Sunday, December 19, 2004

Catching up

Oddly enough I always thought that I'd use some of my time off during the holidays to catch up on stuff. Now that I'm older and feel beset sometimes by the obligations that I readily take on and the ones thrust upon me I seldom go into a period of time wherein I expect to "catch up" on anything that would further my career or aspirations (I just don't want to get completely worn out or overextended - I'm lazy I guess).

Suddenly I realize that I've finally installed Visual Studio .NET 1.1 on my computer along with purchasing and installing some anti-virus/anti-hacker ware and installing it. I also downloaded (via MSDN subscription) a copy of Office 2003 and installed it. I've printed photos for several people in the family so that we can drop them off when we see the intended recipients over the holidays. I even got the Christmas cards out the other evening and wrote several dozen (sorry if you didn't get one; its because I don't have your address - send it to me via e-mail and you'll get one next year).

Now I want to finish off my shopping with a couple of inexpensive but desired gifts (desired by the recipients) and then wrap them and place them under the tree.

We went to church to watch Cindee's parents sing in the choir. This church is a single story with no extra precautions/planning for children so we kept Katie in the back row (not because I'm closer to Baptist in my theology or anything, just to be considerate of others). She made it almost all the way through without becoming so restless that we had to sneak out and run around. We just missed the last song of the choral cantata and the closing prayer and statements. If you know me, you know about what I think of a choral cantata so what can I say. The experience lived up to my expectations but I was reminded again of immature believers as the speaker (apparently not the normal pastor of that group) reminded the congregation through both written message (in the bulletin) and via speech that "God loves a cheerful giver" and "you can't outgive God" "'cause what you give to God we give back in greater measure". Yep, you read that correctly. If you didn't notice the error or poor theology then reread the last quoted statement. ". . . what you give God, we give back in greater measure." The statement was also made the God doesn't "need" your money (with which I whole-heartedly agree) but that He wants your money (with which I disagree strongly). God wants your fellowship, He demands your Holiness, He expects sinful desires but is working at all times to equip you and empower you to live in Righteousness so that you can attain to the level to which He has already accounted you (He declared you the Righteousness of Christ and one day you will be glorified but until then you are expected to try and live at that level). Elevating financial gifts (which are woefully underdeveloped as a subject in the Bible commensurate with what pastors or youth directors or missions directors or anyone else who wants to live off your dollars will tell you) to the point of speaking about them in a group of people who purport to be believers when you don't preach openly against the unholy, godlessness that is current day building funds is one step away from blasphemy in my understanding of the Bible. Giving money is an outward sign of inward submission to Jehovah God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Giving finances is an outward and visible (and in our society tax advantaged) way to demonstrate your own submission. Not every gift of money is a matter of submission. Many, many gifts are merely outward signs of something other than inward submission and faith in God. If a man can't provide for his family and take care of them then he is considered worse than a non-believer and an infidel in the New Testament. Did God require the lives of Ananias and Sapphira because they didn't give 100% of the proceeds of the sale of some land? Nope. He killed 'em because they lied about their donation/tithe/financial gift to the group of believers to whom they belonged. Ahhh, now I've torn off and started typing the message of God as most of your pastors won't share it ('cause it would mean that they need to get off their fat butts and go get a job to support their families). How often does your pastor spend 5 or 6 days a week not in the church building at all? How often does he get off his lazy ass and go speak to anyone that needs someone to speak to them including, but not limited to: infirm, elderly, prisoners, parishoners who are living lives of active disobedience, deacons who won't confront parishoners living lives of active disobedience, etc? Keep your money in your pocket. God doesn't want it; He doesn't need it and if you desire Holiness and Righteousness, then find some way to salve that tattered thing that you call a conscience without pulling out your checkbook. Don't give money to someone; go buy them the ham or clothes or pay their bill for them. In some cases, if they were good with money, they wouldn't be in the predicament that they're in. Its not that some people don't have times of hard luck but just enabling someone cause a lazy pastor tells you to doesn't make you Holy or Righteous. You can reach out to someone and help them through their time of trouble without having to take them to raise. In the Bible, the metaphor was a cup of cold water, not a room in my house and all the food that I can provide and everything I can possibly do until my own family suffers for it. The Bible is firmly in my camp on this one. The calling of a husband and also of a pastor is to be the husband of one wife and to love her and hold her up. Provide for your own family then you can reach outside your own household to help others. You are called to be a steward of your own self first, followed by your family and then, and only then, should you start reaching out to others. Get your pastor off your payroll and see where that money goes (unless the person leading you actually spends almost 100% of the time he wants to be paid for out seeing people and helping them and actively doing something with them).

'Course, that's just my opinion (but I bet if you read your Bible you might find that its a whole lot closer to God's opinion than your pastor wants you to believe).

Merry Christmas if I don't post again and thanks for reading,



foomonkey said...

Wow. It kinda scares me when I agree with you completely. Actually, I'm about 99% on board with you. The disagreement is taking the pastor off the payroll. I see my pastor serving as the full-time undershepherd for our group of believers. If he were to do things on a strictly volunteer basis and had to work like I do, I don't think our congregation would remain focused and thriving. I have no problem with providing an income for his leadership. HOWEVER, there are several other people on "the staff", at church who ought not be. Don't make me name names but, they are there.

KevinRiggs said...

Oh no. It appears I'm still too mainstream. Guess I'll have to get more reactionary.

Just kidding.