Relationships First

Charlie shares a wonderful story about how this podcast has opened some doors at his work. Then Brad and Wayne interact with other emails about creating community that offers a safe environment by putting relationships first, as a family does. Too many times a genuine move of God gets curtailed by those who seek to "steward" it, but only end up in a misguided attempt to control it. In the end what might have begun as God's gift ends up possessing them just like the ring of power in the Lord of the Rings. Though well-intentioned they change the dynamics from sharing real friendships to trying accomplish a task and then relationships are destroyed. This fits Marshall McLuhan observation that "We shape our tools, and then our tools shape us." Unless we put relationship first and free each other to be their own life in God we'll never discover the real joy of God's kind of community.

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Marshall McLuhan Quote
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  1. I’ve been struggling with this topic for a long time. I have someone that I work with, and love dearly, who is a Christian, but has a very strong opinion about her doctrine. I had been asking God to show me how to love her and yet not feel overwhelmed buy her discussions. The answer came in reading Romans 14 in the Message. Eugene Peterson said it so well, it is freedom.

  2. I could feel my spirit singing this prayer during this “Relationships First” podcast:
    “Thank you Father for Brad and Wayne! Thank you for making the Sabbath tool to serve us, not us to serve the Sabbath tool. I love how Your yoke is securely fastened and yet easy, light. I love that we only have to go where You go and that Your end for us is Sabbath rest. My heart can’t contain my rejoicing. It’s dancing. 🙂

  3. A lot of what we do in church is habit and tradition in which we’ve lost the real meaning behind what we do. I can remember at my last church it being mentioned that the singles ministry, which was struggling (and had been for some time) might be done away with and the pastor would be redirected towards another part of ministry and the look of shock that came over one woman’s face. She couldn’t imagine us doing this. It was so unheard of to her but yet we were seeing where many churches were disbanding singles ministries and had adult ministries as an umbrella. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with singles ministries, but to this woman, the mere mention of doing away with it was shocking.

  4. Enjoyed this as always and it is much appreciated. I think the thoughts from Dwight is the same Dwight that Wayne, via a phone call a few years ago, helped me get in contact with in Eagle (State withheld). We get together from time to time for lunch or a Saturday morning coffee and these times of fellowship are a treasure. Not sure we’ve risen to the level of a “Bo’s Café” but I’m always looking forward to the next unscheduled time even though they can sometimes be spaced apart for long periods.

    “Jesus asked us to love as we follow him; he didn’t ask us to agree. If we have to agree to love, then what hope have we?. . . So here is the problem today. Too many people think they alone are right and anyone who disagrees with them is a threat to their world. And it only takes one person like that in a group to destroy its ability to live, love and grow together. Until we have enough brothers and sisters that have a passion for truth that does not outrun their calling to love others, the body of Christ will continue to be fractured and impotent in the world. And they’ll have to have enough love to lovingly stand up to those who would be divisive among the family by demanding everyone think like they do. . .” Above quotes are from Wayne’s blog, If You Wonder Why. . . Found here at:

  5. Hey guys, Just a quick thought or two. GOD loves “atheists” as much if not more than many so called “christians”. After all, are not they/we part of not only HIS creation but also HIM? It’s amazing to me how so many “christians” use ( their?) bible as an owners manual rather than seeing it as a love story for all of mankind. Why can’t we just share the love within us ( HIM) without thumping (quoting) “The bible”? May we sift through our hearts THE WORD in all our relationships. Gman.

  6. I contacted you a couple of years ago Wayne via email after going through a horrible church split in my home church. (My father was the founding pastor) – Asked to leave 6 months before he died of cancer and the church didn’t offer it’s facility to my family for the funeral even after 23 years of service. Beyond crushed, I was spinning – the advice you gave then sounded like jibberish – lots of great “theories” but I couldn’t make sense of this stuff then…I didn’t know how to serve God outside of a position in the church…and I thought I had lost over 500 relationships in a matter of a week’s time. And because I disagreed with mostly everything my home church was doing started to feel like I had missed the boat and was on the outside of the family of God. I read your book’s So you don’t want to go to church anymore and He Loves Me -(As did my father before he died and was so freed by your message!) I was able to forgive, and am so thankful for these books, but I still struggled with how to live for Jesus now – within the body of Christ and/or outside of the body of Christ – and what was right wrong or otherwise for us and our children – we chose to go to church with a group of folks who split away from our original home church for the stability of our children – (there was such a familiarity and many friendships), but we’ve been finding ourselves frustrated with the other people because of the striving we are sensing going on for control and positions and for things that no longer matter to us. We cannot even begin to want to care about those things anymore…there really is such a freedom from this in our hearts…Anyhow, after much prayer over the last year we opened our home in the fall of 2011 to a group of folks in our area who also have been displaced from church as well, and have kids the same age as ours. Almost simultaneously the enemy attacked my husband’s business and brought multiple frustrations into our life. We struggled much, thinking…maybe we are the one’s wrong (again) – but one day my husband came home and said on his way to work that day he realized that our struggles started litereally the same time as our 1st meeting. Our meetings are so awesome- just friends getting together to fellowship – we all bring a dish to pass and have dinner together on a week night – we then sometimes listen to a podcast or just visit and share needs – we always take time to pray together before the night is over and our Children all fellowship with us. We are finding ourselves more satisfied in our spirits than ever before! If people can’t make it – there’s no condemnation – there is no schedule – no music (except the laughter of children) and more love than I’ve felt in more than 5 years from my fellow believers. We really have no agenda except to come together in love and encourage one another. I wish I knew how to share this with others without it becoming…well, another controlled environment…but instead we pray for those and leave the revelation part up to the Holy Spirit! – Thank you for your encouragement – You were right about the divine disillusionment! You were right when you said it’s a good place to be to be frustrated with your “service to God”. It took so long for me to get it! As a pastor’s daughter – I have been torn for 35 years – I served so hard and so long in the organization that my spirit was so frustrated with….I couldn’t understand why “Membership” would be my breaking point…why the introduction of the new eldership in the church and the instruction of the new pastor that these people would be who we answered to, who would bring correction to our lives would push me over the edge! my whole life I just thought I was in rebellion to God – but, I no longer feel that way…I was very aware that Jesus was to be my Shepherd and the Holy Spirit my teacher – that is why I wouldn’t allow men to control me. hmmmm….it’s all so simple really. it’s all so very simple once our real teacher explains it to our heart. This podcast does it again! Hits the nail on the head – what one generation is called to becomes an obligation for the next! The annointing on my parent’s was like none I’ve ever seen before – but it’s not the same annointing on me! If I could ask you one question though – in raising up 2 boys that already love Jesus…and are 6 and 8 – How neccesary is Sunday morning church – is it still neccesary? Our church is now doing “Membership classes” but for us to do Thursday nights where we are totally blessed and then continue to get up on Sundays even though mostly we dread it and feel like we are still serving out of obligation??? just doesn’t make much sense… (when I say obligation, I mostly mean an obligation to intercede and a love for our friends children and our own are why we are still going) My husband proposed that our Thursday is our Sunday – but I am having a hard time with that one – You know – Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy…Can you help me sort that one out?
    God Bless you in the work you do! If I never meet you on this earth – I trust I will recognize you in heaven! You are a blessing!

  7. Re: George MacDonald
    I think the greater thing that I got out of the George MacDonald link was the idea that our concept of God’s justice as the eternal torment of the sinner does not fit the character of God and does not fix the break in the relationship between sinner and victim caused by the sin. It is in this false vision of the Father that many find their issues with God, Jesus, and the Church (not just churches).

    While one may think it is not about theology, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a wrong theology, a wrong image of God that one holds, that is at the foundation of religion itself. The Father is not in the business of punishing sin, but destroying it. Jesus did not come to take on the punishment of sin but to destroy it in the flesh by his “obedience unto the cross.” The Holy Spirit did not come to teach us how to live rightly through guilt but to destroy sin once and for all in our lives by drawing us to repentance. This is what you so rightly point out not only in this particular podcast, but in the various podcasts, Transitions, The Jesus Lens, and all the writings.

    I left my pastorate January 1st to journey with a group in living in the light, love and guidance of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We had a wonderful meeting with my District Pastoral Leader (and friend of 20+ years) and gave him a sample of what we had been experiencing over the last 2 years in destroying “church” as we all know it and living in community, family and love for each other in Jesus Christ.

    When it was all over, apart from the legal requirements of the dissolution of the “church”, he said to us that he could see 90 percent of the church living as we are. He told us he wished he could get his group of 100 to live as we do.

    We share a meal together whenever we meet, we have no particular agenda but live under the movement of the Spirit for our discussions, and we have committed our lives to each other in honest care for each other. In fact, I need to contact a brother who wasn’t able to be there yesterday and keep him updated as soon as I shut up here.

    Keep up the great work. I appreciate your (Brad and Wayne) part of the revelation of the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, to a world that is in darkness.

    Frank Ancona
    Winston-Salem, NC

  8. Sarah, what an amazing story. Thanks for sharing it. I hope your husband’s business issues have sorted out to your good. I don’t understand the connection between your Sunday morning and Thursday night, or why membership has reared its ugly head again. You asked about the Sabbath, and I’ll say this. Those who think they must “keep” the Sabbath, better move back to Saturdays. The early church didn’t do that, choosing many of their gatherings for the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection. But the Sabbath as a day was fulfilled in Christ’s death and resurrection. The Sabbath was never meant to be a day, but a way of living as Hebrews 3-4 talk about. The Sabbath rest is ceasing from our own labors and living inside of the Father’s work. And, as Paul said in Romans 14-15 if you think there are special days, the observe them, but don’t force it on others. Some regard all days the same. But is there anything in Scripture that says we are compelled to gather with other believers on Sunday (or Saturday) morning? There is not. It has become the custom of many believers, but it was never the command of God… Hope that helps.

  9. Wayne said something that just stopped me as I was listening. He said that we often debate with others not so much to convince them but to convince ourselves. I can relate to that. I remember in my doctrinal hey days often arguing and proof texting my positions. Yes I wanted to convince them of my greater understanding of truth and help them walk in the more ‘perfect way’. But in reality, I was afraid they would expose my house of cards and undermine the shallowness of my faith.

    It is so freeing to let that go. It is so freeing to allow Jesus to by my doctrine, the final revelation. It doesn’t mean I still don’t hold to doctrinal positions of my past. I do… least until I am persuaded to drop or adjust them. But letting go of something that no longer possesses me is growth. And the most beautiful thing I have experienced is I can genuinely enjoy the fellowship of other believers who are not in the same place doctrinally. That is a beautiful thing.

  10. Thank you for sharing your journey, Sarah.
    I have never felt that I am a member of any church I have attended. I don’t know quite how to explain it. I suppose membership has always seemed to me so exclusive. And I’m one of those contentious souls who tends to question things. I believe the leaders of some of the congregations I have left have been relieved and at the one I’m in now, I was told that I walk with a spirit of rebellion. On reflection, I believe my rebellion is towards being bullied. Why can’t I challenge what I see as hypocrisy? And then Jesus says, “Because it’s not your job to fix them.” Sigh.
    I had a thought about the tool maybe being innappropriate for future generations. It’s like language. When people come here from other countries, the first generation speaks the mother language. The second generation speaks both languages and the third speaks only the new language. Perhaps it isn’t that we should give up the tool, but that we should learn to use it in a way that is appropriate for the time. You can use a screwdriver for screws, but then you can turn it around and use the handle as a hammer if you don’t have a hammer. Maybe that’s a stretch. . .
    I loved the part where you talked about disgreeing with God. When i discovered that God wouldn’t hate me if I had a tantrum, it was another liberation. I don’t say that I have them frequently, but I have had them and He is always there at the end of them. What kind of a relationship would it be if we couldn’t show how we felt? Having always been terrible at relationships, i am so enjoying how God is showing me how to have them with others through Him.

  11. Wayne, Thank you for your response! 🙂 My husband’s business is being sustained…Father is so ever faithful and faithfully meets our needs. We are trusting Him for His continued direction…and are aware more now than ever that without the pain, there would be no growth.

    I will meditate on those scriptures…and consider what you have said.

    I do have another question for you that I know you’ve covered before, and perhaps I need to go back to the book so you don’t want to go to church anymore – but what should we do with our tithes if we would stop attending a Sunday Morning Church? The principle is to give back to God – (Which we are firm believers in) and to bring it into the storehouse so there is enough for the believers to continue the work of God correct?

    And even though you just explained it – let’s say we’ll do Thursdays and then not Sundays…wow…I don’t know what I’d do with myself on Sundays! Honestly in the summer the last 2 years, we’ve spent a ton of time up in Northern MI with extended family and friends enjoying life with the kids and while I don’t miss church at all really, I do feel guilty…and I do strugge with the question “Will my kids suffer committment issues if I don’t have them in church each week?” “Am I just being a selfish uncommitted believer who’s allowing everyone else to do the work of the Lord?” (Wow…the whole church thing sure is entangling huh?) Will my kids hear the call of God on their life if they are not in an environment that cultivates it? Is our influence enough to cultivate that hunger and desire?

    Can you tell I’ve seldom missed a day of church in my whole life?

  12. @Sarah, thank you for sharing your journey with us here. I highly recommend the “Living Loved” articles from Wayne’s Life Stream website. They have been a great blessing to me and they may help you find the answers to your questions. I’ve created a thread titled “For Sarah” on the God Journey Forum with some related article links for your questions.

  13. Sarah,

    You’ve been living by a set of principles for some time, and that takes in tithing and Sunday morning attendance and a host of other things. They become obligations and thus we feel guilty when we don’t meet them. God is wanting to teach you how to live in HIM and follow him. He’s a generous God and as you come to know him better, his generosity will find its way through you to meet a lot of needs around you in incredible ways. It isn’t tithing in the traditional sense, it’s giving in a godly sense. Same with Sunday morning. Follow him and that will be example enough for your kids. You don’t want them doing attendance out of a commitment, you want them living inside God as the defining reality of their lives. As he teaches you that, they will learn it in your example and in their own passion to know him…

  14. Sarah,

    Your tithe is loving others…sharing with them….giving your best to others when God shows you their needs. Your commitment is your heart of love and compassion, peace, faithfulness, gentleness, etc….to love others as God has loved you….to unjudge others and unjudge yourself
    Love your children this way and they will become committed not to scheduled events or programs or organizations or goals, but to loving God and loving people.

  15. Re:Tithing
    My husband and I were both raised to tithe to a church, no questions asked. We continued the exercise when we got married and were going to Sunday morning service. We didn’t think twice about it, it was what we were both use to. I remember when Father started working on my heart regarding tithing. At the last church we attended they had an annual dessert party held at the Pastors house. This was only for top financial givers in the church. It was invitation only, the invitations were mailed out. When our invitation came, I initially thought it was kinda of strange but we accepted the invite anyway. During this fancy dessert party, scripture was read about giving, jokes were made about getting t-shirts made for us with BG for “Big Givers”, and to top it off a manipulating prayer about how blessings come to us because we give. In a nut shell the entire evening was gross, and when I think of it now it turns my stomach. (this was about three years ago). Leaving that night my spirit was heavy and all that came to my mind was, the eclair I ate at the party was my reward. Yikes! I realized after that night, I had a lot of pride as I wrote out those tithe checks year after year. It was a huge check mark for me on my “Christian” obligation list, and it felt GOOD! Plus What a nice tax deduction at the end of the year. I’ve been asking Father to renew my mind and heart regarding giving. I want to live generous and free with him leading me where and when I can help out. I’m excited that his spirit will lead not an institution with an agenda. We have been able to help out a family member for a season, no tax write off, but we did receive a smile from Father which is better then a tax deduction.
    I really appreciate this podcast!!!! Thank you Wayne and Brad!!!!

  16. This podcast was a filet minon. I am lovin chewin on this. There is a song by Jack Johnson called “Horizon has been Defeated” had some great similarities of feet becoming wheels and wheels becoming cars.
    You know after that argument between Paul and Barnabus I wounder if Paul would of been a bit more forgiving towards Mark and give him another shot that would of taken Paul on a better rout. I mean it seems God was closing doors on Paul trying to go to this city or that and eventually thrown in prison. God still used their split to to good but makes ya wonder if it would of been them three again off on their adventure. Barnabus saw something in Mark that Paul did not see. Just my 2 copper coins

  17. Dear Wayne and Brad – may I ask a question? I love your podcasts – they are a comfort. I feel this incredible tiredness when I hear the phrase “without pain there would be no growth”. I hear this so often from Christians who live around me. It fills my heart with discontent – I’m not sure exactly why. I guess its because I am in a season of Jesus filling me with his love and trying to convince me not to expect the other shoe to drop at any moment. I’ve gone through some stuations that are very painful – and it doesn’t help to hear – without pain there is no growth. After the pain is gone, yes, I can see the victory Jesus has won over yet another bad space in my life, and am so in love with him for again rescuing me out of the mud – for not letting the bad win. But I have a hard time thinking he intended to teach me this way – and that he isn’t filling me with himself even in the good days. When I hear people around me talking this way its almost like the Christian community is trying to own pain and suffering – there is soo much suffering outside of church. Can’t we grow without pain? Am I ridiculous to think this way? Is it possible to view Jesus “growing” us in a way that he’s so big – so powerful that he wont allow pain to win – instead of he wants us to have pain to grow? Can we not grow even just in the days when we enjoy him and get to sit at his feet? I get so tired only being taught through pain…

  18. Kerri, we may want to spend a podcast discussing some of the questions you raise here. I’m sure you’re not alone. I think the understanding that God does much in our pain helps us rest in him when trouble hits. It’s not meant to be a portent of bad times to come. That God teaches us in trials is neither proof that he orchestrates them for that purpose, nor that this is the only way he teaches us. I for one love being taught in the times of rest and refreshing. I love when a new thought creeps into my life without any pain in it. I really do! I don’t volunteer for pain, but neither do I fear it. I realize his love is bigger than the pain that comes from living in a twisted world and know that he will accomplish his work in me in painful times and in good times. I don’t believe he wants us to have pain to grow. That’s not his heart or desire. But in our pain, he can help us see him in ways we wouldn’t otherwise. So I wonder if you’re discontent isn’t coming from a distorted view. I don’t think we’ve ever said “without pain there is no growth.” If we did, we misspoke. I think there can be great growth without pain. And there can be great growth in it.

  19. Hi Wayne, thank you for your response! Im sorry – I should have made myself clearer – you didn’t mention anything on the podcast about the phrase “no growth without pain” it was something I heard from someone in a response to your podcast. I love Jesus so much, and Im just getting to know him as friend instead of disciplinarian – so it hurts when I hear that my best friend wants me to hurt because its good for me… Anyway, I really appreciate your thoughts! You and Brad are so fun to listen to and I have loved being able to see through your thoughts a bit of the outside world that’s not this closed community I live in.

  20. Hi Wayne and Brad,
    Thanks so much for this timely podcast-you put so clearly what I struggled to convey this morning to my church leader’s wife re a mid-week community group we’ve just joined in their home. She asked me how I thought it went and I found it so difficult to articulate my feelings-I loved sharing a meal together and talking but I really struggled to hear that we are going to work through a book about evangelism and have 4 sessions on this (plus, looking at the work book material at home it feels like another-“this is what you need to do”). I couldn’t articulate to her why this is so crushing for me-it sounds so ‘good’ and ‘right’ but to me it is a prescribed ‘how to’ and sucks the life out of our getting together and also starts to confuse me about what being a Christian-everyone else seems to get it, so why don’t I?
    But you said so beautifully what I haven’t found the words to express-that many of our relationships together are task based (this really helped me-this is how I feel about the mid-week group; the potential for a loving, safe environment but instead a task to complete together lest we lose our focus…) and that what is wonderful is to facilitate an environment where people can be loved.
    This resonates very much and it has helped me to have it put into words and maybe, if it’s right, I will try and convey this to my friend. In the meantime, thankyou for being a hope for me-that Father God is big enough to carry me through my doubts, through thinking differently and that it’s ok not to ‘get it’!
    Vicky (England)

  21. And, Kerry, as you come to know him as the tender Father, then you will come to welcome his discipline to make us more like him. But it will not be as you’ve thought in the past that God will punish us with bad circumstances until we can act right. It’s his prodding and even restraining so that we can see the wisdom of HIS way and the destructiveness of our own. But we really can’t embrace the Father’s discipline until we see him as an Abba who cares about us, not a demanding taskmaster who is only interested in having his own way… Blessings to you.

  22. Hey Wayne I’ve had a question for awhile and I just thought it would be nice to hear your thoughts.
    A lot of my friends use language like obedience, denying yourself, not remembering to love God, fearing god, and how we’re not significant.
    Do you think it’s possible to be too close to God? He’s my best friend. But I don’t worry about obeying or forgetting to love my friends.
    Our relationship works more like submission works between a husband and wife, meaning that it goes both ways and once you’ve been doing it enough it just kinda comes naturally. I think he cares just as much about my happiness as I care about pleasing him. Possibly more.
    Do you think it’s possible to take that too far?

  23. Wayne, I guess maybe the word “discipline” has a bad connotation for me. I used to keep a list in my head of all my faults – and I was proud that I was able to accept correction. It got so intense that I lost any enjoyment of who Jesus made me to be. I guess my frustration, Wayne – is that when I see people who are hurting, I remember from my own experience that all I longed for was the feel of Jesus’ arms around me – not a lesson. I feel like using the phrase becomes a bit of a spritual competition in maturity (at least that’s how its used in the church I grew up in) Is it ok for me to keep my faith simple and only know Jesus’ love and who he is – can I just hold onto him and trust him to take care of the details of my growing? Or is that unrealistic? Thanks again – I SO appreciate you having this conversation with me.

  24. Hi Kerri, I can relate. I got so tired of being taught that everything has a lesson in it, and to watch for it. I thought sometimes, can’t we just live without always needing to learn something? Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn and enjoy those moments when I do, but I think that part of the learning just comes as a natural result of living through whatever the situation might be with an open heart. What is tiring, is constantly being on the lookout for whatever we’re suppose to be learning. I

    My faith is all over the place lately. But it finally occurred to me that if God really is teaching all of us and intends to transform our hearts, He’s probably doing it on His time, not ours, and He has an eternity, not just this lifetime. And if you take the rewards theory away,and we’re all really headed in the same direction, without any competition, then there’s really no need for pressure or fearing that we might “miss” something. Similar to the way I would with my kids, I don’t orchestrate their life to teach them things, but I do spend time with them, and if they’re going through something they don’t understand and I notice this, I’ll try to explain it to them. But the relationship is not the lesson, the lessons come out of the relationship.

    Religion distorted a lot of this for me. With all the different doctrines about rewards, and making sure we’re saved, etc. it created this need to constantly be changing or else fear that maybe God was not working in my life. I could also totally relate with how you said religion turned your God into one you didn’t want to approach. That’s exactly how I felt too. I was so busy making sure He was pleased with me that I didn’t want to be near Him in case He wasn’t.

    What craziness, isn’t it? It’s amazing what happens when you stop drinking the Kool-Aid.

  25. Annie, we can only take that too far when it’s an ideology we are living to and not a real, loving Father. Father wants us to be incredibly close to him and in doing there will be plenty of times he asks us to do things that run counter to our own desires or interests. But it’s HIM asking and that makes all the difference. But you can definitely take the obeying and denying yourself too far when it too is just an ideology that you’re trying to observe to cultivate God’s favor. This is real relationship with Someone who makes himself known in our hearts. It has moments of great intimacy and great challenge. When it’s a real engagement then you don’t have to worry about falling off either side of the road into a ditch.

  26. And Kerri, I don’t think that’s unrealistic at all. Mostly we try to “fix” people in pain and it always only adds to their pain. By loving them we open a door for the kind of dialog that might help them find God with more reality. Remember we were told to weep with those who weep, not give them a lesson to try to fix the cause of their pain….

  27. I know this wasn’t a podcast about tithing but it has been mentioned a few times in the comments so I’d like to comment on it too. I was raised in a church that taught tithing and went to several churches as an adult that taught strongly on tithing to be blessed. I was never a good tither. I tried but my heart was never really in it. I gave but I never was that “cheerful giver” that god loves. I would jump up and down and shout like everyone else when the pastor would quote the scripture about god loving a cheerful giver but on the inside I was not cheerful. I now understand cheerful giving. Haven’t given to a “church’ in several years. I’ve been giving to people. It started with giving to some friends that were struggling. They would sometimes say that they couldn’t accept the amount I gave because it was too much. I always told them that if they knew how much fun I had writing the check, they’d ask for more. That’s right, FUN. After they didn’t need as much help I found myself tipping 100% at restaurants. That was so much fun that I started eating out more just so I could tip. That was so fun that sometimes I’d wonder if it was god or if my reward was just having so much fun seeing people happy about getting such a big tip. But if my only reward is having that kind of fun, then I’m ok with that. I have transitioned into helping a family member get a second chance and to be honest it’s not as much fun as the other ways of giving I’ve mentioned. Maybe that’s because I see how they are spending the money I’m “investing” in their lives. Still having way more fun than any tithing or giving I ever did at church. Not saying giving always has to be fun but it sure beats tithing out of obligation anytime.
    Not sure this was the time or place for this story and if you don’t publish it I understand but felt like I needed to tell it.

  28. @ Kerri –
    I am so sorry Kerri if I was a stumbling block at all to you. I too am going through the journey and am very familiar with the accuser constantly threatening me that God has his foot on my throat. Sometimes in typing a story a thought can come across wrong.
    I do not think that it is the only way we grow, nor that God causes the bad things that happen in our life to teach us a lesson, again, not that He doesn’t allow some things either. The Word of God is very clear (In my opinion) that the Enemy of our soul comes to kill steal and destroy – but that Christ came to give us life abundantly – also that Every good and perfect gift comes down from above – and He gives us good gifts and adds no sorrow to them – With that being said – I also don’t believe that everything that looks good (i.e. like a job that pays $100,000 a year, but requires so much travel that it eventually ruins a family) is necessarily God. Does that make sense?

    I do believe God teaches us gently (one of my favorite verses is God’s kindness leads us to repentance).

    Please excuse my statement as I certainly mis-spoke.
    The painful experiences I have gone through personally in the story I shared with losing my father and home church was much needed for my growth with Father. I was personally stuck spiritually. On a “Non-Denominational treadmill” thought life that we weren’t bound by religion, so we were right – (even though our very though pattern became our religion). I miss my (earthly) father SO much words cannot express – but I know that in His passing, for myself, who relied on him far too much in myr walk with my heavenly Father have been “Forced” so to seak to find my own Journey with Father. Did God cause that? Was it just my fathers time? IDK all the answers, but I do know that God works out all things to our good – He was gentle along the way with us and still is. He lavishes us with His eternal Grace every day. I am eternally blessed to have had my dad for as long as I did and I can’t wait to share with him the Journey when I see him again! Until then, I just try to listen to the Holy Spirit and look for ways to please my heavenly father and carry on a conversation with him.

    oooo….and for the record – I feel the same way about the statement – “Everything happens for a reason”. Drives me NUTS! 🙂 But I just try to excercise grace – God will bring us all there in His time.

    I pray that God showers you with his everlasting kindness, as I know He will.
    Your sister in Christ.

  29. Re: tithing…
    I understand what you are all saying – giving to others rather than to an organization…
    I just know what the word says about bringing the tithe into the storehouse so there will be bread for the believers.
    Do churches mishandle money? Yup
    Do Pastors irriatate me when they get up and beg for money? Yup.
    Do I believe every decision that is made with the money I gave is right? Nope.
    Do I give out of obligation? Nope.
    Do I give to others outside of church w/o getting a tax deduction? Yup – all the time.

    But, me personally, I do sow into the church and this is why: Because I believe it belongs to God and I believe that there are organizations out there that really do operate by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (I was part of one for a Long Long time…I eventually left and stopped giving there when I felt that either the Holy Spirit was no longer in control of the decisions being made, or I just could no longer come into agreement with the decisions.) (and I always try to find a work that I believe IS doing the work of God from their heart with love, that I could come into agreement with financially. Even if they don’t have it 100% right (I mean – I don’t have it 100% right, right?) (Consider the other organizations we give our money to…what do they do more right than every church out there? My friends told me they tithe to the Salvation Army or Food Banks…but I personally view that as charity and not appropriate for tithing…(are they any more about the work of God than the churches?) Whoa – rabbit trail. 🙂

    I’ve not always been a cheerful giver, but I have learned that sometimes being a cheerful giver has more to do with my perspective than the actual act of giving. What I mean is, If I look at life in general as a glass 1/2 empty, then I was more likely to give grudgingly, or not at all… But if my perspective is that I am obeying a law of God and that I am giving back to Him first for giving so generously to me (1st the gift of my salvation, then the meeting of my physical needs) then I should have a cheerful heart because I’ve cultivated an attitude of gratitude…

    Anyhow, in giving, I’ve always said to God – if they mishandle it – then it’s up to you to deal with, but I want it out of my hands.

    Also, sometimes I wonder if I hang onto it with the intent to give to others if I will truly give away the 1st 10% -(I know this transparent, honest statement is going to generate a lot of comments! lol )
    So let me say, I understand the point that people might make – about being in a ritual or obligation of 10% – but that is truly not how I look at giving – the first 10% I believe is God’s – as an offering from my heart – the giving beyond that really does flow freely and naturally as the spirit leads,(and there is MUCH JOY in it!) and He always gives enough to supply the need – I don’t believe in tithing 10% as a way to just get more from God – it all comes down to the heart. 🙂 Ahhh.. Love Conversing with you all!!!! This is causing growth – (And it’s not at all painful!!!!!) 🙂

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