RSS

Tithing vs. Generosity

I’ve been mulling an idea around in my head for weeks but I’ve been REALLY spacey lately so I’m just getting around to putting it on…paper?

I’ve been thinking about tithing. The less money I have, the more I’ve thought about this. I’ve also found out that a surprising number of people don’t actually believe in tithing. So I looked into some verses. I think most people think of Abraham in the Old Testament when they think of tithes. In Genesis 14, Abraham tithed a 10th to Melchizedek. What I actually found is that there are numerous types of tithes in the OT. But once you move into the New Testament, tithing really isn’t mentioned (except a couple times by Jesus which we’ll go over.)

And here is where people split off in two directions. You can be in Camp A where tithing is just an OT thing and Jesus did away with it when he came, or you might be in Camp B which decides that since a common tithe in the OT was 10% that’s a good guideline to follow for life.

I think I’m going to have to pick Camp C unfortunately. What did you really expect? Hear me out:

Camp A has some serious flaws. Jesus did do away with several things when he came to earth. But he came to fulfill the law, not abolish it. (Matt. 5:17, Rom. 3:31) We don’t offer animal sacrifices anymore, but in Romans 12, we are commanded to offer ourselves as LIVING sacrifices. Also, Jesus does uphold the concept of tithing in Matthew 23:23-24 as he tells the Pharisees that they tithe but neglect to show justice, mercy, and faithfulness. He tells them that they ought to have done both. So I really have a hard time just throwing out tithing altogether simply because it’s not mentioned explicitly in the NT.

However, Camp B also has flaws. I would have a problem picking ONE of the tithes in the OT and declaring that that is the one we should all follow. I think if you add the OT tithes together you actually get about 23% of a household’s income so I’m not sure why we don’t use that figure? (Don’t bet your life on that math.)

My point really is this. The NT actually does say quite a bit about tithing but it doesn’t use that word. Is that really what is tripping people up? Besides all the times that Paul took up collections for the saints in various places, here are just three of the passages I found:

“And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Are you catching the drift here? I would contend that the NT is a huge proponent of giving BEYOND what you think you can afford. Now I’ll be totally honest, some weeks I look at my bank account and think, “Gee Lord, 10% seems like a WHOLE heck of a lot!” I get that! And other weeks I know I can do more. That what I love about that last passage. What you have decided in your heart. A question I ask myself a lot is, “Okay, I give regularly to my church, but am I giving generously??” That’s a challenge for myself and for you and you are going to have to decide what that looks like.

Another thing I’ve come across personally and I’ve discussed it with others is that sometimes it can be much more fun to give to things besides your church. Organizations that are good, you love, and you are passionate about. Oh, that’s a struggle for me. I think both are important but I cannot give to the organizations and neglect my church. I’ve heard the argument that you’ve been burned and now you don’t trust your church with your money and I would say that you first need to examine your heart and motivations for giving. Are you cheerfully giving or coming up with an excuse not to? And secondly, if you REALLY don’t trust your church financially, that’s a problem that you should address with your leadership.

I love that the believers in Macedonia gave beyond their means and begged Paul to take it for the saints. What a precious blessing that must have been for them! And what a great example for us.

 
Comments Off on Tithing vs. Generosity

Posted by on May 1, 2019 in church, uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I Done Forgot the Lord!

One of my Dad’s favorite movies is Sergeant York. Maybe it’s just because I grew up on it, but I really do love that movie. Black and white, Gary Cooper, quotable lines, true story- I mean, it’s a great movie!

So a couple of weeks ago I was feeling a little nostalgic and I pulled it out to re-watch. If you don’t know the story line, you really should find a copy and watch it. Alvin York is a new Christian and in the movie had a very practical way of looking at Scripture. He is a strong pacifist (despite being an excellent marksman) and had asked for an exemption from military duty. I was at the part where Alvin gets the letter back from the government that says he has been denied his request for exemption. He is talking to his pastor and is pretty upset about the whole situation: [read with Tennessee accent; you’ll thank me later]

Pastor Pile: “War’s way to the other side of the ocean, Alvin. Lots of things can happen before you get there. You put your trust in the Lord, and He’ll look out for you.”

Alvin: “I done forgot the Lord! I ain’t never gonna forget him again!”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that line! The irony of it seemed hilarious but at the same moment the truth hit me smack in the face! I wondered how many times I’ve been fighting for something that I truly believe is right with all that I am but I’ve “done forgot the Lord!” How many times have I been working on something for church, etc and not had the right attitude because I’ve forgotten the entire reason I’m there? How many times have I just gone through the motions. Ouch, Alvin.

Another priceless quote from that movie is this one:

Alvin: “I ain’t a-goin’ to war. War is killin’ and the Book is agin’ killin’, so war is agin’ the Book.”

Pastor Pile: “Alvin, you’ve got the use’n’ kind of religion not the meet’n’ house kind.”

Oh gosh! I choked on my water at that! I’ve got enough nerve to say that most Americans have the “meeting house” kind of religion, not the “using” kind. They are good with the Bible on Sundays (as long as it’s done in time for sports games) and holidays, but heaven forbid God’s Word actually has a role of authority in their life. Like the Jews in Jesus’ day who wanted signs, we want to hold on to the promises of the Bible without caring who Jesus is or what he requires from us.

I love Alvin in the movie. I know it’s not fully accurate to the true story and now you are probably sitting here thinking I’m a huge pacifist. (Guess you should watch the movie, huh??) But I love how literally he takes the Bible. How fully he believes every word in it and applies it to his life. It challenged me to do the same thing. ‘Cause I really want to have the use’n’ kind of religion!

 
Comments Off on I Done Forgot the Lord!

Posted by on April 17, 2019 in movies

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Third Mile

If you look at my running stats, my slowest mile will always be the third one. I despise mile three. I’ve run 5Ks before but as a general rule, I don’t run three miles unless I’m in a race. I’ll run 2 or 4+ before I stop at 3. It may sound dumb but that third mile is a killer for me. I’ll be feeling just fine and then suddenly my stomach decides it would like to be on the outside of my body, and my head thinks it has a drum inside, and my feet seem to be made of lead. Worst. Mile. Ever.

Today marks the end of Mile Three since my first seizure. I can’t believe it’s been three years. Seems a whole heck of lot longer to me. And I’m not gonna lie; they have been hard years. Some days I still long to have “myself” back. Sounds weird, huh? Every time I meet a new friend, I still have the feeling that they aren’t meeting the real Kimmy and sadness creeps over me. Like they only are getting to know a partial person. Some days I could do without the constant headaches and the exhaustion.

I have been seizure free for 1 year and 4 months now. That is the most common question I get asked about my health and I really do thank God for that fact. But that doesn’t mean I feel a lot better. Some days I do but not usually. Some days I feel like a petty teenager with crazy emotions everywhere! Side effects of meds are hard, folks.

It’s not a big secret that John is my favorite Gospel. (Are you allowed to have favorites??) I LOVE that book. Last week I heard a sermon that referenced John 12:24-26. In those verses, Jesus talks about how a seed must die in order to bear fruit. And because of his death, SO much fruit would come! Verse 25 stands out to me:

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

I’ve been asked if I could go back to before April 10, 2016, would I? And the answer is no. There is so much that God has taught me about himself and I wouldn’t give that up. There are areas that I needed to grow in spiritually and I know that now. I loved my life a lot back then and it was really selfish of me. I’m glad I lost it. I have a better, more eternal view of life now.

One of my newest favorite songs is “Scars” from I Am They. The first part of it goes like this:

Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes

Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
‘Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use

So I’m thankful for the scars
‘Cause without them I wouldn’t know Your heart
And I know they’ll always tell of who You are
So forever I am thankful for the scars

I love that. And it’s so true. Without having gone through all the hardship, I wouldn’t know Christ as well. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now to minister to others. So I’m thankful. Just a few verses down in our John passage, Jesus is praying and he says, “Father, glorify your name.” (vs.28) Amen. That’s my prayer also, whether Mile Four gets easier or not. 🙂

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 10, 2019 in epilepsy

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Phlegmy Religion

Do you have words that you just don’t like? I’m not talking about swear words here; I mean ordinary words that you simply don’t like to use and you may not even know why? For instance, I despise the word phlegm. I do an inner shudder when I hear it, I don’t say the word, and I would probably never use it in a blog title. I also don’t like the word waft. My best friend hates the word moist. Think about it: you probably have some.

But I’ve been doing some research on a particular religion and for some reason the only word I could conjure up to describe it is that nasty word up top. (Plus whenever I hear it, I always think it sounds like someone sneezing.) Gnosticism. Don’t let the big word scare you away- until about two weeks ago, I didn’t really have a clear idea on what Gnosticism was. I knew it wasn’t a good thing but that’s about it. I went through some training a few weeks ago and I was a little shocked at how prevalent this viewpoint really is. I’ll be honest and say that most of what you are going to hear from this point on will be from that training and my research after it.

In short, clear terms, Gnosticism is a belief system that centers around man. It believes in an inner light or divine spark in every person. It places a huge value on feelings and experience and believes that a person can experience God outside of the Bible. Gnostics aren’t big on authority or institutions such as the church because they have a more subjective view of morals and revelation. Gnostics tend to be very spiritual and sometimes almost mystic.

So if none of that makes any sense to you, let me give you ways that this plays out in real life:

-Personal, special revelation has replaced God’s Word
-Morals are subjective- I get to decide what’s right for me, you can decide for you
-Experience trumps Scripture- what you feel is true and right, doesn’t matter what anyone else says
-No absolute truth- you assign meaning to things (such as gender)
-God wants me to be happy- pull the verses you like out of Scripture
-Follow your heart, you have a light that is special and unique to only you

Does ANY of this sound familiar to you?? Because it certainly does to me. And the scary thing is that some of it sounds familiar because I’ve heard it from believers. People, that scares me. This stuff is wrong and it has infiltrated God’s church! It can be tricky to catch because a Gnostic can know all the right terms and use the same phrases as biblical believers but what I just wrote above is NOT the gospel. You cannot have the gospel apart from God’s Word (his WHOLE Word) and you cannot decide that you get to call the shots. That’s not how it works.

A verse from Hebrews 2 is popping into my head right now. (May I just add that all of Hebrews 1 talks about Christ being preeminent to all? We aren’t little gods running around. Just wanted to clear that up.) Hebrews 2:1 says:

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.”

That’s highly applicable. How close are you, am I, paying attention to the Scriptures? Do we know it well enough so that when nuances are brought in from the outside we can quickly identify them as the false teachings that they are? I think we need to start paying “much closer attention.”

Otherwise you might get caught up in a gross, phlegmy, false religion.

 
Comments Off on The Phlegmy Religion

Posted by on March 31, 2019 in theology

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Loving Christ’s Bride

Church can be a lonely place for some people. I would argue that church can be especially lonely for a single person. Even a simple thing like, “Where should I sit today?” is a stark reminder that you are by yourself in the huge sanctuary. (I just attach myself to a family 🙂 )

Sometimes though, I think we make it lonelier than it should be because we aren’t obeying God’s Word. Clear as mud? When I moved to Ohio and switched churches, it was kind of lonely. I’m by myself out here in a church where basically everyone else is related to someone else in the church. No kidding. And to be clear, I’m a faithful church-goer. Sundays and Wednesdays and small group. So what was missing? It hit me this week.

It seems to me that the trend in church talk is all about “connection” and being “plugged-in” but there’s a lot of people that certainly don’t feel plugged-in. Churches want to make sure you are at service and in a small group. But not as much is said about serving. And I really think that is the key. THAT is how you get to know your church on a deep level. Maybe it’s not always fun but it’s worth it in so many ways!

Let me give you an example: I’m on the Outreach Committee at my church. It’s something I’m passionate about. If you’ve heard me talk about it recently though, you probably heard some complaining out of me. Why? We had a big event that we planned for last weekend. And we planned it in a very short amount of time so it took a lot of communication, most of which happens over text. I don’t have service at work so all of my texts come in as I drive home. Text after text after text. My record JUST FROM THE COMMITTEE is 49. It was a little bit overwhelming. Whine, Whine, Whine.

So the event came and it went really well, if I do say so myself! But looking back, do you want to know what the biggest blessing was? All that dang communication beforehand! I literally cannot believe I just said that! But seriously, THAT’S where I got to see the hearts of the people I was serving with, where I learned to love them more, and where our unity grew. And out of that grew a deeper love for the body of Christ and our Lord himself.

What a beautiful thing! What a blessing serving your church really is. So I would encourage you that if you are feeling a little lonely at church, yes, make sure you are going to service and small group. But also, SERVE.

You don’t want to miss out on it.

 
Comments Off on Loving Christ’s Bride

Posted by on March 20, 2019 in church

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

A Part of HIStory

This weekend I had an incredible, terrifying opportunity. I was asked to do devotions for a ladies retreat and after a lot of prayer I said yes (Hey, it fit the criteria!) But I was pretty nervous because (believe it or not), I’m not much for public speaking. No one at my church thinks that is true because I make announcements all the time but they are too far away to see how much I’m shaking! I write, I don’t speak.

So I had to put a lot of thought into what I was going to do these devotions on. I had 5 sessions and a varied audience. I asked several people what they thought and I kept getting the same answer- tell your story. So that’s what I did.

I told the story of my life and how God’s grace was woven throughout it. Pretty much what I’ve written on here. I was amazed at the response and the conversations that I was able to have simply because I opened up.

And at some point it hit me- that’s something people crave: openness. We really have a desire to be honest and open with our struggles but so many things prevent that! Either from bad past experiences, fear of judgment or consequences, or simply a fear of being vulnerable to other people, we hide things that we are struggling with.

And yet this weekend, I found a wonderful group of ladies affected by my story and willing to open up to me. It takes one person sometimes to kick down the walls and find the common things we all struggle with. One person being honest for everyone else to be honest as well.

Through that simple honesty, I was able to share Christ. I didn’t open up any theological book for my devotions this weekend. I didn’t need to. I needed my Bible and my Backstory (like the alliteration there?) and it was simple and effective. Every believer has that. You don’t need a seminary degree to share the gospel with others. All you need is a willingness to be obedient and do it.

I’m glad I said yes this time. 🙂

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 11, 2019 in evangelism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Empathetic Psalm

Did you know there is a difference between empathy and sympathy? Yeah, I didn’t either (nor had I really thought about it) until a couple years ago. It was around that time that my best friend (Natalie) found this video which, you really should watch:

Empathy vs. Sympathy

I’m going to let you in on a personal secret. Whenever Natalie or I are having a particularly bad day, we will usually whisper to the other person, “It’s dark down here.” We both know the reference and know what the other person needs.

It’s been pretty dark lately. There hasn’t been any big, terrible event. I’m just flat-out depressed. I feel numb, emotionless, and worn. When other people say they are running on Jesus and Coffee they usually laugh, but for me, that is dead reality. No joking.

Psalm 88 is one of the unusual and rarely read Psalms. It’s not like the others. It doesn’t start out with the author in pain, despair, or depression and end with him full of hope. It actually starts and ends pretty much the same. I would really encourage you to read the whole thing but here are some snippets of it:

“I cry out day and night before you” 

“For my soul is full of troubles and my life draws near to Sheol”

“I am a man who has no strength”

“You have put me in the depths of the pit”

“I am shut in so that I cannot escape”

“O Lord, why do you cast my soul away? Why do you hide your face from me?”

“I suffer your terrors; I am helpless”

And on it goes. You read that and tell me that the author didn’t struggle with depression. You read most of the Psalms and tell me that. It’s pretty low.

But when I read these words, I feel empathy from men that lived thousands of years before me. Men who firmly believed in God’s perfect will but struggled with their hearts and minds. The author even admitted (I love this) that God was loving, faithful, wonderful, and righteous in verses 11-12 of this Psalm but only to say that he wouldn’t be able to tell of these things if he died.

It’s even encouraging to me that this Psalm doesn’t end the way all the others do. We don’t like to sit in darkness and depression and we DEFINITELY don’t like to sit with others during those times. But sometimes that’s where God has placed us or those around us.

Sometimes empathy is asked, not sympathy. Sometimes life is more like Psalm 88 than Psalm 89.

 
Comments Off on The Empathetic Psalm

Posted by on March 3, 2019 in encouragment

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,