Tithing? No Problem – Test Me In This


Church Disconnection Notice

Tithing is a pretty simple topic, right? Do it. If you’ve chosen wisely, your church will be divinely positioned to address the community’s needs and more importantly keep their doors open to continue feeding its flock.

Not quite sure to start with the letter itself or the accompanying article, but it’s pretty clear that the concept is worth discussing.

It is my understanding that the church has more than a handful of obligations to its flock… Discounting wholly the validity of the article’s angle on the church’s community involvement, I don’t see one mention of what programs these tithes would be applied to.

Nor do I see any considerable mention of why tithes are connected to active membership. I’m going to do this letter a favor and ignore the line about “overstating membership” because that’s clearly not a member problem… sounds like a tax/grant/competition/ego/whatever problem.

Plus there is a biblical mandate for us to bring our tithes and offerings to the storehouse.

Assuming that this references Malachi 3:10, I figured I would open and explore a little scripture. It’s pretty clear that our Lord is pretty adamant about not robbing his father, who wouldn’t. But he also goes onto mention how abundant the ensuing blessings would be to, and I love this part, Test me in this. I’m thinking any church with the chutzpah to send a letter like this must be doling out the community service like there’s not tomorrow.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this.” ~ Malachi 3:10

So to those interested in whether or not this is even a real post – it is my ardent wish that this is a hoax. I can not imagine a world, in the baby-Jesus universe we occupy, where this letter actually leaves the desk of an admin, a deacon, or a pastor. If so, they better be making it rain in a community near you.

How Much Should He Spend On The Engagement Ring?

How Much Should He Spend On The Ring

How Much Should He Spend On The Ring

The general consensus of 2-3 months salary is considered a good benchmark for an engagement ring. Sheesh! Heck, I remember when I considered 1 month’s salary as a good start but maybe I just hadn’t thought it through.

I love love right… I mean I do… but let’s put that in perspective…

That’s 6 of my checks – saved – that’s either no bills paid, no food eaten – or (more romantically/responsibly) suppressed spending for about 6 months.

Ladies; if your man got all frugal on you for 6 months he’d probably go in the dog house without even knowing why. And you’ll have committed an act of treason by condemning him for cutting off the spigot.

A good calculation I’ve chuckled at is, “Her ring should cost as much as she’s helped him save by being with her.” A very interesting proposition but it didn’t seem to be gaining any traction.

Although most guys probably wouldn’t blink twice about not eating good for 6 months to pad the down payment for a house for her.

A ring is just an accessory. Case closed, right?

There are number of reasonable rebuttals for the above arguments but I’m wondering if I’ll ever hear them from anyone. Maybe I’ll just make some up on my own.

  • Reasonable Rebuttal #1: This symbol of love should last a lifetime.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #2: A good price means a good warranty to maintain investment over time.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #3: She was integral in your earning potential being what it is in the first place – you’re merely returning the favor.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #4: A gesture of genuine sacrifice is needed to codify your commitment.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #5: We spend twice as much on vehicles that will be discarded in less than 5 years.
  • Reasonable Rebuttal #6: She’s demonstrated that she is not only worth the spend but she’ll return the favor in loyalty.

I cracked my knuckles and moved on. Surely if a case was going to be made to spend big bucks on an engagement ring I’ve covered it sufficiently. Well, I obviously was met with rebuttals… to my rebuttals… and then I responded with yet more rebuttals. Just read.

Rebuttal to my rebuttal #1: me being here is a symbol of my love… and that will last a lifetime.

That’s a hard sell. She would probably just reply “so why get married at all if you just being with her is enough”. A marriage is an on-purpose departure from singleness. It is in itself a symbol.

A marriage should be full of symbols and demonstrations of love. It certainly shouldn’t stop at the 1 item of clothing she will be wearing for the rest of the time she knows you.

Rebuttal for my rebuttal #2… gold doesn’t fade… you don’t have to spend $10,000 to have a warranty…

Well regular cleanings, sizing, retouching, replacements, insurance, resetting, adding anniversary goodies all come at a premium if that warranty ain’t right.

Rebuttal for my rebuttal #3…I believe I had a job when I met her…and I’m pretty sure I’ll have one if she leaves…

Be that as it may, extraordinary women come with perks. They don’t just cheer on the sidelines (which is great too), they help with papers, they help with reports, they help rehearse lines and write scripts… the regular ones a “good thing” but the cold ones expose a man to a whole new set of blessings. I think that could be considered worth an extra month of Steak-umm®.

Rebuttal for my rebuttal #5… we spend twice as much as that on vehicles that are eventually discarded, but those vehicles also have an actual use…people rent cars…borrow cars…does anybody rent rings?

This was an easy one. All I’ll say on that is try telling a potential wife her ring will be of no use. Good luck.

Rebuttal for rebuttal #6…she should be loyal for richer or poorer…I thought her loyalty came with it…

I’d considered this thought as well. Loyalty is definitely a requisite of marriage – but a good marriage is full of reassurances and promises to never take advantage of someone’s loyalty. So demonstrations of commitment go a LONG way during a woman’s daily thought processes. How happy she will make him is decided largely on how many of these demonstrations she consistently sees.

It’s a touchy subject but I would definitely consider loyalty weighed, not in finances, but in sacrifices. That means showing her an above & beyond sacrifice speaks volumes about your commitment to her.

Here’s the funny part – I’m an advocate for being frugal in every way you can. These rebuttals are a result of the conversations I know I’ll have to have when that day comes. I’m just trying to see the other side. And frankly the other side seems pretty reasonable. 2 months now doesn’t seem like such a stretch. And 2-3 will definitely just seem like overkill if you don’t subscribe to what was discussed here. I think the key is to not let it overwhelm you – but be very thoughtful.

If you really want to get gangster and be a faith-buff you’ll open an account specifically to save for a ring before you even have a candidate. But that’s another conversation.

The Pa$tor’s Finances, What the Church Isn’t Doing & You

Pa$tor, Pastor's Wife, Deacon, Church Members

Pa$tor, Pastor’s Wife, Deacon, Church Members

If the congregation is giving to a well-run church, the pastor AND the church’s bills will be taken care of. And if this pastor has money to pull up to the scene with the ceilin’ missin’ then hey… C’est la vie, right?

Quite a few mega churches I know of are buying land, subsidizing housing, building schools, launching neighborhood watch programs and God knows what else. I’ve been to several in D/FW alone that do it big in their respective neighborhoods.

I was asked a question around whether or not a church and its pastor (or leadership) could or should raise the echelon of an entire neighborhood. Either answer has its own degree of controversy. One the one hand, shouldn’t a church and its god be powerful enough to move mountains – and a few blocks? On the other hand, should the material success of a community be compared to the spiritual prowess? There are debate-worthy points on both sides. It’s definitely a socioeconomic conversation I’d love to have.

For now, we’ll simply examine a community as a living organism that needs to learn to survive on its own. That means clergy, schools, parents, tax payers, voters, home-owners ALL need to be on the same page as far as advancing their area. Without all those pieces firing on all cylinders an area simply won’t have all the ingredients needed for success. I’m thinking it just be the church.

Faith tends to have a couple meanings in the context referred to when discussing churches’ faith-based giving initiatives. There is simply believing in something and then there is aspiring to achieve it. The difference is big and the ladder involves  the rallying of resources to get things done. The former – hope. There is room for both. I know I love to have hope on my sidelines cheering on the achievers. Even the achievers have to have hope. Some folk want to get in the game and some want to be in the presence of greatness. As I grow older I’ve found that I’m largely okay with both.

But for a discussion on achieving progress, responsible faith involves work – the work of a living breathing community. When we have hope and faith we can make major moves. When we don’t – typically nothing happens.

I wouldn’t get caught up in the cartoony/satirical/handkerchief “faith”. That’s old hat. There’s another group of folk that have faith and aspire to achieve great things. Those folk typically aren’t sitting in churches with ignorant teachers. Those folk are in churches that move mountains. Those folk are sitting in churches with amazing pastors and leadership staffs. And, yes, they sometimes drive a Benz.

So when it comes to pastors making more money than their congregation I can’t say that it concerns me whole lot.  Typically, and I mean typically, the pastor is one of the most educated. Why wouldn’t it be the case that a pastor has amassed a great deal of education and resources along the way. And wouldn’t it then be the case the they might just be more well off? Education, of any kind, typically merits more earnings. Typically, the pastor leads leaders, trains a flock and sharpens swords. I would be willing to give those assignments a pay raise. I guess it’s all in how once values the work pastors do.

The Congregation

Although a congregation full of educated people usually means they’ll be EXCITED about doing MOST of the community’s work OUTSIDE the church – instead of depending on any one organization for answers.

The passa’s Rolls Royce is keeping the rest of the church from solving community issues.

Got it. But I disrespectfully disagree. I think it is the strength of the communities themselves that ensure they thrive. I have even seen, on too many occasions, churches pulling the weight of a community – with no help.

If you’re secondary argument is that churches “shouldn’t need man’s help”, I disagree. To quote any scripture here might get me into trouble but I’ll say this: your god will put resources and people and circumstances in your life that you can turn into opportunities. Man is here to help.

If I had to stand on 1 side of any collective argument about the effectiveness and impact of churches I would have to side with the affirmative.

I’ve seen it – and you know you have too.

Even small churches do some awesome things. Haven’t you seen  it where smaller churches raise funds for members with cancer, or sponsor kids’ trips out of country, or provide after school care? I know I have.

Smaller churches seem to do the most work. It’s just concentrated in there small areas. Big churches probably have a way worse ratio of members who actually do things to help out the community.

I would chock that up to bystander apathy at mega churches. Sometimes they can get so big that people forget to do their part or that their part even matters still. They think others have already stepped up. It happens at small churches too but I would definitely say the bigdogs suffer more.

It’s also why I believe some of the larger churches initiatives are so grand – then individuals don’t have to care. Now you just show up, pay tithes (hopefully) and then you get to watch the 5-minute short film on the big screen the [insert cause] the church helped last week. Mission: Accomplished, right?

An effective church, not unlike effective government, should only have to go so far. Then the free liberties and collective goodness of the church should take over outside the walls of the church itself. However, your god should go with you everywhere – especially outside the church.

I think there is more work being done by God than all religious institutions combined. And my work I mean BIG things. You just have to want to be in tune with what those works actually are and you’ll be open to them.

It’s definitely an interesting argument to challenge why ISSUES and GOD can exist at the same time. But I’ll leave the Theodicy conversations for the zealots.

Is Jesus The Only Way Into Heaven? (Part II)

Black Jesus

Black Jesus

The original question centered around whether accepting Jesus was the only way into heaven.

An apples to apples debate would we understood heaven at least similarly, so let me take a moment to define. I understand heaven to be our souls returning to our creator’s side after fulfilling our purposes here on earth. And that any presence of this creator, while serving here, is not heaven but something different. And while different, still essential, still tangible and still beautiful.

I also feel that some will never meet their creator. I believe some will simply pass away like other organisms and never get the opportunity… because they choose not to recognize a creator exists. Albeit unfortunate, some believe they are themselves gods and will never seek to explore that concept any further.

So where does Jesus fit in? I think it’s very possible that God, through whatever means, provided a blueprint for how to live in order to end up at His side. I think that blueprint was Jesus’ (or whatever new shiny name you have for him). Even if scholars, who’ve sought to prove Jesus’ stories, were all wrong I can’t see how living like him or believing in him would put us at a disadvantage. Living this way is the very definition of the pursuit of righteousness. You accept Him by seeking to live like him.

The First Council of Nicaea

The First Council of Nicaea

Accepting the fact that God provided a blueprint, even through the pen of the council of Nicea, is in fact a bold and conscious step. Contrary to popular belief, there are many that move from blind Christian faith to intelligent agnostic beliefs… and then BACK to a more learned Christian faith. You don’t have to let another MAN’s scholarly research derail your spiritual faith. There will always be counter arguments from those who ALSO want to be published or heard. We are all adults and should seek to have discernment either.

Knowing full well the contradictions theorized by scholars I still trust that the 66 books we do know about or “ended up with” give me what I need to “end up” at my creator’s side. In fact, if there was any conspiracy in the missing books it’s very possible they may have hurt the overall context of the final work. I’ll allow for a little editing.

What we’ve heard from this debate is that the Bible was written by imperfect MEN so it must too be imperfect. That Jesus is just one of many exceptional men or maybe not even real at all. I’ll accept that argument?

But as you read this, are you willing to concede that living through Christ WON’T get you to heaven? Or that He is not the only way?

The “star-system” heaven or the “of-the-earth” heaven that was discussed earlier both sound very practical and pragmatic which is admirable. But is the heaven that you understand a practical matter? Or is the idea of heaven much more profound?

If the God you serve is grand enough to create a universe then I’m sure that god has a grander vision of your “afterlife” than that of a tree which is also very practical.

Heaven is a faith-based initiative. Anyone that could prove it would either have to be from heaven or IN heaven to explain it. And if you want in you already have access to one of those… his name Jesus.

68 Ways To Get To Heaven

John 3:16 (124)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Helpful Not Helpful
Ephesians 2:8-9 (93)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

John 14:6 (86)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 10:9 (80)

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Matthew 7:21-27 (60)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. …

Matthew 6:14-15 (43)

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Romans 3:23 (41)

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

John 14:15 (40)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Matthew 5:17-20 (34)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 19:16-17 (33)

And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”

Luke 18:21-25 (28)

And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 10:27 (28)

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 6:1-6 (28)

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. …

John 4:24 (25)

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Romans 6:23 (24)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Matthew 7:1-2 (24)

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

John 5:27-29 (23)

And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

John 3:3 (23)

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 6:24 (21)

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Matthew 5:20 (20)

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 7:13-14 (19)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Matthew 6:19-20 (17)

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 13:44-46 (16)

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

1 John 5:13 (13)

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

Mark 9:43-45 (13)

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.

Matthew 19:23-24 (13)

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 16:27 (13)

For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Matthew 5:19 (13)

Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

John 14:26 (12)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Luke 8:20-21 (12)

And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Luke 10:30-37 (11)

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. …

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (10)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

John 6:53 (10)

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

John 3:36 (10)

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Matthew 5:1-48 (10)

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. …

2 Corinthians 6:2 (9)

For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Romans 13:4 (9)

For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Romans 5:8 (9)

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

John 15:13-14 (9)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.

John 4:48 (9)

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”

Luke 13:22-35 (9)

He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ …

Mark 1:15 (9)

And saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Matthew 26:52-54 (8)

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

Deuteronomy 28:47-48 (8)

Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.

Genesis 9:5-6 (8)

And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.

Luke 6:46-49 (7)

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Mark 16:16 (7)

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Matthew 23:1-3 (7)

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice.

Exodus 20:1-26 (7)

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, …

Genesis 4:1-26 (7)

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. …

Luke 22:36 (6)

He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.

Matthew 4:1-25 (6)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple …

John 15:1-27 (5)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. …

Matthew 25:40 (5)

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 5:38-39 (5)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Exodus 22:2-3 (5)

If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.

Exodus 22:1-31 (5)

“If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. If the stolen beast is found alive in his possession, whether it is an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double. “If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets his beast loose and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best in his own field and in his own vineyard. …

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (4)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Romans 8:1-39 (4)

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. …

Mark 10:17 (4)

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Matthew 4:7 (4)

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

2 Chronicles 17:10 (4)

And the fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah, and they made no war against Jehoshaphat.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (3)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, …

Romans 1:26-27 (3)

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Luke 16:24 (3)

And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’

Deuteronomy 28:1-68 (3)

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. …

Numbers 31:3 (2)

So Moses spoke to the people, saying, “Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the Lord’s vengeance on Midian.

Genesis 5:10-16 (2)

Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 years, and he died. When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel. Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died. …

Is Jesus The Only Way Into Heaven? (Part I)

The First Council of Nicaea

The First Council of Nicaea

I know not the way into to the “heaven”. I am but a man – a living one at that. How in the world would I have a formula on what happens to a flesh-person body becomes earth again? Were it not for a text that declares it I might just be content to live in ignorant bliss. This text that defines who Jesus is and why he seems to be the only way into Heaven. This text might help us in this discussion but you all know the scriptures associated with going to the big show.

Please be mindful that we would have to all learn Aramaic to debate this sufficiently but I’m waiting for the weigh-room to open so I’ll give it a shot in the King’s English.

This text also says a lot of things about when to grow crops, how to treat a wife, and how to be a good son to your parents. It breaks the laws of physics (as we know them) and much, much more so I understand the rush to flea such a text in the search of definitive truths.

But heaven itself is not a really ‘definitive’ truth – it’s a faith-based initiative. And what is faith but a belief in Jesus? If you don’t believe in Jesus then you can’t believe in His heaven? If you don’t believe in heaven then why have you read this far?

Some would say that we are already in heaven. If we’re already in paradise then where does any argument about the an after life come in? Then we’d be arguing a non-sequitur. We’ll deal with that later.

To the intelligentsia – I hear you loud & clear on the former Jesus-like characters from the past. Even the name Jesus was copied from a very similar figures before His time so I hear you on that. But I would argue that even making the comparison means you recognize what He stood for – He was a savior.

Is your definition of heaven something that transcends all time because the idea of Jesus would simply move from one era to another then. Kind of how Adrian Peterson is the Eric Dickerson of today. You either think Jesus wasn’t actually the son of God or you don’t think he was real at all but you understand what he stood for.

I’ve heard some of the more prudent and practical arguments that claim heaven is the complex star systems. We can not enter into star systems. Sure it could be argued that we are of the earth and the earth is in space so we are in space but that would be too easy. In a conversation about the afterlife. Would you be arguing that we enter into the stars or that heaven is “the stars”? I’d wonder then if you didn’t see star systems as heaven but you see heaven as merely a pseudonym for star system. And you would be my hero for such a bold claim.

You would be deciding to compare a very definitive, physical entity with where  a soul – A SOUL – ends up after it fleas the flesh-form it assumed for 72 hours or 72 years. You would be comparing a very real place like the galaxy to where a soul goes… o_O

After death, our fleshly bodies belong to the earth again… I’m not sure anything that has ever existing on this planet has ever made it off this planet – which kind of means the stars never actually touch us.

Jesus and Slaves
Was Christianity not around prior to the Trans-Atlantic Slave-Trade? If so, I wouldn’t blame our “belief system” on Europeans or whites. If you believe that there is a God (1.) and that he had a son of a earthly virgin (2.) and that he later died to show a deteriorating world what sacrifice looked like (3.) then even Europeans don’t own that story. That could be said of many, many of our ancestors – ancient Egyptians included.

Some would say the Europeans creating a system to oppress. It’s been done for centuries and they simply jumped on the bandwagon of what works. Slavery worked for a while – a long while. I will give you that. But ask yourself; is it just because THEY “gave” it to us that you choose to deny the parable and wisdom of the Bible. Is it so hard to digest that if a god existed that that god wouldn’t find a way to hand us a Word we could consume as opposed to living a life of implication?

On another note – as long as we blame the “white man” or A.D. Europeans for any our behaviors we don’t deserve to inherit “the Kingdom” or wealth or freedom. The moment we stopped the blame we started making positive strides. It’s happened time & time again. The moment we own our own destiny on earth is the moment when get a seat at a table we built.

I would also ask yourself who the bible was written for? It wasn’t us slaves. We came later.

Seeking Christ consciousness will give us the heaven we desire…

I have a question: if you don’t accept and follow Jesus will you go to heaven?

Another way to pose the question – is there any doubt in your own mind that if you died without accepting Him… would you be concerned at all about going to Heaven?

I love the quote…

“Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die to get there.”

It just goes to show the very personal divide and perception of separation between the living and dead. We all value the idea of Heaven but why do we find so valuable the existence of our tender flesh.

What is our purpose if we have to feel relegated to merely living?

And I totally get it where some of my brothers and sisters are coming from.

Jesus is not the only way to enter into Heaven because we’re already there. Or that heaven is already in us. And that we are all Gods already.

What is heaven then? One can not sit at his own side after death. That’s just life.

In fact, the term heaven is derived from a word that means a place where God lives (or something like that). So it makes sense that we would have to recognize how much God (or righteousness) was already in us in order to deserve to sit as his side. I hear you on that.

How would we recognize that righteousness but to identify with someone who was Christ-like.

We are temporary beings. How is that a god could be temporary? We are here for a short period of time and then the bodies we know break down.

Further, if we were all gods then we are all capable of the same things, and we all have the same access to *heaven* but for a great divider – the quest for righteousness.

“Things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other.” ~ Euclid

While our capacities to live well may be the same, the hearts and minds of men differ greatly. Why would the lives of all men, either tyrannical or philanthropic, lead to the same end? We could not all be deserving of the same “conclusion” unless our decisions about life and how to lead it balance with our fellow man. I think this is where the example of Jesus comes about. And possibly why Niceas folk decided to take on the task of an outline in the first place.

Literature was fast-growing at the time and there was much more worldly influences so it would make sense that “Christ” was needed.

If we seek to be Christ-like then we can right the ship, if you will, and come back in line with righteousness.

That still equals subscribing to Christ or a Christ in order to make it into heaven.

Sex-less Marriages, But Not The Kind You’re Thinking Of

This appetite for same-sex marriage reached a tipping point when it was clear that traditional marriage was entering an era of failure. Traditional marriage are starting and ending for more ridiculous reasons nowadays. And Since heterosexuals can’t seem to get it right, the entire conversation about alternative styles has taken a front seat and appears to be hear to stay. The why not’s have come out of the wood works. It would almost seem as if we’re moving into an era where marriage is less about the sex of the individuals seeking them and more about their motives.

N.J. Senate rejects bill legalizing gay marriage

N.J. Senate rejects bill legalizing gay marriage

In society’s hasten nature to compare the now with the then the movement is being compared to the Civil Rights Movement. So I decided to at least consider it. Other than marriage (and it entails), are there any other “rights” the Gay & Lesbian community are being denied? I’ve always been confused about the idea of readily comparing a same-sex marriage campaign with the litany of discrimination that the Civil Rights Movement sought to reconcile.

They are indeed both wicked restrictions on an otherwise “free” society but a line item “limitation” compared to an entire culture of “restraints” don’t seem to add up in my mind. Let’s remember there were anti-Afro-American laws that needed to be purged from the books and not simply expanded for inclusion.

“Someone penned laws against our (Afro-American) Freedom and convinced otherwise good & thinking people to vote in favor of them. This is a monstrous manipulation of democracy.” ~ Unknown

Although, I will cede that the Gay & Lesbian civil liberties conversation would not have legs were it not for the Civil Rights Movements. It is a cog in the wheel of all that was considered the Civil Rights Movement – but certainly just a part of it. And actually if prodded longer, I would also go as far as to say it is an extension.

Same-Sex Marriage

The only real crossroads “same-sex relationships” and “the law” should share is in determining whether it benefits society. Removing all religious  arguments from the table and dealing specifically with the creation (or limitation) of laws – should the definition of marriage be expanded to include two consenting adults? When examined in its naked form – yes. Is it legally healthy for a society to systematically exclude any citizens from anything that any other citizen has access to?  No.

Adversely, as long as two adults can buy a home together, pay a mortgage together, pay property taxes, adopt a child and send her to college why wouldn’t their also exist a clean legal instrument to represent that partnership? Marriage seems to be that instrument.

Alan Keyes made possibly the realist argument against same-sex marriage.

In one of the few debates where Obama has ever gotten his *ss handed to him, Alan raises a “principled” argument that simply must be considered. Though ultimately wrong on the basis that marriage no longer represents just those interested in procreation. Keyes argued that, in principle, the institution of marriage was put in place to facilitate the growth of a family. A very interesting perspective, indeed.

Religion, Or The Lack There Of

I typically leave religion out of any substantive discussion/debate about same-sex marriage. It’s a straw argument. This country has gone out of its way to deviate from “God” and the Bible on many occasions. To be independent of any set religious edicts but still be able to cherry-pick its talking points seems to be the goal. Where God starts and stops in our laws is all over the place at best.

Religion only builds a wall that says the practice of homosexuality is (collectively) unnatural. But religion is not how our laws seem to be based or confined by. I’m merely saying it shouldn’t be included in a conversation about constructing laws.

I hate to even go here, but there are tenants in the Bible that would be considered illegal in the laws of the land but totally condoned in scripture. On the other hand, we have items in scripture that are perfectly within the law of the land but considered punishable by death in the Bible.

However, the Bible condemns, quite frequently, the practice of homosexuality. Either we commit to legally condemning even the casual relationships of the Gay & Lesbian community or admit that there is some separation between the laws we govern ourselves with and that of the scripture.

Laws created based solely on scripture would violate what our Constitution attempts to establish as freedom. Again, I simply find homosexuality unfortunate because I know what it’s like to love the opposite sex and I want others to experience it the way I have.

I’ve found myself, on occasion, even praying for their strength. Not to free them from “the binds of homosexuality” but to ensure they find the same internal peace that I exercise.

In Conclusion

What anti-Gay sentiment looks for is that advocates prove that not being able to marry is unlawful or unconstitutional. But being unlawful means a current law is being breached – this is not the case. What being unconstitutional means is to deviate from the freedoms designed in the constitution – this doesn’t do that either. This is what makes same-sex marriage so complicated to lobby for in reference to the CRM or woman’s voting rights.

This issue of same-sex marriage is a state-sanctioned practice and must be dealt with within the confines of state laws. That’s what makes this conversation so enticing – the fact that same-sex marriage lives between so many or our previously vetted social victories. The fact is; it’s new.

Marriage is, in its safest legal sense, an instrument of partnership. If the Gay & Lesbian community regroup and start there they may find what they’re looking for is already within reach.

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