Where does the money in the bucket go?🤔
Once again I saw a person who decided to complain about the 10% tithe that is asked for in Church, they stated- as so many do- that God is only after your money. I then realized for the first time that most people probably don’t know where the money from their tithe goes and that that is why they get so upset about it. In truth I did not know myself until until my family took a temporary position as the pastoral staff of a small country church that presently boasts a whopping ten people. We used to be bigger but over the past two years several people passed away and others moved and that left us a little barren- we are praying for more people to come so our church can be a larger community again so if you wish to join us in that prayer we thank you. Let us start with the most commonly misunderstood thing about churches, churches are NOT funded by the government. I don’t know if they were at one time, but they are not these days- at least none of the churches my friends, family or I am in connection with are. All the money the church has comes from tithe and donation. Where does that money go? To the rental or ownership of the church building and land, to taxes (yes churches have to pay taxes too), to heating and cooling the building, to hydro and electricity, to the staff (if the church has a staff), to missions, to random people in need that church is asked to help, to the insurance company and if there is any money left that goes to paying the pastor- who often has a second job because he or she doesn’t make very much unless he has a crowd of several thousand in attendance, yet he or she went to college from anywhere between four to eight years like most people with a degree so they would make much more than they do if they had a different job, but they aren’t in it for the money, they are in it because they love people.
Why do you not simply go to online only church services and save money? Great question, I know pastors who have done that. Do you want to know where your tithe goes at a church like that?
To- wait for it- insurance, and licensing, to site rental or ownership, to missions and the random person in need that the church is asked to help, to taxes, to paying the filming squad and the website managers, to the renewal of your domain name which your site requires, to the cost of air time, and last but not least to your pastor.
God asks for tithes, not for Himself, but for His church- literally. Tithes keeps the building standing, the hungry family in apartment building C fed, a roof (however humble) over your pastor’s head, it pays for you to watch your favorite minister speak for free on youtube, it pays for the new well in small country’s poorer section, your tithe doesn’t go into a piggy bank that God empties for candy every weekend, it goes to the people, to the community, to the coffee and sugar you take for granted in the lobby of your church. That’s why we tithe. For the people who choose not to, that’s your right, but please stop fussing at those of us who love God and our Church and want to give to keeping our building heated, that’s our right.
We all want to be more. More than we are at this moment, more than we dreamed we would be, more than enough. And it is not easy. All you can do is what is in front of you at this moment. Striving to be the best YOU you can be is not a bad thing, but the person you are right now might be the person you are meant to be. God often has to remind us to be still and to trust in Him, when things are not progressing or going the way you expected, when you are not reaching beyond your own expectations it can be hard to calm down and remind yourself that you are okay as you. God will grow you when He feels you are ready to grow. Trees don’t complain when they are a few branches short of how large the wished to be or when they have a smaller ring count than the tree next to them, they simply grow in God’s time and that is what we have to do. Wait on the Lord. Be still and know that I am God- Psalm: 46:10
We as humans tend to used descriptive language often. We say things we have built or roads we have taken are drenched with our sweat or our tears. When we redid our house I often said it was coated in my blood from the two or three minor scrapes I received while working on it. Drenched, coated. What if our lives were drenched and coated, not with blood, sweat and tears, but with prayer? What difference would we see? I once heard a mission planter say that he truly saw the difference come when he began to pray. He worked on his own for awhile, but then he started to coat everything in prayer and that was when things began to happen. My grandpa is a prayer, no matter what we do, before we do it he prays. It may take time but in a bit you see that exact prayer come true and crazy things that shouldn’t be possible start to happen. I used to think it was because he is a retired pastor and God just hears pastors better, but I found out after trying his technique that it is simply because he pours himself into a thirty second prayer before doing anything. His weakness in the moment gave God room to show His strength, so grandpa eventually got to a place where instead of becoming stuck and needing God to bail him out, he just handed it all over to God in the beginning and watched God work. If we drench our days, familys, selves with prayer we will see things begin to change. It may take time, but it will happen.
Little bright lights floating in hollow shells. Searching for a true connection. Is hope in the number on your friends list? Is Faith in the stars or the sun? Is love in a box or a crate on your door step? Where does the light go to find home? How does the shell become filled? It sees another light and reaches for it but it flutters away in fear. You see, most soul lights are afraid of eachother. They fear being known, being seen, being exposed, they fear growing too bright and being criticized so they flee from eachother. They flee and stay dim. But there is a soul light that reaches relentlessly, the original light that refuses to give up. It sees the little soul light reaching for someone to love and it runs to it, wrapping the dimming light in it’s own exuberant glow the original light causes the wandering soul light to grow bigger and burn brighter. Faith, hope, love and happiness all resides in the light that empowers the soul light. Some dim lights flee from the blaze, others see it and draw near and are caught by it and begin to burn brighter themselves. The light continues to spread and to refuse to give up. It’s bold and bright and warm and takes in all the lights that draw to it, filling their shells with light until the whole being glows.
You know that soul lights are us, that the original light is Jesus, and that the bright burning soul lights are the Christians. Without Him we all remain dim, but with God we can burn brightly and fill this world with joy and light and hope through Jesus.
Burn on little soul light and don’t give up.
Jesus isn’t a little bird trying to fly away from you, He’s a man who is there for you to trust and lean on- a solid rock on which to stand. He’s not fluttering by and have to try to catch Him, He’s standing there with His arms open ready to embrace you.
If you know nothing else about the Bible but the fact that God sent His son to earth as a human baby to be stripped, beaten, spit upon and killed by the people He loves so much; if you know that a man tempted by sin but pure enough not to fall into it died and took the keys out of the devil’s hand and freed the captives from hell and ascended to Heaven, and you know that He is waiting for you to come to Him so Heaven can be yours too, then you know the greatest grace, mercy and miracle in the whole book. He wants you so come to Him.
Jesus was brave. We don’t often use this word for Him, certainly not during Christmas, but He was brave. He was scared, of course He was, but that didn’t stop Him. He was sick with fear at the Garden, He was in agony at the cross, sometimes I wonder if as a crying baby in a manger He was crying for the future and what was coming to pass. Don’t say that a baby couldn’t know those things, that weight was His reason for being here on earth- He was born to die. He knew what was coming yet He spoke anyway, He knew what it would cause yet He healed and prayed for people and loved the rejected, and prepared for what was coming. From the Manger to the cross Jesus was brave. I can only hope that in this dying world that wants to kill off anything that is still alive, that I will be brave too. Just like Jesus.
Fly free souls and know that He is coming again, this world is not ours, this death is not ours, this pain is not ours, because of a baby born under a star in a barn in a small town called Bethlehem. That baby was called Emmanuel, and He is still with us today.
They say we are all hiding or running from darkness. Darkness within us, darkness around us, just the dark in general. They say that is why when winter comes we tend to light candles and plug in our Christmas trees- to drive away some of the darkness. Maybe that is true, maybe not, but the permeating darkness is very real. I like summer. Long days of sunshine, lighting when it rains, full brilliant stars (though are stars these past few winter nights have been pretty amazing), in honesty the Christmas tree lights are about the only thing that keeps me happy in the midst of the darkness of winter. Though I do enjoy the brisk nights when the stars are shining and I’m out with my horse and we are the only living things awake in our yard, that’s a pretty spectacular feeling. The difference is that summer darkness is shorter and it’s warm, where winter darkness is long and cold so it’s not as enjoyable. Sort of like the darkness in our souls. A long- cold darkness. A darkness there since birth. The darkness of being without a savior. They say light brings joy, isn’t it fitting then that our Lord would come to earth in a quiet manger under a brilliant -bright star? And that when the Angels appeared there was a bright light, some Bible translations say it was blinding. When the one who would drive out darkness and give us joy and hope came to earth He was the cause of so much light that the light is still remembered so many years later. We who are striving to flee from darkness already have the hope of a brilliant and blinding light- One that is warm and loving and full of hope- I call Him Jesus, some call Him Emmanuel, others call Him Yeshua, or Rabbi, or Abba, Friend, Teacher. No matter what name He is going by He will always be our Savior and He is here to bring light to our darkness.
When I was younger and attended youth at camp we sang a lot of Petra. This song was a favorite, slow down and read those words.
Our church has lost something, all churches have lost something, and that is unity. There was a time when if you were a Christian you were a sibling to the other Christians around you, you were family. Then somewhere along the line we became divided, even competitive with one another; and then that devouring, despicable spirit of ‘holier than thou’ clawed its way in and we saw our church as better than other churches and ourselves as better than other believers, then the competitiveness and division turned into an all out cold war. Divided we are destroyed, until we can stand together we are already defeated. Like that old kids game where we stood on our team and held eachother’s hands calling over the other team and daring them to try to break through our ranks, if we are strong enough to hold them from breaking us then they join us, they join our team and fight beside us. Those who the devil has tricked are on the other team, if we stand together as a church, when they come running at us we can stand strong and they might even decide later to join us, but we can’t be divided or we will never be a witness to them.
The Church is not a building or a set of songs we sing, it is a people that follow Jesus, let us seek out other Christians and make sure they know that they are family even if they attend a different church.
Use the thinking side of your brain.
In the horse world we have a saying, ‘use the thinking side of your brain.’
Horses have two sides of the brain like all animals, but unlike us they have a thinking side and a reacting side. Why do you mount a horse from the left? That’s the thinking side. When you try to train a horse to let you mount from the right side, the reacting side, be prepared for the horse to introduce you to the ground awfully fast a couple of times before you convince him not to kill you.
We as human kind have the problem of not having a thinking and reacting side so when we react we stop thinking completely and it over takes us. I can walk up to my horse with a bucket of treats and if I go to the right he will generally take off on me, but if I go to the left he waits to see what’s in the bucket. How often has God come to us with something great but we have reacted and run away because we aren’t sure we trust Him? How much have we missed out on because the thing holding the gift -the bucket- scares us? Unfortunately with people the thing that scares us on our right side usually scares us on our left. We have to let God work in us and calm us down and teach us to trust Him enough that we stop running away and start becoming curious about what is in the bucket.
You know how when you are hiking you generally either bring a walking stick or you pick one up on the road as you go? If you did not bring one with you, at what time in your journey do you generally pick up a stick to use? When the journey starts getting hard, right? When you feel like you need something to support you and to help you carry on, that’s usually when you bend down and pick up a sturdy stick to help you along the way. I know you all know where I’m going with this. God has become too much like our walking stick, we usually tend to leave him behind, and then when the journey starts getting hard return to him again and ask him to help us. Then when the journey becomes easy again we drop him and continue on by ourselves. Why do we do this? I suppose because God and walking sticks have one more thing in common, when the road is easy the’re a lot of work to carry. When the path is flat and you’re not really using the stick anymore and you’re more just carrying it with you it becomes tiresome doesn’t it? So we give up and we drop it, then we hit a rugged part of the road and we go back and get our stick again to help us along the rough part, then it becomes easy again and the stick becomes something we’re just carrying so we put it down again. Praying everyday reading your Bible, even going to church once a week can seem like a lot of work at times, when things are hard we run to these things because they draw us closer to God and God is helping us over the hard times, but then when times become easy and we find ourselves having to do these things we feel like they’re too much work and we don’t want to. But God isn’t a Genie in a Bottle, he’s not there to grant wishes and then to just disappear, God is our father he wants a relationship with us he wants us there with him all the time, so even on the times where you feel like you just don’t feel like going to church, or like you read the Bible so often that you’re just tired of it now, keep going, keep attending Services keep reading your Bible keep praying because these things are drawing you closer to the father. Serving God can be a lot of work at times but it will always be worth it, he will always be worth it. So don’t put him down when the road gets easy and pick him up when the road gets hard cling to him at all times instead and trust him as he Journeys with you.