Posts tagged ‘reading’

February 5, 2013

Trials Make You Stronger

by pastortimfowler

rejoice1

I know its been a while and the blogs are further in between this year so far. Things have been very hectic and very trying in this first part of 2013. While I was planning on blogging through the Bible, I have found it hard to find the time to do as much as I originally planned. Today as I was preparing for my men’s Bible study on Thursday nights, I was reading in 2 Thessalonians and was inspired and encouraged by Paul’s words to this early bunch of Christians. 2 Thessalonians 1:5 … Your suffering proves that God’s judgment is right and that you are considered worthy of his kingdom.
I am not comparing my suffering to that of a martyr or even that of the early church, but I have learned that anyone’s sufferings are real and challenging to them at the time. As I told you a while back, our church had a fire that smoked out a whole side of our building that included my office. My office is my sanctuary for study and thought and prayer and I do a lot of planning for our church there. Not being able to use it makes me feel like I am out of touch or at least out of sync with the church. That and the fact that dealing with insurance and contractors can be enough to challenge anyone’s faith, has made it a long 3 months.

Spiritual warfare comes in many forms. It can be as simple as strained relationships and as complex as attacks on one’s faith. It seems that mine have been on many levels. During this time I try to keep a smile on my face and my focus on helping others, but the smiles seem to be forced more than natural and the faith of knowing I am doing God’s will has been challenged with each decision. I have to continually remind myself that I am fighting battles that are not about people or me, but about people’s souls. The strained relationships cause tensions that make it hard to show love and feel love. Although I know love is not about one’s feelings, I also know that without the feelings it must be continually reminded in order to not forget who you love.
God has promised us victory over our enemies. He has promised to be with us in every situation and that His love is greater than my love. My challenge is to depend on His love when mine is weakened. Showing love is not always about a smile. It can be about difficult circumstance that makes happiness depend more on joy and peace rather than good times and good feelings.

So as I was reading this, I was reminded that suffering for Christ of any kind is part of being worthy of God’s kingdom. Worthy only because of what Christ did and never because of what I do and what I feel. That makes me feel better.
So if you find yourself feeling down and out or like you can’t stand anymore in the face of the attacks that are surrounding you, remember that Christ suffered for doing no wrong. He suffered for my wrong and your wrong and gladly bore our sins on the cross so that we could be forgiven and made righteous and worthy of His kingdom.

I thank God that my feelings do not mean I am not loved. I thank God that He feels the same about me regardless of my feelings and that His feelings for me are pure love and unchanging. I thank Him that I am counted worthy to suffer for His cause and that I am in the battles that mean so much. Even if I fail, He will not. And if I fail while loving and serving Him, then I am ever bit as worthy of His kingdom and will never be condemned because of Christ’s work and not my own. Trials make you stronger because the Bible says when we are weak, then He is strong. Thanks God. I await your strength and thank you for the trials.

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March 12, 2012

Three Things I Learned

by pastortimfowler

I just finished reading the Bible through again for at least the 20th time. No, I am not bragging, it is just a fact. I started out several years ago trying to read the Bible from beginning to end at least once every year. For the most part I have been successful and sometimes I get through it twice and other times I fall a bit short. But I have noticed that every time I read it through I learn something different or strengthen what I thought I believed and every now and then I have to change my mind on something. Either way I am never disappointed. Another reason I do this is because I tell my church all the time that they need to read the whole bible for themselves and I don’t want to be a hypocrite.
I believe that at least 75% of Bible conversations contain some sort of misinformation. Not intentional, but out of ignorance. The Bible is an incredible group of writings that span thousands of years and many cultures. That can make proper interpretation difficult, but certainly not impossible. The reason for this misinformation is that people who say that they are Christians do not read the Bible with the intent of learning what God says, but they read it to pick out what they want to believe He says. Throw in the fact that translation any language to another can be difficult to insure the purity of the thought is intact and you can have some really wild stuff come out in conversation. But that is not the purpose of this blog.
Here are three things I learned this time.
1. God is not a liar. Now I knew this and didn’t doubt it, but I kept being reminded every day that if God says it He means it. He said that sin would cause death and it does. He said that He forgives and He does. He said that Israel would never cease to exist and despite all odds, they have not. There are prophesies that were written hundreds of years before they came true and the accuracy in which they came true are incredible. History has some amazing records of what the Bible says coming to be true. Sure there are still things that I don’t understand and have not come true, but the more I read it the more I believe it.
2. What I thought were inconsistencies are not. This is very close to repeating what I said in the first thing, but I want to elaborate. There are things in the Bible that seem to contradict itself. Yet the same Bible says that there are no contradictions and that the Bible is God’s infallible word. This is the source of friction between denominations and churches and believers and non believers. As of right now there are things that I don’t have an answer for when it comes to this subject. But every time I read the Bible, I find that the inconsistency is not in the Bible but in my interpretation of it. That is why I said that there are times when I change my mind on something that I thought before. Some call this flip-flopping or manipulating, but I just know that the God I believe in says that He is perfect and I am not. So if anything needs to change it must be me. No human will ever fully understand God until we get to heaven and He reveals to us His truth perfectly, without our sin nature getting in the way. Meanwhile, I will keep searching and adjusting to my faith to agree with God and His word.
3. God really loves me. The Bible says that God is holy and we are not. Sin keeps us from God and God hates that. So He made a way for us to be close to Him through the sacrifice of His son Jesus. Let me take a moment to clarify. I didn’t just learn that God really loves me. I just keep learning how much more He really loves me. The Bible is not a book full of perfect people who do perfect things to please God. It is just the opposite. It is full of messed up people doing stupid things that ruin our relationship with God and He has to fix it. He allows us to make a choice to trust Him or not. He never forces Himself on people but always tries to draw us close to Him. He is patient with us and waits for us to give Him a chance to show His love for us. There are hundreds of stories of people who tried and failed and still God kept wanting to mend the relationship and always accepted the repentance of those who asked for forgiveness.
Because the first two points I made are ever on my mind, I know that God has every right to kill me. I sin. But because He loves me unconditionally and I have accepted Jesus as my Savior, God has made me one of His children and fathers don’t disown their children, not loving fathers ant certainly not the perfect Father, God. Every time I mess up, God convicts me. It may take a while for me to see it His way, but when I do, He always forgives me and His love never changes. I tell you this because I mess up more than most think a pastor should. I tell you that because I want you to know that He will forgive you no matter who you are and what you have done. God really loves us!
There are several other things that I learned this time through, but I wanted to express these three because they are consistently being strengthened in my heart and mind every time I read the Bible. I challenge you to try reading it all, and then do it again. Don’t look for the gotcha moments, but look for the consistent truth that runs deep about a God that has every right to judge us, but does everything possible to redeem us.

January 4, 2012

Dont Read The Book

by pastortimfowler

Every time I get the chance, I tell my church and the people in the Bible studies that I lead, to read their Bibles from the beginning to the end and to do it often. I remember the first time I did it and it was life changing. I have never had such a great feeling of accomplishment than when I finish it the first time and then again and again. I never get tired of seeing new things that He reveals to me. I will admit that I do get nervous with some of the things I am confronted with. Often it is my failures and my insecurities and my lack of faith. But with each reading I gain the trust and faith in God to step a little closer to what He has in store for me and a little bolder to speak with faith the love of God for humanity.
I am not an avid reader. Other than the Bible, I have to make myself read books. A few years back I committed to reading at least 6 new books each year. That does not sound like much to some, but there was a time just before this commitment that I could count on one hand the number of books I had read completely.
The other day I was given a book to read by someone who works with me in the ministry. I had heard about it and had thought that one day I would get around to reading it. But now it was in my hands and so I started. RATS! DARN! FIDDLESTICKS! and other words of frustration.
I tell people who reading is great and beneficial and I encourage it. I caution people who when it comes to Christian books, especially those who claim to explain the Bible that they should be careful. I tell them that they should never let a book interpret the Bible, but to let the Bible interpret the book. Of course this is not possible if you have never read the Bible from beginning to end. So, seeing how I have read the Bible from beginning to end, I can allow this to happen, and this book is very biblically sound.
It is challenging Christians, and I are one, to take to heart the command to “go into all the world” like Jesus commanded. Not just to go, but to do and to equip those who do. It suggests that the American church is not doing much that requires God to help. It suggests that what most churches are doing are done through man’s desire and not really God’s desire.
Never the less, this book does not challenge churches, it challenges individuals, just like the Bible. I have been challenged, and I am going to try to take up this challenge. I am not going to give details right now, because it is a bit overwhelming for me. I am going to start looking at doing what we can’t do unless God is involved more than what we can do and it would be nice if God would join in with us.
I ask for your prayers. It is crazy to know that you are a Christian who serves a God who created the universe and know that most of what you are doing doesn’t require God to be part of it. As I read the Bible, I read accounts of miracles. Not stuff that can’t be explained, but stuff that can’t happen unless God does it. Sadly I don’t see that in much of my ministry. I do see God working through our church and we are reaching people with the Gospel. To that I am thrilled! I just want to know more of God’s will and less of my own.
Don’t read this book! Don’t read the Bible! Don’t do either if you are just doing it because you feel obligated, as if God were some dude that you owed the favor. You don’t owe God a favor, you owe Him your life. It is His. He promises that if we will do what He asks, that we will see Him do what He says. He said, and this is a paraphrase, don’t read the book, do the deed. (James 1:22)