Tithes

Do you Trust God?

I do not pay my tithes because the jewish bible, the tanak commands me to give 10% to the storehouse. Remembering, the storehouse is not the church as we know it today. This scripture pre dates Jesus and thus christianity, and the christian church.

The scripture in Leviticus refers to the 10% of your agricultural yield. Leviticus 27:30 “A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, is the Lord's, and is holy.” Nevertheless, this important piece of scripture is analogous with wages and salary in our current times. Thus, 10% is for our lord. However, I am not perfect and I do not pay because of this scripture alone. After all, one can debate that our storehouse in the current age is our government. And for this, most of us pay more than 10% of our income. So then, why pay your tithes when we already pay to our society through tax.

Paying tithes, oddly, has nothing to do with money. Rather, it is the ultimate expression of trust in god. When we consider that everything in our society is setup around money and materialism - an economic society as it where. Freely giving out some of your existing material wealth is the ultimate test of faith. Hebrews 11:1 teaches us that "faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Do you have faith in God? Do you have trust that he will provide?

Perhaps in some alternate reality our society will be setup differently. Maybe in a thousand years we have a society focused on mystercism and spirituality, but we don't. This - the here and the now - is a world of material wealth. It is a test our God has given us in our time of consciousness. Thus, paying out some of your money is the ultimate expression of your trust in god. In essence, when I pay thites, I am saying to god I will go without so you can provide for me. And provide God does! 2 corintians 9:8 states "And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

On a side note, here are some other things god provides us that we so often take for granted or simply overlook.

1) Life; as in Genesis 1:26, Then God said: “Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness, and let them have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and the domestic animals and all the earth and every creeping animal that is moving on the earth."

2) Free will; as in Galations 5:13 "You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."

3) Lets not forget to mentions Gifts; as in Exodus 31-3:5 "And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship. To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass. And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship."

Getting back to it - the old testament says to pay tithe but I am not Jewish, I am Christian. Thus, what does the new testament say? In the fitth book of the new testament, the book of acts, 20:35 Jesus said "it is more blessed to give then to receive". What a fantastic sentiment. This holds true for believers and non-believers alike! In Matthew 19:21 Jesus tells the rich man "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven". In Luke 12:33 jesus says "Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old."

The last two scriptures are telling. Here, Jesus being the son of god in human form explains the lengths one must go to to express the ultimate trust in his father. In god's name he tells us to sell our possesions! Not 10% on any given week. 100% of what we have. Now I am not saying to give everything away, nevertheless it shows us the level of faith Jesus expects us to have in the father.

Always try to remember these material possesions are so often false idols and blockers getting in the way of a meaningful relationship with god (a topic of another discussion - that which blocks our relationship with god).

In summary, I pay tithes because I trust in god and my church provides me with a place to worship god with like minded souls. To do this the church has practical expenses that need to be paid. Additionally, our church does as Jesus suggests. It gives hope for those in immediate need. There may come a time in our lives when we need a helping hand and to know that your local church will give you a meal in your time of need is priceless.

Consider this last thought. Is it okay to invest my tithes into a christian based business? If the tithes you're currently paying do not provide a meal for someone in need. Or, if your tithes do not actively engage in planting the seed of god into a non believer than I sugest you, my fellow christian, consider finding a new home for your investment in God. I can just imagine the passion in Jesus voice when he said "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:18-20). Thus, it is simply not good enough to proclaim that god instructs us to invest into a kingdom business rather than our church. No doubt, investing into a kingdom business is a noble cause, but it is not giving to someone in immediate need (luke 12:33 above) and it is unlikely to be spreading the word of god where it is needed most - the non believers. Ephesians 5:17 says "Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is".

Immoral Society

How bad is it Today?

One of the things I hear often in churches is how morally bankrupt the society is today and how the non-believers are out to get us. Christians share plenty of stories about how secular people have turned their back on God.

As a believer in God I hear this and think, ‘Are we (believers and non believers) really as morally bankrupt as when Jesus walked on God’s green earth? We don’t throw Christians to the lions anymore.’ Move forward a thousand years and we don't burn witches at the stake.

Further to this, I ponder if I was living in the time of Jesus, would I have had the opportunity to learn to read or write? If I fell ill from smallpox, or any similar disease that plagued those times, would there be a hospital to administer medication and staff to care for me? If my brother was murdered, would there be anyone appointed to investigate his death with the resources of the state? The answer to all these questions being a resounding ‘No', unless I was a member of the elite class in society.

So the next time there are suggestions that our society is morally bankrupt and that the secular people are out to get us, remember they have most likely taught your children to read and write. They have provided care in our hospitals and investigated crimes done to us. They are not out to get us – they just don’t believe what we believe. In James 1:17 we learn we should be giving praise because "Every good gift* and every perfect gift** is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.".

Furthermore, when we say the secular people are out to get us, we are doing something far worse in the eyes of God. We are driving a wedge between them learning about Him. In Romans 10:12-15 Paul explains "For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, or, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!". I wonder to myself, why would the non-believer listen to the call of the one they have not believed when the messagenger proclaims that they are out to get them. In this case, it is us - the christian, that is forgetting the story of love taught by our teacher, Jesus of Nazareth.

Yes, it is true, our society has many challenges to overcome. Homelessness and rampant financial greed spring to mind. However, both also occurred in Jesus' time. So please don’t be a Christian that says, ‘I love everyone’, but then spew forth the filthy hatred of the devil in the next sentence.

Be enlightened. Love your secular majority, speak them up, tell them how thankful you are for their duty. You might be surprised that the seed you plant in them one day will bear God’s fruit. If you are already doing this, good on you. A parting thought from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

* a good gift might be administered medicine from a secuar doctor. **a perfect gift might be having your life saved by a secular doctor allowing you to spread the good news of Jesus a little longer!.

Knowledge

Knowledge There is nothing I find through a pursuit of knowledge rhat will shake my faith in god. All to often my fellow chuech doers suggest I shouldnt think so much. Even my own faith filled wife echos their sentiments. They need not fear that I may uncover something that leads me away from god. Even worse a fear that I may uncover somethimg that disproves god and shakes their own faith. This fear is theirs and not mine.

When I find a moursel of information that contradicts the current day interpretation of scripture I look and that scripture and ask myself Is it possible that a new interpretation can be formed. An interpretation that marries with the knowledge that the lord has provided us.

This is not a new phenomenon. The church has reluctantly been caught dragging their feet in the past. Lets consider the birth of the scientic revolution. In the 1600's the common thought was the earth was the physical center of gods universe. Apparently this is not true. Additionally the earth is spherical not flat - allthough some still believe tflis open to interpretation.

Interestingly the passge in genesis that states we are made from the clay of the earth is somewhat correct. Within clay is a collection of atoms and elements from the periodic table. However, when god was giving the divine inspiration of the word he couldnt say to the messemger that we are made from atoms and and elements. This would have been confusing and misunderstood. From the time this was written until the scientific revelotion we would not have understood. Thus, the lord did something far more semsible. He provided a scripture that can be interpreted correctly throughout human development. He instructed the messenger to write clay! Strictly speaking we are not made of clay but within clay is found the elements that we now know forms a human's physical body. Thus,vit is correct but also gits to a modern interpretation.

Another such example is found in Peter. Here Peter explains what will happeend when the end of the earth ocvurs. This is not to be confused with the end times. Mearly the phical end of planet earth. In this passage the word elements is used to describe the burning of the sky. In modern scence mthmatics explains that one day the helium and hydrogen elements in the sun will expand as the sun runs out of fuel to burn. Peter advises us (through the devine word of god) that the sky will burn. This is correct. In around x billion rotations of earth around the sun we will be engulfed by the expanding sun and the sky will indeed burn.

Sometime, I think my fellow believers forget that the lord is all knowing, we are built in the lords image (mind and body) and most importantly god actually gives us knowledge (exodus). Thus, learning is not the problem. Fear of knowledge and how we use this knowledge is the fear.

You may be considering what is this message in aid of. Why is he even saying this? It is my belief that our steadfast interpretations hold back the good news of god from people in the modern world. We tell them that modern science is wrong and thus the people of the modern world shake their heads and stay away. It is time for us to step into our secular majority and welcome them home by showing what they know is actually qritten in the ancient scriptures.

Putting it another way. Most secular people inherently beleive modern scietific knowledge. Yet, through this, god still calls them home. Seeds pointing them back home. When they get home to the church they hear that our book tells them their knowledge is wrong. However, by showing the non-beleiver their knowledge is in the scriptures we pave a path for them back into the lords arms.

We are not merely saying "welcome home" along with all the warming hugs and handshakes. We are actually cutting to their core beliefs and saying we understand that what you bring in is actually written in the scriptures. It is a truly transformative experience for the curious non believer.

A True Miracle of God

Can you Live without Oxygen?

Gods miracles are far more profound than most of us realise. All to often we attach the term miracle to some dubious case of coincidence or the like. Whilst it is true that God works in subtle ways to guide us (Isaiah 58:11 "The Lord will guide you always"). True miracles are occurring every second of every day.

Consider the situation of you and me placed into a sealed room with no new oxygen. Before too long the oxygen runs out and we will go to meet our maker. Nothing we can do will change this. God will do nothing to change this. he has already given us free will to make decisions. Deuteronomy 30:19 "This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live". Whilst it is true he is almighty and can intervene, free will was given to allow us to choose to trust and love him. It was not given to prevent our silly decisions.

Getting back to our story, If we exercise this free will (we are given) and do something as silly as sitting in an encolsed environment without fresh oxygen then god will not interve. He does not need to. God already created a closed "living" system for us to rule over. Genesis 1:28 tells us "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground". This room is an analogy to the earth. He created this for us; to protect us; because he loves us. In return we must honor him by protecting what he made for us. To rule over is not to pillage. Rather it is to manage and protect. This is to honor god.

The miracle here is that god did not add oxygen to the earth, rather he created the plants, he created something amazing that occurs every microsecond of every day. For those that know a little biology this miracle occurs in the thylakoid organelle within every plant leaf. This provides fresh oxygen to sustain us. In the early 17th century man believed plants grew by gods will and gods will alone. Oddly, this is somewhat correct. God created the light, the light then provides a photon, the photon then splits a water molecule inside the plant leaf seperating hydrogen (for the plant to grow*) and oxygen for us to breath.

This is an example of a true miracle gifted to his creations. Thus god said "it was good" (genesis 1-11:12). The moral of this story is twofold. True miracles are occuring all around us and we take them for grated. Secondly, every Christian should play an active part in protecting the environment. It is my belief that Jesus didnt just come to give salvation for our errors. Rather he provided a blueprint on how we can ascend to the next level. In a nutshell Jesus postulated that if we love and respect each other we can then work together to reveal more of gods world - to make heaven on Earth.

Further to this thought... it is only through cooperation and love will we go forward. Thus the doctrine is; accept Jesus is real and follow his teachings. The problem is most people dont actually respect their neighnour, most of us won't live without greed and envy and thus most of us don't give a second thought to our environment. When we say we accept Jesus we act contrary to his teachings. Jesus didn't want us to accept him, he wanted us to live like him.

*the hydrogen powers a proton pump which creates the energy for the plant to convert carbon into sugar

Science

God's world for the most part is predicable. We know that a molecule of water consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen. When these two unique types of atoms combine they form a liquid. When they seperate they form two different gases. At a particular temperature the liquid becomes a solid. In this realm of the universe it is predicable and never changes. It is as god intended it to be.

A thousand years ago it was not predicable. We did not know the recipe for water. It was magical. So why then are we still in an age of wholly supernatural interpretation. No doubt, god himself is supernatural, but only enacts supernatural forces on us when he chooses. Howeveror, for the most part, he allows us to roam free in the realm he created for us. Thus, I argue, he allows us - his creations - to operate without direct interference from the super natural dimension.

Jesus himself even chose to avoid the supernatural bending of space and time when tempted by the devil in the desert. Why would he do this? It is clear that he performed miracles. I propose that to perform miracles on himself would be selfish. He only ever performed miracles to help.others. this includes the resurection. He did not resurect for his own selfish purpose. He did this for us. To clear a path back to god and away from our sinful nature.

Thus, I find it odd when many of my fellow believers are often defensive or entirely dismisdive of scientific information. Take for instance environmental concerns and evolutionary biology. This is understandable as there has been a trend of reporting new discoveries as ways to disprove god. I argue differently. When you peel back the layers of each discovery I can see the fingerprints of god. His hanywork - his miracles conrained therin.

Take for instance creation. The order in genesis 1:1-20 is in unison with current day biology. The only point of conjecture (misunderstanding) is evolution which I discuss as a seperate topic here. In peter the end of the earth will ocvur with the melting of the elements. Nowhere in dcripture does it contradict modern science.

As far as I can see the misunderstandings occurs when new knowlodge appears to contradict an oldrr interpretation. This older interpretation often dates back to a time that was truly supernatural for the people living within. Take for instance a plant growing. In the 1600's the accepted theory of plant growth was "by gods will and gods will alone"...

I find it disappointing that we argue and bicer with a section of mainstream society. We stick our head in the sand instead of looking back at scripture with fresh eyes. When armed with a new gift from god to shed light on his word the default position is to put our walls up and deny. At the same time we wholly embrace the daybto day use of new scientific discoveries. The exception is the armosh people. They embrave their interpretation with true conviction*.

This behaviour we have adopted is odd because I believe it turns non believers away from god indtead of inviting them im. Additionally, many of the principles we deny were orginally postulated by men of faith.

I will leave you with this parting thought. Is it possible that Scientific advancement is a gift from god. He wants us to understand more, to be more like him, to ne close to him. I suggest It is the way we use these discoveries that defines us. Will we use them in a godly manner? Or will we use them with the devil on our shoulder? When we use it greedily to benefit a few (script). Alternatively, when we use it in the manner of Jesus - with love for your neighbour amd your enemy then everyone benefits.

*the armish do not embrace modern technology.

Tanak

Coming Soon

End Times

I understand the fascination and the sense of purpose in predicting the "end times". However, i wonder if this outward proclamation helps to introduce non-believers to god. Consider the person, who claims to know the coming of the end times - does it really help non-believers find christ before he arrives? Does it bring them into church?

It is a paradox. At first glance any sensible person advising another that the end is near should make them rush out and discover god. In truth, it is more complicated than this. What usually happens is the person being told this important prophecy will run for the hills asking this person to stop invading thier personal space. I should know. I am guilty of this folly - imparting my interpretations on believers and non-believers alike - only to see them try and escape my important phrophecy. On other occasions, I have been the one who makes for the exit when a convicted person tells me that the end is nigh. I find myself trying to escape their passionate plee to save my soul.

Such a folly may reinforce beliefs in people who already believe. However, due to the fact every previous and current claim is so far unsuccessful (we are still here - so at this point every claim is either wrong or pending), it tends to drive away the non-believer. I ask myself, is anything that drives a wedge between a potential new disciple and god helpful? Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 28:18-20 to make disciples of all...

"Jesus came close to them. He said to them, ‘God, my Father, has given me all authority in his home and on earth. I tell you to go and make the people from every country my disciples. You should baptize them by the authority of God the Father, Jesus his son and the Holy Spirit. You should teach them everything that I taught you. Then they will also obey me all the time as you obey me. It will happen that I will be with you. It will be like this until the end of time’.”

Getting back to our orginal theme, is making a claim on the end times the work of god, or is it the work of the devil? Looking at it from another angle, if predicting the end times keeps a potential new didciple away from god - it is unlikey to be a message from god, rather a message from some other source. 2 Peter 3:10 tells us, "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat. The earth also and the works that are in it will be burned up."

It is my belief that the important passage in this scripture is "comes like a thief in the night". In other words, nobody will know when the thief appears. The second part tells us what will happen once the thief is here (another topic entirely) - nevertheless, we still do not know when!

What then should we make of the numerous hints of the coming end times in the OT and revelations? This is open to interpretation. Some will see parralells in their current circumstances whereas others will not. Thus, what is one mans conspiracy is not anothers! Therefore, we should stick to the basics whereby the scripture tells us that we do not and will not know.

What then should we make of the numerous hints of the coming end times in the OT and revelations? This is open to interpretation. Some will see parralells in their current circumstances whereas others will not. Thus, what is one mans conspiracy is not anothers! Therefore, we should stick to the basics whereby the scripture tells us that we do not and will not know.

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