Posts tagged ‘marriage’

November 7, 2012

We Better Think About It

by pastortimfowler

Thinking RFID

The election is over and the blame game is going strong. I have already heard the Christians screaming about stuff like gay marriage and abortion and how the US is doomed to be judged by God. I will now proceed to make some people mad. We better think about it.
(1)Why did Jesus come to earth? (2)Why did He die on the cross? (3)Why did He establish the church? I am glad you asked. Here are some answers.
(1) 1 Timothy 1:15…This is a statement that can be trusted and deserves complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the foremost sinner.
(2) Colossians 2:13-14 …13 You were once dead because of your failures and your uncircumcised corrupt nature. But God made you alive with Christ when he forgave all our failures.
14 He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross
.
(3) Matthew 5:13-16… 13 “You are salt for the earth. But if salt loses its taste, how will it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.
14 “You are light for the world. A city cannot be hidden when it is located on a hill.
15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket. Instead, everyone who lights a lamp puts it on a lamp stand. Then its light shines on everyone in the house.
16 In the same way let your light shine in front of people. Then they will see the good that you do and praise your Father in heaven
. Those three references are not the complete biblical answers, especially to the question of what is the purpose of the church, but it does summarize things fairly well. Now let me add my two cents worth into things.
God wants all to be saved, not just those who haven’t committed “really bad things”. Jesus came to earth to save sinners, and we all fall into that category.

When nailed to the cross, Christ took all sins and the death penalty, and nailed them to the cross. He did this so we could be forgiven if we chose to accept the gift of eternal life.
Those who are forgiven and claim to be followers have been given the task of telling others that they too can receive this gift. It is a command to tell others the good news. It is not our place to decide that one sin is worse than another. It is not our job to elect a better sinner. There is no such thing. But it is our job to act like we know this holy God and let people see our good works, not words. We should shine in what we do, not what we post on Facebook (my blog being the exception). We should be telling people how we were forgiven and how grateful we are for that rather than telling people how evil they are.
One thing I have not heard anyone say this morning is how bad it would have been to elect someone who, according to most evangelicals, follows a false religion. Is that better than abortion? I know that many think that Romney was a good guy, but being good is not what gets you to heaven. Being forgiven does. And no, this is not me putting an endorsement of Obama in my blog. I just think if we are going to be critical of one, we should be critical of all.

Perhaps it is time for Christians to do some serious thinking. The Bible tells us that we (God’s people) need to confess our own sins. It tells us that we need to follow God’s commands, all of them, not just pick and chose which sin we think is best or worst. There will never be a presidential candidate that is perfect, but there will always be a God who is. If we really want to make a difference as believers, perhaps it is time to be more passionate about our faith than we are about elections.

I used to be a drug addict and an alcoholic. I used to be a horrible spouse. I used to be a lot of things, and still have many sins that I struggle to overcome daily. But I have not always been a Christian. I am only a Christian because of what Christ did and my confessing to be a sinner to God and accepting His forgiveness. No president has changed that nor ever will. No election will make the church any more or less responsible for living that forgiven life in front of people. I am responsible for living as a very grateful and obedient follower of Christ. Without actions, my words mean nothing.

The church needs to love people with their actions. We need to show evidence that it is far better to be a forgiven sinner than one who is not. Hateful words rarely win anyone, but love covers a multitude of sin. Christ accepts sinners, all sinners. He allows them to come to Him just as they are and forgives completely. He patiently waits for us to change as His grace keeps us in good standing. Grace is amazing, judgement is not. Think about it.

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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.

September 18, 2012

Miraculas Faith

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62533788@N02/7846245072/

When was the last time you saw a miracle? For Christians, we talk about miracles all the time and do get a chance to see them. For the most part we see people healed who have no explanation, situations that seem hopeless, all of a sudden become blessings, or that relationship that was over is now mended. In our church we have seen babies born who were said would not be and a foot that was scheduled to be amputated due to diabetes suddenly turn pink and healthy, and we have seen our share of just totally unexplainable stuff that we give God credit for. But those things seem to, over time, fade in the level of excitement and we all but forget about them until someone like me brings them up as a reminder.
God is all-powerful and does do those type of miracles and more. But that is not what He wants us to focus on. From the beginning of time God has shown His miracle-working power and it has never held the people’s attention much longer than it took for the next problem to come up. But God did not and does not stop doing the impossible, only because He loves us and, I think there is part of it that goes without saying, if you could do those type things, you just would. What God wants us to focus on is His words. What God says should be as good to those who believe in Him as the miracles we give Him credit for. But trusting in God’s word is tough for us because some of what He says goes against our egos and our own desire to be rebellious.
One of the greatest miracles I have ever had happen to me was in my finances. We had begun to trust God’s word and what it says about giving, particularly tithing or giving 10% of our income. It wasn’t long after that time that we experienced a severe reduction in income. The first thought was to cut back on giving and pay our bills, but we remembered God’s instructions to believers about giving from the first of what we made and we decide to act in faith. If we did what God says do, then He has to honor what He says. Without going into a long story of details, let me just say that our finances were blessed. A miracle, I believe so, but most importantly, it was done because of faith in God’s word and His faithfulness to keep His word. I can tell you several other stories of how faithfulness on our behalf was honored by God acting like God and doing what we could not explain. Some may say that these are not true miracles but rather coincidences and I will only say that God is in control of those too.
My point is this. God has no obligation to do miracles as a reward for our good behavior nor does He have to do them to prove that He exists. God wants a relationship with people and miracles don’t make relationships stronger, trust does. God cannot be proven into existence. He has and always will exist. His miracles in the past did not bring people flocking to Him, His faithfulness did. And that relationship based on faith or trust is what opens the way for Him to do those mind-blowing things that we can’t explain. But if God never did another miracle, would you still trust Him? I would.
I would because I find nothing that He has ever said to be proven wrong. I find plenty that I don’t understand, but nothing wrong. I would because whenever God has said something and I acted on it, the results were exactly what His word says they would be. My marriage is stronger because I follow His guidelines for marriage. My friendships are stronger because I follow His guidelines for friendships. My children all turned out fine (Yes, I know that is open for debate if you know them), because we tried to raise them on God’s guidelines. My church is growing like crazy because we did away with all the bylaws and man’s laws and just started to following the Bible.
The biggest reason for my faith in God’s word is because week after week I see people who are hurting and messed up and just plain weird, decide to trust God for salvation and forgiveness and they in turn bring their friends who eventually have the same experience and so on. I know where I came from. I was not good enough for God to love me, I was so messed up that I was certain that there was no way He could love me, but He did anyway. He forgave me, accepted me, and was patient as I learned to trust Him through the years.
Truly the most miraculous thing about God is faith. If you haven’t seen a miracle, take a step of faith and trust God to forgive you. If you have seen a miracle, don’t forget about it, but look at how often the little things He promises never fail you and build on those. What God does for us is miraculous, but it is all an act of miraculous faith.

May 8, 2012

Marriage Debate

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lel4nd/6168801346/

I don’t usually blog about stuff that is controversial or things that people can possibly disagree with me on, but today I am going to. In my neighbor state of North Carolina they are voting on an amendment to the state constitution that will make marriage between a man and a woman the only legal and recognized form of marriage. It has been very interesting to listen to the talk about this issue. Some people get all freaked out about it and the arguments are often to the point of being ridiculous and even funny. My favorite is the one that says, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. How silly is that? We all know that Steve was not created until after Jesus walked on water.
I figure that sometime between now and the end of the week I will get asked what my opinion is about this, so I am jumping ahead of the game and putting out my blog before I am even asked.
My opinion is just that, an opinion. I am not the final authority, although I should be. Things would just be so much easier if everyone agreed with me. My opinion is not really an opinion but rather a question. What has been the definition of marriage for as long as there have been marriages? Merrian-Webster Dictionary has given this definition for as long as it has been in print: the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law. There is a 2nd definition that includes same-sex marriage, but it was added within the last 30 years or so. There was a time when no one would ever think of marriage any other way. For thousands of years that is what marriage was. If two people lived together, as lovers, that did not mean they were married. In some states there was a provision under the law called common law marriage, so that people who shared an estate for many years had certain rights, but it was not an official marriage to those people. Why do we need to change the definition? Perhaps there should be another descriptive word for same-sex couples who legally or ceremonially join as a couple.
If we change the definition of marriage because someone doesn’t like what it means, where do you draw the line? The definition of a word that is as old as marriage should not offend people. It was never meant to. I don’t like the word bald meaning no hair, so I think I want it to mean I have hair. Change the definition and I am still bald.
The real argument is not about a definition, but about civil rights afforded to two people who live together. Why not just change that law instead of the definition of the institution of marriage? I could care less if that happens. But we all know that it goes deeper than that. Marriage is something that most people relate to a religious argument. The only religion that I have personal knowledge of and its teaching about marriage is Christianity and from what I understand, it too describes marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Many of the laws in most civilized countries have a religious foundation, including murder and stealing. But many laws have no religious bearing what so ever. Traffic laws for instance have nothing to do with a religious teaching at all. They are made by man for man (and women).
My point is this. If people of the same-sex want to be legally equal in the benefits and rights given to a couple of opposite sex, then make a law to give those rights. Don’t change the meaning of marriage. It has meant one thing for far longer than this modern argument has been going on. Our country has a system in place to help those who are overlooked, by-passed, or even purposefully mistreated. Legislators can amend constitutions and correct injustice, but it doesn’t have to be done by changing a definition. We did not change the definition of slavery to free those who were wronged, we changed the law. A slave is still someone who is owned and controlled by another human.
So that is my blog on the controversial subject being voted on in my neighboring state. Remember that I said that it would be better if everyone agreed with me. Don’t make things difficult, just agree. And by agree, I mean, think like me, act like me, be like me. Later I may try to come up with a word that we can use for same-sex unions that I like. Until then, I will only use marriage to describe a man and a woman, legally able to file taxes as married people. Don’t be hatin’; its my blog.

April 2, 2012

My Greatest Blog

by pastortimfowler

I had the honor of doing a wedding this weekend for a young couple. Weddings always make me reminisce about that special day for me long ago. It is hard to believe that this year I will celebrate my 32nd wedding anniversary. My wife is a very lucky woman. I am a very special man, and she knows it.
I was just reading  1 Corinthians chapter 13, which I read at every wedding. It describes real love, the love of God and gives a definition of love that does not mention warm fuzzy feelings. This is what it says:
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
1 I may speak in the languages of humans and of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal.
2 I may have the gift to speak what God has revealed, and I may understand all mysteries and have all knowledge. I may even have enough faith to move mountains. But if I don’t have love, I am nothing.
3 I may even give away all that I have and give up my body to be burned. But if I don’t have love, none of these things will help me.
4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant.
5 It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs.
6 It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth.
7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.
8 Love never comes to an end. There is the gift of speaking what God has revealed, but it will no longer be used. There is the gift of speaking in other languages, but it will stop by itself. There is the gift of knowledge, but it will no longer be used.
9 Our knowledge is incomplete and our ability to speak what God has revealed is incomplete.
10 But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will no longer be used.
11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways.
12 Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me.
13 So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is lov
e.
I want to love my wife like this.
I may have just finished my greatest blog ever.

December 5, 2011

Born Gay?

by pastortimfowler

Every time I open my messages on Facebook and see one from “my friend” I cringe. Here is her latest subject. What about homosexual relationships? What does the Bible say about them? Are people born that way or do they choose? What do you think about gay marriage and gays raising children? Thanks my dear friend. No one will be able to get upset about this one.
Some of you are probably wondering why I even accepted the challenge to blog about this. I could have just ignored the question or answered it privately. But I chose to blog about it because there is no reason for Christians to not be able to express how they feel or be able to say what God says about anything. So tighten your seat belts and let’s do this.
My first task I think, is to answer the marriage thing. Merriam-Webster’s defines it as this: a (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law. Now if you continue to look there are other definitions that have been added through the years to include same-sex marriage, but this definition has been the one that has been accepted for hundreds of years. It also meets the biblical definition of marriage and as far as what is legally acceptable as marriage, this fits too.
So I do not believe that gay marriage is right. For as long as humans have been around, marriage has been defined as a man and a woman. Why all of a sudden do we have to change the meaning just because a certain group of people wants to? It would be like deciding to call 2+2=5 because someone decides that they wanted it that way. Call a gay couple something else, but not a marriage. There is no place in the Bible that tells two members of the same-sex to live together as a couple in holy matrimony. The Bible is not old-fashioned because God has decided what marriage is to be and He has not changed His mind. So, gays living as a married couple is not biblical. And by the way, neither is a man and a woman who are not married, and that will be addressed later.
As far as gays raising children, I don’t believe that it is the best situation.  It would be best for the birth mother and father to raise the child. But I do know that children need love and that anyone can love a child. Some good friends of mine, who are gay, are raising children, and in both cases, these children are well-behaved, loved, and certainly much better off than if they were in an orphanage somewhere or with a couple who did not love them. No biblical problems here.
Now to the big issue, are people born this way? I can’t give a definitive yes or no, but, let me explain. All humans are born in sin. No one has to teach a child to lie and lying is a sin. Sin is the driving force in the human flesh. It is selfish, pleasure centered, and totally against God. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, humans are unable to defeat sin at any level. We have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. Because we are all born with a sin nature, that sin will manifest itself in our lives somehow, someway, somewhere.
The Bible is very clear that sex outside of marriage is a sin. That includes adulterous sex, pre-marital sex, promiscuous sex, homosexual sex, sex with animals and any other sex you can name. Sex is not love. Sex is God’s way of humans reproducing and for married couples to express intimacy. Keep in mind that I am writing from the premise that God is the one who made and defines marriage and the limits of sexual morality, not man. He is the one who is holy and He is the judge of mankind. What we humans think is right has nothing to do with what God says. Our feelings are not the moral judge, God is.
I condemn those who treat gays with hate and malice. Jesus loves them. He died for the sins of humanity, not for the pretty church people. The sin of one person is no greater in the eyes of God than the sin of another. The blood of Jesus was shed so that sinners like me could be forgiven, learn of the love of God and grow in love and understanding of who He is. Because of this, Christians are to love others in the same way and not put a sin above another.
Putting the sex issue aside, heterosexual or homosexual, if sex of any kind were taken out of the picture as the sin issue, we are all still sinners of some sort. Born that way, but not bound to stay that way. I am now a sinner, saved by grace, who has a Father in heaven that loves me. Not because of what I did, but because of what God did when Jesus died on the cross for my sins and your.

October 28, 2011

That Woman God Gave Me

by pastortimfowler

Okay, its time for me to do some flirting, or at least attempt to score a few brownie points, even though I don’t need them because she is already my favorite wife. Over the last couple of weeks I have seen a couple of moving stories about couples. One, long dead, was said to be 1500 years old and were buried holding hands, and the other was a couple who died holding hands after 72 years of marriage. WOW!
I have now been married longer than any of my children have been alive. As a matter of fact, I have been married longer than a lot of people in my congregation at my church. It will be 32 years this coming July and what is really weird is that I am still very young. I got married when I was a wee child of 18. If you are good at math, you can see that I am barely over 40 years old.
In my first church where I was pastor, there were lots of old people. At my current church there are not that many old people, but that’s another story. At that other church there were 4 couples who had been married for over 60 years. That was one of the highlights of that pastorate. I was always amazed at them and how much they still seemed to love each other. When I spent time with them, I always asked them to give me advice on how to keep my marriage together for that long, and remain as happy as they seemed. What they told me was not complicated and they all gave me the same four suggestions. Keep God in you marriage. Have fun and laugh at and with each other. Flirt so much that she/he never doubts that you find them attractive. Fight fair and make up quickly. After hearing these things, I immediately knew that I had a great chance of having a long marriage. Now all I have to do is not die soon.
I wish that I could say that I married my high school sweetheart and that we dated for years and were in church forever, but that is not true. I met her at a party, and we knew each other only 6 months before we got married. From the minute I saw her, I knew that I wanted to date her, of course I was only 17 and she was drop dead gorgeous and every other guy on the planet would want to date her too, but I wanted to date her right then. Thankfully, she was open to the idea of dating me and after a few months, I figured that I better lock this thing down before she realized what she was doing. So we got married and here it is almost 32 years later and she still has no idea what she has gotten herself into.
We have a great marriage. We love and serve God together. If I had to pastor a church without her, I probably wouldn’t. She is so gifted and humble and is a walking example of God’s grace. We have fun and laugh a lot. As different as we are, we purposefully do things together just for fun. She says that I am a comedian, but no one makes me laugh more than her. We flirt, I more than her. All she has to do is walk in the room and I think that she is flirting. I still by her flowers and candy for no specific reason, and she lets me stare at her. We fight. I would like to say we fight fair, but I am not sure if that would be true, but we do make up quickly. I hate it when she ignores me and she hates it when I act real stupid. So we still work on fighting fair, and for the most part, we do okay.
I love being married to her. I can’t imagine not having her around. I hope that we live to see our 80th wedding anniversary but if not, I hope that we have one of those stories that make people go awwww, when we kick the bucket. But mostly, I want to live a life in front of people that makes them want to be married. Marriage takes a bad rap these days and too many people are trying to find true love like they are test driving cars. True love doesn’t come until you have been married a while. The longer you are married, if you follow the advice from my friends, the greater your love will grow. And don’t think that all the fun ends with marriage and age. With greater love comes great joy and greater fun. My married life is better than ever, and it will probably only get better over the next 20 years or so. I am wildly, madly, passionately in love with my wife. Staying married to her is all the blessing I need. I am very grateful for that woman God gave me.

August 12, 2011

Gray Area

by pastortimfowler

Whenever you run out of ideas to blog about, all you have to do is ask and someone will give you an idea. Why they give me all the weird and tough ones, I don’t know. Today I was asked to blog about inter-racial marriage, no problem.
My upbringing was in an environment where I was the minority. My dad was in the Navy and we lived in Panama where most people are black. But I never remember race being a problem or talked about in a negative way. Then we moved to the states and I was part of the school integration program and got to be one of the first white kids in what was then a black school. So most of my life I thought that I was a minority. I am not sure why that matters considering the subject is inter-racial marriage, but I feel like it might let me see a different perspective. If not it will confuse you before you get to the main point and you won’t be so critical.
From a biblical standpoint, there is no reason why different races can’t marry. In the Old Testament God told Israel not to marry outside their tribe and their race but that was only for Israel. Nothing in the Bible ever tells Christians or those who are not of any particular faith that they can’t marry another race. However, in the New Testament, we read this: 2 Corinthians 6:14 Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners? Can light have anything in common with darkness? This means that Christians should not marry those who are not Christians. Race has nothing to do with it.
The human race is full of prejudice and will always find a reason to look down on someone who is different. Ignorance and stereotypes cause us to form unhealthy feelings toward those of a different skin color. Because of this, there can be some emotional struggles for those who chose to marry interracially. This would be the only caution that I would give to someone who is considering this.
Before any two people get married they should talk about things that will be major influences in their lives. Besides money, children are the leading source of early struggles in a young marriage. Things like discipline, education, and how to spend holidays, can cause new parents to argue. These things can be settled ahead of time with proper communication. People who marry interracially need to talk about the potential emotional struggles their future children may have. After all, kids can be cruel and interracial children are easy targets. But this is not a reason not to marry and have kids, it is only something that I, as a counselor would discuss with a couple in this situation. Before you jump to a conclusion, let me also say that short kids, fat kids, skinny kids, tall kids, freckled kids, and many others get picked on, but the interracial issue is a result of a choice, not nature. And again there is nothing wrong with it, but parents need to be prepared when they make choices that they know are or can be controversial in any way.
We often immediately jump to the black and white race when we talk about this, but rarely blink when we see other races marry. One day I pray that we will see people for who they are, God’s most precious creation. It would be great to not have race asked on any form that you fill out. I wish we could all be Americans, except for those who live in other countries, of course. But God in His infinite wisdom made us different and made it obvious. But He never said that we could not love each other as fellow humans or as husband and wife.
But as long as there is humans on earth, there will be prejudice. The will be ignorance. There will be difference. As long as there are black and white, there will be gray.