Posts tagged ‘tough’

December 5, 2012

Surviving The Storm

by pastortimfowler

5879848337_329554c941_b

http://www.flickr.com/photos/13013135@N00/5879848337/

As you might have noticed, I have not been putting out blogs at the pace I normally do. There has been a lot going on that has demanded my attention and so I had to eliminate some things from my daily routine temporarily. As if the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are not busy and hectic enough, I have had to deal with several other issues that added to “the storm”.
I like to call things that keep me extra busy storms because it sounds much more dramatic than just saying that I have been too busy to do some stuff. A storm makes you think that winds are raging and thunder and lightning are threatening and the danger element is really high. So if I had to be really honest about it, I guess instead of a storm, I have been in a rain event.
Rain events are nothing to be laughed at. During a good rain, things can get really wet and even cold and that does not feel good. Rain can make you want to sleep more and forget about going outside to do other stuff. Rain may sound innocent, but let me tell you, until you have seen the rain that I have seen, you don’t have a clue. And then if it rains on a Monday, well, rainy days and Mondays always get me down.
Probably the worst thing about the rain in life is when you get those breaks where the sun comes out, so you go outside and don’t wear a raincoat or take an umbrella and you are scared that it may rain again and get your hair wet. That can cause a lot of stress. I mean, what if it really does start raining again? Then what?
I was out in the middle of a big field one time and did not have a raincoat or an umbrella and it started raining. At first it was a gentle mist, but then it became a constant mist, and, add in the wind, or breeze, and it was like being in the middle of a field getting wet and there was nothing you could do about it. Although it only lasted a few minutes, I got wet. And, although I shave my head and so my hair was not affected, I felt the stress that others who might have hair would have felt if they were out in that field too. And for those who would scoff at this, later that day, it rained really hard and I was a bit shaken at the thought of how, if that would have happened while I was out there, that I could have gotten really wet.
So, although what I have been through is not really a storm of life, but rather a rain event, I wanted you to know that I am fine. I have relied on my years of experience to get me through it. I also try to remember that even though the rain of life is tough, there are people who are going through the storms of life, and in those storms there is most often rain. So if you just think about the rain and block out the thunder and lightning and raging wind and all the really bad stuff that goes along with a storm, and just think about the rain, then you will understand what I am going through and you won’t be so critical about me not blogging for a while.
Yes, God can calm the storm. Sometimes He chooses to clam the child in the storm. But when it is just raining, God is still there.

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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.

December 30, 2011

2011 Stickers

by pastortimfowler

Here are a few things that 2011 left stuck in my brain:
1. The 7th grandkid is as awesome to welcome to the family as the 1st. My youngest son and his wife brought into the world, Bryson, and it was as exciting as ever. I am always blown away by seeing a newborn and especially from one of my own children. God gives us a special miracle in every child and as we were blessed with our now 7th grandkid, I am still in awe. SEVEN grandkids!!! WOW!!!
2. Jake got a kidney. Jake was born with many medical problems and one that effected many of the others was his need for a working kidney. Early in the year he got his new kidney and since then his improvement has been nothing less than miraculous. At 2 years old, he could not eat solid food, his speech was extremely limited, and just the hassle of dialysis was horrible. But since the transplant he has began to eat, talk, and so many of the other problems have shown improvement. He was not supposed to ever be born alive, but God had other plans. Now he is more alive than ever.
3. Our church has grown. 2010 was a very tough year in many ways and made 2011 start off with much anticipation and even some anxiety. We had bought a building and the economy was tanking and our people were struggling to keep and find jobs. Financially it was tough. We needed to make some improvement to the building and numerical growth was minimal. But our people made tough choices and sacrificed and we survived. This last year we have seen our finances grow to allow us to make the improvements needed and our numerical growth has been incredible. We saw over 70 people raise their hand to salvation and over 50 of those were baptized. But what is the best growth of all came in the spiritual side of people. God brought up and brought in leaders. Many of our new folks grew into servants and servant leaders. We reached out to our community in ways that exceeded all expectations. We gave to help meet the needs of most anyone who asked and to many who didn’t. We did not grow to be the biggest church in town, but I do believe we may have grown the biggest heart for people in need. God has to be pleased with their unselfishness and love for our neighbors.
4. I am still married. No, we were not nearly divorced. But I consider myself to blessed beyond measure every year that I can say that I am married to her. If you only knew me like she knows me, you would know that she must be something special to put up with me. As shocking as that may sound, because I can be wonderful, she gets that part of me that is, how should I say, not so wonderful. Proverbs 18:22 Whoever finds a wife finds something good and has obtained favor from the Lord. I have to smile and even laugh to think that God shows me favor. If there has ever been a guy who did NOT deserve God’s favor it would be me. But because of His great love, mercy, and forgiveness and because Jesus paid my sin debt, I am not just a Christian, but God loves me and even shows it in giving me my wife.
I look forward to 2012. God has great things in store for me and for you.

November 15, 2011

It Sucks. Yep, I Said It

by pastortimfowler

The last few days have been tough. It seems like every way that I turn, something is going wacky. I heard someone use a term one time and not sure how nice it is, but it goes something like this: This sucks! Now of course I would never use this term for any other reason than to make the point of this blog. No one can ever accuse me of acting like anything other than the perfect Christian guy. If they do, they suck.
Hear is are a few things that have happened lately that have provoked this blog.
Last Friday, I woke up to back spasms, again. You would think that I would get use to this, but I haven’t. They are a common part of my everyday life, only some days they are worse than others. I know, if you have followed my blogs for a while you may have heard about them before, but like my blog, they are my spasms and I can whine about them when I want too. Friday they were pretty intense and I had to go pick up the red-head twins for the weekend with Mimi, who just happens to live at my house.
When I got there to pick them up, it was right in front of the USC Gamecock stadium and I was reminded that I really wanted to stay there and see the game , but neither of the red-head twins are old enough to drive yet so I had to load them in my truck and drive an hour back to my house. The whole time they were yelling and screaming and acting like little kids and I was trying to yell with them and I actually hurt my vocal chords while we were seeing who could yell the loudest. (It was a game)
Saturday, was not that bad, except for trying to get those leaves out of my yard. When I woke up Saturday, my back felt better and that was a relief, but as I was trying to get an extension cord untangled, my dog thought it would be funny to sneak up behind me and see me trip over her. Guess what that started? Back spasms. So I got the leaves out of the yard and went in to watch the football game that I really wanted to see live. It was a good game and my team won.
Some time during the game the dog wanted to play again and as I was wrestling with her, something popped in my elbow and it has not stopped hurting since. As if that wasn’t enough, I took a couple of Tylenol to ease the pain and did not realize that there were two other letters on the bottle, PM. So I took a nap on the couch. It was only a short nap because soon the wife come home with the red-head twins and two others who were still playing the game, let’s see how loud we can yell. As I sat up from my nap, I had a back spasm which caused me to flinch and I got a “crick” in my neck.
Because I had a nap so late in the day, I did not sleep much Saturday night and Sunday morning came way to soon. It was a big day at the church with several things that were starting up. I am on edge on Sunday mornings anyway, just because I want everything to go well. Some people started not showing up at the times that they were supposed to and one person went home early and another said they couldn’t do what they were supposed to. On top of everything else, I was not preaching that morning. I get bummed out when I don’t get to preach. Not because the person who is preaching will not do a great job, but because after all that had been going wrong, the one thing I believe I can do right is preach. It allows me to forget everything else and talk about the One who is always right. God.
Later that day, I was called by a friend to tell me that a family member was in ICU, and another friend of mine was having some other personal issues that I didn’t have an answer for him. I think my phone rang 4 or 5 times with bad or disturbing news.
Monday, was a new week and had to get better; wrong. As if it weren’t bad enough that my run of bad luck seemed to be continuing, the wife had a really bad day. I hate it when she has a bad day cause if I’m not careful it can turn even worse because I am so sensitive. Okay, maybe sensitive is the wrong word, but I can’t use the one she called me. So add it all up and the last few days have been worth taking the risk to say, this sucks.
So Monday night we have our men’s Bible study and God decides to show off and remind me that no matter how much I think it sucks, He doesn’t. He reminded me that His grace is sufficient and that His love can overcome anything that I allow to bother me. He reminded me that it is not the things that bothered me that sucked. What sucked was that I let them bother me so long before turning my focus to HIM.

June 16, 2011

Warm and Fuzzy

by pastortimfowler

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant.
5 It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs.
6 It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth.
7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up. Love never ends.

I am officiating a big wedding this weekend which made me start thinking about love.There are a few famous verses from the Bible that are read at almost every wedding before the vows are taken. I love to read and re-read them as a reminder of what love really is. Unfortunately too many couples enter into a marriage as in love as they will ever be and from that day it is a hopeless journey toward a divorce. It is sad that half of all marriages end in divorce and that doesn’t change among Christians. Maybe we don’t understand true love.
Society tells us that we can date until we find the perfect man or woman. Today there are any number of websites that can scientifically match you up with the perfect mate. We shop for our mates like we shop cars and even trade them in just as frequently. I keep waiting for the “buy here-pay here” wedding chapel to pop up in a neighborhood near you. Why we could even sell extended warranties on your marriage, how cool would that be? Or instead of a purchase we could just lease and have a new spouse every few years! Sound dumb? Well we are already acting like taking our potential spouse for a “test ride” is okay, so why not go all out?
My belief is that we do not fall in love, we fall into lust. We get trapped into focusing on the physical part of the relationship and the only emotions that we pay attention to are the warm fuzzy feelings that we get while dating. And if all that goes well, we move in together as a trial run, and only if we don’t fight too much, then do we even consider the marriage option. And then we decide to walk the aisle and tie the knot and we spend thousands of dollars for that special day all to have some guy in a suit ask you if you promise to take that person for whatever reasons, ’till death do you part. But, we don’t have any idea what we just said and don’t care when the sick, the poor, and the worse come along. All we want is the better, healthy, and rich.
I have been married for 31 years as of this July. I can tell you that I made mistakes before and after we were married, but I can also tell you that one day, we really got it. We realized that life was tough. (That required very little time and effort to figure out.) We realized that making it together was easier than making it alone. We realized that lust had turned to love because God was patient with us so we began to be patient. The love grew because we tried to be kind with patience. We stopped getting jealous because we were kind as we waited for each other to grow. We quit singing our own praises and started singing each others praises as we realized that we had nothing to be jealous about because of that kind person we had grown so patient with. We are still working on not being rude and selfish and irritable and stopped telling each other about the last time we did any of those wrong things because arrogance denies the needs of the other and keeps you from singing their praises and leads to jealousy which isn’t kind or patient. We stopped being happy with winning the fight and started telling the truth more instead of quoting the wrongs and being rude, selfish and irritable.  That helped us to sing each others praises more and led to less jealousy, more kindness and patience became easier. So we never stop being patient, we always believe that our marriage will never end because of hope, and we never give up no matter what life throws our way, because love never ends.
It isn’t easy, but nothing easy is worth much anyway. We still have the lust for each other, but it is fueled by love and only focused on each other. Love never ends because it is alive and grows. Feelings come and go, but love is here to stay. Study the verses in the beginning and grow your love God’s way and you will have plenty of time to be like us…Still, warm and fuzzy after all these years.