Sunday, December 04, 2005

CONSUME part DUH


Fed up with the over commercialization of Christmas? I so am. I am also fed up with how early Christmas stuff comes into the stores. I am fed up with the quest for presents and shopping. This asinine insistence that you have to drive yourself into near bankruptcy giving overpriced, unwanted gifts to everyone you know. Personally, I would rather have no gifts at all than a gift without a genuine kind thought behind it. But hey, who am I to judge?

Here is my thought for this week….Last weeks post and poverty stats have resonated with many people. The discussion has been heavy and heated but I cannot walk away without making a few observations of my own.

Can we actually make a difference in our world? Hey, let’s be honest, we have it good! And I would have to agree that part of that is GOD’S blessing upon us. But, as believers or followers of Jesus Christ we also have a responsibility to the world around us.

Can we really make a difference? How about our local world? Locally in our city, we have a number of people who are putting together items to take care of the local street people. Gloves, mitts, scarves, things to keep them warm. (realistically….$20). We can give time and energy and MONEY to our local charities as well.

In our spiritual community we are sponsoring orphans from a specific 3rd world nation at the cost of under $250 per year. Personally, we sponsor a child with Compassion Canada…roughly $33 per month. For me alone that is just over $500 a year to more than meet the needs of 2 kids. The price of an XBOX 360! Not too mention I have four kids of my own to feed.

We all know that there is plenty of food in the world, the problem is that those who have are not distributing it properly! And We are some of those who HAVE. I am not going to talk about politics or leaders or warlords, I am talking about you and me. Sometimes we feel that we cannot make a difference, but how much is it worth to make the difference in one life? I do not want to use this blog to rail on people but rather to create questions to move people to action in someway…but…

I do not have a problem with people spending their money on ‘toys’ and stuff (I do it all the time) and enjoying life to the fullest…guilt free….PROVIDING that they are contributing in some fashion to the over all health of the world.

But when someone (who had just bought and XBOX 360) said that they do not sponsor a child…because they do not feel the need right now…because I do not really have the money…I almost fell over. LOOK AT THE PICTURE ABOVE!!!!!!!!!!!

We know that is not true. In our western culture we HAVE the money! If you have the money for and XBOX 360 and all the games that come with it, not to mention the time wasted to play it; or that you have to rent games for it; or for a STARBUCKS (personal ouch) or for a SUBWAY/MCDONALDS or (Insert favorite dining establishment here _____________)(another personal ouch)…then you can CONSIDER making a difference in the life of someone less fortunate and I am not just talking about sponsoring a child!

I want to make a difference in our world, even if it is just child, one life at a time. How much money can I really give away? How much time can I give away before it affects my own family and their needs? Is it selfish?

Jesus said that the poor will always be with us…did he not? Does that mean we are to ignore them? Or was he bringing it to our attention that maybe every little bit that we do counts?

Thoughts?

68 comments:

JH said...

Hey all. I would like to start off by saying I find this blog helping me get out of my little spiritual bubble. It is so easy for me personally to have a narrow minded view of Christianity and spirituality. Knowing soulpastor personally helps me in my understanding of what he's talking about...but it's more than that. I need a wake up call to the needs of not just "my world"...but the world I might not be a part of. I need to make myself a part of that world.

I have no trouble tithing/giving. My church gets a certain percentage every paycheck...no questions asked. But when it comes to looking outside "my world", this is where my comment/question arises. The reason it is so easy for me to give to my church is because I know where the money is going. I see the fruits of that money. I can see all the hands that raise for salvation. I can go to our inner city ministry and see the kids that are fed and the presents that they get for Christmas. I trust my pastor and the leaders in the church who spend the money (even if I don't necessarily agree with them all the time). I don't want to tarnish anyone's view of other caritable institutions...but I would like to name one name to substantiate what I am about to say. For years, I have considered sponsoring a child in another country. I have always seen the "world vision" ads on TV and in concerts and have felt guilty many times for not giving to them. I never did though. A year ago, a friend of mine worked for world vision (selling sponsorships door to door and in malls across Winnipeg) and gave me some startling numbers about where the money is going.

All I specifically remember was that over 90% of the money donated was going to "administration" costs (I think I remember it being 93%). He personally got $70 for every sponsorship that he sold!!! That would mean that under 10% of the money I would've given would go directly to the children. Honestly...it scared the "junk" out of me (don't wanna throw in an expletive ;) ). I never wanted to give to one of these charities again. Additionally, I see the commercials and how the big name artists throw in their names to these "non-profit" organizations. It is hard for me to comprehend that they would do it all for minimal fee's. I also happen to know about the money musical bands get for having people sign up for their concerts (I am a singer/musician and have quite a few friends in the industry). For me, it is so much safer to just give to what I know.

What I really want is for someone to prove me wrong. I am not one of those guys who is "stubborn" in his ways. I just want to know what the truth really is. I want to be wise with my money because I feel I am responsible for how it gets used.

Well...I need to get back to my studying. I have five finals in the next couple weeks and just took a little break between studying. I would look forward to comments though.

JH

Michael said...

I'm sorry, this sort of hearsay is so destructive. 'I heard that he heard that she said....' ugh.

Direct from World Vision's site:

How much of what I give to World Vision goes to ministry and how much is spent on overhead?


During fiscal year 2004, our overhead expenses totaled 13% of revenue (8% for fund-raising, 5% for management costs). Out of every dollar channeled to us in fiscal year 2004, 87% was used for World Vision's program services and future commitments.

This overhead rate compares favorably with similar organizations which raise funds in the same manner and for the same purposes, and has been steadily improving in recent years.

How do I know my donations are going where you say they are going?


World Vision feels all charities must be fully accountable to the public. That's why we follow accounting procedures established by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and why we are audited annually by a nationally known independent CPA firm and publish a detailed Annual Report outlining income and expenses. Click here to view the 2004 Annual Report online, or to obtain a copy, call 1-888-511-6598.

Through constant evaluation and careful management, we are able to channel a large portion of our total income to ministry services. During fiscal year 2003, 86.1% of funds went directly to World Vision's program services and future commitments.

A number of independent financial watchdog organizations have established financial standards for accountability which World Vision adheres to fully. Among them are the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

What's more, World Vision isn't the only game in town. If you don't like their structure, give elsewhere. The 'I don't give because all charities abuse the use of funds' excuse just doesn't fly.

Michael

SoulPastor said...

JH the nephew
I am thrilled that this blog is challenging you!

I am somewhat happy that you trust the leadership of your church even when you don't agree with them. Because personally, I know that people don't always agree with the decisions that I make, and they usually vote with their giving! That is a whole new blog on consumerism that I will leave alone at this time.

BUT, I want to stop you in your tracks. The comment on World Vision is not validated, rather it is based on hear-say. I would ask that you would dig a little deeper to make sure that what you posted about WV is accurate and not based on what someone has said.

Also, this post is not just about sponsoring a child, it is about our wealth in our society and the fact that we do not share our wealth properly and what can we do about it? Better yet, what are you (general) doing about it?

JH the nephew, if you are sponsoring a child be blessed! That is something...at least you didn't spend THAT money on something needless...you are making a difference in one individuals life.

As I type this Michael has just made a post to which I say “thank you.”

JH said...

I was hoping that someone would challenge me. And I am glad that Michael did. I will look a bit deeper into this. Sometimes I do feel though that numbers can be fabricated and made to look more appealing. I just remember my friend being very disturbed by what was going on, and this disturbed me. He told me he quit working there because his conscience bothered him so badly. I have no proof to substantiate the numbers he gave me and really just wanted someone to tell me the facts were otherwise. I did not mean for this to be distructive and really did want someone to show me otherwise. I think it is fair to ask tough questions. I want to walk with wisdom in how I "share my wealth properly" and not just do it blindly. I thought this would be a safe place to ask those sort of questions.

Thank you for your comments.

SoulPastor said...

Keep asking the questions JH the nephew!

I would hope that this is that safe place!

Bill Kinnon said...

JH,
Check this pdf file out - WorldVision Canada's 2004 financials. The numbers your friend gave you sound like the urban legends that often surround charities such as WV and Compassion. As you implicitly trust your own church leadership, you might ask to see their financial statements to see how they spend their income - these are normally available to church members.

Anonymous said...

Seeing as how the tendency in these blogs seems to be to get slightly off topic, I thought I'd take the approach of a school assignment: answer each of the questions as presented (just a new approach, as I'm in final exam mode anyway)

Fed up with the over commercialization of Christmas?
Yeah, I am. Honestly, thisi year it has really hit me. Maybe it's the fact that now my parents aren't footing the bill for the long list of gifts that need to be purchased. Maybe it's because no one really needs anything anyway. I'm not sitting here saying I haven't been guitly of buying into the crazy commercial machine, but it's really getting to be a bit much.

But hey, who am I to judge?
I will abstain from answering, I'm not here to start quarrels ;)

Can we actually make a difference in our world?
Yes we can. God wouldn't have given us the great comission and told us that we can do everything through Him who gives us strength just for kicks to see us work our butts off for nothing. We can, and He expects us to at least do SOMETHING! We aren't asked to figure out the entire solution, just to do what we can with what we have, whatever that means for each individually.

Can we really make a difference? How about our local world?
Thanks for sharing some ideas of how simple it is to help out our community. Seriously, there was a drive for socks for the inner city recently. The cost of a bag of socks at walmart: approximately $6.00. So go and treat yourself to 10 paris of socks and then give up one pair that would otherwise have holes in it by spring (trust me, you won't miss them)

How much money can I really give away? How much time can I give away before it affects my own family and their needs? Is it selfish?
This is where the debate turns towards finding a pat answer. It's not easy to answer. Thanks to Soul Pastor for challenging me to think about it though! God was happier because of the woman who gave a small amount versus the rich man (insert your Starbucks drinking, XBox buying, new car driving, eating out, rich-by-the-worlds-standards North American here) who gave a lot. I don't know how much each person can give away. Pray about it! Not just for how much you give, but for your attitude! It's like if someone will agree to go to the ballet with you (I love the ballet, I understand that not everyone does) but you know they don't want to be there. Sometimes, even though you love them and you know they have the intention of going with you becuase they love you, you'd rather be there by yourself than with someone who doesn't want to be there. Attitude can ruin even good intentions.

Jesus said that the poor will always be with us…did he not?
Unfortunately, yes. It would be so nice to imagine that if we just could get enough momentum behind a really great campaign to save the world, everything would be great. It's like that song, "I'd like to buy the world a Coke". Oh the dreams...alas, the reality.

Does that mean we are to ignore them?
No it doesn't. In fact we are to look at them the way God sees them. Is the theory good? Yes. Is it easy to see the 5 year old with matted hair covered in nits with a snotty, crusty nose and filthy diaper as we see our cute little 5 year old daughters and sons dressed up for their very first Christmas pagent? Not for me (and not for most of us if we're really honest). I love the homepage of blood: Water Mission (www.bloodwatermission.org). It has a flash presentation (or something techy) that starts with "You know your family?", and then starts giving you startling facts about your "family" in Africa that has to walk 30 miles with filthy water on their heads. It's way easier to ignore the Salvation Army kettle in the entrance to Superstore than the flashy display of over-priced plastic Christmas ornaments, just 10 feet further inside. Oh, the conviction is rising, I'd better stop before the hypocrisy begins.

Or was he bringing it to our attention that maybe every little bit that we do counts?
My sentiment exactly. Whatever we do (whether lots or little) we are to do it for the Glory of God. I think He was trying to make it clear for us when He talked about giving someone who was hungry food and that it was like we gave Him food. They ARE Jesus. Just a little will make a difference, whether we know it or not. Without sounding like a pat answer, A little means a lot.

Thoughts?
I am appreciating the challenging questions Soul Pastor. It has challenged me to think a little more about what it means to act on what I believe. I'm an imperfect Christian, just trying to do a little at a time. Merry Christmas to all!

filletofsoul said...

JH the nephew...
In response to your first blog, I think most of us live in some kind of spiritual bubble. Here's a thought...there is nothing like actually seeing first hand and being there to help, to make a lasting impression on a person's life. Some churches in the city take a group of people down to Mexico each year to bring food, bibles and building supplies to help out orphanages. It is a lot of work but rewarding at the same time. Maybe this is something that you would be interested in. You would know how your money is being spent and you would have a personal stake in it as well.

Little Worshiper said...

I would agree that going somewhere to see the needs of others is a great way to help a person want to give to others to meet their needs. I would suggest that there are places much closer than Mexico that can give us a taste of people that have great needs. I live in a smaller city but I don’t have to look every far to see people that need. There is quite a bit of government housing in my city and many of these people have great needs. I work with some youth from a family whose mother has died last dec. and their dad has left them. Who is left to look after this family? Their 18 year old sister is left to care for the family with 4 siblings all younger than her. This is the world that we live in. There is so much need so close to us that I think we don’t have a reason to not give to some one. If we don’t trust organizations with our money that doesn’t stop us from giving right to people in need. I think sometimes we are prejudice towards people in our communities thinking “they should get a job, I don’t have to help them.” But when thinking of people in other countries, we don’t usually think that way. We think sometimes we shouldn’t help people here because they should be helping themselves. Isn’t that being too judgmental? Can’t people in other countries help themselves too?

I also struggle with the fact of always having to be so careful with who we give to or where we give. I know that we should be responsible but at times we are so responsible that we do not trust anyone. I don’t see in the bible where Jesus told us to give to people that are going to be responsible with what we give them. Does the bible say feed the hungry only if we know that they are not going to try to sell what they have so that they can buy some alcohol? Is it God’s job to keep the people that we give to accountable or is our job? I am not sure.

Mark said...

Interesting comments so far... I think there are some deep rooted issues and perspectives that come out when we talk about poverty. I like what Mother Teresa says abou these things. "et us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness,
of understanding, of peace." I personally get quite bothered by people who misrepresent organizations such as World Vision and Unicef. The fact of the matter is that these people are doing something on a massive scale with powerful impact, and small minded people are concerned about the fact that some money is used to cover the costs of doing these things. Some organizations do skim a little too much but their impact in the global arena is worth that % as far as I am concerned.
Brad Pitt said it well "This generation has the power to eradicate poverty from this world." Bottom line is that we do something... not motivated by guilt ... of which the church has been so good at training us to give by guilt that as soon as we talk about poverty we have these long dialogues about exploitation of peoples emotions to get them to give. I give because I am motivated to give not because I feel that I should. Interesteing that MATT GOOD - one of the biggest advocates for poverty elimination has nothing to do with LIVE AID... Why because people use it to 'masterbate' themselves numbing thier guilt for not doing anything.

But on the flip side of that we should not feel guilty for having what we have. It is not about not having a starbucks so that someone else can live. Povery is thinking that I do not have enough. Not having enough means that I have to choose between one or the other a starbucks or the life of a child. Seems so black and white... but woudl be a good reflection of a 'church' culture mindset. One or the other. That is deep rooted poverty in the middle of affluence. The important thing is that we live in the middle of the this paradox I can have what I want and help those that have so much less.

I think it shoudl also be noted that poverty is a relative word. Poverty is rampant here in our affluence. IT just shows itself differently. Mother Teresa put it well " We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless.
The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest
poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty."

Its not about the money folks... its about our perpective on ourselves and out world.

filletofsoul said...

There was an interesting episode on the tv show "Everybody Loves Raymond" once. Raymond's brother (forget his name) was short on cash to pay his living expenses and food bills. Raymond's wife Debra saw this need and convinced Ray that they should "give" him some money to help him out. No strings attached. She felt pretty good about this until she saw how he chose to spend it. He took a holiday; not what she had in mind for him to do with the money. Anyways, this ended up causing a lot of tension! The jist of the whole show was to get us to think about how we give. Do we have expectations when we give? Are there really no strings attached?

As Christians, I do believe we need to made discerning choices as to how we give our money, but we need to remember that it is HOW we give and not what is done with it that really matters to God. When I give money to an organization, once the donation is given I have done my part. I am only asked to give with a thankful heart. I am not held responsible for how is it used (if the cause ended up to be worthy enough)nor should I be.

Little Worshiper said...

hey soulpastor...
this is totally unrelated... but when are nov. sermons going to be up? soon... i hope :)

SB said...

So when i give my money, should i have a guilt in my heart to give it? Is that guilt distracting me?

Shouldn't i give my money with a "thankful heart" like Fillet said, and not a heart that has been guilt stricken by a World Vision Commercial.

Am i technically being preyed upon then by these commericials and then maniupluated through the images to make me symapthetic and open my wallet straight away.

Technically thats what these commericals try to do, the depressing music, the brutal pictures, the words and the tone that is set.

Should i give to a organization that is trying to CON my money through psychological means?

The Church I attend never asks for money, never really mentions that they need it, and doesnt use guilt tactics to get it. Other churches i have attended have done this though, dedicating many sermons to the money they need and why you should give.

Anyways jsut trying to bring another insight and to respond to Fillet's post.

younghands said...

About giving and money
Jesus talked about as much or more than any other topic.
I wish that churches would talk about it more.
Not in a manipulative way but in a way that really teaches why we give. To me the money I put in the offering isn't a membership fee for being a Christian, or even so that my church can keep it's doors open but is an act of worship. Worship is not singing worship is giving our lives over to God. So when I give my 10%, which I could use, I am saying God I trust you and worship you. You know what I have never ever said I wish the church would give me my money back. So as a Christian, I believe that I have 90% of my income then to live, give to the poor, etc...
So in short tithing is giving to God what is rightfully his and giving to the poor is on top of that and is a matter of how much do I care about the world around me.

SoulPastor said...

Allow me to respond to both of the last posts. Yes Jenn and Paul, an unrelated question…but the answer is soon!

SB - not sure who you are but I have a good idea.

MONEY! Wonderful topic.
If you are who I think you are...remember you have now opened the door.

The church that you attend does not ask for money for a reason. They EXPECT that since you are a ‘believer’ that you would naturally give. I believe that was explained during the gathering not too long ago by the pastor.

The church you attend believes that to ‘believers’ it just would become natural to give to help support the paying of all the bills, like rent for the chairs and heat that people consume on a Sunday, the rent of a gym for the kids on a Friday, the pastors salaries, the sound and video stuff and NOT to mention all the coffee and food that most everyone eagerly indulges in every Sunday. The church that you attend has talked about money in a message form and has even made appeals to the congregation regarding different issues that involve cash.

The church that you attend will be talking about money in the new year because it has realized that it is full of "believers" who consume and who are not contributing to the big picture. You see, there is another church in the community that is half the size in numbers but gives twice the amount of money that the church you attend does. Man, can you image what a church you attend can do with money that people freely give?

The church you attend was able to meet the needs of two families in the community this week with groceries, and has done it numerous times in the past…where do they get the money for that? Must have fallen from the sky!!!

The church you attend has a passion for the poor, thus it sponsors an entire orphanage of children in a third world country, not to mention it helps one student a year to go through university in that country so that they can help turn it around. And they are now at two full time students.

So, this brings me to a question...

Are you ready for it?

Do you even give to the church you attend? And the next question is how much? 1% 5% 10% 15% of your income gross or net?

(Don't answer publicly, because I do not think that people care and remember there are ways to prove it!)

Mark said...

Are we actually mindless enough that we are manipulated? Nobody can make me give or make me feel guilty... I feel guilty because I have already an internal issue about something. Are people trying to exploit us or are they trying to make a point within a short period of time [30 sec or less]. I understand there is a balance and I agree thay sometimes things are done distastefully. It seems to me a little backwards thinking to think that we are so mindless that we cannot think for ourselves and feel for ourselves when we see a commercial.

SB said...

Soulpastor, i wasnt relly knocking the church, so dont take it that way, i enjoy the church i attend. My point was more on the matter of Guilt, and the church was the analogy, it wasnt a distasteful comment in anyway, and i apologize for this, knowing that the church i attend does not use guilt for anything but recieves enough money to function.

Mark, ask people who have just watched a 2 min commercial on World Vision and they will tell you they are sadened and they feel guilty about things in their lives that the people in the commerical dont have, that they [the people watching the commercial] have more than enough of.

So are people mindless, is it mindlessness or just the fact that these organizations use proven psychological strategies so people feel this way. Have you ever looked into psychology, taken a course in psychology, know anything about how psychology can be used to make the "minded" mindless?

No one can make anyone do anything but people can be persuaded to do many things, its human nature and in some cases human error.

I agree though with you that people should be able to decifer between these things but we need to reach out to the people who cant, and make it clearer to them.

SoulPastor said...

Check out this article:

http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/newsletters/k12news/HI_Trends&TudesNews2005_v4_iss12.pdf?j=2903024&e=stasia71@yahoo.com&l=692018_HTML&u=42276179

SoulPastor said...

SB
Does the church you attend really receive enough money to function?

Sam said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Great post by the way. I am passionate about making as much money as possible, living off as little as possible, and giving away as much as possible. I am not there yet, but I want to step further and further in that direction with every passing day.

SB said...

As far as i know it [my church] functions well enough with the programs that are running, we may be running out of space, but if the budget that my church is correct, we seem to be doing fine, unless we are lying to the people about the money ;) jk
But its more than just the money, we must acknowledge the countless number of volunteers who run these programs, money isnt everything in the church i attend, it helps just as much as the volunteers, you lose one of those 2 thing you lose the church.

Im guessing the article is a knock at me buying a particular gaming system lol. The article also seems a little biased in my opinion. I like i though it makes sense, our culture is very materialistic. I hate, and i stress hate, going to St vital mall and trying ot find a parking spot while some other [insert favorite insutlt here] are cutting in front of me and taking spots ive called with my turning signal, woth no remorse, the [insert favorite insutlt here] dont even look at me when they do it, its a good thing im 6'3" cuz they dont seem to cut in front of me in the mall. But on a serious note, just go to any mall and yuo will see the materialism everywhere, and ill admit i am a victim of this as is pretty much everyone at this time of year, Christians and non-Christians alike.

Question for you Soulpastor, how much are you spending on your many kids for Christmas on "material possesions"?

filletofsoul said...

to sb

Blame, blame, blame. That's about all I hear you do. Oh yeh and when the questions get too personal I sense the "diversion" approach. Don't try and put the blame on tv commercials for making you feel guilty. I agree with Mark, if you feel something it is because it is already an internal issue. The commercial is just bringing it to your attention.

On the subject of financially supporting your church, you suddenly shifted your focus to "I wasn't knocking the church" as soon as Soulpastor responded. Giving your tithe/offering isn't about guilt, obligation or membership. It is about worship, stewardship and obedience to God. When you tithe/give to your church it is a personal interaction between you and God. You don't give because your pastor is asking. You give because as a believer it is what your heart demands as part of your personal worship experience with God. So, sb even if you "think" your church is self sufficient, that is not the point. Don't cheat yourself and God or fool yourself into thinking that tithing/giving is optional to any believer.

Mark said...

SB - I understand where you are comong from. I do understand psychology and I also understand advertising... I design and create communications peices like what you mention. The key element I think what is being said though is that [from your statement]There is a connection between emotion and media and you are saying that is bad for people to do that. I think that is a dangerous thought process and is full of false generalizations and predjudice [but we won't go there on this blog]. MEdia is about connecting people on a human level. These 'commercials' connect humans with one anothers needs. IT is not different than extreme Makeover home edition. But we don't slam them do we? WE cry and love the show because it makes us feel good? And that is good TV and excellent but if we feel bad then its BAD TV and exploitive. Seems like a double standard. Jesus used emotion in his communcations and he was extreme in some cases [even negative to our standards].

SoulPastor said...

Filletofsoul, you make me laugh, but your name still scares me!!!!

SB - you said something interesting...another generalization. "As far as you know..."

As for the article; it was not a slam at you, it is a very interesting observation of our culture. Especially the one person who said if they HAD ANY MONEY LEFT OVER then they would give it away. My thought is that there would be no money to give away.

As for your final question...I thought I have been very transparent with the fact that I do support children overseas with 2 different organizations, I give regularly to the church that I am in community with, not too mention...well that is with the other hand…

Let’s get personal. How much do you give to your local church community? I do know, by our own admission, that you do not sponsor a child, but is it giving that we are talking about?

Now, to answer your question…

So, how much will the soulpastor spend on his kids for Christmas?

I cannot tell you, they read the blog!

n. herman said...

sb

You seem upset about the idea of being maipulated by the media. " I agree though with you that people should be able to decifer between these things but we need to reach out to the people who cant, and make it clearer to them." Why not take this energy and fervor and focus in on the bigger picture? Should we not be more concerned about helping people to decifer between the truth that we have found in God and the misguidances of other religions rather than what we are watching on tv. I don't know about you, but in the big scheme of things, I'd rather be tricked into giving up a couple hundred dollars a month to a scam, than giving up eternity to one.

If you are attending the church that I am guessing you do, have you considered the possibility that even if it appears that "[my church] functions well enough with the programs that are running" there may be other programs that they are wanting to run that are not happening because of a lack of funds? Or that the current staff could possibly use some relief from the new staff that could be hired with some additional giving? Why not dream big intsead of being content with the way things are?

a blooger occasionally and formerly known as anony

SoulPastor said...

n. herman

Any new additions to the family yet?
email me privately:

And by the way...nice post!

Mark B. said...

Aw, SB, people don't cut infront of you in the mall? ...I'm sorry, I'd be happy to do that sometime this Christmas when I come home (just so you don't feel left out).

*smiles courteously*

In the last thread, Bill Kinnon made a very pertinent and astute comment; namely, "this isn't about you." I think that the sentiment is appropriate here too. This post was not about you.

kenny said...

I guess, I want to give my two cents worth as well on this topic as it has always been an issue with me.

Now I have to back track a bit to reflect on the last 8 years of my life. I moved to Vancouver 6 years ago to escape from God. Oh, and by the way...He is there too!
I was in a relationship and it was so materialistic. I have to admit that the pressure to be that way was huge in the circle of friends that I was around. My partner, he lavished all these things to me throughout the year and then again at Christmas spared no expense. No going to Smitty's for a meal...we might as well go all out. I felt that same pressure and now have a debt of...let's just say in the 5 figures...not all of that Christmas but living way beyond my means and even wants for the most part. The last couple of years I wrestled with the whole issue of money. I wrestled with the whole issue of...there has to more to this life than working two jobs and still not getting ahead and realizing that gifts and extravagent meals out just didn't cut it when I would see a pan handler just outside the door and I would turn a blind eye...yet in my heart felt so much pain for that person.
THEN...God met me. He caught me off guard and drew me back.
Now that I am back here in Winnipeg and it nears this season, I wrestle again. I see poverty right beside me. I see poverty in the house I live in. I see poverty all around me. I see children who are stressed out because Christmas will not be pleasant for them. Oh, by the way I live in the West End. I chose to live here because it is close to my work and it is central...and also I really don't like the burbs all that much. But I don't want to get into that...that is another tangent.
Looking at my own life and the debt load I carry and the stress of that in my own life, I still am faced with so much poverty all around. I wonder what can I do. Maybe it is making a meal for the family that lives upstairs of me. Maybe it is buying socks and giving them all away. Then I read what the Bible says and it say to sell what I have and give to those in need. Okay, I have to say that what I have is really not mine anyway (literally, almost everything in my apartment was given to me by people that I know, or I found at a garage sale)...but it still does not make it mine. If I think that every good thing comes from God...does that include my comfortable "stuff". I guess it does. So where does that leave me. I am not making much, but whatever I get in...I automatically give the first 10% to tithing...at the beginning I gave to an organization that helped me and continues to help me come out of the wrong lifestyle. Now that I attend a church on a regular basis, I give to it as well. But is there more to do? Yes, we are not called to give just 10%. We are called to be extravagent givers. I was thinking the other day that if there was a congregation of let's say 15,000 people and each person gave the price of a coffee to a needy organization in our city that would look like...$45,000 dollars. Even if a church size was only say...250, that would be $750. Not bad. So each week if we just cut out one cup of coffee (let's say it's a grande egg nog latte...yum!...that would be about $16 a month) We can all do the math 250 people at 16 a month= $4000. What an impact we could make in our city and our world community.
So with the little I make and the debt load I carry, I can still make a difference. I can still impact the world. It means doing some juggling...and it means doing without certain things, but I will have impacted the world as a believer that I am to make a difference and I can. What right do I have to have all of this "stuff"? and there are millions of people "without bread and water". I think the time has come for us as Believers to make an impact in the world community, here as well as abroad.
It's time to come back to the basics of life and what it means to be a christian today. Does it mean "prosperity"? I think we will be blessed 100 fold for our giving...and with that we give more and more and more. The more prosperous we are the more we give. Does it mean I can go and build myself a huge house and fill it with wonderful "things"...I don't think so. It means I need to give more generously and with an ever increasing heart of thankfulness to the God who gave it to me in the first place.
Okay, I better stop now. Thanks for broaching this subject...it is one that needs to be talked about in our ever increasing "me" world.
Keep it up! I continue to pray for our community...!

SB said...

Fillet i was really not trying to knock the church i attend, im not trying to shift focus on anything, bash my comments all you want but i wasnt knocking the church that i go to. I am involved in many ways in the church i attend and i enjoy the things i do. Its kinda funny to see my reputation on here go down the drain, and with that anything i say now will be read with great judgement in the eyes of the reader, or at least it seems. Also fillet i never said anything about guilt in giving on my part, our pastor never talks about money in church, and what i give and how i give it is my own business not yours.

As for Mark B what i said about the mall was a tad bit of sarcasm, you dont have to take it too seriously.

I also find it odd that as christians, which most of you are im guessing, would knock all my ideas, suggestions, i wonder how that would look to a new believer or someone who is searching for God, but is struggling with these types of questions and concerns. i mena you guys dont even know me, i could be that person, and you ruined their "christian experience with the ways you answer his/her quesitons who are legitiment to them. I woould stress that it is not always about you, and what you think, but trying to understand how others are thinking and where that thinking originated from is a lot more comforting to a searching person then, and i quote "Blame, blame, blame. That's about all I hear you do." and "Aw, SB, people don't cut infront of you in the mall? ...I'm sorry, I'd be happy to do that sometime this Christmas when I come home (just so you don't feel left out).*smiles courteously*" Its just good to see that you would mock and accuse the "searcher" of his/her legitmate ideas. THATS THE GOOD CHRISTIAN SPIRIT THAT THEY ARE LOOKING FOR, KEEP DOIND WHAT YOUR DOING! No wonder people get turned off from God, becuase their questions and ideas are knocked down by Christians, in favor of something that they might not even comphrehend yet, such as the love of God. Your selfishness and lack of respect for others ideas is getting in the way of legitmately helping a perons struggling with certain concepts, maybe its your ego, or your Christian pride, thats a nice oxymoron.

And i have a question for all of you. If i havent got the finances all the time to give, is tithing my time worthy to all of you of tithing/giving. I dont wanna get bashed, it is a legitimate question that i want answered. (for once)

filletofsoul said...

sb

If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.
Proverbs 15:32

People with good sense restrain their anger; they earn esteem by overlooking wrongs.
Proverbs 19:11

A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back.
Proverbs 29:11

Take a breath...you sound frustrated and defensive. I'm not trying to be mean, but you just don't seem to get it! It seems like some little part of a comment sets you off and you cannot appreciate what people are actually saying. After your last response, I really don't know what you are saying. I didn't say you were bashing your church...but I think you missed a few sermons if you haven't heard anything about money come from the pastor...Are you or are you not motivated by guilt? If not then why do the tv commercials and sermons you heard at other churches bother you?.....Are you new believer, a believer already grounded in your faith or are you a searcher just thinking about becoming a believer?....Does it give you permission to "attack" others Example -"Your selfishness and lack of respect for others ideas is getting in the way of legitmately helping a perons struggling with certain concepts, maybe its your ego, or your Christian pride, thats a nice oxymoron." because you feel you are being bashed?

n. herman said...

sb

I think it's great that you are giving of your time. You could think of that as your offering.

As for the tithing thing, the way I look at it is that that 10% doesn't even belong to me. It's Gods'. Yes, it's cash that comes in on my paycheck, but it doesn't belong to me. If I just take the 1st 10% off each on and give that little bit every Sunday, I don't even miss it.

If, as previously mentioned, you make $10 000 per year (I'm even going to assume that's take-home and not gross) if you get paid every two weeks that's $384 every two weeks. 10% of that is $38.40. Rounding up to $40 every two weeks, you could put a 20 in the plate and easy be covered for both tithe's and offerings if that's what you're looking for. If the $10 000 is gross, then you don't even have to put in $20!

Here's a challenge for this week. On your way to church, stop at an ATM and pull out $40. Take $20 and put it in your pocket to stick in the offering and take the other and go grab a coffee or whatever. Then take the change from the second and go out for lunch. When you see how easy it is to spend the money on yourself for a cup of coffee and Sunday lunch with friends, pray that God will let it be that easy to spend the other $20 for Him.

If you get some time, check out Practicing the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. He had a bum knee and would stand and wash dishes. He found that during that time he could pray and praise God. If you find that tithing is your dish washing (something you need to do, but struggle with), practice the presence of God, and not only will you draw closer to Him, but I am quite sure you will feel that you have received more than you gave.

I'm not sure if this is the answer you were looking for but I'll pray that God will change your heart about the tithing thing.

filletofsoul said...

n.herman

Actually, if you want to be technical, none of what we bring in on our paycheck belongs to us. The truth is that we give God his 10% back and he lets us keep the other 90%. What a deal!

Hope I'm not sorry... said...

I just can't stay silent...

sb,

Let me say that I am not trying to insult or slam you, but just give you some helpful advice.

As I read through the "discussions", one thing becomes perfectly clear to me: you just don't get what some of the people are saying (or you are missing the point at times). I am not trying to be critical here, just trying to be helpful.
First of all, we all know that you are not trying to "knock" your church...and no-one said you were. From your comments, it seems you like the church you attend and it is important to you.
Secondly, we know that you are committed to your church. You are involved (for which I commend you), but not a regular tither. You are also unaware as to the financial needs of your church. As n. herman wrote, just because it appears as though everything is "just fine", it could probably be a whole lot better. Never be satisfied with the status quo.
Finally, when you make controversial postings, you can't get defensive when others criticize what you have said. We can still have an intelligent discussion and disagree. In fact a healthy discussion involves as many points of view as possible. It isn't always a personal attack...unless you make it personal. The wheels fall of the wagon as soon as someone takes things personlly. So, instaed of taking criticism as a personal attack, take it as a challenge. Consider what is posted and see how your ideas stack up against what others are saying. Look at the evidence and decide whether you need to modify your arguements.

Just couldn't help writing something...

SB said...

Thank you N. Herman, very good constructive post with no Criticism, instead challenges free of criticism for once, i like that and it is very much appreciated.

As for the others, its how the text that i am reading is perceived, i am not angry at all, just a little fustrated with the lack of constructive comments. You may think telling me that i blame everyone and everything is constructive, but some people may not see it that way. Also saying i just dont get it doesnt help much either, N Hermans post however was constructive, he took the time to think out what i was saying and apply a solution to it that was helpful and respectful, and that i commend, sometimes thats what a punk kid needs lol.

I will however do what you said about looking at the arguements and not take them so personally. I agree that i cna take things like this sometimes, and it does get me into trouble.

Thanks N Herman again, i will try to do that, that seems to be my problem, i can never remember to get to the bank in morning, and when i do remember, i see my gas light turn on, lol. Ill try to remember this sunday to get some cash.

Mark B. said...

SB,

I know it was sarcasm...so was mine.

About the 'attacking you' comment. I don't really think that is accurate. In a comment I made in a post a while ago I said that when I reply to a post, I don't attack you, I attack the position that is, purportedly, argued for in your comment. Suppose that I am able to give good arguments for why what is written is false, and suppose further that you agree with me; what does that mean? All that it means is that the position you advocated is false, or at least seriously flawed. That does not mean that you are false or flawed.

Here's a claim: Most theories that most people hold are false. (A theory is a set of claims, all that it means for a theory to be false is that one of those claims is false.) With that said, it does not mean that people are "bad" for holding the theories. They may have unjustified beliefs is they know that one of the claims of the theory is false, but supposedly they'd believe a different theory is that was the case. So, the upshot is this: If you write some post that gives an argument for a number of claims and someone objects to you, all they are doing is objecting to that set of claims that you tried to defend. Maybe their objection doesn't work, maybe it does. The point is, that you can have very interesting arguments about the claims without anyone taking it personally. I don't take it personally if someone objects to something that I claim and i don't think that other people should either.

As i've said before, the important thing is to be very careful that when either of us (or anyone else for that matter) is objecting to a comment, we be very careful to figure out what is being claimed and then object to that. Rants really don't engage anyone intellectually, simply because they rarely contain good arguments.

Ciao

Mark said...

thanks for the philosophy there MArk B...
If our personal feelings are too deeply involved in other people disagreeing with us it woudl seem to me we should be questioning the validity of our own opinions. Disagreement and Honest Dialogue shoudl solidify and strengthen what we believe. I am takig part in this blog because its s a good place to embrace many forms of thought and process on certain streams. In my own personal processes I have found that rarely I am 'right' but the bottom line is its not about being right its about learning and growing. I don't need to argue abuot anything if I am learning... One of the basic foundational issues we have as Christians is that we think we are right... on almost everything... pretty arrogant if you ask me.

SB said...

I have a question then, what good is are opinions if there is no emotion in it, jsut wondering becuase if you believe in something then you have an opinion on it, thus you have an emotion attached to it, otherwise why would you belive in it.

Another question, You say that Christians think that we are always right, there is some truth to that if you strongly agree in what you Believe, wouldnt there, otherwise why would you believe the things you preach.

Thats something i struggle with, Christians should be always right, technically, and if Biblically backed, but it seems that it is impossible to do that because the world isnt all Christian.

I think ive learned a bit from these last posts. But we will see i guess, in the posts to come that i write, but i might be on the right track now in how i address things.

Bill Kinnon said...

Kenny,
Great comment. I particularly like:
I think the time has come for us as Believers to make an impact in the world community, here as well as abroad.
It's time to come back to the basics of life and what it means to be a christian today. Does it mean "prosperity"? I think we will be blessed 100 fold for our giving...and with that we give more and more and more. The more prosperous we are the more we give. Does it mean I can go and build myself a huge house and fill it with wonderful "things"...I don't think so. It means I need to give more generously and with an ever increasing heart of thankfulness to the God who gave it to me in the first place.


Too often, we charismatic/evangelicals want to interpret Mark 10:29-30 as some kind of mantra that says if we give then automatically we get. The promise is a promise of blessing that includes the blessings of suffering. And the one hundred fold increase is a promise for the Kingdom - we want to read it through the Western lens of the individual. There is no doubt that we Westerners have been blessed materially. As you so wonderfully point out, Kenny - the blessing is not for us.

I also need to applaud you for the transparency of your own blog. It's a challenge to the rest of us.
God Bless You, Brother.

Mark B. said...

SB,

I believe lots of things and so do you. For example, you believe that Winnipeg is cold in December and that Australia is hot in December. I guess it follows that it is my opinion that Winnipeg is cold and Australia hot (in December), but that is just to say that I have a belief that Winnipeg is cold and Australia is hot. [I'm getting the impression that you are using "opinion" differently than this. Perhaps you could tell me precisely what you mean.] I'm not entirely clear what you mean when you say that opinions have emotion in them, but I think that this belief that I just mentioned is one that is not overtly emotional in any way. Nor, for that matter, is the belief that 2+2=4 (and that is something that I believe more firmly than just about anything else).

So, how do I think that emotions are attached to beliefs? I think that I have a number of beliefs that, I really want to be true. I have a vested interest in defending them because they are essential to the way I understand who I am. There is another way that I think beliefs and emotions can get intertwined. Suppose you know that some particular belief makes people prone to do things that are immoral. For example, some of the beliefs that are held by members of the KKK might be this way; namely, they play a role in an individuals acting negatively towards members of a non-white race simply because they are not a member of the "right" race, which is something that is surely immoral. Now, if someone told you that they held such a belief, I can imagine that someone is getting very upset because they know that having such a belief might lead to these (morally) bad things.

With all that said, I think that there can, and should be, a venue for us to talk calmly and rationally about nearly any claim that someone might believe. I think that this blog can be as such. I know that Gerry will agree. If someone who believed the tenants of KKKianism and said as much, what should we do? Delete their comment? Bash them with insults? Misrepresent their claim and then beat on that? OR should we try to figure out: what the claim really is, what they think the justification for the claim is, why they think that it doesn't conflict with other claims that they hold, and then try to give good arguments against their view? If what we are doing here is trying to refine our belief sets, then it seems that we should do the latter. That's what I'm trying to do.

Now, one quick comment about the: "Christians always think we are always right comment." I (Mark B.) am not the same person as Mark who posted after my last post. SB, I'm not sure who your question about this was directed at, but I'm going to say something about it regardless. Christians have a number of beliefs. What beliefs Christians have will of course vary from Christian to Christian, just as it varies from person to person (Christians are people after all). About Belief in general: If you believe something, then you'd better think that what you believe is true, otherwise you are probably not being very rational. (I don't say: I believe p if I don't think that p is true. There may be some special cases where I do, but this is generally true.) I think the claim, about Christians thinking that they are always right, is supposed to be a different one however. I think the claim is something like: Christians not only think that they are right, but they think that there must be something wrong with anyone who doesn't believe the same thing. I know this is a strong claim and there is probably a weaker one that we could talk about, but I think this will do for now. I think that this is evidenced in the way that Christians so blindly dismiss anything that appears to be inconsistent with Christianity and then make claims about those who hold the view like: They are subverting the truth, and so on. This is certainly true in the case of the whole creationism thing (down here in the US) and it is certainly true of attitudes towards proponents of other religions having any sort of "presence" in places like schools and sometimes even government. I can think of a lot of other examples, but I want to end this here. The point is simply that many many Christians believe what they do without even thinking about the logical or epistemological (knowledge) consequences of their beliefs. You (Christians) don't have to be philosophers to think about these things, you just need to not take everything at face value...think about what exactly it is that you are believing and then think about whether there really is evidence for that.

SB said...

Thanks for the post Mark B.

I think i was getting at that core beliefs, or like your own beliefs on things such as religion and stuff like that have emotion attached to them. Not 2+2=4, not much emotion unless someone tells you that 2+2 doesnt = 4, then you will get a little agitated becuase you know you are right. Its kinda like arguing with a Muslim or Buddist about their beliefs. You know your right, or at least you should if you believe in Christianity, but they just dont get what you saying, but of course blinded by your own strong "emotional opinions" you cant see what they are saying either. I dunno if that helps you, i might have clarified what i was trying to say, even to myself haha.

I agree with you on the Christians who always think they are right. that was a good insight. I think that Christians think this way, i mena look at the guy with the Bull horn standing outside the Lakers game. That to me seems like a Christian, if you can call him that, but hes sinning like the rest of us do on a daily basis, so we have to consider him a Christian, hes just struggling, Right? But the guy with the bull horn strikes me as a person who is sick and tired of the world we live in, and the people who live in it, and how they just dont get Christianity and all it entails. I dont not agree with the Fags go to hell or you must repent or you will burn. But technically they are right arent they. Whats wrong with people just being Blunt about things, does it show the love of God in our lives or does it show the harsh reality of the consequences of not accepting this Love God has to Offer. Any insight on this would be appreciated as sometimes i find myself agreeing with the "Bull Horn" guy.

Mark B. said...

SB,

If someone told me that 2+2=4 was false, you're right, I can imagine being somewhat unsettled, but the reason I'd feel that way is that there is something unsettling about finding out that something you believed so firmly was false and not because of what the belief was. With that said, I need to also point out that I wouldn't believe this person, in fact, I wouldn't think twice about what they said unless: (1) they were someone that I knew would have very good reasons for making such a claim or (2) they gave me a good argument for why the claim was false. There are no good arguments for the claim that 2+2=4 is false, and that there are none is something that we can prove. However there are lots of other things that we believe, that there are arguments against. Nearly all core Christian beliefs are like this.

I want to say something briefly about what has gone on in this comment thread. First, there was a good amount of carry over from the last comment thread in terms of tone. How was that tone set? Well, you posted a comment that made a number of claims for which arguments weren't given and some of which could easily (and I think were) be taken as morally offensive. I'm not trying to stir the now only simmering kettle, I am just trying to go over some of the reasons how we got to where we are. Okay, so some comments were made and there was a--near violent--response. Some people were furious. There were a number of responses and they came in varying degrees of argumentative quality. Some were nearly hate flinging and others were trying to show either that the claims you made were false or that some of the beliefs that you hold are inconsistent. There was a lot of discussion.

Now, we move into Gerry's next post and then this comments thread. This comments thread has been a lot more controlled. (I can say this fairly, because I didn't comment until very recently on either of these threads.) The comments (including n. herman's among others) approached the issue in a nice analytic manner. The authors of these comments thought about what the issues were, considered what were the core issues and then attacked those. The method of attack was calm and rational. If there is one thing that would benefit the North American Evangelical church more than anything else, it would be to have more of this kind of discussion. Unfortunately there is a dearth of it in many churches. (On a personal note, I remember a few times when I was a kid having people try to stifle me in sunday school...boy is it a good thing that I was stubborn and insistent. I always tried my best to give arguments and question things. Ask Gerry, he never tried to stifle me, but he knows what I was like.)

Now, at 40 comment posts in this thread alone (this is the 41st) I think that we are having a perfectly rational discussion about some cool stuff. (Don't get me wrong, this was happening earlier in this thread and in other threads; my claim is merely about the state of things at post 40 and 41.) That is fantastic. I think that a lot of people can contribute to conversations like these without feeling like they are putting themselves personally on the line when they comment. SB, in your last comment, there were some claims expressed and then reasons given for why you believe them. This is exactly what I'm all about and I'm stoked when anyone else joins the argument-giving-style of discussion.

Now, something about the second paragraph of your last comment. I didn't mean to imply that only Christians think that what they believe is true. I meant to imply that most people (in general) do. In fact, I think that it is pretty strange to believe something and then, if asked "Do you think that is true," to answer no. Doesn't that seem weird to people? There are of course varying degrees of belief, but I'm certainly not clear how that could make a difference here. Maybe someone can tell me if they think it does. I think the thought expressed by (the other) 'mark' in his post was just what I suggested and maybe even that when faced with a claim that is inconsistent with their Christian beliefs, they don't approach it rationally (in the sense that I outlined above).

That's all for now, but I'm looking forward to the next disagreement provoking thing that Gerry will post.

Ciao

Milton Stanley said...

Two strong posts. I quoted liberally this one and McChurch at my blog this morning.

younghands said...

More thoughts on giving to the poor
I watched this piece last night on ABC Primetime, the link to the article accompanying this piece is pasted below. It is called, Glitz, Glamour Affecting Charitable Giving?
One stunning image in the piece was when a celebrity limo drove to a fundraising benefit for an opera or something like that and to get to the glitzy benefit they had to drive past like 20 homeless people sleeping on the street.
OK celebrities are easy targets so before I judge them and poke at the speck in their eyes. I have to ask why do I give? Who do I give to? More importantly do I give to fulfill a need or is it to make me feel better? Do I give to things that benefit me? Is their a difference between philanthropy and generosity? Do I give money to my kids school to make a difference for the other kids or do I do it to make my kids more successful. Another statement made in this piece was it is a good career move for these celebrities to been seen giving to charity. And all I could think was Jesus and Widow who gave her 2 cents.
Luke 21
The Widow's Offering
1As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.[a] 3"I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
I ask myself do I give like her or like the people that Jesus chastised?

Article from http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=1387620

younghands said...

Hey I know that this comment is late to the party but I just found a website for a company called Charity Navigator their website is http://www.charitynavigator.org.
Both World Vision and Compassion International were given perfect four star ratings and Charity Navigator recommended them as good charities to give to. It is a really good sight, although I wish that there was a Canadian version for the site.
Commenting on blogs is always way more fun than writing sermons

filletofsoul said...

Okay every time I check your blog to see if anyone has commented, I come face to face with that sad looking picture of the little boy. It is starting to annoy me. My reaction is always the same, "What should I do?" "How can this be?" My heart breaks knowing that there are children suffering and needy like that. Then my mind starts to wander and I think about my kids. I love them very much, but they can be whiners, unappreciative and unthankful at times (especially supper time)....part of me wonders what it would be like to just leave my life here and go to one of these third world countries to help these children.... as much as I would want to feed, protect and nuture these kids, the selfish side of me inwardly longs to actually see true thankfulness and gratefullness. The thought of actually making someones life better would be so rewarding.

It makes me wonder about the lives we live in this blessed country. The more I have discussed this with my friends, the more convinced I have become that one reason that depression is becoming so common is our society because we live our lives only trying to fill our WANTS and not actually filling any real NEEDS. Inwardly I think we must all know at some point in our existence that filling only WANTS is futile. There is no real reward or importance in doing that. Basically we are expendible. Our lives have not done or are doing anything of significant value for society. So we become depressed because we feel unimportant, unneeded and unmotivated. People need a sense of purpose.

The ironic thing about what I just said is that even though the majority of people's physical needs are met in this country/province/city we live, the emotional needs of people here seem to be overwhelmingly huge! We should attend to these needs as well...

what do you think?

Anonymous said...

Funny how we have enough time between "foraging" to be concerned with our emotional neediness.

Living in this pychotic society makes me pines for the days where the most we had to worry about was fending off bears and sweeping out our caves.

Still, it's nice to know there are still pastors that get it.

kenny said...

Ah...yes, back to the basics!

I really want to comment on the man with the bull horn paragraph...sorry it just couldn't be helped.
I really cringed when the comment was made about fags go to hell and turn or burn.
Yes, as a christian, I am fed up with how people talk or live and sometimes just want to be blunt and say it like it is. But then there is a huge part of me that can't. Maybe because my faith is new...and I have experienced the blunt comments from Christians while living in the lifestyle.
When I was living as a gay man (just came out of the lifestyle)...I was really offended by statements like that. I wondered how so called christians could make statements like that...and hearing from the people in the gay community and the reactions proved that those statements only push the anger deeper into their hearts and minds. They didn't help bring me back to God...it was the love (yep...just plain old love) that drew my heart back to God. It was the compassion of christians that I respected, that loved me even when I was living contrary to their beliefs.
It made me think of Christ and how he would probably have walked with me when I was gay.
So being blunt...reacting before really thinking about how your statements can hurt or push people farther away is something to think about, pray about...and wonder...what would Jesus do.
I have enjoyed reading the comments so far. Realizing that some people "get it". In a "me, me" society, that is really materialistically based there are a lot of unhappy people. Go to a mall and watch the faces of the people. When our children have everything that they could ever want and thus, they end up searching for more...be it drugs or the next buzz to make them happy. Gone are the days when kids had to wait for something, or save up for something. Am I wrong? Maybe it is the west coast in me coming out?
So ya, going back to basics. Wouldn't that be nice. What would that mean? Maybe doing without some "things". We do live in a blessed country. So what do we do about that. Again, going back to basics, when we looked out for our neighbour. Hey, they might need help putting up a fence or maybe better...tearing one down. Maybe it means helping our neighbour out with groceries if they need it or giving someone a ride. I think it means that we start looking outside our own homes and building community all around us. Giving of our time and "things" and money. Because really, our time is God's too. There are lots of ways to get involved, even in our city. There are boys and girls clubs in the inner city that are always looking for leaders. There are organizations that help feed the hungry. There are prison visitations. There are hospices, non profit organizations that are always looking for funds.
Maybe I am being too blunt. I think if we are going to be blunt in what we say, we say it to ourselves. So that those who are non believers can look at our lives and say..."wow, if that is what it means to be a christian...I wanna be one".
Is this completely crazy or do-able?

Mark B. said...

Kenny,

I'm not sure how I missed that paragraph. I think that you are right, no Christian should ever say such things; regardless of whether they are true or not (I'll refrain from saying what I think). Where I live, there is a street near where I spend a lot of my time that has a lot of resturants on it. I walk down it all the time before getting my caffiene fix. There is a "guy" (I'm not sure what else to call him...the respect level is quite low) who walks around with a sign that says:
Repent, the end is near. All who don't will burn eternally.
Pretty insane heh? So, what impression do people get of the God that we supposedly believe in? They get the impression that God is all about letting people that he supposedly loves, burn eternally (when he supposedly has the power to stop it). And who in their right mind would want to serve anything that is morally capable of doing that? That is a BAD BAD BAD impression of Christianity, but it is what this "guy" is suggesting. There have been times when I want to rip the sign off, take the tracks and throw them all in the garbage because he's ruining any good impression of Christianity that people might have left.

So, about all those "God hates fags" slogans that people throw around so loosely, I hate those slogans. First of all they are false. Second of all, just think for 5 second and you should be able to come up with about a dozen adverse effects that these slogans have. It really makes me mad. All this to say that I totally agree with most of what you said. If we are to be like Christ (which doesn't mean BE Christ), then we can't go around hating like that.

Ps- to answer the final question...you're not crazy, it is doable.

SoulPastor said...

Okay filletofsoul (that name scares me every time time)
To be honest, I am glad that “every time I check your blog to see if anyone has commented, I come face to face with that sad looking picture of the little boy. It is starting to annoy me.”
Good, it really bothers me and that is why I put it up there. It brought me to tears the first time I saw it.
But, the question is not what should you do….it is what are you doing?
My heart breaks as well not only for the fact that people are struggling elsewhere must also for the fact that we are (as a culture) “whiners, unappreciative and unthankful” and I would add MOST OF THE TIME.
Anonymous, sometimes I wonder if I really do get it!!!

Kenny, when I saw the initial post about “fags” I cringed. And as I read your post and say PREACH IT…for you are my brother! AND KEEP BEING BLUNT.

Mark B… I am quoting this post of the “guy” in my life lesson this week.
Have a good weekend all and I am working on Mondays post!
Be Blessed

Tye said...

my first comment here but just have to mention Kenny that you are not crazy and that it is doable. As one surrenders themselves to Jesus seeking to become more like Him then we can do those things to reach out and walk along side those that need to know that they are worth spending time with and helping. When i hear slogans "God hates fags" i get a knot in my stomach and go through a range of emotions. Having been one that recieved such comments made towards myself during my teen years as well numerous other critical and judgemental statements that cut felt like i was being stabbed witha knife and left to die alone. My heart aches for those who are marginalized by the self righteous Christian that looks at down on others that do not match up to their personal standards. Just last night i spoke with a long time freind that is presently separated from his wife and after beinga a part of a christian community for over 20 years all but 5 of his freinds have stopped communication with him. No one or very few christian brother and sisters have taken the time to inguire to his side of the situation. So needless to say my dear freind and brother in Christ does not think that well of his former christian community since many of them do not even want contact with him. I tried to convey that those people really no not represent Christ very well. After getting off the phone I felt so overwhelmed with the situation and asked myself the question, "how can Christians be so cruel?" as sat there and cried and prayed. I believe just as Jesus stood outside the city of Jerusalem and cried He continues to cry for us as we just do not get it sometimes. "Luke 19:41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes."

SoulPastor said...

Thanks for posting Tye.
Sometimes we believers are the worst representation of Christ on the earth! (think about that one for a while)
That is a great thought for another post...how can Christians be so cruel?!

Today I pray for your friend, his need, as well as for you and your work!

Be Blessed

SB said...

i hope you guys arent thinking that i believe that, i just watched a documentary a couple months ago and there was a guy with that exact sign, i was just using it as an example. I no way whatsoever to i believe that, so if anyone took me the wrong way then im sorry.

Mark B. said...

SB,

I don't think it was actually the use of the phrase: "God Hates Fags" that has people talking. (As a stylistic note, it's a good idea to use scare quotes like myself and others have been using, simply to indicate that you are mentioning the phrase and not using it. I think I said more about that distinction in an old comment on an old post.) One thing that I think got people talking was not related to the content of your post and the other thing I think was. What I think was related to the content of your post was when you said:

"But technically they are right aren't they. What's wrong with people just being Blunt about things."

You said that right after saying that you don't agree with people going around saying: "God hates fags" and also right after saying, of the guy with the bull horn: "he's sinning like the rest of us do on a daily basis, so we have to consider him a Christian, he's just struggling, Right?" So, now without saying whether I think that being gay is a sin or not (just being gay is certainly not a sin, what I'm trying to avoid commenting on is whether being actively (?) gay is actually a sin, but i don't know how to properly phrase that), let's suppose that it is a sin. If it is, then how is someone who is gay any different from the guy with the bull horn? Aren't they then just struggling like him? I don't see why we wouldn't say the exact same thing about them that we do about him. If that is the case and you don't think that the man with the bull horn is going to hell, then why on earth would you think that the gay person is going to hell. All sins are equivalent in God's eyes right? (That's what most Christians think anyways, so I'm assuming you do also.)

I think, that is what people were responding to. I wrote this just so that things were clear. I don't know for certain Kenny or Tye would agree with what I just wrote, but I'm pretty sure they would.

SB said...

yeah that makes sense. I was trying to refer to the sins are equal part, i didnt mean for it to sound that way, thats one thing i dont like about text discussions, the emotion is not in the words that you write down, my facial expressions and such. But anyways, i think what i was trying to say was that the sin is equal therfore, we shouldnt treat this guy different than any other sinner, if that makes sense? It seems we pick and choose what sins to "condemn" adn then condemn the sinner, when really all sins damage the kingdom of God. I havent seen anyone say i hate lying or i hate gossiping or things of that nature becuase i think most are guilty of this at somepoint, maybe sometimes we attack the sins that we ourselves do not commit, such as "God hates Fags signs" etc, but when it comes to sins we struggle with personally we tend not to pay much attention to them in a discussion about sinning and the types of sinning. It seems that we dont treat sin as equal most of the time, which can be said in most cases, especially in the legal system. Again this is just what i can see in daily life, other will differ in opinion im sure. I see the Bull horn guy as a person who needs help, not condeming, hes misguided, maybe fustrated or mentally ill, we cannot be sure until we sit down with one of these guys and take the time ot talk to them. Ive never personally met a bull horn guy, but i would love to one day, to hear his story, if hes willing, and try to piece back together the puzzle if at all possible.

Mark B. said...

You're right, you don't see people carrying signs saying:

God Hates Lying!

or,

God Hates Gossip!

I think there is a very good reason that you don't see such signs. The reason is that whoever would carry the condemning sign would almost certainly be among those being condemned.

There is actually a stronger claim to be made here. It seems that, people are cautious about making a condemning claim about anything that they can imagine themselves doing. That is one thing that makes the gay community such a target for condemnation by many Christians. Most people are not gay. Most of the non-gay people could not imagine being gay. Given this inability to imagine this, it makes it very easy to condemn the person who is gay.

So, there isn't a lot of condemnation (as members of the gay community receive) about things like: dishonouring your mother and father or even about not giving to the church (remember, I'm talking about condemnation that is on par with what many gay people face).

These are very dubious grounds to base your condemnation on, but oftentimes, it looks like that is what's happened.

SB said...

Dubious grounds can still be valid grounds as you mentioned. I think you just clarified what i was saying. Honestly though, I think being Gay is turning into a Fad, things such as fashion shows now, such as queer eye for the straight guy adn girl now, Gay people are getting more publicity than ever and it seems like people are jumping on the bandwagon. This may sound a little weird, but in society today it seems like its getting popular to be gay, and some people are joining because it gives them something to fight for and take a stand on. To some, being gay is a struggle, to others, they think they were born that way and they cannot change themselves. Last year in school i had this Gay guy in class, he was open about it but you would never know just by looking at him that he was gay. Me and him talked about it and he told me that he was born with it, and that he had never had any attraction to women at all, he was always attracted to boys, even in elementary years. Im not sure if hes just in denial or if he is legitmiately telling the truth, but it struck me as odd becuase he thought that being gay was becoming a fad, and he condemned the shows on tv and those types of things.

It was a good perspective of a Gay person, whom i havent had much dialouge with in my life. It just seems that being gay is getting cool, i dunno why, but the more the pubic accepts it the more power they have. I dont care if they have equal rights, i do care if they get married. But does that intertwine with equal rights? Just some thoughts on the Gay community.

Thanks Mark for clarifying my responses half the time, makes it easier to understand what im saying too, its a great help. Its good to see we arent at each others neck anymore too, lol, but trying to work out the issues I present.

SoulPastor said...

It is interesting how we got off the point of this post...

How we have said things, had to clairfy others...

It all comes back to the picture at the top of this blog...

The picture bothers me, it should bother you!

I am looking outside, watching the snow fall, two of my boys shovelling and I wonder...

What do they NEED for Christmas?

kenny said...

It is interesting how we got off the original topic. I am actually pretty excited that we did, it is the process of conversation. How one thing can move toward something totally different and create another conversation and dialogue.
The picture bothers me too, each time I see it. A friend gave me a picture a few years ago of a girl that she met in Kenya. She never smiled...the whole time my friend was there but gave her a little smile when she was saying her goodbyes. I have it near my front door to remind me of the world community out there that I am a part of.
Today, I went to the vineyard in the evening. I just needed to to sit and listen to what God was saying to me...I waited and then I felt convicted. I had this picture of me, making my little apartent cozy. Having to have everything just so. Justifying my shopping purchases as "I am just replacing what I left behind in BC and with my ex". But did I need it all? I got this vision of a bookcase and me filling it. Why? Just to fill it. I repented of my western way of thinking. To fill my life with stuff. Just stuff. Okay, I have realized I have said this before, just as I see that picture, it just makes me sick at how I go about my life. How I think I deserve this or that. I prayed that God would really show me that my security and my peace does not come from any material thing...that when it does, it has become an idol. That he would shake me up, get me to look outward, especially during Christmas.
I really don't need anything. I want this or that...thinking it will make my life easier. I don't have a computer and wish I did. I have to go to university to email or blog...or a friend lends me his laptop. How hard is that? A 15 minute walk. Yes, a little out of the way, but somepeople walk miles just for water...when I think of that, I feel ashamed of this western way.
Lord have mercy!

Mark B. said...

For the record, I need to say one thing in response to something SB said. Namely,

"Dubious grounds can still be valid grounds as you mentioned."

The way that people normally use 'valid' I do not think that this claim is true. People usually use 'valid' to mean 'good' or 'appropriate', but that's not how I'm using it.

In my post, I just said:

"These are very dubious grounds to base your condemnation on, but oftentimes, it looks like that is what's happened."

The corollary of this claim is that the condemnation itself is dubious, because the grounds are. That's what I meant, not what SB said I meant.

SB said...

Haha, didnt mean to imply you did say that. Again you have to look at how people look at validity and the premises behind it. Thats how i think that dubious grounds can still be valid, in some cases at least.

Mark B. said...

Look, if you are using 'validity' in the popular sense, then that claim is false as I pointed out in the last comment. If you are using it in the philosophical sense, then this:

"you have to look at how people look at validity and the premises behind it."

is a malformed sentence. So, I invite you to tell me exactly what you mean by 'validity'.

Anonymous said...

1. Fix your country first. Lots of poor people around us in our own cities. They de-value properties and increase crime. Fix them first and make living a more enjoyable event, especially downtown.

2. There will always be poverty until the return of Christ. As long as a open market system exists there will be poor people.

3. Poor are poor for a reason. If you were to equalize all the wealth of the world eventually those people would be poor again.

4. Yeah pictures are sad, but the real crime is with the parents having a child in such conditions when they know they won't be able to provide for it.

Only investments I agree with is into educational infrastructure to teach them how to care for themselves and not be dependent on others.

Gov't takes enough of my money. I don't think it is a crime to care about myself and enjoy my hard earned dollars and feel guilty about giving some of it to a 3rd world.

Mark B. said...

Clearly "anonymous" just wants to make a number of provocative comments and then hide under the veil of anonymity. I'm not even going to bother telling you why the contents of your post border on immoral, I think that should be obvious to anyone who thinks about it for like 5...or 10 seconds.

Don't just make claims, give arguments. And if you are that worried about being 'found out' then don't post at all.

Mark said...

Somebody sounds a little too much like Scrooge.. Anonymous don't be surprised if you have some visitors in your sleep on Christmas eve.

SB said...

I am not Anonymous, just to clear any assumptions up.

Mark said...

LOL... Don't worry SB. I, for one, never thought you were. You have proven a number of times that you are willing to make such claims and sign your name to them.

SB said...

lol, i think i have also proven that i am willing to back up some of the claims and even change my thoughts on them.

Mark said...

Yes and your posts have changed in tone too. Not so much of the: "Well it's obvious that the answer to this issue is black and white" and more "Ok, so what exactly is the issue..."

That change makes me happy.

Lastly...I saw you at church last Sunday and well...I don't think you are 6'3. I think you need to go re-measure. ;-)