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

17Oct/150

Failure, Pain, and Anger

Lately I have made some foolish decisions--not decisions I knew were dumb, but uninformed decisions that I thought were adequate at the time. Unfortunately my decisions put others in danger. It cost one of my animals their life, a devastating blow. By God's grace the other dangers only created a little property damage. I'm a big learner and try to study everything I am into, but sometimes a crucial piece of info gets missed. In the most recent events, I've made amends and even strengthened some relationships in the process, but it's hard to deal with situations like these because you can "what if" yourself to death. I've spent hours wondering if I am to blame for some of it...was it really me, or my fault? Were there extreme circumstances that I would not have been able to predict? And in the process of trying to resolve the issues, asking: What if they send me to jail? What if the offended party tries to retaliate? What if they don't believe that I really didn't mean to harm anyone?

When your heart is in the right place, but you can't communicate it, that's a hard set of circumstances. Some people live do this because they don't try to learn how to express love well. But I try really hard to love with wisdom and all my mind as well as my heart...and still sometimes I fail.

I can only trust that God will make up the difference, happily filling in the gaps when my best efforts fail. And I must give 100 percent to continuing to get more and more wisdom so that I avoid as many mistakes as possible.

3Aug/151

What You Really Need to Do About Planned Parenthood

You can’t escape the news related to planned parenthood. It’s plastered all over the web on news sites and social media, it comes up in every news discussion on the radio and the television. And I won’t reiterate the videos or comment on the emotional and political impact they are making here, because what you and I really need, it to see the call to action that we desperately need to follow if the problem is truly going to be fixed.

When all is said and done, Planned Parenthood is going to lose a lot of support and funding. It will forever have trust issues based on the publicity it has received. You don’t need to express your outrage or share any more news articles about it, in fact, you REALLY need to stop sharing your feelings about all of it. At this point, you are not tearing down Planned Parenthood as much as you are tearing down your own reputation and opportunity to connect with other people. Too much sharing and people will come to see you at hateful and judgmental. They will distance themselves from you out of fear that you’d attack them with the same ferocity as the posts you share contain if you really knew them. And chances are, they are hurting and need someone who can be understanding. In fact, chances are quite a few of the people you know have some shame related to how they got pregnant or an abortion they had…and you are killing your opportunity to be the one that leads them through it to healing.

The truth is, the church has been and should always be the BEST place for people to run for answers and support in a moment of crisis. And if we had been or provided a better place for millions of mothers over the past few decades, Planned Parenthood would not have had as much of an audience. The popularity of their services is partly due to our lack of popularity in serving those same hurting people. Now that they have lost funding and trust, the best thing YOU and the other faithful believers can do it put more money, resources, and volunteer hours behind good pregnancy ministries and services. The church has the opportunity to step up and fill a gap—saving BOTH ADULT and children’s lives in the process. I pray hard that we will step up to the challenge. I pray that you will care more about saving lives: physical and emotional lives, more than you care about seeing the demise of Planned Parenthood.

Lastly, the news and attacks of Planned Parenthood have caused pregnancy and abortion to be on everyone’s mind. If someone has lost a child or aborted one, you can bet that they have had to revisit those emotions as they process these events. Others are currently pregnant, and overwhelmed with physical change, fear, and not knowing where to turn. They should be able to turn to you. I BEG you…let them know that they will be met with compassion, understanding, and prayer, regardless of what they have done or what they believe. Remind yourself that Jesus healed, fed, and talked with people who didn’t agree with Him. He knew that they needed to know Him before they could follow Him. The same is true today. People need to know the heart and kindness of Jesus through you before the specifics of morality make sense. Relationship before rules.

As a good friend and colleague of mine said quite controversially a few weeks ago:

“God will never call you to hate someone.”

Jesus called us to love our enemies.

 

Christian – you need to step up!
Now is not the time for you to spread hate. Now is the time for you to fill the gap that is left and invite people to come close to you and the church for healing. Support the church and pregnancy ministries. Rally around women who need support, regardless of how they arrived in their situation. Make this opportunity a redeeming one, not a repelling one.

I pray that we can shine in this moment, not screw it up.

4Jul/150

Days 27 & 28: Jesus’ Threat (pg 48)

Jesus doesn't issue many threats, but He does issue one important one, twice.

"This king did what my heavenly Father will do to you if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart!"

Forgiveness is at the core of Christian faith--it is what separates us from every other religious movement: we don't earn our salvation in any way. It is a free gift of forgiveness for all the selfish, God ignoring things we have done. And Jesus points out that although forgiveness is hard, if you can't look at the billions of things God has forgiven and then act in the same way toward those who have hurt you, you don't truly understand forgiveness.

Forgiveness is hard. I need to be threatened, because it NEVER comes naturally. But it is a necessary part of living out our faith, and I must do it, no matter how hard, or how deep the hurt.

25Dec/140

Merry Christmas from the Fowlers

Christmas Pic 2014

This year Elisha Scott Fowler's voice joins ours in wishing you a very Merry Christmas and great years ahead and behind! This holiday season, we pray that God will continue to bless you with both provisions and purpose for the year ahead. There has never been a happier place for us than to be doing what He has called us to do, which has included being parents in 2014. These past nine months have made for quite the journey of growth for both us and Eli. Stepping into being a family has been one of the greatest challenges and opportunities for growth that Stacy and I have experienced. Eli is a huge blessing in our lives and one that we are so incredibly thankful for!

8Apr/140

Dispatches from Eli’s Arrival – It’s Hard to Be the Husband Too

"The calm before the storm:

It's hard to watch your wife suffer and not be able intervene. I hate being in this room as the one she depends on for comfort...I feel like I have none that I can give. I feel guilty for eating or relaxing when Stacy can't do the same. I dislike not being able to be the one who gives, serves, and sacrifices more than her.

Sitting in the hour before the baby comes wondering if Mom and baby are going to come through this healthy...tough. Especially since I know many people who have not had mom or baby come through this in good condition

Knowing the demands that are to be made of me now--I feel so out of place, unnatural. However, these are demands God intends to use to shape me...make me a more willing, more capable leader through being a servant, and more compassionately hearted man, and more prone to respond to the need of the moment.

I am terrified.

I am ready to run.

I am afraid of the failure I know will come.

I already feel like a failure.

 

God is with me. God has brought me here. God will not abandon me. I hear the words He gave to Joshua and Gideon ringing in my present circumstances."

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9

11 Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. 12 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, “Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!” 14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!” 15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” 16 The Lord said to him, “I will be with you.

Judges 6