God has forgiven me of more than most will ever know and still forgives me daily. Because of Him, I have hope and love life because it is a gift from Him. There was a time when I said that there was no God, but when I decided to open my mind to the possibility that I could be wrong, He forgave my stupidity and forgave me. So I blog from my heart, from my experiences, and my warped sense of humor. Thanks for giving your time to read. To the person in England, we drink sweet iced tea on this side of the pond, and thanks for the prayers.
Now that my blog is international, my next goal is go inter-planetary. To boldly go where no blog has gone before!

June 16, 2011

Warm and Fuzzy

by pastortimfowler

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant.
5 It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs.
6 It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth.
7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up. Love never ends.

I am officiating a big wedding this weekend which made me start thinking about love.There are a few famous verses from the Bible that are read at almost every wedding before the vows are taken. I love to read and re-read them as a reminder of what love really is. Unfortunately too many couples enter into a marriage as in love as they will ever be and from that day it is a hopeless journey toward a divorce. It is sad that half of all marriages end in divorce and that doesn’t change among Christians. Maybe we don’t understand true love.
Society tells us that we can date until we find the perfect man or woman. Today there are any number of websites that can scientifically match you up with the perfect mate. We shop for our mates like we shop cars and even trade them in just as frequently. I keep waiting for the “buy here-pay here” wedding chapel to pop up in a neighborhood near you. Why we could even sell extended warranties on your marriage, how cool would that be? Or instead of a purchase we could just lease and have a new spouse every few years! Sound dumb? Well we are already acting like taking our potential spouse for a “test ride” is okay, so why not go all out?
My belief is that we do not fall in love, we fall into lust. We get trapped into focusing on the physical part of the relationship and the only emotions that we pay attention to are the warm fuzzy feelings that we get while dating. And if all that goes well, we move in together as a trial run, and only if we don’t fight too much, then do we even consider the marriage option. And then we decide to walk the aisle and tie the knot and we spend thousands of dollars for that special day all to have some guy in a suit ask you if you promise to take that person for whatever reasons, ’till death do you part. But, we don’t have any idea what we just said and don’t care when the sick, the poor, and the worse come along. All we want is the better, healthy, and rich.
I have been married for 31 years as of this July. I can tell you that I made mistakes before and after we were married, but I can also tell you that one day, we really got it. We realized that life was tough. (That required very little time and effort to figure out.) We realized that making it together was easier than making it alone. We realized that lust had turned to love because God was patient with us so we began to be patient. The love grew because we tried to be kind with patience. We stopped getting jealous because we were kind as we waited for each other to grow. We quit singing our own praises and started singing each others praises as we realized that we had nothing to be jealous about because of that kind person we had grown so patient with. We are still working on not being rude and selfish and irritable and stopped telling each other about the last time we did any of those wrong things because arrogance denies the needs of the other and keeps you from singing their praises and leads to jealousy which isn’t kind or patient. We stopped being happy with winning the fight and started telling the truth more instead of quoting the wrongs and being rude, selfish and irritable.  That helped us to sing each others praises more and led to less jealousy, more kindness and patience became easier. So we never stop being patient, we always believe that our marriage will never end because of hope, and we never give up no matter what life throws our way, because love never ends.
It isn’t easy, but nothing easy is worth much anyway. We still have the lust for each other, but it is fueled by love and only focused on each other. Love never ends because it is alive and grows. Feelings come and go, but love is here to stay. Study the verses in the beginning and grow your love God’s way and you will have plenty of time to be like us…Still, warm and fuzzy after all these years.

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!