Posts tagged ‘wrong’

October 3, 2012

Dead Car Batteries

by pastortimfowler

Car Battery

This morning I was told that my wife’s car would not start. It had been hard to start for a week or so now and we have been putting off the inevitable of buying a new battery. It’s funny that every time something goes wrong with your car that you think the worst and my wife does this well. She said, “I hope it’s not the alternator”. I am not sure if she really knows what the alternator is or does, but it sounds worse than a dead battery. But this got me thinking about our spiritual lives and I thought I would draw out this analogy.
A car’s electrical system is a lot like our spiritual life. It is all tied together and certain things can make us unable to run and in some cases even unable to start.
The battery is our free will. Although it comes fully charged, unless it is in a car that is fully functional, it is nothing but a bunch of useless chemicals. Put it in a car that is fully functional and it becomes a major part of the car’s ability to function. But of itself, the battery has no power at all. It must be charged in order for it to come to life. The factory puts the charge on the battery, but unless something is available to continually charge it, it dies.
The car has a charging system and the alternator is that which provides power to the car when it is running and charges the battery so it stays fully charged and able to start the car. This is our relationship with God or God’s will. The battery starts the car, then the alternator takes over. If you tried to run the car without the alternator, the battery would soon die and the car would cut off and not start again. So the alternator is what really provides power to the functioning car. The battery is only the starting power and the alternator is the staying power.
Our free will as Christians is constantly used to try to start our Christian life each day. That is a hard task and takes lots of power. If our spiritual batteries are not fully charged, sooner or later we will not get started at all with what God wants from us. Our free will must constantly be given over to the power and will of God in order for us to continue running as intended. It is then that we take the load off of our own abilities to function as designed and allow God to be the driving force.
As long as the car is running, even if the battery is dead or taken out of the car, the car will still run because the alternator is providing all the power. But when you cut the car off, and we all have to do this from time to time, the dead battery makes it impossible to get started again without something happening.
Often the answer is what we did for the last couple of weeks. We just used jumper cables and got some starting power from another vehicle. Other Christians can do this and in cases where the battery was just drained due to leaving the lights on while the engine was off, it might be all that is needed. But do this too often and the battery will go bad and don’t forget that over time all batteries go bad. They just are not perfect, kinda like our free will.
In the case where the battery dies, it is easy for people to jump to the wrong conclusion and say that the alternator is bad. These things rarely go bad and in the case of God’s will, it never goes bad. But when we struggle as Christians, Satan is there to tell us that it is the worse case scenario. This is kinda like my wife’s thoughts…NO! I am not calling her Satan, it just works for this analogy. When that happens we can do a couple of things. Listen to your husband, the wise Christian, to tell you that it is not as bad as you think. Getting godly council is like listening to someone who knows cars. They can help calm you down when Satan attacks with his lies.
But every car comes with an owner’s manual and they often give some very simple troubleshooting tips. In this case, the owner’s manual would say that the most likely problem is the battery. The Bible, our owners manual, will tell you that our free will is most often the problem to our challenges in life. Every now and then, we need to replace the battery. When we need to replace the battery, we go to the parts store and tell the person that we have a problem and need a new battery. If we go there and tell them that we don’t have a problem, they can’t fix it. So the obvious must be stated. This is our prayer life and God is the person to fix our dead battery.
We must confess our sins. 1John 1:9 says. If we confess our sins, God is faith and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Unrighteousness is our free will. Forgiveness is God’s will. When God replaces our will with His will, we can begin to start our days again without the whining and groaning of a dead or dying battery. Remember this, the quicker a car starts, the sooner it runs off the alternator’s power and stops draining the battery.
There is nothing wrong with replacing a battery. It must be done from time to time. Free will is the same way, it can work for a while to do God’s work, but even under the best conditions we must replace it from time to time. Dead car batteries are powerless. Dead free will is too. God’s will is the life-giving power to keep our free will full of power.

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August 29, 2012

Hateful Speech

by pastortimfowler

Speech is Silver

I saw this on Facebook today: Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. When I read it I thought about our nasty political climate and presidential campaign and it made me think about these verses of the Bible:
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (GW)
1 First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people,
2 for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way
.
Christians should really think before they post things on Facebook or anywhere else that are full of hateful words. I think that it is very easy for us to lose our credibility as the people of love that we are supposed to be when all people see or hear from us is hateful slams of those we disagree with. Some of you may quickly say that in America, we have freedom of speech, and that is true, but as Christians, we have freedom from sin and using hate filled speech is sinful.
Years ago, I got out of the Navy and because I needed a job to provide income immediately, I went to work as a car salesman. One of the things I had to do is learn about the competition’s cars. All car makers make a model to compete with the others, like compact, mid-sized, full-sized, and pick-ups. What you learn is that there are subtle differences between each of them and that a good salesman could tell you what they are. My boss told me to learn those differences, not to talk down about the other make of cars, but to point out the ways your make of car was better. For instance I might say to a customer, Yes sir, the Chevy does have good towing capability, but the Ford we sell will tow a thousand pounds more than that. Given the fact that they are both fine vehicles, wouldn’t you get more for your money with our better towing capability?
But for some reason, people like to talk about the bad stuff or the different stuff as if it were bad. I was told years ago that different is not always wrong, it is just different. That is the way our country was built, to respect and give freedom to be different. But in the case where different is in deed wrong, slamming that wrong publicly rarely results in change. That is where Christians need to remember the words written in the verses above. Whatever leader is in place, it is because God has allowed that leader to be there. We are to follow the laws of the land and to respect those who are in authority over us and most of all we are to pray for them. Romans 13:4 The government is God’s servant working for your good. But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid. The government has the right to carry out the death sentence. It is God’s servant, an avenger to execute God’s anger on anyone who does what is wrong.

So I challenge you to promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate. Love covers a multitude of sin.

August 2, 2012

The Internet Friend

by pastortimfowler

Internet Sign

As a pastor, I have studied the Bible for almost 20 years now. I have my Masters and worked toward my Doctorate until I got tired of going to school. I have challenged traditional teaching and made it a point to never take someone’s word about the meaning of any one liner quoted by anyone trying to prove a point. I have gotten used to people questioning me and my faith and I understand where they are coming from most of the time because I used to do the same. But I was not satisfied with the fact that logic kept screaming at me that things that have design don’t happen by chance, they happen because of a designer. I never once came across something that I, in seeing it for the first time, like a liquor bottle-shaped like the state of South Carolina, immediately thought that it was a mistake or chance of nature rather than something designed by a designer and then intelligently made it. Call me stupid if you want, but I just never thought like that.
I have on rare occasions gone to the doctor and wanted him to help me figure out what was wrong with my body. Not that there is anything wrong with it as it is, just sometimes I do get sick. When the doctor comes back with the diagnosis, I don’t argue with him and tell him he doesn’t know what he is talking about. I trust him as an educated guy who has studied the human body and how to help it heal. Sure, there are some corrupt doctors who use this knowledge for profit, but overall, their intentions are good and honorable. Somehow, as a pastor and someone who has spent years studying the Bible, I and others like me, are made out to be wackos and manipulators. A wacko I may be, but not a manipulator. I am not profiting from telling someone what the Bible says. I am, like the doctor who trys to help someone who self diagnosis’ himself , only trying to give accurate facts to help that person better understand the Bible.
Yes we all make mistakes. Yes we all have our own beliefs. But there is this thing called absolute truth and there can only be one truth. If you don’t think so, then please answer this one question. Are you absolutely sure that there is no absolute truth? God says that He is truth and that His word is truth. He also tells us that we are not God. I am going to lean toward the God’s side of that argument.
Lately I have had several discussions with people about how they disagree with me and the Bible. When I ask where they get their interpretation of the Bible, they often quote a verse or two and tell me that they read an article on the internet. That is like me saying that I read part of an anatomy book and saw an article online and that is why the doctor is wrong.
We all have friends who know everything. I have a friend who is an expert mechanic. He knows everything about cars. He went to school to be an accountant and works in a firm as an accountant, but he can tell me everything that is wrong with any car. Those stupid mechanics at the dealership often disagree with him. Go figure. Another friend is an expert in football. He can tell you why every team loses their game and what should have been done differently. He knows this because he played little league football when he was 8 years old and has the NFL channel. He did not go to college and rarely even goes to NFL games or college games, and he works as a salesman. My friend who coaches the local high school football team never asks the salesman for advice. Hmmm.
So as you know, our friend, the internet, knows everything too. Like television, if it is on the internet it has to be true.
I don’t suggest making a life or death decision about your health based on what you read on the web. I don’t suggest replacing the whole engine in your car based on the chat room conversation with the guy who is a master mechanic. I don’t suggest making your decision on who God is based on one or two lines quoted by your friend or the internet either.
We can agree to have our differences about what the Bible says about marriage and drinking and gambling and other stuff, but what it says about eternity needs to be considered more seriously. If you mess up in one of those other areas, God still loves you and will forgive you if you ask. If you mess up in whether or not God is who He says He is or if He is real or not, just because you think you or the internet are smarter than Him, that could be a tough one to get around. Don’t let a friend be your doctor if he is an accountant and don’t let the internet friend be your god. Both can cause an irreversible death.

May 2, 2012

Church Denominations

by pastortimfowler

http://www.flickr.com/photos/buou/1541519972/

 

I hear all the time that people are confused about the different beliefs of churches, especially the different denominations, like Baptist, Methodists, and so on. People tell me that denominations are wrong and not what Christ intended for the church. Someone just yesterday told me that they were about to quit going to church because of the confusion. I don’t believe that this is a problem and certainly don’t think it should cause people not to go to church. I think the biggest concern would be why the church can’t give a good reason for our differences.
Why are people not confused about food? There are so many restaurants out there and they serve so many different foods. What about cars? There are so many different car dealerships and they all say that their brand is better than the other. They can’t all be right. Maybe I won’t ever drive a car then. Even football teams are different. They have different colored uniforms and some run the ball and others throw the ball. Some are more focused on defense and while others are focused on offense. Why some even specialize in special teams. This has never stopped people from buying cars, eating out, or watching football. We all know that diversity is good for the food industry and the automobile industry. We all know that football teams have to be different and that it is good for the game. So why can’t churches be different without being wrong?
1 Corinthians 12:12 For example, the body is one unit and yet has many parts. As all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ. Churches are supposed to be different. We have different functions in the Body of Christ. My hand and my foot have two totally different functions but are still part of me. They don’t hate each other, but compliment and support each other. Because they are different does not mean that one is wrong and the other is right. Why we even have doctors who specialize in different body parts because they are so different, yet each doctor is caring for the same body. I am wearing contacts now, and even among my eyes there is a difference. One eye has a contact for seeing up close and the other has one for seeing far away and yet they function together for me to see well at any distance.
Denominations were formed out of the need for different people groups to join together with each other and worship and to serve. Sure there are some minor disagreements on things of the Bible, but that is not hard to understand given the fact that no one can fully understand God. Our minds just can’t fully grasp an almighty and holy God. So we will have some differences. What we do agree on is that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world and God loves us enough to forgive us if we ask. He thinks so highly of our unique needs that He gives us different churches so that we can find a place where we feel comfortable and can best serve the greater good of the Body of Christ.
As Christians, we need to defuse the idea that our differences prove that there is no God and explain that it instead shows the amazing love of God as He cares enough to not make us to be some sort of robots that have no individuality. The Apostle Paul said that we are to be all things to all men that some might in some way win some to Christ. If you need a more strict teaching then there is a church for that. If you need to be more free-spirited and like to shout, there is a church for that. If you need to perform certain rituals in order to feel closer to God, there is a church for that. I love my church. I think it is perfect for me. But I don’t dislike your church because it is not right for me. As long as the Bible is the guide, and Christ is the focus, then there is a purpose for that church.
God is THE Creator. He created different planets and solar systems and galaxies. He created different plants and animals and people. Why is there a problem with Him creating different churches? The answer is simple. There is no problem, yet rather a wonderful solution to the different types of people who He loves and wants to have a relationship with.

March 28, 2012

Justice

by pastortimfowler

Justice.jpg

According to dictionary.com, this is the definition of Justice: the quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness. It does not mean do what you think is right. It does infer that there is a higher authority that determines what is right. I believe that higher authority is God. Otherwise that leaves the whole idea of right and wrong in the hands of mankind, who has the tendency of injecting feelings over facts. I have written about right and wrong and where we get the idea of what they are. It has little to do with feelings, but few will admit it. Justice is a word being tossed around by many in cases like I wrote about yesterday. Justice in America is accomplished through a system of laws and courts and civil authority, not random groups who feel like they have a better way.
Before I go any further I want to respond to one comment from a reader about yesterday’s blog. I said that clergy needed to speak out about the threats of taking the law into your own hands and this person said that there are no black pastors or churches that were not racist or had the guts to speak out. This is one of those times that I would like to slap someone who reads my blog. You could not be more wrong. The only reason I feel that I can speak out on such a sensitive subject and be as bold as I am is because my friends know my heart and know me. They know that the truth sets us free and not our opinions. Many of my friends are black and pastor churches full of people who love God and other people, regardless of race. While I appreciate your opinion, I take offense at your racist comment about my friends and brothers in Christ.
Now back to justice. The goal of justice is to make things just, or right. Right and wrong were never meant to be subject to feelings. They were never meant to be gray areas or ambiguous. There is a difference between and law and right and wrong. A law can be something that is totally based on feelings. For instance, the current health care law is a feeling that everyone has a right to health insurance. I can find no place that ever gives us a clear-cut right or wrong concerning this. If the law remains, it will be wrong not to follow the details of the law, but it is still based on a feeling.
Right and wrong is where there is a clear-cut determination, regardless of feelings. Murder is wrong. Stealing is wrong. Sexual abuse is wrong. These are things that almost every civil society in the world agree on. It is something that comes from the very moral fiber of humanity, which I believe comes from God. It is right to help the poor, but how, is left open for interpretation. It is right to work for what you have and to provide for your family. It is right to love and protect one another.
But justice is the process of taking a wrong and to the best of the ability of the legal system, making it right. That may mean to those who have stolen, that they give back. To those who have hurt another that they lose the ability to hurt again. The process most often takes time, and because of the human element, can sometimes make mistakes. That still does not give anyone the authority to take this into there own hands. We must first give the justice system time to work. In America we are innocent until proven guilty. We are protected from those who would take vengeance into there own hands and given a method to defend ourselves against all accusers.
The bottom line to this whole idea of justice comes down to God. He is the only righteous judge. He is the only one who knows the hearts of man and has promised that no sin will go unpunished. He did not limit those sins to the ones that we feel are worst, but to all sin that has separated us from Him. He made a way for the punishment for sin to be given to another. One who would be our sacrifice and take the wrath of God so that we may receive total forgiveness. Not based on who we are or how good we say we are, but totally based on His love for us and His hatred of sin that causes us to be separated from Him. God can do this because only a righteous judge can bring true justice with no influence from human imperfections. God has done this and will do this for those who repent.
Although His justice is firm and final, He has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, our advocate, the Savior of humanity. Vengeance is Mine says the Lord. His judgment is true and His mercy is greater. Justice will prevail.

March 26, 2012

For The Love Of Bacon

by pastortimfowler

Broadbent Bacon line

Romans 14:1-4
1 Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don’t get into an argument over differences of opinion.
2 Some people believe that they can eat all kinds of food. Other people with weak faith believe that they can eat only vegetables.
3 People who eat all foods should not despise people who eat only vegetables. In the same way, the vegetarians should not criticize people who eat all foods, because God has accepted those people.
4 Who are you to criticize someone else’s servant? The Lord will determine whether his servant has been successful. The servant will be successful because the Lord makes him successful.
In this particular few verses, we see that Vegans have been causing trouble with meat eaters, at least that is the way I see it. Vegans are a weird bunch of people who just don’t understand how wonderful bacon really is. One of my best friends is a vegan and she will tell you that I am right. Vegans are weird. But I should refrain from making such comments so not to start an argument. Notice that I didn’t say that they are wrong, just weird. Wrong would be forcing my opinion of food on another and these verses say we shouldn’t. Weird says, I can’t believe that you don’t love bacon! Even God changed His mind about eating bacon. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 11:7 , You must never eat pigs. (Because pigs have completely divided hoofs but do not chew their cud, they are also unclean.) he told the Jews not to eat pork, but in the New Testament, Acts 11:8-9 8 “But I answered, ‘I can’t do that, Lord! I’ve never put anything impure or unclean into my mouth.’ 9 “A voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Don’t say that the things which God has made clean are impure.’
He changed His mind and I am pretty sure it was all about bacon. Bacon is heavenly, in my opinion.
By now, Vegans and others who think that I am making light of the Bible in general are mad at me and ready to argue. But I am wise and I hide behind a computer to these controversial things. Sure you can respond and I have the choice of publishing your response or not, but I will not cause a scene in public over this powder keg of Biblical interpretation. I will only remind you of what Paul says in the first verse of this opening scripture and welcome you of weak faith to my world. A world where every meal is wrapped in bacon and every Vegan is weird. But just like the bacon, the Vegan is loved. I love you and God loves you and I believe if it were possible, bacon would love you.
I love what verse one says. Sadly it is ignored by way too many Christians. We just can’t resist a good argument. There is just something fulfilling, in the wrong way, about arguing. Of course I would love to have everyone agree with me on all of my points of view, but that would mean I would have less of a drive to blog as often as I do and you would be less fun to mess with. You, being anyone who does not believe the way I do.
God loves unity, but most people would argue that the church who believes in this God of unity, sure doesn’t love the unity that He does. After all, many wars have fought over religion or something to do with it. On any given day you can start a fight between two people who say they believe in the same Jesus just by asking them to explain the difference in what they believe. I know it sounds like a lot of fun, but us believers we really ought to think twice before we open our mouths sometimes. I have met more people who refuse to believe in the God of the Bible because of Christians than I ever have because of their own research.
I started off poking fun, and yes it was just that, to prove a point. Arguments over such things have been going on for quite a while and to be honest, they are not important in the way that God thinks about us. Humans will never be able to fully understand God’s love and patience with us. But other humans will never understand Christians who set out to do battle with anyone who has an opinion different from theirs. The church, is made up of people from every walk of life and the only constant is a God that we can’t fully understand. He has made it simple to be part of His family, but not exclusive to the interpretation of any one person or group. It all boils down to this. We are sinners, God is not. God loves us, we love self. So God gets to call the shots and is fully capable of straightening out any mess that we make, even when it involves bacon.

December 27, 2011

I Don’t Know When

by pastortimfowler

There are only a few days left in the year. Really?!?! 2011 is almost over? Time flies when you are having fun. I just hope that this isn’t our last days, because I have already paid for my cruise in January. What am I talking about? The Mayan calendar that ends in 2011. Oh wait; never mind. I was just told that we have until December 2012 before it all ends. The good news is that I won’t have to do any Christmas shopping for next year and I get to take my cruise if this is true.
What if we only had a few days left? What would it be like?
Imagine for a moment that we were told beyond a shadow of a doubt that the world would end in a few days. Do you think it would be a fun place to finish out your last days? Or do you think it would be pure chaos? I would put my money on the chaos. It would be nice to think that brotherly love would break out and we would all gather around to sing and hug for the remainder of our lives, but something tells me that it would be a dangerous and violent place with rape and theft and fear for those who are weak.
The Bible tells us that in the last days, there will be just that type of situation. Violence and fear, not peace and love. Left to ourselves, humanity will self destruct and there is not much that we can do about it. Laws can only restrain lawlessness as long as there is someone to enforce the laws with consequences that compel one to think twice before committing such an act. It is also God that puts a sense of right and wrong in our hearts and a fear of knowing that one day we will be judged. It is God that restrains evil and allows for order in our world and even with Him in control that potential for evil in humans is barely kept in check.
The difference between the last days of the world without God and the last days of the world with God are pretty simple. Without God, there is no hope and it all ends in destruction. With God, there is hope and He promises a new life, new heaven and new earth. God is the God of hope. He is the God of salvation. He is life and love and He offers this freely to all who ask.
The Bible tells us that no man knows the hour or the day of the end of the world as we know it. Only God. But He promises to those who know Him and His salvation that we will not face His wrath, but be saved. I do believe that it is a good thing that we don’t know the hour or the day. Many religious “know-it-alls” have tried to say that they know the end and predict the date, but they are fools. God does not want us to know the time of the end because He wants us focused on life. He wants us loving people and helping those in need and sharing the good news that He saves and He loves. 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of self-control.
I don’t know when it all will end but I do know Jesus, so…Bring on 2012!!!

June 13, 2011

Judge Away

by pastortimfowler

I was asked the other day about how Christians are supposed to judge right and wrong, when the Bible tells us not to judge. That is a great question and the short answer is that the assumption that we are told not to judge is wrong. That assumption comes from taking one verse out of context and is used by people who are not Christians so that Christians will not tell them that they are sinners, and by Christians who are sinning but would rather submit to sin than submit to God.


Matthew 7:1-5
1 “Stop judging so that you will not be judged.
2 Otherwise, you will be judged by the same standard you use to judge others. The standards you use for others will be applied to you.
3 So why do you see the piece of sawdust in another believer’s eye and not notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
4 How can you say to another believer, ‘Let me take the piece of sawdust out of your eye,’ when you have a beam in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye. Then you will see clearly to remove the piece of sawdust from another believer’s eye.

This is where that teaching comes from. It does not say that we can’t call a sin a sin, it tells believers not to be hypocrites by pointing to other people’s sins when we are sinning in a very obvious manner. Let me share some other verses that are better suited for us having the right to judge others.
John 7:24- Stop judging by outward appearance! Instead, judge correctly.” This plainly tells us to judge others, but to do so correctly. That is the key. To judge the sin and not the opinion. Sin is wrong, and people don’t like to be told that they are wrong. So if we do tell them, we can expect to be criticized. But often we turn a blind eye to sin because of that. God has given us the truth to help us judge. If the Bible says it is wrong, we can say it is wrong. There is no one in their right mind would not tell someone who is sexually molesting a child that they are not wrong. That is judging, right?
1 Corinthians 6:2- Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world? So if you’re going to judge the world, aren’t you capable of judging insignificant cases?
I think that this is an important verse for Christians to understand. There is coming a time when we will judge the world. This means that we will enforce the laws of God. So if God is going to trust us in the future to judge the world, we need to be able to judge ourselves now. The emphasis is on righteous judging, not self righteous judgement.
Overwhelmingly, Christians are shut down because of ignorance of the Bible. Ignorance can often lead to us not doing what God wants us to do because someone who doesn’t want to accept that they are a sinner plays a guilt card on us. There is a whole book in the Old Testament call Judges. It is about people who were given the authority to judge the actions of others according to God’s word. Most of the judging was for the purpose of correcting the actions of God’s people not those who were outside of them.
The same is true today. God’s people must first learn to judge themselves using God’s word before we should go running to tell those outside that they are sinners. My personal belief is that they already know it and are trying to find hope, not judgment. That is where Christians are to use a tool far greater than judgment. That tool is called GRACE. Grace is what God used when we all deserved judgment. When God judges us it is not in comparison to me or you or any other person we know, but He judges us compared to Jesus and we all fall short. So by accepting forgiveness and God’s grace we are reconciled to God and judged as such.
So grace allows us to admit our faults and receive forgiveness. It allows us to know the truth and when we know the truth we are free to judge away.