Liquid Footprints

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Tithing and Giving

Tithing is the act of giving the tenth of one’s income, typically to a religious organization. I know of many churches that tithe their members. What does the Bible say about this?

First, tithes are practiced in the Jewish Scripture.  It was also very specific. It was the giving of a tenth of what the land produced. In other words, if you didn’t farm, you didn’t pay the tithe:

A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. – Leviticus 27:30

There were also various other tithes based on what year it was ( that totaled to around 23%  and not 10% of the harvest). But this regular tithe is what most people consider when they think of tithing. It was an ancient form of taxation. The tithe went to the Temple to support the priest class ( and help support widows and orphans under the care of the Temple).  Jesus wouldn’t have paid the tithe as a carpenter. In fact, He was against tithing when it was a focus:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices-mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law-justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. – Matthew 23:23

The most important matters of the law: mercy, justice, and faithfulness were considered more important by Jesus than paying a tithe.

So How Should a Christian Give?

Paul tells us that a Christian should give out of the first day of their labor:

Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come. –1 Corinthians 16: 1,2

By what did they store from their labors? And to whom did were they giving? Paul? No. Paul was making a collection for the saints, but who were they?  The saints Paul is referring to wasn’t the church in Corinth or even the church in Galatia. It wouldn’t make sense for the people in those areas to give to Paul since they could take care of it themselves. Rather, Paul was collecting for the poor at Jerusalem and elsewhere:

 But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased those of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints who are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily, and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers in their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things. When therefore I have performed this, and have secured to them this fruit, I will come to you on my way to Spain. -Romans 15:25-28

Paul was collecting food. The first Christians gave to the poor and not to a church organization. They gave of their harvest ( hence no need to be out collecting as Paul asks in the Corinthians verse). There is no set amount offered. Paul doesn’t ask for a tithe. He only asks for something as a person prospers on their first day of labor each week with the goal of feeding their poor brethren.  Paul wasn’t concerned about collecting funds to run a church as we do today. He was concerned with helping those in need.

Consider what Jesus told the Pharisees about their tithing and what Paul taught. What matters is how we give and not how much or what we give. If a church doesn’t help the poor, the hungry, or those in need, we shouldn’t be giving the church a single penny.  We would serve God better in such an instance by giving our money directly to a soup kitchen or even another religious organization that runs a homeless shelter.

So Should We Tithe?

From a doctrinal standpoint, no we shouldn’t tithe. Tithes were based upon the yield of the land and were given to the Temple. Since the Temple doesn’t exist and most of us are not farmers, tithing doesn’t apply.Unfortunately tithing is also a part of the so -called gospel of prosperity (I won’t dignify it with capitals). Many people like to tithe because they think God will return that amount many fold. This is wrong motivation and just plain selfish. It is just like what the Pharisees did in Jesus’ time.

Now, can we tithe if we want? Certainly! Paul teaches that we should lay in store as we prosper on the first day of each week. If you can afford to take a tenth of your income (since most of us don’t harvest anything) then wonderful! However, you have to be certain that the money is going to help those in need and not fund the edifice of a religious organization. Certainly, pastors and preachers  need to eat too, but it cannot be the main purpose of the funds. Most of the funds should go toward helping people.

The funds shouldn’t be used to indoctrinate either. Jesus gave unconditional help to those in need. We also need to do so.  Compassion converts people to a belief system far better than doctrine.

We also have to remember that we must live as a Christian and not just give like a Christian. Jesus’s lesson for the Pharisees remains as a warning for us. A Christian who lives compassionately but doesn’t give is better than a person who calls themselves Christian, gives much and regularly, but doesn’t live compassionately everyday.

Giving is an act of compassion not of compulsion ( 2 Corinthians 9:5 – 7).  We shouldn’t expect anything in return, from those we help or from God. We give because we cannot stand to see others suffer.


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Last Day

Fall LeavesIt’s now a cliche. One we often hear, but also one we don’t follow. We’ve all heard the saying: “Live like today is your last day. One day will be your last.”

Just the other day the cliche really hit home. I was writing in my sketchjournal about the day. It was my day off work. I spent it with my girlfriend and my hobbies. It was also a beautiful day. I asked myself on the page: if today was my last day, would I die content and happy? The answer that day: yes.

Of course, it’s easy to say that after such a good day. I told my girlfriend how important our friendship is to me. I played my favorite video games. I had success with painting and my other projects. I watered and cared for my growing bonsai. It was an excellent day. However, such days seem so rare. Too often I waste my time working and fretting. I am filled with social anxiety, thoughtlessness, and harried feelings when I can’t spend time on my passions. I go to sleep unfulfilled.

Each day is a lifetime. We are born each morning and die each night. I know I waste these daily lives. Do you? Looking at each day this way really helps me keep perspective. A full life isn’t work or material things. A full life is how you enjoy each hour. It is found in a friend’s smile and in the hug of family members. It is found in watering a flower and in a good meal. It is found in a cup of tea near our nightly death.

We can live any day with contentment and fully if we keep perspective. Some days are just harder lifetimes than others to do so. In forced social situations, for example, I have a hard time keeping perspective.

Small things are where we find contentment and fullness. Hobbies and loved ones are the most important things we can spend our daily lives on. It helps, as we near our nightly death, to list all the wonderful things we have seen and experienced. There is always something wonderful around us. It can be the beauty of autumn leaves dancing on the rain or just a lovely cup of tea. Remind yourself of the people you brightened that day. If nothing else, smile to yourself. It is good to die with a smile in the heart.

So tonight, as you lay to sleep and eternally put Today to rest, breathe, smile, and ask yourself: ” If today is my last, was it full? ” If not, then promise yourself that you will live fully from that very moment. That promise alone makes a full and good day.


God and Suffering

Why does the God of Love allow suffering?“Why does a loving God allow suffering?”

This is one of the most asked question we urgently want answered, next to “Where is the bathroom” anyway.  Let us briefly look at this question. First, it assumes God is loving. Next it assumes God allows suffering. Finally, it assumes there is an underlying reason. Sounds like I am about the say God isn’t loving and also causes suffering without reason doesn’t it?

Hardly. I will attempt to show you how I understand and view the question:

  1. God allows suffering because He is loving
  2. He is loving because suffering exists

We cannot understand love and compassion without suffering. It is through suffering we empathize with other people. We too have stubbed our toes and wince in remembrance when we see someone do the same. We lose loved ones. We get sick. We die. These commonalities form the foundation of our love.

If we lived forever and never felt pain, we couldn’t understand or experience love. We would be unable to interact with anyone or anything. That interaction would cause suffering. Only a self sufficient being can never experience suffering. Self sufficiency means they do not and cannot interact with anything outside themselves. As soon as such a being does, it would experience a distinction of itself and the other. That distinction will cause suffering.

Wait, so you mean God isn’t self sufficient? Yes. Exactly. If He was, He might as well not exist because He wouldn’t be able to interact with us or create anything. He wouldn’t be capable of love.

Since God is interactive and loving, God is capable of suffering. Yes, I think there is suffering in heaven. And it is a beautiful thing! God suffers just like we do, perhaps even more than we are capable of fathoming. If God does condemn people to eternity in hell, I am sure it grieves Him deeply. It would be akin to the death of a son or daughter..and killing them with your own hand while they beg for their life.

That suffering allows Him to love and understand us. Godly suffering creates Godly love. God allows suffering because it is the only way to experience love and develop compassion.

Christians can look to Jesus as the example of God’s suffering (for those who believe in the Trinity doctrine this is especially salient). Jesus was only capable of loving the downtrodden and beaten because He too was downtrodden and beaten. He knew hunger and illness so He wanted to ease it in others. Buddha is another figure that understood suffering and love are inseparable. Gandi is yet another.

So why does God allow suffering? How is it fair that good people die? It isn’t.

God lives within each of us: He suffers with us. He suffers deeper than us. Why doesn’t He stop it? Because each suffering people endure expands  compassion and love. Look at natural disasters. Certainly a lot of people suffer, but even more people express and grow in compassion. The people suffering are touched by that compassion in ways they wouldn’t experience otherwise.

God doesn’t cause or allow suffering. It simply is. It is just the fabric of reality. To exist, even on the heavenly plane, is to suffer. God will wipe away every tear, but we will still cry.

God allows suffering because He too suffers. It is the only way He (and us) can love. And love is the supreme suffering.


Mindful Basics in Everyday Life

Mindfulness is a pillar in Buddhist philosophy and good Christian ethics. Mindfulness is nothing more than awareness of the current moment. When we drink tea, we drink tea. When we hug someone, we hug someone. When we sit in a chair, we sit in a chair.  Mindfulness is performing an action without distraction, fully aware of our actions and our surroundings.

Unfortunately for us, we live in a world full of distractions.

Without mindfulness we live like a leaf being blown about by the wind.  We are constantly jostled about by external forces that all pull our minds this way and that.    Things like advertising, our jobs, our friends, our possessions: all these things vie for our attention all at once and can even overwhelm us at times.  Are these things bad?  Not at all!  They can be good and even wonderful, if viewed properly.  Sometimes though these things that make up our daily lives can make us suffer.  Sometimes they may not cause suffering but cannot be fully enjoyed because we don’t appreciate them fully, simply because we are not living in the present.

Continue reading


Beautiful Mundanity

A mundane life is no life at all.  The ordinary day to day life we lead is nothing but boredom and doldrums. Or so we often tell ourselves.  I hear it all the time: “I have no life!” or “I really need a life!”  We often create a lot of drama to “spice” up a rather dull life.  We indulge in behaviors that we may know are bad for us one way or another, simply to escape the boredom. Every day is the same: get up, shower, go to work, come home, eat dinner, housework, and  then go to sleep. Day in, day out.  Lather, rinse, repeat. Continue reading


Retail Reflection

As the handful of my long time readers know, I work at a grocery store. As an introvert, dealing with the public constantly is exhausting for me. It is very difficult to act and think compassionately toward the mewling needy American populace constantly.

I often think to myself: well, Jesus and Buddha never worked retail. Continue reading

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Flowers and Compost: the War on Self

In the United States we have a very war-centric mentality. We fight the “War on Drugs, War on Poverty, War on Obesity,” and wage war on anything we see as negative. We fight personal wars against ourselves. Mistakenly we think we need to cut out anything that is difficult or even slightly negative.  We pop antidepressants, sleeping pills, and chug caffeine. We spend far too much fighting against the inevitability of aging.

We simply fail to see flowers need compost. Continue reading