Posts tagged ‘important’

October 17, 2012

Undecided

by pastortimfowler

Voting

During this and most of the past few election cycles, the focus has been on the ever-present undecided voter. The debate last night was of the town hall-style debate in which the questions were posed by 80 undecided voters. Both candidates tried their best to say things that would get them to make up their minds and vote for them. I am not convinced that we need to place the future of our country on people who do not have enough information by now to make up their minds who they will vote for.
I know that some of you want to lecture me on the importance of every vote while others want to tell me how in the presidential campaign, the individual vote is worthless due to the electoral college system. Please, save it for someone who is undecided. I know who and how and when and where I will vote and made my mind up a long time ago. I also understand how this system works and understand that there is something far more important than your vote to some people and that is called getting the attention.
Right now pollsters want to talk to and hear what the undecided voter is saying. If they call me and tell me they are taking a poll, I doubt that they will care for my opinion if I tell them that I have made up my mind. I also doubt that they will ask me to come to a debate and ask questions.
I did not find any question asked last night that most of us who have made up our minds did not already know the answer that we believe. I also heard nothing that made me want to change my mind. What I wanted to do was change the channel. When asked a question, each candidate carefully worded things to be as much in the middle or as far from controversy as possible. That makes them followers, not leaders. Dear Mr. and Ms. undecided, real leaders make decisions based on convictions, not potential votes. That means that I will not agree with everything, no matter what political party you are affiliated with. Make up your mind what you believe and follow the person that you believe will lead in that direction. If after four years they have been found to be a liar or unable to meet your expectations, vote them out. That is what decided voters do.
Undecided votes need to learn how to make up their minds. But if you can’t, please stay out of the voting booths with all those emotions running through your veins. Making last-minute decisions on things that are important is not good. If you are undecided about getting married just a few days before the wedding, it is not a good thing to go through with it. If you are undecided a few days before closing on a house it is not a good thing to go through with it. If you are undecided about getting off on the next exit of the interstate, don’t do it at the last second, it could cause a wreck.
Here is my advice to the undecided voter. Take this year off from voting. Pay attention to things over the next few years and see if you like the way things are going. If not, then you may want to vote for someone else. If you do, then vote for the person who is already there. Take the time to form some core beliefs in your own life and not what you hear on the news or from the internet. Decide if life is important and when it begins or if you like the amount of taxes you are paying or if you think that person who wants your vote can make tough decisions based on facts or popularity polls. Here is another idea. Keep track of what these guys are saying now and if they lie this time, they will probably lie next time. Voting is an important process that should be taken seriously, not taken as an opportunity to get attention and have people sway you at the last-minute.
Our political system is great in that it always gives us choices. It has left and right, conservative and liberal, and most importantly it has a history to follow. Get informed and stay involved and make up your mind. The Bible has a great verse about people who are undecided about things. Ephesians 4:14Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray.
It is okay to believe in something. But like the old saying says, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.

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October 8, 2012

Politics And Friends

by pastortimfowler

Politics Balloons

Politics can really put a strain on relationships. It makes me wonder if we shouldn’t put a bit of thought into what is happening in our politics, or better yet, in our friendships, if we can become so divided over something like an election.
I have really tried to avoid voicing my political opinions very adamantly because I know that it would strain some relationships with some of my friends. It has already cost me one or two Facebook friends, which obviously were not real friends, because I either responded to something they said or they did not like what I said. Sadly, we can allow politics to interfere with friendships when they are rarely why we became friends to begin with.
Have we forgotten that as Americans we all have freedom of speech? It seems as if one side is always trying to make the other side sound as if they are anti-American or even bigoted if their opinion differs. But the beauty of America is that we all have the right to say what we think. Yes, even bigots can voice their opinion and I can’t do anything about it. I can lobby against their cause and I can vote against their candidate, but I cannot stop them from saying what they want to say, and yes, they can call me names too.
Isn’t friendship stronger than politics though? What makes your friendship strong is a relationship. That makes me wonder what kind of relationship we think that we have if an election season and ruin friendships? Facebook friends for the most part are not really friendships. I am talking about people whom we know or at least thought that we knew for some period of time. This precious bond of friendship is supposed to be one of respect and mutual admiration. We are supposed to know more about our friends than what pages they like and what pictures they share on a web-page. We should know what their deep-rooted beliefs are. Do they think that wealth should be redistributed or do they feel like they should be able to keep the money they earn and give to charity as desire? Do they believe that life is a precious gift from God and it begins at conception or do they feel like a woman can do whatever she wants with something that is within her own body? Do they feel like marriage is already defined or needs to be redefined? But do these things really make a friendship?
You know what surprises me? These things are rarely talked about when two friends get together for a lunch or game of cards or to watch a movie. These things are important, but most people don’t meet at political rallies to begin friendships. most friendships begin in school or on the golf course or at a kid’s soccer game. Most friendships are formed with the idea that you like that person for who they are, not what political views they have. And, these friendships should last even when you find out that he is a Republican and you are not or she is a liberal and you are not.
Some of my best friends hold vastly different political views than I do. I have known that for a long time and though they are wrong for disagreeing with me, (haha), we work together, play together, laugh together, cry together, and yes, we attend the same church together. We do this because politics is not the driving force behind our relationship. We can be different and still like each other. We can hold views that are very polarizing in the political world and not let it cause our friendship to suffer. Different is not always wrong and even if it is, how will you ever change someone’s mind if you don’t like them as a person?
America is a beautiful place where people from every walk of life can live together and voice their opinions and still love each other as fellow Americans. We can work together and play together and vote opposite of each other and at the end of the day, still be friends. If you can’t do this, perhaps you should evaluate who you call friends and what a true friend really is. Perhaps you should decide if politics is more important than a friend and if so, be prepared to live a lonely life. Politicians will say whatever it takes to get your vote, a friend will doesn’t care about your vote, whoever it is for, they care about you.

January 3, 2012

What Is Important To You?

by pastortimfowler

Here is my first blog of 2012. What is important to you?
I have a friend who pastors a church in the Philippines and although I have only met him personally once, he has an amazing impact on me and my ministry. When we first met nine years ago, I had just been called to pastor a dying church in Rock Hill and he had just started a church in his home town in the Philippine Islands. He was trying to raise money for his ministry and I was trying to find hope in a church that had decided to turn inward and reject the people who lived all around.
Our church had a million dollar building bought and paid for, that included a full kitchen, class rooms, bathrooms, a 400 seat auditorium, and, despite being located in a part of town that was known for its crime and poverty, we have the full support of the police and government. His church was meeting in a graveyard because it was safer than anywhere in town. They had no classrooms, no running water, and if they were caught, they could be killed because of some of the terrorist groups that inhabit the islands and a government and police force that does not have the means to protect them.
Today, I pastor a church that has closed the original church, sold the building, and relocated. We have grown from a group of about 30 to a group of 150 and we have a different building with all the amenities of the previous building. It has been a challenge and a joy to see the change, and despite what I think as challenges, they pale in comparison to my friend’s nine years at his church.
They finally got a building, we would call it a roof over some chairs. They have grown numerically as well and I am sorry to say that I don’t have the numbers to report. They still don’t have it as nice as we do and probably never will, but they continue to grow and worship, despite the unending threats. Last night we talked and he told me that his health was a challenge due to diabetes and they are praying for the finances to be able to by a vehicle to transport people who live too far to walk to church.
In our conversation he told me that God was bigger that health or wealth problems. He said that God has never let him down and had always given them more than they deserved. He was optimistic and hopeful for the new year and knew that God would provide for their needs and allow them to continue to grow and prosper.
If our churches in America were in the same predicament as his, they would close and people would abandon their “faith”. I have seen people leave the church because they did not get their way in choice of color of carpet. I have seen people leave the church because the music was too loud, too slow, too new, or too old. I have seen people complain because there was not enough parking to keep them from having to walk too far in a parking lot. I have seen people complain about not having a playground or not having the temperature of the heat or AC set to their liking. I have heard complaints about my sermons being too long, too topical, too much about money or too much about a particular sin. I have had people refuse to be baptized because the water was too cold and refuse to become members because the church did not have a softball team.
My friend baptizes in a muddy river, has no AC, no parking lot and few vehicles to get people there. They have no carpet, no video system, and no playground. They complain about having to leave too soon if the pastor doesn’t preach and teach long enough. They risk physical harm and even death and still they join the church. They bring their friends and family and then they bring others. They believe that what they have is a blessing and they receive anything more with utter amazement that God would show them such grace. They think the most important thing that they have is their salvation from Jesus Christ. Because of this they make their church and their ministry about reaching lost people and not comforting themselves. They believe that God has and will supply all of their needs and because of that, they make the most important thing in their lives, God.
What is important to you?

November 28, 2011

Expect Versus Demand

by pastortimfowler

Luke 12:48 But the servant who didn’t know what his master wanted and did things for which he deserved punishment will receive a light beating. A lot will be expected from everyone who has been given a lot. More will be demanded from everyone who has been entrusted with a lot.
This verse comes from the teaching of Jesus about an evil servant and a faithful caretaker. It teaches that there are degrees of punishment and reward as well as degrees of responsibility. I want to focus of the last half of the verse that has been italicized.
Yesterday was an awesome day for me. I celebrated my 50th birthday and the highlight, other than spending the day with my wife, was preaching that morning. I love to preach and on those rare years that my birthday falls on a Sunday I had much rather preach than take the day off. This was no different and as always it was special. I usually give my testimony and this was no different and at the end of it when the invitation was given, 3 people accepted Jesus and I now share my birthday with the day that they were born, again.
Being 50 is not much different from being 49. I am sure that will change as the year goes by. I hear that 50 is the new 27, so that is exciting. But 50 does bring a time of reflection or at least it did with me. I sat up Saturday night waiting on midnight to roll around and then I spent some time looking back at what I had done with my life. I realized that I had wasted far too much of it on things that did not matter. So I thought about the things that do matter and found them to be lacking and decided to see if I could change that in the next 50 years. So far, I have done a great job of keeping the things that matter outweighing the things that don’t.
One of the reasons that we don’t do the important things in life is because they matter to other people and there is a huge level of accountability involved. That is what the last half of the verse above says. But notice that even the last half of the verse can be broken into 2 statements. Lets look at them for a minute.
A lot will be expected from everyone who has been given a lot. I believe that there is something that God puts into all of us that says that we should be a compassionate people. I also believe that most people know that there is a God who is responsible for everything that we have. After all, only a fool says in his heart. “there is no God”. I also believe that God has an expectancy of those whom he created to be responsible with the things they have. If you have a lot, you have a lot expected of you. I believe those who have a lot will be judged more harshly than those who do not. I think that there is that teaching in this story where this verse comes from. I believe that this is talking to people who do not have a relationship with God of their Father.
The second half, More will be demanded from everyone who has been entrusted with a lot, I believe he is talking to those who know Jesus as Savior and God as Father. Here is why. It uses the word entrusted verses the word given. I did a study on these two words and found that given, as used here, is most commonly used when speaking of giving servants their work load. The word entrust is most commonly used when giving an inheritance or a trust to a family member. God therefore entrusts those who are His children with a task far more important that those who are merely slaves. The good name of the family is at stake and that is why more will be demanded of us.
Now here is the difference in two more words. Expect versus demand. Expecting comes with an uncertainty of accomplishment. Demands come with a certainty of accomplishment. If you have high expectations of a new college graduate quarterback to become a great pro quarterback and he fails, he didn’t live up to expectations. If he makes the team and is made the starting quarterback, the team then demands his continued best.
In that context, you can think of someone blessed with much but not knowing God as Father as being expected to do what is right, but those who know God as Father, are demanded to use what they have been entrusted with to protect the good name of the Lord.
I want to spend my next 50 years meeting the demands of what I have been entrusted with; The good news that Jesus loves and saves those who are lost.

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!