Tithing Part II

In my previous post I asked the question "Would God be pleased if I tithed?" The answer for me is yes. I believe God is pleased when I tithe. I believe tithing is a good thing. But as with all good deeds, its goodness becomes empty if our motives for doing it are misplaced.

For example, singing a song to God is not pleasing to God if our motives are not pure. If we are singing to show off our talents to others so that they might be impressed with us, or if we are singing ritualistically, without really believing in (or more importantly acting upon) the words we are singing, then I have difficulty believing that our singing will please God. Songs by themselves, absent the hearts and the deeds to back them up, are not what God desires from us. Take a look at what God says about this in the book of Amos:

"I hate all your show and pretense--the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, a river of righteous living that will never run dry." Amos 5:21-24 (NLT)

Notice that God did not say "All I care about is what you believe". He said that He desires righteous living. God desires Holiness, both inward and outward. Songs, by themselves, are meaningless.

And we should approach tithing the same way. Much like the offerings described in Amos, we should not rely on tithing to accomplish something by itself. It only plays a part in a holistic approach to righteous living. It will not substitute for unrighteousness. Only Jesus can do that. We deceive ourselves if we believe that our good deeds will lead to salvation. At the same time, we deceive ourselves if we believe our salvation removes the need for good deeds. On the contrary, our salvation should compel us to good works. Good works do not lead to salvation, but salvation DOES lead to good works.

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." James 2:15-18 (NIV)

James' challenge here is for us to show our faith. And the sting of this passage is that without good deeds, we are left with very little evidence of our faith. To paraphrase, James might have said, "Talk is cheap". Again, good deeds are not a replacement for faith, rather, as James points out, they are the evidence of it.

"Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17 (NIV)

So I ask you, is it good to tithe? Is it good for you to tithe? Would God be pleased if you tithed? Does God want you to tithe? These are the questions we must ask ourselves when we think about tithing. For me, the answers are a resounding "YES!" What about you?

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry


Below are some thoughts on tithing that I shared with our church in our newsletter this week:

Remember, this weekend is POTENTIAL weekend, so I want to encourage all of you to bring a tithe of your weekly income on Sunday. Peg and I give our tithes and offerings each month through automatic bill-pay with our bank's online banking service. But this week we are changing that around and bringing one week's worth of our tithing and giving to church with us on Sunday to put in the plate. That's really the idea behind the "potential" of what we can do together as a church each week. So I hope that all of you will try to do the same as well.

I know that not all of you tithe regularly. I avoided tithing for a long time, and I had all kinds of good reasons for it. I was convinced that I could not afford to tithe, and I told myself that tithing was just Old Testament "legalism" and that New Testament Christians were not required to tithe. My fear of legalism had resulted in a reactionary "backward legalism" where my rationale was that if God did not require it, then I would not do it.

But what changed my mind was this simple question: "Would God be pleased if I tithed?" That changed my perspective on the whole issue. Instead of thinking about what I was or was not required to do, I began thinking about what I WANTED to do. I want to do things that please God, and I strive each day to give more and more of myself to Him. And I have seen God bless my family's finances in ways I never could have dreamed of 10 years ago. Rather than feeling that I can't afford to tithe, I have found that I can't afford NOT to tithe! Of course, tithing is not enough to please God on its own. But it's a conscious step that we all can take toward honoring God with all of our lives.

Ken Bussell
Minister of Music & Administration
Our Place Christian Church

>sent via blackberry

Jam Nights at Our Place

Jam Night this week was awesome! We had 17 people show up to jam, and it was a great time. Players from the OP Youth Band and Ethnos Worship Band came and jammed with us, as well as a number of others. Jam Night started Tuesday night at 7:30 pm and lasted until 11:30 pm when we finally had to call it quits! We played a ton of music together, from the latest Barlow Girl single "Never Again" to the old Hank Williams Sr. hit "I Saw the Light". Talk about variety!

The night started off with a prayer reinforcing our purpose and intent to worship God and give Him glory, not to be concerned with our own talents and abilities, or with our own glory, but only in worshiping Him with the gifts He has given us. Then we sorted through the song list and decided on a song to play and we were off and rolling (and rocking!). After four hours of rotating players and singers in and out of the lineups and jamming through lots of music, everyone got a chance to sing and play on at least a couple of three song sets, and there were plenty of opportunities to play with new and different people... always an important thing for musicians!

One of the singers sent me an email yesterday and said:

"Hey Ken, Thanks for taking the time to start Jam Night again! It's an incredible forum for worship and learning. I look forward to it every month. Thanks!!"

And I think that really sums up what Jam Nights are all about. If you haven't been to a Jam Night yet, or you want to get back into it again, we'll be meeting on the SECOND TUESDAY of each month at 7:30 pm in the auditorium at Our Place. Its definitely a time of worship where you can join with others in singing to the Lord, but you can come even if you just want to hang out and talk and watch the bands and meet other musicians. I tend to do both! :-) Sometimes people bring their acoustic guitars and sit in the seats and play along with the bands. Since the chord charts are on the big screen you can still participate and get something out of jam Night without having to be on the stage. Simply put, everyone is welcome at Jam Night!

If you are a worship leader or singer or musician currently playing in a worship band or on a worship team, I would ESPECIALLY encourage you to come. It is such an awesome opportunity to share what you know and what you do with others. If you have music you'd like to jam on with us, bring it on a cd in MS WORD (.doc) or ADOBE ACROBAT (.pdf) format so we can project it on the big screens for everyone to follow along. If you're a Christian songwriter and want to share your material with a large group of musicians, this is the PERFECT venue for that. Just bring the chord charts and the lyrics and we'll "jam on it" with you.

Thanks to everyone that came out Tuesday night! I had a great time jamming with you! I hope to see all of you and MORE at the next Jam Night, Tuesday May 10th at 7:30pm. Put it on your calendars!