Posts tagged ‘Love’

August 27, 2012

She Was A Mutt

by pastortimfowler

 

 

People always ask you what breed your dog is and for many, the only answer is mutt. That is the mixed breed that usually gets rescued from a shelter or given to you because someone got them for free and couldn’t keep them. Abby was a mutt, given to me by my daughter when she was first living on her own and obviously did not realize that raising animals cost money. Abby was a mix breed of beagle, basenji, and human. I threw in the human part because I believe she really thought she was a human.
I got her when she was big enough to fit in my hand. At that time I was in between churches, a rough time for a pastor, and she was a convenient thing to occupy my mind and my time. During that year, we did everything together. I taught her how to do tricks, she went fishing with me, and she even road the motorcycle with me. I had never had an inside dog, and to be honest, never intended to have one, but, she worked her way in.
I have a habit of giving people and I guess pets too, nicknames. She had two. G-dog, that stands for girl dog. She would respond to that and as the years went by, she even knew that I was talking to her when I just called her G. Her other nickname was Babygirl. That was what I called her when it was just me and her and we were chilling together, either kicked back in the recliner together or laid out on the couch. If I called her that, she expected some lovin’. I heard that you really only give nicknames to people and things that you are really fond of. I guess that’s true.
Abby was 12 years old. She got sick Friday night, nothing to be alarmed about, just some pukin’. For a mutt, she was very expensive. She had a sensitive stomach, she had incontinence and had been on meds for that forever. I think I spent more on her than anyone could spend on the most elaborate pure breed. But this time, I guess it was worse than an upset stomach like it had been so often before. By Sunday morning she had not eaten in two days. She loved eating, so I knew that to be a problem, but she was still walking around and looked okay. I was going to take her to the vet first thing Monday morning, and even cancelled going fishing with a friend because of it. Sunday night she was sleeping in my recliner, then got up and went to lay under the AC vent. About 3am she had her first seizure. It was bad and I pick her up to comfort her, and knew that she would not be here much longer. After several more seizures and an hour later, she died in my arms.
Someone once told me if it hurts really bad, it must be love. It was just a dog though. But God gives us opportunities to experience love in some crazy ways. Some might question why God would let us love something so much then take it from us. I look at it differently. He could let us never love at all. Everything on this earth is His and He loves us enough to let us experience loving His creation.
Job 12:10 –The life of every living creature and the spirit in every human body are in his hands. God does not have to let us love things that He owns. The years of pleasure and joy and yes, love I experience with G-dog was worth the hurt I feel right now.
I don’t know if dogs go to heaven. I told people that she would because I helped her accept Jesus. But I do know that every creature on this earth is precious to God. Matthew 10:29 –Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s permission. So God knew when Abby was taking her last breath. It was His plan. God knows our pain and knows our sorrow when people and things close to us die. Death does have a sting, because it is the enemy. It takes the things we love. But what if we never knew that love?
But death can’t take the memories and the joy. It can’t take away the love. Love lasts forever. Time will ease the pain, but the pain is a reflection of the love, now with no recipient.
I am really gonna miss my dog, even if she was a mutt. Thanks be to God for letting me take care of her for 12 years. It was worth every minute, even the last few painful ones.

August 21, 2012

Intoxicating Love

by pastortimfowler

Romantic Heart from Love Seeds

It has only been a half day, but it has me remembering the good ol’ days. Other than the international student that is staying with us, we had no kids at our house all morning and until later this afternoon when he gets out of school. I am not sure if he reads my blog, so I need to say that if you are reading this Freddy, don’t take this wrong. I love having you at my house. But I had gotten use to being there with just the two of us throughout the week and since the wife started babysitting in our home, we have not had the amount of time that I like and was use to getting.
Some of you are thinking, after 32 years, you still want all that time with her? Sure I do. My wife is awesome. In those 32 years she has become my favorite wife and I don’t think that will change just because there are kids around, again. We actually like each other and enjoy each other’s company, despite what many of our friends may think.
Today we sat around talked, cooked, cleaned, and just enjoyed some time alone. You would think by the way I am sounding that it has been months or even years since we have been alone, and it hasn’t. I am just realizing that I may have been taking things for granted. I told you a couple of blogs ago that I thought God was dealing with me in some areas. His word tells us that children are a direct blessing from Him and I do believe it. But His word also tells us that marriage an earthly picture of how much Christ loves the church and that our marriages should reflect that as a witness to others. I wonder if I am being reminded of that in some way because I have been slack. I think that I am starting understand some of what God may be showing me through these blessings called kids.
My wife is an incredible mom. She is, and I have told you this before, a baby addict. She loves children and not just babies. It gives her great joy to love them, no matter who they belong to. I forgot how happy that it made me to see her that happy. Sure, it cramps my style a little, but I have always wanted her to be happy, and this really does make her happy. Her tolerance for children and mine are miles apart. She knows it and most people know it, but that doesn’t mean that I hate kids. I just like them better when they are not around me. However, I have been reminiscing a bit about when ours were younger and reminded of what a great time that was. I use to have a good time with them and better yet, my wife was in “the zone” when they lived at home.
So I think maybe God is letting me know that I should never get too comfortable with the way things are. This world changes daily and God does not like for His people to settle into a comfort zone that allows us to forget who is in charge. I am reminded that babies are easily amused and that teens are so much fun to mess with. They only stay little for a really short time when you get to look backwards at life and I have been very blessed to have an amazing life to look backwards on. I am reminded that this woman God gave me is not just another person who I get to hang out with, but she truly is part of me. I use to tell our kids, “when your mother is unhappy, everyone is unhappy”. That has a bit of truth to it, but what is more true is that when she is unhappy, part of me is unhappy, and that needs to change.
So if this is what God is doing, I guess I need to make sure I don’t miss out on every opportunity to take advantage of these times that I get her all to myself. That is when I am happiest. But this short break today was made even better because I was hanging out with the girl of my dreams who is being smiled on by God who is letting her love on some kids thanks to her passion to help others.
We didn’t talk about the hustle and bustle of life today. We just talked about things that were relaxing and funny and full of love. I only have another couple of hours today that we will be alone, and as you can see, there are other things that we needed to do. She is working on some stuff for the church and another part-time job she has, and I had to do a blog and other really important stuff, but I am hoping that I can sneak in another few minutes of time with her just to have her all to myself until our new normal sets back in this afternoon.
Proverbs 5:18-19
18 Let your own fountain be blessed, and enjoy the girl you married when you were young,
19 a loving doe and a graceful deer. Always let her breasts satisfy you. Always be intoxicated with her love.

Yep, her love is intoxicating.

August 14, 2012

Winning Gold

by pastortimfowler

Love isn't Love Until You Give it Away

The first lady had some guilt to lay on Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas for eating at McD’s after winning gold in England. Gabby is the picture of health and while Ms. Obama is no cow, she certainly doesn’t look like she has avoided Big Macs all her life either. But I am not gonna talk about that. I want to talk about the gold.
This year’s Olympic gold medal is composed of 92.5 percent silver, just 1.34 percent gold, and the remainder 6.16 percent is made up of copper and is worth about $650.00. I was disappointed when I learned this. I thought it was pure gold. Sure, if it were it would be worth a lot more and there would be a greater risk of theft, but wow, only 1.34% gold? Currently gold is going for about $1600.00 per ounce, so weighing about 400 grams or, 14 ounces, that would be a lot of money, about $22,000.00 or so if it were solid gold.
I would think that an Olympic medal of any sort would be worth more than anyone could pay me if I had won it. It would be like winning the Superbowl and getting one of those rings. I don’t know if you have ever seen one, but wow, they are a lot of bling! But did you know that many people who have one these things have sold them? I know because I watch Pawn Stars and they have stuff like that come in all the time.
I like money. I would like to have more of it and will gladly take any extra that you may not want. You can contact me via my church website, http://www.thebodylive.com if you would like to send me money. But I have grown to know that money, as nice to have as it is, does not make you truly happy. Family, friends, and faith work best for that. Faith in Jesus Christ as Savior is a great source of happiness and more specifically, joy. Jesus said that we should not spend all of our time on earth storing up treasure here, but that we should store up things in heaven that really make a difference for eternity.
Jesus was and is not anti money. He did say that people who love money had a problem. They tend to rely more on their riches than on Jesus. Jesus knew that money was not important in heaven but was very useful on earth when we keep things in the proper perspective. But once we leave this world, money and gold and rings and stuff like that stay here and are absolutely worthless to those who die.
There is a joke I heard long ago about gold and its value in heaven. A rich man died and asked if he could take a bag of his gold to heaven. When he got permission to take it and was walking around the streets of heaven, he noticed that all the angels were laughing at him. When he asked his friend who had been there a while, why the angels were laughing at him, his friend told him that they thought it was funny that he was carrying a bag of pavement around like it was something valuable.
What is valuable in heaven? YOU are! Your soul and the souls of every human being are so valuable to God that He allowed Jesus to die for us on a cross so that we may live with Him in heaven. When we forget that things of this world are only temporary and focus on riches here, it is then possible that we miss out on what God has in store for us. Our eternal life is that important to God. He loves us. He made a way for all who believe and ask for forgiveness to receive eternal life and a place in heaven.
I don’t know if the streets in heaven are really made of gold. I think it is far more valuable than we can imagine and it will not be our focus when we get there. I know that here on earth how we treat others with what we have is far more valuable than the stuff we have. If we put stuff above the lives of others, we miss out on true happiness and become self-centered and ultimately self-condemned. Love is something to give away, not to waste on one’s self. Marriages don’t work unless you love your spouse at least as much as you love yourself. Giving love to your child is far more important than teaching a child to love himself. God loves us so much that He gave so that we may have eternal life. God’s love is given to us so that we can give it away to others.
As for Gabby Douglas, she knows that value of a gold medal. She also knows that there is something far more valuable, and that is knowing Jesus and God’s love. And something in me says that after training for the Olympics for as long as she did, that the Big Mac she ate after it was over was pretty valuable too. Winning gold can only sustain you for little while, after that, you need something more.

August 10, 2012

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

by pastortimfowler

Should I stay or should I go?

I love, absolutely love, being a pastor. I get to see people grow and change and learn to be servants. I get to share God’s love with people and see the fruits of my labor. I have been blessed to have a church full of people who are passionate about what has happened to them and are sharing it with others. Even when I think that I want to pull my hair out, and for those who know me, that means things are really stressful and weird, I still love what I do.
This past few weeks has been both stressful and weird. On top of funerals, surgeries, and the other everyday stuff a pastor can deal with, I have been dealing with getting use to having an international student in my house. He is a great kid, so far, and I will get used to having a teenager in my house again, I hope, but this is quite an adjustment for me. I am a creature of habit and don’t mind having a routine that rarely changes. When it does, I have to think that God is trying to teach me something, or, He has decided to show me a sick sense of humor.
In the last couple of weeks I have had a few people tell me the they think that God wants them to leave our church. Before some of you panic, this is not uncommon. I think about leaving at least three of four times a week, and that is in a good week. The reason people tell me that God may want them to leave our church is because they feel like they are not getting along with someone or that things are changing and they don’t like it. I want to address those two reasons for a minute.
First, if there are people who you are not getting along with, consider that God may want you to change something about you, like patience, instead of changing churches, after all, love is patient. Sure I know that most of you are perfect and have no need for change in your own lives, but there are a few who need to learn that God often puts us around people who are different to get us to love those who we don’t like. Luke 6:27, But I tell everyone who is listening: Love your enemies. Be kind to those who hate you. If you are attending a church in hopes of liking everyone you are going to be disappointed. Our command is to love people, not like them. Being the new kid on the block only lasts for a while and then reality sets in. You will find people who disagree and maybe even disappoint you. Those are the ones who challenge you to be more like Jesus, who by the way, does not like everything we do either, yet still loves us. We are not put into the church to be liked or to like everyone. We are put here to serve God and bring Him glory. I am sure glad Jesus did not walk away when He found out someone did not like Him.
Second, is the change thing. Change is always going to make some people uncomfortable. But think about this; if nothing ever changes in church, people are not getting to know Jesus. I would like to offer this suggestion. Rather than getting upset about change, get upset about the status quo. Get upset when you do the same thing week in and week out and never get comfortable with the way things are. The Pharisees got upset because Jesus changed the way they had always done things. Those were the religious guys and the ones who the church way to often resembles. Yet it was their lack of change that had Jesus nailed to the cross. I am very glad that Jesus changed things or I would still be headed to hell. Change is a good thing. Perhaps instead of leaving to find a church that stays the same, you should look and see if it is you that needs to change. I know that I have to evaluate how to change on a daily basis.
Changing the church you attend is often needed. I am not so naive as to think that everyone should stay in the same place all the time. I have changed churches a few times myself. I did know that there was a specific purpose for my change and that it was God that wanted me to go elsewhere and not my own pride or selfishness. But to change churches for the two reasons above is often just that, prideful and selfish. Solving problems instead of running from them helps us to grow and to understand the heart of God better.
If you need to go, I give you my blessing. You will know it is God when you have complete peace about it and can tell anyone who asks the reason without fear or confusion. Fear and confusion are not from God. The very best servants of God, like Paul and Barnabas, left churches to serve elsewhere. Sometimes the best are needed somewhere else to help others grow. That is part of God’s plan and design and I am all for that.
Meanwhile, don’t let Satan cause you to leave where God is working, and He is working at our church. People are coming to know Jesus as Savior every week and others are growing and learning to serve others to help them be more like Christ. Satan is a liar and a punk. He loves complacent churches where nothing ever changes and people rarely get saved. He loves it when we get focused on ourselves and forget that we should be helping others. Jesus said that in this world we would have trouble. He said that people would dislike us and that we should never grow weary of doing what is right. Doing what is right is not always easy. Doing what is wrong often is. Think about it.

August 6, 2012

Don’t Burn Out!

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pigstubs/2036448304/

 

I feel like my head is spinning. The last week has been crazy. Between traveling and church stuff and international students invading my house and little rug-rats all last week and now my friend from the Philippines is here, I can’t catch my breath. But wow it has been good. I have seen God at work in so many ways.  He even found time to give me a sanity break with my wife tonight.
It is hard to understand how people can say that they get burned out with God.
I understand that you can get burned out if you are serving your church, but maybe that is the problem. Maybe you are getting burned out because serving the church is not always serving God. (Gasp!) That’s right, I said it. Serving God and serving the church can be two different things. The church has a tendency of becoming overburdening while Jesus said His yoke was easy and burden was light. God does not cause burn out.
Now this does not mean that you will never have problems if you serve God. But God promises that when we are being productive Christians and serving Him that we will have joy and peace and love and it will be rewarding and there is nothing to get burned out about that. We have been called to ministry. The word minister means to serve. We have also been called to do all things like we are doing them for God. So if you are serving God in whatever you do and you remember that He is the one rewarding what you do, it makes it easier to serve with joy and avoid burnout.
If you are one who is feeling burn out, then maybe it is time to spend a few minutes alone with God to ask why. Be honest about what you are doing and feeling and listen for that still, small voice to say that it may be time to change. It may be time to change your attitude. Perhaps you are doing what God wants, but you are not doing it for His glory. Perhaps what you are doing is not truly a ministry. Maybe it is a church position that hasn’t changed in 100 years and is no more a ministry than clipping your toenails. FYI, I grow mine really long before cutting them and then donate them to people whose toenails fall off, kinda like the hair thing people do. Perhaps you are doing too much and you need to let someone else serve. Here is another FYI…your church will not fall apart if you stop doing something.
Burn out can happen to anyone who is not serving God or serving in a ministry of God. Feeling burned out is like when your car begins to backfire. It is a warning sign that something is wrong. The number one reason people’s cars quit running properly is because they don’t read their owner’s manual and follow the instructions for preventive maintenance. The reason Christians face burn out is because they don’t read the Bible and follow its instructions. So if you are listening for God’s voice and you don’t recognize it, it might be time to familiarize yourself with what God sounds like through reading His word.
Don’t burn out! Get fired up!

July 30, 2012

Expecting More

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lollar/14941173/in/photostream/

As a pastor of many years and a church person of many more, there have been a lot of things that have stuck with me. One of them is how church people can get stuck in ruts of complacency. I did a blog last week about getting in a comfort zone. It is a dangerous thing for people who claim to know God to get to the point to where they expect the same ol’ stuff from God. But this is not a blog about being comfortable, it as about expecting more.
This morning I was talking with someone at the church and we were laughing about how busy we have been. At our church it is common to have stuff happening every day of the week. We like to use our building and let others use it. But there are a few things that are unique to our church and that is what we were talking about. In the last week we have not only had our regular schedule of worship and classes, but we have had a wedding, a funeral, baptisms, communion, baby dedication, and salvation. On top of that, we have recently been on missions trips, raised money for other churches, hosting exchange students, helped church members who needed it, helped homeless in our area, and regularly do counseling. This year we have had outdoor movies, tailgate parties, motorcycle rides, scuba trips, and of course the ever popular church work day. All of this leads to bunches of people visiting us for the first time and many deciding to stick around.  So much that we have almost reached our capacity on Sunday morning at 10:30am and are preparing to start a second worship time the first Sunday in January 2013. Not to brag too much, but we have had the privilege of seeing over 60 people make a decision to trust Jesus and over 30 of those have already been baptized this year, 2012.
All of this makes for a crazy pace and it often feels like we never know what to expect next. I love it. It sounds crazy at times and would be overwhelming if it weren’t for all the people who help make these things happen. I believe it is all in line with what God wants us to do because of all the ones who come to know Jesus. Far to often churches are fine with the same faces in the crowd every week. We get very uncomfortable if we don’t see strange faces in our crowd.
It is exciting to see what God can do using a bunch of strange people like us. He never asked for us to be better than anyone else, but rather God asks us to admit that we are sinners in need of His help. Then He forgives our sins, if we ask, and helps us to make changes in our lives that please Him. Most importantly, God wants us to love people, just the way they are. When that happens, people get curious and God gets the glory when they get to know Him, through His people.
I am expecting more from God. He never tires of blessing His children. He never gets bored and is never boring. If you have gotten that impression of God, you have been in the wrong place. The God I know and see working in my church is incredible and loving and far from boring. He has plenty of room in His family and in His church for you. Sure, you may have to change your mind on a few things, but that is the same with all of us who call ourselves Christians. Jesus said that He came to give us life and give it more abundantly, and He does not lie, I am expecting more!

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.

July 24, 2012

Pray For My Friends

by pastortimfowler

LTD_Clinical_Equip_0009 IV, Stand, flouid bag

God brings people in and out of our lives all of the time. Rarely do we have those super special people who stay around a long time. God has been very very good to me and has not only brought me a wife that has stuck around, but has brought me several friends too. A couple of these friends, needs your prayers. I am only doing this because it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission and she would probably tell me no if I asked her if I could post this.
Sheila and I met at church in a very strange way. Her and her family lived just a couple of doors down from the church I worked at and she was using us as an occasional baby sitters for her children. Her and her significant other were not church people and did not plan on becoming church people. If the truth be known, they still aren’t church people; they are amazing people who know Jesus and have blessed our church by making it theirs now. I will condense this part quite a bit, but it is an amazing testimony. After a few weeks, she started coming, then James, and the next thing you know we are baptizing them and performing a middle of the week wedding. Over the next 8 years, they have become friends to the point of being family.
Here is the prayer need. James in the hospital ICU with a weird lung problem and the doctors are not optimistic about his recovery being quick nor full. I personally believe that God has other plans. Sheila has to work and many of our church folks are helping where we can. She is hard-headed and stubborn, but we are working around that. But I am asking you to pray for her specifically because the love of her life is very sick and she is hurting from it. She has amazing patience and stamina for persevering through tough times, but this is different as you can see. Pray for her to be strengthened and for patience and for God’s grace to be overflowing in her life at this time. She is by far one of the best people God has ever sent to our church and to me as a friend.
Pray for her two boys, both teenagers. That in it self is a need for prayer when everything is going just fine. But now they are faced with uncertainty and I am sure their faith is being tested. Pray that they will find extra patience with mom and that they will see just how awesome God is, even in the hard times, which is when we all need it most.
Pray for James. That his recovery will be faster than the doctors can ever explain and that the recovery is full. He recently quit driving a truck and has been home for the last few months and because of that has been in church regularly ever since. He has grown in his relationship with God and was really getting to find his place with friends and in serving at the church. It goes without saying that he loves his family and loves the Lord. But when something like this happens, even the strongest faith can be challenged.
Yep, every so often we get blessed with someone special in our lives and when they are hurting, you hurt. So I am asking everyone who reads this to take a minute to pray for my good friends. I will keep you updated as we hear the good news start to happen. Thanks for taking this time to read about this special need and thanks most of all for taking time to pray.

July 13, 2012

Still Married And Wanting More

by pastortimfowler

Next week my wife and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. That means I may not be blogging next week because we always take the week off and go somewhere. It is really strange saying that I have been married for 32 years. Most people my age have been married several times and few have that many years with the same person. I still remember when I thought that 30 was old. Now I have been married longer than that. I use to say that my wife married me when I was 12, but that still makes me older than I feel like I want to be.
I have been very blessed. I wish that everyone could experience the type of marriage that I have. I can honestly say that I love my wife more today than when we got married. We are still passionate and fun and learning each other. We love being together and trust each other when we are apart. We laugh, cry, and pray together and have no fears of dying with any regrets of what we could have done together. Our marriage is that special.
Now I don’t want you to think that we don’t have tough times. I tell everyone that my wife is the best of everything for me, including my best fight. No one can make me as angry as she can. But that is because we are passionate. But when we fight, we fight to make us stronger, and when that goes wrong, we forgive to make us humble. In our 32 years we have been on the brink of divorce twice. We have been in marriage counseling and we have been separated. We have been tempted to call it quits, but by the grace of God have never followed through with it. We have suffered through alcohol and drug abuse and self centeredness. We have had plenty of money and great careers and we have both been unemployed and dirt poor. All of these things have worked together to make us stronger.
We use our experiences to help others every chance that we get. We can look young couples in the eyes and tell them that we understand where they are and what they are going through. It brings us great joy to see a couple about to call it quits, turn things around and become stronger than ever.
As a husband, I can honestly say I am the best husband my wife has ever had. She knows this and will be the first to tell you that she has never married anyone that is as good as me. Of course, since I am the only husband she has ever had, I rank number one without any competition. That doesn’t change the fact that I am the best husband she has ever had though.
My wife is incredible. She is extremely smart and has the most incredible patience. She has worked her way to the top in corporate America, ran her own business, and helped to build our church. She has people skills that make her the type of friend that people dream of. As a mom, she is compassionate and nurturing and as a grandmother, or Mimi, she is the one responsible for spoiling the kids beyond repair. Add to all of this, she is unbelievably beautiful and sexy. Yes, I am truly blessed.
So next week, we are heading out to spend a week away from work and church and family and friends. We are going to ride the motorcycle, dine out, watch movies and read books. We are going to forget about the stresses of life and enjoy being together and reflect on how awesome it is to be married to each other. This will mean, no blogs, no Facebook, and no phones.
When we walked down that aisle and said our vows 32 years ago, no one thought that we would make it. Our dads even made bets about how quickly it would end. They said that we would never make it because we were too young and I was too messed up. They were correct about me, but God does work miracles. I was so happy to get married that day. It was the best thing that I could have ever done. I am happily and joyfully married and can’t wait to see what is coming in year 33 together and beyond.
Happy Anniversary to my bride and girl of my wildest dreams. Thanks for loving me and letting me love you.
I am still married and wanting more!

July 9, 2012

All In?

by pastortimfowler

Pool

The biggest moment in a poker tournament is what is known as the “all in” moment. Each player starts with the same amount of chips and the goal is to win the chips from the other players over the course of many hands of poker. Usually toward the latter part of these tournaments, someone decides that they have too few chips to stay in much longer but they have a great hand and so they move all their chips into the center of the table, calling, “all in”. It is at that time that reality sets in. Either this is the hand that changes the night for better or this is the time that you head home with nothing. Going all in is a risky move.
This past weekend the youth of our church went on their first ever youth retreat to Myrtle Beach. They had some work they did helping the hosts and they had some fun time also, but they had a lesson from one of the leaders asking them if they were all in. The analogy used was different though. They were near the pool and as you know, most people ease into the pool. Usually they get in up to their knees and get a feel for the water before deciding to go all in. These guys were in to the knees with God in their role as Christians. Many of them said that they believed and had even made a decision to become a Christian but none of them had committed to that all in moment. Let’s face it; this can be scary.
Are you all in? As a Christian, have you decided to test the waters by coming to church and attending a class and even giving regularly? Some of you are thinking, “what do you mean, test the waters, I thought that was all in?” Sorry, but it is not. Church is only a small part of being a Christian, but for most, it has become what identifies us as Christians. God wants more from us than a couple of hours a week. He wants us all in.
Jesus said that if we want to follow Him, we should take up our crosses as we follow. Crosses are hard to carry. I am not talking about those gold ones around the neck. I am talking the wooden ones that they hang you on with nails. Now Jesus did not expect us to literally carry crosses, but rather to realize that this walk He took was His all in moment when He carried His cross up the hill to die for the sins of the world. And if all he would have done was to talk about it, He could have been like most of us who are only testing the waters or making safe bets that won’t put us out of the game or vault us into the lead.
Christians should be different in everything we do. Not “Bible thumpers” who yell out at every one that they are going to hell, but living examples of the Bible that was written to show God’s love for the world. Our marriages should be stronger than most because they are modeled after the one that God designed. Our work ethic should be better because we work as if God were our boss. Our friendships should be better because we want to be friends that stick closer than a brother. Our faith should be our guide because we trust God and show it in the way we act in every aspect of our lives. Reading our Bibles should not be something that we don’t have time for, but rather something that there is always time for. Praying for others should be habitual and joyful and worship should show in our faces as we celebrate the King of Glory as our Savior every chance we get. And oh yeah, our willingness to do the tough things for others should never come into question as we carry our crosses so that others might be saved.
Right now I am thinking of a list of places that I need to double-check to see if I am truly all in. We don’t stay all in all of the time. But we must be willing to fearlessly accept the fact that we have gotten back into the shallow water or are only making safe bets and we must be willing to dive into the deep or push the whole stack of chips and go all in. Its your move. Will you go all in or are you bluffing? Will you take the plunge into the deep water or play it safe in the kiddie pool? Come on…Go all in.