I’m not a fan of writings that for the most part seem assembled from the quotations of scholars, historians, and theologians, weaving them together like some great tapestry of spiritual enlightenment. To me, such writing seems oddly disconnected from the soul of the author which leaves me cold. I’d so much rather read a personal testimony from the author’s own life experience. What was your condition, how did the Son intervene, how were you healed or blessed, and what did you learn? That’s what I want to know, for no derivative of commentary ever touched my heart like the open, honest, and vulnerable testimony of a brother or sister in the Son.
And yet, it is a daily devotional-commentary I receive by email that has had me on the receiving end of the Lord’s chastisement several times these last 2 weeks. Whoever is in charge of publishing excerpts from an author who died in 1971, has obviously been spying on me and selecting them with intent to hit me squarely between the eyes.
It first happened while I was lying on a gurney in the emergency room 2 weeks ago, strapped to an EKG monitor, and with an IV in each arm, I spoke frankly to Karen about the possibility of my death. She refused to hear it of course, admonishing me to speak faith but still I wanted her to know that I loved her and she was free to return to her family in Illinois, leaving the care of my elderly father who lives with us, to my siblings. And I apologized to her because our wish has been for a Notebook ending to our lives together. Again, Karen spoke words of encouragement, even while I lamented the Back to Eden garden I’d started in faith but now could not finish because of the heart attack. Continue reading
This is a letter I sent to dear friends who prayed for me while I was in the hospital.
Dear Pam and Vinny,
We got home yesterday about 2pm. Issuing the discharge orders took awhile, in particular putting together the long list of new drugs and arranging follow up appointments. The drugs I have to take to reduce stress on my heart while it heals and keep the stent from clotting, costs over $600 a month. Ouch! And I’m experiencing the side effect of the main one ($400/mo.) which will make me look for an alternative or just quit it altogether – breathing difficulties. It feels like I can’t take in enough breath nor expel everything that’s in my lungs – that “can’t catch my breath” type of feeling.
It’s difficult to figure how this happened; my cholesterol numbers are good although my good cholesterol is a little low which is typical for someone who is obese and doesn’t do aerobic exercise. But that’s never been a problem for me and the last time the doctor tried to put me on cholesterol meds to elevate my good cholesterol – I refused it and started walking most days. You asked about dehydration – I might lose 2-3 lbs while working in the yard but drink water and sometimes Gatorade. Karen comes out every 30-60 minutes with a drink to make sure of that; she’s always done that even when I’m just mowing the lawn.
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
Eden must wait.
The Back to Eden garden I began laying out in January while the ground was still frozen, came to an abrupt halt in February when the sod thawed (hey! that rhymes!) and RAIN began to fall. All. Month. Long. That is, when it wasn’t SNOWING! And melting. And SNOWING. And melting. And just this morning, another inch of snow was there to greet us!
Will it ever stop? Should I build an ark instead, Father? Rather than complain, I thanked God for the snow and whatever it is that I’m supposed to learn from this maddening delay to my plans.
“Eden wasn’t created in a day, you know”, says the Lord “and I have power far beyond your abilities.” Right. I get the message, Lord.
Do not despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).
Another lesson God had for me is a simple one, which often seems to be the most difficult to grasp. He said “you’re frustrated because you’re trying to do work out of season.”
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Still the bare-root fruit trees need to be in before they break dormancy. So I cut and removed the sod where they’ll be planted; a task more easily done when the sod is wet and made even easier by an idea the Lord gave me to impale the sod with a fork hoe and pivot to toss it into the tow cart. It was poetry in motion, let me tell you! Continue reading
In the spring of 1966, the entire 4th grade class was marched to the gym where we were made to take a musical aptitude test. Other than listening to single notes played on a variety of instruments and answering whether or not they were the same, I remember little else about the test. Weeks later, I came home from school and my parents greeted me saying “the school called.” Oh, how those words could make me sweat bullets and launch my suspicious mind into a frenzied inventory of excuses even before hearing the school’s complaint.
If only it were that easy. (Image captured from video at Bethel.TV)
“Do you remember the music test you took?” my parents asked. “Uh, no” said I. Dad continued with a grin “it’s difficult to believe, I know, but the school says you have a talent for music.” My little mind did a Bat-Turn** trying to Continue reading
Years ago I was blessed to take part in a traditional Jewish Seder meal where the Messianic Jewish host explained the meaning and spiritual significance of each element of the meal. When we were finished, the host encouraged all the Christian participants to observe the traditional Jewish Sabbath. It was a moving experience and launched me into prayerful study to determine how my wife and I should approach the Sabbath. In the end, neither my wife nor I felt led to observe it on a weekly basis as do the Jews. Speaking for myself, I felt that way long before ever attending the Seder meal. What the study did do for me was to show me why I feel the way I do about traditional Sabbath observance. Such is not unusual, for simple discernment often precedes knowledge and understanding.
Controversial as the subject is and having had my fill of so many self-appointed defenders of man’s religious kingdom who were threatened by the tithe articles (link) the Father led me to write, I never figured to write anything about the Sabbath. That is, until recently, when I heard a man argue for keeping the Sabbath by claiming “I recently informed my wife that I will begin sleeping with other women because of this new found freedom (that) I have (in Christ) to disregard the 7th commandment which says ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’.” I hope dear reader, that you find the man’s crass and manipulative analogy as nauseous as I do. Continue reading
A Charlie Brown Christmas has long been a favorite of mine for its lighthearted humor and moving spiritual message. It’s the character Pigpen who cracks me up the most; how can he stir up a cloud of dust while ice skating and building a snowman? Surely that’s impossible! But my favorite scene is where Linus explains the meaning of Christmas to Charlie Brown; that always puts a lump in my throat. Recently, a brother observed that when Linus speaks about Christ the Lord, he drops his security blanket to the floor and clasps his hands over his heart. So simple. So meaningful. So beautiful.
So why am I writing about Charlie Brown Christmas when it’s the end of January, you ask? Do you remember Charlie Brown’s reaction when he hung an ornament on the Christmas tree and it doubled over?
Our Italian prune tree was sick and covered with lichens. My Dad planted it some 15 years ago with a modest layer of beauty bark over black weed barrier cloth. Soon after, mom had a stroke and dad was unable to tend to it what with the round-the-clock care mom required. Continue reading