Posts tagged ‘share’

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.

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March 6, 2012

Courageous Faith

by pastortimfowler

In our men’s Bible study last night we finished the Courageous study based on the movie Courageous. I was not thrilled about teaching it because I have not seen the movie and probably will not see it. I don’t like movies, even if I see them with my wife. But the study was not really the movie, but the life of Joshua and the courage he had to stay true to God. I love his story and his faithfulness.
At the end of the study we were told to read this: 1 Peter 3:15 But dedicate your lives to Christ as Lord. Always be ready to defend your confidence in God when anyone asks you to explain it. However, make your defense with gentleness and respect.
The challenge was to be courageous enough to share what God was doing in our lives on a regular basis. I love this verse and was thrilled when it was part of our closing for this study. The first thing it tells us is to dedicate our lives to Christ as Lord. Not to a Savior, although He is, but to a Lord. That means a master or ruler. We rarely have a problem submitting to authority. Sure there are a few folks who do, but your average person has no problems following the rules. If a policeman tells us to do something we do it because they have authority over us in certain situations. We do what our boss at work says and expect to be rewarded for when we do a great job and for the consequences when we don’t. But for some reason when God says do something we find a million excuses why we shouldn’t. That is not faith and it certainly is not courageous faith.
Next we are told to be ready to defend our faith. It is hard to defend what you don’t put into practice.The sad reality is that most Christians like the Savior of Jesus but not the Lord. We would much rather do what feels right or good and leave the tough Christian stuff to the professionals. We argue that the Bible really doesn’t say what it says and listen to people who have no formal training in the Bible as if they were the experts. We don’t ask our pastor because He might tell us what we don’t want to hear. That leads to the next part of this verse which always makes me uneasy about my own obedience. It says that we should be defending our faith to those who ask. Are people asking you about your faith. Not your church, but how you are acting because you are acting on what God says even if you don’t understand it. I have faith in the chair I sit in. It never fails me, although it could. I don’t know how it was made, and could not make it myself, but I trust it will support me, not just based on what the manufacturer says, but on how people have sat in chairs for years and now me too. That is faith. An action base on real belief not a wish and a desire to go to heaven. If Christians did what the Bible said, and believed that the Bible was the words of our Lord, not just our Savior, we may have more people asking us about our faith in God not our opinion of what the preacher says or an opinion about a church.
It is also very hard to explain something that we don’t really believe or understand. That is usually because we have not tried to understand it. Years ago I began to learn how to scuba dive. Now I am very proficient at it and can explain about anything you want to know about it. I can tell you exactly what you need to do to become a diver and I believe in the training that I received to save my life and yours if you chose to follow me. But I did a lot of study and training before I actually dove and still refresh my mind in the basics every time I go diving. I ask lots of questions of my instructor and those who I dive with me who have more experience. I never go to someone who only tells me that diving is dangerous and never trust someone who tells me my instructor is wrong. That could get me killed. I want to know who and what I am putting trust for my life in to. Who are you trusting to learn the Bible? How much effort are you putting into learning it and living how God says to live and what God says to believe?
Finally it tells us to be gentle and respectful while defending our faith. This is hard when you don’t really know what you believe. But if you are confident and like Joshua, have trusted God time and time again and seen Him come through for you, you will be confident and be able to be gentle and respectful. There is a difference in being gentle and respectful and being  pushed around because you aer weak in your faith. Jesus was a master at defending who He was and what He was teaching with amazing gentleness and respect. But He never let a religious nut mess with Him and teach something that was wrong. Jesus had courageous faith. Do you?