Archive for May, 2010

Judges, elders, kings…

Posted: May 31, 2010 in Commentary

God gave the ancient Israelites a King because they wanted one, but it was not His plan. They had been ruled by prophets, judges and elders and the word of God such as they had it from Moses.

They wanted a King. So He gave them Kings. But it was not His best plan.

When we look at the Sabbath, we see a “type and shadow” of the rest we have.…..although some short-sightedly think that observing a day matters to God. They had dietary laws to protect their health and separate them from the surrounding peoples … yet it was never in God’s mind that what went into their mouths defiled them, but what came out of the mouth. Many people, myself included, are inclined to think that ritual circumcision was a “type and shadow” of the idea that one must walk in holiness before God with your sexuality. Whole books have been written about the rich symbolism of the tabernacle and how it points to greater ideas (e.g. the oil burning in the Holy of Holies being a “type and shadow” of the Holy Spirit in the innermost part of the believer). There is so much rich symbolism in the Old Testament; and one does not need to look far in the writings of Jesus or Paul to see this. Sometimes we go overboard with this idea, and insist the Song of Solomon is only symbolism instead of the masculine love poetry that it is.

All of which brings me back to my original idea: God gave his people Kings because they wanted a King. It was not in His best design for them. And their Kings had their scandals, didn’t they?

Remind you of anything?

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Teachers and speakers who associate God’s saving grace – i.e. “salvation” — with the performance of ritual tithing are engaging in heresy in respect to this aspect of Christian thinking. Period. Think I’m barking up the wrong tree? We have this lady, whose book publishing rights are owned by Strang Publishing (publisher of Charisma, among other product lines), who claims to have seen in a “vision” that non-tithing Christians do not go to heaven (who is running the editorial desk at Strang? Accountants?) and Ted Haggard, who was comfortable challenging the salvation of non tithing believers.

Can you find anything in this essay about whether you should, or must, tithe, or not? No, you cannot.

Credo #47: Feed the ox

Posted: May 26, 2010 in Credo, For brothers

You share the burden, along with other believers, of seeing to it that those who labor in the word on your behalf are attended to financially.

There are many “pots” for compensation; whether that be in physical goods, discrete financial offerings, or physical help with the labors that come in life.

Now, no man, not even a pastor, has a right to any kind of respect, financial or otherwise, that is not earned. With that being said, and noting that any old gift to the church is not the same as what is being discussed here, I point you to the scripture linked to. Honor to those to whom it is due. To those it is due – bearing in mind who those people really are. And those who are not.
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Edit: While modern technologies drive the cost of information to nearly zero, you cannot purchase the kind of love that an interceding pastor has; nor the benefit of a sharp and Godly mind that is invested somewhat in your life.

I love this posting over at John Eldredge’s Ransomed Heart ministries.

Single Christian Man: Ponder it.

Pastor: Consider this; and consider that a man’s single state is not of necessity a component of his being in “ruin” — unless you think men like C. S. Lewis and the Timothy that Paul wrote to were men in “ruin” for being uncoupled.

I was told by a minister at that time associated with a Vineyard church that “tithing is giving and giving is tithing.” This same individual had been comfortable saying from the pulpit that people were making “excuses” when they were reasoning within themselves about this issue (and coming to other conclusions than I suppose he wanted them to); and in person was able to “suggest” to me that I go elsewhere after giving me a condescending lecture about the need to pay for the various things. While I did not get the answers to my questions about tithing, I did get the message*.

This man was, in a way, making “excuses” — and I found a bit more freedom in my life when I realized that I was not the one making “excuses.”

Now, there is nothing in this posting to give one any insight about tithing, is there? If you think there is, you are mistaken. No answers to my questions here, either.

The point: Cognitive dissonance can be at play in any kind of high-emotional-content matter. He was employing cognitive dissonance (tithing is giving and giving is tithing) because, apparently, this was the only way for him to resolve some inner disputation he was having with himself. We can only guess at what that was; but he has declined to speak about the matter further with me. When trying to talk with his senior pastoral authority or the regional overseer for the denomination, the subject was not addressed; the conversations went “sideways” away from this. More cognitive dissonance? I don’t have enough data. They would have to sit still for 90 seconds or so and turn their accusers off, as well as their instinct, apparently, to see and hear what they want to be seeing and hearing. You should do the same if you wish to avoid cognitive dissonance in your life about any matter.

The remarkable thing is how easy it is to stand up in front of your fellow believer (be that in a blog, a pulpit, a small group, whatever) and do this to yourself and to others.

I would like to affirm to you that “giving” and “tithing” in the lexicon of the post 1850’s non state sponsored churches are in fact separate words with separate meanings. For the man who is the subject of my thoughts today, he was comfortable with one definition from the pulpit and had to move to another definition when in private conversation where he lacked the freedom or the standing to frame the matter as he saw fit.

Related posting: #10

*It so happens this man asked that I do not consider him to be speaking for the Vineyard, and he self-acknowledgedly could not explain things in official Vineyard literature about tithing. So don’t think of this essay, please, as describing the Vineyard movement’s thoughts on the matter.

If you wish to believe and think as well, you will have to at some point consider what is meant by “Do not judge” – a phrase which is not always uttered with consideration of what the speaker is really attempting to do or say; or even with regard for what is meant by this passage of scripture. Often you will find it used to shut down dialogue or the search for truth in favor of readily accepting some other thing.

Once I was chatting with a woman on ChristianCafe who admonished me not to “judge” a man of high standing who had left his wife for a ministry intern and continued readily in his public ministry. I promptly thanked her for her time and discontinued the dialogue .. I already knew what she thought about “judging” and “judged” that she was not a match* for me.

I’ve tagged this Credo “Relationship thoughts” because it occurs to me that it might be useful to find out on a date with someone what they think of a scenario such as I have described, using as an example some man who is known to your date and whom she holds in high esteem, who has done some such thing.

I find this treatment of the question to be insightful.
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*My thoughts had not been about removing the man from the fellowship; nor even from leadership (though I do think that warranted) but rather his action of leaving his wife for non biblical reasons. She loved his ministry and speaking, and the significance and reality of the man’s act did not register with her. Thus my easy comfort level moving on. Her idea of “alpha male” was not my idea of “alpha male.” I had not “judged” the man’s ministry, but I was finding out what she *really* thought about marital breakups; and perhaps about her ecclesiology as well.

It’s true…

Posted: May 22, 2010 in Commentary, For sisters

The scriptures talk about foolish women, women who tear their own houses down, and women who are contentious.

Certainly there is a time and place to speak of men who are foolish, who behave destructively, and who will not learn. There is a time and a place for this.

But I bid you to consider that women can do this as well. The old nature is common to us all. Women are not innately more “spiritual” or “godly” than males are.