Sunday, May 15, 2016

Personal Log 5.15.2016

I'm a listener. It's something I've cultivated over the years despite the fact that I come from two families who are talkers; both of my parent's families love to talk & sometimes our gatherings can be rather boisterous (or contentious depending on your political or spiritual leanings).

When you listen, you learn.

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” so you can tell a lot about people by just hearing what they have to say, so here are some of my observations about people:

The older generation appears not to care anymore; many (not all) have adopted a rather fatalistic mindset in this hour:
  • They're not planning on voting this year, many are 'just tired of the whole thing...
  • They're not going to fight against Biblical prophecy, what will happen will happen & they can't change anything on any level...
  • They've given up, they're just waiting for Jesus to come back & get them out of here as they are tired & discouraged

The younger generation is somewhat the same way:
  • The ones who've who've grown up in a Christian household have had it drilled into them that Jesus could return at any moment so why make any long-turn plans? Live for the moment, enjoy life now...
  • They've seen the silence & ineffectiveness of the Ekklesia in society for the last 60 years & fail to see the relevance or influence of the Church today. Where was the Church during the civil rights movement in the 60's? Where was the Church during the abortion issue in the 70's? Why isn't the Church doing anything about the homeless & the jobless? Where is the Church during the current same-sex marriage & transgender issues?
  • They've had it w/ the institutional/country club Church: slick suits on a Sunday morning in a formatted, boring predictable service, being taught “love one another” but seeing hate & “intolerance” during the week

One remnant of the younger generation has a different mindset & a sliver of hope:
  • They don't see this place their home, but they're going to make it a great place while they're here
  • Whereas the previous generation saw “spiritual things” as only pertaining to the Church & separate from society, they see “spiritual things” as also being immersed in community & government, there is no distinction between the two to many of them
  • Their idea of fellowship (what some people call Church) is more organic & less organized, more free-flowing & less formal, more Spirit-led & less structured, more caring & less critical, more inclusive & less exclusive

I've learned a lot by just listening to people, sometimes they simply want to be heard without any feedback or response from anyone; I've learned that “there's a time to speak & a time to be silent”. Personally, I think Jesus was both a great speaker & a great listener & He got a great deal more done.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Hotspots: Malachi 3:10 Part III

Everything in the Bible needs to be taught in the proper light & context = through the finished work of Christ on the Cross. If you take the “text” out of context you're left w/ the “con”. The Bible teaches that tithing does not apply to Christians in the New Covenant relationship we have.   

Romans, Galatians & other NT passages make it clear that Christians are not under the law of Moses, we are under the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:20-21; James 1:25; 2:8Rom. 13:8-10). The Ekklesia is never commanded to tithe. If the Early Church practiced tithing, then the concept should surface somewhere but it does not, even though giving was an important part of early Christian worship.

Paul writes about sharing material possessions to care for the needs of the poor ...  to sustain the Christian ministry .... he urges & commends generosity ... but never once does he demand, as a command from God, that any specific amount be given.

It’s easier in some ways to follow a set of rules; just give your 10% &  think all is well but God wants us to be led by the Holy Spirit. The point is we're not living by rules but in a relationship w/ the living God. 

I am definitely a part of Team Free: I haven't tithed in years & you know what? I'm still blessed because I'm in Christ & He's in me. God wants you to pay your bills, rent or mortgage, He wants you to feed & clothe your kids, it's not a good witness if you don't & you know what else? He understands that sometimes things get tight; He's not hard up for money.

Percent is not the issue, it's the motives behind why you give what you give.

I've seen tweet after tweet, post after post, blog after blog from each team defending their respective stances, belittling the other team, duking it out in the ring leaving a bloody mess in it's wake.

Let me just summarize the basics here:
  • Abraham tithed from the spoils of war, not his personal possessions
  • Abraham tithed once, not weekly, not every time he received a paycheck
  • Jacob said “bless me, then I'll tithe”
  • The tithe was never, ever money
  • Jesus said tithing was a matter of the Law
  • Christians are dead to the Law
  • Christ is the end of the Law to everyone who believes
  • Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the Law 

I refer you to Acts 15:1, 24
"We have heard that certain people which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, "You must be circumcised, and keep the Law, to whom we gave no such commandment..."

I'm all for people giving, what I'm against is twisting, abusing & misinterpreting Scripture in view of the finished work of Christ on the Cross. What I take issue w/ is those who say that tithing is a binding requirement under the New Covenant & by not doing so brings a curse or cuts off your blessings.
  • Malachi 3:10 = cursed if you don't tithe (observe the Law)
  • Galatians 3:10 = cursed if you do tithe (observe the Law) 

Everything comes through Christ now: our blessings, our prosperity. Legalistic tithing has nothing to do w/ it.

Whatever word you use (paying, bringing, giving), if you have purposed in your heart to tithe, then do it & enjoy yourself in Him but please do not hang a legal requirement that Jesus freed us from (& was never written to the Ekklesia) around anyone's necks.

Giving is right, but only as it comes from the heart.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or out of compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work”

Friday, May 6, 2016

Hotspots: Malachi 3:10 Part II

Some questions/observations about these two heavyweight champs:

Malachi 3:
  • Is there even a present day “storehouse”?
  • You are now the house of the Lord.
  • OT = prove Me, NT = trust Me.
  • Jesus provided an open heaven for us.
  • We are blessed w/ every spiritual blessing.

2 Corinthians 9
  • You reap what you sow, sparingly or bountifully.
  • Give as you purpose in your heart.
  • Your heart is not wicked, it's obedient (Romans 6:17
  • Don't give out of compulsion, guilt or fear.

I love how the following website puts it & for more in depth study go here: 

The tithe has been adapted to our church culture and economy.

Per the Law, the tithe is flocks, herds, fruits and grains, brought by farmers, to the temple storehouse in Jerusalem, to feed the old covenant priesthood who are from the tribe of Levi, Aaron and sons.

To port the tithe to the new covenant, at least 5 adaptations must be made: 
  1. flocks, herds, fruits and grains must be changed to money
  2. farmers are changed to all wage earners 
  3. the temple storehouse is changed to the local church building 
  4. the priesthoods of Levi and Aaron are changed to the clergy 
  5. the people are reduced from a royal priesthood to the laity

These extensive adaptations of scripture deny a basic tenet for the interpretation and application of scripture cited by the Apostle Paul, who wrote “do not go beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6), a tenet of handling scripture which is also echoed in Revelation 22:18-19.

James 1:8
“a double minded man is unstable in all his ways”

I've visited several different fellowships in my life & in many of them there's an offering envelope & guess which verse is usually printed on it? Bing! That's right: Malachi 3:10. In a couple of them both Malachi 3:10 & 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 were printed on there, though 2 Corinthians was in a smaller font & Malachi was larger & bolder (nothing like a little subtle manipulation).

This is the way I believe the Bible teaches the subject:

You cannot mix law & grace, period.
You cannot have grace living & law giving, period.

You either have: 
  1. law living & law giving (Malachi 3:10) or
  2. grace living & grace giving (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).

  • Is the law good, holy, righteous, perfect & honorable? Absolutely (various verses). 
  • Is the law still in effect? Absolutely (Matthew 5:18).
  • Are we dead to the law/released from it? Absolutely (Galatians 2:19, Romans 7:4-6).
  • Are we under the law? Absolutely not (Romans 6:14).
  • Are we under grace? Absolutely (Romans 6:14, Galatians 5:18).

Here's the one thing that clinches it & should settle the matter once & for all: 

Jesus Himself said tithing is a matter of the law (Matthew 23:23).

Now if Jesus, who is God & who is the Word of God, 
places tithing under the law then who are we 
to take it out from where He placed it & put it anywhere else?

It seems pretty clear to me that 2 Corinthians 9 is the Christian's standard of giving, not Malachi 3. Grace-based, Spirit-led giving always trumps Law-based, obligatory "giving".

Concluded in Part III


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hotspots: Malachi 3:10 Part I

“Hotspots” is a new series on misapplied, mis-interpreted & sometimes horrendously abused Scripture, 'hope this series of devotionals brings some clarity & freedom to you as you walk w/ the Lord.

Malachi 3:10 is tied w/ Hebrews 10:25 as one of the most abused Scriptures, the religious mindsets regarding this verse are frightening… it's actually the most contentious & divisive topic I've encountered, each side is passionately adamant in their respective stance.

There's two verses of Scripture that stand out when talking about money:

Malachi 3:10
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove me now in this says the Lord of hosts. If I will not open for the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it”

2 Corinthians 9:6-8
“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or out of compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work”

Of course there's more: “give & it shall be given unto you...” but Malachi & 2 Corinthians are the two heavyweights knocking each other's brains out in the ring.

I did a Google+ search of both Malachi 3:10 & 2 Corinthians 9:6-8 & here were the results: 
  • over 300+ posts on Malachi 
  • only 20 on 2 Corinthians

Yep, you read that right. 

300+ posts on something law-based vs 20 posts on something  grace-based. It was a revelation of the mindset of most Christians in relation to money = they were more law-conscious than they were grace-conscious.

I've heard literally hundreds of sermons spouting, “Thank God we're under grace, not law!” yet they teach tithing or reluctantly teach grace-giving w/ “conditions” =  “oh yes, give from your heart… as long as it's at least 10%!”.

Once a condition has been placed on grace, it's no longer grace.

So we have two teams here: Team Tithe & Team Free.

Team Tithe:
  • will a man rob God? Tithe!
  • You are cursed if you don't tithe so tithe!
  • The “storehouse” is now the local church & tithes support the priests/pastors so tithe!
  • tithing was before the law so it's still in effect; Abraham, the father of our faith, tithed so tithe!

Team Free:
  • Malachi wasn't written to the New Testament Church/New Covenant Believers who are under grace
  • Jesus redeemed us from the curse [of the law], He is the end of the law to everyone who believes, we are joint heirs w/ Him & blessed w/ every spiritual blessing
  • there is no levitical priesthood to support/we are all priests
  • Abraham went to war, killed a bunch of people, took their stuff home & unloaded 10% of the spoils of war in the Church parking lot

Can you see the battle lines that have been drawn between “those who do” & “those who don't”? 

More on Part II