Posts tagged ‘remember’

October 22, 2012

It Hurts

by pastortimfowler

You are Joy, Luisa!

It would be great to live in a world where there was no pain; physical, mental, or emotional. But if that were the case, would we learn anything about how precious life is? I write today from the point of view of a person who has lived with constant back pain for years. I have mentioned it from time to time before, mainly because I like the pity, but it has yet to yield someone to cut my grass for me. Life stinks, huh? And I am grateful to have a yard to cut.
To be honest, life does not stink and I think pain helps us to know this. I think if we will let our pain remind us of how precious it is not to have pain, we will be more grateful of those things that are void of pain. This past weekend I took my grandson camping and really enjoyed the time spent with him. But I found myself telling everyone how much pain I was in rather than how much fun I had. I should have been encouraging others to spend time with the ones they love instead of giving them excuses as to not do something that may cause pain. For that, I apologize.
Pain is a part of life. It is a teacher of what not to do. It is a motivator to push harder to accomplish a task. And it is a tool to remind us what is really important. You see this morning I was sitting at my house, in pain, and did not go into my office. There are other reasons that kept me home, but it started with pain. As I struggle to get my socks on, the pain reminded me of how grateful I was of slip on shoes. But as I sat there planning a pity party, I was reminded of a time when I could do about any physical activity and it did not hurt. As I reminisced about those days, I was nudged, I think by God, to think, “When was the last time you said thanks for all of those days of no pain?” As I thought about this, I realized that I had far more days in this life without pain than with it. I had been able to do more than many would ever hope to do. It wasn’t until recently that even the pain had put a limit on my activities. So I said thanks and took some Advil.
Here are some times in my life that pain made me remember the good and then I will sum thing up and quit bothering you today.
My mom died of cancer many years ago. It was a long battle and if you know anything about cancer, it is painful. But mom had a unique way of taking my mind off of her physical pain and mine emotional pain. She would break out old pictures of the kids growing up and we would laugh and remember the good times. I can’t remember ever sitting with my mom and hearing her complain about the pain. I could see it in her face and eyes and the way she moved, but never in her heart. She always saw the opportunity to remember the good stuff. So when she died, my last years with her were not filled with dread and sorrow, but of joyful memories and laughter. Her pain was beautifully used by God to show His grace in the toughest of times.
My dad died of heart failure. We did not have a good relationship and it was hard to get that phone call about his death when I had not talked to him in months. But, we did what all families do, we gathered to say good-bye and some began to argue over what stuff of dad’s they wanted. As this was happening, I looked on the wall over my dad’s chair and there was a picture of him and me. I had it bronzed and gave it too him when I was in the Navy. I was 4 years old and we were standing together with golf clubs in our hands and under it I had an inscription that said, “worlds greatest golfer and his dad.” It took me back to all the great things my dad was and I forgot all about the bad things that made me have so much emotional pain. In this moment of grief, God showed me that years ago He was preparing me to be the type of dad and granddad that I had become. He was giving me joy to over-ride the pain and memories that over-rode bitterness.
Recently, and I blogged about this, my dog died. It seems a bit unmanly to say that it really hurt and I cried when she died in my arms. But she was very special. I got her when I was going through a tough time in my life. I had never had a dog that I raised, it was always the family dog and I was never much of an animal lover. But she stole my heart and in the days after her death, I began to look for pictures of her. Every time I found one it was a moment of joy and happiness. I began to laugh and smile, even through the pain.
So this morning I was reminded to look for joy while the pain is there. Pain does not end joy nor does it take away good memories. Pain is not evil, it is a part of life. And life is a gift from God. This life has so many wonderful things to offer. Camping with my grandson is one of those and I was just looking at all the pictures I took this weekend to remind me. No, the pain in my back did not go away, but it was not bad enough to stop the smiles.
Jesus knows what pain is. He took a lot of pain to save humanity from our sins. His pain was physical, mental, and emotional. But through it all He never forgot the love that drove Him through the pain and to the cross. It was through that pain that we are forgiven if we believe. It is through that pain that we have hope of a life to come where pain is no longer a part of it all. But that hope and that future joy should only be a part of our focus because in this life, we have so much to bring us joy and share love with.

January 31, 2012

Tourist Trap Christians

by pastortimfowler

So, we were in the Bahamas for a port of call during our recent cruise and decided to play tourist. We left the ship to go shopping in the town and see if we could buy a few souvenirs and gifts for the kids back home. We went into what was called the Straw Village which was lined with row after row of locals selling trinkets and t-shirts and hats. After the third row of probably 20 rows, I began to notice that nothing was much different from the row before. The same hats, the same jewelery, the same shirts, just a different display and a different person sitting there trying to get us to buy their stuff. There was no gap in between tables and only about five feet in between vendors. As we continued to make our way around to the next row and then the next, I began to see something that made me think about Christians.
Let me preface what I am about to say with the note that I never like to lump any group of people together with a blanket statement, even though there are many broad statements that could be said about many groups, including Christians. I am not accusing all Christians of being like what I am about to say, but there are enough that it could apply to a large portion of them.
Each vendor in this place knew that there were cruise ships in port that day. This was a regular stop and a popular place for tourists to shop. Most of the first time tourists like me, were expecting this enthusiastic greeting from all of the locals who they were trying to earn our business. Sadly, it wasn’t so. Instead of a warm welcome, we were greeted with a barrage of the same old lines repeated by each vendor there. “Slow down, look and touch. Great deal today.” This was said over and over by each vendor and was said with no enthusiasm and no meaningful voice inflections. And, because they were seated so close to each other, there was no recognizable difference in one vendor to the next. They were so used to tourists being there that it was not special to them, even though it was our money buying their goods that put food on their plates. They repeated the same lines so many times that it had no impact on them nor us, the tourists.
Christians have become a lot like this. We are free in America to speak the Gospel anytime, anywhere, to anyone. But we have heard it and spoke it so much that there is no meaning to our words anymore to the ones who hear it from us. Those who hear it from us have heard the same old lines repeated time and time again by a less than enthused Christian that it does not convict them to act, but rather compels them to hurry through the market of churches selling Christianity.
Every now and then we came across an individual in the market that had a smile and a belief that what they were selling was really worth you buying and they were willing to put the effort into making the most of their one opportunity to sell you what they had. And strangely, at these rare vendors tables, tourists were flocking and buying and walking away thinking that they had received something special from their visit to the Bahamas.
I know that my salvation, given to me from God through Jesus Christ is special. You can only get it from God and He has authorized me to be a vendor for it. He has put me in a market place that has groves of people walking through, looking for something and someone to convince them to buy it. I can either repeat the same old boring line that you have heard a million times before or I can sell it to you in a way that makes you know that what I have is special. The burden is not on the tourist walking by my table in life, but on me, the vendor, who has been given the wonderful opportunity to sell you something that will make you glad that you came by my table.
Most tourists only get to visit a place like this once or twice in a lifetime. Some will buy a trinket that will end up in the bottom of a suitcase and make a less than dazzling impression on others and may never get a second look after that. Some will remember the person who sold the trinket and tell the story of how wonderful the person who sold it to them was and convince others to try what they just experienced. But never forget that the vendors are the ones who truly make the difference to someone buying from them. They are the ones who make someone walk by in hopes of escaping, or, stop and buy what they are selling.
Christians are not selling to tourists the trinkets of a vacation, but a life changing, eternal hope of having favor with God and being able to show the benefits of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior. Churches are not the place that just happens to put food on the table, but rather are giving food for the soul. Jesus is far better than trinkets and t-shirts and certainly is better than a 5 day vacation in a tropical paradise. It is the hope of an eternal home in the paradise of Heaven with a God who loves us enough to pay our sin debt and allow us to share this awesome hope with others.