Posts tagged ‘listen’

July 25, 2012

Comfort Zone

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/uncorrectedproofs/3483703050/

I like being comfortable, don’t you? My bed, my truck, my way. All of these make me comfortable. I don’t like sleeping in strange beds, riding in someone else’s car, or doing things someone else’s way. That being said, why does God always seem to be getting us out of our comfort zones? I think He has a weird sense of humor and likes watching us say things like, “I will never do that”, or “God would never ask me to do this”. I learned years ago to not say those things very often and thought that I had gone unnoticed for a while. But…NOOOOoooo. I had to tell someone who getting an exchange student was not for me and I didn’t think that God would want me to do that.
So, a friend, and I use that term loosely now, told me that she needed someone to take an exchange student for a month until she could find a longer term family for him to stay with. My first response was not what I wanted to say. I told her she could talk to my wife about it. Remember her? She is the baby addict who loves all kids and would have 100 of them at my house all the time if I would let her. I know what she is going to say.
Now don’t go freaking out yet. It is not final. God could change His mind. And the point of this is not to tell you about us getting an exchange student. It is about not getting comfortable with God. It is about making yourself available to share the love of Christ with anyone, anytime, even at my house, even if you don’t live there.
Last month I went to Cuba. I had just told someone, a few months prior to being asked to go, that I did not think that God wanted me to go outside the country to serve Him. God had me just where He wanted me and I knew it. So, off to Cuba He sent me and it was one of the most incredible times I have ever had. About 11 years ago I was very comfortable in my hometown of Spartanburg and knew that God wanted me to stay there forever and serve in churches there. I have been living in Rock Hill now for 10 years and it is amazing. 33 years ago I was perfectly happy living the life of a bachelor and now I just celebrated my 32nd wedding anniversary…happily.
As a pastor I am constantly challenging people to listen to God and hearing them say that God is telling them to stay with what they are doing and remain comfortable. I laugh at them, on the inside, and tell them to be careful because God is always listening. Comfort is not God. Peace is God. Comfort makes you go to sleep. Peace makes you able to stay focused even though the storm is raging around you. Comfort is doing the same thing week in and week out and not seeing much different happen. Peace is not knowing why things keep happening all around you but wow, people’s lives are being changed by the presence of God.
About 20 years ago, I felt like God was calling me into the ministry. I was a few months removed from being a complete drunk and self-centered jerk. Very few people believed that God would call me to be a pastor, but I knew it was happening. I did not like it. I did not want it. I just knew it was happening. Today I have been the pastor, for ten years, of a church that is unbelievably growing with folks that are a lot like I was 20 years ago. They are not sure of why, but are sure of Who is calling them to be different. Some are facing the call to trust God for something more. Some are stepping out in faith and finding that they really can trust God to do everything that He says He will do. Some are just getting the courage to invite a friend who is still struggling with life’s constant bombardment of crap to visit this place that will accept them without judging them. It is so exiting to watch.
So let me encourage you to get uncomfortable with God for a while. If you call yourself a Christian, you should not be comfortable around God, you should be at peace. There is nothing comfortable of being around perfection when you are so far from it. But it is mind-blowing to be considered the child of God who is using you to do something that you never thought possible and finding out you love it.
Meanwhile I am still hoping that God is only messing with me about this exchange student and soon I will hear Him say, “PSYCH!”, ’cause this has me way out of my comfort zone.

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November 9, 2011

You Want Me To Listen?

by pastortimfowler

The political season is in full swing. This is one of my least favorite times. In case you are wondering, I consider myself a fairly conservative guy. If you have decided to never read my blog again because of that statement, then you are part of the problem that bothers me. America is a great country full of sinful people who will always make a mess of things if not kept in check. Whether you are conservative or liberal in your political likings, we should all decide to make a stand on a few things.
First we should all agree that our country is a great country and that there is nothing wrong with us being great. Greatness is more than being the strongest. We help more people around the world than any other country. We defend our friends and keep our enemies at check. We do more to keep our planet clean and safe than anyone else ever has or ever will. We have freedom to speak out against the things we don’t like and to make an honest living pursuing our passions. There is plenty of room for improvement and differing opinions but nowhere else in this world can you be as free as we are. That is how I can write this blog and you can agree or disagree with it openly.
Second, I think we should all hold our media accountable for what they put out as fact. This may spark some controversy, but stick with me. Right now, Herman Cain is being accused of sexual harassment by at least four women. At first, it would be easy to say that with that many who are accusing him, he must have done something. The majority of the media is reporting this as if it were fact, yet our courts would probably not take any of them as a legal case because hearsay is not admissible in court. And, in America, we are innocent until proven guilty. Not so in the media. For those on the liberal side who may think that this is fair, I am just as upset with those who covered anyone who accused Pres. Obama of not having a birth certificate.
The media has a responsibility to report facts, not opinions, when they claim to be reporting the news. Investigative journalists should remember the journalistic code of ethics that says than you never report on a subject without verifying your sources and their credibility. But those of us who watch the news never seem to question the ethics of those reporting as long as it suits our political agenda. I believe that we should all write letters expressing our dissatisfaction with inaccurate and unfair reporting no matter which side it is on. When they see that their customers are upset, things will change. Let me state very clearly that if a candidate has done something wrong that they should be raked over the coals until they apologize or get out of the business.
I did a blog a few weeks ago about how we need to think for ourselves and to think logically. How many things have been contradicted over the past five years by so call science and or studies or the media? One minute salt is bad for you and we are taking it out of food and the next it isn’t. One minute cell phones are causing gas pumps to blow up and the next there is no evidence at all that this is true. But still today there are signs at gas stations that tell you to turn them off. Weather forecasters tell us that each hurricane season will be the worst ever and every year it doesn’t seem to happen. When are we, the common folk, going to start thinking that the problem may not be the stuff that is being reported on and start wondering if the problem is not the ones doing the reporting?
Third, and last, with this all being tied back to our politics, I think that it is time to hold the feet of those who make promises in the campaign but break them in office, to the fire. I know that there are things beyond their control once in office, but don’t promise me that you will never do this or the first thing that you will do will be that, and the opposite happens and you didn’t put up one heck of a fight. I am sick of political speeches that promise the moon for my vote and all I get for my vote is a broken promise. We should vote out every politician who only talks the talk but never walks the walk. Pretty soon liberals and conservatives alike will have the government that we really want. Of the people, by the people, for the people. We should all ask the media and ask politicians, do you really want me to listen? If so, change some stuff.

June 29, 2011

Just Do It!

by pastortimfowler

In the book of James, Christians are challenged with an “in your face” look at who we should be. Just in to the first two chapters most who claim to be Christians could walk away with a deep need to re-examine what it means to be a Christian. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is this one: James 1:22 Do what God’s word says. Don’t merely listen to it, or you will fool yourselves. Doing what we hear is a test of our faith. I know way too many folks who can quote the Bible very well and yet they do very little of what they quote. Apparently this is not a new problem since James was writing about it almost 2000 years ago.
James also says that faith without doing something with it is basically dead, or worthless. He tells us that even demons believe in God and even tremble at His name. What that means is that saying you are a believer is not enough. We must begin to do what the Bible teaches if we want to be called Christians. With that statement I mean others should be calling us Christians by the way we act, but we all know that most folks outside the church world call us hypocrites.
Can you imaging how many people would be following Jesus if He acted like many Christians act? What if He only quoted scripture and never did anything? What if he only said He was going to die on a cross and be raised the third day? Where would we be today?
By the same token, many people who don’t read the Bible, or don’t go to church, see people who are supposed to represent Jesus and all he taught and what they get is words and not enough actions. James said that if someone asked for food or clothes that really need them and all we do is tell them that we will pray for them that our faith is dead.
Faith should cause us to do good things for people. It should cause us to give because we know that God honors our giving. It should cause us to serve, because Jesus said the greatest among us will be servants. It should cause us to teach because you can’t make disciples if they don’t know what to do. It should cause us to lead children to worship and know Jesus because He said that they were precious to Him and that we must come to Him like a child does.
So here is my challenge. If you are a Christian, and you are not involved in doing what you hear taught from the word of God, start doing something. Here are a few suggestions:
You can pray. This is needed and was modeled by Jesus. Luke 18:1 Jesus used this illustration with his disciples to show them that they need to pray all the time and never give up.
Pray for someone, by name, that you know does not know Jesus. Pray for your church leaders that they are wise and not scared to do what they need to do. Pray for our nation, that we return to are Christian roots.
You can help in the children’s area at your church. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar. You just need to love kids and love Jesus. Mark 10:15-16 I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn’t receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it.” Jesus put his arms around the children and blessed them by placing his hands on them.
Not matter how big your church is, there is never enough help in that area. Some people rarely ever get to worship with “the big people” because they are loving kids. Even if you only help once a month it helps.
You can go out daily and invite people to your church. Luke 14:23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go to the roads and paths! Urge the people to come to my house. I want it to be full. This is nothing more than telling people, with enthusiasm, how much you love the Lord and your church. What? You don’t have enthusiasm about one or the other? Perhaps it’s because you are not doing what you have been taught and your faith is dead.
Its time to come alive and show your faith! Faith means you really believe it. You sit in chairs because of faith. You drive your car because of faith. Showing people what you know about Jesus should be just as natural because of faith. Like Nike says…Just do it!

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.