Monday, August 27, 2007

Our First Book Club Post-Fields Of The Fatherless- Chapter 1

Hey Blogger Buddies!!! I am so excited about this book club. We have had a LOT of people sign up to participate. I am so thrilled that so many of you want to do this with us. If you haven't signed up you can still go grab your book and catch up. We would love to have you along for the ride. :0) Even if you haven't officially joined up please feel free to comment and participate.

Let's try this system. I will write down my thoughts. Then I will ask a few questions. I encourage you all to comment and give your "two cents." I know we can all learn something from one another.

OK!!! HERE GOES!!!

Steven Curtis Chapman's Forward...

Well... first of all, if you didn't read the forward from Steven Curtis Chapman you will really like that. It is beautiful. When I read it I felt like I was reading my own words. His heart is an adoptive father's heart. Not only that... after seeing the truth during his process of adoption he doesn't want to ignore it anymore. The man is on FIRE to change things. I greatly respect him.

I love this part....

"As my wife, Mary Beth, so clearly put it, "When they handed me Shaohannah, God was more real to me in that moment than He had ever been. It about knocked me down!"

Even as I type this tears fill my eyes. This is my experience. Meeting Zoe was an experience that is hard to describe. It was so deep and personal. I have heard many people say that their experience of meeting their child was the same as giving birth. I can see that... for me it was in some ways like that but still very different.

Seeing Zoe for the first time was one of the most powerful moments of my life. The adoption process was the most powerful year of my life. When I held Zoe in my arms it was not the same as when I held Kaitlyn the day she was born.

When I first saw Kaitlyn it was this overwhelming maternal love. It felt a bit awkward but fairly normal to me. With Kaitlyn my love just kinda grew and grew and I never noticed how strong it was until I realized I couldn't breathe if I thought she might be in danger.

When I met Zoe I felt.... how do I explain this... I felt completely overwhelmed with GOD'S love. It was beyond myself and my ability. I felt like the scales started to fall off my eyes. Suddenly the pain in this world I had seen from the outside I now FELT on the inside. I had stepped into Zoe's pain and her joy the way God steps into our pain and our joy.

The process of loving Zoe has been very different but no less special. In some ways it is more profound. I chose to love my Zoe before I knew her. I loved her before she loved me. There was a day, here in this house, where I knew she had chosen to love me too.

In these moments I have felt like I could understand just a bit more God's love for us. I was living it out on a teeny tiny scale. I was choosing to love this child not because she had my blood in her veins. I simply wanted to love her. It wasn't the same... it was much scarier and a more deeply profound moment in my life.
_
That moment started a much deeper understanding of God for me. I was experiencing His heart in a new way.



Here is something else Steven Curtis says..

"Now we look at our family, and we can't imagine missing something so key in what it means to walk close with God."

Amen. What more can I say? I am sure many of you have seen this video but if you have not please don't miss it.



NEXT! The Introduction To The Book...

The introduction was great too. It is talking about God's idea of treasure. It's encouraging us to search after what is important to God. Here is my favorite part.

Maybe you are thinking, Well that's nice Tom. I want to know what God cares about. But where does excitement and joy come in?"

I think a lot of us have a very limited concept of joy- we tie it to what makes us feel happy. But real joy goes even deeper, and it's not always found in obvious places. Instead it hides in corners, waiting to be discovered when we sacrifice our desires for God's desires."

WOW! This hits the nail on the head. So many of us are roaming around searching for significance in life. We somehow think we will get to that place of meaning if we can just find what makes us happy. Yet God's idea of joy is so different from this search for happiness. We are so scared to let go and sacrifice what we THINK we want. The process can be painful and scary... but on the other side is joy and peace beyond what we could have planned for ourselves.

The First Chapter...

This is a great chapter! If you haven't ordered the book yet you can read part of this chapter in line here http://www.amazon.com/Fields-Fatherless-C-Thomas-Davis/dp/0971410011/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-7618469-5805763?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1188229749&sr=8-1

Tom Davis speaks about his first experience working with orphans in Russia.

...The second truth was how much of God's joy could mine when I participated with him in doing something that mattered so much to Him! I had never before experienced God's pleasure and approval as strongly as I did in Russia.

And I had to know why.

As I said earlier I have felt this same thing...that I have suddenly tapped into God's heart in a new way. Yes, I served God before. I have been a passionate Christian since I was very young. Yet here was something much deeper than what I had ever seen or felt before.

Tom goes on to discuss this scripture WHICH I LOVE!

Psalms 68: 5-6

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he brings out those who are bound to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.

and this one...

Deuteronomy 10:18
He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.

and this one...

Deuteronomy 14:28-29

"At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

UMMMMMMMMM!!!!!! DID THIS VERSE CATCH ANY ONE'S ATTENTION??? WHAT is this talking about??? OUR TITHE???

My hubby Russ and I were studying the old testament together a couple of years back. When we fell upon this verse we were a little floored. This was a little different than what we had been taught.

I don't say much about this verse cause I don't want people to get all riled up. I KNOW! I said I would stop censoring myself. OK here goes.... Now I don't claim to know everything by any stretch of the imagination. So I could be wrong here. It's just that when I read this scripture I don't see anything about having an automatic draft from your account to the church office's account of EXACTLY 10% each month.

It seems to me that YES!!! we are to provide for ministers and their needs. They should be well cared for. I believe we, very often, do this well as a nation.

BUT I have yet to find a percentage named. If you know where that is please point me toward it. Maybe you know Tom!! :0) I have searched to no avail so far. (Krystal has some great thoughts on this in the comment section. Check it out) OK so I decided to google it after reading what Krystal said. Why have I never thought of THAT before DUUUHHH! Anyway... here is something that I found. I thought it was good.

What does the Bible say about Christian tithing?

Question: "What does the Bible say about Christian tithing?"

Answer: Tithing is an issue that many Christians struggle with. In many churches tithing is over-emphasized. At the same time, many Christians refuse to submit to the Biblical exhortation in regards to making offerings to the Lord. Tithing / giving is intended to be a joy, a blessing. Sadly, that is rarely the case in the church today.Tithing is an Old Testament concept. The tithe was a requirement of the law in which all Israelites were give 10% of everything they earned and grew to the Tabernacle / Temple (Leviticus 27:30; Numbers 18:26; Deuteronomy 14:24; 2 Chronicles 31:5).

Some understand the Old Testament tithe as a method of taxation to provide for the needs of the priests and Levites of the sacrificial system. The New Testament nowhere commands, or even recommends that Christians submit to a legalistic tithe system. Paul states that believers should set aside a portion of their income in order to support the church (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).The New Testament nowhere assigns a certain percentage of income to set aside, but only says it is to be “in keeping with his income” (1 Corinthians 16:2).

The Christian church has essentially taken the 10% figure from the Old Testament tithe and applied it as a “recommended minimum” for Christians in their giving. Although the New Testament does not identify a specific amount or percentage to give, it does talk about the importance and benefits of giving. They should give as they are able, “in keeping with his income.” Sometimes that means giving more than a tithe, sometime that may mean giving less than a tithe. It all depends on the ability of the Christian and the needs of the church. Each and every Christian should diligently pray and seek God’s wisdom as to whether to participate in tithing and/or for how much he or she should give (James 1:5). “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

The biggest thing I see is this

and the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.

This specifically states that a LARGE portion of our tithe should be going to these specific groups. Furthermore, it states that we should be active in participating rather than pawning it off on others.

Check this verse out.

Deuteronomy 24:19-21

"When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.

We are supposed to be ACTIVELY participating in helping widows, orphans and strangers. We aren't supposed to write a check to our church every month and pawn it off on them... "Oh I'm sure they will take care of that"...

As Tom states

When you think about God's church, it is extremely important not to picture it as an institution surrounded by walls. The church consists of people who represent the physical body of Christ on Earth. We put flesh to His words and make Him alive to those who are desperate to know He is real.

... Today many well meaning Christians have lost sight of what God cares about most.

James 1:27
"Pure and faultless religion is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress."

Proverbs 19:17
"he who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given"

Sadly, many of us have taken our hearts out of the equation. We don't want to get messy and in the trenches of what is happening. Yet, that is exactly what God wants from us. Not because He wants us to suffer, because He wants these people to be rescued and loved. WE are God's hands and feet in this world. We can choose to turn a blind eye and continue to be comfortable. Or we can give up what we think we want and experience joy.

Please take a minute to watch this video. It's good stuff.


QUESTIONS:

1 What part of this portion stood out the most to you?
2 Why that part?
3 Do you think the average church in the US is hitting the mark in this area?
4 Why or why not?

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

wow!...what a post!...blessings!...take care!

Krystal said...

Great start to the book club, Angel!!! I will write more tonight about MY favorite part of Ch 1, but I had to peek and see what you had written about -hee hee :)

OK, for the tithe %, I think this is based on Abraham giving 1/10 to the priest. And I think there are other references to "one tenth", but I cannot remember where right now. . . BUT, like you said, God does not intend for us to be legalistic, to give our 10%, and think that we are done! When Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in Luke and Matthew -- again, sorry I don't remember where right now and I will try to look it up later -- he mentioned that they give 10% but they do not take care of the needy (totally Krystal's loose translation!!!).

Yes, I feel exactly the same way about how adoption opened up my eyes to God's adoption of me. . . it is so amazing how you put it into words for me :)

I had to read the whole book (it's short and an easy read, so how could I not?) . . . and I just love it! More later :)

Angel said...

Hey Krystal! That is good to know!!! Do you know where that stuff about the tithe is?? I have been searching but couldn't figure it out. Ohhh I need to look that up in Luke and Mathew. I remember the story but need to take a closer look. I can't wait to hear your favorite part! Hugs, Angel

Anonymous said...

Great post!
I might have to buy another book, because I don't have the Forward by Steven Curtis Chapman (mine is a few years old).
I just love this book and it is so thought provoking. It is amazing how our adoption processes have enriched our lives in so many ways. Our adoptions have brought us closer to God, and given our family such a global outlook.

I think this book should be a must read for all the leaders in the Church! I know of only a few churches in our area that do outreach missions. The one thing that stood out most to me is that only 3% of evangelist help with Aids internationally to 8% of non-Christians. Why is this? I sure wish I knew, but I know it needs to change.
We started an orphan ministry at our church and even though it is in an infancy stage I have hopes that it will make a difference. What I do notice is that a lot of the teenagers are very interested in what is being said. Maybe if we don't spark interest in this generation maybe the next generation is watching us and will notice the great blessings from following God's commands.
Thanks again for initiating this conversation.
Debbie

Ruthanne said...

It's hard to know what else to say after your great summary and insight!
The part that really struck me was the page right before the introduction.
It tells us that WE are orphans (anticipating our adoption as God's child), widows (longing for a reunion with our Bridegroom) and strangers (pilgrims waiting to become citizens of heaven.)
We ARE the people we are told to help and take care of. We are no different or better than the ones we have been told to help.
It reminds me of "Love thy neighbor as thyself".
I think one of the most difficult things about helping the widows, orphans and strangers is that it puts us outside our comfort zone. If you asked 100 people on the street if we should all be helping those groups of people, of course, they would all say yes. (at least I hope they would). But it seems like an overwhelming task so it is left for 'someone else'. There are many ways to help---financially, prayerfully, emotionally---that don't require trips around the world and adopting children. You can start small and see where God leads.

Angel said...

Hey Debbie.. great thoughts. The statistics on AIDS relief were very sad for me to see too. I also hope and pray that the next generation will be more courageous and outward focused than mine. I sure am trying hard with my kiddos. :0) Angel

Angel said...

Hi Ruthanne! Great comments.

I love that about this book. It isn't just about adoption. It's about God's heart for people regardless of where they are. We can live this every single day.

I SO agree with you about the comfort zone thing. I have seen God urge my heart over the years to take bigger and bigger leaps of faith. It has been so cool. I am so grateful that God took me where I was afraid to go.

You know I think that is one thing that the adoption did do for me. It took me SOOOOO far out of my comfort zone that trips to Africa to work with orphans who have HIV seems like a cake walk. Well... not a cake walk but a lot less scary.

I think once you have seen what God can do through you to change the world for the better... you can't go back to the norm. Maybe that's why so many of the adoptive mommies I know are SO BRAVE! Hee hee...

Angel

Krystal said...

OK, I am back :) My fav part (well, it was all my fav, but this is the part that really struck a cord with me). . .

"Ministry to Christ's body is important, but when we don't balance it with a legitimate attempt to care for the fatherless in our communities and around the world, something has gone dreadfully wrong."

Angel, you ask if we think that the average church is hitting the mark, and sadly, I my answer is no, I do not think that we are. This part hit me hard b/c I have been thinking a lot about this lately. . . trying to understand how we, as the church, have not been doing MORE for the orphans of this world and how so many Christians seem to "not know" that there is a great need. I say "not know" b/c that is the only explanation I have been able to think of. . . if we all only KNEW, how could we not become involved?

We need to get back on track and get back to the fields. Not only would we provide some relief to those in physical need, we might actually build up some much need credibility with others in our lives who have spiritual needs.

Kerry said...

Oy. I so didn’t think I was going here, but you just had to bring the subject up, didn’t you!!?? I’ve actually thought about blogging this many times, but it’s quite the sensitive topic and I felt it would hurt too many feelings. We searched for a long time before we joined our church. We visited several over the years, but never joined because they just didn’t feel right..to me at least. Steven was raised Southern Baptist, so I think he’s more numb to the things that bother me about the church. I didn’t want to join a church out of the pressure to join. I didn’t want going to church to be about being seen. I wanted to grow my relationship with God and worship Him, period. There are a lot of things about Christians that are often criticized, and I am one, so I know. People often think we look down our noses at them, and they think we are hypocritical, and I have to go on record in saying that I can see why. My faith is about my relationship with God, nothing else. It’s not about my religious denomination, a building, or the people in the building. I wanted to join a church where that was the focus and people were REAL. We were very happy with our church and still love many of the people there, but I’ve avoided going since we came home with Cameron and have had to work through a lot of hurt feelings of my own. I’ve tried hard to make sure that my criticism is not about me and my hurt feelings, but my eyes were opened and I can see where our church falls short of much of what has been discussed.

First, I guess I should say why our feelings were hurt. We were extremely involved in our church. Steven served on search committees, I taught Acteens, etc… we were not “only come on Sunday” kind of people. When we brought Cameron home, there was zero recognition. No one met us at the airport, not even our deacon, who is also our Sunday school teacher. We brought Cameron to church a couple weeks after he came home, sat on the front row, and our pastor didn’t even acknowledge him. Our church puts a blue or pink rose on the alter in recognition of babies born to church members, Cameron got nothing. Petty on my part, maybe. Hurtful? Definitely. Our pastor preaches on how we are a church family. I didn’t feel part of a family during that time. I feel like our church is failing in this department too. I see other families who have fallen through the cracks as well.

Now, with more open (and admittedly biased) eyes, I see our church serving a white, middle class, suburban congregation. The main goal of the church is to reach the lost, but we’re not reaching out beyond our own little community. We have sunk millions into a recreation ministry that serves our own children. As wonderful as these things can be, if Jesus were walking the earth today, is this what He would be doing? I don’t think so.

So do I think that the meaning of tithing in the Bible is writing a check for 10% of our income to the church every month? Absolutely not. By the way, I am WAY outnumbered with the way I think about this around these parts. I have prayed, and prayed, and prayed about this very subject, and I believe that putting my money towards my own missions is how I am supposed to serve God. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about keeping the lights and air conditioning on in the church. It’s about furthering God’s Kingdom and doing HIS work. And it’s TIME, just as much as it is about money.

I have SO hi-jacked your blog. I’m sorry. I haven’t even written in half the detail I should to explain all this. I hope it came out in some form that makes sense and that I don’t sound bitter, because I’m not. I am just striving to live a REAL life that glorifies my God and right now, this is where I am. I can’t continue that part of my life until I work through all this. For now, me and my God are closer than we’ve ever been. He knows my heart, and that’s all that matters to me.

Angel said...

Krystal- that is a great part. I SO AGREE! We have to much inward focusing in our churches today. I think a lot of people don't want to know the truth. I don't think this because they are mean or malicious. I think it's because they are scared and feel overwhelmed. I think people look at the depth of the problem and feel like it's impossible. The only way it's possible to overcome it and change things is if we all QUIT being scared and GET OUT THERE! Thanks so much. Good thoughts. Angel

Angel said...

Kerry- YOU GO GIRL!!!! Nobody ever be afraid to speak about God's truth around here!!! I LOVE IT!

You do NOT sound bitter. You just sound like your eyes were opened to some painful truths. I am so sorry that happened.

You may be outnumbered where you are but I have GOT YOUR BACK from here. I think your thoughts and concerns are completely legit.

Preach it anytime around here friend. I think you are amazing. I am grateful to know you are out there in the "fields."

Hugs, Angel

Krystal said...

Kerry, yeah, my son got no rose and my daughter did. . . it definitely hurts.

Reba said...

Angel, technically I haven't started reading the book. I am a kindergarten teacher and am in "survival" mode right now. :) But the tithing comment caught my attention. Before I got married, I tithed what I felt like tithing. I was teaching in Christian school and felt like my very small salary was in some ways already a tithe by the time and energy I was putting in. Then I met my husband...he has had much rougher times in his life financially, yet they have always tithed 10% off the top. So that is what we do. I don't know that 10 percent is the "right" amount or whether it should be "before or after" taxes. The Bible just isn't clear. However, for my husband (and now me), that is what we feel is required of us as an act of obedience. And we do give that to the church. However, we have budgeted a set amount each month for our "help fund" which we can use and do use for other needs that may come up throughout the year that we feel like we ought to give to.
I was sad to read about the church's responses to the babies brought home. That is so not what God desires of His people. We brought home a two year old from Guatemala last year...our church had prayed us through so much of the process. When we got her home, I don't know if we got everything a newborn would get...it has been a while since we had one of those. But her baby dedication service was very special; I felt like everyone was celebrating. I hope you will be able to find a church that can do the same for you.

Holly said...

I don't have the book yet, but I agree that there's more to tithing than the whole 10% thing. I know it's a sensitive topic... most importantly with tithing is giving with a joyful heart... well now I'm talking about giving money when in church. Our church that we absolutely LOVED when we lived in Grand Rapids MI was Mars Hill Bible church and they used "Joy Boxes"... no plate/basket passed, no obligation so people wouldn't give out of obligation but rather give out of joy. They were located at the exits and you could place your tithe or offering in the box on your way in or your way out. Mars is doing a lot of really neat things to change their community and their world. Ending homelessness, helping people get out of poverty in their community and in Burundi. For the past number of years over half of all the people participating in the local AIDS walk were actually from Mars Hill! We have struggled big time with feeling at home in a church in our new home (we moved north two years ago). We are trying hard not to measure our new community by our old one, but it is really hard as Mars opened our eyes in a very HUGE way... you can check out all the neat things they are doing at marshill.org or just click on the link on my blog under the Love Wins. column...

Anyway, I hope to still pick up the book and get down to business reading it!

Kim said...

Here are just some of my random thoughts.

1. Tithe - This is something that I didn't do for the longest time. I just ran out of money each month. I then attended a Servant Leadership Academy through my church denomination. It was a WONDERFUL experience on so many levels. One of our lessons was on tithing and giving. We talked about the Biblical pinciples of tithing. How God doesn't need or want our money. He does however want us to constantly strive to be more like Jesus. Jesus was a giver in every sense of the word. I started looking at tithing not as "I have to give 10% to my church because my church needs it" but because I wanted to become that giver. DH and I have been committed tithers for the past 5 years. I can't even begin to explain to you the blessings that have happened to us in those 5 years. As Dave Ramsey says, "When God realizes that He can trust you with His money, that you will make good choices, and have a giving heart, He will bless you with more money to give with!" I don't necessarily think that the tithe needs to go to a brick and mortar church, but the idea is that we are giving.

2. Is it bad that reading this book makes me feel guilty? I DID NOT adopt because I had a calling on my heart to help the fatherless. That was not my motivation AT ALL. I wanted to be a mommy....plain and simple. I adopted an infant. We got Alex's referral at 11 days and brought him home at 5 1/2 months. Truth is, that if we weren't there to adopt him, someone else probably would have. He was young and healthy. I can't say that I had the God experience when I held him for the first time (or when we went back for the pick up trip). I saw my son.....a child I had been praying about for a long time....I was finally a mommy. Does this make me a bad person? I don't know. But it's interesting to read about people's experiences with their adoptions and how it was this life altering, spiritual event. Yes, my adoption was life altering and spiritual, but I was just becoming a mommy. (I'm not sure I'm articulating this very well)

My heart is now burdened with all of the children in Guatemala that are living there in poverty, and our family is starting to do what we can to support these children and families, so I guess on that level, our adoption has opened our eyes to a part of the world that we knew little about a year and a half ago. (and that was a really long sentence)

Do you think that there is a difference if you adopt an infant instead of an older child?

And as for you who have/had church families that didn't support your adoption - I'm so sorry. Reading through the book, I see so many ways in which our church is SORELY lacking. But, I can say, that they have treated Alex as a biological child from the day we received his referral. In fact, we received his referral on the Thursday before Mother's Day. Of course I had pictures with me on that Sunday so I could show everyone. The entire church insisted that I go through the Mother's Day Brunch line first since I was the newest mother in the church!! I was even hesitant...I told them that legally I wasn't his mother yet, but they told me that it didn't matter. The support, excitment, prayers, gifts, and love that we have seen poured out from our church family has been amazing. (even the 88 year old, hard of hearing, great grandma who isn't politically correct bought Alex an outfit before we went on our visit trip - although she still doesn't understand why we didn't adopt from the US! ) :)

amber said...

Ah... good, deep stuff, all of it! I'm loving your post and all the great comments. I am SOO bummed my book hasn't arrived yet!

On the tithing issue, I agree with Kim... I think so much of the significance of the tithe is a matter of giving joyfully and hearing the Lord's guidance as to where He would have us give it. I agree that it is also a matter of "obedience" but I think we turn "obedience" into a dirty word because so often we associate it with pain and sacrifice... we forget the indescribable joy of the cross (which was the ultimate expression of sacrificial obedience) and the clear call to pick up our own and follow Him... The joy of tithing comes from the heart posture of recognizing everything we have is His anyway and that even though He doesn't "need" our money, He chooses to USE us when we are open to His prompting. I just wrote a post on how incredible it is that God manifests Himself on the earth through OUR lives... He touches the hurting through OUR hands. I think tithing is an extension of our willingness to be God's hands and feet... it is a representation of our desire to be used by Him and our willingess to give whatever we can to that end...

And the second part to this is our willingness to risk "getting dirty" by posturing our hearts to be obedient even when it does cost us something we didn't necessarily want to give. We tend to hold on to certain things that are just TOO dear to us (be it possessions, ideals, dreams, conveniences... ) but if we are going to say, "Yes Lord, I am willing to be obedient and tithe my money: but not my time, my passions, my resources..." then we are limiting our ability to be God's hands and feet (literally!) to a hurting world. We can't just be obedient in some aspects of our lives and not others. We can't pick and choose which of Jesus's traits we want to follow. Its all or nothing, and I think thats where so many people are missing it (me, too, alot of the time!!). Its too easy to remain numb to the hurt and pain of the world that Jesus touched on an intimate level when your tithe is automatically withdrawn from your bank account once a month...

Thats enough from me since I haven't even read it yet... But, oh boy, am I excited to get it now!!

angieshaffer said...

I just wanted to point out to you that the actual meaning of the word "tithe" is "one-tenth". Didn't know if you realized that.

Ruthanne said...

Holly--
I read in your post that you used to go to Mars Hill. I went to Calvin College, but was there before Mars Hill. Wish I had been there at the same time---I would have loved to attend there. In my sunday morning class at church, we often listen to Rob Bell's Noomas. They're amazing. The one about him carrying his son through the rain had me crying. It really made it clear how God must feel about us---and also reminds me that even though my heart is breaking waiting for my son to come home from Guatemala---he is not waiting for me. It must be how God feels when we are far away and have no thoughts of getting close to him. How amazing also to think that God's favorite times with us may be the times when He is carrying us. It makes it easier for me to "let go" and not need that control so much if I feel that He wants to do it rather than feeling that I am burdening Him. I know that is making Him sound too human, but my human brain can only comprehend it in those terms.
Sorry, Angel. I got sidetracked. Holly's post just reminded me of the Rob Bell Nooma and off I went!

Whitney said...

I am going to comment and then go back through the other comments and post! So, sorry if I repeat too much! :)

1. I second you, Angel, on Mary Beth's quote about meeting Shaohannah! Very powerful and I can completely relate! I think it took the whole week with her for it to sink in, rather than just the first moment.
I am in line with caring for orphans, but I was also convicted about how I care for widows and strangers! Is my home and attitude open and loving to these that we are commanded in Scripture to take care of (60 times, remember)? I need to broaden my concern for the fatherless even beyond the daughter that is so embedded in my heart.
2. Why? Conviction is a good thing, but how will I act on it? I have a shut in couple that I am "signed up" to visit monthly, so I will make phone calls about that tomorrow. I take an 80 year old widow on the visit, so maybe we will include lunch or ice cream stop afterward to spend some time with her.
3. & 4. People, churches specifically, are not aware of the great need! I know that I was not before the adoption ministry was started at our church. The statistics were staggering to hear for the first time.
It is also interesting, that aside from John Piper(and Mr. Davis), most predominate theologians of our day are not "into" orphan ministry. I wonder if it is considered a liberal cause, and that is why it is avoided somewhat. I know that Jesus and authors of the NT did not avoid it, so we as believers, have to be vigilant in fighting for the fatherless. I loved the point that this is a command to the church, not governments. I started my blog when solid men and women of faith were asking us, "Why not just foster, you get paid to do it?", I knew that I should help "educate" those to our call to international adoption and how it is not about just "buying a child". We are working at reaching a people group with the Gospel by bringing Ellie into our family. (Total disclaimer: I am SO thankful that families are called to different aspects of orphan care, as the book discussed. Foster care helps bridge gaps that need to be filled, whether for a short time, or those leading to adoption! Our family was just not called to that at this point in our lives. I will be interesting to see where the Lord leads as our current children grow older...)

Ready to read more!

Thanks for doing the book club! It has been encouraging!

Whitney said...

I went and did dishes alone after I commented and of course, I thought of a few other things...
On tithing: I agree that our churches are not doing what is commanded in scripture to care for the fatherless. But, I do believe that the Acts 6 model, the church, as a body, providing for the widows is something to consider. If people in our congregations were giving anywhere close to 5%, let alone 10%, churches would have plenty to put a significant amount toward the care of orphans, widows and strangers. We need to be cautious when we get away from contributing to the financial needs of the local body of believers (which SHOULD include missions, abroad and local, not just the four walls of the church, and specifically, caring for the fatherless). This is clearly modeled in scripture. We should be aware of and proactive in the budget of our local church, and see that needs of this special group mentioned in the Word are taken care of. We should be working to clear out orphanages as a body of believers. Our churches should be taking trips, both far off and down town to the women's shelter, regularly to see to the needs of the fatherless and raise awareness in the body.
Also:
I am so thankful for the impact that Shaohannah's Hope and other organizations have had in supporting adoptions and raising awareness in the community of believers about the needs of the fatherless. However, I would pray that the support would come from within the local church, both financially and in making a "defense for the orphan and pleading for the widow" (Is 1:17), putting those organizations "out of business", so to speak.

Faithful Delight said...

Sorry, I'm going to start off a bit behind, don't have my book yet. I have to keep myself on a very tight budget and something came up this pay check so I'm waiting till the end of this week to buy the book.

Don't worry, I'm a fast reader, I'll catch up soon.

Kim said...

My adoption agency also has a missions arm. They provide support to orphanages around the world who are taking care of kids who probably will never be adopted. I just opened their most recent newsletter and thought I'd post parts of one of their articles.

This is from The Call - The Newsletter of Orphan Voice - a part of A Helping Hand Adoption Agency

"Arguably, the contemporary American Christian church is the most affluent segment of the Body of Christ in world history. And, also arguable, the American Christian church may be the weakest segment of Christ's Body in the world today. To be sure, there are many individuals and churches across this blessed nation who are faithful, obedient, holy servants in the Kingdom of God. Still, all to often, we have to admit that we are comfortable and at ease, characterized by insufficient prayer, seemingly unable to change the moral course of the nation, and lacking the power of God in our every day lives. How can this change?

Many are crying out to God for a revival of righteousness. How can this happen? Could it be that the means of God's revival of righteousness in our own lives is caring for the orphans of the nations?........

(there is some stuff on Job through here)

Is it not otherwise for us today. Like Job, we have no righteousness of our own. Jesus is our righteousness, our holiness. And, like Job, we receive these girts from God through faith and obedience to care for the orphans, the fatherless and the oppressed. Like Job, we must deliver the poor and the fatherless who cry out and deliver him who has no helper. We must be eyes for the blind, feet to the lame, and a father to the poor. In so doing, buy God's grace we can be revived, be clothed in righteousness and wear justice before God like a robe and turban. And as this happens, is it not really us who are the greater beneficiary in our 'transaction' with the orphan?"

Just interesting to have this discussion and then read this.

Angel said...

WOW GUYS!! I just wanted to say YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME! Keep the conversation going. These are such great thoughts. I know that getting people's wheels turning is an important part of this book. I also am honored to see how respectful everyone has been. I have truly amazing readers. It speaks well for the level of maturity here. We can all discuss different view points and remain kind. Thank you for helping that happen. This is a great group.

For me I have grown up with the "give 10% straight to the church" tithe sermons my whole life. I never questioned where the money was actually going after I gave it to them till I was much older. I never even had an opinion about where it should go. I figured they took care of it.

I guess my questions were never centered around whether we should tithe. I absolutely believe we should and that as Americans we don't give nearly enough. I KNOW God has a passion for the needy. (especially widows, orphans and foreigners)I also know we must take good care of our ministers.

Here are just a few scriptures about how God feels about giving to those in need...

Deuteronomy 15:7 “If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother.”

Matthew 5:42 “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Luke 3:11 “John answered, ‘the man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.’"

1 Timothy 6:18 “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Psalm 41:1 “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the LORD delivers him in times of trouble.”

Proverbs 19:17 “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.”

Proverbs 22:9 “A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.”

Luke 14:12-14 "Then Jesus said to his host, ‘When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’"

Proverbs 14:31 “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

1 John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”

Proverbs 29:7 “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.”

So since tithe has been such a hot topic I continued my "googling" on the subject.

Here is a great link with all kinds of verses on God's heart for the needy. I thought you guys would like it. http://www.worldvision.org/about_us.nsf/child/g8_bibleverses?Open

I also want to share another link with you and see what your thoughts are about it. I have no idea who this person is. I have checked all the scriptures used and know that they are the correct scriptures.

For years I closed my eyes to certain subjects and refused to even think them through. It was too difficult and I didn't want to deal with it. I just won't do that anymore. I want to know what I truly believe now rather than just accepting what I have always lived. So I try my best to examine things from both sides now and then come to a conclusion.

When I read this article my mouth fell open. I will not take a position on this and do not wish to be inflamatory. You could get openly flailed for this in many a Texas church!! I am frankly paranoid about even presenting it as a possibility. Will I be banned from all Texas churches? Hee hee... just kidding. KIND OF! :0)

I also want to make it clear that this is NOT in Tom's book and has nothing to do with him.

I guess my thought is that we MUST explore the scripture for ourselves. I think that is what this study is partly about. We all want to dive deeper into what God's heart is on how to help the needy. So this is one view point.

I am not taking a stance on whether is right or wrong. I just ran across it yesterday in my research on the topic. I am simply presenting it for you to read and think about. I encourage you to read all of it and let us know your thoughts if you feel comfortable.

http://cnview.com/on_line_resources/truth_about_tithing.htm

Things that make you go hmmmm....

Let's make sure we keep our discussion about it calm and kind as we have all been doing so far.

:0) Angel

Krystal said...

OK, I am back! Since we're talking about tithes, I will give you my perspective. I did read the stuff on the link that Angel gave, and well, I don't know. The verses are real, but I guess I really don't know what God intended. . .

I was not raised in a Christian home, and I was not taught anything about tithes or offerings. I became a Christian as a child, but I NEVER thought about tithes! However, at one point in my life as an adult I heard a sermon about tithes and I spoke with our pastor about it. From that day forward, we have been giving a tithe as AN ACT OF WORSHIP. I am not sure if it is a commandment from God, but it is an example that we are following. It is truly an act of worship for us, and I cannot explain how it has changed me. Right now times are tough (REAL tough), but this week when I wrote out the check for my tithe, I stopped, I smile, I closed my eyes, and I said, "Dear God, I trust you."

For me, having a defined amount (or % at least) given to a defined organization (my local church) has brought me closer to my God.

Krystal said...

oh, oh, one more thing --

Ezekiel 44:30, NIV

"The best of all the firstfruits and of all your special gifts will belong to the priests. You are to give them the first portion of your ground meal so that a blessing may rest on your household."

Anita said...

I have my book and have read the "required" reading, but have not had a chance to sit down and add to the conversation yet. The convo has evolved past my initial thoughts, but I'll post anyway. As I was reading, starting with Steven's foreword I found myself reading-every-word trying to soak it all in. This was my first introduction to this concept really... and what struck me about "the fatherless" was "orphans, widows and strangers." Orphans, widows, even elderly- yes, most definitely, but "strangers..." And Angel, the comment that Steven's wife, Mary Beth made about the first time she held her daughter hit me too. I anticipate it being like that, but can only imagine. Then you seconding her thoughts when you held Zoe for the first time... *tears and heartbreak. I'll have to add more at another time, it's early and I'm trying to get ready for work, just didn't want to completely miss out on the convo. Already, this book has opened up so much thought and repentence in my soul for being so self absorbed! Worried about daily ridiculous things, when there are orphans, widows, and strangers with measurably so much less that me, and just how my "excess" (time, money, prayers, etc) could be a blessing... Humbling...

Maybe I'll write about the Into and Chapt 1 later...

Anonymous said...

Angel,

I don't have the book yet, so I am skip right to the tithing discussion. I say these things with much respect and love and I hope that I do not hurt anyone.

I don't tithe any more. I give money in Sunday school class, I give money in chior, I give to charities, but I do not give to my coperate church. Why, you might ask?

Well, I watch the budgets and each year, they up dollor amounts in the various catagories and then tell us (the body) that we have to support the new amounts by tithing. We have never made our budget balance at the end of year and each year we have to cut back- but yet staff are contiuned to be added, extra activites are planned and paid for outside of the budget. I have a very bad taste in my mouth from it. I am required to live within a budget, I can assume that I might get a raise, but until I get that raise, I can't spend that money. I do not see the leaderships of churches doing the same with their budgets- I see them wanting more and more money going forward even when the facts show that the money coming in is not enough to provide the basic services. I probably sound bitter, I am to a certain degree. Why are we as indvidual christian told to be fiscally sound with our money, but the church finances can be a wreck? Maybe if someone stepped back and said- enough- no more overspending, in fact we are going to underspend, we are going to pay of debt of the new building before we even consider a new building, we are going to cut back on the extras and focus on the greatest needs, we are going to be wise with out contributions, maybe then I would tithe again. I have been in 4 churchs since I became a christian. Only one church lived within its budget and that is the church that just had over 75% of its membership be impacted by layoffs and plant closings (Yes, I am in touch with them). The elders of that church had been wise with their money and not a single missionary, ministry was impacted by the loss of tithes as families began to struggle. They are the most joyful, worshipping chuch I have been in and I wish I could be there now. The other 3 churchs, 2 decided that new buildings were the way to go to grow membership, when that did not occur the entire ministry staff left for "better' jobs leaving the churches with millions of dollars of debt. The final church is the one I am at now- they are starting a building plan- again with 100s of thousands of dollars of debt alread sitting on the books.

I support very few missionaries- I have to check them out carefully- see I lived with a missionary (CCC) and she never had enough support for the last 2 years of her mission work. She avoided paying bills- including her portion of the rent, but she had no problem going on mission trips in the summer that she had to pay for. When she left the mission field she sent a letter to her supports saying that she was "owed 2 months of retirement pay" even though she was no longer with the group and would we all continue to give for those 2 months. Her "bosses" in the mission knew she did not have the money in her account to pay her bills or go on mission trips, but they continued to allow her to not work in a job- which they told her might be an option. She never worked a job. Yes, mission work is hard, but when you don't have the support and tithes to do your work- do you not think that maybe God is asking you to consider other options? She worked with college kids, she could have worked a part time job during the day leaving her with plenty of time to prepare and hold her Bible studies.

I see so much hypocratsy (spelling) in the church and leadership in how they conduct financial decisons and how they expect the membership to conduct their finances. I see so much "do what I say, not how you see us act". It makes me ill sometimes. I prefer to give my money to those I know are wise with it.

I think I sort of highjacked the topic, but I had to say. God wants us to tithe, he does not say to the church, he says to HIM. I give to the people and projects that he directs me to. To the church, I give my time and work- just as much needed as the money is.
Love to you,
Momma Bug

danielle said...

I am a week late in posting but I am an elementary school teacher and am also in survival mode! Anyway, Angel, I ordered this book not even knowing what it was about... I guess I knew it probably related to adoption but I wasn't sure. I have to tell you that reading about Zoe and your experience with her has tugged at my heart. I don't know what God has in store for my husband and I in the future but I do know that adoption isn't for us right now. BUT that does not excuse us from caring for the fatherless, the widows, the strangers. I feel so challenged to discover how God wants me, Danielle, to care for those people around me.

I have to agree that I do not think the average church in the US is hitting the mark. In fact, most are far from hitting the mark. We are currently in a church that is very mission oriented but not very many people actually go and work with needy people. They just write a check and think they are done.

On the subject of tithing... I think it has to come from the heart. This is a difficult subject for me because my husband and I grew up in different denominations. I grew up in a Southern Baptist church that drilled it into me to give 10%. He grew up in a church where he didn't hear much about giving at all. So, he doesn't understand the concept of 10%. I give 10% of my income to our church and then we give to special concerns. I cannot make my husband give. It would not be a joyful gift. Someday my husband may want to give 10% joyfully but until then, I give what I feel is right for me and we discuss anything above and beyond.