Journeyman Project Dispatches from the Life of Patrick Fowler: Christianity Explored

18Dec/110

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to you! This is the time of year when Stacy and I wish most that we could spend a few minutes with you, so that you could pass on the things that God has been doing in your lives this year. We send our letter as our side of the conversation we desire to have with each one of you.  We hope that this season will provide you with a chance to reflect upon Jesus, the Christ, so that you might be reminded of the richness of His salvation, and of all the ways in which He has been active in and around you in 2011. And if you have time to put those thoughts on paper, please, PLEASE send them to us too!  We love hearing from you as well.

In that same spirit, here are our reflections from 2011. God has been hard at work in and around us this year! On the one hand, we’ve been growing through our opportunities to serve Him as Stacy continues to lead a portion of the Seminary Wives ministry and I taught a class on Small Group Leadership; as we served with Victim Relief Ministries in ministering to tornado victims in Alabama in the spring and as our church opened a new campus in north Dallas in August, thrusting me into media ministry and Stacy into being the medical emergency responder on Sundays. On the other hand, we’ve been built up by the rich studies through DTS, the conferences we attended on leadership, missions, and ministry to Muslims, and the richness of our relationships with friends: Adam and Kim, Aria and Kate, Andy and Kristyn, and many more. We even had the awesome privilege of becoming an aunt and uncle this year as Tim and Ali Shepherd had their first child, Lillian Christine, in November.

Looking ahead is a scary prospect this year, as we will say goodbye to DTS in May without knowing where we are off to next. With the fury of my final graduate deadlines pulling me forward, I’m working through the challenges of writing my Thesis on the use of the prophet Amos in the book of Acts, constructing a book proposal for a publisher, and refining my preaching skills. We are also deeply engaged in trying to build a better outreach and discipleship program for our lives and our church. Whether we end up making our next home here in the U.S. or overseas, it is our desire to plant churches for our generation and the next—so we’re doing everything we can to create materials and prepare for that task.

Stacy and I have been truly blessed to have some very unique friendships this year, and to get to know some transformational mentors too. And while we can’t introduce you to John and Carolyn Hannah or Gene Grounds, we’d like to urge you to acquaint yourselves with Steve Smith, Bill Hybels, Michelle Rhee, Cory Booker, or Wess Stafford through some of the books we have been transformed by as we have listed them at the end of this letter.

As we reminisce over the many blessings the LORD has provided, we are reminded again that all we have, all our money, possessions, time and talents, have been given to us by our Savior.  One day we will be held accountable to the LORD for how we have used what He has given us to further His Kingdom.  In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus gives us this admonition:  “Do not store treasures for yourself here on earth where moth and rust will destroy them and thieves can break in and steal them.  But store your treasures in heaven where they cannot be destroyed by moth or rust and where thieves cannot break in and steal them.  Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So as we celebrate this season of giving, may we be challenged to give sacrificially, like our Savior did, to His Kingdom in ways that will impact eternity.  If you are looking for a cause to contribute to this year or in the one to come, we’d ask you to glance through the short list of needs on the next page and consider supporting one of the causes that might grip your heart as it has gripped ours. Stacy and I are both active supporters of all these people and organizations.

As always, we miss you! We look forward to the day when we’ll be able to celebrate with the entire family of God in a place where time does not create distance between us. We continue to keep you in our prayers, and ask for your prayers as often as you think of us too. Finally, we continue to carry the hope that the future will take us to a place where we are serving side-by-side, doing the difficult work of loving the unlovable and spreading the message of Christ, together.
God Bless & Merry Christmas,

 

Patrick and Stacy Fowler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books that Have Transformed Us this Year:
The Chronological Study Bible by Thomas Nelson Publishers
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
MOVE: What 1,000 Churches Reveals about Spiritual Growth by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson
The Bee Eater by Richard Whitmire (Michelle Rhee)
Church Planting Movements
by David Garrison (Steve Smith)
Sun Stand Still by Steve Furtick
Understanding My Muslim People by Abraham Sarker
Decision Points by George W. Bush

 

Organizations and People to Consider Supporting:


J and S – Missionaries in Middle East
Read about their work at http://www.christar.com/about.htm and contact us if you want to follow their work or give to their cause. We can’t share the details in print.

E & E – Reaching People w/no gospel
Please read check out the site http://lifeonthemountain.com/ and contact us if you want to know how to support them- we’ll have to share this info verbally to protect their work.

Mike and Kris York
Missionaries in Romania we met in 2006 that continue to coordinate the efforts of a national college ministry throughout the country. Read about their ministry on their blog: http://yorklink.blogspot.com

A & M – Missionaries in East Asia
This couple started working in China last year, and they are diligently learning the language and serving their neighbors.

The International Mission Board
One of the largest organizations dedicated to the task of sending missionaries and reaching people across the world. http://public.imb.org/globalresearch/Pages/default.aspx

Marriage Mentors
Dedicated to helping hurting marriages www.marriagementors.com

Answers in Genesis
Reaching People through Biblical Science www.answersingenesis.org

Dallas Theological Seminary
Training geeks like Patrick to teach and preach the Bible.
www.dts.edu

8Nov/110

Sad Truth: One dies…millions cry. Millions die…no one cries.

Saw this picture, and had to share it. It's not entirely true, but it reminded me how the news tends to skew our perspective too much...

Steve Jobs died, and his life did contribute a lot to our society. But how should God's perspective challenge our reception of his death vs. our reception of the deaths of millions who never had a chance to contribute?

22Jul/110

Countdown to Launching Prestonwood Dallas

One month from now, Prestonwood Dallas will host its first official live service at Hillcrest and Arapaho. It's a very intimidating thought, because we are expecting quite a crowd on our first Sunday and have only had a short amount of time to prepare. Since we purchased the property in May, we've had crews busy painting, fixing, and praying over our new building. Signs have been up for over a month now outside the church, in neighborhood yards, and in the hands of our members all across the Metroplex...and there's no shortage of unchurched people in that part of Dallas!

With a core group of a few hundred members, we are preparing to host a crowd of a thousand or more: parking them, caring for their children, welcoming and directing them, and producing a dynamic worship service intended to do one main thing: share the gospel and compel them to join us in following Christ. Its exciting, a little scary, and a huge step of faith for our small crew of staff and volunteers, but we're trusting the God who has led us to this step of ministry, and depending on Him for great results.

You only get one first impression, and we're hoping we allow God's people and presence make a HUGE one in the lives of those who join us on August 21st.

 

31May/110

Rapture Predictions: Repeating History in More Ways than One…

Harold Camping has been the center of media attention for the past couple of days, which I guess is what you get when you spend $100 million dollars to advertise that the world is going to end, before finding out you were wrong…again!

That’s right, in case you weren’t aware, this is Camping’s third “certain” doomsday prediction. The others happened over a decade ago on May 21, 1988, and September 7, 1994, so long ago that my professors remember the controversies from the time they were students here at my seminary. It’s sad to know that the same guy has been able to gather a following twice now—and it am sad to say that it reflects poorly upon the American people and upon Christians that a false prophet is not easily recognized and discounted—Camping should have disappeared into oblivion after his first incorrect prediction.

Unfortunately, Camping is not willing to concede his position this time—he believes that the date has triggered a new era in God’s judgment of the world, and he’s pressing for us to wait another five months for the climatic events that God will begin on October 21st, 2011. Four dates, really? Come on Harold, give up already!!! You’re embarrassing the rest of us, and your repeating history you should have learned from!

Another man has created his own religious movement by predicting the end of the world before. William Miller predicted that the world would end on October 22nd, 1844, based on the passages available in the book of Daniel. When this didn’t happen, the movement went on to change a physical appearance of Christ into a spiritual one, and evolve an entirely new religious movement out of the “Christian” prediction that Christ was coming.

Needless to say, this trick is getting old. I hope Harold Camping really is confident in his works, because he faces a severe judgment from the God he says is coming to the earth. I’d hate to be in his shoes when Jesus sets the record straight, in person!

 

Read more about William Miller and the Seventh-Day Adventist movement here.

24May/110

How NOT to Endure a Tornado…

The lightning flashed, the thunder clapped, the sirens wailed, and Swiss Tower residents spent a few hours together huddled in the lower floor hallways…watching television and popping popcorn…so American.

Our disposition as Americans is to expect the things we have seen on television—things that will contribute to cool stories and safe-but-scary visions of the power of nature. Somehow we all operate with the idea that “it will never happen to me”. And that’s a problem.

It’s the same problem that the hundreds of victims I counseled in Alabama had. Too many of them told me the same thing, ”I didn’t think it could ever happen to me.”  And their assumption led them to stay in their homes instead of taking shelter—later enduring the storm that ripped the home apart, threw them across the yard, and in one ladies case—sucked her out of the bathtub and into the tornado’s chaos.

I have said it once, and I’ll say it again. Tornados are the worst. Hurricanes and Wildfires can be predicted, evacuated, and avoided. Tornadoes come without much warning, a lot of destruction, and no one to blame for the devastation they leave behind. They leave destruction that traumatizes the people who endure them and the people who attempt to save others after the event—normal people who live life with the memories of the death they witnessed after the storm had passed.

It’s tornado season—if you’re playing the “it will never happen to me” game this season, please decide to play it safe from here forward. Get educated on the dangers, and take precautions whenever a tornado might strike. Get to shelter, a basement, or an interior room without windows, which shatter in the tornado every time—preferably the bathtub which holds the walls around it together. Wrap yourself in a blanket, tarp, or other protective wrap in case you get pelted with debris. Expect the tornado to rip off the roof of your home. Expect it to utterly destroy any vehicle in its path. And expect it to hit you!

In this case, I would definitely rather be safe than sorry…and I hope I might have convinced you to do the same.

See some of the devastation from Alabama here.

Read more about tornados here, including the facts that most tornados occur in the United States and that they have hit many city centers.