Friday, August 22, 2008

Question and Answer: Tithing

Dear Pastor Bob,
I was questioned the other day about where it is in the Bible regarding tithing 1/10th of your income. I found it in Numbers 18, but was wondering if it was in the New Testament as well. And if it says 1/10th of “your income", specifically.

I would appreciate your insight into this, so I can "argue" back accurately. Thanks.

Answer: Dear Reader,

1. The word 'tithe' literally translates, 'a tenth part.' It is a self-defining word. The following notes accompany the word 'tithe' in Strong's Dictionary:
1) tithe, tenth part
1a) tenth part
1b) tithe, payment of a tenth part
-Strong's Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

2. The concept of tithing is established in the Old Testament way before the law was given: Abraham tithed to Melchizedek in Genesis chapter 14. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is revealed as a priest according to the priesthood of Melchizedek. (See Hebrews 5:10) Therefore, as children of Abraham by faith (Galatians 3:7) we tithe to Jesus through His church.

Many issues of faith are established in the Old Testament and carried into the New Testament. Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matt 23:23) And in Luke: "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Luke 11:42

Notice in both cases the Scripture quotes Jesus as saying, "These you ought to have done." Jesus validates the tithe as the appropriate measure of giving. As a matter of fact, the tithe (10th part) is the universal measuring stick of biblical giving.

3. Actually, the New Testament standard of giving goes way beyond the tithe. If we were going to use the New Testament to determine the appropriate amount to give we should consider Acts 4:32-36: "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common...Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need."

How's that for a measuring stick... Giving everything!

4. Tithing is only a dilemma for people who give less than 10%. I have never met a person who gives more than 10% of their income to the church complain about the teaching on tithing. Only people who begrudge God His portion are offended and become legalistic. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us: "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38 (NKJV)

Because the Old Testament clearly establishes ten percent as an acceptable measure of giving to God, the Church has recognized this amount as a bare minimum measure for a grateful child of God under the New Covenant. This is a wonderful and right use of Scripture.

5. Leviticus reveals the tithe as the Lord's property: 'And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's. It is holy to the LORD. Leviticus 27:30 Because we monetize wealth today and measure it in dollars rather than land and goods, the principle carries over to the money system.

6. In the New Testament, Judas, the betrayer, robbed from Jesus (John 12:6) by stealing money from the box. Church members today rob from Jesus treasury by refusing to tithe:

"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts; "And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land," Says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:8-12 (NKJV)

Tithing is how the church is funded. It is God's plan to finance the organized establishment of the New Testament Church. People who consider themselves committed Christians and belong to churches but do not tithe are robbing God. It is no different than sneaking into a movie theater without paying admission or sneaking into a college class without paying tuition.

7. Why don't more people, if they are truly Christians, ask the opposite question... "Why does the Church only ask for a measly ten percent? Doesn't the pastor want us to be really blessed?" Consider the following:

"And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6

The very reasonable amount of ten percent is used in the New Testament because it was established in the Old Testament and not specifically abolished by Jesus. The principle of 'an eye for an eye' was established in the Old Testament but abolished by Jesus and replaced with 'turn the other cheek,' which is much harder. If Jesus were to abolish any Old Testament principle, He would replace it with something harder, not easier!

8. Tithing is not 'works righteousness' but the biblically established expectation of minimum giving. It is the 'outworking' of our faith. "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:17-20

I hope this helps. This is just a brief synopsis of a very important subject.
Blessings, Pastor Bob

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Church Family Update

Hi Church Family,

  • Crazy Hats this Saturday, August 23 at the annual Margaretville Street Fair. Come try your hand as a high-fashion hat designer as we dazzle the crowd with our handmade newspaper creations. See Stephanie for details. 586-3150

  • Street closing. Starting Monday, August 25, Main Street, Margaretville will be closed in front of the Ming Moon restaurant for a week or more. Plan on some inconvenience in coming to CMCC during that time as only the west approach will be open and our parking lot might have some extra cars.

  • A new floor for our CAP food program. The following was written by Family Table CAP staff member, Stephanie Seminara, commenting on the work done, mainly during August, when some regular activities here at CMCC were on hiatus:

    Resurfacing the floors in our warehouse and store in recent weeks was no small task. In the warehouse, 24-plus pallets of food and other materials had to be moved from section to section in the room and the surface stripped and prepped to allow the special epoxy-based product to be applied.

    When the warehouse floor was complete, the entranceway, hallway and store floors had to be addressed. It was decided that Saturday night was the best time to break down the store because Sunday would provide the best drying time before reopening as soon as the new surface was cured. At precisely 3pm, as promised, a swarm of our teens led by Paul Engelhardt descended on our store and in short order had the place stripped bare. All shelving was broken down and removed and all food was boxed up and taken away. As the shelves and brackets flew out the door and were turned into a neat pile, it reminded me of a kid's erector set.

    Exactly 4 days later, with the floors looking new, the store was reassembled and we were back in business. Because much of the work was done at night, I do not know everyone who participated, but thanks to Paul Engelhardt and Bob Lanzilotta who led the project and all others who worked behind the scenes.

  • Sign-up your children for Royal Rangers or True Beauties. Our Royal Rangers group is for boys ages 8-17 and True Beauties is for girls ages 10-14. Both groups meet at CMCC Mondays from 6:45 - 8:45. Starting back up September 8th. Call Katie at the church office for more info: 586-4848

  • Attention Catskill Mountain Christian Academy parents. Any outstanding school fees must be paid in order for your children to start school this September. Also, this year’s curriculum, which is due to be purchased now, will not be ordered for students until outstanding and currently owed fees are received.

  • Last weekend CMCC teens and young adults gathered for their long anticipated SANCTIFIED Conference. And it was no disappointment! Leading off with over 200 attending was a rock concert by breakout band ‘After Edmund’ on Thursday night. From that point forward, the entire weekend built a sense of holy energy. The band, hailing from Georgia, performed music from their debut CD, ‘Hello.’

    During intermission, our youth performed a powerful dramatic presentation depicting the struggle of a young woman and the victory, peace and protection of Jesus. There were very few dry eyes in the house at the end of the skit.

    On Friday, over 60 attended a day-long event with well-known youth and worship leaders Rev. Mark and Mary Meyers from Lake Mary, Florida. The Meyers have spent the past twenty years leading youth and worship in mega-church settings and now travel and impart their passion to youth nationwide. Our young people were encouraged in who they are in Jesus, and asked to think about the question “If I were to die today, what would people say about me?”

    The evening ended around the fire pit at Pastor Engelhardt’s home and the kids made smores, took turns talking about what the day had meant to them, and discussing the question, “What do I want people to say about me?” The common message that ran throughout the weekend was an encouragement for kids to ‘be real’ with themselves, and with God, and to protect their relationship with Jesus at all costs.

  • Last Saturday evening Mark Meyers led a group of CMCC singers and musicians in a special praise and worship evening. The love of God flooded everyone’s heart in attendance as Pastor Meyers drew on a broad variety of both new and old music and shared his powerful gift as a singer and musician. Mark has the rare ability to reach into people’s hearts and unlock their inner love for God and also to reach into God’s heart and bring forth His inner love for His people.

  • 10 of CMCC’s finest returned from a 10 day mission to a remote village in southern Mexico on August 4th. Led by Pastor Renard Barto, the CMCC contingent included Alicia and Deanna Barto, Bob Roe, Dave Stewart, Jim and Jake Johnson, Chris and Greg DiBennedetto, and Sharon Rose Engelhardt. I asked the members for feedback and received the following:

    CHRIS DIBENNEDETTO: It was quite an experience. Not only the travel adventures but just about any interaction we had with the people there. It was great being part of a team to help fill various needs as they arose. From the medical clinic to the hair cutting area to praying for the people, I honestly feel I was ministered to as much as they were.

    Although the language barrier was challenging at times, I remember thinking, at my host families' house, as they would pray before meals when the father would end with "in el nombre de Jesus"(in the name of Jesus), could there really be any more important common bond than that? At our last meal there, I shared that thought with the family and the mother just cried. What a deep love of Jesus they have. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have gone. And it's good and humbling to find out we are not as indispensable as we thought we were!

    ALICIA BARTO: It was AMAZING!!!!! Definitely another life changing mission trip. Despite all of the obstacles we encountered, we still brought the Word of God to this very secluded little town in the middle of nowhere. We did hair cutting, medicine, house to house evangelizing, and had a service every night. And in everything we did from the hair cutting to the medicine, we were sharing the love of Jesus with the people of the town.

    Probably what touched me the most was going house to house. Just the fact the these people basically have nothing, yet they opened up their homes and offered us everything. The people of this town were really open to receiving the Word of God. That was also something that I wasn't prepared for. I was not expecting these people to be so soft hearted and ready, but they were, and we did everything we could to let them know how much Jesus loves them and what He can do for them.

    Another thing that touched me, was that on Sundays at church, for the offerings, if people didn't have money to give, they gave whatever they could. Whether it be food or money, people always offered all they could. I met some great people down in Mexico that became good friends. Everything was so amazing. Overall it was an awesome experience that I will most likely never forget!

    JIM JOHNSON: I had wondered for awhile before the trip, why me? I really couldn’t fathom what I could do that would be valuable there: I had never evangelized before and I don’t know how to speak Spanish. I wasn’t sure what I could do. Needless to say, I had many experiences to change my narrow thinking but the most memorable or heart touching was the last night in San Sebastian.

    At the end of the service that night the Pastor asked that anyone who wanted to receive Jesus or had healing issues to come forward. I was walking around the outskirts of the tent praying and looking at the crowd. There were many people I was drawn to go and stand near and pray for. For example there were the 3 old men that had been in attendance every night and I had prayed for them before. There was the little girl that must have been 13-15 and had huge longing eyes filling with tears as she watched the Pastor. There was the older teenage boy that we had reached 2 days before while evangelizing, but you could tell that he still wasn’t sure.

    But the person I was drawn to most strongly was a young man of approximately 19-23 years old. He was standing alone with his head bowed down, hands held together in front of him and shoulders drooped down. He looked a cross between sad and just overwhelmed. I stood behind him and prayed laying my hand on his shoulder. I prayed for peace and prosperity. I prayed that he would be healed of any ailments. I prayed for his family. I prayed anything I could think of since I couldn’t speak with him. I truly think its the longest I have ever prayed for someone up close like that.

    As I was standing there, now with my hand on his head, a translator came and talked to him. When she was finished speaking with him she turned to me with teary eyes. She told me that he wanted to thank me for praying for him and that he appreciated it very much. However, what he wanted most was to be hugged because he had never been hugged in his life. This was the final breaking of the soul for me. I stood there with tears rolling down my cheeks hugging this young man and him hugging me back very hard. I had finally realized that I didn’t need to speak Spanish, I didn’t have to be an experienced evangelist, it didn’t matter what talents I did have. In a simple hug I was able to show the true love of God. The love He gave to all of us through his Son to share with all the world.

  • Jessie Moore reports that she knows a family who recently visited CMCC for the first time on a Sunday. In her e-mail, the visitor mentioned, “…what a great church you have! We are planning to come next Sunday with hopefully some others…” Praise God that CMCC is obtaining a good report among those who visit. This is testimony to the friendly spirit that the CMCC family walks in. Pastor Randy Johnson calls us, “The Church That Love is Building.”

  • Thanks to Pastor Kevin Beutel, Julie Odato and all who worked to serve Jack Rosa’s family after the death of Jack’s father, Orville Rosa. Orville was formerly the mayor of Margaretville for 18 years so there was a large turnout at the funeral and a meal was prepared in our fellowship hall after. The family wrote the following: Thank you all for your kindness to us all at the time of our father's passing. We appreciate so much the use of your church, your many prayers for our family, your beautiful music, and your generous assistance in preparing lunch for our loved ones. May God bless you always. The Rosa Family.

    See you Sunday!