Charcoal man

Often, I write my dreams in a non-traditional fashion and later craft stories from them. Here is an example that I wrote an hour ago. I am giving it to you as I tried to suss it out, sitting down in my chair from my bed. It's jarring, and seemingly hapless... However, I have to write it backwards as I am recalling the dream. It's super difficult to do and often I am jumping up and down with anticipation waiting for the computer to turn on because I know that if I have to urinate I will lose the dream entirely.

Enjoy this stream-of-consciousness horror story.

"Charcoal man"
By Pauly Hart
A story transcribed from a dream, moments after waking
21/8/16 15:12

It was on a middle floor maybe.
One long hallway and a bedroom near the end that I was on.
At the other end was a doorway with a door that came up from the floor that led a stairway down.
She was in stairway.
Black hair and gray dress.
And he was in the bedroom, at my end of the hall.
Tied to the bed.
Not tied so much maybe.
His left arm had a large metal hinged spike thru it.
She would turn the hinge and he would scream
But he cut off the arm above the elbow, nearer to the bicep so the door would crush her.
I didn’t think she was the evil one until too late.
But earlier he had me cut off his pinky on his right hand so she could fight the evils on the lower floor.
And I had begged him not to make me.
But the more you inflicted pain upon the man...
The more power she had to defeat the evils on the lower floor.
And he had already sawed off his own legs.
And when she would leave him she would do so in the name of love and go down the hallway to fight.
Fight monsters.
And the door would go into the floor.
And she would turn with a blank and hesitant look, over her left shoulder.
And tell him that she loved all of him.
But I had to be there now.
For he had no one left to cut him.
So he drew me and made me.
The charcoal man.
He had summoned me from the floor to cut him.
She would return.
Blood up to her elbows.
And she would walk the hall.
Hair distraught.
Arms painted red.
Dripping in the hallway.
And she would wash there, in the sink in the room of the man on the bed.
A large metal sink without a counter.
The kind that butchers have.
She says that she knows that he is anxious.
His black hair and dark eyes.
And his mouth sewed shut.
She knows that I am there but says nothing.
She knows that he has summoned me.
Summoned me to cut off his left arm.
For he cannot.
Be strong , she tells him, the battle is almost won.
And then it is loose.
And she folds the skin over and stops the flow.
And takes the arm and places it into the floor where the teeth are.
And breathes deep and goes back down the hallway to the door on the end she came from.
It slides down and lets her in.
You must take my eyes while she is gone, he tells me.
I cannot do this thing. His eyes are all he has left. He lost his ears long ago.
But she needed me to see everything, he tells me.
Now that my arm is gone, I understand, he tells me.
Now that you are here, I understand, he tells me.
Take my eyes quickly, and I dig in, black ash hands crumbling.
Take the scoop, he says.
There on the side of the metal bed, a scoop.
And I dig into his eye like he’s asked.
Place it in the floor where the woman placed me, he says.
The teeth, yellow and hungry, take the eye.
The woman screams down the hall.
What are you doing? She calls down the hall.
But the door is sliding up, catching her.
She cannot move now, she is pinned to the ceiling.
The dirty yellow wallpaper shakes as she screams.
Quick the other one, he tells me.
But I am hesitant.
It is the only thing left of him.
Do it, he says.
Do it not, she screams.
The other eye comes out easier than the first.
It goes into the mouth...
With it still in hand, I look out the doorway of the man’s room, down the hallway.
Her face is downcast, but it is dripping blood.
The same eye that I took from the man is now missing in her head.
She sees me and laughs.
I did not feed the man’s other eye into the mouth.
She lifts her hand and the eye from my hand is in the air.
It moves on its own.
I reach out and grab it.
But her hand, there with her stuck on the ceiling, calls to it and it tries to leave me.
I know you can hear me bitch! The man cries.
You shall never have all of me! He cries.
But suddenly she laughs.
The eye has broken through my hand and now floats to her with my ash fingers still clutching it.
And she brushes my fingers away and places it in her head where the other eye had been removed.
And pushes the door back down, full of new found strength.
She floats so slowly down the hall.
Now all that remains is to feed my children, she says.
And the door at my end of the hallway opens.
Not the room I am in, the door at the end.
It too, slides from the top downward.
And as her children feed on the man, he might have been saved.
But he had no legs or arms or tongue.

And I am all that is left of him.

66 Reasons Tithing is Wrong Today

These are truths about tithing you won't hear in churches that teach money tithes.

Tithing and Abraham

1. His tithe was a one time tithe from the chief spoils of war, not his own wealth. Gen. 14:20-Heb. 7:4)
2. He gave back the other 90%. Gen. 14:21-23. Tithe teachers seem to miss that detail as they seek to justify money tithes from followers.
3. There is no scripture he ever tithed again from his own wealth, or from captured war booty.
4. Before he met Melchizedek, Abram was rich in cattle, silver, and gold, but paid no tithes on his own wealth in scripture. Genesis (13:2 )
5. Nowhere did the apostles command churches to tithe like Abraham, as a continuing practice.
6. Abraham lived before Moses who delivered the Old Testament laws. But God's own law never gave Abraham as an example for paying tithes from income, money, or produce.
7. Abraham never made a tithe covenant. After tithing once to Melchizedek, Abraham did not tithe from the goods and money given to him from Abimelech. Gen. 20:14-16
8. Abraham and God did make a continuing covenant including circumcision. -but not one for tithing. (Gen. 17:10-12)
9. His son Isaac never tithed in scripture.
10. His grandson Jacob pledged to tithe, but the Bible never says if he gave one or who he gave it to, and God never commanded him to do so.

Israel and the tithe

11. The law of Moses defined the ordinance of tithing. (Lev. 27:30, Numbers 16, Deut. 14:23, Mal 3:7. The ordinances were specific in what was to be tithed. The law itself stated nobody was to change, add or take away from what the law itself said, under a strong curse penalty.
Deut 27:26 Cursed be he that confirms not all the words of this law to do them. ..
12. God defined the tithe in ordinances and commands under law, as farm products!
Leviticus.27:30-31 And all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lords: it is holy to the Lord.
Deuteronomy 14:23 And you will eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose, … the tithe of grain, of new wine, of oil, and the first of your herd and flock; .... and the law was not to be altered.

13. The lawful tithe was FOOD from both farm products and clean animals from inside the holy land of Israel.
Zech 2:12 And the LORD shall inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.) Produce from outside the land of Israel was unclean and unacceptable for tithes.
14. Strangers, foreigners, fishermen, wage earners and tradesmen, had no command to tithe.
(Numbers 18:28 Thus also offer a heave-offering to the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel;)
Never were non-Jews told to tithe anything.

15. The tithe was to provide food for the Levite priests, sojourners, widows, orphans.
Deuteronomy 26:12 When you make an end of tithing all the tithe of the increase in the third year, which is the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the sojourner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled.
Numbers 20:21 and to the children of Levi, behold, I have given all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service, the service of the tent of meeting.

16. The (edible) tithe was also brought into the temple storehouse and was eaten and used by the priests, ministers, porters, and singers.
The Levite priests were to give and distribute the tithes to others, which was a tithe of the tithe. (1/10th of 1/10th).
Nehemiah 10:38 And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers, in the treasure-house.

Neh. 13:5 and had prepared a great room, where before they laid the meal-offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, given by commandment to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the heave-offerings for the priests.

-do churches who teach tithes pay singers and doorkeepers?

17. The tithe was never for the benefit of one man.
18. The Levite Priests that had the command to receive tithes could not own land, thus they could not grow food.
Deuteronomy 18:2 And they shall have no inheritance among their brethren: The LORD is their inheritance, as he hath spoken to them.

NOTE: Even if and when a farmer SOLD crops or livestock, he did not pay monetary tithes on that which was sold. God never required monetary tithes from anyone.

The Tithe In Malachi:

19. In Malachi it was the Levite priests that God rebuked over robbing tithes and offerings.
Mal. 2:1 O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
20. In Malachi the prophet rebukes the priests, the religious leaders, for not providing for the "the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless...."
21. The hireling and his wages were not commanded to tithe.
22. In Malachi 3:7-10, the passage often used to gather church tithes, "ordinances" are referenced, the priests rebuked for not correctly tithing and offering.
(7) From the days of your fathers you have turned away from my ordinances, and not kept them. Verse 9 states the Levites were "robbing God" in tithes defined in the ordinances!
23. Neither tithes or offerings as commanded and defined by God in the law and were monetary or from income.
Tithes: Lev. 27:30, offerings: Exodus 29.
24. Malachi 3:9 therefore is not a reference to tithing from income.
25. Malachi 3:9 is never quoted in the New Testament to any church or given as an ordinance to the churches as in Acts 15 when the apostles and elders ruled on what law they were or were not to observe..

The seed tithe

26. The "seed tithe" was a yearly and third year tithe. It was seed, not money. Deut. 14:22)
27. The "seed" tithe could be changed "IN TO money", and taken to the feast.
28. The tithe exchanged into money could buy "whatever thy soul desires" - for the tither and his family.
Deut. 14:26 and thou shall use the money for whatever your soul desires, for cattle, sheep, or for wine, for strong drink, or whatever… you shall eat before the LORD and rejoice, you and your household.
29. The every "third year" tithe of seed was commanded for the benefit of the Levite, stranger, orphans, and widows, and was not money from income earned.
Deut. 14:28 At the end of every three years you shall bring forth all the tithe of the increase in the same year, and lay it up within thy gates:
29 and the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance, and the sojourner, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within your gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand.

30. The tithe itself was never defined as money by the Lord, nor were the Old Testament tithes ever re-defined by an apostle or Jesus as 10% of income paid in money.

Tithing in In the New Testament:

31. Jesus affirmed tithing was as defined by God in the law, and was "of the matters of the law".
Matthew 23:23
32. Jesus did not mention Abraham paying tithes before the law.
33. Jesus and the apostles never said paying a tithe from income was blessed but did say "GIVING" is blessed.
34. Jesus did say He required disavowing ownership of all we have,
or we could not be disciples. Luke 14:33
35. Jesus affirmed to Jews under the law, that they were to keep the law as it was written. Mat. 23:23
36. Jesus affirmed the tithe as it was given in the law, and not as 10% of income.
37. At His death, Jesus delivered the New Covenant through His apostles by the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 9:17 a testament is of force where there has been death: for it has no authority while he that made it lives.
(that is why Jesus affirmed tithing, and Moses laws while he lived)

38. At the cross, Jesus annulled, discharged, abolished, blotted out, and canceled the ordinances of the Old Covenant.
Eph. 2:15 Col. 2:914, 2Cor 3:14 Heb 8:15–are some of the verses affirming the passing away of the ordinances. There are many more.

39. The tithe ordinance and command under the law was never changed into a tithe from wages, sales, or paid in money in the New Testament, nor was a church building ever called "the storehouse".

Ministers and Tithes:

40. In Hebrews 7, it was pointed out that men here, the Levites, had a command to take tithes from their brethren, "according to the law". Tithes were defined in the Old Covenant Law.
Heb 7:5 And the sons of Levi that receive the priest's office have commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law.

41. There is no New Testament "office" of a priest and the “foregoing commandment” was CANCELED. Heb. 7: 18 For there is a dis-annulling (canceling) of the foregoing commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness
42. The “foregoing” tithe commandment in Hebrews 7 was not from income, nor was it money. -it was the lawful tithe that was “commanded” for Levite priests to take from their brethren.
43. The tithes in Hebrews 7 were not transformed into money and set aside
for New Testament ministers anywhere in the New Testament.
44. The church assembled in Acts 15 to deal with people that were troubling the churches and Christians, "subverting their souls", in that they were teaching Christians to keep Old Testament law, including the tithe ordinance.

45. The apostles and elders stated "they gave no such command" to observe the Old Covenant ordinanceswhich included tithes, and they forbid the legalists from going beyond the apostles teaching.
46. In no fewer than 30 passages in Acts where money, giving, offerings, work, and alms are mentioned, there is not mention of tithing.
47. In Galatians 1:7 Paul warned of those bringing New Testament Christians back under Old Testament law, which he called "bondage" in Gal.5:1, and was what he warned about: "which is not another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ."
: "pervert" means "to twist or change", as in changing the meaning of a word into something God did not say..
-Such like the agricultural "tithe" was or is from income, or a pastor is the equivalent of a Levite priest..

Giving or Tithing?

48. In none of the New Testament scriptures was "tithe" included in passages regarding "collection"s, gathering, giving, ministering, sacrifice, or offering.
49. Those who command and teach tithing from income are perverting the gospel because tithing as defined in God’s law, and tithing 10% from income are not given to any church or saint.
50. God forbid changing, twisting, adding to, or diminishing from the gospel.
51. No pastor, prophet, apostle, or minister in scripture ever testified of paying or receiving tithes from income.
52. No prophet, pastor, apostle, or minister has a scriptural command to take tithes from their brethren according to Old Testament law, or New Testament command.
53. No teacher, preacher, pastor, apostle, or prophet has authority to pervert the OT tithe into NT doctrine. -Paul warned in 1Cor 4:6 ... "that you learn not to go beyond that which is written that none of you be puffed up... against the other"
54. Paul and the other apostles gave us the New Testament commands of the Lord. There was no command, ordinance, quoting of tithe laws, or reminders to "pay tithes". Their words are the Words of God and the commands to Christians.

Jesus said in Matthew 28:20 make disciples, teaching them to observe all whatever I commanded you ...
and the gospel story continues into Acts 1:
..... :1 concerning all that Jesus began both to do and to teach,
(2) until the day he was received up, ==> after that he (Jesus) had given commandment through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen:

Did you catch that?
The "commandment" to New Testament saints after the resurrection came through Spirit-filled apostles, who would teach what Jesus wanted us to observe.

Then after that, What did the apostles teach?:

55. The church in Acts continued in what the Holy Ghost filled apostles taught.
Acts 2:42 And they continued steadfast in the apostles teaching, fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayers.
56. The church received the teaching and commands of the Lord through the apostles. 2nd Peter 3:2 that ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandments of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles:
57. The church was told to remember their teaching, and they never taught tithing to the church.
58. The church acknowledged the apostle’s writings as Christ’s commandments.
Since the apostles never commanded tithing, it is not a commandment of the Lord. Cor 14:37 If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him know that the things which I write to you, are the commandment of the Lord.

59. The churches were expected to continue in the apostles commands and not go beyond that.
2Thess 3:4 And we are confident in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we commanded you. NLT
(NIV) We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command.

60. The early Jewish church knew what the Lord had commanded we are not to add to His Word, diminish from it, or pervert the meaning of it.
Galatians 1:7 which is not another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
Deuteronomy 16:19 you shall not twist justice: you shall not respect persons; nor take a bribe; for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. Yes, money tithes are twisted judgment and bring “respect of persons” toward those that tithe more than others.

61. Since the commands of the Lord given through the apostles do not include tithing from income, those who teach tithing from income are perverting His Word and need to be corrected.
Deuteronomy 12:32 What I command you, observe to do: you shall not add to, or diminish from it.
62. The original church in Acts never mentioned any tithing, rather they "had ALL things common", sharing, and meeting each others need.
Acts 2: 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; (45) and they sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all according as any man had need. <= Does that sound like tithes to you?

We find it strange how churches teach tithing but in the Book of Acts the disciples worked, gave, supplied each other, sold property, and ministered to the needs of others but not once is any form of tithing attached to any of those actions by the NT writers!

63. NONE of the churches that teach tithing do as they did in Acts 2:44-45.
2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
64. When Tithes and offerings are recorded for charitable contribution tax deductions by every church organizations and ministry, and as such, are reported to the government for a tax deduction, you have your reward.
Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men,
to be seen (observed) of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
65. Matthew 6:1 Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men,
to be seen (observed) of them: or ye have no reward with your Father in heaven.
65. The tax deduction is a reward from man for reported tithing.
The reward comes from man and not from God.
Reported tax-deductible tithing is seen by a church administrator, bank, tax authorities to whom it is reported, and any official that looks at your tax forms.

What the New Testament DOES say:

66. "GIVE and it shall be given..."
Luke 11:41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have
Acts 20:35 I have showed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands, that he may have to give to him that needs.
Matthew 6:1 Take care not to do your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward
Luke 11:41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all are clean unto you

Words used such as “give”, “alms”, “gatherings”, and “collections” are never defined as a 10% tithe in the New Testament. Therefore it is “perverting the gospel” to insert someone’s idea or tithe definition into any of the text’s where those words are used.

If God meant “tenth”, surely at least one of the apostles would have mentioned tithing to someone, but……There is not one single instruction to any church or saint under New Covenant scripture, to pay a tithe to anyone.

The EBT people

When I was an assistant manager of a super convenience store i saw some pretty ridiculous things. One of my favorite things to hate was a certain type of customer that we had. We were located on a busy highway but there was a low end apartment complex behind us and right around the first of the week we would get a slew of customers who would perform some of the most erroneous transaction that I witnessed.

For those of you who don't know, the "first of the month" is a term used by many who are on welfare or foodstamps. Often, there is an allotment given to those recipients who can also take out physical currency on their "electronic bank transfer" card as well as the purchasing of actual food stuffs. Many of the items in our store were marked "EBT" to promote their selection. Things that could not be purchased on EBT were items like alcohol, cigarettes, lotto and lottery and the like. Strangely you could not purchase fresh made deli or hot restaurant items but you could purchase things like candy bars and soda-pop.

In comes our friends, dirty t-shirts and pajama bottoms with five children each, screaming and running. Wandering around for a while, goods in hand, they approach my counter. Each child with an armful of candy and the parents with cases of soda. All purchased on foodstamps. I weep when the mother scolds a child with a loaf of bread. "We don't need that shit," she tells her three year old. The boy puts the bread by the Little Debbies and I proceed with the sale. "Oh we need lottery tickets." I respond with: "You have to purchase those with Debit or cash only." They proceed to try and pay me with their EBT card. I shrug and run the transaction. It's denied. They curse me and go to the ATM.

Armed with fresh cash, they proceed to buy five different flavors of tobacco, $40 in lottery and lotto and then shuffle out of the door. All told, they've just spent $150 of taxpayer money on garbage. I need a break, so I have someone cover my register and go to the break room to vent to another employee. Samantha is her name. She's young and a mother of a toddler. She doesn't see anything wrong with it. Of course not, I think. You've only been in the workforce for half of a year and are still a little dumb. I tell her my honest opinion of the concept, without telling her my opinion of her as well. "Well, I'd do it," she says, puts out her cigarette and goes back to work.

Mary, the elderly woman who has been on break and just listening in sighs through a mouthful of sandwich. I know she's going to say something so I wait for her to take a drink and swallow. "I think they're a bunch of thieves. I've worked my whole life and never taken a dime from the government."She takes another drink. "You just can't convince people about stuff they don't want to be convinced about."

No. You really can't.

Why Gentiles don't tithe

Why Gentiles don't tithe
By Lon Hetrick
from HERE

1) Why the Apostles Didn’t Teach Tithing (And Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About It)
2) Why Your Church Does Teach Tithing (And Why You Sometimes Feel Guilty About It)
3) What Jesus & His Apostles Taught About Giving (And How You Can Find Joy in It)

Part 1

1) Why the Apostles Didn’t Teach Tithing (And Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About It)

Average Tithers

If you’re average like us, on any given Sunday you’ve put something in the offering plate as it passed that amounted to a tithe on your net (after tax) income, or a tithe on gross, or a super-size offering, or some random change, or five dollar bill, or 6% of your current income…

Or, nothing at all.

If you’re average like us, you’ve heard loads of pastors tell you that Christians are supposed to tithe (“Trust God!” “Step out in faith!” “Plant that seed!”), the implication being that “good” Christians tithe, and those who don’t, well…

If you’re average like us, you’ve had your share of financial ups and downs (due to emergencies, or job loss, or a blown engine or poor management, or just plain being too materialistic, or lousy decision making, or all of the above in our case) where making a decision about what you could, should, would put in the plate on Sunday was a high-stress, angst-filled mental wrestling match.

And if you’re average like us, you’ve wrestled with feelings of guilt when you didn’t tithe, and maybe even some secret, self-righteous pride when you did.

If you’re average like us, you’re blessed to attend a church that emphasizesstewardship – the wise management of all your resources for God’s kingdom – over tithing. But tithing still hangs around in your mind as this minimum standard good Christians have to meet – like the first jump for a high jumper. Miss it, and you’re out of the competition.

Are you average like us? Yes? Then you’ve wrestled with the same questions, doubts, guilt, presumption and pride we have.

Tell you what. Let’s figure this out together starting in Genesis, shall we?

Tithe barn at Guiting Power, Gloucestershire

A Little Biblical History

The first tither was Abraham, who gave a tenth of the spoils of war to a mysterious priest/king named Melchizedek in Genesis 14:20. We don’t read that Abraham was commanded to give that tithe; apparently it was just part of the ancient near-east cultural norms and Melchizedek blessed him for doing it.

Four hundred plus years later, when God established His covenant with Israel after the exodus from Egypt, He commanded the Jews to give a tithe of their produce to support the Priests and Levites since they were not to receive any property when the Promised Land was divided up among the tribes of Israel (Numbers 18).

Fast forward another thousand years or so, and the prophet Malachi brought God’s charge against Israel that they were breaking His covenant and robbing Him (yikes!) by not giving the tithes for the Priests and Levites. Malachi challenged Israel to repent and see how God would bless them if they renewed their obedience to the tithing regulations of God’s covenant with them.

Now jump forward another four hundred-ish years to Jesus, who gave the Pharisees (whom he was berating) a backhanded compliment for tithing their herbs and spices. And then…


As in, no other teaching on tithing any where in the New Testament. Zip. Nada. Nothing from Jesus. Nothing from Paul, Peter, John, Jude or James. Not one word.

Because tithing isn’t an obligation of the New Covenant in Christ.

Now, before you take up pitchforks and torches, lemme ‘splain Lucy…

Jesus instituted a New Covenant when He shared His last Passover meal with the twelve disciples. He broke the bread. He passed the cup. Whenever you partake in Communion you are saying, “I am part of the New Covenant God made with Christ’s followers.” Whenever you hear the gospel – that your sins are forgiven because Jesus has done for you what you could not do for yourself (i.e., pay the penalty for your sins and live to tell about it) – you are hearing the central message and blessing of the New Covenant.
The Gospel Goes Multi-Ethnic

Okay, so there’s no question that the Old Covenant administered through Moses was made with the Jews only, right? If an Egyptian or a Moabite wanted in on the blessings of that Covenant, he had to become a Jew and submit to it’s obligations – Ten Commandments, circumcision, tithing to support the priesthood, not eating pork – everything. But, the apostles Peter and Paul quickly figured out that the New Covenant administered by Jesus was for both Jews and non-Jews (like AverageUs). They understood that the blessing of the gospel of Christ, this New Covenant in His blood, was for all nations.

But this, raised a critical question for the early church leaders: If the New Covenant includes non-Jews, were non-Jews obligated to keep any part of the Old Covenant?

Put yourself in Peter’s place. You’re a Jewish fisherman. You were born under the Old Covenant and lived with an obligation to keep the Law of Moses all your life. Jesus called you to follow Him. After His resurrection, you finally get what Jesus has been trying to drum into your head for three years. It’s about redemption for anyone who believes. Now you’re the leader of the church. And now, Gentiles want in. They weren’t born under the Old Covenant. They’ve never kept the Law. Do they have to become Jews before they can become Christians? Do they have to keep the Old Covenant laws to enjoy the blessing of the New Covenant? Is this like baseball where you have to tag first before you can go to second?
And The Answer Is…

A resounding NO. The Jewish church leaders got together to discuss the matter and their conclusion was simple: Non-Jews mustn’t be forced to keep a law that we Jews have failed to keep ourselves (Acts 15:10). Instead, they gave a few instructions that Gentile followers of Christ should not eat food offered to idols or meat that hadn’t been properly butchered, and should shun all forms of sexual immorality (Acts 15:29). No requirement to be circumcised. No requirement to tithe.

In fact, in all the letters the apostles wrote to both Jews and Gentiles which explained how to live a gospel-driven, Christ-centered life, not once did they teach tithing. They taught on every conceivable subject related to Christian living: church order, prayer, spiritual growth, church discipline, leadership qualifications, worship, personal ministry, marriage, parenting. They even taught on subjects that might logically lead to a discussion of tithing like work and charity.

In short, the Apostles had every opportunity to teach the fledgling churches that they must tithe, but they didn’t. Why? Because they viewed tithing as an obligation of the Old Covenant, a covenant that Gentiles never were a part of, a covenant that Christ replaced with another, better covenant with His church.
Our Conclusions, Until the Next Post…

Christians are not obligated to tithe. (No Guilt!) Tithing is not a mark of a “good” Christian. (No Pride!) God is not displeased with a Christian merely because s/he doesn’t tithe. God is not pleased with a Christian merely because s/he does tithe. These conclusions are, we think, in harmony with the gospel.

Ah, but this doesn’t answer all of your questions, does it?

But you’re tired of reading this anyway, right?

So, let’s continue another time, shall we? For now, we’ll just hint that the New Covenant has it’s own obligations – one that touches on the subjects of giving and charity and stewardship.

If you have a specific question about tithing, leave a comment and AverageUs will try to address it next time.

Dawn and I sincerely hope this helps some of you to experience the freedom of the gospel in a new way. Be blessed.

Part 2

2) Why Your Church Does Teach Tithing (And Why You Sometimes Feel Guilty About It)

In the first post of this series, I wrote that Jesus only incidentally mentions tithing once, and His Apostles never mention it at all. But, since tithing was such a clear obligation in God’s old covenant with Israel, I asked how we can account for the lack of New Testament teaching on tithing.

My conclusion was that tithing, which had a specific purpose in the religious life of Israel, was not renewed as an obligation of the New Covenant which Christ established with His followers. The New Covenant is for all people, not just Jews. And when the Apostles wrestled with whether Gentiles had to keep the Jewish Law of Moses (including circumcision, tithing, dietary laws, etc.) as a condition of participation in the New Covenant (i.e. to be Christians), their conclusion was absolutely, “NO”. In their letters, Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude addressed every conceivable issue of Christian living including work, money, charity and giving, but they never laid the obligation to tithe upon the churches they founded and nurtured. They never even mentioned it.
Umm…Those Guys Never Went to My Church

But at many churches today you’d think tithing was the 11thCommandment! Heck, at some churches you might never even hear the first ten (that’s Sunday School stuff, anyway), but they sure tell you about that 11th one. “Good Christians” tithe, right? I remember one well-meaning Christian brother who described tithing to me as, “basic, square-one stuff.” He was convinced that non-tithers could never grow spiritually. In his mind there are people who call themselves “Christians”, and then there’s real “tithing Christians.”

What a disconnect!

A Medieval Tithe Barn
Why Your Church Makes You Feel Guilty About Tithing

Is it because your church believes in the paramount importance of financing the local and worldwide mission of the gospel? Maybe…

Is it because your church misunderstands the relationship between the Old and New Covenants? Maybe…

Is it because your church wants you to be blessed? Maybe…

Is it because your church genuinely believes Christians should tithe? Probably…
It’s About Checking the Box

Regardless of your church’s motives (which may be more or less noble), I think the real root of the problem is that human nature always looks for some way to self-justify itself. We want a little box to check that says, “I’m okay with God because I… [fill in the blank].” We don’t want to depend solely on the unmerited grace of God. We’re uncomfortable with casting ourselves upon His mercy. We’re all tempted to feel that somehow the cross of Christ needs just a little help from us if God is really going to love us and accept us.

(Sound like you? Yeah, me too.)

I’m like the Pharisees Jesus rebuked. They added rule upon rule to define God’s Laws in such a way that could know that they know that they had checked all the boxes, and had therefore earned God’s acceptance. But isn’t that just a nice way of saying, “God, you owe me?”

I’m like the Christians in Galatia Paul rebuked. They wanted to add Law-keeping as a condition of being a Christian. But Paul wrote to them angrily, telling them that if they did so, they were abandoning the gospel and forfeiting the grace of God (Galatians 1:6-7).
How Your Church Got This Way

But, tithing seems like a pretty worthy check box, doesn’t it? After all, it takes money to support the mission of the gospel, right? So, at some point in America’s history well before your great-grandfather’s time, a few preachers added tithing (and a bunch of other stuff, too) to the spiritual check-list. Then after months and years and generations of checking the box, tithing came to seem, in many of our churches, part of the gospel itself, even though it actually veils the gospel and robs you of the spiritual freedom Jesus died to secure.

Don’t get me wrong. Many Christians tithe and know that tithing doesn’t boost their standing before God. But many Christians and Churches don’t.

Even if you attend a church that teaches stewardship (not tithing), if you asked how to know when you’re giving enough, your leaders will probably hold up the tithe as an example, or a “minimum standard,” saying that in the New Testament everything is elevated. (Not true, by the way. Jesus’ teaching represents a return to God’s true intent in the moral laws of the Old Covenant. Anyway…)
So, What Do You Do?

All this leaves you in a rough spot, doesn’t it? You love Jesus. You’re thrilled to be redeemed and loved by God. You want to give. You want to please God with your giving. You just feel like you need a standard, and the only one your Church tells you about is the tithe – “Just do it.”
There Is A Biblical Standard

But, there is a Biblical standard in the New Covenant, a standard that Jesus and His Apostles taught. And that’s what I’ll talk about in my next post on this subject.

Until then, let me leave you with this thought:

If you are in Christ, God doesn’t love you because of anything you have done or will do. He doesn’t accept you because you checked a box. He doesn’t love you more because you put a tithe in the offering this week. He doesn’t love you less because you didn’t. If you are in Christ, He loves you always and only because of what Christ has done for you.

That’s because God is great; even if your church is average.

Part 3

3) What Jesus & His Apostles Taught About Giving (And How You Can Find Joy in It)

If you’re average like me you’re starting to think about some new goals and maybe some outrageous hopes for the year. Perhaps you’re thinking about new financial goals for earning, saving, spending and giving. If so, this final post in my series on tithing might come in handy.

Part 1 – Why the Apostles Didn’t Teach Tithing (And Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About It) asks why the Apostles never mentioned tithing even though they touched on every other subject necessary for the life of the Church including money matters like stewardship, charity, and supporting the teaching ministry of the gospel.

Part 2 – Why Your Church Does Teach Tithing (And Why You Sometimes Feel Guilty About It) asks why so many churches treat tithing like it’s the 11th commandment, or even emphasize it more than the 10 Commandments.
If Not the Tithe, then What?

The Old Covenant tithing laws taught Israel specifically why, when, how much, and to whom they were to give, but the New Covenant teaching on giving isn’t so explicit. You can’t look up the “Giving” section of the New Testament to look up the list of rules. But, Jesus and His Apostles were not exactly silent about giving, either. In fact, the use of money is one of the most mentioned topics in the New Testament. So, what did they teach on giving? Let’s tackle the subject with simple questions to guide us.
Why Should I Give?

Answer: Give to reflect the lavish love of God you experience in the gospel.

Freely you have received; now, freely give. Give because you are loved. Give as an overflow, an echo, of the love you received.

Notice, I didn’t mention stewardship – the Bible’s teaching that God requires us to steward (manage) His resources wisely and faithfully. This is true, but stewardship isn’t the biblical motive for giving. (Stewardship is a great reason to eschew gambling and consumerism). You could be an awesome money-manager without ever giving anyone a dime. But you can’t experience the unmerited love of God which He demonstrated by giving His Son without it creating a love in your heart that also overflows in giving to meet others’ needs.

Have you experienced His love for you? Bask in it, and then give it away.
When Should I Give?

Answer: Give whenever your means and another’s need line up.

When teaching that charity shouldn’t be done to earn praise from others, Jesus simply said, “When you give alms…” He didn’t say, “If…” He assumes that His followers will give to help those in need.

So, if you see a need and you have the opportunity to meet it or contribute to it, do it. You may give systematically (e.g. giving monthly to an international orphanage, or weekly to your church). Or, as James the brother of Jesus taught (James 2:15-17), give when the need is standing right in front of you. You will have to make choices and be selective; there is always more need than you will have means to meet.

But, whenever you can, give. Plan to give, and seek out needs that concern you.
How Much Should I Give?

Answer: Give as much as you decide you can without shirking your financial obligations to lenders, bills, and family needs.

Other than the above standard, the how much question is between you and God. Seriously. Dollars or percentage? Gross or net? It’s a matter of conscience. In other words, rather than telling us to give ten percent, the New Testament simply says, “Give whatever you’ve determined in your heart to give, knowing that God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

What’s that mean? It means, think about what you could give, or want to give. Talk to God about what you can and should do. Make a decision. Submit it to God. Follow through on it. Keep it between you and God. And, don’t let anyone give you a hard time about it. Whether you give ten cents, ten percent, or one hundred percent, your only judge is your God, and He will judge your motive, not your Schedule A.

Not able to give what you’d like to give? Then, ask God to help you be a wiser steward – a better earner, a better saver, a more frugal spender – so you can give more in the future as an outflow His love. Ask Him to help you get out of debt and live debt-free. Ask Him to help you enhance your billable skills and knowledge so you can earn more. Repent of any consumerism or materialism. Repent of any love for money. Offer Him your financial life and financial future. Then put your head and heart together with His, and make a plan…together…you and Him.
To Whom Should I Give?

Answer: Give to anyone in need (the poor, the sick, your enemy, the oppressed, the widow, the orphan) and to the people and institutions that promote the worldwide mission of the gospel.

This answer is the financial implication of the Great Commandment and theGreat Commission.

The Great Commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. Who is your neighbor? – Anyone in need. So, like the Good Samaritan, Jesus calls us to invest His love in anyone in need.

The Great Commission is to go and make disciples of Jesus everywhere. This is a huge and expensive endeavor. So, as followers of Christ, give to financially support the people (1 Timothy 5:17-18) and institutions (your church, a mission agency, a Christian charity) God uses to make the gospel of Jesus known throughout the world.

Well, I hope this series of posts will help you experience the joy of giving out of love from God, and the freedom of conscience before God to give as you think best – when, how much, and to whom you think best.

I read somewhere that John Wesley once offered this simple financial advice: “Earn as much as you can. Save as much as you can. Give as much as you can.”

It’s hard to go wrong with that.