Posts tagged ‘preaching’

November 19, 2012

God In The Irritations Of My Life

by pastortimfowler

God is our...

Sorry for the lack of blogs lately. I have been dealing with the aftermath of the church fire, extra people in my house, and a barrage of other stuff that has had me a bit distracted. Through it all, God has been in touch with me, mainly through Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes right in my face. I thought that I could share a few things that He showed me.
He is in the stuff that I find irritating. I know that this may sound as if I am saying that God is irritating, and I am not. I do get rather flustered with Him from time to time because He refuses to let me be in charge or He lets me and everything gets all messed up. But, God is in the stuff that has been irritating me in some really cool ways.
I love my grandkids and I love the kids in my church. But kids irritate me. Unlike my wife who is a kid addict, I can only tolerate kids in small amounts and in short bursts. So with the fire at our church rendering our children’s area unusable, the kids have been coming into the adult worship area while I am preaching. The result; several of them have accepted Jesus as their Savior and I got to baptize 5 of them in the last two weeks. Many of them have come up to me and told me with all the excitement of a little child about how cool it was and thanked me for it. WOW! God is all in that irritation.
Lately I have been trying to do more with my grandkids, especially my oldest grandson who is 7. He lives with his dad and mom and a bunch of girls, and girls are trouble, we all know that. His dad works rotating shifts and does not get to take part in things like scouts and a lot of weekend stuff, so I am trying to fill in. In the past few months I have been to three camping events with him and slept in a tent and gone without a shower and fed him more junk food than he should have ever been allowed to eat.
I also took him to a Gamecock football game this weekend. There is about an hour drive to the stadium from my house and to help keep him entertained, I took the wife’s tablet so he could play games. I find it hard to have meaningful conversation with a 7-year-old for more than a couple of minutes, much less for an hour. Guess what? The tablet was not charged. So for an hour, we talked. Did you know that a 7-year-old can talk continuously for 15 minutes without stopping or even breathing? And I learned that I could throw a Chees-it and hit him in the mouth while I was driving but can’t catch one when he throws it. I also learned that if you slowed down beside the semi truck while he pumped his fist, that after several miles, even the toughest truck driver will eventually blow his horn.
I love to watch the Gamecocks play. Having a 7-year-old with you limits that ability. But when it is really cold and the wind is blowing hard and you told the kid to leave his jacket in the truck because you were not taking yours, kids can be an excellent heat source. So he sat in my lap most of the game and that was a great way to talk about the game, and eat pizza at the same time. And because it was military appreciation day, I got to tell him how God allowed us to be free to do what we are doing because of their service. Then to hear him say, ” God wanted us to be here today” was the icing on the cake.
I came home that night to find my 1-year-old grandson there. He will be staying with us for a few days. I don’t get to see him that often because his parents live a couple of hours away. But when I walked in, he ran to me. I tried to run away, but God wanted him to hug me and kiss me. I get really irritated when slobbery little kids try to kiss me, especially when I am not ready and they kiss me in the mouth. (gag). I am not sure why I felt the overwhelming presence of God at that time, but I did.
And finally, the fire at the church. What a pain. But I have met some really awesome people who are working to clean up the mess. I have talked to them about our church, invited them to attend, and had several tell me that they will come. My church folks have been amazingly understanding about the inconvenience and have stepped up in more ways than I can count to make this really irritating circumstance more than bearable.
God has really been in the middle of this most irritating time. He has been the peace when things are hectic. He has been the wisdom when things are crazy. He has been the love when I felt like I did not want to love or be loved. But I don’t know why I am surprised. He promised that He would never leave me or forsake me. He never lies and never disappoints. He gives me so many reasons to be thankful and just in time for Thanksgiving. What an awesome God I serve!

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September 24, 2012

Answer The Call

by pastortimfowler

Old Bibles, Book Craftsman 7-2012

Over that last two weeks there have been two men in our church who have stepped up to say that they believe that God is calling them into the ministry. I remember when I finally made that announcement and it was very difficult because of the disbelief that God could use someone like me. But, 18 years later, I am the pastor of a church that is growing like crazy and now has men who are being called. It is truly a humbling experience.
I remember back before President Obama was even the nominee, when Hillary Clinton ran an ad asking the question, who do you want answering the call at 4am when the world’s peace is at hand. It was questioning whether or not the other candidate was qualified to be put in such a position of authority and responsibility. I thought that it was a great ad, but obviously it was not met with the answer that she wanted people to give.
All throughout the Bible, God calls men and women to serve Him and they begin to doubt that they are qualified. The truth of the matter is that no one is qualified on our own merits. You don’t get qualified by going to school or even seminary. You are not born with a knack for pastoring a church or preaching the gospel. It is purely a call from God. Because of this, no one feels worthy of the call. Moses argued with God when he was told to go and speak to Pharaoh. Ezekiel argued that he was just a youngster. None stepped up to say something like, ‘Finally, God. I was wondering when you were going to pick the right person’.
There is an old saying that I wish I could take credit for but I can’t. God does not call the equipped, He equips the called. It is one of the most truthful sayings ever made. Somehow, God takes messed up people and uses them to win souls and spread the message of hope. He takes people like me, who were drunks and drug addicts and sets them free and lets that horrible past become a testimony of God’s awesome love and power.
These two guys are part of a group of 5 others who have expressed a “call” in their lives by God to do something other than just come to church. I meet with them every Thursday morning at 6am for breakfast and try to share from my experience some useful bits of information that may help them along the way. Most of the time I spend sharing God’s words and my mistakes. They say that we should learn from our mistakes and I therefore may be the smartest man in the world if that is how I am learning. But I really want to encourage these guys to trust in God and give Him everything they can to fulfill the call.
Everyone who claims to be a Christian needs to know that God is calling you to do more than sit in a pew or a chair on Sunday. That is not why Jesus died on a cross. We are all called to share the love of Christ with others. Not all are called to pastor a church and lead mission trips around the world, or hold crusades like Billy Graham. But, we are all called to let our light shine before men and glorify our Father in heaven. Because of this, we need to answer the call. What can you do to be more than someone who just goes to church? It may be as simple as smiling and saying hello to someone who is lonely. Perhaps you can call people throughout the week a let someone know that you are praying for them. Maybe you can give extra so that someone else can go where you can’t. Whatever it may be, if God is calling, you will not be sorry for answering. I know that I have never regretted the moment that I said yes to God and I know that you won’t be either.
Answer the call.

May 7, 2012

What I Did This Weekend

by pastortimfowler

When I was in the second and third grade I had to write a full-page about what I did over the weekend every Monday. I was usually very busy on the weekend as a kid, so it took the full-page. I don’t know why this was on my mind, but I thought I would share some things I did this weekend with you.
We had our youngest grandson, Bryson, over the weekend. He is somewhere between 1 and 12 months old. I think it is closer to 9 months, but I wanted to be safe with my guess. He has teeth now and bites. He likes to pinch and pull arm hair. He likes to scoot across the floor and turn over the dog’s water dish. He likes to wake up and cry and have Mimi come get him and sleep in my bed. So this weekend, I got bit, pinched, cleaned up water, and slept on the couch.
My wife has a room full of stuff that is too important to throw away. I really don’t know what it all is, but when I suggest throwing it away, she gets less than friendly with me. No one uses this room, I think it has something to do with the fact that it is full of stuff, but it was just a spare room. Some of my stuff, mainly tools, like three large boxes full, were in this room. So while I was gone to a meeting that ended up being on another day ’cause someone didn’t read the text message completely, my wife cleaned out some of the stuff in this room. When I came home from my “meeting” I found all of my tools in the hallway. So I spent my weekend moving my tools to shelves on the back porch.
Sunday was church day. As a pastor, it is hard for me to miss church without someone getting upset. But I love my church and my job and preaching. Before church I had to go to the local radio station for a friend of mine’s radio program. I was the special guest. I knew that I was special and it took going on the radio to have someone call me that. Sadly, his show is at 7:30am. As I told you earlier, I spent some of my weekend sleeping on the couch, if you can call it sleeping. So getting up early was wonderful. But the radio gig went really well and I had a blast. I was told that I looked extremely handsome on radio.
After that, I went to my church and preached about God calling us to do something special. I used the story of Moses meeting God in the burning bush. We had a full church and many new faces and 5 people got saved. After church we went on a motorcycle ride and ate at a greasy burger joint. Man, it was good. Especially since my wife has me eating leaves and lean meat most of the time. Then back to church that evening for a new teaching about the life of the Apostle Paul. During the morning time I challenged people to quit complaining about Monday and some actually listened, at least on Facebook their posts were positive. So I spent my weekend telling people what to do and some actually listened to me.
It was a great weekend! I love my church, my family, and my God!

November 29, 2011

No Calendar

by pastortimfowler

As I came to the office this morning, my plan was to begin looking ahead at 2012 and trying to plan my preaching and teach subjects. As I am not the most organized person in the world, I have to try really hard to do these things and I get easily distracted by things like, looking for next year’s calendar online that has holidays listed. I did not know that you could find so many websites that are dedicated to calendars. I usually get my desk calendar at the office supply store about December 29th. I wish that I had one now, because now I am writing my plans on a sticky note and hoping that I can keep track of it until late December.
Last year, well actually it was this year, but I am in the “thinking about next year mode”, I went to a conference where I was convicted to plan out my year of preaching to allow for more prayer, and believe it or not, to look at how much time I don’t take off from being a pastor. It shocked me how little time I wanted to take off, and according to the guy who spoke at the conference, you need to schedule some away time. I usually schedule my away time in between Sundays and prepare my sermons while I am away which means I don’t use the away time for down time which he said we needed. But I did manage to work on this and I can see his point, so I am trying to plan ahead and I don’t have a calendar.
This all sounds fascinating, I know, and by now you are wondering if this is not my attempt to put off what I need to do, and it isn’t. Like I said, I wrote stuff down on a sticky note. As I was trying to find a calendar and plan my year, I was reminded that planning ahead this year might not be needed. When you type in calendar for a web search, eventually you will have to read about the Mayan calendar, which basically says that we don’t need anymore calendars now. The world is ending soon. I am excited about this possibility, but better not count on this whole not needing a calendar thing.
So I did finally get a teaching point out of this planning without a calendar ordeal. Preaching is often dictated by holidays. I try to preach an Easter sermon an Easter Sunday. I try to preach something patriotic on the 4th of July. I try to preach stuff that is relevant to the regularly scheduled holidays. I also like to plan vacations and conferences and thus have a guest speaker scheduled for those Sundays that I a gone. It is just about impossible to that if you don’t have that year’s calendar. So I got my sticky notes out and did what I could for January 2012 and decided to blog.
Do you see how easy it is to get distracted when you don’t have the right information in available? Not knowing certain facts can cause you to get sidetracked from the important stuff you are doing and get you looking for alternate sources to complete your task. This often leads to mistakes and confusion. Can you imagine me not preaching the Easter sermon on Easter? What if I scheduled a guest speaker and gave him the wrong date? What if I lose that stick note? What if the Mayans are right? What if I just decided not to preach anymore because I got distracted and started looking for facts in a place filled with lies?
These things happen to Christians all the time. The Bible tells us things that we need to do daily and we act as if they aren’t on our calendars. It tells us how to live our lives so that we are pleasing to God but we get distracted and read Cosmo and listen to Oprah. Then on New Year’s Eve we make resolutions based on last year’s failures only to plan them on a sticky note that is lost in a few days with all the other unimportant stuff we allow to clutter our lives. Sadly, we have the Bible available most of the time and still make these mistakes. It doesn’t change like the numbers on a calendar and it is always accurate for the time we need it. You just can’t make a good plan for life without right tool, a Bible.
With all this said, I guess it is time to go buy a 2012 desk calendar before I lose my sticky note.

November 7, 2011

Hip-Hop Joy

by pastortimfowler

Our church had a youth ministry event last night and the main part of it was a hip-hop concert. I do not care for hip-hop and don’t think that I will any time soon. I kind of feel like my dad when he use to complain about my rock and roll music. But what I do like is the message and the heart of those who were performing. These young men were reaching out to the youth in a way that I could not and would not. My calling is not a hip-hop ministry, (thank you Jesus) and is not a ministry to youth (as a group). Mine is to pastor a church that is full of a very diverse group of people.
Ministry is not my way or your way, it is God’s way of using me and you to reach those who don’t know Him. If everyone had a hip-hop ministry, people like me would likely die and go to hell. As much as I want to be cool and hip, I fall just a hop short of hip. But God did not leave ministry to be only one way and that means that everyone has a ministry if they would only seek it.
I am good friends with a young man who has been doing hip-hop for years. He has built a ministry that reaches thousands and there is no telling how many young people have come to know Jesus because of what he does. In fact, he is the one who set us up to have the artists that performed last night. I was having lunch with him one day when I told him that I just didn’t understand that style of music and had a hard time appreciating it. I told him that I knew God was using him and that it was a ministry, but I had never been able to appreciate rap and hip-hop.
He told me that he understood and prayed for me because I was getting old and out dated. (Joke) Not really, but he did take time to explain the appeal that it had for him. He said it allowed him to continually flow with a thought to a beat and not be stuck with the traditional style of verse, chorus, verse, chorus that most music has. When he explained it to me that way, it made perfect sense  why he chose that style. It did not make me like hip-hop, nor did it make me want to change my ministry, but it did allow me to better understand how effective this can be in reaching people with the message of the gospel.
I have another friend whose ministry is to feed the poor. All he does is collect food and distribute it to those on the street. Another friend has a southern gospel group who sings the oldest style of music they can find. Still another friend of mine spends much of his time ministering to hard-core bikers. I know people who consider their ministry to be praying for people all the time and those who just sit with old people as they are dying. None of these are what I would choose to do on a regular basis nor has God called me to do, but then again they all say that they would never want to pastor a church like I do. And you know what? That’s the way it should be.
What is important is that if you are a Christian, you find something to do that reaches others with the love of Christ. Although more traditional forms of ministry like teaching and preaching are fine, most people miss the boat because they only focus on such things. But God gives great joy to those who serve Him and I feel that if you aren’t experiencing joy in a ministry, you are probably not doing the ministry that God wants you to do.
I have heard it said many times from many people who if you do what you love as a job, that you will never work the rest of your life. The idea is that work is no fun but doing what you love is not work. I see too many Christians that serve in churches and are miserable and complaining that no one else will do it. Those are people who are not doing the ministry that God wants them to do. Sure we all have to do some things in life and ministry that aren’t fun, after all Jesus didn’t have fun dying on the cross. But Jesus also never complained, nor did He let anyone stop Him from doing what He was called to do. Jesus also said that He wanted us to have His joy and that comes from doing His work the way that He would have you to do it.
Search out what God would have you do, then find a place to do it and watch people come to know Jesus as you come to know great joy!