Posts tagged ‘judgement’

February 5, 2013

Trials Make You Stronger

by pastortimfowler

rejoice1

I know its been a while and the blogs are further in between this year so far. Things have been very hectic and very trying in this first part of 2013. While I was planning on blogging through the Bible, I have found it hard to find the time to do as much as I originally planned. Today as I was preparing for my men’s Bible study on Thursday nights, I was reading in 2 Thessalonians and was inspired and encouraged by Paul’s words to this early bunch of Christians. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 … Your suffering proves that God’s judgment is right and that you are considered worthy of his kingdom.
I am not comparing my suffering to that of a martyr or even that of the early church, but I have learned that anyone’s sufferings are real and challenging to them at the time. As I told you a while back, our church had a fire that smoked out a whole side of our building that included my office. My office is my sanctuary for study and thought and prayer and I do a lot of planning for our church there. Not being able to use it makes me feel like I am out of touch or at least out of sync with the church. That and the fact that dealing with insurance and contractors can be enough to challenge anyone’s faith, has made it a long 3 months.

Spiritual warfare comes in many forms. It can be as simple as strained relationships and as complex as attacks on one’s faith. It seems that mine have been on many levels. During this time I try to keep a smile on my face and my focus on helping others, but the smiles seem to be forced more than natural and the faith of knowing I am doing God’s will has been challenged with each decision. I have to continually remind myself that I am fighting battles that are not about people or me, but about people’s souls. The strained relationships cause tensions that make it hard to show love and feel love. Although I know love is not about one’s feelings, I also know that without the feelings it must be continually reminded in order to not forget who you love.
God has promised us victory over our enemies. He has promised to be with us in every situation and that His love is greater than my love. My challenge is to depend on His love when mine is weakened. Showing love is not always about a smile. It can be about difficult circumstance that makes happiness depend more on joy and peace rather than good times and good feelings.

So as I was reading this, I was reminded that suffering for Christ of any kind is part of being worthy of God’s kingdom. Worthy only because of what Christ did and never because of what I do and what I feel. That makes me feel better.
So if you find yourself feeling down and out or like you can’t stand anymore in the face of the attacks that are surrounding you, remember that Christ suffered for doing no wrong. He suffered for my wrong and your wrong and gladly bore our sins on the cross so that we could be forgiven and made righteous and worthy of His kingdom.

I thank God that my feelings do not mean I am not loved. I thank God that He feels the same about me regardless of my feelings and that His feelings for me are pure love and unchanging. I thank Him that I am counted worthy to suffer for His cause and that I am in the battles that mean so much. Even if I fail, He will not. And if I fail while loving and serving Him, then I am ever bit as worthy of His kingdom and will never be condemned because of Christ’s work and not my own. Trials make you stronger because the Bible says when we are weak, then He is strong. Thanks God. I await your strength and thank you for the trials.

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September 27, 2012

27 September, 2012 16:01

by pastortimfowler

Berkeley Bowl Cash Registers

My friend told me the other day about how he wanted to yell at someone in Walmart who was supposed to be working there but kept ignoring him and treating him as if he were in the way. I have blogged about my thoughts on customer service before and I feel his pain. I was at a sporting goods store today and there was one person working the register as 8 people were waiting to check out. Meanwhile there was a girl at the door greeting, or should I say supposed to be greeting, customers as they walked in. The two girls were talking to each other and even taking phone calls as we, the customers, waited. I began to frown.
We often say silly things like, “I wanted to slap them” or “I wanted to yell at them” when we are in these situations. We are conditioned to think that we should respond to a bad situation with something equally as bad. After all, don’t they deserve it? This sounds like the correct response, but if you are a Christian, it is not the right response at all. Romans 12:17- Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble.
If I had a dollar for every time that I heard a Christian say that they were justified by getting even with someone for what they had done, I would be a rich man. When I remind them about the verse above they often respond with, “But you don’t know what they did to me.” No I don’t, but I do know what Christ did for us and it was not giving us what we deserve. Need I remind you that in the same book of Romans we are told that what we deserve for our sin is death. God loves us and gives us forgiveness and life though. This surely is not what we deserve. I know that some of you were not as bad as I use to be, and can still be, and you may be thinking that you don’t deserve death for your sin, but none are righteous, not even one.
Arrogance and pride are what cause us to think that we should pay others back for not being as nice to us as we think they should be. The idea that if we were in a position to pass out judgement for things that others do and we would be completely righteous in our verdicts is quite funny. When we are rude or short with others, do we deserve a slap? Of course not. We are not as bad as that other person. Here is the problem with that thinking. When it comes to righteous judgement, only God can do that. He will use the standard of how you compare to Jesus and not how others compare to you or me. When that standard is applied, we all fall short. That is why God offers complete forgiveness when we ask and does not give us what we deserve until we face our final judgement and have rejected His Son’s payment for our sins.
So the next time you are in line and get treated worse than you expect to be, or the next time that someone really wrongs you and you think about revenge, think about what God does for us and decide to be more like Jesus than like, well, me.
Now excuse me while I go back to the sporting goods store and smile about the fact that I am fully able to stand in line and wait. That is a blessing that some are not able to do. Ain’t God good?

February 16, 2012

Ezekiel Bread

by pastortimfowler

Did you know that the Bible tells people to eat bread made with human excrement? If you believe what the makers of Ezekiel Bread say, you may have even tried it. They actually make bread that uses human dung. The problem is that the Bible does not teach that the bread should be made with human excrement but would be cooked over it, and if you read the full details, it was not meant for anyone other than the prophet. And, God told him that he could substitute cow dung for the fuel for cooking this bread. I will explain the implications in a minute.
This was asked of me in a Bible study that involved several people who were unchurched, but became interested in a conversation that I was involved in. We were talking about weird food trends and I mentioned Vegans, because I know a few. They know I think that they are weird, but most of all, they know I love them and kid with them a lot. Some in the vegan culture believe that God wants us to be vegetable eaters and never eat meat. This is not biblical and from the time Noah got off the ark, God gave the okay to eat meat. Personally I just don’t think that there are enough vegetables that I could find that I would be able to sustain myself. I have never been much of a veggie eater. We mentioned a few other weird foods and that was when I was asked what I thought about Ezekiel bread.
This is a great example of how the Bible can be used to “prove” anything. If you do not read it all and you look for a few lines, you can make a case that the Bible says a lot of stupid stuff. But that is wrong and yes, stupid. There is no other book on earth that is used so out of context to prove so many points. I love it because even those who do not believe in the God of the Bible want to use the Bible, that is God’s Word, to prove their points to those who do believe.
Ezekiel is a book of prophesy to Israel warning them of impending judgement of God. God often used his prophets to give very vivid and visual examples of their sins. The law of Moses was very clear about the things that Israel could eat, and use in food preparations. They were given great details of things that they could not even come near or touch and human excrement is one of those things. So when God told Ezekiel to make this bread, it was made from basically weeds, to show the spiritual famine as well as the physical famine that God sent. Ezekiel was told to bind himself up and have this bread mixture prepared to eat in front of Israel and to cook it over his own dung in order to show His disgust toward Israel’s sinful ways. Ezekiel pleaded with God that he had not committed these sins and had always followed the food laws of Mose, so God said, okay, you can use cow dung. FYI, cow dung is a common fuel used by people in areas where resources are limited. This recipe and way of preparation was not given because it was healthy or pleasing to God, but rather because God was angry with the sins of the people and wanted them to see a visual image of how disgusting it was to Him.
My advice for people who want to follow a fad diets is that you check with your physician first. Many fad diets are not good for you and are derived from poor information that people get from places like the Bible in an attempt to give them validity. God is not as concerned with what you eat as He is with what you believe. He has given us the okay to eat a large variety of what He created. There are some things that we are allowed to eat that may not be as healthy as some may think, but remember this; God wants our souls healthy first and foremost. Even those who have the best of diets and exercise habits eventually die. If they have the perfect body but have never received forgiveness of their sins, when they die, all the healthy diets in world will not save them from judgement.
If you want to eat the bread that will save your soul, you must eat the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ. And that is not literal eating, it is for sure, spiritual.

January 12, 2012

The Weeping Prophet

by pastortimfowler

I am finishing reading the Old Testament book of Jeremiah and it has to be one of the toughest reads I have had in a while. Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because his message was constantly rejected by his people. He was abused and imprisoned and called a liar to his face over and over for speaking the word of God. To try to imagine his pain and frustration is impossible and at times for me, a pastor, disturbing.
I have been in the ministry long enough to have been in churches where people would not listen to the truth. Even if you opened the Bible in front of them and read with them the truth of the word, they refused to see it. During those times it was painful and sorrowful but mostly if was angering. I can remember times when I even raised my voice in frustration, right in front of the one I was talking too. But to say that I can empathize with Jeremiah would be a stretch.
I am not saying that I didn’t learn from this or that I wouldn’t read it again, but I had to dig deep to see the positive in it all. So what did I get from it?
Well to start with, God is a very patient God. The people of Israel were in a very rebellious time in their history and had turned to idolatry. The message that God was sending them via Jeremiah was consistent with what they had always heard, so there was no reason for them to doubt that God was speaking truth through Jeremiah. But over and over when they heard from the prophet they rejected the warnings. God remained patient and offered chance after chance to change.
I also learned, well it was reinforced, that God means what He says and does what He says. When God says to turn from a sinful act, he is serious. God hates sin because it separates us from Him and He loves us. He would much rather bless us than to chastise us, but as the Bible says, whom the Lord loves, He chastises. The goal of chastisement is always to correct a behavior. If the behavior is not corrected there are always consequences. When God says that there are consequences, you can count on it. It is not His fault that humans are hard-headed, or should I say, hard-hearted.
Lastly, what I saw was the fact that He will always leave a remnant to rebuild with. The Old Testament can be difficult to reconcile for the casual observer. God was dealing with an earthly people who were promised eternity on earth and is not the church, who is promised eternity in Heaven. Jesus had not yet been sacrificed for our sin and therefore the physical punishments were often drastic and seemed harsh. But remember this, there was not a lack of hearing from God. There was not a lack of knowledge of the consequences that people would face for their disobedience.
The Jewish people were required to memorize the law before age 13 and in order to become an adult, they had to show that they had done so. This includes the part of the law that says “if you do this, this is the punishment”. And, they had seen God carry out these judgments for centuries. Think of it like this. We all have rules to follow in our homes. My parent told me that if I lied to them, I would get a whipping. So, when I lied, I got what they told me I would get. I did not, or should I say, I do not think that they were cruel, but I know that it was them being truthful and loving in their attempt to correct my inappropriate behavior.
God loves us more than we can imagine. We don’t fully understand Him and often believe that we know more than God, so we are quick to look at God as harsh or even unloving. But that is not true. When we respond with repentance, God blesses with restored fellowship and rewards. That is always His goal with us.
His love is so great that He allows His Son, Jesus, to be our sacrifice for our sins. From the beginning, God has told us that our sin will be rewarded with death. But with our asking for forgiveness, He waves the death penalty, (the eternal one) and gives us eternal life with Him in heaven. He is willing to do this for us and our only part is to have faith to believe Him. This means believe it all, not just the parts we like. Sometimes God sends us a message that we don’t like or don’t want to hear. We must trust Him as much then as we do with the promise of the blessings that we like.
So, Jeremiah relayed the message of repent or face judgement. The people chose to rebel and received the judgement that was promised. But, there was a group who decided to trust God, and as we all know, Israel is still here, just like God promised. They will never perish from the earth. As Christians, we are promised to never perish from God’s heavenly and spiritual world. Our obedience is still required and His blessings are as awesome as ever.
I am blessed to know that there are some who still believe and obey God and I am fortunate to not be a weeping prophet of modern times.

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.”

June 23, 2011

Working On Humility

by pastortimfowler

I know that many of you who read my blogs were relieved yesterday that I did not post a new one. Of course there are a few who live to read my blogs and they were in a state of panic. But have no fear! I’m back. I was on a mission from God yesterday.
I have a friend who believes that God has called him into the ministry. If you knew him you would begin to question God’s judgement. Would God really call a hair dresser into the ministry? No, of course not. But, my friend is also a fisherman, and that is what gets him into the secret society of ministry and thus God’s judgment is perfect.
We meet a couple of times a month to talk about what he can expect once the transformation takes place. Most people, ordinary people, will never know or understand what a person goes through to be in the ministry. A real metamorphosis must take place. You must be stripped of all memories of who you were and reprogrammed into an almost superhuman. Those who know me well know my superpowers and think that I make this look very easy, but I was only a fisherman and never a hairdresser in my past life.
Here are some things that everyone in the ministry must be able to do. This is not a complete list, but it does highlight the need for such transformation into superhuman status.

Ministers must be able to please everyone, all the time. If your ministry leads to pastoring a church you must be able to adjust thermostats so that people sitting next to each other feel comfortable no matter how hot or cold it is. You must be able to listen to everything that is said to you in a course of 2 minutes as people are exiting the building and giving feedback on your sermon and what you preach next week. You must be able to preach next week and make them think you were listening even if you weren’t. You must be able to turn mere mortals into eternal beings while encouraging them to reach the superhuman level that you have and hoping they to are called into the ministry.
If your ministry leads you to being an evangelist, you must be able to preach sermons that no pastor could ever preach, while making everyone in that particular church love what you said, but hate the pastor when he tries to make those changes. You must be able to preach three sermons as if they were new every time you preach them, even if you preach them 100 times that year. You must be able to listen to every comment given in the 2 minutes as people exit the church, BUT, you don’t have to worry about remembering what they said cause they will never have you back anyway.
If your ministry leads to the mission field, you must learn to eat food that they only eat on the National Geographic channel and act like you like it. You must learn to preach sermons that every pastor in the US would love to preach and you must be prepared to have people act like they listened to you. You must learn to live in homes that have no cable and restrict your ability to watch the NFL. This is the most demanding of all callings and is why superhuman status must be obtained first
So this is why I missed my blog yesterday. Helping a mere hairdresser, but yes a fisherman, answer the call to be a superhuman. Minister’s lives are filled with challenges and struggles as we deal with you, the blog reader, and our beloved followers.
Matthew 23:11-12
11 The person who is greatest among you will be your servant.
12 Whoever honors himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be honored.
The next time we meet, I will be working on humility.

June 13, 2011

Judge Away

by pastortimfowler

I was asked the other day about how Christians are supposed to judge right and wrong, when the Bible tells us not to judge. That is a great question and the short answer is that the assumption that we are told not to judge is wrong. That assumption comes from taking one verse out of context and is used by people who are not Christians so that Christians will not tell them that they are sinners, and by Christians who are sinning but would rather submit to sin than submit to God.


Matthew 7:1-5
1 “Stop judging so that you will not be judged.
2 Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you.
3 So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
4 How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,’ when you have a beam in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye.

This is where that teaching comes from. It does not say that we can’t call a sin a sin, it tells believers not to be hypocrites by pointing to other people’s sins when we are sinning in a very obvious manner. Let me share some other verses that are better suited for us having the right to judge others.
John 7:24- Stop judging by outward appearance! Instead, judge correctly.” This plainly tells us to judge others, but to do so correctly. That is the key. To judge the sin and not the opinion. Sin is wrong, and people don’t like to be told that they are wrong. So if we do tell them, we can expect to be criticized. But often we turn a blind eye to sin because of that. God has given us the truth to help us judge. If the Bible says it is wrong, we can say it is wrong. There is no one in their right mind would not tell someone who is sexually molesting a child that they are not wrong. That is judging, right?
1 Corinthians 6:2- Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world? So if you’re going to judge the world, aren’t you capable of judging insignificant cases?
I think that this is an important verse for Christians to understand. There is coming a time when we will judge the world. This means that we will enforce the laws of God. So if God is going to trust us in the future to judge the world, we need to be able to judge ourselves now. The emphasis is on righteous judging, not self righteous judgement.
Overwhelmingly, Christians are shut down because of ignorance of the Bible. Ignorance can often lead to us not doing what God wants us to do because someone who doesn’t want to accept that they are a sinner plays a guilt card on us. There is a whole book in the Old Testament call Judges. It is about people who were given the authority to judge the actions of others according to God’s word. Most of the judging was for the purpose of correcting the actions of God’s people not those who were outside of them.
The same is true today. God’s people must first learn to judge themselves using God’s word before we should go running to tell those outside that they are sinners. My personal belief is that they already know it and are trying to find hope, not judgment. That is where Christians are to use a tool far greater than judgment. That tool is called GRACE. Grace is what God used when we all deserved judgment. When God judges us it is not in comparison to me or you or any other person we know, but He judges us compared to Jesus and we all fall short. So by accepting forgiveness and God’s grace we are reconciled to God and judged as such.
So grace allows us to admit our faults and receive forgiveness. It allows us to know the truth and when we know the truth we are free to judge away.