There are 7 articles in the original “Tithe” series, written between 2000-2002 and posted to my former web site Lord, You Are (dot) com, now defunct. This article consolidates the 7 articles in the order they were published. Exposing the falsehood of the modern tithe doctrine was one of the instruments God used to set me free from man’s dead Laodicean church system. As always, I pray the Lord will use them to set you free from false teaching and guilt-based giving.
To Tithe or not to Tithe: the $earch for Truth
Though I’ve always struggled with the tithe, I still shook my head in disgust when I heard about the preacher who’s congregation quietly left the church during the prayer following a long sermon on tithing. He said “Amen”, looked up and cried out “half my church is gone!” I laughed saying “they must have fled the conviction of the Holy Spirit”.
What the Lord said took me completely by surprise: “They fled from error and guilt-based giving”. “What?!?” I’ve heard more sermons on the tithe than on any other topic except perhaps our need of Jesus for eternal life! After I picked up my jaw from the floor, the Lord prompted me to study tithing and giving.
Throughout the Bible study I prayed for His guidance and in the end I reached the inescapable conclusion that the “tithe” is to the modern church what the issue of “circumcision” was to the church in Paul’s time.
NOTE: Nothing in this article is intended as an excuse to stop giving as the Lord leads you to give.
The verse most often cited in support of the tithe is from the Old Testament, found in Malachi 3:8-10: Continue reading
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. (32) Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. (33) And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (34) Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (35) For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (37) Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (38) And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? (39) And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ (40) And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:31-40 ESV
Notice in Matthew 25:31-40 (above) there are 3 groups of people: “sheep”, “goats”, and “my brothers.” All too often when people read that passage, they see only 2 of the 3 groups, “sheep” and “goats”. When interpreting it, readers tend to assume that the “sheep” and “my brothers” are one in the same. If that’s correct, then for all practical purposes Jesus is commending the “sheep” for serving themselves, feeding themselves, clothing themselves, visiting themselves, etc.
Let’s begin by looking at the word “nations”; the Greek word is ‘ethnos’ and Strong’s dictionary defines it “a race (as of the same habit), that is, a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan): – gentile, heathen, nation, people.” Continue reading
There is a notion among believers that we must all walk arm-in-arm, agreeing on all things together, while making our way to the kingdom. Church sign boards and Sunday morning bulletins often boast slogans such as “come, let us grow together.” I’ve often heard proponents of line-dancing into the kingdom cite 2 scriptures in support of that notion:
Can two walk together unless they are agreed? (Amos 3:3 MKJV)
And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. (Acts 17:11 NLT)
The way I see it, two people walking together really only need to agree which path to take, how fast to walk, when and how long to stop and rest. There is no need to agree with everything another person believes in order to walk together for a time. There can be agreement in simply marveling at the beauty of God’s creation while walking together.
With regard to searching the scriptures together, during the time of Paul the only scriptures available were from the Old Testament. Bibles were not sold in book stores nor were printed scriptures commonly available. The village rabbi would have possessed a set of handwritten scrolls that were shared in the synagogue. Continue reading
I was anxiously making my way down the side of a mountain on foot with another man who seemed to be a mixture of my earthly and spiritual fathers. The mountain we were descending from was desert like, covered with rock, cactus and stumps. Not a single tree remained on the mountain, while the valley below was lush and inviting with green forest and clear streams. Though I could not see them from the rocky trail, I knew the valley to be filled with people, shelter, food, fellowship, etc. Conversely, the mountain I recognized as “snake country” (if I’ve never mentioned, I hate snakes!) Despite my best efforts to convince my “father” to continue on to the valley, which we could have reached by nightfall, he decided instead to camp out on the mountain for the night. We unrolled our sleeping bags, even while I was objecting to it and the danger posed by snakes. My “father” laid out his sleeping bag next to an old rotting stump, from which a vine-like fern was growing and he began to eat the fern, which I thought was most unappetizing. Finally in response to my concerns about snakes, my “father” pulled a full size wall calendar from his pack and showed it to me. In the dream, I was aware it was the month of December, and the calendar was marked “snakes in hibernation” beginning in November. Upon seeing the calendar, I thought to myself “it’s the cold that sends them into hibernation but it’s unseasonably warm!” Consequently, I believed the signs of the times more so than the calendar. As we settled into our sleeping bags with our heads pointed up hill, I did seem to get over my concerns about snakes. We went to sleep.
End of dream.
The dream confused me for several reasons. Continue reading
The Vision. Spring of 2000.
Suddenly I was standing in the middle of a vast rolling wheat field. How I got there, I had no idea. It was as if one moment I was a stalk of wheat and the next I was a man. As the vision continued to unfold, I thought to myself I need to look for others and began to look around for a building where I might find other people or a phone where I could call someone to come and pick me up. Turning completely around I didn’t see ANY evidence of buildings or other men in sight. So I stood there, waiting.
When Christians meet for the first time, the question most often asked is “where do you go to church?” I dread that question more than any other because the people who ask are usually shocked by my answer. I hope by the end of this column, to show the reader just how silly the question really is.
Since the time of Christ, the question has been asked in many ways. There was the woman at the well who asked Jesus about worship on Jacob’s mountain or in Jerusalem. Jesus’ reply made it clear that where we worship is no longer relevant, but who and how we worship (John 4:21-23). On another occasion, the disciples stopped a man from working miracles because he was not a member of their church. Clearly angered, Jesus said “don’t stop him – if he’s not an enemy, he’s an ally” (Mark 9:38-40).
So if where is not important and there are only the 2 sides in the conflict between light and darkness, can there be more than one church (Mark 3:25)? Continue reading
My mother went to be with Jesus on May 22, 2003. Following her stroke the fall of 1999, dad devoted his life to mom’s full time care. As happens far too often, most of their friends left them. Since her care routine did not permit for morning outings, they could not attend church services and were quickly forgotten. Rather than accept isolation, dad began taking mom out to an early supper several times a week, which was no small effort on his part. Dad washed, clothed and fed mom and lifted her several dozen times each day and night, from bedroom to bathroom, wheelchair to recliner, in and out of the car.
Restaurants provided mom with loving human contact, which was a healing balm for her spirit and helped to prolong her life. No matter how many times the wait staff came to the table, she greeted them with a cheerful “oh, Hi!” and one-armed hug. They remained with mom as long as it took her to order, which was in itself an act of love and grace since the stroke left mom unable to speak except for a few nonsensical words. The kitchen staff even helped to take care of mom, by cutting up her meat, customizing meals and coming out to greet her, where many more hugs were given and received.
Among the many cards and letters my dad received following mom’s death, were several from the restaurants they enjoyed. All were deeply touching and conveyed love and admiration, but one in particular set me to pondering with the observation: Continue reading