Posts tagged ‘preach’

November 28, 2011

Expect Versus Demand

by pastortimfowler

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

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November 15, 2011

It Sucks. Yep, I Said It

by pastortimfowler

The last few days have been tough. It seems like every way that I turn, something is going wacky. I heard someone use a term one time and not sure how nice it is, but it goes something like this: This sucks! Now of course I would never use this term for any other reason than to make the point of this blog. No one can ever accuse me of acting like anything other than the perfect Christian guy. If they do, they suck.
Hear is are a few things that have happened lately that have provoked this blog.
Last Friday, I woke up to back spasms, again. You would think that I would get use to this, but I haven’t. They are a common part of my everyday life, only some days they are worse than others. I know, if you have followed my blogs for a while you may have heard about them before, but like my blog, they are my spasms and I can whine about them when I want too. Friday they were pretty intense and I had to go pick up the red-head twins for the weekend with Mimi, who just happens to live at my house.
When I got there to pick them up, it was right in front of the USC Gamecock stadium and I was reminded that I really wanted to stay there and see the game , but neither of the red-head twins are old enough to drive yet so I had to load them in my truck and drive an hour back to my house. The whole time they were yelling and screaming and acting like little kids and I was trying to yell with them and I actually hurt my vocal chords while we were seeing who could yell the loudest. (It was a game)
Saturday, was not that bad, except for trying to get those leaves out of my yard. When I woke up Saturday, my back felt better and that was a relief, but as I was trying to get an extension cord untangled, my dog thought it would be funny to sneak up behind me and see me trip over her. Guess what that started? Back spasms. So I got the leaves out of the yard and went in to watch the football game that I really wanted to see live. It was a good game and my team won.
Some time during the game the dog wanted to play again and as I was wrestling with her, something popped in my elbow and it has not stopped hurting since. As if that wasn’t enough, I took a couple of Tylenol to ease the pain and did not realize that there were two other letters on the bottle, PM. So I took a nap on the couch. It was only a short nap because soon the wife come home with the red-head twins and two others who were still playing the game, let’s see how loud we can yell. As I sat up from my nap, I had a back spasm which caused me to flinch and I got a “crick” in my neck.
Because I had a nap so late in the day, I did not sleep much Saturday night and Sunday morning came way to soon. It was a big day at the church with several things that were starting up. I am on edge on Sunday mornings anyway, just because I want everything to go well. Some people started not showing up at the times that they were supposed to and one person went home early and another said they couldn’t do what they were supposed to. On top of everything else, I was not preaching that morning. I get bummed out when I don’t get to preach. Not because the person who is preaching will not do a great job, but because after all that had been going wrong, the one thing I believe I can do right is preach. It allows me to forget everything else and talk about the One who is always right. God.
Later that day, I was called by a friend to tell me that a family member was in ICU, and another friend of mine was having some other personal issues that I didn’t have an answer for him. I think my phone rang 4 or 5 times with bad or disturbing news.
Monday, was a new week and had to get better; wrong. As if it weren’t bad enough that my run of bad luck seemed to be continuing, the wife had a really bad day. I hate it when she has a bad day cause if I’m not careful it can turn even worse because I am so sensitive. Okay, maybe sensitive is the wrong word, but I can’t use the one she called me. So add it all up and the last few days have been worth taking the risk to say, this sucks.
So Monday night we have our men’s Bible study and God decides to show off and remind me that no matter how much I think it sucks, He doesn’t. He reminded me that His grace is sufficient and that His love can overcome anything that I allow to bother me. He reminded me that it is not the things that bothered me that sucked. What sucked was that I let them bother me so long before turning my focus to HIM.

September 9, 2011

That Woman God Gave Me

by pastortimfowler

Yesterday I had the privilege of spending the whole day at Newspring Church in Anderson SC for their annual leadership conference. Although I had been there before for worship and a different training event, I could not believe what happened there this time. Pastor Perry Noble and his church are incredible tools that God is using to change the world. I know that sounds like a huge statement but I don’t think that I am exaggerating. They are really doing things that reach worldwide and doing it in a practical way.
This particular conference was to motivate leaders to follow the model of leadership set forth in the Bible and perfected by Jesus Christ.
I have been to many events in many churches before and usually walk away with really useful stuff. Occasionally I am moved to an emotional response that resembles an allergy attack in which my eyes start watering, but that is rare.
Yesterday was different. There were seven different pastors that spoke in front of the 3000 plus leaders who were gathered there and I felt so bad for all of those guys because the seven speakers were talking only to me. How they picked me out of the crowd I don’t know, but I was made to feel very special. I was hoping that this was a fluke after the first guy finished and then after the second guy did it too I got nervous, but when it continued all day I was on overload.
As a pastor, I feel confident that I hear from God daily as I try to lead and serve my church. I read and study my Bible daily, listen to other pastors who teach on the radio when I can, and I try my best to stay spiritually fed. But at this event I felt as if I was at an all you can eat dinner and I couldn’t get enough. Even when I knew I was full, I felt like God packed it down and stuffed in some more. I am not talking burgers and ‘dogs, but the finest spiritual cuisine one could eat.
One of the speakers spent 45 minutes talking about gratitude. When he said that this was his topic I wanted to zone out because I feel like I am a fairly grateful guy. But as he began to preach I realized over and over that I was falling short. The Bible tells us that we are to be thankful in everything. The good, the bad and the ugly. I am real good about gratitude for the good, and have even said thanks for some of the trials, but I often blame myself for things that go wrong. This guy said that we need to be careful blaming ourselves for those thing that go wrong or we may be quick to take credit when things go right. God gives us trials to make us stronger, not for us to play the blame game.
The one area that I was most convicted was my gratitude for my wife. I take her for granted more than I ever should. I am supposed to be Christ to her and so many times I am more like the devil, and not in the fun way that we like to think. Not only does she support me in everything we do, and she is a great cook, a great mom, a great worker, a great friend, but she is also great in the things that she does that I don’t like. Sounds weird, but I am not grateful for those things like I should be. They are just as much part of the person I love as the other things, yet I am quick to complain. Oops, sorry honey. I love you for who you are, all of you.
This pastor made a statement that scared me in a Godly way. He said if you are not grateful for the things that God has given you because you think that they have flaws, God can always take it back. God does not make mistakes and we need to understand this. I made a promise to take her for better, worse, rich, poor, sick, and health. I have overwhelmingly had the best side of it all. The few things that I find irritating, I really want to be grateful for because if I don’t have those small parts, I don’t have her.
So, I am praying to be really grateful for her, not what she does. I want to thank God every moment of the day for my wife who is better than I ever deserved and quit acting like I am entitled to anything at all. What I deserve is nothing close to what He has given me. I have more to be grateful for than I can count and my wife makes up the biggest part of all those things.
Thank you God for every part of who my wife is. She is perfect for me, and I am for ever grateful.

July 26, 2011

This Will Be Tough

by pastortimfowler

Day two of the return from vacation and it is like I was never gone, except for this huge back-log of stuff that needs to be done because everyone else did not take vacation the same time that I did. I think next time it should be mandatory that we all take vacation at the same time, and that way no one will come back and be behind.
While I was gone I was praying about my next series that I will be preaching. I have struggled from day one of having the thoughts that perhaps this is where God wants me to spend some time teaching and preaching. I have even questioned the fact that this was the direction that God was leading because I was having such a difficult time with it. Then it dawned on me that I was about to preach the most incredible series that God has ever allowed me to preach and that was why I was struggling so much. You see, I believe with all my heart that Satan does not want this series to happen.
Even as I am writing this blog, I am not 100% sure of the exact direct that God is going to take me or even how long the series will be, but I do know that it is biblical, bold, and basic. The series if about how we deal with the truth. The truth is so simple, so easy, so basic, but yet everyone messes it up.
From the beginning of time, the truth has been challenged. If you are reading this as someone who does not believe in God, you still deal with this struggle only from a different angle, but in the beginning of human’s existing on earth, the truth was twisted to deceive us. For those who don’t believe in God, your struggle is who decides what is true. But either way, truth exists and when we stray from it, we get into all sorts of dilemmas.
Some say that there is no such thing as absolute truth, that truth is somehow relevant. My argument is that there has to be at least one absolute truth, even in that argument. Here it is; it has to be absolutely true that there is no absolute truth. I don’t want to linger here, maybe another blog.
I want to challenge Christians to live the truth. If you believe that God’s word is true, then we must live like it is true, and if you are a Christian that doesn’t believe that, you can’t be sure that you are a Christian at all. Trusting anything but the truth is dangerous. All lies are for someone else’s benefit, not yours. The truth is for the good of everyone and I say that because Jesus says that He is the truth.
I ask for Christians to pray for me as I study and preach this series. I ask you to pray that you are able to not just hear the truth but to trust it enough to do it. In the Bible, James tells us that without doing what we hear from God’s word we are just fooling ourselves. I would love for you to hear this series and I normally don’t do this, but if you are not in the Rock Hill, SC area, you can listen to it online. All of our sermons are posted within a couple of days after they are preached and often they are posted that Sunday. Go to http://www.thebodylive.com and listen to this. It will be tough, but it will be, the truth.

July 11, 2011

Only You Can Say It

by pastortimfowler

This past Sunday I had a guest speaker at our church. He was a friend who I had met through my associate pastor and we had planned for him to preach several months ago. I find it hard to not preach on Sundays. I LOVE to preach. I LOVE my church and its people. But I also know that from time to time God wants our church to hear something different.
Matt is an ex-Marine, one of the Navy’s finest soldiers, and now works as a government contractor and with the Gideon’s. He has a passion for God’s word and for people and it definitely showed in his sermon. He challenged us all to consider the demands of discipleship and did it well
I rarely get to sit back and listen to someone preach on Sundays. The people I work for rarely give me a Sunday off and expect me to work during normal church hours. When I get that rare Sunday off, it usually means that I am on vacation and attending another church, so to sit around with my own church and be fed the word was refreshing.
I know that people have differing opinions on preaching styles. I have developed a style that allows me to sooth and relax people to the point of overcoming insomnia. When I first started preaching I was very mechanical and then got very methodical and later became hallucinogenic. The point is that there are many different preaching styles and none of then are wrong as long as God’s word is being preached. The Apostle Paul said that he did not speak to the church with eloquent words and soothing speech, or in other words, he was not a good public speaker, but no one can deny his effectiveness in sharing the Gospel.
Every one of us who claim to be Christians have a responsibility to share Jesus with whoever will listen, whenever they will listen. We must be bold to speak and not be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You never can tell who needs to hear what you have to say in the unique way that only you can say 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.

June 2, 2011

Everybody Has a Butt.

by pastortimfowler

I told everyone yesterday in my blog that I went to a forum on Tuesday and how I was so turned off by the overwhelming negativity of the event. I want to now put a positive twist on it because I felt a little like I was no better than anyone else at the meeting by saying the negative things that I did. Sometimes “venting” helps you feel better, but usually God convicts when that venting does not give Him all glory.
My main complaint was that this was supposed to have been a meeting about how to better reach people and share the Gospel with them. It turned out to be a rehashing of the same old divisive rhetoric as always. My shields were probably up before I even got there so I want to do an “after blog” blog to clear my conscience.
Philippians 1:18
But what does it matter? Nothing matters except that, in one way or another, people are told the message about Christ, whether with honest or dishonest motives, and I’m happy about that. Yes, I will continue to be happy.
This is the Apostle Paul’s response to folks telling Him that people were doing things different. As you can see, he took a better perspective than perhaps I did. I can share other verses that tell you that there is a definite danger in people who pervert the Gospel, and God will be there judge, but this event that I attended was not that and neither are the churches and pastors that were being talked about in the forum. It is just a difference in opinion and people are told the message of Christ and that makes me happy too.
This denomination who put on this forum has a long history of preaching the Gospel. For a long time they have been a driving force in sharing Christ with people and continue still today. I think the reason I get upset is because I believe in their message and love their theory, I just see them withering in the path of tradition and it makes me sad.
One day I will be old and not understand what a new movement in church is doing. One day I will probably be more critical than I should be. I thank God that there are older Christians who watch out for false teaching and dangerous trends in the church. I want to be that way too. I only hope that I have wisdom enough to know the difference between danger to the church and pride in my ways.
Everyone who calls themselves Christians needs to be on guard for false teaching. Every New Testament book warned the church of it. We should be grateful for those who watch over the well-being of the best of our traditions because not every tradition is bad or wrong by any means. We must be careful that our desire for something new and fresh does not overpower the tried and true methods of the past. But, by the same token, if a tradition is no longer evangelical and it only appeases those in our church who want to hold on until they die, then we need to be bold enough to embrace change for the sake of those who need Jesus.
The wisdom of the Bible and God that tell us that the church is the body of Christ and this can help us look at the need for denominations and different styles of worship and evangelism. Just as our hands need gloves and our feet need shoes, our church needs difference too. They do totally different functions in the body but each one are vital to the body. My hands would never war against my feet because they hang out in smelly shoes and don’t get washed several times a day. My eyes don’t get mad at my ears for hearing and my tongue doesn’t talk bad about my lungs for breathing.
So in closing, I thank everyone for letting me vent, and I am sorry for being negative toward my fellow body parts. Christ is the head of the body, no doubt. I am still trying to figure out my part. God made all parts to work together for His glory and even if we don’t like it, that fact is, every body has a butt.

April 8, 2011

Free to Speak

by pastortimfowler

Today a good friend of mine is going to preach in a public forum in Saudi Arabia. He was invited by the only known Christian church in that country and they have government approval to hold this public event. This is a country that routinely imprisons Christians and it is not uncommon to see them killed. My request is for you to pray for him. I know that by the time most read this he will have finished his sermon and moved on, but God will still be working, so pray that lives are changed today in this country.
In the USA, we face a different danger. Last time I checked it was not illegal to preach the Gospel in our country. We can still tell others, even government officials that we are follower of Jesus Christ and not be punished. I guess my question is, why don’t we? Why do so many American Christians hide their Christianity in a country that allows us to display it? I think the danger is not from being imprisoned by man but rather by our lack of passion for the Gospel. what is the danger there? Disobedience to God.
Could it be that we are more afraid of being publicly ridiculed by someone who thinks that we are imposing on them? I though that freedom of speech allowed that. There is certainly not a problem with those brave union workers who fill state houses and shout obscenities to elected official who they disagree with. There is not a problem people trying to save animals picketing or even those who gather to debate who is the better team on college campuses all around our country. But display your desire to share the Gospel and we are forcing our morals down people’s throats. Shame on Christians for worrying about it, but shame on the way it is done too.
Maybe it is not what we are trying to say then. Maybe it is how we are saying it. Could it be that the way some are making a public mockery of Christianity is the problem. After all there are those who think that protesting a funeral of a fallen soldier somehow constitutes God’s love. (Sick Bastards) And before you get all “offended” on me, a bastard is an illegitimate child and I can’t believe that these are God’s children doing something so sick.
Maybe it’s that Christians should not be the type to so quickly tell someone they are going to hell before they even know them enough to share the love. Or maybe Christians don’t even need to go into public places to be rude and unaccepting when people can just walk into some churches on Sunday and “feel the love” if you are not like them.
Sounds harsh I know, but I get so irritated with the church having so much freedom here in the USA and taking it for granted. Jesus welcomed all in love and so many Christians today don’t know how to love. They get caught up in religious activities and weekly programs and miss the love that compels people to travel around the world to risk it all to share the gospel.
Today in Saudi Arabia thousands will risk their freedom and their lives to hear the Gospel. Sunday in the USA, many will struggle with the decision of going to worship or going to the lake. Today in Saudi Arabia, a man will risk his life and ability to return home so that others will hear the Gospel. Today in the USA many will not hear it because a Christian does not have the time, or doesn’t want to be embarrassed.
I pray that here in the USA, the church will learn to appreciate its freedom. That we will pray for men and women, who like my friend feel so strongly about how special Jesus is that they risk it all to tell others. I pray that we would do it in love. There is so much love to share that we could start today and not have to be rude and hateful to anyone for weeks. I pray that I will have the boldness to speak works of love and encouragement to others and that Christians in the USA would take advantage of the fact that we are free to speak.