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With grateful hearts, we share our thoughts on redemption through Jesus Christ and His saving blood and what it looks like in our daily walk.

We gladly welcome your comments and input.
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AND since we hold our conservative values dear, we might have a thing or two to say about politics... and we can almost guarantee it won't be politically correct.



Friday, July 18, 2008

Mind Your Own Wallet

Yesterday I came across another Christian blog of which I do not know the author. Rather than leave a comment and possibly cause him irritation, I decided to make my own post with regards to the subject this blogger was discussing.

The author of the blog (a guy who happens to be in ministry in his local Christian church) was asking the opinion of his readers about an article he had read on the Internet. Here’s what he says,
“I found this article online and I wanted to see what people think about it. This church in Houston is raising money to build two 200 foot crosses right off I-45… I want to hear your thoughts but I’ll give you mine first since its my blog. I think it is a colossal waste of money. The pastor that wants to build it talked about how it would be marking a city for Jesus. There are so many things that could be done with that money and so many lives that could be changed. Maybe a few people have gotten ministered to by seeing a giant cross on the side of the road, but I’m pretty sure they are few and far between. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why non-Christians don’t like Christians. Instead of doing something in the community to bless it and serve the under privileged or at least plant some churches or do something overseas, we build giant crosses.”

Okay, first of all, I Googled the article so I could verify this guy’s take on the article. After reading the account myself I felt like he misrepresented the intent of the pastor for the cross structures. I won’t take the time to list out the discrepancies—the article can be found here.

So here’s my beef: Whenever I hear Christians using their time to judge/determine what other churches/other Christians/other ministries “should” be doing with their money it makes me think of a few things but always I remember the story of Jesus and the woman in Bethany who used up all that rare and costly perfume to anoint Him while at dinner. (Mk 14, Jn 12, Matt 26).

Did that ever get the dander up of some of Jesus’ own disciples in the house that day! Moved with indignation they were sounding off about how the ointment “could have been sold” and what they “could have done with the money”! Here’s where they talk about how it “could have been given to the poor.” Only wait… Jesus shuts them down telling them to leave her alone. And further He says in a sort of “oh, and by the way” manner, “what she’s done will be remembered wherever the gospel is preached.”

So to me this indicates complete approval for her part in history which happened to “waste” expensive perfume on the Lord before His burial. But here’s the part I want to notice. Isn't it interesting the way people tend to all of a sudden get all mushy about the poor when it comes to judging how someone else spends their money. Jesus included this statement to them just in case they didn't fully understand, “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them.”
Okay, so my point is this… who are we to assume we have the right to read an article like this where fellow believers are making decisions with their own money (I mean no one had to give their money to that project if they didn’t agree with it) and determine if we think it is right or wrong?

Don’t we have better things to do, as fellow Christians, than pick on each other?

Jesus made it clear we would always have the poor AND we can do them good anytime we wish. That says to me we are to help the poor no matter how else we are spending our money. So we need to do both. We need to help the poor but it is also okay to build symbols of Christianity if that is what God tells us to do. I am not saying God told this pastor to do this but if He did, who are we to judge it? Who are we to judge if God did or didn’t tell him to build this structure? Every man will answer to God for everything we've done... or not done.

Why can’t we all mind our own business, do what we know WE are supposed to be doing for the kingdom and most importantly, if you don’t have something encouraging to say about fellow Christians, don’t say anything! Don’t Christians get enough ridicule from the media and the outside world without having to deal with our own brothers and sisters deciding from a distance whether a church in Houston is spending its (own) money like they should?

17 comments:

Donny said...

I've been following this blog for a little while thanks to Nathan's commenting all over the blog circles I read.

I think you bring up some good points and the discussion about our role in other believers lives (next door, or thousands of miles away) is a valid one. How we handle them, is also important and wish you would have commented on that guy's blog.

I'm not trying to hijack this blog, but I do believe jesus talked about money and out use of it more than any other subject- even religious leaders use of it. Should we not?

I think you bring up good points, but a Christian ranting about a Christian ranting about a Christian is rather funny to me.

serious/silly/me said...

Oh, Meems, you just HAD to go and meddle! :o)

In reference to "Donny," I'm glad you commented on another Christian commenting on another Christian. It does have a bit of circular humor to it, but you didn't name names or point fingers and you weren't rude. In fact, you talked Bible mainly.

A million dollars is a lot of money. To me. But when I see the lavish sets of TV programs, the cost of making movies, the selling price of Trump's south Florida home, I realize that "a lot of money" is relative and I don't see Christians angry over Trump selling his house for 95 million and not then spending that money "in the community" and to plant churches.

Why is it our business to tell other Christians how to use their money? Isn't there one Lawgiver and one Judge? If preachers are spending dough on porn or gambling or booze, okay then. But I think preachers will answer to God for their choices just as we will. We should be more about minding our OWN wallet (as you said).

And something that I hear a lot that irks me is the concern for the poor---in that this concern seems to be the only acceptable concern. It's like it's trendy to care for the poor; legitimate and approved by everyone from Greenpeace to the UN to Bono to Obama to Christian circles worldwide. It's the cool thing to do. But the rich need Christ too. The rich need ministry too. But it's not cool to care for the rich, as if we think, "They have their money, and that is enough. Let their money save them!" If it's only acceptable to reach out to the poor, who will reach out to the rich?

Nathan Talbot said...

Welcome Donny. Thanks for posting. Don't just come out from lurking to defend your boy. HAHA

Post more often.

I will say I agree with meems on this one. I said as much on Ross' blog. While logically it seems like the money could be used for something else. I am very careful about telling other people/Christians how to spend their money.

I said the same thing about donating to Christian radio.

As far as talking about money, I think we should. It is an important topic, and you are correct Jesus spent a lot of time on the topic. Mostly about our attitude about it. I just think we should be careful of being judgemental or critical of other Christian's use of money when it is going to something they believe is a good cause, charity, ministery etc.

Meems the example of the perfume perfectly illustrates this point. I had not thought of that, but it made perfect sense when I read it.

rossmiddleton said...

Well, since the blog was about me, I thought I would enter the big charade. I don't mind being thrown under the bus, its perfectly okay, with me, I realize I'm an opinionated guy, so I guess I'm asking for it. I agree with Donny, if you think I'm judgmental, I don't see how your post is any different than mine. I'm not bitter, I asked for it, but you could have at least challenged me on my own blog to my cyberface:) If it makes you feel better I'll send an email to the pastor with my thoughts:)

Here are my thoughts. Maybe I should have held the thoughts that I posted on my blog to myself, I'm never sure on these things. First of all, I love the body of Christ and my intention is not to slander someone but simply challenge people in their stewardship. I repent for that and take responsibility for my words. If you don't think that I can do that and am being judgmental that's fine, I think its totally understandable.

One of the first things you said is that you don't like it when Christians judge other Christians for how they use their money. That is not quite biblical. Judgement is one of the most understood words in the Bible. Its really popular to use it to say "stay out of my business." But that's not what Jesus did at all. In fact, Jesus said, you JUDGE a tree by its fruit. Maybe I should have done a survey with the first church that dropped a million to build a huge cross and see if it has reached anyone and then blogged. I think Jesus judged people all the time, he judged the woman at the well and called her out on her sin. This is just one of many judgments Jesus made in the Bible.

Your use of the woman with the perfume doesn't fit theologically. First of all you just called me Judas, who sold out Jesus, thanks. Secondly, you said in your own blog that you will always have the poor with you so that is exactly why you should have done that to Jesus at that time. Your contradiction is that its the very fact that He's not here now, which is exactly when he told us to care for the poor. And just for the record, I'm not just "getting all mushy now" about the poor as you stated in your blog, thats quite the judgmental statement itself. Also, don't you have to make a judgement to determine if someone else is being judgmental. We all have to judge.

I agree that if people don't want to give money to it, they don't have to, good point, taken. I don't know exactly what you mean when you said we need to do both. I guess you are meaning we should always build one million dollar crosses on the highway and care for the poor. Just for the record, I mentioned many other things that could have been done with that money besides serving the poor, I also said planting churches, giving to missions which was conveniently left out in your points about the poor, but you did include it in your quote of mine.

I guess we can agree to disagree about challenging church leaders on the way they spend their money, I personally don't think that's wrong but I could see how you would.

On a commenter, serious/silly/me said something that blew me away. Using Donald Trump doesn't fit. As far as I am aware, Donald Trump is not a born again Christian, maybe he is, maybe he's not, but if people are not Christians you cannot expect them to use their money in a godly way. That's exactly why we hold Christians to a higher standard because they should steward their finances well, cause they know better. You then stated in your next paragraph that how is it our business to tell Christians how to use their money when you just told Donald Trump how to use his. What blew me away is that you said okay that preachers are using their money on porn, gambling or booze. We have to hold people to a standard, if my pastor was spending money on porn, then heck yes I would talk to Him and confront him about that issue. To use your money in an overtly ungodly manner is inexcusable, and I can't believe that you would think its okay to just slide that under the rug. That's crazy. Another judgement you made about me in your response is that I don't think rich people need Jesus or I am on the poor bandwagon right now. Rich people need Jesus just as much as poor people, I in no way said anything alluding to that.

Culturally, when Jesus was on earth everyone knew how much people gave, the offering was given in public, right in from of other people. That's how Jesus knew that the widow that gave her might was the greatest gift, cause she gave all she had and Jesus watched with his own eyes her put her money in. Money being a private thing is a result of our western, materialistic, anti community culture. Jesus made a judgement about that woman and compared her to other believers. Isn't that something that would be taboo today. Another example of this was Annanias and Sapphira, and when they hid it and lied about their money they died. The church leaders made a judgement that what they did was wrong and they paid for it with their life when God struck them dead, obviously, God agreed with their JUDGMENT.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

Donny said...

on a lighter note, thanks (Nathan) for the invite to comment more. I promise I haven't been lurking (just subscribed to your feed before i went on vacation a couple weeks ago.)

Also, I appreciated the post on Lordship (isn't talked about enough in the body of Christ)

and I hope all goes well with the business startup in Tally. We need more businessmen and women living for Jesus.

Nathan Talbot said...

I have a bunch of thoughts, and since this is my playground I am going to share them. I don't want to get into a tit for tat type of thing, but Ross you really need to re-read a couple of the comments. For instance serious/silly/me said nothing of the sort about pastors spending money on porn, booze and gambling. You also misrepresented some other things. Please go back and re-read the post and the comments.

Now I want to say that, I really try to examine what I write on blogs and determine if I would say the same words to the persons face in conversation. I know I fall short sometimes, but that is what I try very hard to do. I try to speak in love, and I know I am opinionated and tend to be argumentative at times so I really try to not just argue for the sake of arguing. I also try to respect people and their position just as if I were speaking to them in person. For instance I would not argue or challenge Pastor Ron on his blog even if I did for some reason disagree with something, because he is my elder and my pastor.

Ross you don't know meems and you probably didn't even look at her profile, and even if you did you wouldn't have the full picture of who she is, so I am not "judging" how you commented to her the first time. I also know you are used to blogging with your generation and dealing with college students so I understand where you are coming from, but when you say some of things you said to my mom I am going to defend her. I would ask that when you post here you ask yourself if you would say what your wrote to the her face.

Just a little about her. She has been serving God to her fullest for over 25 years(sorry mom:)), she has faithfully served every church she has ever been a part of, she has served in full time ministry for many years. She is the most diligent studier of the word that I know, and is an absolute wealth of knowledge and wisdom. She also happens to be one of the most loving caring and GIVING people I have ever known both were her time and her money. She has successful raised three children who are all successful adults, happily married, and are all serving God. My point, I would ask that you show her some respect, just as I know you would if you were speaking to her face. I don't mean that harshly. I mean that as sincerely as I can say it in type.

That said, her comments were made about a topic in general. Yes your post sparked the thought and yes she used your words as an illustration, but most of the comments made were things about other christians in general. If you re-read her post I think you might understand that tone better. She didn't call you out. She didn't want to confront you or throw you under the bus. That is why she didn't use your name or comment on your blog.

Now to a few of your comments.

She didn't call you Judas that is ridiculous and petty.

If she called you Judas then you are calling yourself Jesus by using him to illustrate your point that it is OK to judge how people use their money. Do you see how fallacious that is?


You said, "I guess you are meaning we should always build one million dollar crosses on the highway and care for the poor."

I think this may be sarcasm, but if not it is very petty. That is not even close to what she said.

All this said here this what disheartens me the most. It saddens me that I tell my family what a great church I have found and how wonderful the people are. That I am really enjoying it, have joined and am serving in it as is my wife only to have a face of that ministry come on my blog and blast my mom with childish petty arguments over something that is not even a significant doctrinal argument. I would hope that as a face of a ministry that you would conduct yourself with more decorum and be a little bit more wise about how and who you are commenting to. Sorry, if that comes off as judgemental it is not. I have the deepest respect for anyone in ministry and I am not trying to nor would I ever try to tell you how to run your ministry. I will simply serve my church to the best of my ability and hope that I can help in a small way to make it a better place where all people are welcomed and loved to the fullest. That is however my opinion and again I feel like we could have this conversation face to face so I don't mind saying it.

I have more thoughts but I have written way to much and the burgers need to go on the grill. I am hungry.

Meems said...

Thanks everyone for your comments today. I am truly sorry for the discord that this post seemed to spark.

I will address Ross first and then everyone else.

Ross: Wow. First let me say I in no way meant to throw you under the bus personally. Which is why I didn’t comment on your blog. I purposely didn’t name you or link to you on my blog. You certainly are free to say whatever you like about whatever subject you like on your own blog. I respect that. My post was merely sparked when I read your blog and then I quoted part of what you had stated in order to make my point in general. It honestly wasn’t directed at you personally.

I guess I didn’t make my point very well as I feel that all of your replies pretty much misconstrue my intent. It is my heart to use my space on this blog as an outlet to add value to Christians as we all strive to live better, be better, love better in our walk with God and at the same time handle some subjects that might not always “feel good”. I must admit that I justified my rant because I attempted to keep it general... my plea was for Christians to stop hurting one another with our loose words and to think about covering each other’s backs rather than exposing our judgments of one another to the world. A world that already doesn’t understand much of what we do without handing them fodder.

Let me try to say what I meant a little differently in order to clear the air a bit. In my view, naming names, pointing to specific churches/pastors is just wrong- in this format- out in the open. Keeping in mind there are provisions/guidelines for correction (when needed) outlined in the Bible. Unless we know the full back story and history and particulars of any individual/church/situation we are left without enough information to have a valid and fully informed opinion where other people’s money is concerned. This is where Christians get sloppy in our talk of each other and I wish it wasn’t so. It grieves me.

At this point, I don't think it would serve the purpose of edifying our dear readers for me to take your points line by line because I get the sense I have offended you personally. I apologize for that. By leaving you personally out of my rant I hoped not to do that very thing.

Please forgive me.

Meems said...

donny: thanks for stopping in to Walk Wisely and for your comments. I'm not sure that Jesus talked about money and our use of it more than any other subject but he definitely talked about it more than we seem willing to in most church circles. It is certainly okay to talk about it in the context of the Bible... but my point is that we can't possible judge another person's motive. We can't know someone's heart in these matters... only God does so shouldn't we stick to matters we do know. I know my own motives... I could talk about that. No one reading an Internet article about a fellow Christian/Pastor could possible know or make wise judgments based on the scant information in the article.

As I tried to explain to Ross my rant was intended to be general-- expounding my beliefs of how Christians in general should treat each other... again especially in a situation where we don't have all the facts. I honestly believe God takes these things seriously and we will all answer to Him for the way we handled the body of Christ.

On your lighter note: thanks for that. Your kind words are much appreciated.

serious/silly/me: A million dollars IS a lot of money for anything. But it is a drop in the bucket to God. There is plenty of money to go around AND to accomplish all that God wants to accomplish for the kingdom. I see what you mean by it's all relative.

I think your other point was that if a preacher or any Christian is obviously spending $$$ on porn or gambling or booze then yes, it is okay to speak to THAT because those are obvious misuses of God's money.

I really agree with your comment on the rich. I don't think I've ever heard anyone getting on the band wagon to get the rich saved.

Nathan Talbot: you do my heart good... jumping in there to take care of me. Thanks for watching over the playground and taking care of the 'bullies'. But it's okay. I understand where you are coming from and I think I understand that Ross was defending himself. Hopefully we've gotten it all cleared up and someday when we all meet in heaven we won't have to be sorry we said any of it. :-)

Donny said...

meems, you are right. I mistyped (is that really a word).

I should have said money/stewardship, etc. was discussed more in the bible than any other subject. Honestly, I was quoting other church leaders I, maybe Ed Stetzer? (Stetz, is you read this and it wasn't you, sorry.) I could look it up.

Anyway, I wasn't being cynical in the original funny comment, I really got a chuckle about it. It is the simple things that amuse me, really. (as I reread it, I don't think that was conveyed.)

The last thing I wanted to say was to extend the offer of coffee to one and all who come to Tally. Why do we have to meet in heaven? Meems you gotta come visit your son right? We can stiff my friend Ross with the bill.

p.s. Nathan, dude, your mom is so wiser than you. :-)

rossmiddleton said...

Obviously I have offended you. I am deeply sorry and ask your forgiveness. I really am not offended at all, I promise, sorry for coming onto your blog and being the mean guy. Hopefully, you will accept my apology.

Meems said...

Donny: Actually 'mistyped' is a word and a trait bloggers are proned to-- so no problem.

Coffee in Tally is one of my favorite pasttimes. Hubby and I come up for all the home games ... we should be at church for at least some of those weekends. Maybe we could all meet before heaven. It is nice of you to offer.


Ross: One of the down sides to blogging is the absence of voice inflection wouldn't you say? That, and our thoughts firing faster than our fingers.

I hope we can call this one "water under the bridge".

Nathan Talbot said...

Donny said.

"Nathan, dude, your mom is so wiser than you."

Now that is something we can all agree on. I am just glad I finally figured it out.

mlm said...

You know, they say you should never talk about religion, money, or sex in public company. And now we know why. :o)

Stay tuned for a post on sex...

marmee said...

here , here on using decorum!

pilgrim said...

This is obviously the purpose of blogging - to draw people out to the center of the circle, and drop any pretense for when the deep is calling to the deep. Isn't it amazing how our opinions & views color our world - yet are so seldom voiced or identified? As a bystander, I just participated by observing the fray. Just like siblings in a real family, we all are entitled to function as individuals even though we have the same parental oversight. Isn't our Father God gracious, kind and long-suffering? After all, he loves and accepts each one of us, no matter what, as long as we have faith in Jesus.

I had a friend (since deceased) who never parted without saying "Keep your eyes on Jesus"! Five simple words, but they were engraved in my mind and on my heart. Sometimes in the midst of discord, turmoil or even friendly disagreement, this succinct truth can keep you righted when strong winds are trying to blow you off course!

I actually think this post had a multi-purpose result. Everyone let it all hang out, aired some deeply felt view points, and allowed everyone involved to consider the other person's opinion, with some give and take being exchanged in love. It was stimulating, and a topic of interest that all wanted to discuss. So kudos to everyone! Keep the peace and "keep your eyes on Jesus"!

pilgrim said...

P.S. Loved the photo inset of the beautiful church! Isn't this the same church where N.T. was married? So impressive, an architectural beauty! Just like we are, folks.

"Come and as living stones be yourselves built (into) a spiritual house, for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood, to offer up (those) spiritual sacrifices (that are) acceptable and well-pleasing to God through Jesus Christ". 1 Peter 2:5

Meems said...

mlm: hmmm... I think I'll leave that one to you.

marmee: thanks for letting us know you're reading. :-)

pilgrim: thanks for your comment ... The photo is one I took recently while in Savannah. Not the one in Tally NT was married in.

The church is very old, way over the top inside and extremely ornate all over but beautiful to say the least. You know what? It probably cost a heap-load of $$$ to build and maintain. It is on display during the week for visitors to tour and yet has parishioners on Sundays.