We have all heard that we should store up treasures in heaven and that it is better to give than to receive. If you are a church-goer in America, the concept of giving is well-known to you. Our nation is a very generous nation and we are a very generous people. It is not uncommon for us, in the United States, to send money to far-away places to help strangers who have been struck by natural disasters or national tragedies. But how much should we give? To whom? And how often? These are more difficult questions with which we all wrestle.
Although the Bible has a lot to say about money management, most preachers shy away from the topic. It is rare to hear a sermon on tithing or giving because the pastors are afraid to turn off parishioners who might perceive this teaching as meant to squeeze more money out of their pockets. Those who think tithing is an important part of stewardship wrestle with questions such as whether to tithe on the gross or on the net? Recently, I read “God and Money”, published by Rose Publishing. The authors conclude that tithing is not required of us because we live under grace; but their rationale will surprise you. It sure surprised me. I have come to think that this concept of grace has been taken to the extreme and has resulted in people becoming cheap and stingy with their money; inoculating them against the genuine needs around them, as if all that is required is that you give cheerfully, not generously.
I enjoyed that the authors of this book delved into old testament history to show us how the ancient patriarchs practiced their giving, as well as into the new testament to tell us what Jesus and Paul had to say about it. One important fact revealed by the authors is that the tithe ended up not just being 10% of their income, but actually amounted to about 23 %.There were three kinds of tithes that were required: the Levitical tithe, given every year for the support of the temple; the Festival tithe which was used to ensure each Israelite could participate in the Feast of Tabernacles; and the Charity tithe which was 10% given in years 3 and 6 (budgeted annually at 3%) of Israel’s’ yearly social cycle for the benefit of the orphans, widows and foreigners.
Although I have been familiar with the concept of living within your means and trying to live debt-free through ministries like Dave Ramsey’s, this book expanded my vision of good stewardship and the privilege God has given us to live with an open hand and not a closed fist. The authors helped me to understand that the concept of stewardship goes beyond how much to give of our God-given time, talent, and treasure. They enlarged my vision to think in terms of how much to keep, to think about giving away the rest; the importance of discerning true need and of investing in worthy causes that will honor God. It also means that we are responsible to GOD for ensuring we earn our living honestly, distribute and manage the resources He has entrusted to us FOR HIS purpose. Ensuring that our spending, saving, and giving should be well-planned and intentional is also part of honoring and worshipping our God.
Acknowledging that EVERYTHING we have belongs to God, frees us to GIVE generously. The plan outlined in this book makes it simple to put these principles into practice. Take your after-tax income and put it into three buckets: 1) spending (for your family’s current needs); 2) savings (investing in the future), and 3) serving (investing in eternity).
Every Christian should read this book as part of their spiritual growth. The authors have graciously provided a free copy of the God and Money Study Guide and a list of over 2000 bible verses dealing with money on their website for anyone interested in gaining in-depth knowledge of this material. These resources are intended for individual or small group study. I challenge you to get a copy of this book and a copy of the study guide. Expand your vision and share it with friends!
“Fake News” has become the phrase De Jour. It’s defined as “accusation, rumors, and accounts for which there is no evidence but which nevertheless are reported as genuine news stories.”
When “Fake News” is presented as “Real News”, that presentation ruins the lives of the people it targets and distorts the events it reports on!
“Fake News” is undermining our ability to discover the truth concerning the many serious issues of the day.
Eventually “Fake News” reports are revealed for what they are…lies! Those lies are revealed because they can’t stand up to the test of time and scrutiny.
In stark contrast, may I submit the “Good News”: God came to earth in human form in the person of Jesus Christ—He came with a purpose: to save humanity from the consequences of our sin and death. That purpose brought Jesus to a cross where He was crucified. His death satisfied the steep price God places on unconfessed and unrepented sin. His blood was the agent by which sin is forgiven and for which salvation is bought and paid. His burial was the logical consequence of death by crucifixion. He lay in a borrowed tomb for three days. But, on a bright sunny Sunday morning, followers found the tomb was empty—Jesus had risen from the dead—just as He prophesied!
Good News! For the followers of Jesus Christ, death is no longer our final, fearful destination—Jesus promised and His resurrection proved there is life after death! Jesus said: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26 KJV)
Unlike Fake News, this Good News is supported by a lot of evidence— believers, skeptics, critics, and unbelievers have scrutinized the scriptures, historical documents and archaeology for 2000 years and have not been able to discredit or disprove the facts surrounding His resurrection—here are a few examples:
• Fact: Jesus died on a Cross-Roman authorities certified His death.
• Fact: After He rose from the dead, over 500 eyewitnesses attested to having seen Jesus alive!
• Fact: After His crucifixion, His disciples were completely demoralized and afraid for their lives—after the resurrection, having seen Jesus alive again, they became bold and brave communicators of the Good News—who willingly were martyrs in the end. You’ve heard it said, “People will die for their religious beliefs if they sincerely believe they’re true, but people won’t die for those beliefs if they know they are false”.
• Fact: Before the resurrection, Jesus’ own brother didn’t believe Jesus was God in the flesh. After the resurrection, he not only believed, but he became the leader of the church in Jerusalem.
• Fact: The first century’s greatest persecutor, Saul, became a believer, follower, evangelist and missionary spreading the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection after he met the resurrected Christ.
• Fact: The tomb of Jesus is Empty!
There is so much more evidence… But I am writing a blog, not a book!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just Good News…it’s TRUE news – something the secular world can’t seem to find these days!
That was the title of a movie a number of years ago. The plot was the Russians had landed in a coastal New England town. In expectation, the tiny town was in an uproar – panic time!
If you’ve watched any news over the past few weeks, you get the same sense of panic over alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
Some have described Russia’s alleged actions and the Obama’s administration reactions as “The Cold War 2.0.” In a recent edition, THE WEEK magazine reports: “The President ordered 35 Russian ‘intelligence operatives’ to leave the U.S.; placed sanctions on two intelligence agencies, four individuals, three intelligence-linked companies and two alleged hackers; and shuttered two Russian compounds in Maryland and New York allegedly being used for espionage activities.”
Republican House Leader Paul Ryan said the “retaliation was overdue.”
Republican Senator John McCain called for “more meaningful and stronger” sanctions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who denies any connection to the hacking, said he wouldn’t expel U.S. diplomats and would wait until Trump comes to office before considering “any further steps.”
Given the politicization of just about everything, it’s hard to know what the truth is about anything! Nevertheless, with Russia back in the headlines, it’s noteworthy to point out that for many decades Bible Believers have kept a careful eye on both the old Soviet Union and the reconstructed Russia.
The Bible does prophecy that Russia is in fact coming. Not for America, but primarily for Israel. Prophecy tells that Russia, along with Islamic nations (primarily Iran), is coming for Israel. Speaking of Gog, Magog and Rosh--ancient names for Russia, here’s what the prophet Ezekiel pens: “And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north (Far North) parts…a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days…” Ezekiel 38:15-16 (KJV).
Is the current drumbeat of anti Russia rhetoric and allegations a puzzle piece in the big picture of Bible prophecy? Only time will tell.
But the timeless Biblical prophecies are true and give us an insight into news headlines and current events.
Bible students would do well to keep the “newspaper” in one hand and the Bible in the other – after all it was the Bible which first broke the news:
“The Russian’s are coming!
The Russian’s are coming!”
And now come the Mia Culpas…No one can doubt the polls and the media failed to see the Trump victory. Why? Primarily because reporters sat it out in their offices on the East and West Coasts staring into computer screens scanning what other news sources reported as the pulse of the people. Never getting out to the southern and rust belt neighborhoods, where the voters were disgruntled with political business as usual, perpetuated the views of the echo chambers the national press finds itself in. The failure of the journalists to go where the story was makes them “repeaters”, not “reporters”, of the news. In 1831, the famous historian, statesman and social philosopher, Alexis deTocqueville, toured the country of America. His purpose was to observe the American people and their institutions. In search of what made America great, he went into “her fertile fields, boundless forest, rich mines, public schools… I sought it in her democratic congress and in her matchless Constitution.” But then he wrote: “Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.”
If the members of the “Fourth Estate” really want to know what’s going on between the big populations on either coastline, it’s time they put away their preconceived ideas, biases and indifference and go among the “others”, i.e. “Middle America”. The people don’t trust the media to convey the truth in part because when and if they go out after a story in Middle America they behave more like inquisitors than inquirers.
Failing to objectively analyze the various indicators that showed an impending political revolution, the media, pollsters, pundits and powerful missed the story. The reporting took us down a series of rabbit holes about she said, he said, etc. having nothing to do with a hurting middle class crying out for “help and change”.
Jesus said: “the truth shall set you free”. Let’s try that for the guiding principle for journalists as opposed to “all news that’s fit to print”. Then, maybe, we won’t miss the real story next time.
National headlines are filled with the newest threat to National Security — an election day disaster, in which the process of tabulating and recording votes may be compromised.
Why the fear? Because Federal official suspect Russian hackers of breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) email system. That hacking revealed the DNC’s hidden agenda and unflattering remarks about Senator Clinton’s primary rival Bernie Sanders. Those revelations have led some to conclude the Primary election on the Democratic side was rigged in Senator Clinton’s favor!
Hacking into personal email accounts, banks, governments, retail stores and other institutions has signaled an end to privacy and information security. News reports recently revealed 500 billion account on Yahoo have been hacked! That’s astonishing! My question is: “Are you being hacked?” If hacking maybe defined as the activity of listening in, looking into, observing and opening your private communications and tracking your movements, then, I say, you are being hacked… But it didn’t start with the maturing of the information age. Since the creation of humanity we have all been hacked by the “Great Hacker”. God Himself! God is present everywhere, at one and the same time. He has all knowledge — nothing is hidden from Him — Here’s what the Bible records:
• Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith
the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. (Jer 23.24 King James Version)
• …[God] knoweth all things. (1 Jn 3.20
• The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. (Ps 94.11)
We can’t hide from Him; there is no secret that he does not know. He hears our every word, sees our every action. Then, He goes were no hacker can go.1 Chr 28.9 says:” … for the LORD searcheth all hearts”. No computer today can contain the pain of a broken heart, a wounded spirit and a joyless life. Only God knows those things about you and me. How does He use what He and He alone knows about us? Jesus put it this way:” … how often would I have gathered …(you) together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings…” (Mt 23.37). He desires to nourish and nurture. Heal and help. Comfort and console, and bring you close to Himself. He is the God who knows you best and loves you most. He’s the only God who desires a personal relationship with you and makes provision for that adoption through His Son Jesus Christ!
God is “hacking” all of us and, at the heart of that action is great and unconditional love. He knows you…Do you know Him?