I dream of a church…

Historians say that if we do not remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. In essence this simply suggests that if you do not know your history then you are a lost person in the journey you are in. For a while now I have been involved in researching a lot on the church and it’s practices and basically everything about it. I must say that I have encountered very interesting facts and truths that have been neglected through time and with the aid of a few key people in history.

This quest was fueled by things I found out about tithing from the bible and a little digging around for clues and leads. You might have read the article I wrote titled “Robbing God” I suggest that you read it to know where I am coming from with all this. Another very important thing I will ask every reader to do is to pray and ask God to open your eyes and your heart to show you what I am about to present to you.

Ok.. lets begin…. I dream of a church, that is as simple as One-Two-Three, yet is dynamic; an explosive thing, able to turn the world and a neighborhood upside down. The church as a supernatural invention; endowed with God’s gift of immortality; the way to disciple each other, and to transfer the life of Jesus to each other. An experience of grace and grapes, love and laughter, joy and jellybeans, forgiveness and fun, power and – yes, why not, paper. A church, which does not need much finances, rhetoric, control and manipulation, which can do without powerful and charismatic heroes, which is non-religious at heart, which can thrill people to the core, make them loose their head for joy, and simply teach us The Way to live. The church which not only has a message, but is the message; which spreads like an unstoppable virus, infects whatever it touches, and ultimately covers the Earth with the glory and knowledge of God. It’s power stems from it’s inventor, who has equipped it with the most genius spiritual genetically coded – a sort of heavenly DNA, which allows it to transfer and reproduce Kingdom values from Heaven to Earth, and transform not only water into wine, but atheists into fascinated apostles, policewomen into prophetesses, terrorists into teachers, plumbers into pastors, and dignified village elders into beaming evangelists in the process. It is like a spiritual family – organic, not organized, relational, not formal; it has a persecution-proof structure, matures under tears, multiplies under pressure, grows under the carpet, flourishes in the desert, sees in the dark, and thrives on chaos. A church that can multiply like two fish and five breads in the Hands of Jesus, were the fathers turn their hearts to the sons and the sons their hearts to the fathers, were its people are its resources, and which has only one name to brag about, the Lamb of God.

I would like to suggest to you that this is not the church that we have today. The nature of Church is not reflected in a constant series of religious meetings lead by professional clergy in holy rooms specially reserved to experience Jesus, but in the prophetic way followers of Christ live their everyday life in spiritually extended families as a vivid answer to the questions society faces, at the place where it counts most: in their homes. What am I talking about??

Few Christians would dispute that Jesus Christ, as He is presented in the New Testament, is the model for the Christian life. Jesus Christ IS the Christian life. In the same way when Christ rose from the dead and ascended, He gave birth to His church. That Church was Himself in a different form. This is the meaning of the phrase “The Body of Christ.”  A unified, one entity and not all the hullabaloo of denominations and sects we have today, with everyone claiming that they are right and others are wrong… and that is not what I am trying to do here either.

Followers of Christ appreciate the stories God has given us in His word. We discover much about God, life, culture, and even ourselves by following the journey of God’s people in both the Old and New Testaments. How much do we learn from Moses and the Israelites’ pursuit of the Promised Land? Or the hard won insights of David’s rise from a lowly shepherd boy to king of Israel? Or the plight of Jesus’ disciples as they left their occupations to follow the Lord before being martyred? A whole lot… and in the same way, much can be learned from the efforts of the earliest Christians as they sought to be the genuine church that Christ Purchased with His blood.

But what do modern and postmodern Christians know about the history of the church that would help to shape present-day attempts at honoring God and being the Church? Very little. And this is where the problem lies – hence the saying by Historians if we do not remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. There is ample evidence to support this warning, yet we persist in well-intentioned but ignorant efforts to refine life. How you may ask?

There have been major changes in the Church all over the world over the past maybe half century have been largely window dressings. Pick a trend – mega-Churches, seeker churches, satellite campuses, vacation bible school, children’s church, affinity group ministries (e.g ministries for singles, women, men, young marrieds, young adults), contemporary worship music, big screen projection systems, EFT giving, cell groups downloadable sermons, sermon outlines in bulletins. All of these have been attempts to rely on marketing strategies to perform the same activities in different ways or places, or with particular segments of the aggregate population.

Some of you now are screaming “heretic” in your minds or even words that are similar in meaning to that, which is expected, which comes from little knowledge in the foundations of your faith. If you spend time searching God’s word for most of the common practices in conventional churches, you will rarely find them. If you go even further tracing history of those practices, you will discover that most of our religious habits are man-made choices. I even suggest that the pattern by which we “do church” these days, if you do it, it’s probably not in the bible as one of the practices in the early church.

Most of what we do in religious circles has no precedent in scripture. This includes of the many activities within church services, the education and ordination of clergy, the routines commonly used in youth ministries, the methods of raising funds for ministry, the ways in which music is used in churches, even the presence and the nature of church buildings.

There were three historical periods that a collection of changes were made in common Christian practices….

  • The era of Constantine
  • The protestant reformation
  • The revivalist period.

These changes however were as a result of passionate, though ill informed, followers of Christ. The believers during those periods during those times simply went along for the ride, which resulted in new perspectives and practices that churches have held on to for many years, so many years in fact, that you probably think of those routines as biblical in origin.

Not surprisingly, having changed the biblical model of the church, we have become adept at building support for our approaches through proof-texting, which is the practice of taking distinct, unrelated verses from scripture, often out of context, to “prove” that our position squares with the bible.

Does it really matter how we practice our faith, as long as the activities enable people to love and obey Him? Yes it does because from what I have found out, these perspectives, rules, traditions, expectations, assumptions, and practices often hinder the development of our faith. In other instances, they serve as barriers that keep us from encountering the living God. The way in which we practice our faith can, indeed, affect the faith itself.

It’s in my best interest and goal to search and scrub the word of God to determine the core principles and values of the early church and to restore those elements in my lives and the lives of those around me, so as to be true to His plan and that we may become the people He desires us to be and that the church may be all that she is desired to be. God has granted us a lot of freedom in the methods we can use to honor and connect with Him, but this does not mean we have free reign. A word of caution here: We need to strive to be humble and obedient people who seek His central will.

I know this is a lot to take in, but I ask that you take some time and research for yourself and find out whether this is true or false. Ask God to lead you and show you the truth about what church really is because I believe that your life, my life, everyone’s lives are a gift from God and is to be lived for God. Furthermore the church is one of God’s deepest passions. God cares for her well-being, as well as how she expresses herself on earth. So understanding how we got from the early church to the contemporary church, and figuring out what you will do about it, is very important.

What will you do about it?

 

Jonathan Siaga

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THE 13th APOSTLE

Many of you are now wondering who the thirteenth disciple is because we only know of twelve. Well you know correctly, but as you read this article on Emperor Constantine (ca. 285 – 337) you will understand the title of this. If you have done church history then you probably know who Constantine is but if not then you probably think it’s the Constantine from the movie which is hugely wrong. So really who is this Constantine? Why the sudden interest in him?

Constantine as I have mentioned above was an emperor of Rome once, and is often lauded in the Christian circles as the one who granted them the freedom of worship, and also expanding their privileges. Yet his story fills a dark page in the history of Christianity which is very astonishing as you are about to find out.

By the time Constantine emerged into the scene, the atmosphere was ripe for Christians to escape their despised, minority status. How? Let’s look at the book of Revelation 2:8 – 11 where Christ addresses the church of Smyrna. This church represents the period in Church History from A.D 100 to A.D 312. In Smyrna, as in other places, Jews would sometimes take the heat of persecution off themselves by inciting the Romans against the Christians (Those of the way).

The Jews would present the communion in a wrong light by accusing believers of drinking blood and eating broken bodies. Thus in God’s sight they were no more His people in reality than were the Christians who, in the name of Christ, slaughtered Jews by hundreds during the crusades.

The pastor of the Church at Smyrna was a man named Polycarp, the last man personally discipled by John. At 86 years of age amidst one of the numerous waves of persecution, Polycarp was ordered to burn incense at the altar of Caesar. “How can I deny Him who has been faithful to me all these 86 years?” he asked. Consequently he was sentenced to burn at the stake. When the fire failed to come near him, a frustrated guard pierced Polycarp on the shoulder with his sword hence drawing his blood which put out the flame.

Lets move on to the Book of revelation 2:12 – 17 where now the Church of Pergamos was being addressed. The Greek prefix per, seen in words like “Pervert” means opposition. The suffix “gamos”  seen in words like “Monogamy” or “Bigamy” means “Marriage”.- which describes the next phase of Church history where Constantine comes in.

In A.D 312, the last of the ten Roman emperors who had persecuted the church was dead, ushering in a power play for the reins of the empire. Constantine, a young hopeful prepared to engage in a huge battle and according to legend, he saw a cross in the heavens and heard a voice saying, “In this sign conquer.” As a result young Constantine fell down to his knees and became a born again believer.

According to History however what really happened was Constantine was substantially outnumbered and noticed that the Christians were not enlisting in anyone’s army. Realizing this, he converted into Christianity, he then had access to potential infusion of new troops and the Christians responded by siding with him.

As a result of Constantine’s Edict of toleration, which forbade persecution of Christians, Christianity became the official religion of Rome. In fact soon all Roman Babies would be legally required to be baptized into the Christian faith. The Christians were in power but understanding the political expediency of concession, Constantine compromised  with the pagan priests and traditions that permeated Rome.

So a marriage took place that was clearly illustrated by the church and state working together as a political power, Christian symbols would be stamped on one side of the coin and pagan symbols on the other. He also ordered the construction of church buildings to promote the popularity and acceptance of Christianity. He thought that if the Christians had their own sacred buildings as did the Jews and the pagans, their faith would be regarded as legitimate.

Constantine’s thinking was dominated by superstition and pagan magic. Even after he became emperor, he allowed the old pagan institutions to remain the way they were – this included the temples, priestly offices, college of pontiffs, vestal virgins, and the title(reserved for himself) Pontifex Maximus – Chief of the pagan priests.

Following his conversion, Constantine never abandoned sun worship and kept the sun on his coins. He set up a statue of the sun god that bore his own image in the forum of Constantinople (his new capital). He also built a statue of the mother-goddess Cybele (though he presented her in a posture of Christian prayer).

In A.D 321, Constantine decreed that Sunday would be a day of rest – a legal holiday. It appears that Constantine’s intention in doing this was to honor the god Mithras, the unconquered sun. He seems to have thought that the Unconquered sun (a pagan god) and Christ were somehow compatible. Further demonstrating his affinity to with sun worship, excavations of St. Peter’s in Rome uncovered a mosaic of Christ as the unconquered sun.

All historical evidence indicates that Constantine was an egomaniac. When he built the Church of the apostles in Constantinople, he included monuments to the twelve apostles. The twelve monuments surrounded a single tomb, which lay at the center. That tomb was reserved for Constantine himself – thus making himself the THIRTEENTH and CHIEF APOSTLE.ImageAlmost to his dying day, Constantine “still functioned as Pontifex Maximus. In the fifteenth century this same title became the horrific title for the Roman Catholic pope. Truly a pagan magical mind was at work in Emperor Constantine – the self proclaimed THIRTEENTH CHIEF APOSTLE.

 

Compiled by: Jonathan Siaga

The last Letter

Hi there…

Hope you are well, and everyhting else is fine. I won’t be long… I hope you will read this one… It’s taken me sometime to do this hope we can work out something!!

Just want to say I am sorry for everything, I am sure you realize that things are different between us now for the last couple of weeks and I cannot think of anything or anyone better to blame than me. We don’t talk as much, I feel like we are pushing eachother away, and my question is why are things changing like this??? We don’t say I love you anymore because it feels like saying how we feel, is no longer allowed.

Well I may have said or done something that really disgusted you or made you look at me differently – I am really sorry for that, I didn’t intend for things to get this way. People work things out and if it’s something I did or said – whatever it is, why can’t we talk about it? Anyway I am sorry really for whatever it is, and if I am paranoid – Sorry about that too. Nobody’s perfect and I am Nobody. Sorry for anything I may have caused you. I sImagetill do love you dearly either way!! Am Sorry!

 

Christopher

 

*(A scene from the play – I loved Once by Jonathan Siaga)*

He managed, she stayed

My Father and Mother got married last year. I mean they did a church wedding last year after being together for thirty plus years. In the wedding ceremony all their children, me and my siblings were asked to give mini speeches to our parents on their wonderful occasion. I didn’t really grasp what my siblings said because I was fixated on what I was going to say. I told them that we as their children are lucky because most children don’t get to see that part of their parent’s lives.

 

I lived with my parents for close to thirty years and during that time I have seen a lot and experienced a lot of ups and downs as I observed their lives together and I have just one question to each of them. To my mother I would like to ask “Why did you stay?” And to my father I would like to ask “How did you manage?”

 

My father I would say is a real father, not that the rest are not. I remember the times I got sick, my dad would be the one to take me to hospital and would do all he could to pay the bills. Now the bills would be outrageous in six figures most of the time and one question lingered in my mind every time I went to hospital – How do you manage? That time there was insurance and was covered under my dad’s insurance until the age of 21.

 

My dad retired from work, he was working for an NGO in a position where he would get paid really well, but a time came when he had to leave work. He tried establishing a couple of businesses but failed. I guess he just wasn’t cut out for business after all. But one time during this period, we traveled up country for my sister’s wedding. My parents pulled all the resources they had for this trip and we managed to go. We are six children in total, plus my parents making that eight and the driver who was working for my dad in his transport business then… bringing the number to nine.

 

Everything was good with me until a day after we came back to Nairobi. I got so sick I literally wished for death. My dad was broke from the trip and a couple of other unplanned events that happened up country that forced us to stay a few extra days to solve. I was in so much pain and needed immediate medical attention but there was just no money for that, so I just writhed in pain and moaned, screamed, pretty much did anything that could bring a sense of relief even if it was just for a few seconds.

 

My dad took me to a hospital that was nearby where we stayed, and I thought that I was going to get admitted which was the norm, but I didn’t because the money my dad got – God knows from where was just enough for consultation and getting pain relief medicine. This medicine is so strong; I have been told that it’s right up there next to morphine. If you have done medicine – maybe the name pathedine rings a bell. Now the medicine gave me relief from pain and it even induces light headedness, and I saw the relief on my dad’s face when I stopped crying. He meant well but the pain was being caused by something else.

 

Eight hours later the pains came back and it seemed that it was twice as bad. My mother prepared water for me to bathe, which I did with a lot of difficulty and after what seemed like a forever bath my dad took me to Kenyatta Hospital. I have dreaded this hospital because of all the things I hear about it, nurses being rude, people sharing beds and even sleeping on the floor, neglect and the list goes on. This was the first time that I have ever been brought to this hospital.

 

My doctor took one look at me and asked my father… “Do you have a death wish for your son? You should have brought him in earlier, and the pain relief medicine made everything worse because you are covering smoke where there is fire burning.” I knew what he meant, but again I understand what my dad was doing. My father just wanted to relieve me of my pain even if the repercussions were dire because to him that is what a father does. To cut the long story short I got well after a couple of weeks and yet again I don’t know to date where My dad got the money from to get me out.

 

 My mother on the other hand stayed. She stayed with my dad through the roughest times and the best times of their lives. Earlier during my childhood, my dad lost his job at a car manufacturing company. He stayed out of a job for 5 years or more. My mom supported us through the most amazing ways – now that I think of it. My mom worked for the government so she didn’t get paid as well as my dad, yet she pulled all the resources she had and opened up a hot lunch business. She would come to my school to sell food to the students who lived far from school and didn’t want to carry lunch to school.

 

The she would also make what we called “cools” which is just frozen juice if you mix it right, put them in small plastic bags and kids loved this stuff. We sold them for a shilling, and some for 50 cents a piece. This business did very well, she even taught us how to make them and we would all help in doing this every two days. People tried this and failed because they got the mixture and ingredients wrong, but I say God was watching what was happening with our family. The ends were met but barely, plus my mother had to go to the office also to work. Sometimes I think she is a super woman. She stayed with my dad through the thick of things.

 

I remember times when things would be so bad between them; my mom would get so frustrated and even want to leave my father. She would talk in between tears of her frustrations and we were sure that we would wake up in the morning to find her gone, but instead she would still be there. I would give her a week, a month, six months but every morning, every day she was there and I wondered why.

 

Thirty years later they walk down the aisle and say vows to each other – even after all that they have been through and know of each other. Then we have our generation where we have ideas and notions about marriage. We watch the media, we see people we know who have great weddings, wonderful beginnings but somehow in their later years we hear them going through divorce and separation. Why? What was the point of being together in the first place if later you were going to separate just because he lost his job? Just because you have different opinions? Just because you fought?

 

Majority of our parents have seen worse than what I have written here but still stayed together. What are we missing out on? I was talking to a friend and she told me the first thing that comes to mind when she thinks of a perfect marriage is her parents. If you ask me, my parents marriage is not perfect, it’s not world class, it’s not ideal but it works for whatever reason. I want a marriage like that, we will fight, have hard times, things will look as if we reached the end, but I swear on my life that just like my dad I will manage as a father to my children and husband to my wife and do everything possible to make sure that they get what they need. I pray I will get a wife who even though she doesn’t understand and has reached the end of herself, at least she will stay no matter what.

 

Ephesians 5:22 – 27

Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the Husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior.  Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.Image

A slice of Me

It’s 11:35pm on this day of 9/8/2010. As I lay in my bed I start wondering why I just can’t get better from the illness I have been suffering… Not just now but all my life. To some I may sound like a brocken record, yet some may think that I blame a lot of things on it but I cannot blame their ignorance and, there is an old saying that before you know a person, wear his shoes and walk a mile in them then maybe you may begin to understand them.

Two days before today I went to hospital after being discharged a day before then, with a complication that arose, that still has me in pains till now. I met this doctor who looked young and very eager to advance in his profession, and perhaps too eager that he was really clamsy and kept apologising for every little thing he did wrong on me. I kept telling him it’s ok, do it again and he got it right. He then asked me – How many times do you think you have been pricked by needles… You don’t seem to mind them much! I told him it’s a small price to pay compared to the relief I will get from the medicine. And he said… I know you are suffering and this may probably be your life story – in and out of hospital. I only have this to tell you, we don’t choose where and how we are born… But after we are born we live the best way and the hardest we can. So you do just that.

I live and I do it hard. I am not afraid to live, and I am not afraid to die either. On the split side there are things that if I did I would surely loose my life – so I am called to exercise wisdom for only God is the giver and taker of life and not foolishness. What I hope I have done before I get to my grave is… I touched someones life and as a result their life changed for the better. If you think you have got it bad, take one good look at me and ask – how do you manage? And I will tell you.

Jonathan siagaImage

Tribalism in the Bible

TRIBALISM IN THE BIBLE

 Am sure you are wondering what the topic is all about but shortly you are going to find out. Today at church (Mamlaka Hill Chapel) the preaching was on Tribalism which is based on the series “the 10 most pressing issues facing Kenyans today.” It was quite interesting to hear the pastor speak on this and he gave very practical and real accounts and examples of how tribalism has affected us as Kenyans, how it continues to be a stigma in the society we live in unless we do something about it.

 What hit me the most is when he mentioned the things that Tribalism come from, and one of the points was “STEREO TYPES.” Why? You may ask. Because this is the thing that as young people we wrestle and battle with today, if your parents (who are not to blame) ever shared stereo types with you about other people groups. Well I don’t need to go into that because you know them, and the most recent one which I still don’t see anything funny about is “PANGA PUFF GIRLS.” Yeah you know this one.

 Am not trying to say that am holier than though, or in a better spiritual place than most, but as everyone was laughing at the jokes (Which were and are really funny hence being jokes) I had a really different outlook and even asked some of you for your opinions on the issue. I viewed that as being hugely a spiritual thing and hence that sapped dry the joke aspect of it from my stand point.  The pastor even happened to mention that Tribalism has spiritual roots that are not from God, and whatever is not of God is automatically of the devil.

 Well that to say, I couldn’t help thinking of Tribalism in the bible. What am talking about is the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus spoke about the Samaritans and even encountered one at a well. You might not know this but the two communities had deep hatred for each other, and it so happens that the Samaritans are Jews, just not pure Jews… what we know as “Pointies.” So here’s a little history about them…

 Israel is divided into three regions: Judea in the south, Galilee in the north, and Samaria in the middle. When a Jew wanted to go from Judea to Galilee, the most direct route led through Samaria. But good Jews would never go that way. They would go through Perea east of the Jordan River. Why?  Because there was such tension between the Jews and the Samaritans that the Jews only uttered the word “Samaritan” as a curse word. I dare to say that if we continue with tribalism then we just might turn out like this… You may be asking how  – forgive me for picking this as an example and saying this or even asking… but doesn’t the word “Kihee” in kikuyu mean uncircumcised? Also the same word is used to refer to Luos? And to call someone that in the Kikuyu community is hugely disrespectful? Chew on that…

 Why were the Samaritans despised? In the year 722 B.C., the Assyrians invaded Israel from the north and carried the majority of the people from the 10 northern tribes into captivity. The Assyrians then sent some of their people to Israel, where they intermarried with the Jews not taken into captivity. The marriage that took place between the Assyrians and the Jews produced the Samaritans, half – breeds in the eyes of Jews.

 Barred from the temple, the Samaritans built their own temple. On Mount Gerizim. Although they still believed in the Pentateuch – the first five books of Moses – They changed the stories though. The garden of Eden was Mount Gerizim, Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Gerizim, and Abraham offered Isaac – you guessed it – On mount Gerizim.

 The book of John 4 talks about the Samaritan woman. The woman meets Jesus at Jacobs well which still stands to date, a hundred and fifty feet deep and is situated at the war torn West Bank. I noticed something really interesting while I was in Sudan which will explain the next point that am about to make. Women would go to the well to draw water in the morning or in the evening because those were the coolest times of the day. This woman (The Samaritan Woman) however, goes to draw water in the middle of the day… why?

 She did this to avoid other women in her community. She already has two strikes against her. First she is a Samaritan and then she is a woman. In Jesus’ day it was forbidden for Rabbis to speak to women in public to such an extent that even if one saw his wife in the street, he would not acknowledge her. A Jewish man would pray in the morning thanking God that he wasn’t a Samaritan, a dog or a woman in that specific order. This explains the woman’s shock when Jesus spoke to her.

 In Luke10:25 – 37 Jesus gives the story about the Good Samaritan in a bid to answer the critical question… “Who is my neighbor?”  We know that at the end of this story the preferred person was the Samaritan and not the Religious leader, nor the lay associate. But let’s look at them closely before jumping to conclusions…

 The priests at the time were the ones who called the shots and controlled the people… more like the politicians of the day. The priest may have looked at the man and thought that the man was a lazy welfare dependent. More over in the book of Numbers19:11 – 13 if a priest touched a dead man he would be unclean for seven days and must purify himself. He could have thought that it was too much to take seven days off.

 The Levites would have been a kin to social workers of our day, after a closer look, this levite passed as well – perhaps worried that had he done otherwise, he would have been vulnerable to being attacked himself. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was widely known as “The Bloody Way” due to the great number of thieves who lay wait for unsuspecting travelers.  The Samaritan however sees this person and goes to great lengths to take care of him.

 Someone wisely said that if we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each enough sorrow and suffering to disarm all of our hostility. The priest and the Levite saw the man as a nuisance to avoid. The Samaritan saw him as a neighbor to love. How do you see people?  As Jews? Samaritans? Luo? Luhya? Kikuyu? Meru? Kamba? Kalenjin? Taita? Embu? Samburu? Maasai?

 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” the expert of the Law replied, “The one who had Mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

 

Jonathan Siaga

Just a moment

Give me a minute for just…
One look
One touch
One step in the room
One gesture
One smile
One talk
One date
One piece of your mind
One word
One embrace and I Promise
We’ll be in paradise
Give me a moment for
One joke
One laugh
One flick of your hair
One feeling
One record
One dance
One mmmm
One ahhh
And I promise
It will be Magic

Robbing God II

offering

 

Malachi 3:8 – 10  –

“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.[j1]

 

This passage is directed to ancient Israel when they were under the Mosaic Law. Gods people were holding back on the tithes and offerings, similar to holding back taxes. So they were stealing from God who instituted the tithing system. In verse 5 God says he will judge those who oppress the widow, the fatherless, and the stranger. These were the rightful recipients of the  tithe. In this passage God opposes the oppression of the poor.

 

Tithing was essentially Israel’s income tax and never do you find first century Christians tithing in the new testament.

God instituted three kinds of tithe i.e

  • A tithe of the produce of the land to support the Levites who had no inheritance in the land (Leviticus 27:30 – 33)
  • A tithe of the produce of the land to sponsor religious festivals in Jerusalem. If the produce was too burdensome for a family to carry to Jerusalem, they could convert it to money, sometimes called the festival tithe (Deuteronomy 14:22 – 27)
  • A tithe of the produce of the land collected every third year for the local Levites, orphans, strangers and widows (Deuteronomy 14:28 – 29, 26:12 – 13)

The word TITHE simply means the TENTH PART , Hebrew word MAASER simply meaning tenth part.

So in essence God commanded the Israelites to give 23.3% of their income every year and not 10%. (20% yearly and 10% every three years comes to 23.3 % every year. God commanded all the three tithes – Nehemiah 12:44, Malachi 3:8 – 42, Hebrews 7:5)

So there is a parallel between the modern taxation system and Israel’s tithing system. Israel was obligated to support their national workers (Priests), Their holidays (festivals), their poor (Strangers, widows and orphans) with their annual tithes.

 

According to Colossians 2:13 – 14, 16 – 17, and Hebrews 6 – 10, we see that tithing belonged exclusively to Israel under the law. When it comes to financial stewardship, the first century Christians gave cheerfully according to their ability, not dutifully out of a command (2 Corinthians 8:3 – 12, 9:5 – 13)

 

In the 3rd Century, Cyprian of Carthage was the first Christian writer to mention the practice of financially supporting the clergy just as the Levites were supported by the tithe. But this is misguided thinking because the Levitical system has been abolished. We are all priests now so if a priest demands tithe, then all Christians should tithe to one another.

 

FYI:

In the 7th and 8th Centuries leasing of land was a familiar characteristic in the European Economy and the use of the tithe or the tenth, was commonly used to calculate payments to landlords. As the church increased in it’s ownership of land across Europe, the 10% rent charge shifted from secular landlords to the church. Ecclesiastical leaders became the landlords and the tithe became ecclesiastical tax.  This gave the 10% charge a new meaning and was creatively applied to the old testament Law and came to be identified with the Levitical tithe. So consequently the Christian tithe as an institution was based on a fusion of Old testament practice and a common system of land leasing in medieval-Europe.

 

I ask you to research keenly and see what I am trying to put across here and ask God to open your eyes and see what we are supposed to do. I ask for you to feel free to add comments objections and thoughts towards this insight.

 

Jonathan Siaga

Naked we came, Naked we shall leave

I was talking to a friend of mine some days ago and he told me of something that he had heard someone say, which has prompted me to write this note. What he told me was this – “Someone told me that a successful man is one who makes more money than a girl can spend and a successful girl is one that can spend all the money that a successful man has.” It sounds funny but to me it’s a very serious issue because if this is how people live today then a lot of us Men and the women are in very big trouble!!

There is even a song that says “No romance without finance…!” I mean this is just sad. What kind of platform are we forming for the growing generation…?? I ask myself… what happened to the days when you could love someone for who they truly are and not what they have?? I have talked to a couple of young adult girls about this and they say it’s all about security…

Let me pause a question to you ladies… when you see a guy asking to date you and or marry you because deeply he loves you and would rather die before he lets anything happen to you and he is not really well to do at the time, do you think that he is inviting you to a life of misery?? “Love don’t pay the bills” some will say but I say this… “Love drives you to do everything to make sure that the girl is comfortable” because “Love conquers all. ”

I speak for the men now when I say this… we are not stupid when we ask you out or your hand in marriage and at the time we have nothing to show for the life ahead but I tell you this… we will give you the world and make sure we do even though we go through hell to make sure you are fine. But the moment this effort is despised then the good man goes out the window and the player checks in. Players were actually good men before they became players and please don’t get me wrong, I am not supporting the players… I am seriously against them. It’s a wrong choice they made to actually become players… but this is a topic for another day.

Ladies cut some men some slack, give them a chance… I am not saying that cashed out men are bad, not all of them are!  Yet not all not well to do men are good either… all I am saying is please don’t base a relationship on material things because you know what… naked we all came to this world and naked we shall leave. Love never fails and it’s the only true thing that stays. If he loves you… and you love him back… all will be fine in the future and God is pleased with that.

 

Jonathan Siaga

I believe in small things

I believe in small things…
I believe in taking one minute vaccations from the burden of life…
Smell a flower…
Watch a butterfly…
Feel the breeze…
Share a smile…

I believe in small things.
I believe in kindness and affection, something we have forgotten…
Share a burden…
Pray for a friend…
Offer a hug…
Or simply hold a tired hand.

I believe in small things.
I believe in you and me…
how small things always seem to be big…
Memories we have shared…
Wishes coming true…
Silly arguments…
Just being there.

I believe in small things.
I believe I can be of help if you need me…
Because I care…
Because I believe that…
Even little guys can do big things too.

~ Jonathan Siaga ~