“Stewardship, The Greater Responsibility”

May 23

“Stewardship, The  Greater  Responsibility”

It is commonly taught in churches that Christians should tithe (a word meaning the giving of “a tenth” of their income) to their local church. Christians are sometimes told that they owe the first ten percent of their income to the church where they attend, and that any giving to other needy persons or ministries falls into a separate category called “offerings” and should be given only after the first tenth has been given to the church. Preachers sometimes speak as if the Bible actually teaches such a thing, although the Bible nowhere mentions what we today call a “local church,” and the New Testament never applies any duty of tithing to Christians. Tithing was commanded to the children of Israel for the support of the Levites (Num.18:21). The Levites, who were consecrated to full-time ministry and could not be profitably employed, would enjoy a standard of living that approximated or was slightly higher than the national average. The Levites, in turn, contributed a tenth of their income to the priests for their support (Num.18:26-28). The system was designed to free-up a large number of men to minister in things of the tabernacle/temple and to teach the law to the people. The fraction “a tenth” was not arbitrary, but corresponded to the needs of the number of full-time ministers requiring support. Ever since God abolished the temple and the Levitical priesthood, there remains no obvious reason why the tithe should continue to define a Christian’s measure of giving to God. The church generally does not release one full-time minister for every ten families (though this ratio would not be excessive), so there is no biblical or logical reason why the same percentage of the Christian’s income should be devoted to the church’s coffers as was required of the Israelites in their support of the temple clergy. This is, no doubt, why neither Jesus nor the apostles ever so much as suggested this duty to the disciples. The tithe was for the support of the ritual system of Israel. These ceremonial aspects of the Law were done away with in the coming of a better covenant. Sometimes it is argued that tithing did not “go out with the Law” for...

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“More Than Conquerors”

May 22

“More Than Conquerors”

Octavain, the nephew of Julius Caesar, was one of the greatest conquerors of all time. He was granted the title Augustus, meaning exalted, by the Roman senate During his rule, the Roman empire expanded into Hungary, Croatia and Egypt as well as securing Spain and Gaul. He added more land than Julius Caesar and was worshiped as a god in Rome. Into this conquering culture, Christ came into the world and Christianity was born. The Jewish people were well aware of the Rome’s power, since they were subjugated under their dominion. However, in juxtaposition to Rome’s rule, the promise of the gospel message was a unique power. A spiritual power. Conqueror. The word is used only once in the Bible in Romans8:37. Paul, a Roman citizen, boldly affirmed “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” It is a compound that not only means to conquer, but as Lindell and Scott put it “to prevail completely over.” Vine says it means “to gain a surpassing victory.” Hendricksen says “we are super-conquerors. We are winning a sweeping, overwhelming victory.” In a world filled with pain. Suffering. Sickness. And death. When Every day somewhere relationships are ruptured. Spirits are disquieted. Souls as distressed. Hearts are broken. We may not feel like we’re “super conquerors.” But we can be! Here’s how! (1) Live in God’s Presence. James said, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” Jesus promised “I am with you always even to the end of the world. Mt 28:29. When we suffer temporary set-backs, we can know that we are in the presence of God. What a great encouragement, comfort and consolation. One man said, where was God when my son died?” The answer is: The same place he was when His son died. If you feel forsaken, Jesus knows how you feel. God is not a spectator of our pain, we are in his presence. And in the end, we will win! (2) Learn from God’s Promises. The Psalmist affirmed that God would be with us. That he is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.” God promises help. Comfort. Hope. He says, “I...

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“Vapors of Blessing”

May 15

“Vapors of Blessing”

  JOURNAL Thoughts:  Friday 8:45a.m. 02/15/2015 Vanity. In the book of Ecclesiastes   the Preacher or ‘Searcher’ ; Solomon uses this simple word over 25 times in this short introspective book.  He opens his writings with this phrase. “Vanity of Vanities” Ecclesiastes 1:2 Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; ALL is vanity. And even in the last chapter of the book he concludes with the same phrase. “Vanity of Vanities” (Ecclesiastes 12:8) Solomon’s view of life at this time was one of deep and troubling soul-searching. The man was the ‘Bill Gates’ or ‘Warren Buffett’ of his day, for in chapter 2 He tells us  whatever  his eyes or Heart desired he obtained it (Ecc. 2:10). He was in a desperate search for the meaning of Life by purchasing and buying all the material things plus experiences he could have—He held NOTHING BACK in this frantic pursuit for ‘The Meaning of Life’. All of life is VANITY was one of Solomon’s major conclusions in this book. A better translation of the Hebrew word VANITY, here , (Ha-bel) , would be literally ‘BREATH’. In other words Life is but a mere vapor or Breath, exhaled  and dissipating quickly with hardly a thought of that passing. In that regard, that LIFE PASSES QUICKLY I would agree, especially as I approach my 60th year. Twenty  years ago to me, seems to have ‘flashed by’ like the snap of ones fingers .It  is as if with each passing year my life spins by faster and faster. The Apostle James said it this way… ‘Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.’ With all this in mind today I am learning more and more to be grateful for the ‘Small things’; those small blessings that come my way each day . For me, the biggest source of ‘small blessings’ are my two granddaughters; Jeslyn, age 7  and Natalie  age 10.  As an example, It just dawned on me this past week what a joy it is each weekday to escort my granddaughters down the street to get on the bus for school. I...

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“More on Friends”

May 14

“More on Friends”

A friend listens. A friend is curious. A friend doesn’t judge. A friend can complete my sentences. A friend offers suggestions but doesn’t force their solutions. A friend can(& WILL!) recite all your dreams & aspirations back to you when you are so crushed you have lost your way & desire to go on. I’m not ashamed to ask for help from a friend. I pretty much find it difficult to ask for help from anyone else. Sometimes I meet a new person and BAM! Magic! We don’t need to be friends for 40 years. We can’t stop talking. Our chemistry is friends. Sometimes I really like people but I can also sense, “I can never really be friends with them”. Eventually they drift away. That’s ok also. When I see a friend, sometimes I can’t wait to talk and update and…but I already know. When I feel that rush in my chest its my body’s way of saying, “there’s a friend!” I miss my friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. But I have some friends where we pick right up even if we haven’t seen each other in years. And I have other friends I know I will never see again. That’s ok. I love the fact that we were once friends. Friends don’t expect a lot from me and I don’t expect a lot from them. Then… guess what? Our expectations are always exceeded. 100% Friends introduce me to other friends they think I will like. I do the same. I think my friends will like each other. Friends share ideas with me and I share ideas with them. I have idea procreation with friends and we grow idea families together. Our little babies. We watch the babies grow. It takes a village to grow ideas. Friends make me laugh and I make them laugh right back. And when one of us cries, the other tries to listen. Sometimes we laugh even though neither of us made sense. We don’t dwell on our non-friends. They don’t exist. You don’t wait once a year for a big friendship party. For me, it’s important to have friendship “celebrations” as much as possible. Little ones. Maybe every...

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“Yogi On Life”

May 14

“Yogi On Life”

Former Yankee great and baseball Hall of Famer, Yogi Berra, turned 90 on Tuesday. Berra was known, not only for his  All Star career, but his “Yogi-isms,” funny quips about life and baseball. His family, friends, and fans gathered to celebrate his remarkable life and career, and to recall some of his famous “Yogi-isms” Several years ago, Sports Broadcaster, Brent Musburger, told a story that one Fall day Yogi was burning leaves in his yard. Suddenly the wind picked up, and it was getting harder to get the fire line under control. The flames got a bit more aggressive and headed toward a storage shed on the property. So he ran in to call the fire department for help. “Hurry!” Yogi shouted into the phone. “I got a fire over here that’s gettin’ outa control.” It was well before the days of Caller ID and GPS directions, so the dispatcher asked, “How do we get to your house, sir?” There was a brief pause. Then Yogi replied, “You still got them red trucks, ain’t you?” When asked about his quips, Yogi once said, “I don’t mean to be funny. Them sayings, they just ‘come out.’ I don’t even know I said ’em! I really don’t.” However, many of his sayings speak to valuable life lessons that are worth reflection. “You can observe a lot by watching” Yogi was right! Too many times we stumble through life without really watching where we are going. What we are doing. Or why we are doing it! The Bible is filled with exhortations to “be alert.” “Be vigilant.” “Be watchful.” Author, J. Oswald Sanders put it this way, “Eyes that look are common. Eyes that see are rare.” “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Life is filled with decisions. Daily. Some are big while others are seemingly small and insignificant. However, every decision carries some consequence. And each requires a choice. Indecision will drain your power. Paralyze you. And render you ineffective. “It’s déj vu all over again.” Yogi once explained this quote came from the early 1960’s. It occurred when he watched Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle hit back-to-back home runs. However, it reminds me of a statement by...

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” Having a True BFF !”

Apr 24

” Having a True BFF !”

My 10 year old granddaughter and I recently finished reading a book by , Stan Crader, called The Bridge. Crader gives a glimpse of rural America through the eyes of a 12-year-old boy, Tommy Thompson, during the summer of 1967. It details Tommy’s quest for a Honda motorcycle and the summer jobs he worked to earn it. Tommy recalls his adventures with his school buddies, Caleb, Flop and his best friend Booger and how he helped him through family tragedy. And he reminisces about his first infatuation with a gal named, Wendy.   As summer ends and the next school year begins, Tommy reflects, “It wasn’t until several years later that I realized the value of friends that I made that summer.” God made human beings for friendship. Fellowship. And relationships. We are created for community with other folks. The wise man observed, “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend.” (Prov. 27:9-10). Keil and Delitzsch observe how the ancients perfumed with dry aromas and the sprinkling of liquid aromas “as a mark of honor toward guests and a means of promoting joyful social fellowship.” In the same way, friends provide delight. Give pleasure. Offer counsel. Furnish joy. The Preacher speaks of the kind of friends we need in Eccl. 4:9-12. Two are better than one because they have a good REWARD for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Notice what the wise man says about the value of a real friend. (1) A Real Friend Helps You when You’re Down. How can you tell the between friends and acquaintances? That’s easy. Just get into trouble and see who is still around! You can call them at 2 a.m. and they don’t question you to decide if they are coming, they just...

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“What True Friends Do” (Show Up)

Apr 14

“What True Friends Do” (Show Up)

Today I would like to post an old article I wrote last year in memory of an a family friend who had passed on before I had this Blog setup. I have made a few changes and taken out some information from the original posting Today 04/14/2015 I commemerate this post to A young family— Josh, Venessa, & Hudson Ellis. I did not know them, they were Youth Pastors in our Local Eastpointe Church that were tragically killed in an accident less than 2 miles from my home, just yesterday. I do know many of the members at Eastpointe and my own granddaughters attend there so my heart and prayers go out to them all.   Hopefully these words that seem to fall so short of the real comfort needed can help in a small way. Knowing what to say at these times presents us with a challenge. A sentiment doesn’t exist that can change the current condition. As hard as we search for the most consoling words, they still feel empty, they come up short. I learned an important lesson years ago that has never failed me, a phrase that is my North Star in any and all circumstances. It’s a simple truth, which I believe resonate with us the most. It’s one thing true friends do, even when they can’t do anything else. Show up. When sadness strikes, people aren’t always looking for cards or casseroles. They want a presence. Show up for your friends, for your neighbors, even for the people you don’t like all that much. Just show up. The beautiful and tragic thing about life is that it ebbs and flows, so even if we’re not hurting now, we will be sometime soon. It’s inevitable. Our feet can slip into that old pair of heavy boots for any number of reasons, so many times without warning. When sadness strikes, people aren’t always looking for cards or casseroles (though those are wonderful gestures). I have been taught by experience that people are seeking other people. They want a presence, another soul to enter into the space where the hurt exists, someone to sit there with them, just being together. People long for a reminder they...

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