It’s a fact that there are just a few lines to carve into your gravestone or fit into your obituary in the back of your local newspaper. So what would it say about you? What would you hope it would say about you?
As a Christian (I prefer the term ‘disciple’ and ‘believer’ so we’ll be switching effective now, by the way), since we have an ever-present awareness of eternity this question becomes even more significant. For the fool who is perishing in a perpetual state of drinking wine, being merry and essentially living for themselves alone by filling voids that can’t be filled with ‘stuff’ that doesn’t transcend the grave, they would be happy if their gravestone didn’t mention the way they lived and perhaps had a nice line like ‘Bob was a good dad and husband”. But for the believer, we know that that stuff is just the beginning of the journey – part of the entrance requirement test if you will. The bare basics, perhaps. It’s easy to love those who love you, but what about those who abuse, betray, defraud you and those you love?
I came across this most helpful list of cut-and-dry obligations for the believer. Believers are not subject to the laws of the old testament, but we live lives that *fulfil* them as we live our lives more and more like Jesus through the work that he completed on the cross. So to look at a list of duties like this the temptation is always to get old-skool testament on oneself, perhaps even spiritually beating oneself down. But it’s critical that we examine ourselves. Yes, we have a conscience that will tell us right from wrong, but even the unbeliever has that. We are privileged to have God’s own word as a mirror into which we can see our spiritual reflection. This post is a good one to take a nice overall look.
However, this list seems to be missing a part of the ‘obligation list’ that is pretty significant. In fact, it’s the only thing that Jesus commanded us to do after he departed to heaven:
“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16: 15
Just to back it up, let’s take a look at Paul’s kind of ‘pre-death message’ in 2 Timothy. He knew his time was short and was starting to get ready for what he expected might happen to him. Here is what he had to say:
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge he quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.
For the time will come, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith;
Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing
And so there is much more to do in our life as a disciple of Jesus than the inward stuff. Once the inward stuff is rolling, it should be followed by outward proof of faith. The one main such thing is the preaching of the word to others.
You need to seriously remember that Jesus said in Luke 9:23
“For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s , and of the holy angels.”
Preach it. Don’t hide your light under a basket. Don’t be a ‘closet Christian’.
And stand in front of the spiritual mirror, the Word of God, and let it change you to the way you are supposed to be, not the way the world has deceived you to be.
I have got to say… Watching this presentation by Stella Young completely revolutionized the way I view disabled people. In a humourous way, Ms. Young presents a non-humourous subject matter – the way non-disabled people view disabled people. My spew will follow underneath the embedded TED Talk below:
This speech really challenged me and my position and relationship with God, in fact. I was indeed one of those people who, whether consciously or unconsciously, expected the disabled person to inspire me – the non-disabled person – to reach new heights. After hearing such speeches and seeing such limitations smitten before my eyes, I was left to feel sorry about my current effort in life and, albeit for the blink of an eye, felt like I could move mountains.
But that was all wrong and warped and I bet if you surveyed most people in those audiences that very few went on to excellence as a result of being there. Why? Because the people watching were suffering from the same condition that the speaker was: the human condition.
The human condition is one of full weakness, not strength.
Unlike many folks who like to scream out such positive words like ‘I can do all things if I think positively!” and “I’m my own man!” and “I’m creating my future!” and “The future is in my hands!”, the truth is, you are the clay and God is your Potter. You didn’t make yourself, you didn’t put yourself in your birth family, life, and city, nor do you have the first clue about what tomorrow will bring.
Why does this matter? Because you are suffering from this weakness. We *all* share this position of weakness.
We *all* share this position of weakness.
This world is in a fallen condition. Our bodies are frail, our health is constantly challenged, we have sin grinding against our conscience (wanting to do good but never doing it and vice versa) and one day, like every other human who went before us, will die and these bodies will become the dust of the earth.
We are *all* weak. None of us are strong.
And so after watching Ms. Young speak, I looked down at my right index finger and saw the tip which was cut off in a lawn mower and the other side of the same finger that was cut off in my motorcycle chain. I, too, have a disability. It messed up my classical guitar recital and subsequent career as a classical guitar rock star, but guess what? I’m doing just fine and I can still rock out on Bach any time I have time. I feel totally human and I don’t wake up in the morning thinking too much about that finger tip.
Ms. Young and a few other folks just have some disabilities that are a bigger pain in the hindquarters than index finger.
It also highlights to me how badly we need each other. I am done with solo projects. If I can’t work with people and teams, forget it. Life is too short to hide in my office and put off meeting other people till later. I want my day job to involve people all the time. Other people are awesome. They challenge me and they make life interesting.
I hope this post and Stella Young’s presentation helped you get over yourself and your selfish need to feel better about yourself by watching other people’s weaknesses. Focus on your own pile of weaknesses (and you have a lot of them, by the way, most of which are not physical) and cry out to God to help you overcome them and be a blessing to others.
This revelation has been a long time in the making. There is a lot of teaching out there in the world that goes something like this:
- richer is better
- riches will increase happiness
- getting rich quicker is better than getting rich slowly
- he who has more riches is has accomplished more in this world
- the amount of riches is equal to your value on the earth
- and so on
Unbelievably (although not really if you read Revelations and other prophecies because it’s predicted in vivid technicolour), many of these teachings have crept into the church. They look like this:
- God wants you rich
- the more riches you have, the more blessed you are
- there is a direct correlation between amount of riches and your faith level
Essentially, it’s the same story in the church and out which is more than somewhat disturbing.
But I was victim to it. I came from a path of seeking riches and fame to the foot of the cross where I met Jesus. I was immediately greeted by teachings in the church that supported this way of being so I was never really led to question it.
Today God started opening my eyes about riches and within a few seconds of searching I came to this page which summarizes the entire book of Proverbs and what it has to say about riches.
First, the book of Proverbs is, for all intensive purposes, God as Wisdom speaking to us and imparting the way we ought to live if we want to be successful both in the earth and the afterlife. It’s bar none the most practical book for daily living and building up a good foundation.
Somehow I glossed over the scriptures on riches until today when this one jumped off the page and whack-slapped me left, right and up.
“He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall overcome him. ” – Proverbs 28:22
Now in the King Wayne Version (KWV)
“A dude who rushes to be rich for the sake of being rich is an evil dude, and didn’t stop too think that poverty is about to run up from behind him, trip him, stomp on him, and then body slam him (followed up with a whack-slap while he’s down)”
This confirms everything in my life. I have been seeking riches for some other motive that wasn’t for the glory of God. In addition to that, I’ve been always frustrated why the path has been horribly ‘slow’ and full of much painful learning. I have often questioned God’s presence in the midst of it.
Slowly, I am coming to the ‘full’ revelation that the slow and painful path is in fact the way to true riches, not just spiritually but also in the world. And this makes all the sense in the world. If God had’ve dropped a bag of gold on my lap five years ago, I would have made hasty and incorrect decisions that would have not been seasoned with wisdom. Now that I used friends and family money to lose it all, I am going through a long period of having nothing extra. And this is good. Yes, you read that correctly. Nothing could have been better for my soul than this intense suffering.
Wide is the road that leads to destruction.
Many go down it.
Narrow is the road that leads to life.
Few find it.
Conclusion of this matter is as follows:
- The slow way is the better way to riches
- The hard way is the better way
- The narrow path is the better path
- Above all, if our motive is not for the glory of God, we need to get that part right first
The ‘tithe’ has a lot of significance to me these days.
When I first gave my life to Jesus the first major challenge I had was the concept of the tithe because my worldly teachers had always taught me to ‘save and invest in my own empire’. Wikipedia defines the tithe as 10% contribution to a religious organization or compulsory tax to the government. So, in a sense, you are all doing *way* more than a tithe to your local roads and hospitals. The Biblical tithe, at its root, is recognizing the Lord God as the Great Provider of everything we have, and giving back the first fruits of our labour to Him as a sacrifice. It’s truly a sign of faith. In fact, it was the most challenging thing I had to face. It was very easy for me to freely accept the love of God and the blood of Jesus, but it was quite a bit more difficult to reach into my pockets and give some of his provisions back to Him. The old proverb ‘put your money where your mouth is’ speaks of this challenge. The other expression that comes to mind is when one ‘puts skin in the game’. No one will treat you seriously until you can do both of these – including God.
What I have come to learn about the tithe is that it is the most beautiful foundation for a successful life. As I type this blog post, I am wildly successful in some ways (ie. I still have a wife who hasn’t left me, and two beautiful girls, and a job that provides for our needs, my health, etc) but financially I’m am probably in the worst shape of anyone I know in my circle. Why? I found out there is also the ‘evil tithe’ also known as the ‘Franchise Advertising and Royalty fee’. I was under the domination of this corrupt system for nearly six years. During this time, the Franchisor took, took, and took their 10% but, unlike God who promises in Malachi that he will open the floodgates of heaven if we give 10%, the Franchisor gave nearly nothing back (unless you consider a logo and a product line enough on its own). We expected a top notch team of marketing professionals who would, as good stewards of our ‘tithe’, spend the money and drive business back to our stores, constantly reinventing the brand, etc, but this is not what we saw. What we saw was store owners (franchisees) going bankrupt and stores churning and churning. It was not a ‘voluntary tithe’ but a mandatory one.
This whole awful experience of watching my financial life bleed to death by exactly 10% (yes, the exact amount that I am in debt is the amount the Franchisor took) made me get back to the concept of tithing. In a sense, I was treating God much like the way the Franchisor was treating me. God had given me so indescribably much and yet what was I giving back to God? Nearly nothing. I can say ‘zilch’. I was not much more than a ‘Sunday Christian’.
But something has changed recently. God has given me new revelation on the tithe and everything is being restructured in my life. Here is what the Lord showed me:
- I should tithe my life since I don’t have money in the bank (this month)
- I am awake about 16 hours which is 960 minutes every day
- 10% of 960 minutes is 96 minutes or, about 1.5 hours.
- This ‘tithe time’ can include: time in the Bible, time in prayer, time in worship, time watching inspiring sermons, time doing the hard learning of a student (Greek, Hebrew, theology, etc)
I started immediately aiming for this goal and I can tell you beyond the shadow of a doubt the Lord is stepping closer to me and things are changing in my life. My marriage is getting better. My kids are getting closer. My job is becoming more prosperous. The Lord is coming closer. That is really important, people. All the other challenges in our life (and I need not explain that this life is not a bed of roses) will grow pale and faint when measured against the majesty and glory of a holy God. The more time we spend with Him the bigger He appears and the smaller our temporary problems appear. It’s amazing.
And so I set forth this challenge to anyone else who has been frustrated by their life spinning in an endless hamster wheel. Let’s tithe our life to God.
But let’s not end there. Let’s start there. Once we hit 10% of our day, let’s increase that to 15%! And once the paycheque comes in, let’s dump 10% right into God’s kingdom. Then, when God builds and prospers our financial world, let’s increase that to 15%.
My true goal is to have the ‘inverse tithe’ in my life where I am giving God 90% of my life and ‘dealing with’ 10%. I haven’t been able to quantify what this will look like but it’s nice to dream and plan.
8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts.
12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.
Update: Thanks to a friend of mine who found this quick interview with Rick Warren about giving. It’s truly quite amazing the similarities with what he says!
So there I am typing an email to someone who sits somewhere between a friend, an acquaintance and a business partner. I had begun the email typing very quickly, not even taking the time to hit the shift key to capitalize his name.
At the end of the email, as is customary, I nailed the shift key and typed my ‘W’. That’s short for ‘Wayne’ if you are curious. Just before I pressed send, I realized that my recipient’s name was underlined by the browser’s spell check feature, but my ‘W’ wasn’t. Immediately, I thought ‘This will look bad if my name is capitalized but his name is not.”
Then the real thought struck me:
Why are the names of mortals like us capitalized at all?
I did a search in a major search engine and to my surprise, I couldn’t find an article on this topic. I could find many articles about how and when to use capital letters, but not why we use them.
I can understand capitalizing God’s name because God is God – He is worthy of a capital letter -He created the heavens, the earth and all that is therein. But not me. Nope. I’m not worthy of a capital letter – my poop stinks and I talk too much. I’m not worthy of having my name distinguished as if I have done some great thing in this world. And even if I had done some great thing in this world that some human thought was important, did that warrant a capital like God? Did I create flowers and DNA and the stars and the moon or a newborn babe or the eagle soaring in the air? Methinks not.
Don’t get me wrong. I think people are important. I think they are so important that God sent His own Son Jesus to die for them, for crying out loud; You don’t see Him doing that for pigs or cows – not that they don’t have their place in creation. So people are dearly important. However, I think it’s arrogance and ego that started the capital letters on people’s names. Let’s humble ourselves a bit and not think of ourselves as so great.
So, starting today, I encourage you to start removing the capital letter from all these people’s names. If they would allow you to put their thoughts and the rotten condition of their heart on a big screen, the world would quickly see (in HD quality) that they do not deserve a capital letter. So, backspace, type your boss’ names again without the capital. Be sure to include a link to this article so they don’t blame you for this act of what they will probably consider defiance, rudeness or lack of English language proficiency.
If you don’t buy into the theological reasons for killing the crapitals, at the end of the day, think how much faster you could type if you didn’t have to hit the bloody shift key for every ‘proper name’.
-wayne taylor, december, 2012