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Time to catch up-rant November 1, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsgridley0630 @ 1:56 am
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It has been awhile since I have been on my blog–far too long, and there shouldn’t be any excuses made, however, I do feel as though I have a decent one…

I guess I have two excuses–number one, I do not have a computer right now. I was recently given a laptop gratis by a friend of the family, so now all I have to do is get a new power cord for it and some Internet access and I can study and blog to my heart’s desire.

However, the main excuse is that I have been working, in more ways than one. At my job, which I won’t spend ANY time discussing, and in my home of course, and increasingly, at my church. What I have discussed is that when people discover your abilities and willingness, they tend to ask more and more of you, and as a Christian, I will not say “no” to any favor asked of me when it comes to serving the Lord unless there is a VERY good reason not to.

I was asked to be the Sunday School teacher for the teenagers, a position I accepted immediately. I have been studying with the Moody Bible Institute for four years now. It was beyond time to put my learning into application. I love doing it. I love the kids. That position requires study and prayer, for I am not ever going to allow myself to go teach those kids something incorrect. I take the responsibility very seriously.

I have been asked to help out in some capacity for each of the major programs put on by my church, including most recently our Pastor’s anniversary celebration. I have been trying, with my family, to attend all of the afternoon services at either our church or others, and of course my kids are still active in the youth choir. It is all very rewarding. It does get taxing sometimes, admittedly, because to a lesser extent, once people know that you are willing to do something, sometimes people will use you… but that should not prevent you from working for GOD.

Herein lies the substance of my rant.

At my church I am also the site coordinator for the Moody Bible Institute class that is offered there. When I first began, attendance was decent, but it has consistently dwindled over the years. For the class to stay open, we have to have a minimum of seven (the number of completion!) students. Why? Namely to pay the professor, a very dedicated reverend who drives twenty or so miles to teach us, only to have an audience of 3-4 students at a time. Moody has been very flexible with keeping the class open despite the attendance, with the understanding that the past winter was a possible hindrance to participation and with the understanding that people may not be able to afford the cost of the class. They responded by dropping the price for new students. I have tried to help solicit support by sending letters of invitation to neighboring churches and providing snacks out of my own pocket. Apparently, people just aren’t interested in learning.

I am not taking it personal, what I am offended and upset by is that these classes are supposed to be for Christians, people who are supposed to strive to be “Christ-like”… how can you be Christ-like if you know nothing about He who we’re supposed to follow? How can you learn about Him if you do not read and study the Word?

I am frustrated by the unwillingness of Christians to do ANYTHING to advance their relationship with God and wonder how one comes to a point where they are complacent, where they feel maybe they don’t need to know anything else. I am never satisfied, my thirst for the Word of God can never be quenched, and the more I learn the more I want to learn. As I learn more, I want to do more and want to be a better servant and representative for my Lord and Savior. As I read more I understand why Christians ought to have a sense of urgency when it comes to spreading the Gospel, being the light and salt of the earth in these rough times. People NEED us. There are so many lost people in this world that we could be bringing to Christ but are in no position to be used by God for that. Not only because we don’t study, but also because we do not want to work to spread the Gospel. Most of us don’t want to work in our own church, let alone go out into the community and do anything outside of our comfort zone.

Not saying I have never been that way before. Years ago when my faith life was lacking, I was a spiritual babe and of little value to God. Why? Because I was selfish. I believed in God but I was still super worldly. I wanted God to answer my sporadic prayers and take care of me but I had nothing to offer Him in return. Like so many people of the world who only want God to swoop in like some type of supernatural Superman and save the day when things are in shambles, I treated God more like a Santa Claus than the creator and sustainer of this world. I only talked to him when I wanted or needed something and definitely was a poor representative of Him. He had every reason to wipe me out for such blatant disregard for His person but thank God He didn’t… He saw even more than I ever could have.

Selfishness has no place in a Christian life. But, we are. We are selfish with our money–we don’t want to support the church financially. We are selfish with our time–we get upset when church service runs too long. However, when we are told by our boss to work late, we go ahead and do that. We don’t want to get fired and we want the extra money. Yet, we forget that if we are obedient to God our needs will be supplied, and lest we forget that all that we have God gave it to us in the first place. We are selfish with our talents and abilities–we don’t want to get tied down by a commitment that might cramp our lifestyle.

So that places a huge burden on the faithful few that are happy to work in the church. Again, I am always happy to work for God. However, after a few people keep getting called upon to do everything in the church because the larger portion of the congregation does not want to do their fair share, then yes humanity comes in and the faithful few may get weary. I am included. Yes, I get weary, but I am not going to stop, and I am not going to tell anyone no unless I have a reason to when my help is requested.

I just wonder why my fellow saints don’t think the same.

If we love the Lord who hears our cries, why can’t we do anything for Him?

 

How is this not plagiarism? July 27, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsgridley0630 @ 1:31 am

(image taken from http://www.keble.ox.ac.uk/students/study-skills-and-assistance/plagiarism)

When I was a graduate student, a lot of emphasis was placed on academic honesty. We adhered to the guidelines for scholarly writing set forth by the American Psychological Association (APA style). In short, whenever we included information that we had not written in our academic assignments, even if they were short discussion responses, we were required to cite the author, in very specific terms. The type or format of the citation depended upon the media source (for example, chapters of books are cited differently from journal articles).

During either my second or third Capella course, it became apparent that another student was copying my work. I am not sure if this person thought they were being discreet, or if she was just arrogant enough to think that people would not notice, but it was pathetically obvious that she was re-writing entire paragraphs from my postings with only two or three words in each sentence switched into a different order. I brought this to the attention of my professor. It escalated into a situation that concluded with the student being removed from the university. In all academic settings, plagiarism is taken seriously. 

You would think the consequences would be as severe when it comes to taking bits and pieces, “copying and pasting” from the Bible, wouldn’t you?

Well, the heavenly consequences are, as Revelation 22:18-20 says this: 

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. He who testifies to these things says “Yes, I am coming soon”. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

That tells me a few things: 1) Our all-knowing God KNEW, which is obvious from the multitudinous warnings in the Bible, that there would be innumerable false prophets, preachers and even pseudo-Christians who would come to lead people astray, and that 2) His infallible, inerrant Word would be used to do it.

The Qu’ran is proclaimed to be the inerrant word of Allah, yet it is full of contradictions and scientific errors. It claims that the sun sets in a body of water (so basically, it is small enough to fit in the earth), for example. However, what is more interesting is the number of stories that are obvious “adaptations” of Biblical stories. We are expected to believe that God authored the Bible, then decided the original wasn’t good enough and sought out Muhammad to correct his initial mistakes. (You see the problem with that statement? Since when does God make mistakes?) Muslims believe that God revealed the Qu’ran to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel.

For instance, the Bible tells us that Adam was formed from dust and that God breathed the breath of life into his body, then during a separate instance caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep, during which he removed one of Adam’s ribs, and from that rib he brought forth Eve. The Qu’ran teaches that Adam was made from clay. Importantly, the Qu’ran teaches that Adam and Eve were wholly forgiven for their sin after their encounter with Satan, and thus there was no original sin that requires salvation–interestingly, that is the reason there is no need for Jesus and why it is okay to develop a belief system that relies more on works than anything else.

The story of Cain and Abel is also included in the Qu’ran, with amendments, as are Biblical stories that involve Biblical figures such as Moses, Abraham, Noah, and Jonah. Of course a big blaring error in the Qu’ran is the denial of the divinity of Jesus.

So how is that NOT plagiarism?

The punishment for the student who copied my work definitely fit the transgression. It only impacted a few people; therefore, being removed from the university was more than enough. However, the costs, namely the souls that have been lost because of this dishonesty, is absolutely appalling. 

My husband has a book that discusses the similarities among the Bible and the Qu’ran and includes an overview of the religion as a whole. Check back in while I read through it.

 

 

 

Sin as a chronic condition June 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsgridley0630 @ 9:42 pm
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At the doctor’s office where I work as a medical receptionist, patients often come in for what are termed “CCVs”. CCV stands for “chronic condition visit”. Certain chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions that have an increased risk of causing comorbid conditions require tight monitoring by one’s primary care physician. Depending on the severity of the condition, the PCP (primary care physician) may advise the patient to come in for blood tests or blood pressure checks each month. Typically, CCVs occur every three or six months.

Each day I am appalled at the behavior of the patients who come in or call the office. Without going into too much detail, I have determined that my biggest frustration with my job is not the job itself. It is that a lot of the people are reflections of the selfish society we live in. I have alluded to this before on this blog, I believe, but most patients do not seem to care that each doctor has hundreds, even thousands of other patients beside themselves, and have difficulty accepting that what they want done will not get done right away.

In my life, there have been two types of people I have never gotten along with–flashy materialistic people and selfish people, Even at my worst I have been extremely generous, knowing that, even in my frustration with my circumstances at any given time, I have more than a lot of other people, and that in due time God will bless me with what He knows I can handle. (More on that shortly). Although, thanks to my hard-working parents, I enjoyed a very comfortable living, I did not show it off with expensive clothes or shoes. A waste of money–what’s in style one day won’t be the next. I don’t have the time or patience to keep up with fads. (Although every now and then the woman in me kicks up strong and I find myself eyeballing a Michael Kors bag or an expensive pair of shoes :-).

The influence of the devil in our society is getting more prevalent each day and I do not know HOW people are missing it. Have people not noticed how self-absorbed people are? How we can’t even be safe sending our kids outside to play out of fear that some pervert is going to come and take them away to do God knows what? We can’t even be safe sending our kids to school, without the fear that someone is going to come into the school with a machine gun, or that some sicko teacher is going to try to seduce our kids?

Do people notice that when they were growing up it was rare to hear a curse word on television and that we never saw a bare body part?

Sin has become extremely pervasive and it it is disappointing to me that people are not acknowledging the fact that we have kicked God out of our society and let the devil jump right on it and get comfy. Sin has become a chronic condition in our lives and we have to take the steps to make sure it does not cause comorbid conditions. For us Christians we have to use whatever resources we have and need to make sure that the ways of the world do not become the ways of our lives. We have to go to our pastors if we need to (and not the type of pastor you see on Preachers of LA–a pastor who loves the Lord with all his heart and lives his life accordingly). We need to use our other Christian brothers and sisters as resources as well–learn to love and trust one another to where we can turn to each other when we are weak. Pray for the strength of our Christian brothers and sisters to continue to walk with the true and living God despite what the world says is okay. Read the Bible and have verses ready to combat your human emotions as you go throughout your day–I personally have to have several close by (either written out or on my tablet  Bible nearby) to remind me to “sin not” when I get angry at work.

Our Christian CCV to combat our sin nature, which can easily be exacerbated by this world, has to include regular worship with the saints (“forsaken not the assembling of the saints!”), prayer, study, and leaning on one another. Just like medical CCVs occur regularly, so should ours. Conditions such as diabetes and hypertension require daily modifications to one’s life, whether it be medication-related or dietary. So too are the lives of Christians to be modified to reflect the “new man” (or woman) we have become upon accepting Christ.

I know that it is hard. In my job, I often find myself boiling with anger with something I would have said ten years ago in my reckless days right on the tip of my tongue. I pray every day for the strength of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I request your prayers as well.

To end on a good note, my testimony that with obedience your prayers will be answered: The Cobalt I was driving died yet again. We were faced with the decision of getting the engine fixed (thousands of dollars). It was frustrating, but the opportunity presented to get another car, and we did. Not brand new, but BEAUTIFUL, and I LOVE IT. Safe, clean, affordable. Also, we have been praying for a bigger home for our children. We got that too. Not our dream house of the future, but it IS our dream house for NOW. Affordable, decent location, space for the kids to run and play in the house.

TO GOD BE THE GLORY, FOREVER AND EVER! AMEN!

 

Happy Father’s Day! June 15, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsgridley0630 @ 11:32 pm
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This is truly one of my favorite holidays.

Sadly, not all dads deserve celebration today. I wish to say Happy Father’s Day to those stand-up men who didn’t take the easy way out. Happy Father’s Day to the men who are not afraid to say that Jesus is their Master, their Lord and Savior. Happy Father’s Day to those men who do not shirk the responsibility that comes along with being the head of the household. Happy Father’s Day to the men who go to work eight, ten, twelve hours a day to support their families. Happy Father’s Day to the men that love their wives as Christ loves the Church, and to those men who train up their children diligently in the ways of the Lord.

Fatherhood is beautiful. Undoubtedly difficult, but beautiful. My relationship with my very hard-working father–beautiful. Being able to claim a hard-working husband who lovingly raises his children-beautiful.

Our Lord and Savior had the benefit of two fathers, as we all do–God, the divine Father of us all, and his earthly father, Joseph, the carpenter. Joseph was, in simple terms, the right man for the job. He and Mary were not married, but engaged, and when he found out she was pregnant, he could have reasonably jumped to the conclusion that she had had sex with another man and was now pregnant with his child. Jump forward to 2014–unfortunately this situation is common now, but how often does the man just let it go quietly?? Well, that is what Joseph intended to do. Being a man of character, Joseph intended to put Mary away quietly. He was not going to make a fuss or broadcast her supposed transgression. As was part of his plan, God intervened and told Joseph that Mary had not been with another man, and the baby she was carrying had been borne of the Holy Spirit.

What Joseph did next impresses me even further. When God spoke to him, he accepted, believed, and acted accordingly.

Joseph was a stand-up guy. God knew which man to allow to be involved with such an integral part of His Son’s life. It is in my humble opinion that God knows exactly what he is doing when he gives children. It is my opinion that he picks the right dad for the right son or daughter. My husband and my son are the perfect fit for one another. My husband is, whether or not he knows and does so purposely, is teaching my son some invaluable lessons–a man is supposed to work if he wants to eat; a man does honest work to achieve his goals; a man takes care of his family sometimes at his own expense; a man is law-abiding; a man does not cuss or disrespect his wife; and above all, a man loves and fears the Lord. He is teaching his daughter that when she grows up she ought to seek out such a man. He is teaching his daughter self-confidence and importance.

I am very proud of my husband because he did not have an example to follow. He has pretty much carved out his own path for fatherhood and I love him for it. My dad is the same. Both made a choice of the type of man they wanted to be, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.

Below is information related to the importance of fathers in their children’s lives. Fathers, if you are not already, PLEASE stand up. I believe a lot of our social ills would be diminished if only we could remove the dysfunction from one of God’s most important institutions–the family.

Hope you enjoy my family photos.

 

Worshiping Idle gods June 9, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsgridley0630 @ 2:43 am
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Yes, I am fully aware the I used the word “idle”.

Over the past few weeks, I have been hearing stories of people who have gone the way of the Galatians, who, under the influence of a group of false teachers called Judaizers, were attempting to incorporate worldly philosophies and man-made schools of thought into their new Christian walk. Judaizers were people who decided that Christians were still required to follow Jewish traditions, customs, and ways of life. (Interestingly enough, there are several groups of people throughout the New Testament whose sole purpose in life appears to be to stand in opposition to the perfect teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ–all of these groups I am researching because their origins are quite fascinating. There are the Sadducees, Pharisees and the Sanhedrin. Of note, the Sanhedrin originated from the seventy elders originally appointed to help Moses. Isn’t that something? Moses had all the help he needed in God, but instead wanted men by his side, and look what happened–but I digress).

Back to my original point. I have heard some stories, from the mouths of some celebrities and some average Janes and Joes, explain that in order for full spiritual fulfillment, they dabble in “whatever works for them”, typically under the guise of a “spiritual advisor”. In short, these people discussed combining elements of Buddhism (chanting), excerpts from the Qu’ran (as a guide of how to live, as the Qu’ran is bent toward works and has nothing to do or say about salvation), and “some” Christianity (HUGE question mark here. I apologize for not being able to fully clarify. It is hard to even make an educated guess as to how someone can practice “some” Christianity.

Problem number one: Christianity is not a sport like basketball or like learning to play an instrument. You don’t “practice” Christianity. It is a way of life based on a belief. My belief in Jesus and the full teachings of the Holy Bible guide my daily life.

So… are these people Agnostic? Do they deny the deity of Jesus? I have no idea. My assumption is that these people pick and choose the Scriptures that they like and overlook the ones that could convict them. My assumption is that these people really think that we only have this life on earth and that is why it is okay to dabble in other worldly philosophies.

The only thing I can do to combat the worldly influence is remind people of my God, who is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.

Here is where the reference to “idle” comes in. When I was reading what these people had to say, I thought about what could best be said about my God. My God is always working–He is in control of everything. He is the author of the entire world. He knows all and is all. My God parted the Red Sea, appeared as a number of theophanies including a burning bush, a pillar of cloud. Unless I am missing something, none of the founders of the other worldly spiritual movements did anything similar.

Idle=without purpose or effect; pointless; doing nothing.

My God is still alive, still working, still in control. The founders and leaders of the other spiritual movements? Dead and gone. No need to worship someone who is going to come to the earth and leave it the same way I did (and will).

Be careful not to get caught up with idle idols.

 

The End… sigh May 20, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsgridley0630 @ 8:51 pm
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Tonight is my last class of the semester for Moody Bible Institute. We are ending our discussion of the book of Colossians.

I am not happy. Although that means my Tuesday evenings will now be free, I will miss the learning, laughing and fellowship that makes up the course.

I do not just go there and sit through a boring lecture. Although attendance is low, students tend to be faithful and are very giving of themselves personally. I love that my fellow students so readily admit to their flaws, both past and present. We learn from each other, support one another, pray for one another. I am going to miss out on that camaraderie until September.

For this class, we have to do a presentation on something from Colossians that stuck with us. My prepared remarks are below.

            I developed my presentation based on the following Scriptures, which I linked together:

  • Colossians 1:9-10 (New International Version): “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have no stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God”.
  • Colossians 2:6-7: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness”.

When people initially come to Christ, they tend to do so when they are at a vulnerable or weak point in their life. Personally, I have been saved for a long time, but went through a period of serious backsliding and only re-committed myself to the Lord when I finally figured out that I did not know anything, that my way of working things out wasn’t working at all, and I was tired of the world beating me down. Usually when I see people go to the front of the church once the doors are opened, they readily admit to being in a similar predicament. Something has happened in their life that has forced them to face the reality that they need Jesus.

In one way, that is a good thing—it is better to bump your head a few times, get smacked around by the ways of the world and come to your senses in such a manner that you do decide to commit yourself to the Lord than live a life of simplicity and never get to know Him. However, that also means that people tend to come to Jesus when they are not thinking rationally. Sometimes, and this is not doubting a person’s salvation, people come to Jesus purely out of emotion, and a lot of times, they come to Jesus without fully understanding what is expected of them once they declare their allegiance to our Lord and Savior. It is apparent by the Scriptures that we are expected to dedicate ourselves to lifelong learning and teaching babes in Christ. As Paul said, “…continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught”… How can one be rooted and built up in Jesus if they know nothing about Him and God’s expectations for us, and how can they learn and be strengthened if they are not taught?

As I usually do when I read the Bible, I looked at these Scriptures and applied them to myself and present-day society. I thought about my graduate program and how I came to the point where I was able to graduate with a 4.0 grade point average, which is considered to be evidence of mastery of the subject matter. It required long hours of study, but more importantly, it required me to make my education a priority in my life. In this manner, I had to devote time to studying, researching, writing papers and coordinating meetings among myself and my group members. In return, I have a strong body of knowledge that I can put into practice and the ability to teach what I have learned to others. For each profession in our society, appropriate training has to take place, and most professions require people to continually develop their knowledge and skills—for example, the clinical professionals I work with are required to attend seminars and classes and pursue continuing education credits. Basically, no one should expect for learning to stop. The same goes for our Christian walk—there will never be a time when we have complete and thorough understanding of the Bible to where we no longer need to read or study it.

For those of us who are seasoned saints, we also need to make teaching babes in Christ a priority on top of our own continued reading and praying. We need to understand the spiritual condition that a person is often in when they initially come to Christ and be open and available to those babes to be used as a resource as they try to find their footing in the Lord. We need to make sure they understand what we think of as basic Biblical concepts that have gotten skewed by worldly teachings—what salvation is, that it cannot be lost, the purpose of baptism as an outward show of an inward commitment as opposed to the idea that baptism is the saving act, etc. I can go on. A brief survey of not only the world but what goes on inside our churches and the many different denominations shows that a renewed commitment to teaching is required.

When we are filled with the spiritual wisdom and understanding that comes from reading, studying (and, as a byproduct of those, learning), praying and fellowshipping with the saints, we will then have a better understanding of what we need to do as Christians to “live a life worthy of the Lord…that will please him in every way…bearing fruit in every good work”. If Christians do not learn, they do not bear fruit—if they are not taught, they cannot learn. Of course, the obstacle is those Christians who refuse to make learning a priority or those seasoned saints who are too stubborn to be taught. I can use this class as an example. Despite my best efforts, and I am sure the efforts of the other site coordinators, the administrative staff, Reverend Horton and the reverends who devote their time to teaching these Moody courses, participation is low. If someone has ideas on how to encourage our brothers and sisters to commit to Christian learning, I am all ears.

 

Going from a Spiritual Peak to a Spiritual… Meh April 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — mrsgridley0630 @ 1:54 pm
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Sigh.

I hate to have to revisit the same topics, but some people leave me no choice.

I think one of the biggest problems with the Church today and why we are having such difficulty bringing more people to Christ is because of how we carry ourselves as Christians. Not saying this ought to be considered a valid excuse, but people get turned off by some of the things Christians do. If a non-believer sees a Christian at church on Sunday and out at the club sloppy drunk on Saturday, chances are that person has damaged their credibility with the non-believer and would be ineffective if he attempted to lead the non-believer to Christ. I hate to use the word “image”, because image to me has a connotation of fakeness…like celebrities or politicians who try to portray themselves as being different than they actually are. Christians ought to live a life that is reflective of the Christ that we are trying to represent. There can be no fakeness there, because people are going to be able to spot it. (And I do realize that fakeness is not the best word, but it is highly appropriate).

Behavior inside the church also drives people away. Case in point–my son belongs to a wonderful choir that performs here in Ypsilanti during the spring. The choir is a collaboration of multiple churches in the area. They began rehearsing in Friday and had their first performance last night. THOSE KIDS DID AN AMAZING JOB. Amazing. Amazing. They were praising and worshiping God and it was awesome. There were some praise dancers that were absolutely spectacular, and those kids and their beautiful, pure crystal clear voices encouraging us to praise the Lord was something marvelous.

Then a so-called man of God ruined it.

After the children did several selections, it was time for an offering. Mind you, I like giving. However, I am in a state of spiritual growth that enables me to understand the necessity of my giving and to be able to do it with a loving heart. But, not everybody in there was at my level of spiritual growth, and maybe some people there weren’t even Christians–maybe they were just there to support a loved one. There are so many people in the world that think of tithing and giving offerings are supporting the pastor.

Of course the cartoon does not belong to me. I did a Google search and found it at http://armstrongismlibrary.blogspot.com/2013/06/their-fabricated-tithing-doctrine-this.html. However, the illustration screams someone who has either a) never bothered to read the Bible, or read it like those who try to discredit it by picking out bits and pieces and taking them out of context, or b) visited or belonged to a church where the pastor came off like he was money-hungry.

Let me share my experience with the churches I have attended, and mind you, I have pretty much been at the same one all my life, with the exception of my college years.

Let’s see what are some of the expenses that go along with a church?

1. Lights are important. (DTE bill)

2. People use the bathroom, so we have to make sure the water stays on.

3. People come to church when they are hungry or in a financial bind. We have the resources to help them. That takes money.

4. Although not necessities, there are equipment expenses. Every now and then we get new Bibles or hymnals–but last time we did that, we took up a special collection for that. There are also pews for people sit on that get worn and torn.

I could go on, and mind you, the church is open seven days a week. Think of stores, for example. Stores have customers. The only way a store stays open is if the people buy their products. Museums have expenses that are paid for by monetary donations from philanthropists and admission fees. Schools stay open because homeowners pay taxes. Either way it goes, whatever the building, there are expenses associated that MUST be paid in order for it to stay open. Money has to come in somehow.

The pastors I know all had jobs (most of them worked for and retired from either GM or Ford, since those were the major employers here back in the day) and DID NOT SUSTAIN THEMSELVES OR THEIR FAMILIES ON THE BACKS OF THE CHURCH MEMBERS. That is why I take offense to the cartoon–at one point in time my own pastor worked three jobs to support his family. He did NOT take congregational contributions that were meant for GOD’S WORK. Nor is he supposed to. Now, does the church give him money? Yes, we do. But if that was all he relied on, he’d be homeless, because it is not nearly enough for one person to sustain himself, let alone a family.

Now, although I have been blessed enough to be around pastors who are contrary to what is portrayed in the cartoon, I can definitely see how that sentiment has developed. Last night, after the kids had done several amazing selections, each one more beautiful and crisp than the one before it, a “reverend” (and God forgive me for using that term loosely, but I do think a reverend ought to do better than this) got up to ask for the offering. He did something I absolutely despise:

“Reach down deep into your pockets and give me twenty dollars”…

NOPE.

Even when we go to church, we have to be mindful that everyone in there may either a)not be a Christian; b) be a babe in Christ, or c) be a seasoned saint. We also have to keep in consideration that there is a difference between tithing and an offering. The word “tithe” itself means ten percent. This was mostly applied to the Israelites in the Old Testament, who were to give a tenth of their flocks and produce. The New Testament does not specifically mention ten percent, just that we give generously according to our own measure. And there are definitely no financial strings attached to giving an offering.

Basically, we have to give according to what our heart tells us to give, because it is more important that we have the correct attitude when giving, not how much we give. Look no further than the story of Jesus and the poor widow in Mark 12. She did not have much, but she gave correctly–with an attitude of love, knowing that her offering would be a blessing to someone else and because of that, she would be blessed in return. Now, if Jesus had told her that her offering was not good enough because it wasn’t twenty bucks, do you think that woman would have been interesting in dealing with Him or heeding His message?

There are a lot of elderly people in the church on fixed incomes. There are younger families like my own who are struggling to find their financial footing. However, we give cheerfully what we can, and we know that it is going to a good cause. But for someone to do something as worldly as tell us to give a certain amount was blatantly disrespectful and out of line with the Word of God. That is not his place to determine that everyone should give twenty dollars. Putting a dollar amount on the offering takes away that most important aspect of giving for the building of God’s kingdom–that it is done willfully and in the spirit of love and generosity. When someone assigns a dollar amount, the giving is usually done begrudgingly and simply because that person requested it, not willingly.

I was disappointed, and concerned when murmuring occurred through other people in attendance in the pews. Most people did not appreciate it, and a lot of people tucked their money back in their purses or pockets, feeling offended that their two, three, five, or ten dollars was not good enough, when, in all essence–it WAS.

I am going to follow up with someone to ask that that does not happen again.

 

 
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