Yes, we are all in Florida now!

It has been a while since I gave you all a personal update about our family situation, so I will take care of that right now. When we last left the Fowler family on the blog (Update on the Fowler Move), I was still in Massachusetts waiting to close on the house, while Rose was in Florida with the boys looking for housing down here. I had asked for prayer for two very specific areas: housing and employment.

Well, a lot has happened since then. We are now in a beautiful rental home in Plantation, FL with plenty of space for our family (Rose, me, three teenage boys, and two dogs). There were many answers to prayer along the way for this to happen including: the use of a guest house in Florida while looking for housing, a buyer for our house in Massachusetts during a down economy, a smooth process for housing inspections and closing, two friends who drove all the way up from Florida to Massachusetts to help me load the truck and drive it back down to Florida, lots of people helping with packing and unloading on both ends, safe traveling all the way down to Florida, and friends who took our dogs into their home until we could get into the rental home. The way the rental home came about was also an example of God’s clear leading and provision for which we are thankful.

As far as employment, I am now officially in between churches. It feels strange not being a pastor after twenty-plus years in the ministry, but it gives me the opportunity to serve God and the church in a different way, so I am grateful for that. In the meantime, God has provided me with some temporary freelance audio work for which I am very thankful during this time of high unemployment.

God has answered so many prayers for us during this time of transition, and we are so thankful to anyone and everyone who has been praying for us. We appreciate your continued prayers as we continue to seek God’s will concerning his next place of ministry for us as a family.

Related posts:
    • Church Search
    • Pastoral Profile

    • Big Change for the Fowler Family


  1. Margaret says:

    Welcome back to the blog. What wonderful answers to prayer. It was great to read your letter and we thank the Lord for the way He has led you, and provided so many kind friends to help out. We will continue to pray for your next place of ministry, as we hold your whole family in our hearts and our prayers.

  2. Sharon Gamble says:

    I have missed your blog. It’s my favorite “newspaper” filled with all sorts of fun trivia and thought-provoking articles. Write more!! (please.)

  3. Barry Wood says:

    I just happened to find your blog today. Read thoughts on several subjects. All of your posts that I read seem full of merit and interest to me, including the ones about Mormonism. I’m impressed with the sane way in which you approached the subject. That’s all too rare.

    I was raised as a Methodist, but never felt filled by the Holy Spirit or fully converted to the Savior until I encountered Mormonism (which I prefer to call the “Restoration”). I would echo the comments posted by Jeff and Robert, so no need to repeat what they said. Just as there is massive misunderstanding about LDS beliefs on the Evangelical side, most Mormons are not necessarily very clear about the Trinity. Once one admits that the doctrine of the Trinity contemplates three persons, the perceived differences shrink dramatically.

    That said, I have never been convinced that the trinitarian doctrine of the 4th century was fully consistent with the New Testament record or with reality. Strangely enough, the same was true of my Methodist pastor. However, he resolved the discomfort the opposite way — by concluding that Jesus was fully human and divine only in sort of a figurative sense… That he was a “son of God” like the rest of us, but more enlightened and so he deserved an upper-case S on “Son.”

    He had evidently been inspired by the so-called “God is dead” movement, and therefore denied the literal resurrection of Jesus. For him, Jesus was “alive” only in the effects of his words and teachings on his disciples and so on down to those then living.

    I won’t belabor the point further only to note that I found Restoration theology on this subject much more faithful to the scriptures than what the church I had been raised in was preaching.

    I wish you the best of success in finding a new pastorate, or if the Lord has something else in store for you, then that destination.

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Barry – Your experience at the church in which you were raised is sadly all too common among many liberal congregations that do not hold fully to the Word of God. For me the doctrine of the trinity flows naturally from the pages of Scripture. The Bible clearly reveals that there is only one God, and yet the Scriptures also present Jesus and the Holy Spirit as divine. That makes for one God eternally existing as three persons, classic trinitarian theology. Thanks for taking the time to vist and comment. I am glad you found the articles of interest.

  5. Barry Wood says:

    Ray — I understand your perspective. As mentioned previously to some extent it’s more semantics than anything else. Even the most ardent Trinitarian has to acknowledge at least the three persons within the “one God,” for otherwise Christ would have been praying to himself in Gethsemane, etc. For me the key is Jesus’ prayer that his disciples be one as he and the Father are one. That tells us that while Jesus and the Father are one in thought and purpose, they are bodily separate just as the apostles continued to be even at their attainment of maximum unity.

    Well, we could debate Arianism and all of that at greater length, but I would rather focus on the many wonderful concepts that we share. Among these is the conviction that the scriptural record is, on the whole, the Word of God. That leaves room, in my view, for parts of the Bible to be simply history as recorded by the chroniclers of the time, and not pure truth dictated by deity such as one might find in Isaiah and other prophets, and in the sayings of Christ as recorded in the New Testament.

    In Sunday School today we talked about the episode from Numbers about Balaam and the speeches attributed to his donkey. I’m interested in your take on that. The text doesn’t say anything about Balaam being surprised that his beast of burden had suddenly become eloquent in Hebrew. Given that omission, I wonder whether the animal’s speeches are not more just attention-grabbing storytelling than a strictly factual account of what transpired.

    The number of stories & fables in which the power of speech is attributed to animals is immense, including classics such as the fox and the crow and continuing to “Mister Ed,” the talking horse. But hardly anyone above the age of 8 takes those literally.

    I believe in angels with drawn swords, as one has protected me in a miraculous way on a dangerous occasion (not that I actually saw the angel) in answer to prayer. But I will admit to being a little dubious about the talking donkey. Of course the core message is about the need for prophets to be faithful prophets and not soothsayers. I expect that you and I would agree about that…yet what about the alleged declamations of the ass?

  6. Ray Fowler says:

    Barry – Well, without wanting to get into a huge debate on the trinity, I think we need to be careful not to gloss over the important thelogical differences between Mormonism and Christianity on this issue. It is much more than semantics and extends to the very nature of God, Christ and the incarnation. For example, when you speak about Jesus and the Father being “bodily separate,” this raises major doctrinal issues: God as spirit rather than body, Christ as spiritually and ontologically one with the Father from all of eternity (rather than just one in thought and purpose), the incarnation as the second person of the Godhood taking on flesh but not ceasing to be God or one with the Father in the process. These are important distinctions between Christian and Mormon teaching that cannot be passed over lightly.

    As far as Balaam’s donkey, I think we need to interpret various parts of Scripture according to the genre being presented. Poetry is different than prose, and fables are different than historical record. That being said, there are clear examples of fable used in the Bible (for example Jotham’s fable in Judges 9:7-21). However, when a fable is being used it is clearly presented as a fable. Balaam’s account is presented as historical record, and so I interpret it as such.

    Balaam’s donkey is not presented the same way as Mr. Ed on TV (love the illustration!) or a talking crow in a fable. Mr. Ed belongs to fantasy genre, and the talking animals in fables talk naturally as part of their world. Rather the incident of Balaam’s donkey is presented as a miraculous intervention by God in order to get Balaam’s attention. As far as why Balaam doesn’t register surprise at the talking donkey, we are not given all the details in a historical narrative, and so this element may simply have been left out.

  7. Barry Wood says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on Balaam & his beast of burden. Since I could debate both sides of the issue with myself, I certainly respect the proposition that the ass was in some form or fashion given the power of speech that Balaam could understand. Or maybe the ass uttered his usual ass-like braying but God gave Balaam a variant of the gift of tongues in which he was able to understand the ass’s complaint.

    On the nature of God, I agree that the issues are profound, yet much of the perceived differences may boil down to semantics. For example, it’s true that Mormons believe that God the Father has a body. But as a body without a spirit is just a corpse, He is foremost a perfect, spiritual being. As Paul preaches in 1 Corinthians 14-15, a resurrected body is different from a mortal body, and we shouldn’t imagine that divine bodies are the same as ours. They are better, but they are still bodies. We know that the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily (Collossians 2:9). Why would it not also dwell in the Father the same way? Such a concept flows from Paul’s speech on Mars’ Hill, in which Paul confirms that we are the offspring of God (or, as the Louis Second translation puts it, “We are of His race.”) If so, and considering that resurrection of our spirits with our new & improved resurrected bodies is considered an improvement over staying bodiless for eternity, there must be a body-related aspect to the Father’s existence.

    That said, what is for us most important is not a precise concept of the physical attributes (or lack thereof) of the Godhead, but rather the honor and obedience that we render to God. Regardless of our differences, I love reading your essays because they are suffused with reverence toward God as well as general good sense. It’s a refreshing change from the disrespect or even antipathy that one finds in the current popular culture toward God, Christ and Christianity.

  8. Ray Fowler says:

    Barry – Just a thought here. You have stated that you desire to honor and obey God and I have no reason to doubt you. But if as Jesus said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), is it possible that you dishonor God when you attribute to him a material body? There is much more than semantics involved here. We are talking about the very nature of God as revealed in Scripture and the very nature of Christ as he took on flesh in the incarnation (which is how I would interpret Colossians 2:9).

    We can respect each other, but we cannot minimize the differences between Mormon and Christian teachings. There are few issues as deeply important and profound to life and worship as the nature of God. Simply put, I cannot worship the God of Mormonism because he is not the God I find revealed in Scripture.

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