Posts tagged ‘sermons’

September 10, 2012

Opps…Emotions Stink

by pastortimfowler

stress

I feel like I owe an explanation for my sermon yesterday, for those who attend my church. If you don’t, then you won’t have a clue about why I am writing this until you read it. Everyone can have “one of those days”, including the pastor. Sundays are supposed to be wonderful events and a time to hear from God, not stress out. Except for pastors, and I think to some degree we all stress out over Sundays. It is our pinnacle moment for the church and we want everything to be perfect. It rarely works that way, so we get use to it. But then there are those days when one thing leads to another and before you know it, you are about to explode.
Here is my explanation and/or excuse. Friday night I took my 7-year-old grandson camping at the beach with his Cub Scout troop. It was a 3 and a half hour drive there and a 4 and a half hour drive back; I will explain later. I stress over being around little kids. I want to tolerate them but I have to really try. We had a good time, but sleeping in a tent on the ground does not help my back, which hurts all the time, and lately has been in one of those more painful stages. Saturday, I went to the beach to body surf with the kid. Body surfing is not good for your back either. But we had a blast. Then we went down the water slide which is not good for the back, and I found out that if you get to spinning too much, you can rip you toenail off. I didn’t understand that either, but it happened. We rode bikes for hours and then packed up and started home.
About 40 minutes into my drive it started raining. I know that God said that He would never flood the world again, but I think He was showing me how hard it had to rain to accomplish this.
7-year-old boys ask a lot of questions when it is raining that hard. Driving does not help my back and stress about heavy rain and a 7-year-old asking endless questions don’t help either. By the time we got home, the normal 3 and a half hour drive was 4 and a half hours. After unpacking, and hot shower, and a few moments of sitting around updating the wife, I went to bed.
Sunday morning I woke up stiff and hurting. That is the beginning of a rough day. I got to church and most of the first few people who I saw complained about something going wrong. I usually try to hide in my office and study for my sermon, but everyone knows where to find me and did. For some reason, everything that I wanted to say in this sermon was being pushed aside and i was not sure with what I was going to say. That is stressful.
There were some people didn’t show up to do their jobs, those who were filling in didn’t want to do it and let me know, and it seemed as if every person I talked to had a complaint or didn’t want to hear what I had to say. I still did not know what I was going to talk about until the last song was played and it was time for me to give my message.
I believe that I listen to God about what I preach. Sure, I like to joke and inject a few personal things to lighten the mood, but for the most part I feel as if I am saying what God want me to say. Of all morning for Him to want me to say some tough stuff, I felt like it was then. Sure, you could say I was not in a great mood and that affected what I spoke about. But after 20 years of doing this, you learn to put the petty stuff aside. I just had to say some tough stuff this time.
My sermon was about how God expects His people to do more than come to church on Sunday. Especially if you consider yourself to be a mature Christian. We are in a spiritual battle that is raging 24/7 and most Christians want to play weekend warrior. We want to be entertained and told stuff that feels good and that is not what the Bible does for us. It is very convicting and very critical of God’s people who should know better than to get complacent. So I said what I said.
It must have been close to what God wanted said. Two people became Christians Sunday morning. Several came to me afterwards and said that they knew I was stressed, but what I said impacted them in a positive way. WHEW!
That being said, I never want people to think that I don’t care and that I am self-centered. I do love me, but I love you guys too. I want people to be blessed by being a Christian. That is God’s intent. But in order to receive the blessings, we need to fight that good fight. It isn’t always easy, but it is always worth it.
So I want to say that I am really sorry for anybody who I may have snapped at or made feel like I was being a jerk. If you really want to know what that feels like, ask my poor wife who sees the worst side of me more than anyone. She is a saint, and I appreciate her patience with me more than she will know. But I believe that she will tell you that I try my best to say the truth, say it with love, and say only what God wants said during my sermons.
I love my church, and I love the people who go there. I want them to unashamed of the God they serve and the God who gives unconditional love and forgiveness. Sometimes tough things need to be said. Where I fail is saying them with the proper temperance and for that I can only say, sorry.

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July 12, 2012

It IS About Me

by pastortimfowler

Most of them are good attitudes, but from time to time, some attitudes get negative, including my own. This is the third line from yesterday’s blog. Why did I start with it today? Because I have been blasted from people telling me that it was inappropriate to talk about other people like that. DUH…It IS about me. I was saying that even a beloved pastor can get self-centered and if I can do it, I bet you can too. (Not a good thing)
I consider myself to be the most blessed pastor in the world. My church is full of people who “get it”. They love everyone that walks through the doors regardless of how the look, color, age, or any other descriptive characteristics. They make our church a great place for people to come and feel loved and relaxed and that leads to many people coming to know Jesus. That is the most important thing in the world, not how you or I feel. And that was the purpose of the whole blog yesterday.
It is so easy to get our feelings hurt or feel like someone is stepping on our toes. As a very confident pastor, I have a vision and a direction for my church that I truly believe God gave to me. The reason I believe this is because people come to our church and then come to know Jesus every Sunday. We don’t do a show of wealth or fluffy, feel good sermons. We are modern and our band is awesome and yes, we use some lights while they are playing, but other than that, things rely on God using us to love others. For those of us who have been in church a long time, we can often get our feelings hurt if we feel like we are being neglected or our territory is being invaded or our leadership is being questioned. That is often the time of the much-needed attitude check. And so, I had to check mine.
Sometimes we need to trust that the leaders that God has put in our lives are not only thinking about themselves when they have to put their foot down about a situation. Just like CEO of a company, the pastor is overseeing the big picture and every day is thinking about how to stay heading in the right direction. Sometimes those who work in a specific area, miss how the big picture is effected by what they do. Sometimes the pastor must be firm in staying a course and when that happens, this pastor, can be less than tactful. The old saying, “It’s not what you say but how you say it” comes to mind in this case. I don’t feel like I said anything wrong, but I sure wish I had checked the attitude sooner and said it better.
God loves His people, even those who screw up. He knows that we will never be perfect and therefore, He gives us grace. I love that and need that and I try to model that. But God also does not put up with our inappropriate behavior and will be blunt and to point in correcting us. It is at that time that we can either check our attitude and learn or we can continue to be self-centered and lose sight of the big picture. I am far from being God, but I am sure of the vision, this big picture, that God has given me and the direction our church is going. Too many people are coming to know Jesus for us to be doing too much that He does not like from His church.
It is about me though. I love me and you know it. I am one of my favorite people. But I am not perfect and I admit it. For those who just had your bubble burst, I am sorry. Perfection was Jesus, I am only His servant. If someone took yesterday’s blog to be about you, then maybe you should look in the mirror. If your mirror is foggy, it is not my fault. I am looking in mine and trying to find the Windex to clean it off; ’cause when I look in my mirror and its dirty, it IS about me.

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.