Jesus Doesn’t Want Your Tithe

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

by Jeff Foerster

Jesus doesn’t want your tithe … He wants your heart. “Great!” you say, “I think money is unspiritual anyhow, so obviously God, who is spirit, has no use for it. And I am relieved that I get to keep more of my hard-earned pay.”

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the Cadillacs in a thousand driveways. Everything in existence is His, not by right of possession only (it does exist inside His universe), but also by right of creation. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:3). If Jesus wants something, he certainly could create it—like the fish and bread given to thousands. Obviously God has no need for my stash o’ cash.

Well, not so fast. God wants your heart, but that means more than sending “positive thoughts” His way; it means action. The tithe is not what God is seeking, but it is a vehicle that ushers in a submissive heart before Him.

We engage with money when filling our tank with gasoline, buying a hot latte, paying electric bills, buying foodstuffs, determining tips for waitstaff, supporting government through taxes, working for ourselves or for others, budgeting and stewarding resources, investing for future gains, and so much more. You see, money is an inextricable part of our human experience. We use it, with the danger of it using us. A contemporary philosopher has been quoted as saying, “I got my mind on my money, and my money on my mind.” Our thoughts linger on dreams of multimillion-dollar windfalls from lucky numbers on the next lotto go-round. What comes from this? Thoughts of new cars, vacation homes, luxury travel, a greater dependence upon God? Okay, the last one seems out of place, doesn’t it?

Because of money’s prominent role in our lives, it has power. Seductive power. “Follow me and I will give you whatever you desire! A little more, a little better, a little newer—you deserve nice things! Life will be more satisfying when you’re able to savor all the good gifts I can bring you. Did you think of me today, how we could spend just a little bit more time … together?” The siren song of money has led many to their destruction. Yet, money is simply a tool, wielded by the hand but directed by the heart.

God in His infinite wisdom and magnificent grace has set before us a pathway with sure footing. He knows us; He knows our weaknesses. He knows that money makes either an obedient servant or a tyrannical master. His generous commandment to you to give 10 percent of your income back to Him, off the top, before any expenses, declares your allegiance. It places money in subservience and clears the way for deepening relationship with the Almighty.

Do you honor Him from whom ALL blessings flow? Do you trust Him … with ALL things?


If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

Funnel Cakes and Elephant Ears

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

By Jeff Foerster

Having been to the fair, I can tell you there is no lack of choice. From your pick of animals to smell and amusement rides to jostle the “kid” in you, to every gastronomical delight a taste bud may savor that wallet can procure. Whatever you desire, it’s there — especially if it’s deep-fried. When I was a wee lad, I knew the “elephant ear” to be a rare treat. Being of tender heart, I, of course, had misgivings about the origins of said delicacy and approached each encounter with reverence, at least until the buttery, buttery goodness reached my tongue and then any sense of propriety was thrown out the window.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to tie edible pachyderm parts into an object lesson with spiritual implications — this is where the funnel cake comes in. Next, I suppose I need to apologize in advance to all you linear thinkers out there who are hoping I produce a direct connection; alas, you are to be woefully disappointed.

On Sunday last, Pastor Martin spoke of the narrow and the broad way, at one point referencing a funnel to illustrate this truth. I think this is a profound picture to keep in mind and meditate upon. Other than cars and kitchens, I don’t know where you’d find funnels, but either way, I invite you to bring a picture of one familiar to the forefront of your mind (or just look below).

The open, or “gathering,” side represents the wide way, one like the fair with options galore. You can choose “traditional” Christianity or choose a “prosperity” message. You can select a life closely following religious mandates or traditions, or you can choose “freedom” from any code of conduct other than that which seems good to you. You may go to church weekly, on Christmas and Easter only, or not at all — It’s entirely up to you, and that’s the point — you create a system of morality and a god in the image that is acceptable to you and, after all, as long as you are sincere, who is to say any differently? The problem is that there is no life here, only a shrinking existence — spiraling toward the small end — culminating in spiritual death.

But there is another way. Look at the narrow end — such a small opening; there’s not much room to pass that way. That way is Jesus. It is not Buddha or Mohammed. It’s not “spirituality” or sincerity or keeping rules, laws, or promises. You can’t take anything with you on this journey; there is room for neither pride nor prejudice. Passing through the narrow way is akin to baptism, symbolizing and identifying with Jesus in His death. But this is only the beginning. From there, from the narrow and uncompromising path of accepting our guilt and inability to do anything about it, embracing God’s solution in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, and entering the life of Jesus, from there life eternal begins! Traversing through the narrow way, we come to an opening that has no ending. Expanding ever outward, representing resurrection, this eternal life begins immediately, bringing true freedom that the world cannot offer nor comprehend.

So, the next time you visit the fair or decide to change your engine oil, remember the illustration of the funnel and the amazing gift of God, given to the undeserving, bringing life forevermore to all who praise the name of Jesus!

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

Talking Politics … To Be Continued?

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

By Jeff Foerster

With the election over and family arriving for Thanksgiving dinner, is it time to lay aside all conversation relating to politics? I mean, we are told there are two things that should not be given voice at polite dinner conversation: religion and politics. Will I suggest to you the same? Well, no. However, neither will I prompt you to throw all caution (and common sense) to the wind and incite a verbal “throw-down” at the table or recommend requiring a political affiliation litmus test at the entry door of your holiday gathering.

In all candor, this piece isn’t really about Thanksgiving or dinner conversations, nor is it even limited to politics in particular. Now add to the mix that I don’t relish a world filled with “polite” conversation, two inches deep — chatting about the weather, “My, we have had a lot of rain over the last two months!” “Yes, that will certainly help us come next summer.” “I’d like to see the sun again.” “Yes, I like the sun too. Let’s be friends!” — Ugh, I don’t think I can take that kind of banter for very long.

So how do we engage in dialogue over passionately held beliefs? It’s relatively easy when you stumble upon those with whom you find a sense of simpatico. What becomes difficult is when you are face-to-face with a being not embracing the depth of your wisdom. Oh, what to do? I am tempted to reach outside my expertise and suggest conversational techniques that may win you friends and make you the life of the party and the envy of neighbors on both sides of the block. Instead, I’ll submit for your consideration a moment of reflection.

Check your heart before you enter the conversation. Ask yourself, “What is my motivation? Am I asking the opinion of another so that I can get to know that person at a deeper level? Am I wanting to refine my political argument with someone who is like-minded? Am I curious about a differing perspective? Am I engaging in conversation with the intent of ‘winning’ a political debate or argument?”

Here’s what needs to happen. We need hearts aligned with Jesus. We need to be filled with the love of God that He demonstrated in the cross of Christ — and then, and only then, should we speak, knowing we represent Jesus in His physical absence and engaging others at a deep level of conversation that first seeks to understand.

Politics and religion, as well as other topics that might fill our conversation, can help us understand someone’s story a bit better, if we have ears to hear. Don’t get me wrong — I enjoy a good policy debate, when it’s healthy and not attached to one’s identity, but I don’t want to miss the greater opportunity to know someone at a deeper level, sharing the love Jesus has for us, right here, right now.

May the Lord of all glory bless your Thanksgiving and all your days!

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

Wisdom of God

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

By Jeff Foerster

What did you take away from Sunday’s sermon? What is God telling you; what is He shaping within you as you heard His word preached? How are you becoming different, different than you were and more like God’s Son?

Let’s take a look back at what Martin shared with us. There are two places one may seek wisdom: “the world” and the LORD. The world’s “wisdom” is seductive, in that it feels right and satisfies the inner longings of significance and self-determination. It focuses itself upon “what works” and the surface level of life. This is satisfying for all who want to “get results” and take pride, joy, comfort, and even rest in a job well done.

Faith does not play a substantial role in the wisdom of the world. Instead, circumstances and status become indicators of success and can even lead to a warped understanding of God’s blessing. We see a negative picture of this in John 9, as the disciples query Jesus to tell them the origin of the sin that led to the blind man’s circumstances.

Where the world focuses on circumstances and outward things, true wisdom, coming from God Almighty, digs deeper and cultivates a heart that can weather any circumstance. God doesn’t make the climate around you calm, He strengthens you for, and in the midst of, the storm. The Scriptures speak of being purified by the fire of testing and tribulation (Isaiah 48:10; 1 Peter 1:7; Revelation 3:18). If you belong to Jesus, if you are a son or daughter of God, then God is at work, changing you for your good and, more importantly, for His glory.

What to do: Repent! In humility, ask God to reveal your sin. Seek His forgiveness and that of others, and turn away from the desires that worldly wisdom would have you pursue. Ask God to teach you (James 1:5). Then, listen to the Lord—sermons on Sunday, talking through what you heard with another, listening to sermons on radio or online, reading the Scripture, asking God questions and waiting for His response—through His Word and through others speaking His Word.

You have to know this: God loves you to death! He loves you just the way you are, and He loves you too much to leave you that way. Join Him on this exciting journey and you will be transformed before your own eyes, and the eyes of others.

The cost: all that you hold dear. The benefit: peace regardless of circumstance, everlasting life, and more than you could possibly imagine!

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

Living a Life of Significance

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

By Jeff Foerster


I had some unencumbered time the other day, and I got to thinking. I see people leaving us for Heaven, in my family and in our congregation. I notice that plans and strategies formulated are often difficult to execute with any degree of smoothness. I hear preaching that announces God has desires transcending the doing and the going and the surface-level results in this life. That’s when I realize these thoughts are all connected.

I felt a longing well up within me. This desire called itself by name with little hesitation and no sense of bashfulness. “Significance!” it cried out. Questions were asked, and answers were demanded: “Will I be remembered?” “Will I achieve greatness?” “Will my days here matter beyond my own life?”

Many are the moments of “maintenance” in this life. Everything seems to get dirty, from cars, to houses — inside and out — to our own bodies. Everything seems to break down with the ravages of time. Everything seems to need repair. Everything seems to need to be done again … and again. Grocery shopping, laundry, dishes, sleeping, and brushing teeth all require nearly constant attention.

All this time, all this effort doesn’t generally propel one forward, but rather it keeps one from sliding backward. An owner of a car will never awake one morning, enter the garage, and find additional features on the car not there the night before, nor will this happen gradually. In fact, in our society, we acknowledge this decline from the start with a premium paid at the outset. We call this the “sticker price,” and it is well known that once the car is driven off the dealer’s lot it loses value immediately. We are willing to pay to host this little “party” for the fleeting moment when the car is at its best. A very expensive gathering of yourself, maybe one or two others, and the car salesman. Smiles are had, especially by the salesman, papers are signed, currency is exchanged, keys are handed over, and that ends the ritual celebration.

From there the law of entropy (involving increasing disorder) takes over. Everything in our known universe is engaged in decay, or a “winding down” of order, as can be measured in its effectiveness, usefulness, or consistency. This curse upon the natural world is something that must be fought against to stay “even.” If you’re not engaged in the battle, you’re losing the battle. Like attempting to block the flow of a river, it will find a way around and keep on moving, carving another pathway of least resistance. If you do manage to stem the flow, to secure a dam before it, time will wear away at the blockade, causing breeches in the wall, or the long backed-up water will finally surge over the top.

This can all sound a bit depressing. It can definitely seem overwhelming if this is where your focus is fixed. I am propelled by my desire for significance to look and see if significance can be found in the “doings” of this life. I recall the words of the writer of Ecclesiastes, who declared:

All things are wearisome;

Man is not able to tell it.

The eye is not satisfied with seeing,

Nor is the ear filled with hearing.

That which has been is that which will be,

And that which has been done is that which will be done.

So there is nothing new under the sun.

Is there anything of which one might say,

“See this, it is new”?

Already it has existed for ages

Which were before us.

(Ecclesiastes 1:8–10)

I do not think a desire for significance is sinful. It, like anything else, can be misplaced and misused, but it is a desire which can build pressure and that has energy that can be harnessed to act as a catapult toward deepening a rich relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Once again I am turned back from seeing myself as a human “doing” to a human “being.” I now see the issue of significance as one that can only find its fulfillment by the marriage of the will of man and the work of the Holy Spirit. It is in the “heart” and not in “doings” that focus is rightly placed. For it is neither cars, nor houses, nor career, nor wealth, nor any other thing that will be carried forward into eternity, save for the heart that God is making new.

I think all the routine maintenance of life has great value — but it is not in “doing it well” that matters. All the maintenance, all the hours, all the labor, serve to remind us of our dependency upon God. Each breath we take is granted by Him who loves us. Each time we slumber, each time we take nourishment, let these be reminders from our Creator, loving whispers to say, “I’ve got you. I know what you need, because I created you to need. Turn to Me in all things, and rest in Me, because I AM enough!”

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

Church Wars! Part II: Attack of Discernment

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.

By Jeff Foerster

I should tell you, as a matter of public record, that I own stock in the science fiction sector. I have held positions here for quite some time, having grown up with dystopian novels such as Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World. I still read Ray Bradbury when I take the time, and I just finished Childhood’s End by Arthur C. Clarke. Aliens have long had a special place in my heart as I looked to the heavens and wondered what we may find or what may find us. Prometheus and the Alien trilogy, Close Encounters, Contact, X-Files, and Signs—the list of films goes on and on. As a five-year-old I sat in a theater watching the original Star Wars bright and shining on a screen, loud and larger than life.

Last week’s Last Word may have signaled to you that I recommend abandoning all vestiges of science fiction, more particularly, Star Wars. So, what do I suggest—throw Boba Fett out with the bathwater? Simple answers sometimes result in profound mistakes; I think this is the case here. Before declaring the Star Wars franchise bankrupt and without shareholder value, I think it wise to examine oneself alongside film. God tells us to “keep oneself unstained by the world” (James 1:27). So, will Star Wars stain me? Again, a quick answer may do more harm than good. Let me suggest to you this: You know you better than most do. Even more so, God knows you better than all do—including you. Ask yourself and ask God to speak to you what effect your entertainment choices have upon you. Be open to being taught.

George Lucas has been quoted as saying that the price of admission to see one of his films is a price charged for tuition. He sees himself as a teacher, an educator. The impact his curriculum has upon a person depends in part upon what an individual brings to the table; our worldview matters. “Worldview” is a way of understanding and interpreting, even classifying or categorizing the experiences and events of the world around us. It’s like a lens through which everything is viewed and interpreted. Do you remember the “BluBlocker” sunglasses of the 80s-90s? They filtered out all the blue light from the spectrum and everything was washed in a bath of orange. Of course, taking the glasses off brought the world back to normal. It was not the world that changed, but the perspective of the viewer. However, one’s worldview is not as easily changed as a pair of glasses; it is constructed over many years and can shift, but it does so in a largely incremental fashion.

Everyone has a worldview that allows them to make meaning; a follower of Jesus likewise imposes his/her own schema upon the narratives they encounter. This is crucial to understand when any slice of entertainment is about to be consumed. What do I bring to the table? What is my worldview, and what is the worldview of the artist/author/teacher to whom I listen? Does he or she share my goals—that God be given glory? How is truth approached—with honor and deference, or with skepticism and disdain? Many questions are there to ask, yes.

There are a couple factors I’d like to bring into the light: the power of emotions and the strength of worldview. Emotions come in a variety of flavors: some sweet, some sour, some hard to swallow. If followed, they can lead one to acts of kindness or, just as easily, to fits of rage. Emotions are powerful, and when the heart is stirred it can prompt changes in thinking, beliefs, and, therefore, actions that follow. Emotions are good; God created us with a capacity to feel emotion, to enjoy it and be taught by its power—be it a signpost, a warning, or an invitation. Because of this power, it is not to be taken lightly. Scripture tells us not to arouse or awaken love before it’s time (Song of Solomon 2:7, 3:5, 8:4).

These emotions are for our good; they enable us to praise God with joy and enjoy His gifts with enthusiasm. This takes place when we lead our emotions where it is good to go. Even more easily, though, emotions can turn things on their heads and begin to lead us. Instead of pointing us to enjoy our Creator and seek to become more like Him, we can become enamored with what the Father tells us is off-limits, even forbidden. We may do this when fixing our eyes on a character who has attractive traits and, because of these, emotional connection is made with him/her. Then our desire for connection (an element of relationship) can become prioritized over discernment. When especially enamored, we may brush aside warnings and dismiss any criticism, in order to retain that felt relationship.

Doubt what I am saying? Consider how rabidly a true Seahawks fan will defend their team, defending their favorite character (oops, I mean “player”) when they are called out for a penalty or criticized by one of many commentators. How about the political theater? Have you ever heard someone defend a candidate largely by way of emotion? The good is taken with the bad. Some may say when you take them both then there you have it, the facts of life, but I tell you that some emotional attachments, even based on positive characteristics, can merge with less savory traits, leading to defense and even adoption of the very beliefs that will work against the biblical worldview God is constructing in you.

The strength of the individual’s worldview and how greatly it aligns with a biblical worldview will also affect the impact of entertainment choices. Identifying this development as “spiritual maturity” will aid understanding the impact a conflicting worldview will have upon one’s own. The less developed and tested the worldview, the more it is susceptible to being altered by an opposing view, whether that view is confrontational or politely placed in a palatable offering of entertainment. Children (especially in chronological age) are by nature at foundational stages of constructing their worldview. Much care must be given to build on the solid ground of truth. Expecting young ones to be able, unguided, to distinguish between truth and falsehood is folly. We are commanded in Scripture to teach our children at all times:

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)

If you liked this post, say thanks by sharing it.