deluded idolator

no, this is NOT the most recent title of an e-mail from my spam folder. Rather, it is a description of myself thatI am none too proud of.

 The scenario: In the supermarket today, and had to go see how the Mega Millions was doing. Stupid, stupid lottery for stupid, stupid people such as myself. (A friend of mine, after hearing me admit that I actually play the lottery, replied with, “Oh, so you pay ‘stupid tax’?” OUCH. the truth hurts.) Well, unfortunately nobody won last night, so it’s up to the ridiculous amount of $150 million . . .

I think I have said here before that God does NOT want me to play the lottery. So basically, I’m blatantly sinning, a dollar at a time every time I choose to buy a ticket. (It’s just a good thing that I’m not still Catholic!)

So there I am in the queue to purchase my tickets (there wouldn’t be a line like this if I was in Cascade . . . since the lottery is as much a “poor person tax” as it is a “stupid tax” . . . ) and I have two dollars in my hand . . . and I start to have this inner dialogue with myself . . . because I usually never allow myself to buy more than one ticket for a drawing, with the reasoning that, “If God really wanted me to win” (WHICH HE DOES NOT!) “He would obviously not need more than one ticket to make this happen.” But for some reason today, I had two dollars in my hand, and as I waited for my turn to buy my ticket throw away my money, I was having an internal argument with myself . . . “well, you really shouldn’t tempt God like that . . . remember that sermon you heard a long time ago, about how God told Moses to speak to the rock so that it would bring forth water, and he disobeyed by not only using his staff instead of following God’s orders, but more so by striking it twice?”

and then it hit me. I was mis-applying what was no doubt the convicting voice of the Holy Spirit and twisting that conviction in such a way that it satisfied my own sinful desire to do exactly what I wanted to do anyway. Not to mention that God’s no dummy, as I seem to keep forgetting . . .  

It’s not that I want to be rich, or so I say . . . it’s that I dream of all that I could do with the money . . . on the “short list”, a seven-days-a-week anti-racism education center in Grand Rapids, and getting myself and a few dozen of my dearest friends “back to zero”, as in, out of debt . . . the rest to be given away . . . “So you see, Lord, I have such WONDERFUL PLANS for this money, for using it for Your Kingdom!”

yes, I really do spend (waste!) hours upon hours tending to and feeding this idol of mine . . .

but what I really want, more than anything else, is to be free. Even if my tangible,  earth-bound reality is such that I will never break free of the financial chains that choke me, I want more than anything to be TRULY free . . . like the title of my blog, I want to love HIM better . . . I WANT to want God more than I want anything else, even the so-called “security” of being free of debt in a human sense.

the road to freedom, however, does not begin at the lottery counter at the 28th Street Meijer. It begins in a Book that gets far too little attention from me, and with a Person who, despite my tainted human perception of Him, is far more likely to be saddened by the choices I make than exasperated or even angry about them.

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to tithe or not to tithe?

no frickin’ way. I just wrote an extensive, impassioned, painstakingly-edited post on this topic, and it seems to have disappeared. I was saving the drafts all along, but I must’ve hit some other key at the last minute and deleted the whole thing.

I have no doubt in my mind that this was the enemy’s work . . . I’m not at all being facetious. But I’ll write it again . . . of course, it likely won’t be as good as the original, but no matter how many times I try to hit the “back” arrow or the “undo” key, it’s just not there.

(pale imitation of the original post’s greatness follows after the fold . . . )  

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today, I was NOT a cheerful giver (aka “Tithing, part two.”)

so I wrote my check to God today, and I kind of resented it. I did it anyway, but I could almost hear God’s voice in my head (sounding strangely like my mother!) saying, “I don’t care for your attitude, young lady!” Only that’s really bad theology and that’s not REALLY what I heard . . .

   I have read some of your comments (admittedly, not as thoroughly as I hope you are reading mine!) and I still stand by my firm conviction that 10 percent is the BARE MINIMUM that should be expected of Christians today. And I don’t have a problem with the idea that once in a blue moon your tithe might go to another cause, as much as I have a problem with what we (and I most certainly include myself in this!) are doing with the other 90 percent. The fact remains that we in  North America have no excuse not to be giving 15 or 20% or more to God’s kingdom. And I believe that taking care of God’s house, particularly the Body that you consider your “home” church, comes first, and must NOT be an “either/or” with other giving.

 Our church recently had a “fifth Sunday” offering, where they asked people to give above and beyond to get the general fund ahead, as it has been lagging behind the proposed budget in recent months. The congregation complied, and the general fund seemed to surge–except that when you looked at the other funds (for missions, for Christian education, etc), they ALL were below the level of giving that was needed for that same month. So we are working with “smoke and mirrors”, or as my dear grandmother (not the chicken grandma!) used to say, “robbing Peter to pay Paul”. The problem is, we can afford to pay them both, and so it is really God that we are robbing.

 I don’t say this without knowing with all of my heart that I am also guilty of this . . . but this is why I struggle so much to remain faithful to tithing, after years and years of being unfaithful. My goal is to give MORE as time goes by, and if I start creating all kinds of loopholes for myself, I know that I will only travel down that “slippery slope” until giving is once again optional. and THAT is really not okay with me . . .