Posts tagged ‘rich’

September 17, 2012

10 Years

by pastortimfowler

This weekend my wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary of being pastor at our church. It is hard to believe that they have put up with us for that long, but I do a great job of keeping the wife in check. The church even went as far as to throw us a surprise party this Saturday. We were blown away.
11 years ago I would have never believed that I would be in Rock Hill SC. I had no intentions of moving and if I did, it would not have been to here. But circumstances and God had other things in mind. Thanks to a friend of a friend who had my resume, I was called by a church to do an interview for their vacant pastor’s position. I never turn down an interview and in the church world I know how to stop a church that I don’t want to go to from considering any further correspondence. In a word, change. Start off by telling them that nothing is off the table when it comes to change. Most churches don’t like that and more importantly, they don’t think that they need it. So I let them hear all about my ideas to change everything I could about the church that they loved and knew so well. Whoda thunk it? That is what they wanted to hear.
So, and remember that this is the condensed and much abbreviated version of what happened, I was hired as pastor, we moved to Rock Hill and the change started. This 50-year-old church began a transition from one that had grown inward to about 30 people to what is now a church of 180 and growing still. It was a traditional church of suits and ties and hymns and committees and now there is a rocking praise band and blue jeans and t-shirts. We have sold that old, traditional building and bought an office complex. We went from having few kids to having more kids than our church can hold in one service, so we are starting our second worship time in a few months. We went from not having any baptisms in 5 years to having 40 already this year. We went from blue haired old ladies to blue haired kids and their moms with piercings and tattoos. We went from a church that was dying to a church that is full of life.
I would like to be able to say that I am responsible for this. I do get to say that God used me in doing this, but only God can do something this awesome. So glory to God! He is the one who made this all possible. But, I want to stop and say thanks to a few others who had an amazing part in this all.
First, my wife. Without her, I would not even want to attempt what happened. She was behind me, in front of me, and beside me the whole way. She is the details to my vision and the warmth to my fire. Her love for the church and the people of the church and for those who have not yet met Jesus is incredible.
To the five people who were in the group that met with me the first time and did not run away. They had the courage to listen not only to me, but to their hearts and to God. The had the guts to bring me to the church that was digging its own grave and helped to breathe life back into it. They are still around and I hope that they are proud of what they did. I know that God is pleased.
To the two guys who have been with me 8 of the 10 years serving as associate pastors. There has never been a paycheck for either of them. They have served though, as if they were getting rich. They have supported my crazy ideas and given my a few to support in return. They have stuck it out when it looked like it was falling apart and held up my arms when I was getting weary.
To the people who have heard God’s call to become His children and then trusted us to train them up. A church is only as good as its people and that makes our church phenomenal! So many people have come to know Jesus and grown to become servants and worked to build the church. They have remembered where they came from and loved on everyone who walked through the doors. They were there to celebrate our tenth anniversary and it was awesome!
So thanks to all who had a part. In ten years the church turned around from one of traditions and rules to one of celebrations and grace. We have gone from rarely seeing a soul saved to one that rarely meets on Sunday without some getting saved. From a church that didn’t look a lot like Jesus, to one that must look a lot like Jesus to the hundreds who have come to know Him over the last ten years.
I can’t wait to see what the next ten years holds. Something tells me it will be even better than these have been and that, is a hard act to follow. My name is Tim and I am the pastor of a church called The Body, A Church for Anybody.

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July 2, 2012

Back From Cuba

by pastortimfowler

I am back and wow, do I have a lot to tell you. Cuba is a place that is full of beautiful people and scenery and yet my heart breaks every time I go. Socialism and Communism have made it one of the poorest places in this hemisphere. The average monthly wage is around $20 per month and because the government has taken everything from those who were rich, now everyone is poor. The old saying that it takes money to make money is true. There is no way to equally distribute what I make in order to lift others out of poverty, it only makes me poor too. That taxation in Cuba assures that the government only has money and the people get “free” healthcare from doctors who are lucky to make $45 per month and would make more money if they drove a horse-drawn cart around for the public transportation system, which is how we got around in the city of 140,000 people.
But the church is alive and well and serving those in need like you would not believe. Their hearts are filled with hope and appreciation for God’s provisions, even if it means they can’t afford to eat anything more than rice and beans and plantains. But they share and help and love, even with those occasional American Christians who come to help. I truly believe that I learned more from them than I was able to teach the Cuban church. Humble takes on a new meaning for me now.
We are fooled by pictures of classic cars and beautiful facades on buildings that have been touched up to make them look good. The cars are not owned by collectors, but rather by people who bought them the last time that they had any money to spend on such a luxury. Most cars are only painted over rust buckets and few have any original working parts. The buildings are weathered and termite infested and crumbling. Not even the locals can drink the water from the public water supply because it is such poor quality.
But this does not stop the people of Cuba from taking pride in what they have and sharing it with others. They have little from the government to share but have found ways to make ends meet and share what they get through an undercover free market that shows hope of letting entrepreneurs make a little more that they can keep to provide for their own and those who need help just to survive on what the socialist way has taken away. I love the heart of these people. They know more than most, that government is not the answer and never will be when it comes to providing the needs of family. Hard work and free markets are the only reason that they were the once a thriving resort and leading producers of sugar and entertainers of years gone by. That is a fading memory now.
People in Cuba cringe when you mention the name Castro. They lower their voices and do not say his name themselves. The do not speak out against the oppressive socialist system that has plunged them into poverty like we in the USA have never seen. But they know the answer is freedom and free markets where people can achieve a level of prosperity that allows others to be employed and purchase goods produced by individually owned companies who can provide jobs to others instead of money to the government.
I cannot wait to go back. I will be sharing more about the things we did and saw, but I wanted to get this out first. So many people in America are thinking that the government is the answer and that socialism works. It is a failure everywhere it is tried and Cuba is a direct and devastating example of its results. Taking everything from the rich so that the poor have more only results in the rich becoming poor and no one able to provide jobs to those who need it. Handouts are only a temporary fix. The old saying, “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime is true. But if you can’t even afford to buy a net or a fishing pole and there is no one now making them because no one can afford to buy them, what happens? People starve and suffer and no one is better off except the elite few who dictate oppression to the people who need a job.
Thanks for your prayers and support. God, please bless Cuba again. And God bless America!

May 1, 2012

Sowing and Reaping

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/7726011@N07/5263126267/

Galatians 6:8 …If you plant in the soil of your corrupt nature, you will harvest destruction. But if you plant in the soil of your spiritual nature, you will harvest everlasting life.
Sowing and reaping are words that we don’t use a lot anymore except in church. But when the Apostle Paul was talking to the church in first century, everyone understood those terms. Sowing has to do with the method of planting seed, especially grain, which meant that you took a hand full of seed and threw it out in a sweeping motion in order to cover as much of the plowed ground as possible in as even a pattern as possible. Reaping was the method of harvesting the grain after it was fully developed. It was the point of the harvest where you realized how much of the seeds really developed into usable crop. There were weeds that commonly grew in wheat called tares, that looked like wheat until it was harvested and then you saw the seed-head.
Paul used this to teach about spreading the word of God. Unlike today where we can buy seed that is 99.9% pure seed and plant rows that are identical and harvest almost pure wheat, they could not do that then. They had to rely on spreading lots of seed over as much of the ground as possible in order to get the biggest harvest. That was the idea of spreading the gospel too. Not to be picky about who heard it, but to let as many as would listen hear it and let God produce the fruit. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, Paul uses this analogy to teach about how the seed of the word of God is what we spread to the hearts of people and God is the one who ensures the growth.
As usual, humans mess up what God intends to be good. We have taken the sowing and reaping and turned it into a name it and claim it mentality (Sow $20 and you will reap 10 fold). As much as I believe that God honors our giving and will bless it, there is no promise to make us rich. God could care less about our money if we care less about lost souls. Jesus died to save us from our sin and not to make our financial messes go away. Paul continually reminded churches of the need to stay focused on preaching the message of Christ crucified and not getting caught up in worldly things. Paul was concerned with sowing spiritual things and reaping spiritual things.
I know that right now many are typing their rebuttal to this telling me how wrong I am about the name it claim it statement. I have come to appreciate the chance to ruffle a few feathers for the sake of getting you to focus on what God sent Jesus to do and not what you think He will do for you because you sow your money. That is the focus of some, not all. There are ministry need that include money, but we must never forget that God can do it without our money if we are willing to sow the spiritual seeds that He has intrusted us with. Paul was a rich man before he became a Christian. He gave up most of his riches for heavenly rewards that are eternal. He worked hard to sustain his daily needs and God blessed him and met his needs. But Paul’s number one concern was for the spreading of the word not the spreading of the wealth.
There is nothing wrong with having money. God can bless us with earthly things. Some, I believe, have a special call to give financially to help other do ministry. But if you never had a dime to your name and you sow to the things of God, you are rich. No dollar amount can be placed on the forgiveness of sin and salvation given to us by what Jesus did on the cross. The reaping of souls, grown by the sowing of the seed, called the word of God, is a harvest that the modern church has for too often replaced with the reaping of a dollar because they sow their money far more than they sow God’s word.
Love ya. Mean it.

March 7, 2012

Billionaires

by pastortimfowler

I read today that there are now 1226 in the world. It pains me to report that I am not on that list. I remember when Mr and Mrs. Howell were considered extravagantly rich. I guess being stranded on a deserted island with only 5 other people makes a millionaire seem really rich. I miss Gilligan’s Island. This same report said that the richest of these billionaires can lose as much as 11 billion in one day. I wish they would lose a billion my way.
I would be lying if I said that I would not want to be rich. Being rich offers a lot of benefits. It lets you eat the food you want to eat. It lets you vacation in better hotels and locations. It allows you to pay your mortgage and power bill while filling your gas tank all on the same day. Being rich can even allow you to get season tickets to see your favorite team and not have to park a mile down the road where it only costs $20. If I were rich I would park in the $50 parking just because I could.
But I am not jealous of those super rich. I have been blessed with more than I ever deserve. First, I have a beautiful family. My wife and I have been happily married for over 30 years. Money had little to do with it. We have three grown children who all have children of their own. We have a home that we can afford and automobiles that will get us to the jobs that we have. We have a church family that loves us and loves other people. We have friends who like us because of who we are and could care less how much money we have; thankfully. We are in relatively good health and don’t have too many enemies. Most of all, we know Jesus Christ personally as our Lord and Savior.
Being rich is not the way to happiness. God wants to give us happiness and have it not depend on how much money we can make. Jesus says that He wants us to have the joy that He has and to look to Him for our blessings. We are told that the things we have on this earth like money and houses and cars will all fade away. But things like family and friends are eternal when they are built on faith in Him.
No, I did not get my name on the list of those 1226 billionaires in the world, but I do have my name written in the Lamb’s book of life. Yep, I am rich beyond measure!