tithing is outdate right?

If you are not a churchy type of person I’d skip right to the bold words even if you’re not churchy this stuff still applies, because today I’m going to talk about tithing and giving to church to start, but there is something I think for you at the bold marks (also thanks for reading, let me know if there are some other not so churchy/religious things you’d be interested in reading about or stuff I’ve written that was applicable to you. You’re just as much a part of this journey even if religious churchy stuff isn’t your thing).

Ok back to talking about money.

This is not the first time I’ve touched on it. I like talking about money here, here, here and here. I suppose it’s because I like taking about things that we often don’t talk about. Money is definitely one of those topics.

Bruxy talk about it on Sunday and so it’s on my mind again, specifically the idea of tithing.

Couple of starting points.

No your time doesn’t count.

Yes it should go to the church.

No you don’t have to do it anymore.

There we go all sorted, right?

Ok, so were starting at the same point and I suspect you’re thinking “do you have anything remotely helpful here or are you just filling space?”

I hope so and not the just filling space part.

To start then, why the church? The tithe is to help the poor and widow and others group do that.

Support them for sure. I wrote about giving to cbm (which you should go do right now). But do that over and above. Let the tithe to the church be the starting point or a primer for your generosity not the end.

I think where our money goes says a lot about what we value and who we trust.

I think when we keep out tithe from the church what we’re really saying is “I don’t trust you with my money. You don’t love the world the way I think you should and I’m going to put my money somewhere that does it right.”

I think it says “while I appreciate all that you do to pour into me and support me I’m not going to help sustain this. I’m just going to take.”

I think at times it says “I know best.”

You think that helping orphans in Uganda is more important than the work your local church is doing.

If that’s true you’re part of the problem. Why are you not connecting with your leadership and asking them to support orphans in Uganda or whatever you think is more important than what the church is doing now? Why have you not started the ministry through your church that you are so passionate about or made the connection to the group that supports orphans for the church? Why does none of this misuse of dollars involve you, an engaged member of the local church?

Again, remember you should still support MCC or World Vision or cbm. But if we gave generously to the local church and those in leadership knew the heart of their community was for the work of cbm, cbm could be supported by the church organization. But we do it as a community, pulling our resources together and working as a community.

Instead we take OUR money and give to OUR charities because the church isn’t going to do it right.

If you’ve spent much time here you know I’m hard on the church, but I really believe that’s the way it was supposed to be. A community pooling it’s everything to support what God has called them as a community to support. And I get that sometimes your passion and the vision of the church or the leadership can’t seem line up. We’re a bunch of imperfect people doing imperfect work. But you need to start there. Give church a chance to be what it was meant to be first. Do your part to build church the way Jesus wanted it.

We need to be committed to the church. There has been a long period of my life where I struggled and questioned if that was true but we do. Jesus called us to church. We need to support and foster the community it was designed to be and committed giving is part of it.

If you still don’t believe me go read your bible. 1 Corinthians 16 sounds an awful lot like a community (the church) consistently pooling it’s resources.

Re-cap:

  • give to the church first
  • if your church doesn’t’ give the way it should your responsible for that miss too
  • if the ministry you’re passionate about isn’t there go start it with the support of your church (or at the very least try first)
  • keep giving to worthy organizations. This is not an excuse to stop giving to other spaces.

Even if you’re not churchy this stuff still applies.

The idea of a tithe, committed consistent support of a cause you are passionate about, is so important to this life of compassion.

I run a community centre and when we get donations it really speaks to me. It so clearly shows that the person believes in what we do and that what we do matters to them.  We don’t have anyone that gives monthly to us. But that commitment would be amazing. It would speak volumes about how that person sees the work that we do.

Pick something that your passionate about and invest in their work, consistently. It may be a stretch and it may be hard but the life of compassion is hard. It opens you up to being a more generous person on the whole. Continued, committed generosity breaks the hold money can have our lives and lets us be the generous people a person marked by compassion should be.

Tomorrow, how much.

Advertisements

Sarah’s view on things

Since I’ve already talked about Sarah twice it just feels right to end of this week with her.

If you didn’t read the first two about Sarah go read them. If you did then I suspect you see just as I do that Sarah is the best kind of quirky. Sarah is one of those people who push you to be the best version of yourself.

A few months back we were getting a new washing machine. We were getting a new one because our old one was broken. Broken and sitting in our basement taking up space. It needed to go.

I thought it was an at some point kind of thing.

Sarah thought it was a right this moment kind of thing.

“Just go ask one of the neighbour to help you lift it out.”

I hate doing that. I don’t like bugging people to help with this kind of stuff. It’s not an opinion or advice, it’s a load of heavy lifting. But I went out and knocked on some doors, no one home. I was in the clear. No need to make an uncomfortable ask.

“What about the guy across the street?”

Context: I meet him for the first time the day before. He worked abroad and homes for only a few days a year.

Of course he’d want to do heavy lifting.

Lucky for me he wasn’t there.

But this idea of community isn’t common anymore. It’s not just the norm that neighbours help neighbours. It’s not just expected that people who live next to each other will connect.

But that’s how Sarah sees community. That’s how she sees the world. She is always willing to go out of her way for people and has no problem asking for help. It’s one of the ways we got to know our neighbours the best. We’ve had some really great neighbours who would watch our son or help us shovel snow. But it happened because we asked, because when Sarah looks at community she sees people willing to do things for each other.

Sarah’s view on this does two really cool things.

The first is creating opportunities for deeper connection. It’s just more chances to talk and connect. Like the time that my neighbour and I cleaned our shared drain pipe at the front of our house. It took like 10 minutes but then we shared a few beers and sat outside for over an hour.

It’s drawing people into your life and creating space to connect in a way that feels way less creepy then saying “we don’t talk much, tell me something deeply personal so we can be close.”

It gives space for relationship to grow and allow for the time when something deeply personal can be shared organically.

The second thing is does is it shows trust. Trust is so important in a relationship and your implicitly saying “I trust you” when you invite someone into your home or ask them to watch your kids.

It takes trust to ask for help.

So go bug your neighbour. Ask them to give you hand with something. Then when their done share a coffee, beer, pizza, ice cream, etc. Worry less about imposing and more about connecting.

lets talk about Sarah again :)

I’m going to talk about Sarah again.

Why?

‘Cause she’s awesome and does awesome things that people just don’t do.

Sarah likes to walk. She likes to be healthy and she likes our kids to be quiet, which they tend to be on walk. It’s a total win win. You could toss another win in there because she also hates being inside and must always enjoy the sun. You can miss a sun opportunity.

I don’t get it.

As we walk she says hi to everyone. Doesn’t matter who they are. If we are walking down the street and pass you, you get a super pleasant and smile filled “HI.”

In a not too surprising turn of events Sarah meets people.

I wrote about the gentleman she meet sitting on a bench.

We meet our new neighbour because she said hi. We went over to her house for a camp fire that weekend.

It’s simple, but this stuff isn’t complicated. But let me tell you it can sure be awkward when you say hi to total strangers.

But that’s why we all have Sarah and her complete disregard for social convention. She does what she does and this one builds community and relationship.

social norms and Sarah’s clear disregard for them

So I’m sitting in church minding my own business.

I’m drinking my coffee, arguing with God about singing songs (we do that every week. It’s like our thing. I’m a little stubborn) and then Sarah has to go and make it all awkward.

We sit down and it’s time to meet who’s around you, but that’s not what people actually do. You shake hands, say hello, sit down and that’s it. But not my Sarah.

Nope.

“Hi, are you guys new? You looked kinda lost when you came in.”

“ummmm…. yeah, it’s our first time.”

“oh great! How did you hear about the meeting house?”

“ohh…. well we’ve been listening to the podcast for a while.”

“That’s so good. Bruxy is a great teacher. I’m Sarah.”

She just jumps right in!!!!!

No sense of social norms, or awareness for how awkward her talking over to me to perfect strangers is.

YOU JUST SHAKE HANDS!

And that’s part of why I love her so much.

She just does. Just powers through and connects.

I’ve been trying to live a life of compassion for a little while now and it’s still awkward. It’s still hard to talk to people I don’t know. That could have gone awful. It’s scary to put yourself out there.

I bring it up to encourage you. If you’re like me and this stuff makes you feel awkward, we’re in the same anxiety inducing boat. And maybe like me you’ve been at this a while and you’re still awkward about it.

Cool, we can talk about it together. We’re in the same place.

It may never go away, but Sarah displayed what it’s supposed to be. It’s people putting themselves out there to connect and bring others into community.

Our sometimes awkward, anxiety filled community.

 

worth standing in the rain

We have really screwed up the message of Jesus.

A young lady comes to my door and asks me to help support Amnesty International and their work in Syria and I don’t think it’s strange.

This young lady was not embarrassed at all.

This was a cause worth standing in the rain for. This was a cause that would change people’s lives not just now but in a fundamental way for generations. The work to end a genocide resonates through history. She wasn’t embarrassed to say she believed in the universal rights of people. She didn’t shy away from asking me to get involved. She was cryptic about what she was asking.

People are not being treated like people and we have the means to help. We must help.

And sometimes I don’t want to even tell people I go to church let alone that I’m a committed Christ follower (note how I won’t even write Christian down. Serious cognitive disconnects going on).

We have be invited into a life of depth and meaning. I’ve written about it before. But somehow we’ve become embarrassed to share that life. We’ve made it so complicated with rules and politics. We corrupted it a point where the church becomes the oppressor.

But the message of Jesus is love.

A radical,

life changing,

live giving,

undeserved,

unprecedented,

over the top kind of love that changes not only people today but generations. Families and their children’s children.

There is nothing embarrassing about being a follower of Jesus. There is nothing embarrassing about living another centred life marked by reckless love and grace.

But if your faith is church on Sundays, do’s and don’ts, and judgment then I can see why you’re not as excited to share it. It’s just too bad we haven’t been able to find the same Jesus.

work, time, energy

People do a lot for what they believe in.

I wrote last week about the commitment involved with the Muslim faith and how I think it may at times be easier. But people of all beliefs put forth a lot of time.

Going back to the young lady form Amnesty, she was walking around in the rain on a Saturday because she believed in the cause.

Am I saying we should go door to door? No.

But this idea of time and commitment keeps coming back. I can’t shake it.

It’s so easy to be a Christian in the west. Let’s be honest, we don’t have a lot asked of us. Go to church on Sunday. Help with a food drive. Give some money to a missionary. Be a nice person.

But we are called to so much more and this young woman working hard for what she believed in reminded that we have to put effort into it. It take works and time and energy. Work, time and energy I often don’t put enough of in.

door to door

I had someone come to my door yesterday. They were from Amnesty International. They were going door to door asking people to support Amnesty International in their efforts in Syria.

As she left I said “try to stay dry” and she responded with “I’m out here trying to help with human rights, what’s a little rain?”

This brought three things to mind for me so I thought we’d work through them this week. It’s amazing how something so small can make you think so much. That or I’ve just got some sort of cognitive problem that I should see someone about.

It’s probably the second one.

The first thing I pondered on after she left was “should I have given her some money?”

I didn’t.

Was I wrong?

For someone who talks about generosity I was strikingly ungenerous.

I’d made up my mind when she came to the door. I don’t have money for this.

I didn’t consider it might be an opportunity from God. I didn’t pray or search my spirit to see if this is something God was leading me in. It was someone at the door soooooo be polite and get out of the conversation as fast as possible.

Just like Jesus would do.

But the larger question is do you have to give every time? How do you know when to give?

I said that we already have charities we support. They work building community and capacity. They are organizations that speak to our hearts. When I started to speak I made up my mind not to argue. I wasn’t going to get into if one was better or worse. I decided I wouldn’t discuss which was more deserving. Luckily she didn’t’ push.

The point isn’t to judge which is better. Aiding those in what will probably soon be classified as a genocide, that’s always good.

Taking those shunned by their community and giving them a chance to be productive for the first time in heir life? Also good.

Giving someone who’s never had the resources to support their family that chance? Good choice.

See it’s all good. There is so much good working going on.

Back to the question of action.

It starts with a wiling heart, which mine was not when that young lady came to the door. It starts with a sensitivity to the ask and the heart of God.

So back to my response. No is entirely ok, if you at least consider the question. I didn’t. So I was wrong this time.

That said, all your resources are going to other meaningful work? Great, thank you for getting involved.

But if that young lady comes to your door and not only do you say no to her you say no to all of the calls to support justice, love, peace and the work of God?

Point blank, you’re doing something wrong.

two sides from two brothers

My brother and I were talking about church.

We talk about church a lot. We’re both always right so it’s good we are on roughly the same page. We talk about all aspects of church. Growing up as pastor’s sons and my brother now a pastor it’s been a part of our lives since the very beginning.

We talked a little about how to encourage people to live a more compassionate life. We agreed that there is a large portion of people who have the language (you might say missional, other centred, whatever) and but still don’t’ apply it.

I said it was priorities that hold people back.

He said it was time.

The more we talked about it the more we realized that priorities and time are two sides of the same compassionate life style blocking coin. It’s a big complicated coin.

I said it was priorities because people make time for what matters. They do what’s most important first and work their way down. I’ve written about this before.

He said that part of the problem about saying its priorities makes it sound like something else. Another thing that needs to be added. I’ve got work, soccer practices, church, Home Church, volunteering, date night and now you want me to add compassion into that too? Nope, sorry I’m just too busy.

He’s right (and so am I but we’ll get there).

Talking about it like a priority makes it sound like more. The idea is that you live a life of compassion. It’s not something you add it’s how you go to work, soccer practices, church, Home Church, volunteering, date night and the way you spend your time while you’re there. Is the way you live your life.

Not something more, a change to how. So he’s right. That’s the call of Jesus in our lives.

But that’s big and scary and for a lot of people who are working towards the life style, the all-encompassing nature is too much. It’s all or nothing. So he’s right.

And that’s why I often start with priorities. Changing the way you live is hard. It will take commitment and effort and a struggle. So I ask you to start small. Prioritize this new way of living over a few other things in your life by engaging in timed events to get started. Planning to meet with your neighbours, plan to go out to the pub with a co-worker. Prioritize relationships as a start.

In the end it won’t be a priority but rather a way of living. For me though, I think prioritizing some time for relationship is a good first step to that changed life.

busy, busy, busy

Trendy seems like a bad word to describe it but being busy is trendy these days. I mentioned on Monday how I think people not just expect everyone else to busy but wonder if you’re not busy.

But there has to be something different about a life of compassion, parts of your life that set you apart from the norm. Things that people see and say “I want that. I need that in my life. How do you get to being like that?”

Wouldn’t it say something to the people you meet if you always had time for them and that relationship?

What does it say to your friends, family, co-workers is you’re always busy?

I worry it says “I don’t have time for you”

I worry it says “you know how busy I am, stop bugging me”

I worry it says “you’re not important enough for me to have time for you”

I worry it says “don’t bring me your problems, I’ve already got to much going on”.

Where is your time to sit on your front porch and talk to your neighbours as they pass?

Where is your time to call a friend you’ve been missing just to talk?

Where is your time to get coffee and let someone share their pain?

How do we get into the messiness of people’s lives when our time is so tight there is no room for mess?

When it comes to compassion and busyness, I think our lives need to be marked by time. Time to talk, time to listen, time to love, time to share. When everyone around is sooooo busy, it says a lot about you and what matters when you can say “I’ve got lots of time to hear your story, start from the top”.

marked

I’m up late.

I’ve always been a person who likes to stay up late. If left to my own devices I would stay up until 2am every day. I don’t because I’d also like to get up at 10am every day. That was my schedule when I went to university.  Two kids make that kind of hard.

That and my work expects me to show up.

But with Quinn I’m up late again. I’ve got time.

Time is one of those things no one ever has. At least that’s what we tell everyone. There’s some kind of a stigma I think if you’re not super busy. If you tell people you’ve got all kinds of time they start to wonder.

We are supposed to be busy.

I’m not going to get into if that’s the way of compassionate living or not. That’s for Wednesday, we’ll talk about begin busy.

Today I’m interested in how we use or time, busy or not.

I’ve now got more free time. It’s not totally free. I’m watching Quinn who may be up, may need to feed, may need to be changed, etc. But when he’s sleeping as long as I keep him with me my time is rather open.

And with it I watch a whole bunch of terrible movies and internet videos of people playing video games. I’m not even playing video games anymore, I’m watching people play video games. Some times at 1:30 in the morning I ask myself what I’m doing with my life.

I was talking with my wife about some of the programs that we run here at the community centre I manage. We have a big Muslim population in our community and she asked about what we do for those members of our community. It’s tough for us. A large portion of the community we serve is Muslim but a large portion of that community spend hours a day studying the Quran.

And I watch people play video games.

It’s not that cut and dry, or maybe it is, I’m not sure. Maybe it would be easier if there was a discrete activity that I was to engage in for a finite amount of time every day. If it was as simple as “Read your bible for 1 hour, pray for 30 minutes and sing worship songs for 30 minutes to be a good Christian” I think I could nail that.

But that’s not how it is.

We are called to live lives marked by love and grace. They will know us by our love.

And that’s why this space is here. How do we live so that instead of finding 2 or 3 hours a day to make myself a “good Christian” I live every hour as a person who is marked by and constantly exuding love? How do  love so deeply and so frequently that people want to know why and how I can live like this so I can say “because I’m a disciple of Jesus and this is how we’re called to live and it’s a deeper and fuller life than the life I had before.”

So I hope to use more of that time to become a better disciple which will help me to live a life of love that will exude out of me. My time becoming a better disciple will include praying and reading my bible as well as find ways to love and be in relationship.

And if all goes well in some of those relationships I’ll be able to make more disciples.