Category: Thoughts on the Walk of Faith


The Anti-Tithe

In all the churches, in all the years I have walked with the Lord, one common theme has crossed all denominational boundaries – the tithe.

In one way or another, every church provides an opportunity to give.  Some pass a basket, some have a box at the back, some talk about it every week, some talk about it once a month, some talk about it quarterly, or even yearly. 

Each Pastor that stands behind the pulpit has some encouraging word to say about tithing.

My personal favorite scripture that I believe is misused in regard to the tithe is found in Malchi

Mal 3:10 

 

“Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”

 

The common theme, is that this means… tithe = financial blessing you can not contain.

A Pastor I sat under for years, a phenomenal teacher, whom I respected, took offereing every Sunday and every Sunday he would say that those who do not give, have not discovered the secret of  tithing. He would go on to request, ‘God Bless those who give’.

Many a Sunday I thought to myself, because I choose to put food on the table, rather than tithe, am I not worthy of God’s Blessing?

I hear the story over and over again, friends going hungry, loosing power and water, being evicted from their homes, and yet they are faithfullly tithing.  And there is a Pastor somewhere, directly or indirectly encouraging them to continue to so.

What a sad vicious cycle.  Pastors who are relying on tithers for their income, rather than relying on the Lord, and congregants trusting their leaders, and tithing to their own detriment. 

Is this what the Lord intended for either of these people groups?

After much study and prayer, my husband and I have reconciled this issue in our own hearts and minds.  Through the course of our studies we have waivered from questions like

 “Do we give 10% of our gross income?

10% of our net income?

10% of our food (because in biblical times they were giving the first fruits, thats 10% of what they had to eat, so they were in fact eating, they were just sharing their food).

We entertained putting 10lbs of oats in the offereing basket as it went by,  Can you imagine the look on the ushers face?  

We have reconciled that we offer what we have to the Lord, whether it be monetary, food, clothing, and we give where He calls us to give.  We do not expect monetary gain, I believe the blessing Malachi speaks of is the Joy that comes from being a blessing to someone, and has little to do with economic status.

In 35 years of church life, my understanding has never been validated from the pulpit.

Until Now!

Saturday night I attended a service at my church, incidentally the wealthiest church in town. 

We are in a series entitled REAL HOPE, and the message was great!  Straight to the heart of the issues we struggle with when times are tough.  I took two pages of notes…I haven’t had that much to jot down in years! 

And then came the Family Meeting…preceeding the offering…topic…the building fund…the expansion plan… the update…the offering speech

And the synic in me thought ‘here goes, the pulling of the heart strings to give to the Lord’s work’.

But what I heard instead, was the single most refreshing sentence I have heard from the pulpit in years.   

“For those of you who have given so generously, thank you. 

 For those of you who CAN NOT give, that is okay, you are where the Lord has you”

I noted that the pastor didn’t say, those of you who don’t give, or those of you who have not discovered the secret of giving, he said those of you who CAN NOT Give. 

Thank you Lord, this dear Pastor understands that there are times in our lives when we can not give, and the Lord is not requiring us to, nor is He looking down upon us because we don’t, nor is He withholding blessing from us!

I hope he doesn’t get a bad wrap for being the Anti-tithe! 

He certainly isn’t against tithing, or giving, or opposed to an offering,.

He is afterall pastoring the wealthiest church in town.  But it isn’t because he has abused his postion, and convinced people to give when they shouldn’t.

God Bless those who CAN NOT give,

God bring peace to their hearts,

God provide for their needs,

God reward their good deeds.

We made a trip over the mountains this past weekend.  I love the scenic drive. 

I love to see the rolling hills, the mountains, the rocks, and to think that God hand placed them all! 

One of the things I enjoy the most is the spontaneously occuring waterfalls, that seem to appear from no source at all and cascade down the rocks on the side of the road. 

When we were traveling to the valley, the water was splashing all down the rocks and onto the shoulder of the road.

When we were traveling back from the valley, the temperatures were quite low, and the waterfalls had frozen into beautiful icicles gleaming in the sun on the rocks.

I saw a turnout, and my husband pulled over so that I could take pictures. 

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I love that the Lord uses nature to bless, to inspire and to teach.

These waterfalls are fascinating when the water is flowing.  Much like we can be when the Spirit of God is flowing through us.

The water is equally as intriguing when it is frozen still.  Much like we can be when we find ourselves feeling paralyzed by a trial, or an illness. 

Wether we are freely trickling over the rocks, or frozen by our circumstances, we can still be a witness to the Glory of God.

I am thankful that God is trustworthy…

That in this messed up world we live in, where we face issues that 100 years ago our Grandparents never saw coming, where economic and political wars rage, not to mention wars for countries, and lives and souls…

I am thankful that we can rely on  one God, one Creator, One Loving Heavenly Father.

I am thankful that when it is uncertain what tomorrow may bring, one thing remains certain,

His Faithfulness.

Whatever trials life may bring, I can always rest my head on the Hands of the Father.

Semantics

Being very wordy, and very black and white, I can get caught in a web of misunderstanding someone’s point because of semantics. 

Being as wise as I am (haha) I know that I default to this place where people should say what they mean and mean what they say, and so I try to practice making an allowance when I am shocked by someone’s opinion, that it could be semantics.

Nevertheless, I try to err on the side of caution when expressing my own thoughts or opinions and be certain that I can not be dismissed on the basis of semantics. 

Semantics  is the meaning or an interpretation of the meaning of a word. 

In the modern day English language, we seem to be reinterpreting the meaning of words.  We use them in a variety of ways, in which they were not originally intended.  In doing so, we communicate in such a way that leaves the listener questioning “did she really mean that, or is it just a poor choice of words (semantics!)”.  And 9 times out of 10 we probably dismiss it because it was just a poor choice of words.

I’m on this tangent today, because of the word ‘BELIEVE’. 

The way the word BELIEVE is used in our modern day communication has abolished the biblical meaning that what we BELIEVE would be absolute truth.

Forinstance, when asked for directions a person may respond ‘I believe it is on the corner of 5th and main’ when in reality they don’t know if it is 4th and main or 6th and main, but they are making an educated guess and saying ‘they believe’. 

Another example of this would be someone saying “I believe peanut butter cookies are better than chocolate chip cookies” Now while most of us know this to be an absolute falsehood, and would immediately shout ‘LIAR’, some poor soul might actually take this seriously and quit buying chocolate chips altogether. 

 A tragedy right?

What would really be a tragedy is if we somehow communicated to our children in our lack of awareness of ‘semantics’ that there were choices to be made or gray areas in what we really acknowledge as absolute truth.

This occured to me when a lovely JW couple came by my home and handed my youngest Fruit Loop a pamphlet on What to Believe about the Bible…

My instinct was to default to the politically correct response and explain to my Fruit Loop that the JW’s don’t BELIEVE  what we BELIEVE. 

But I caught myself, realizing that in the modern day interpretation of language, the word BELIEVE does not hold the impact that it once did, and so I responded to my Fruit Loop, that the JW’s don’t KNOW that Jesus is the Son of God, they don’t KNOW that Jesus is God. 

I don’t want my children to have any doubt in their mind that I BELIEVED something, and that there were other things to BELIEVE that were equally as viable. 

I KNOW my Faith is in the Son of God, I KNOW that there are absolute truths in the Word of God, and I don’t want to communicate to anyone, especially my children, by using language that has diminished impact that there is any question in my mind as to what I should BELIEVE.

I’m sure you have heard the phrase,

“Try Walking in my shoes?”

Or some variety of the same phrase. 

These pictures are of my Fruit Loops, Racer and Whistler

trying to wear Tiny Dancer’s Doll Shoes.

The standing was okay, but the walking didn’t go so well.

What’s the point?

The Point is they don’t fit!!!!

In my walk with the Lord, He chose the path, and He also chose the ‘shoes’ I would wear. 

I am guilty of comparing myself, in the Christian community, to others and thinking less of myself, and on occasion more highly of myself than I ought (that occasion is not very often, but it seems wise to confess it).

This practice is hogwash!

God designed us for our purpose, and for our trials,

There is no sense in trying to ‘walk in her shoes’ (or his).

They don’t fit, and they were never intended to!