“God” Is Not His Name

I have a hard time remembering names.

Not like, in the sense that I have to sift through a list of the names of everyone I know before I can put the right one to the face in front of me, but in the sense that if I am introduced to you and your name isn’t somehow striking at the moment, or I don’t intentionally repeat it back to myself a few times, I may not remember it later. And let me tell you something; if you want to speak directly to one specific person in a group, or get their attention, it can be a little difficult and a lot embarrassing if you can’t remember their name! And let me ask you something: how well would you feel I knew you if I couldn’t remember your name?

A while back I had an indirect encounter with someone. It was this lady packing a 1911 King James Bible who, while ranting about how much the Bible has been changed, added the statement that God’s name isn’t LORD God–that this is only his title–but his name is Elohim. Since it wasn’t really my conversation I just smiled from the sidelines because I was pretty sure the Hebrew didn’t check out on that statement.

בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

This is Genesis 1:1 – אֱלֹהִים is the word ‘elohiym (transliterated) which of course we derive to Elohim. This word is literally the plural form of  אֱלוֹהַּ (elowahh) which is simply defined by Strongs (H433) as a deity. God. Or god. Elohim is our first introduction to “God”, but while this title can tell us some interesting things about the being that is elohim–the plural use for instance hinting to the triune Father, Son and Spirit–the original word itself is not a proper noun – elohim is not God’s name.

Interestingly, the entire first chapter of Genesis uses only Elohim to denote God; this title is of course where we get our translation “God” and it is used frequently in the Bible in the same way, but in Genesis 2 we see a word added to the title: Jehovah.

Genesis 2:4 begins a new narrative – it’s almost like an alternative creation story to Genesis 1:

אֵלֶּה תֹולְדֹות הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ בְּהִבָּֽרְאָם בְּיֹום עֲשֹׂות יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים אֶרֶץ וְשָׁמָֽיִם׃

“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens”

-Genesis 2:4

 יְהוָה אֱלֹהִים Yĕhovah ‘elohiym, or Jehovah Elohim. From this point on in the chapter he is Jehovah, “the existing One”, the “self-Existent or Eternal”. The root which Jehovah is derived from is a being verb; simply, to be; to exist, but it is also used in the creation account every time God creates–to come into existence.

“I am.” Jehovah. The living, eternal present God.

“But wait a minute,” you might say, “I thought ‘LORD God’ was just a title?”

According to the entry in Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, here’s what would happen when a Hebrew would encounter the name Yĕhovah; below it would be written אֲדֹנָי ‘Adonay, which simply means ‘lord’ (but plural in reference to God):

“The Later Hebrews, for some centuries before the time of Christ, either misled by a false interpretation of certain laws (Ex. 20:7; Lev. 24:11), or else following some old superstition, regarded this name as so very holy, that it might not even be pronounced”

-Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon, יְהוָה

Therefore they would write ‘Jehovah’, but they would read the inserted ‘Adonai’, and when the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Bible) was being written the translators carried on the trend, translating ‘Jehovah’ to the Greek-equivalent of ‘Adonai’. This apparently carried down then to our English versions where you see ‘Jehovah’ translated ‘LORD’ even though ‘Jehovah’ is considered God’s proper name.

Now before the torches and pitchforks come out, let me make a note on pronunciation: ‘Jehovah’ and ‘Yahweh’ are alternative pronunciations of the four letters transliterated as YHWH–God’s proper name. In actuality the pronunciation isn’t known for certain any more because of that period of time which the Jews stopped saying the actual name itself, substituting Adonai.

And then there’s Jesus.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

-Matthew 1:21

Jesus is a totally new story because his name was Hebrew but the gospels where we find it were translated from Greek, which means that the name Jesus was only the Greek equivalent to the originally-Hebrew name Joshua–or rather Yĕhowshuwa` in the original language. Yeah; you didn’t know you were saying all these names wrong, did you? But there are actually many differences–some quite extreme–in our English pronunciations of Hebrew names.

Yehowshuwa means “Jehovah is salvation”.

Another encounter I found myself in the near vicinity of was a discussion on the name of Jesus and the statement was that Yeshua is Jesus’ proper Hebrew name, but it is interesting to note that Yeshua is a contracted form of the Yehowshua which is actually its root–not the other way around. But further, Yeshua means “he is saved” and is translated into English as Jeshua–also referring to Joshua son of Nun. So in actuality not even Yeshua is proper to the name Jehovah gave his son, but rather, Yehowshua.

I grew up thinking that people who used “God” or “Jesus” as a flippant exclamatory were so bad; I mean how dare you use the ‘name’ of God as a swear word? But the reality is I’ve come to this place where every time I say ‘God’ it just feels so weird to refer to Papa by such a generic title, you know? I mean, yes he’s God–the God–but that’s only what he is, not who. 

He is Jehovah (Yahweh) the Living God, “I Am;” El Shaddai, God Almighty; El Elyon, the Most High God; YHWH-Nissi, Jehovah My Banner; YHWH-Raah, Jehovah My Shepherd; YHWH Rapha, Jehovah Who Heals; YHWH Shammah, Jehovah is There (in reference to Jerusalem); YHWH Tsidkenu, Jehovah Our Righteousness; YHWH Mekoddishkem, Jehovah Who Sanctifies You; El Olam, the Everlasting God; Qanna, Jealous; YHWH Jireh, Jehovah will Provide; YHWH Shalom, Jehovah is Peace; YHWH Sabaoth, Jehovah of Hosts. (And by the way, this is by no means an exhaustive list.)

And He is my Father–Papa–even ‘Father’ begins to sound too withheld.

So let me ask you something. Do you call him Abba–Papa? Or do you call him ‘God’? Because how you answer that question will tell you something about who your God is, and who you are to him, and it could be a real conversation-changer if you get to know Him by name. The gospel is all about the personality of God in community with us – Emmanuel, God with Us – He’s personal. So before you get caught up in the name controversy I’m sure could spring from my brief word study here, just ask him. Ask him what his name is. Ask him what would overwhelm his heart with joy to hear you call him. And then, call his name.

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Lessons From the Heathen

Have you ever heard the story of Jonah? Probably. Have you ever read the story of Jonah?

Look it up, it’s a pretty short book.

So there’s this guy named Jonah, God meets him and goes ‘I want you to go to Nineveh and give them my message.’

And Jonah runs the other way.

He goes to Joppa and gets on a boat bound for Tarshish. I don’t know if you know anything about middle-eastern geography (I wasn’t always too clear) but Tarshish was basically on the other side of Jonah’s known world from Nineveh, on the other end of the ocean. And bear in mind, this isn’t a Sunday-afternoon drive or a day-cruise or an airplane trip over the ocean, this is a walk–or a pony-ride–and a sailboat trip across the ocean in the opposite direction away from home. When was the last time you made a trip like that to avoid something God told you to do?

jonah_map

The post I borrowed this picture from is title ‘Jonah – The Reluctant Prophet’ But reluctant? I’m reluctant and I stay home. Jonah took a cruise to Tarshish. And why? 

 

We’ll get to that.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.  – Jonah 1:1-3

He fled to Tarshish, and it seems to me that he left home with the place in mind; this was a pre-meditated venture, not some whim that he decided on when he got to port and found the closest ship to him. He was thinking, ‘What’s the furthest place I can get from Nineveh?’

But the Lord sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up.

Then the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god, and threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten the load.[a] But Jonah had gone down into the lowest parts of the ship, had lain down, and was fast asleep.

So the captain came to him, and said to him, “What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God; perhaps your God will consider us, so that we may not perish.”

Boom, hurricane. Maybe thunder, lightning, mountainous waves, fury. I’m just guessing here, but a ship’s crew willing to go on a voyage this far, was probably well-seasoned. They were ready for the perils of a trip across the open ocean, and they were getting scared.

And these guys are heathens. They worship man-imagined gods, they all have their own set, and none of them are listening. And where’s Jonah? He’s sleeping in the hold. Sleeping. He’s running away from God’s command and he’s sleeping in the bottom of the boat in the middle of a hurricane. The captain goes down and wakes him up, probably angry and definitely scared because none of the other gods are answering, he demands that Jonah call on his god to try and save them.

And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this trouble has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Please tell us! For whose cause is this trouble upon us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?”

So he said to them, “I am a Hebrew; and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.

So they cast lots. They’re heathens, of course they do, right? Let me ask you something; are you superstitious? They believe in that stuff. But something that has really been catching my attention is God answers their heathenish culture. As with Abraham coming out of a culture where child sacrifice was normal, it wasn’t an unusual request for Abraham to hear from God, but it wasn’t just about God testing Abraham’s faith, it was about God meeting Abraham in his heathen culture and turning it inside out because here is a God who provides instead of demands.

God ticks Jonah’s lot. And those heathen sailors immediately demand to know what he did that they are now suffering a storm for. Who are you?

10 Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, “Why have you done this?” For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them. 11 Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you that the sea may be calm for us?”—for the sea was growing more tempestuous.

12 And he said to them, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea; then the sea will become calm for you. For I know that this great tempest is because of me.”

They knew he was running from God, I can just hear their exasperated question, ‘WHY did you do that? Are you crazy? Don’t you know you can’t run away from a god?’ 

And Jonah… he’s just done. And he’s so dramatic; ‘It’s all my fault,’ he says, ‘Just throw me into the ocean.’ The sailors are a little more realistic, but it’s no avail.

 13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to return to land, but they could not, for the sea continued to grow more tempestuous against them. 14 Therefore they cried out to the Lord and said, “We pray, O Lord, please do not let us perish for this man’s life, and do not charge us with innocent blood; for You, O Lord, have done as it pleased You.” 15 So they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. 16 Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord and took vows.

And you know something? I’m really amazed by these guys. Not like it’s really surprising but kind of just an ‘Oh yeah that really makes sense,’ kind of moment. Because these guys are heathens, they’ve each got their own set of gods that they probably carry in their pocket; god is not a foreign idea to them, so they have no problem praying to his God. But as soon as Jonah went overboard the storm stopped. Result. And their fear goes viral because here is a God more powerful and more real than any they’ve yet seen. And here’s the thing: Jonah wasn’t there to see this. The only way we know what happens is that as soon as the boat hit the Tarshish port these guys were talking to everyone in the local pub about what had happened to them out there. Or maybe they turned around an went back to Joppa and spread the story there, seeing as they had thrown much of their cargo overboard anyway. But they were changed, and even though they only saw Jonah’s God from their heathen culture, He suddenly became a reality to them, and I’ll bet you they wanted to find out all they could about this God who had spared them.

So Jonah goes into the water, and he sinks down into the depths. Maybe he’s almost out of breath when the fish comes, he’s probably starting to panic and think ‘Well maybe this wasn’t such a good idea…’ 

17 Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

[2] 1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said:

“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.

“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.
For You cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord, my God.

“When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the Lord;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.

“Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.”

10 So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

He’s repentant–that is, he’s changed his mind. And why? Because he saw God’s mercy for him in the midst of his disobedience. He knew he was done for–but God saved him by a fish. And there’s something worth noting in the last few lines of his prayer. He says, ‘Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” He saw first-hand the worthlessness of the heathen gods displayed before him, there wasn’t a one that could calm his God’s tempest. He’s gotten a fresh revelation of the raw awesome power and the Mercy of his God, and after three days in the belly of the fish he’s ready to do what God asked.

[3] 1 Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, a three-day journey[a] in extent. And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day’s walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”

Now, we’re going to get to this real quick but Jonah knows that the Ninevites are bad people; they have a reputation, and the fact that they aren’t Jews but they’re Assyrians (and Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, what’s more) is already a tick against them because hey, these are gentiles. So Jonah is probably coming into this city expectant. He’s probably heard stories from his childhood about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, considering how such stories had always been passed down through the generations. Maybe he was imagining the fire and brimstone already because hey, these guys are heathens and Jonah wants retribution because he’s a faithful Israelite.

So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying,

Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?

10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.

There’s a common theme you can begin to see in the story of Jonah; heathens believing God and repenting–changing their minds and their ways.

And growing up in a performance-based church my temptation was always to say ‘Well, this is what God responded to, so this is what I have to do to get God to respond to me,’ but you have got to realize again that these people were heathen. If they believed in any god it was a radically different god than Jonah’s God, and even if they didn’t believe in any gods, the widely available examples were still radically different. So they responded in a way that was familiar to them culturally. 

And God responded. He didn’t respond because they fasted, sat in ashes and dressed up in old potato bags. He didn’t respond because they had the idea to make the animals fast with them. He responded because he was longing to respond to them already. He sent Jonah to point to their inherent evil problem not because he wanted to destroy them–they were already destroying themselves inevitably–but because he was longing to redeem their city and be their God and Father them.

And Jonah got mad. He gave God an ‘I told you so!’ speech, and we see the real motivation behind him fleeing:

[4] 1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry. So he prayed to the Lord, and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!”

And still as dramatic as ever; ‘it is better for me to die than to live!’ But it just blows me away the knowledge Jonah had of the immensity of God’s goodness! Jonah’s God was so good, and Jonah inversely was so intent on retribution on Nineveh…

But he knew that this message of wrath was going to transform into a message of mercy. He knew a slow-to-anger God wasn’t going to destroy a city which repented; he knew his God was abounding in loving kindness and he knew he was going to have to be that guy, that Israelite who screwed up his nation’s chance at getting their enemy’s capitol burned to a crisp with Sodom-and-Gomorrah-reminiscent retribution. And he was angry about it.

But God, in his infinite merciful loving kindness and endless patience… Oh I love that guy.

Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Does this make sense, Jonah? You know this is who I Am. So God creates another scenario:

So Jonah went out of the city and sat on the east side of the city. There he made himself a shelter and sat under it in the shade, till he might see what would become of the city. And the Lord God prepared a plant[a] and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be shade for his head to deliver him from his misery. So Jonah was very grateful for the plant. But as morning dawned the next day God prepared a worm, and it so damaged the plant that it withered. And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah’s head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”

Jonah goes outside the city–because, you know. Maybe it’s fake. Maybe the repentance won’t last and God will destroy the whole place after all. He builds himself a shelter somewhere just far enough east to keep his toe-hair from being singed but still close enough to toast his gelatin-free marsh-mellows and he waits. And God sweetens the deal with a plant that grows up over his shelter and shades him from the growing sun.

But the next day God sent a worm, it kills the plant. To top it off, the wind starts to blow, and this isn’t a cool, playful breeze, this is a harsh–vehement even–east wind blowing across miles of desert heating up with the morning sun.

And I just want to say go home, Jonah. Just go home.

But he doesn’t, he gets angry again–again to the point of suicide. And he’s just burning up with rage.

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”

This is one of those stories where the moral is pretty clear, but it blows me away because we’ve all heard the story but have we ever really understood what it meant? I never did.

Here’s Jonah. First he’s running because he doesn’t want to go to Nineveh to begin with. And he has his repentant moment in the fish but he still came out hungry for retribution, and bitter because he knows he’s going to have to go deliver this message and God is probably going to have mercy on the people because Jonah’s got enough hostility and wrath behind the message to scare them all straight. And he’s right, God takes pity. Jonah’s still hopeful and he goes outside to wait and watch (because he doesn’t want to get caught up in the brimstone and maybe God’s holding back because he’s still in the city). But God has a plant up his sleeve and he actually gets Jonah deliberately angry to give Jonah His perspective on Nineveh:

Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!”

10 But the Lord said, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”

Jonah knew it wasn’t just to destroy that plant, there was nothing that plant had done to deserve being destroyed. But in His immense mercy and love and compassion God looked far beyond what was ‘just’ for the people of Nineveh – He knew they didn’t know any better; they didn’t even know their left hand from their right. A hundred and twenty thousand people, plus livestock.

…gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm.

One who relents from doing harm.

And the result? An entire city turned to the mercy of the true God, and not only a city,  but the capitol of an entire nation. 120,000 people testifying in the heart of a heathen nation of the mercy of the God of Heaven? Culture-shaking. Gracious and merciful. Slow to anger. Abundant in lovingkindness. One who relents from doing harm.

The Gospel and the Myth of Repentance

You have to come at the gospel from the truth, ‘There is nothing I can do.’

Yes, you were a sinner, you were drowned in sin. But nearly 2000 years ago God was born in human flesh. I know, it’s a long long time and maybe you wonder how two millennia ago there could have been anything relevant to you. But there was this. Jesus grew up. He lived as a man under sin. And then he died bearing all sin in his body. He took the whole sin problem on his shoulders and it crushed him–but it was finished.

And there’s nothing you can do. Want to rid yourself of sin against Father? Too bad: Jesus already rid the whole world of sin. You can’t get any more sinless. Want to make yourself acceptable before God? Too bad: Jesus already made you acceptable when he died and rose again from the grave three days later, representing you. That means that when he died it was just as if you died. When Father raised him to life, Father raised you to life. You are justified, as in ‘just-as-ifIed never sinned, because sin is no longer an issue.

And there is nothing you can do; almost 2000 years ago while he was dying on the cross Jesus suddenly knew that what he had come to accomplish had been accomplished, and he yelled out with a dying breath, ‘It is finished!’

Religion, and corporate church, think they have monopoly on finishing; they will teach you to repent your sins and beg for God’s forgiveness, and then tell you that you must work hard to be good enough to earn Father’s favor. Or they might say to show yourself worthy or deserving. But there is nothing you can do.

And while we’re on the subject of repentance

Repentance isn’t a Greek word, which means you won’t find it in the original language of the New Testament-side of the Bible, and you certainly won’t find it in the Old Testament-side. It’s a Latin word, which means somewhere down the line someone took a Greek word and a Hebrew word and a Latin word and decided that they all matched. But do you want to know what the words meant?

נָחַם (Strong’s H5162, pronounced na-cham): properly, to sigh, i.e. breathe strongly; by implication, to be sorry, i.e. (in a favorable sense) to pity, console or (reflexively) rue; or (unfavorably) to avenge (oneself):—comfort (self), ease (one’s self), repent(-er,-ing, self)

נָחַם is translated more often as ‘comforted’ in the Old Testament, than as ‘repented’, but actually as a primitive root it simply describes that emotive exhale that always says more than any words. Look it up on Blue Letter Bible.

μετανοέω (Strong’s G3340, pronounced me-tä-no-e’-ō): to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction):—repent.

And here’s a fun fact: when the Septuagint (the early Greek Bible) was translated from Hebrew, μετανοέω was used several times to translate נָחַם, but in the King James Bible μετανοέω is translated repent every time.

So what’s the problem with that? I wasn’t going to get into the etymology of the word but pictures tell more than I can say.

Repent and penance come from the same Latin root; in fact the only real difference between them is that repentance jumped into Old French before it became an –ance word. If you line up these etymologies, penance and repentance are actually the same word. And that shouldn’t surprise you if you look at how English has preserved their similarities. And here’s another interesting fact: the word penitentiary–as in, a prison–comes from that same Latin root paenitere.

So what’s the problem? Penance is not a Biblical concept. Here’s a Google definition:

  1. 1.

    voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.

     “he had done public penance for those hasty words”

    2.

     a Christian sacrament in which a member of the Church confesses sins to a priest and is given absolution.

Voluntary selfpunishment, confessing sins to a priest for absolution? Are you getting this? There’s nothing you can do! There’s nothing a priest can do for you. You can’t beat yourself up enough for God. Did you know that repentance could be a form of self-harm? I didn’t–until now. Does that sound Biblical? Does that sound like Father? Many people think so.

People deep in religion will tell you there’s no way you could actually know or prove this, or maybe that you have to have a seminary degree to really understand. Do you want to know how long it took me to put together this little word study? About 20 minutes. On my 4-inch cell phone screen. And it’s true whether you have a seminary degree or not. But it is people such as these who have twisted and modified entire translations to seize religious control and promote their man-made pseudo-covenant.

So what is real…repentance? I don’t even want to use that word anymore because it carries so much religious manipulation with it for me now. To distinguish, you have to keep in mind that sin is already dealt with – there is no sin issue between you and God anymore; the only thing he keeps tract of is Jesus crying out, ‘It is finished!’ and either Jesus took care of all your sins past present and future irregardless of repentance, or he didn’t really take care of any until you repent (and repent regularly)–as many of the religious teach. But we know that the religious concepts of repentance and penance are not actually in the Bible, so that simply can’t be true.

Here’s a picture: Jesus dies and Father raises him from the dead three days later. Jesus stays with his disciples for 40 days letting his living presence seep into them. Then he ascends into the sky–he’s just carried away–after telling them to wait in Jerusalem. They wait in Jerusalem, ten days later the Holy Spirit falls on them on Pentecost, Peter preaches to the crowds gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover who are all astir because all these simple Galileans are praising God and all the people understand in their own native languages. Peter proclaims the death, resurrection and Lordship of Jesus Christ through King David’s prophecy and the people respond:

37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 

38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  – Acts 2:37-39

Cut to the heart. Pricked deep. The Greek word for this is only used once in the Bible and it has a very literal physical and metaphorical definition which is reflected very well by the phrase ‘cut to the heart‘. This is a Holy-Spirit-level event that would definitely cause you to experience נָחַם–nacham–and make you want to μετανοέω–metänoe’ō.

And did you catch what Peter says about the promise of the outpouring of Holy Spirit? It is for everyone who is called by God. And guess what: it was Holy Spirit that brought those people to that heart-in-throat, mind-changing moment. Holy Spirit called them, and they responded.

There is nothing you can do–except, respond. Let your heart be pricked and your mind be changed by the good news: the Jesus who your sin crushed is alive and he is King!

You Give Them Something to Eat

What if we’ve been asking God for something he already asked us to do?

I’ve been pondering over this statement from Leif Hetland along with an illustration he gave from the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 (well actually, his disciples feeding the 5000).

And it’s been floating around in my mind ever since I first heard it in part of his Baptism of Love teaching series – what if we’ve been asking God to do something he already asked us to do? As Leif put it, “We call it prayer–he calls it disobedience.”

But the other day particularly I was thinking about it again, and disconnectedly at another time I was thinking about revival and all the people I’ve been around for the last ten years and so much of the focus has been on asking God for revival.

But what if that’s not right?

Now don’t send out a witch-hunt for me – I’m not saying God hasn’t answered the cry of the church for revival in the past, and throughout history–and those stories are amazing, I would so love to be a part of one of those revival stories. But what if that’s not exactly the model for the emerging revolution?

You give them something to eat … “

And I’ll be the first to say, “Well, God does it all – we can’t do it by ourselves – we can’t make revival happen … ” et cetera.

But the thing is, revival already happened; it happened when you were baptized. You are revival. Or at least, you should be if Jesus is still Lord.

And don’t peel off into the other ditch and say “Well Carson are you telling me I’m not really saved or something because I don’t have miracles popping out my ears?”

No. I’m saying the mustard seed that could change the world is in you. God already brought revival – now what are you going to do with it? You’re called into a royal priesthood – where is the kingdom and who will you mediate for? How can you let the revival in you out to the dry bones around you?

Or are you dead yourself, dried up, run down, burned out on praying for God to do the thing he already did in you? Maybe the gifts are dormant and covered in a layer of dust a mile thick, maybe you didn’t know that church was a place for everyone–not just a few Spiritual superstars–to be the moving parts of the body; you have a role.

So are we asking God to do things he’s already asked us to do? Just some things I want to think about for myself.

Experiencing Love

There’s a song that I just love called Your Love Is a Song by the illustrious Switchfoot and I got to realizing the other night that it’s probably my favorite song ever. Why, do you ask? You have to hear it first.

I hear you breathing in / Another day begins
The stars are falling out / My dreams are fading now, fading out

I’ve been keeping my eyes wide open
I’ve been keeping my eyes wide open

Oh Your love is a symphony / All around me / Running through me
Oh Your love is a melody / Underneath me / Running to me
Oh, your love is a song

The dawn is fire bright / Against the city lights
The clouds are glowing now / The moon is blacking out, is blacking out

So I’ve been keeping my mind wide open
I’ve been keeping my mind wide open, yeah

Oh Your love is a symphony / All around me / Running through me
Oh Your love is a melody / Underneath me / 
Running to me

Oh, your love is a song / Your love is a song
Oh, your love is a song / Your love is strong

With my eyes wide open
I’ve got my eyes wide open
I’ve been keeping my hopes unbroken, yeah

Oh Your love is a symphony / All around me / Running through me
Oh Your love is a melody / Underneath me / Running to me

Your love is a song
Yeah, yeah
Your love is my remedy
Oh your love is a song

But wait a minute, you can’t hear words.

Well actually, that’s the point. Because see, I’ve spent so much of my life basing my worth and my purpose on doing – more to the point I’ve spent most of my life trying to achieve or do God’s love when…it’s never been like that. I’m realizing more and more (and finally that veil tore right down the middle for me the other night to see) that his love is something for me to experience, be surrounded by and immersed in – something for me to feel the frequencies of rippling through me – his love is a song.

And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments.If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment—to love one another—is the same message you heard before. Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you also are living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a fellow believer,[a] that person is still living in darkness. 10 Anyone who loves a fellow believer[b] is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble.11 But anyone who hates a fellow believer is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness. 

– 1 John 2:3-11

Yes, visible love in me is a sign to the rest of the world that Christ lives in me – but I don’t love to get Christ in me, I love because he already is. When love is no longer merely a thing I must do as a sign of my inherent goodness, I become free to experience the Father’s love like nothing before; I become free to experience the song of God’s heart for me, the symphony of his love. And maybe – just maybe – even though I don’t know all the words yet, I might just sing along, because it’s impossible not to want to join in when you hear it out loud; there is nothing else like that melody.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. – 1 John 3:1-3

The NIV says, See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! Oh, Your love is a song…

P.S.: If you still wanted to hear the song…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px0EXdyPkA0

More Than Reputation

I’m recalling a dream I had some years ago. It came to mind recently because of an encounter I had the other day that opened my eyes a good deal wider than they had been. It was a short and very revealing discourse that took place over a couple hours on facebook between someone and myself about grace, works and our responsibility as Christians. I’ll begin by describing the dream:

I don’t recall the details now (they are probably stored away in some old journal) but the main points I remember vividly. I was at the Adventist church back in Hazelton. I’d had this dream while still a part of that congregation. I don’t remember having been inside the building at all, only outside where it was very dark in the parking lot, and a particular pastor–the person I had my discussion on facebook with–(not associated with the Adventist church) was there with a worship band. They seemed to be playing on a stage in the middle of the parking lot, although it wasn’t clear what they were up on because all around them was a fire burning which did little to display the darkness, and if anything only added to it with black smoke. As I got closer I was compelled to get into the fire–although I don’t know why. I somehow got into the flames and rolled through it. There were other people on the ground burning in the fire; all I saw were charred, black bodies. I didn’t feel any pain from the burning, and got out of the fire without being harmed. I would describe this entire scene now–the band, the fire around them, the darkness, the smoke, and the literal heap of burned bodies on the ground–as wholly demonic, though this view isn’t entirely necessary; suffice it to say, something was seriously wrong with the goings-ons.

I left the parking lot and walked over to the lawn where I found a lot of people who seemed to be just milling around. It wasn’t dark on the lawn–in fact it seemed to be broad daylight. And then an angel showed up–bam–or maybe it was Jesus, but I don’t think so, because he talked like a messenger, although I don’t remember what he said–just that he was dressed in white and he was definitely heavenly.  He handed me a blowtorch, and when I took it I began running through the crowd catching people on fire. But this wasn’t a burning like what had been happening in the parking lot–in fact, I don’t remember seeing a flame on anyone. This was different; more real, more holy. I don’t know how to describe it–those don’t really come close to the feeling that came over me in that moment.

Of course, I’m relating this with the bias of new understanding. I’ve since found my place to be well outside of the Adventist church–well outside of any religion, really. But this pastor? There has in years since passed been a reputation of being alive surrounding his church and ministry. It’s where I got some of my very first tastes of Christianity outside the religious box.

This isn’t a personal thing, my focus isn’t even really on this particular person–although I’ve had a lot to think about over the last couple days–but I will say that I saw some deep cracks going through his foundation, and I was surprised at the opposition and downright scorn I received for my stance on grace. I was surprised because of the reputation I had grown to be familiar with over the years.

You’re probably wondering by now where the heck I’m going with this, because I’m having a little trouble getting around to the point in a way that feels right. (I just don’t have the words). What I’m realizing is that God has his own plans for me–not within the religious, not within circles of people who have reputations of being alive but aren’t. His plans? His plans don’t have anything to do with human organization be it religious or otherwise. His plans involve me seeing Him–not just angels–face to face so that I would be like him. His plans? His plans are so much better than anything I could ever contrive or hope to bring about by associating with the ‘right people’. Because I’ll be honest, I’ve thought many times that if I could just find the right people to associate with–if I could just find that perfect life-coach-slash-mentor-slash-father-figure-slash-saint to raise me up to conquer my fears and failures and do great things for God–

It’s a bunny trail.

And I think far too many young Christians like me are on it, and it won’t ever work for them. I had to leave the church building, leave behind everyone and every circle of people I thought were good images of living Christianity… Because the only person that God wants us to be like? Is Himself. And the only person I can look to to be like God, is Christ. And Christ’s work was perfected in me at the cross and when I am in Christ and he is in me…

All the Father sees in me, is Christ perfected.

Jesus Loves Barabbas

As Easter Weekend comes to its peak I’m sure many of us are thinking about that story that started in a stable and ended in a tomb–only it didn’t end, and that’s why we have a story to think about. I’m also thinking about it because I just watched the second half of Ben Hur the other night and had a minor revelation (even though it wasn’t particularly in the film). Consequently, I’ve been thinking about a certain character which I’m surprised isn’t mentioned by many grace teachers, yet is–in my mind–one of the most prime examples of grace, and certainly among the first to receive it so obviously. I’m talking, of course, about that man Barabbas.

And isn’t it true? How many sermons have you heard preached about him? When was the last time you heard someone – reading from the portion of the Gospels dealing with Christ’s trial – stop and say, “Now take this guy Barabbas for instance …” He’s the unsung hero. Only, he’s not a hero; Barabbas is a murdering revolutionary (as described by Mark).

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how he’d been missed in the grace story. You probably already know where I’m going with this – that’s just how obvious it is. We’ll pick up the story in Mark, and I’ll be reading from the New Living Translation tonight.

Jesus’ Trial before Pilate

Very early in the morning the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law—the entire high council—met to discuss their next step. They bound Jesus, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.

Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner—anyone the people requested. One of the prisoners at that time was Barabbas, a revolutionary who had committed murder in an uprising. The crowd went to Pilate and asked him to release a prisoner as usual.

“Would you like me to release to you this ‘King of the Jews’?” Pilate asked. 10 (For he realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.) 11 But at this point the leading priests stirred up the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. 12 Pilate asked them, “Then what should I do with this man you call the king of the Jews?”

13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

14 “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”

But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!”

15 So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

             – Mark 15:1-15

As far as I’m concerned you can just close the book right there! Pilot knew who was the innocent one – you don’t become governor of as politically fragile a region as Judea was at that time by being a poor judge. But an undeserving Jesus took the punishment (and much more) of notoriously deserving Barabbas.

Did you know Barabbas’ name means something along the lines of “Son of a/the father”? I’ve been learning to read Hebrew and as a result I’m now continually looking for deeper meaning in everything, particularly names. Barabbas’ name comes from the Aramaic roots  bar (בַּר – H1247) meaning “Son”, and Abagtha (אֲבַגְתָא – H5) meaning “God-given”. It might also interest you to know that in early manuscripts Barabbas was referred to as “Jesus Barabbas”, but “Jesus” was later left off; speculation has it that this was done either out of solemn respect or to avoid confusion, but either way that’s a bunny trail for another day. What I’m most interested in is the meaning of Barabbas’ name.

Imagine with me, if you will: it is early in the morning; the Jewish leaders have been up all night trying to make all their false witnesses agree. They’ve finally got all the falsified evidence the crowd needs and they bring Jesus to Pilate, since they cannot condemn him to death themselves. The Jewish high council is bringing accusation after accusation down on Jesus and he’s just silent; all he’s letting on to here is his kingship. Pilate’s confused. He can’t get this guy; if he’s innocent, why doesn’t he clear himself? If he’s guilty of something serious enough for death, why doesn’t he fight the charges, knowing his end?

So Pilate throws what he hopes is a curve-ball on the clearly envious Jewish religious leaders: for the customary release of a prisoner on Passover, he offers them Jesus. The crowds go wild–stirred up by the religious leaders–but not for Jesus – they want Barabbas, and they want Jesus dead.

So to keep the peace, Pilate handed the undeserving Son of the Father over to his soldiers to be brutally flogged and killed while that deserving “Son of the Father”–that notorious criminal Barabbas–went free, because of love, the newly adopted son of a Heavenly Father.

A sinner set free.

I came across this video of a sermon from Judah Smith almost immediately after I began looking into this Barabbas, and he says it all; if there is one thing you do this Easter, watch this video. Seriously. Turn down the lights, turn up the volume and have a tissue on hand, because it’s about to get real.

 

“Jesus stood there silent for he knew the will of the Father; he said “It’s fine Father; let them have Barabbas,” for Jesus knew that the Father would have to treat Jesus like Barabbas, so He could treat Barabbas like Jesus.”

Unmerited, undeserved favour.

“Barabbas thought it was the people that set him free–no, no, no–it was the love of a Heavenly Father.”

Avoiding Truth (For Those I’ve Left Behind, Part 2)

This is a bit of a thick subject; if you’re looking for something less focused on my church experience and why I left the church I grew up in, skip over to the next article.


As I was listening to some podcasts from Ransomed Heart Ministries I came across a couple regarding the Sabbath. “Huh,” I said to myself, “I didn’t know these guys had anything to say about it.” It was a perspective I’d never heard before – not at all legalistic, but also not the mystical concept of Sabbath in Christ. I say mystical concept because the understanding I’ve had of Sabbath has been about as material as a breath of wind. I mean, alright – the Sabbath was a representation of rest in Jesus, and no, the traditional old-covenant “Absolutely no labor” day wasn’t meant to be carried into the new covenant. But upon hearing a discussion between John and Craig about it I was reminded about something: we still need physical rest. That wasn’t the real revelation. The real revelation was, “It has never been about the Sabbath.”

So I guess I better explain that further, so you can get the revelation, too. But I’m going to be frank, and honest, and what I say might sound harsh.

My heart has been a little bogged down these last couple months. (You may have noticed my declining post-rate.) But what I heard God reminding me is bringing refreshment – it’s never been about the Sabbath. I didn’t leave the Adventist church over the Sabbath–or even the ten commandments, for that matter. These things definitely have been taught wrongly in mixture-covenant churches, but the flawed theology is only the by-product of deeper issues. I left because the Adventist denomination (denomination is just a fancy word in our enemy’s vocabulary for ‘divide and conquer’) is built on a history of lies (or concealed truth, whichever way you like to see it,) and false, unbiblical doctrine.

I’ll give you a minute to digest that. (I’m not going to go in-depth into those issues in this article, either.)

It wasn’t ever about the Sabbath, and honestly if it was just a Sabbath issue, I probably would have stayed. Because keeping one day in your week free from work, a whole day in which you can let your entire being rest, is a good idea, and necessary. You need to rest. You need to have times of rest and refreshing. You need to be able to step back from your work and just let God. But cunningly the devil sneaked in this focus on the Sabbath and the law, because when I look at just those things, I don’t see the reason for the decisions I’ve made. When I look at the Sabbath, I don’t see the reason where I was was not a good place for me to be. When I look at the law, I start to wonder if I’ve made the right choice – if I’m not just completely off track. But now that I’ve begun to see again where I’m at from God’s perspective–that’s hope. Because trying to put into words how I keep the Sabbath or the law differently than I used to just isn’t it. It doesn’t cut it, that’s not the pivotal point. The pivotal point is, “This system is built on a rotting foundation being held up by lies and manipulation.”

The subject of the Adventist church in any case is a depressing one for me – I just don’t want to go there. Even now I’m fighting myself over whether I should even finish and publish this post, and it doesn’t even look like I have a clear, legible piece of writing here. It’s sticky and messy and controversial, and it doesn’t make my heart come alive. (Is that any surprise?) I see a burning building, friends and family and others I love all inside–they aren’t even trapped, but they don’t want to leave because they don’t see the fire. They’d rather stay than face the cold outside, but it is the flames keeping them warm that are burning the house down. And my focus has been on the smoke instead of the fire, but if we only talk about the smoke that merely chokes us, how will we ever really see the flames that will devour us? I’ve been caught up with the symptoms of the real heart-issue of the church instead of the issue itself, and I believe keeping us wrapped up in the smoke-screen instead of the fire has been satan’s massive victory over the church – you just can’t go anywhere but around in circles until you get down to the core of it. But no one wants to look at that. It’s not comfortable. It’s scary. Truth is scary. Satan does well at keeping us in bondage through our fear of knowing the truth. And it isn’t even about the truth, is it… it’s about how different the truth might be from what we know now.

I’m beginning to be at a loss for words over it all, and because I haven’t been nearly as focused on Jesus, on life, but on trivial controversy, I’ve had nothing to sustain me. It’s a hard transition, because “comfortable” isn’t good enough anymore, and I know it. It feels like it’s time to move on, to snip those last ties and just dive completely into Jesus.

For Those I’ve Left Behind

Close to two years ago I spoke in front of my now previous church. I shared a dream I’d had some time prior, and a vision. I spoke from my heart about the generational divide that church had been experiencing for some time and the response I received was phenomenal. But my question today is, what happened? What happened to my vision of a united body of Christ? And what happened to the seed that I scattered? Did any of it make it to good soil, or did it fall where it only withered away? Something I’ve learned is that humans cannot be entrusted to your dreams; they will fail. I’m not cynical (I don’t think) just a realist. Thank-you Father that You are faithful!

I just want to lay out a bit of my heart tonight in reflection, so if you’d rather read something educational or logical this might not be the post for you.

I know I slacked off. I phrase it in that way because 1) that’s how the voice in my head says it and 2) because saying it that way shows me the realities of the works-based strongholds still remaining in this old man. I never thought about it in this way before, but satan is continually condemning me with a works spirit, and that has been the case in these years since I gave that message. When I look back and question why it didn’t “work”, satan says, “You didn’t carry your end through..no wonder it never lasted.”

I rebuke you devil in the name of Jesus whose blood has done the work for me. Go back to your pit; Christ has granted me DOMINION over you.

But really now, why didn’t it work? Or perhaps I should ask, why did nothing appear to change? Because being led by the Spirit, anything I step out in faith to do works, because He works. We’re getting really deep into the works here but just bear with me (and no puns intended!). So I can assume that because I followed the promptings of the Spirit, the purpose was complete, and the outcome is in His hands because that is where I left it.

But what those who heard that message that day don’t know, especially considering my recent departure from them, is that my heart still has a place with an ache for them. And it only became stronger the more truth I learned, the more I allowed the love of Christ to love them through me.

This, I suppose, is why I wonder at all in the first place what became of those seeds that I scattered there.

The nature of that system was that it never really took much to scrape through the superficial surface and start dealing with root issues, because people are always real people – you just have to go deep enough. But deeper was rarely an initiative, because deeper means change, eventual discomfort, vulnerability… oh that they could have the heart for themselves as I do now. Oh that they could have the courage to step outside of the mold and feel the vulnerability and the discomfort–and the life more abundant–that cannot reach them in their doctrinal coffins.

Because they have many fundamentals to wrap around themselves to keep the unpredictable, uncontainable wind of the Spirit out, but Christ only required two: “Believe in Me, and love everyone the way I love you.”

Oh if they could see that freedom lies beyond the fog, that following Christ is always a hardship, but never a burden.

But the flames that I saw for a moment flickering to life, they died down again. And I’ve wondered, why doesn’t such change last there? If I could only make a difference, tear a hole through the veil covering the sonlight… And that old devil comes back and whispers suggestions to me, “Well do something–oh, but you can’t do anything.” And the truth is, I can’t do anything. I can’t do anything, but I don’t need to. Because maybe there are still seeds waiting in good soil for the rain, for the Spirit to pour Himself on them. Maybe the more that I ask, intercede and agree, the more good soil those seeds will be given, and the sooner will come the rain. Maybe I’m still planting though I might not realize it. Because the truth is I can’t do anything, but the Holy Spirit can do everything.

And so I will take up that armor, it’s all I can do to put on the helmet which is salvation and the defense against my enemy’s attempts to discourage, the breastplate which is righteousness and the defense against my enemy’s attempts to dishearten, the belt of truth which upholds, the sandals which are peace, that I would go in peace wherever I go. The shield of faith, which covers all again, and finally the sword which is the Spirit, because every warrior needs a weapon to fight with. And this is when I relate with Romans 8:26, because I don’t know what to pray. Not for myself, not for my wife, not for that people on my heart, not for anything.

So Spirit, make intercession for me. I don’t know what to pray, my mind only gets in the way. But I’ll speak it and agree, if You will put it in my mouth.

$3.80 and the Goodness of God

I was working on my budget on Friday when I came up short. Exactly $6.60 was missing. I was baffled, because I could not account for that extra $6.60-expenditure anywhere. Even after I added in the missing A&W receipt (which I had to calculate the price of using nothing but all my other receipts and change – thank goodness I save all the change rather than reusing it), even after I included that it still wouldn’t balance, but now I had exactly $3.80 extra. I tried to reconcile that number; it just didn’t make sense – it’s just too small a number to be a mix-up in bi-monthly grocery receipts. Finally I just sat back, completely confounded. And then I thought of something.

What if God gave me $3.80–just to mess up my budget so much that I would never be able to explain it any other way?

Of course, my inner-cynic went wild at that–

“God wouldn’t do that, especially not to you,”
“You probably just missed it in your calculations, you should do them again,”
“That’s a dumb idea, why would God do that?”

But I looked back over all my figures and $3.80 just didn’t fit anywhere. It couldn’t be in the cash since there’s nothing smaller than a $5 bill there, it couldn’t be in the change jar because I’d already calculated out the change to get the exact price on the missing A&W receipt, and it certainly couldn’t be in the bank because I can look back on the account for as long as I’ve had it and see that everything is accounted for. Everything is accounted for and I still have $3.80 more than I should. What’s going on?

So despite my inner-cynic, I dropped an extra $3.80 into an empty income field on my budget. And I laughed.

Why? Because even if it’s just $3.80, it’s $3.80 more than I had at the beginning of the month, and God was there in that moment saying, “Look son, I’m taking care of your finances, and the more you entrust to me, the more I will entrust to you.”

Someone said recently about tithing, “You can live better off 90% than off 100%”, and I can testify to that. Yes, I “tithe”. It’s not 10%, it’s actually a little more (I haven’t done any precise calculations, I just set aside so much). Last month I got a rather large bill in the mail, but in spite of all the expenses, I still somehow had $200 left over which I took to the grocery store for a good restocking of my shelves. Between tax returns, free groceries and money multiplying to meet every need, I have more than enough on my eighty-something-percent. And I can’t help but see the providence of God for a cheerful giver living with open hands rather than clenched fists.

Because I believe God rewards the good steward, and entrusts more to him. And I continue to be amazed by even the smallest show of His goodness–even if it’s “only” $3.80.