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A broken system
What's happening and why we feel helpless to do anything about it
It seems like we hear about our friends losing their jobs on a daily basis anymore. Just recently, one of my dear friends lost his job because they couldn't afford to pay him anymore. It's a common story we're hearing every day lately. The US economic system is broken, and we're helpless to do anything about it. Politicians have their own agendas and don't give a crap about what the lower and middle class people are struggling with. Yet, the US is getting deeper and deeper into debt, thanks to our government.
The government uses our tax dollars flamboyantly, without any real checks and balances. They care about themselves, their well being, and their pockets more than they do us. That's obvious when you hear about all of the garbage going on these days in the news. You know the saying: "The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer." It's not getting better, either. This trickles down to our economy and what do you see? It rolls down hill, my friends.
I lean towards the Republican side of things, but it's not all the Democrats' fault. They're all messed up in their ideals and morals. It's a political generation of "me" and not "my constituents". If it was the other way around, ObamaCare wouldn't have passed. We wouldn't be at war in several over seas countries. We wouldn't have bailed out banks and corporations, just so that they could pay their CEO's their bonuses. What the heck is this country coming to?
I digress to my dear friend's job loss. He was one of the pastors at our church. The church, like probably 99% of other churches out there, isn't receiving the gifts and offerings it used to. People are holding onto their money like a bad habit. I don't blame the church itself, or the leaders. The thing is, it's the people who don't follow the Word of God, where it says, plain as day, that we give the first 10% back to God. It's the people who don't think that they can afford to tithe on their income. Let me tell you this: I tithe, and I have no issue doing so. Would I benefit from not doing so? If I didn't believe the Word of God to be true, yes. Do I condemn those who don't? Emphatically, no. Not my job, not my business. That's between them and God. God wants cheerful givers, not people who feel brow-beaten into it.
What people seldom realize is that when they go to a church, become members of it, and don't give in accordance to the Word of God, so much gets cut off at the roots like a lumberjack in a tree farm. The salaries of the staff often go unpaid. The building maintenance gets shoved to the side. They get offended because the church doesn't host events, doesn't attract the outside people with the latest whiz-bang light show. They get offended when the pastors don't come up to them, out of hundreds of others, and just say "hi". People wonder why the pastors are hunched over, weighted down, and stressed out because they feel like they have failed their flock as a leader. Then, a pastor gets laid off, maybe more than one of them.
People then get offended because it's not right. Well, you're damn right it's not right. It's not right that people, who call themselves Christians and "members" of a church, don't follow the Word of God and give tithes and offerings to the place they call their church home. It's almost, but not quite, like being a member of a country club or fitness center, but not paying the membership fees. It takes more than just a handful of members of a church to pay the mediocre salaries of pastoral staff. Think about this a little bit. Let's say you make $60k per year, which equates out to $5k per month. The Word of God says to give the first 10% back to him, so that would be $500 per month. That's a lot of money, yes. But, I'll go into why that doesn't matter in a little bit.
Now, let's say the pastor's salary is $30k per year. Yes, that's an average number. They don't make as much as you think they do. That would mean that it would take 5 people giving $500 per month, to pay their salaries. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. Now let's consider this: It takes a TON of money to run sound systems and lights just in terms of the electric bill. Those nice recessed lights in the ceilings? Yeah, they aren't cheap either. Guess what? The heating and cooling systems running to keep your hide at a convenient temperature cost a fortune, especially when they get overworked and they break down. It happens a lot. The mere printing of the weekly flier/bulletin costs a fair chunk of change. Then, there are other costs: building and lawn maintenance and upkeep, snow removal, any other staff members, such as office staff, mortgages on the buildings and land (yeah, that's not free), parking lot upkeep/repairs/resurfacing. The list goes on and on. Then, also consider that churches are usually the FIRST to respond to communities after disaster strikes. Consider community outreaches and missionaries to foreign nations, etc. These are all run solely on tithes and offerings of "members". It takes more than a few people's tithes and offerings to pay for all of this. Man, what a money racket! Not...
Many people don't go to church based simply on the misconception that the church is just a money marketing scheme. That's just sick and ridiculous. Shouldn't a pastor, who teaches you something, be paid for his lifetime of service and commitment to you, as a "member" of his congregation? No? Why not? If he goes to a fast food joint, asks for a cheeseburger and fries, but doesn't expect to pay for them, what happens? What happens is he gets told to take a flying leap. What happens when you have gone to school for several years to get your glorified wall decoration, earn a great position to get fat in a chair in a cushy office, and then are told that, because the prices of tea in China have gone up, and sales are declining due to a bad economy, you are losing your job because they just can't afford you anymore. Sounds familiar, huh. Enough said.
Now, back to that part about where I said $500 a month doesn't matter. I can attest to making more than the average per year, but having more debt than my family can handle. Right now, we are in the hole every month, even after making several changes to reduce monthly payments. But, we tithe every paycheck, every bonus, every monetary gift we're given. It's not because we feel like if we don't we will be ostracized from our church body. It's not because we want to feel superior to those around us who don't. It's because #1, God said to, and #2 God is more than capable of (and has done so) blessing you abundantly to the point where that 90% more than covers the 100% would have. When you give, God honors this and blesses back to you.
I've had this happen MANY times in my life. One such instance occurred about a year and a half ago. We were struggling financially and praying for God to provide. We didn't stop tithing, even though we were behind on bills. One day, in the mail, I found an envelope with a small piece of paper in it, and a $100 bill. The note said "God loves you and cares for you more than you can imagine. He will provide for your every need!". That's it. No name, number, or address. I still don't know who that came from, nor do I care. I know that God used that person to bless us profoundly, and through that blessing, and others, we have been able to bless others around us on many occasions. I wholeheartedly believe that had we not been tithing, that blessing would not have been sent to us.
I spent a little over a month unemployed, with a wife and 2 kids to take care of. It's not much time, compared to others, but it's enough to devastate your finances when you're already struggling to make ends meet. Again, we tithed on everything that came in. And again, God took care of us. He made our ends meet. He provided with a job that payed a lot more money and doing the exact same work I was before. Trust and believe in Him, my friends, and He will provide.
So, what about the "why we feel helpless to do anything about it" part? Let's see... Maybe this is because our government doesn't seem to listen to us. Maybe it's because we feel lost and hopeless in a job or relationship, and can't seem to find a way out of it. Maybe, just maybe, it's because we aren't under the covering of God's grace and protection that He planned for us before we were even born. God loves all of us. You might not believe it, but it's true, none the less. When we have given our lives to Him, through acknowledging the death and resurrection of his son, Jesus, for the payment for all of our sins, both past and future, we become as sons and daughters to God. Guess what? He protects us and provides for us. He does it for us, no matter what "it" is. You don't need to feel helpless, because you aren't. You have God to do it for you. Just think about that...
It's time for us to stop "playing church", and, instead, stand up and be the part of the body of Christ that God made us to be. Step up and give in faith, in accordance to the Word of God and with fervent prayer to know in your heart what God wants you to do. You just might get blessed anyway. God bless you.