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Stewardship, Tithing, and the New Testament

23 May

Last week in “Stewardship, Tithing, and the Old Testament”, we looked at the two ways in which Israelites were commanded to offer their tithes: in produce or in cash. And we examined the purpose of that tithe, both in recognizing God’s ownership and our stewardship and in aiding in the support of those called to serve God to the exclusion of other employment. This week, we’ll take a closer look at giving in the New Testament and begin to consider the implications that Scripture’s teachings have for the way we use our paychecks.

While many Christians argue that the tithe is a concept exclusive to ancient Israel, the Apostle Paul had plenty to say about the importance of giving – especially to those who performed God’s work. (If you recall, the original purpose of the tithe was to support the Levites who labored in the temple.) Indeed, “Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat the fruit of it? Or who tends a flock and does not use the milk of the flock?” (1 Corinthians 9:7) In 1 Corinthians 9:13-14, the Apostle asks, “Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel.” (NASB)

Church leaders, apostles, and missionaries often devoted (and continue to devote) countless hours to managing church affairs, mediating conflicts, and counseling, teaching, and supporting the members of local congregations as well as to spreading the Gospel message. These labors are extraordinarily time-consuming, requiring well-developed problem solving and management skills as well as a willingness to be on call 24/7. Such roles are highly demanding and frequently result in a great deal of stress (physically, emotionally, and financially) for both the workers and their families. Those who fill these roles full-time often forgo the higher paying employment that the common market offers to those who possess such skill sets. Full-time service to Christ’s Body, far from being an easy way to earn a living is, instead, an act of sacrificial giving… and this act of giving can only be supported through an act of giving on the part of those who do engage in outside employment.

The tithe supports those who faithfully fill the roles of pastor, teacher, and missionary. It enables them to meet their financial obligations and tend to the physical needs of their families while at the same time shepherding Christ’s flock. And it is for this reason that those of us who seek to be good stewards of the paycheck with which God has entrusted us, must faithfully give.

Job Security Part I

8 Jan

Ask a random group of people what they hope to gain from their careers and you’re likely to get a wide variety of answers. From developing technical skills to acquiring a sense of personal achievement, we look to our jobs to help fill our hours, pay our bills, and, ultimately, provide security for our families and ourselves.

We want to wake up tomorrow knowing that we have the income necessary to improve our education, start our own business, or put food on the table.  We want to go to sleep each night, knowing that our future is firmly under control: our control.

This is called “Job Security” and it happens to be one of the most widely accepted illusions that our society has to offer.  Why an illusion?  Think about what comes to mind when someone says the word “secure”.  Webster’s dictionary defines the word as “Free from danger, safe; Free from fear and doubt; assured; certain.”

We try to obtain this in our jobs by being reliable workers who give “a day’s work for a day’s pay.”  If we know our trade well (for example, if you can scoop more ice cream faster than any of your peers, have the skills necessary to maintain an efficient freight flow, or the vision to advance your company’s financial interests), we call our job “secure.”

The problem with this is that in each of these cases our “security” is based upon our own efforts.  The real world (not the one we pretend to live in, but the one that actually exists) is like a roller coaster: full of unexpected bumps and the occasional derailment.  Factors beyond our control often affect the stability of our workplace and the surety of our employment, leaving us scrambling for something, anything, to hold on to.

For example: A year and an half after getting my first job, I moved on to my second as a sales-clerk in the seasonal department of a local farm store.  Unlike the hardware store which stayed in business by providing things that people need year-round (like paint, nails, and plumbing parts), a large portion of this particular company’s income came from the merchandise in this seasonal section.  Our selection was constantly changing and, once each year, we’d rearrange everything to make way for the best assortment of winter gear for fifty miles.  We brought in snow blowers, insulated coveralls, shovels, and snow boots.  Half of the warehouse was dedicated to the back-stock on these items and everyone felt secure in knowing that the product was there, ready to sell.  The only problem was that, for the first time in almost 100 years, it didn’t snow!  The store didn’t sell the product and had to pay for storage on the items until the next year rolled around.  The company lost money and, as a result, employee hours were cut.  So much for security.

Yes, you’re thinking, but that was the result of poor human speculation. If I do my part as a worker, then I have nothing to worry about.  Wrong again!  My Dad has a highly enviable job as an aviator (the sort where little kids are constantly asking for his autograph).  He flew helicopters in the Marine Corps and then went on to fly for assorted civilian companies prospecting for oil, fighting forest fires, flying life flight, and even transporting skiers to the tops of inaccessible peaks.  My mother still tells the story of a year when my Dad had done the work he’d agreed to perform, but when it came time for the check to arrive… well, it didn’t.  You see, the owner of the company he was flying for had decided that a permanent off-shore vacation sounded like a great idea.  He disappeared along with all of the company’s funds, leaving my parents without the cash that my Dad had already earned!

These stories serve to illustrate what businessmen refer to as the “dynamic environment”. They are a brief sampling of the competitive, political, economic, legal, technological, and sociocultural forces over which we as individuals have very little control. Sadly, these forces often, have a great deal of control over both us and the jobs from which we sometimes derive our sense of security.

So what do we do when the one thing we look to our jobs to provide doesn’t come through? We’ll take a look at that next week. For now, feel free to share your thoughts on job security in the comment box below!

Hollywood Worldviews

7 Oct

From foreign films to Academy Award winning features, movies are part of the American culture.  An escape from the work-a-day world, they provide us fantasy, adventure, romance, and a bit of comedy.  Sadly, many Christians approach the movie industry with an attitude of indifference – consuming whatever they find without first engaging their brains.  That’s why, this week, we’re featuring Brian Godawa’s “Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment”.

A great read on its own or as a Bible study, “Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment” introduces readers to the elements of critical thinking… then teaches them to utilize those elements as they sit in front of the big screen.  Godawa explores the mythology of the movies as expressed in themes of faith and redemption, takes a look at predominant worldviews like existentialism and postmodernism, and helps other believers pick apart the messages of the films they watch without forfeiting their enjoyment of the medium.

The book is peppered with insights or “Director’s Cuts” in which Brian links readers to his website where readers can find deeper information on the topics discussed, checklists to help them carefully consider the morals and meaning of the movies they view, and links to his movie blog where they can see the book’s principles in action.  Each chapter ends with a list of “viewing” assignments and questions to help movie lovers learn to apply the Biblical principles being taught.

Brian recognizes that not all Christians enjoy the same genre or have the same tolerance for the immoral behavior often portrayed in movies, so he concludes this volume with a candid look at how the Christian faith (and our concern for our brothers and sisters) ought to influence our viewing choices.

A great book for groups of any size, “Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment” truly delivers – offering readers an insightful course in the application of Biblical theology and critical thinking even when the world surrounding us is one of fantasy!

Published by Intervarsity Press, “Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films With Wisdom & Discernment” is available in paperback and for Kindle.

Embracing the Adventure

3 Oct

To those who are familiar with my writing, this blog may seem a little weird. Face it. It is.

Along with my passion for Christ, I’ve developed a keen interest in the world He created… an interest which has led me to some unusual (and not so unusual) hobbies and past times. From fishkeeping to the cultivation of native pollinators, bicycling to fencing, and cooking to kite flying, I approach nearly everything I do with unbridled passion. (Something which my mother kindly tolerated as I filled her house with aquariums, boxes of fungi, tanks of pond creatures, and containers of cultured juice drinks!) I want to understand how things work and why. I want to immerse myself in the world around me. I want to experiment, explore, and embrace the adventure!

And that’s what “Embracing the Adventure” is about. Through my new blog, I’ll be documenting my own experiments and discoveries and (hopefully) encouraging my readers to engage in some exploration of their own. From my early adventures in manufacturing my own dairy products, to training for my first Century (a hundred mile bicycle ride), to cultivating culinary mushrooms, I’ll share what worked and what didn’t… and what I wished I’d done differently. It’ll be an odd mix, but life often is.

Because most adventures are better when shared with friends, I’ll look forward to your involvement as well. Take the time to try some of the hobbies and experiments you find on this page, then come back and tell me (and the rest of the community) how they worked. What did you discover? Is there a better way to approach the task? Or if you’ve already tried it, do you have some advice to share? Your input will make a difference.

So what are we waiting for? It’s time to get up, get moving, and embrace the adventure!

Book Signing at That One Place

17 Feb

This Thursday from 11:30-1:30, writer and author A.C. Gheen will be signing copies of her book, Retail Ready: 90 Devotions for Teens in the Workforce, at That One Place at 552 N. Capital, Idaho Falls, ID.

Retail Ready features a selection of daily meditations based upon the difficult and downright wacky experiences of a retail worker.  Each day’s devotion includes a Scripture reading, memory verse, and lifestyle application challenge to help teens learn to better integrate the teachings of the Bible with their daily lives.  Readers are encouraged to approach their job with purpose, intention, and a good dose of humor!

A. C. has worked as a cashier, freight worker, retail sales clerk, buyer, event caterer, elected official, and Staff Assistant to a U.S. Senator.  Her eight years in youth ministry qualify her to offer teens this uniquely Biblical perspective on what it means to live an active Christian life while achieving success within the secular workforce.

As a freelance writer, her work has appeared in a number of periodicals including “Discipleship Journal,” “The Upper Room,” “The Journal of Student Ministries,” “Breakaway,” “DevoZine,” and “Group.”

Excerpts from Retail Ready: 90 Devotions for Teens in the Workforce are available online at: https://acgheen.wordpress.com/category/devotions/retail-ready/

And don’t forget to grab lunch or pick up a snack on the way out!  That One Place is home to A. C.’s all time favorite homemade potato chips!

Book Signing at That One Place

14 Feb

Next Thursday from 11:30-1:30, writer and author A.C. Gheen will be signing copies of her book, Retail Ready: 90 Devotions for Teens in the Workforce, at That One Place at 552 N. Capital, Idaho Falls, ID.

Retail Ready features a selection of daily meditations based upon the difficult and downright wacky experiences of a retail worker.  Each day’s devotion includes a Scripture reading, memory verse, and lifestyle application challenge to help teens learn to better integrate the teachings of the Bible with their daily lives.  Readers are encouraged to approach their job with purpose, intention, and a good dose of humor!

A. C. has worked as a cashier, freight worker, retail sales clerk, buyer, event caterer, elected official, and Staff Assistant to a U.S. Senator.  Her eight years in youth ministry qualify her to offer teens this uniquely Biblical perspective on what it means to live an active Christian life while achieving success within the secular workforce.

As a freelance writer, her work has appeared in a number of periodicals including “Discipleship Journal,” “The Upper Room,” “The Journal of Student Ministries,” “Breakaway,” “DevoZine,” and “Group.”

Excerpts from Retail Ready: 90 Devotions for Teens in the Workforce are available online at: https://acgheen.wordpress.com/category/devotions/retail-ready/

And don’t forget to grab lunch or pick up a snack on the way out!  That One Place is home to A. C.’s all time favorite homemade potato chips!

26 Jan

kittypalmer

IMG_1848This week I am going to share my favorite prayer verses. For years I have felt the desire to lift others up to the Lord. So I have found favorite scriptures that I love to pray. Praying from the Word of God is an amazing way to learn scripture and exercise faith all while helping others by lifting their needs to God.

  • Ephesians 1:17-23
  • Philippians 1:9-11
  • Galatians 1:3-5
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  • 1 Corinthians 1:4-9
  • 2 Timothy 1:6-7
  • 2 Corinthians 13:11
  • Numbers 6:24-26
  • Psalm 25:4-5
  • Psalm 68:19
  • Numbers 10:35-36

I have to admit that my very favorite verse of these is:

Ephesians 1:17-23 (NKJV)

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are…

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