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Walking With A Limp

A journey of faith, family, and life with a hitch in my step

Blog Posts

Turning 38

So my birthday is coming up on Thursday, and I am turning 38. It’s not exactly a nice,38 round number that deserves special celebration, but I’m crossing over into “older gentleman” territory more and more quickly with each passing year. It feels like 40 is made out to be a very intimidating number, and 40 is really, really close.

I don’t really like 38 because I can no longer justifiably say that I am in my “mid 30s”. Your “mid” has to be pretty generous to make 38 pass for “mid 30s”… my middle has grown somewhat generously since I started having kids in the past three years, but that’s another story. But I don’t want to say that I’m in my “late 30s”, because then I’m going to feel like an old tire trying to keep up with young, upstart 20- and 30-somethings with fresh new Goodyears. I have considered trying to coin the term “within 30s”, but something tells me that is not going to catch on and people will just think I’m weird or in denial if I say it. 

Money matters: If not the 10% tithe, then what?

Last week, I wrote a post detailing some reasons why I believe that there is not a New Testament mandate for believers to give a “flat rate” of 10% of their income, otherwiseoffering plate known as the tithe. You can read that post here. And before I detail what I believe the New Testament teaches, I want to make a few statements about how the message of a tithing mandate does not fit with the Good News.

I have already established that the Old Testament precedent of giving is not actually 10% (due to there being multiple tithes and expectations of other expensive sacrifices). With that, I cannot help but wonder why New Testament believers came to believe that a God of grace might have a specific and universal number that all people have to reach in their giving in order to please God. Just consider the possibilities.

A single mother with three children who makes under $30k per year might barely, or be unable, to give 10% to the church and still provide for her family. If she can only give 7%, is she less “blessed”? Is God disappointed in her?

Now let’s consider a family with both parents and couple of children, and the household income totals $200k. Unless the family has made extravagant spending and housing choices, 10% should not be difficult at all to give. In fact, I would imagine the church receiving that tithe might invite one of the parents to be on the elder board or take other leadership responsibilities. 

Tim Tebow, Gerber, and the Goodman Theater are remembering one of the most forgotten groups of people

On Saturday, I expressed my appreciation for people who work with our youth in various capacities. You can read that article here. I think we all know how important it is to have quality people investing in our youth, whether it is in the family, church, school, youth athletics, etc. Today, I want to bring attention to a group that is frequently forgotten and marginalized, rarely the beneficiary of viral internet stories and public outrage or advocacy.

For about 15 years, I worked professionally with people with cognitive disabilities. TheTim Tebow majority had a diagnosis of autism, Down Syndrome, or some form of brain trauma. And while my life was consumed on a daily basis with people with disabilities, the sad truth is that they are barely a blip on the radar for the general public. Their stories are not often told. They usually live in conditions or circumstances that we would not choose. And when you think about it, how often do you see a person with a disability depicted in a movie or on television?

With that said,  I want to highlight a few stories that have broken through recently and impacted the special needs community. In early February, the foundation led by former NFL quarterback and outspoken Christian Tim Tebow sponsored events called Night to Shine. 540 churches in America and more events in 16 other countries hosted the event, which was a prom for people with disabilities. With those events, over 90,000 guests with special needs enjoyed an extravagant celebration, made possible by over 175,000 volunteers. 

Sunday praise: Lord, Remember Me

You have to give this song a listen! It’s a modern day spiritual featuring a collaboration between the excellent Ruthie Foster and one of my favorites, the Blind Boys of Alabama. It has a hauntingly beautiful melody, but it is raw.

Shout out to readers from around the world this past week: Israel, India, Fiji, Australia, and Romania.

 

 

Oh Lord remember me, Oh Lord remember me, When these chains get broken, set my body free; Oh Lord remember me

Days get long, I call your name Days get long, I call your name Days get long, can’t see right from wrong Oh Lord, I call your name

Guide me on to do your will Guide me on to do your will When trouble move me, keep me standing still Guide me on to do your will

Oh Lord remember me Oh Lord remember me When chains get broken, set my spirit free Oh Lord remember me When these chains get broken, set my spirit free Oh Lord remember me

To all of you who work with youth: thank you

There was a time recently when I tried to convince myself that I could be a youth pastor,youth because if I wanted to work in the ministry, it appeared that 90% of the open pastor jobs within driving distance were either youth pastor or some kind of a worship leader. I gave this consideration in spite of the knowledge that I nixed the idea of becoming a teacher when I was in my early 20s because schools are populated with… kids. I had helped out with events or youth groups for a couple of youth pastor friends of mine, and I always walked away from meetings with the feeling that I’m not very good at working with the junior high or high school kids. I would get frustrated when I would be leading a breakout group of junior high boys, and when our task was to talk about prayer, our group would end up resembling a game of tackle football without a ball.

Part of my issue is that I did not have a youth group experience growing up, and I was generally prone to being a depressed kid who isolated himself. So there is a vast array of youth experiences I cannot relate to. But there is also the fact that I view the majority of problems that today’s kids might have as not being real problems. When that many hormones are mixed together and thrown into a blender, I am never going to enjoy the results. I don’t care who “likes” who. I don’t think I would ever be able to escape the feeling that my high school group is a free dating service for repressed kids of Christian parents who read I Kissed Dating Goodbye twenty years ago and have decided to apply those principles to their children. 

Repost: Jesus wept

As I’m watching the news and reading articles about the shooting in Parkland, Florida yesterday, the phrase I am seeing most is some form of “no words.” Each and every tragedy like this is sickening, and deserves its own attention and lament. But at the same time, it is happening so often that we are running out of unique things to say, and the culture is at risk of becoming numb. I have no words, too. I am sickened by this, and I am sickened by how often it is occurring now. I have no interest is jumping into debates about gun control, mental health, and where the culture or the church or the law or the school might have gone wrong in preventing this tragedy.

The last big shooting like this was in November in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and the biblical story I told in the aftermath of that shooting is what I will tell today. I have no other words today.

 

Jesus Wept (re-post from November 7, 2017)

 

I was in college at Illinois Wesleyan University, just having started my senior year, when 9/11 occurred. The entire day was confusing and terrifying. I had only been a Christian for a little more than a year at that point; I thought at the time that I was growing and maturing quickly, but I also knew that I did not really know anything. I wasn’t going to answer any questions about where God is, why this is happening, etc. The whole day was a complete fog, getting to a television whenever we could for updates.

I was very involved in a student-led campus ministry at the time, ajesus-lazarus-nd we gathered in a community room in the student center that night. There may have been 50 students there, maybe more. We talked as a group, we prayed as a group, and we sang and cried as a group. Years later, I remember very vividly some of the things that were said at that meeting.

Money matters: are Christians required to “tithe” in the Bible?

After asking a series of questions about money and our perceptions in Monday’s post about a pastor driving a Bentley SUV, I began to think about the numerous issues we face money and churchin our teaching on money from the Bible, and how it fits into (and may be influenced by) our culture. If you ask a random person on the street to tell you the first thing that comes to mind when we think of the church and money, that person will probably say something to the effect of, “the church expects you to give it 10% of your income.” So the topic of the “tithe”, which means one-tenth of one’s income, is a good place to start if I write a few posts on money, the Bible, and today’s Christian.

Money is always a sore subject in the church. Some pastors and preachers talk about money all of the time, and some hardly ever teach on money. I have said it before and I will say it again: money is a god in America. People are sensitive about it when there are supposedly rules or expectations about how people ought to give of their earnings. Churches are anxious about money because members’ giving is the sole source of income to support the ministry and infrastructure of the church. You can probably imagine how many different ways things can go wrong in the church when it comes to money. So let’s dig into the scriptures and figure out if we have a requirement of 10% today, because I don’t believe that the New Testament teaches this.

In the Old Testament, the practice of giving 10% of one’s income at appointed times was certainly a part of the life of Israel. Before the Law was given, we see two instances where a tithe is mentioned. In Genesis 14:20, Abraham gives the high priest Melchizedek a tenth of everything he had… which, by the way, if you read v.13-17, everything he gave was from the spoils of war, not crops or herds that he produced. I’ll return to this story momentarily. In Genesis 28:22, Jacob promises to give God a tenth of everything after God establishes a covenant with Jacob in a dream.

In the Mosaic Law, we see not one, but a few tithes instituted. The first is the most commonly known tithe, in which all families of Israel gave a tenth of its herds, produce, and flocks in Leviticus 27, and in Numbers 18, God establishes that those tithes will go to the tribe of priests, the Levites. The Levites had no land or source of income, and this particular tithe was their payment for their priestly vocation. In addition to that, there was a yearly festival and Israel was to set aside a tenth of all that its fields produced to support that celebration… either eating the grains directly in the festival or selling the produce for silver to purchase whatever else was needed for this party (Deuteronomy 14). At the end of Deuteronomy 14, a third type of tithe is instituted for the poor every third year. It may or may not be the same as the festival tithe, the language isn’t entirely clear in verses 28-29. But it is very possible that up to 30% of a family’s income was given to God, just under these tithes. 

100 posts! Here are the top 5 posts with the most readers

So 100 posts are in the books! Thank you all of you for your support of the Walking With A Limp blog. I still feel the energy to continue posting at a pace similar cropped-cropped-cropped-Crowd-marching.jpgto what I have done in the first three and a half months, and there are many, many topics to explore in the near future. So I recently did a post with My TOP 5 favorite blog posts I’ve written that almost nobody read, simply because there were a few that did not catch the eye of browsers, but I felt had some of my better work. Today, I’ll celebrate 100 posts with the five that have been viewed the most by readers. It is kind of interesting to see which topics have generated the most buzz, have been shared the most on social media, and have gotten the most clicks. And so, without further ado…

 

5. Merry Christmas, the story from Linus

4. The Myth of “Me” Time and the Death of Selfishness

3. My first response to John Piper’s prohibition of women professors in a theological seminary: some background

2. My interview with Illinois man forced by city to stop housing homeless with freezing temperatures outside

1. Pastor Andy Savage sexual assault case: the awful mistakes that we aren’t talking about

 

Blessings, I’ll be back tomorrow with some new content. Thank you again for your support, and always feel free to quote or share posts on social media and introduce me to your friends.

A pastor drives a new Bentley and I’m still too cheap to buy new socks

I came across this story over the weekend at the Christian Post about a megachurch 2016-Bentley-bentayga.jpg pastor in Pittsburgh who was spotted with a new Bentley Bentayga SUV, which retails at $230,000. The church is located in a neighborhood where the average home is about half the cost of that SUV. But if you need the world’s fastest SUV, topping out at 187mph, you’re going to have to pay up, because the fastest SUV is, you guessed it, the Bentayga.

I have a lot of questions; some are humorous or even sarcastic questions, and others are pretty serious. And there are plenty of people online taking shots at this pastor, so I don’t feel the need to show up at his office and go all Jesus on him and knock over all of his tables and desks (that’s a reference to Matthew 21, folks). But I think that this is a good opportunity to ask some questions about our obsession with, perception of, and use of money.

Maybe it is due to sleep deprivation, but my mind was acting a little goofy in processing this story this weekend. As I was reading this story on my phone, I was getting dressed in the morning and looking for a pair of socks to wear. Almost every single sock was worn out and had holes in it. My wife likes to joke that I have too many clothes that are “hole-y”. And while I believe holiness is important, evidently my wife thinks I take it to the extreme. I put on two hole-y socks, and thought to myself, “I can get a few more weeks out of these two…” 

Sunday praise: Holy, Holy, Holy

You’ve probably heard this hymn sung at some point in your life. But I especially love it sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

Shout out to visitors of my blog from around the world over the past few days: Israel, Canada, India, Cameroon, Romania, and the Netherlands!!!