24 October, 2008

3rd Party Woes

Vote (noun): The right to indicate a choice in an election.
Note that this definition doesn't say that the vote matters, just that it is indicated.

I cannot, in good conscience, choose McCain as President.

I will not vote for Obama for many, many reasons.

Problem? I think not, because I have more than two choices. Do you know how many people are running for President of the United States? I had to look it up. Six. Even the government's website only had two listed (anyone else find this outrageous and sick?). Did you know a Black woman was running for President? From the look of things, she has some good credentials, too. Just to be fair, there's this guy again and the Libertarian and the man I'm voting for.

If only the media were a bit more liberal in their coverage. Not Liberal, mind you, but liberal. Maybe "balanced" is a better word. Why do we hear so much about Sarah Palin and Barack Obama? Why is the media practically making up stuff to report about the Republican and Democrat nominees when there are four others who don't get coverage? Why aren't other candidates included in the debates?

Because the average voter is content to eat what mainstream media feeds them.

Forget about Left and Right. There's Up, and Down, and Forward, and Backward. Who knew?

"All education is self education." (Louis L'Amour) If people would educate themselves about the candidates they may choose, I'm convinced that the two domineering parties would be overtaken quite easily.

From what I've learned in my Game Theory class, my vote matters very little when it comes to national politics (one reason why I invest more in local politics than national politics). Besides, there's the Electoral College, which isn't even required to vote according to the wishes of the people they represent. However, my vote still matters because it indicates which candidate I choose and which candidates I do not choose. If not choosing McCain means that Obama gets in office, so be it. My conscience is at rest. God is omnipotent, and I pray he gives me the faith to let him control the election's outcome.

I'm debating about getting this shirt for $5. Two negatives: it costs $5 and it's white. But it involves kayaking (woohoo!) and politics.

20 October, 2008

Education Reform and the Presidential Race

This article (yes, I know, another link to Boundless) is a perfect example of why the education system in the United States should be demolished. Even as someone who wasn't mass-educated with peers, the system still affects me in negative ways. I hate it.

Which is why I'm voting for Chuck Baldwin as President. The man wants to disband the Department of Education, which is one of the things that Ron Paul wanted to do. By the way, Ron Paul endorsed Chuck Baldwin. While voting for Chuck isn't quite like voting for Ron Paul, I'm more confident in a vote for Chuck than I would be for any other candidate. Chuck's policies resonate with my convictions except in one area. He's said nothing about the environment and the so-called energy crisis, and I care very much about those issues.

Some would say that I'm throwing my vote away on a candidate who will never get into office. I disagree. Vehemently. Voting for one of two majority parties, neither of which I support or agree with, is throwing my vote away. Voting for the candidate who seems most likely to get into office but barely agrees with my views on anything is foolish. I don't want McCain in office! Sure, he's pro-life, but consider that he won't have power to stop abortion! I don't agree with his energy policy or his foreign policy or his VP candidate or the reasons why he chose Sarah Palin as his VP candidate. And yet, I can't vote for Barack Obama. The man has terrible views on foreign policy and would bring this country even closer to a socialist state. I can't vote for that.

I'm sick of this two-party majority.

15 October, 2008

Story of My (Night) Life

Daydreaming at Night
Thoughts spinning, I write
Nonsense over again.

Heart thumping, breathing,
Eyes open, staring
I want to fall asleep.

Analyzing all
Anything at all
My brain won't stop thinking.

Metallic tasting
I search for something
That makes my brain shut off.

No rest for the weary.

09 October, 2008

The Office

Today I was able to help around my church's office for a bit while Mom got ready to leave. As I was scribbling an address on a package, the assistant pastor walked up and sighed.
"Can I help you?" I asked.
"Nahh...I'm just tired."
"Oh. How many hours of sleep did YOU get last night?"
"Well, um...probably more than you did!"

I don't know if I got more or less sleep than he did, but that post on tithing took quite a bit of time out of last night. So when I got home from the office I slept for 6 hours, and here I am...awake still! 5 AM! Yay!

Remember how I watched a lot of action flicks this Summer during late nights? Now that school has started, I'm memorizing vocab lists :-) And occasionally researching theological topics.

08 October, 2008


The two responses I've had to my last post indicate that I need to clarify my position on tithing. Thank you to those who responded! You challenged me to evaluate tithing from a strictly biblical perspective.

As a child, I learned about giving. My parents often gave me quarters to put in the offering box. (Why? I'm not sure.) The children's ministry in my church once did a skit about tithing. One of my teachers dressed up as a Hebrew woman, put some oranges in a basket, prayed that God would use them for his glory, and left them on a shelf. This left a big impact on me, because it was the first time I associated tithing with glorifying God. I remember distinctly getting $2 from somewhere (probably a gift-I was about 4) and deciding I would give it to God. So I dressed up as a Hebrew girl, put my $2 in a basket, prayed that God would use it for his glory, and left it on my dresser for weeks. I expected them to disappear. Nothing happened. I put them in the offering box at church, figuring it was more convenient for God to use them there. God still hasn't taken my tithes directly from me.

I couldn't think of any verses relating to tithing off the top of my head. That was embarrassing. The closest thing I could remember was the spiritual gift of giving (which I've prayed to receive). So I searched in my concordance for "tithe." There were 35 verses containing the word.

Tithing is first mentioned when Moses talked to God on Mt. Sinai. People were supposed to give gifts to God, and quite a few gifts are mentioned. The only quantitative value mentioned, however, is a tenth of seeds, fruit, and animals. All these gifts (not just the tithe) were given to the Levites, because they served in the Temple. The Levites were supposed to tithe on the tithes they collected. However, tithes also went to travelers, orphans, and widows.

Then there's the "Robbing God" passage, which seems to be a popular source of ideas on tithing.

Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.
This makes sense from personal experience and other testimonies. My parents have gone through periods of tithing and not tithing, and God was faithful to provide in either situation. But, according to my father, my family was blessed to not just "get by" but give sacrificially when tithing. However, I don't think God will only bless those who tithe. That's ridiculous; it ignores the grace that God continually pours on us, whether we acknowledge him or not. But it is a wonderful opportunity for God to prove his faithfulness and use us as tools for his will. Don't you want to be part of God's plan? I do! I think tithing can be one way that we participate in God's will.

Tithing is not supposed to be a burden. Jesus hated legalism, and said so with pretty strong language.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!"
But I would argue that, if you find tithing to be a burden, your wallet is not at fault. Your heart is. I do not know anyone who is destitute. I've never met anyone who is destitute, even the panhandlers that line the streets of my city. This is fodder for another blog post, but none of them have ever taken my offer of a free lunch after I refuse to give them money. I am not destitute, despite being what most classify as a "poor college student." I don't know any poor college students. If you're in college, which is an incredible privilege, you are not poor. Granted, you probably have a huge financial responsibility, but the fact that you were able to take on that responsibility indicates some amount of resources. If God has indicated that, by going to college, you are giving sacrificially, great! He hasn't given me that desire, but I'm not going to rule it out as a possibility for others.

The Bible doesn't reference a group of people who should not tithe. Even in the New Testament, Jesus encouraged his disciples (most of whom did not have jobs) to give sacrificially, and praised a woman who gave every financial asset she had.
And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
Financial assets are not the only thing that God commands us to give. He commands us to give him everything. What's the difference between tithing and sacrificial giving? To tithe means to give 10% of one's income, but does sacrificial giving encompass that? Cain and Abel offered the fruits of their labor to God, which I'm sure was not easy to do, considering their working and living conditions.

Tithing is mentioned in the New Testament as something that Jews did, in a mostly legalistic sense. Jesus never commanded us to tithe in the New Testament. However, in Hebrews 7 (interesting chapter...go read it!), tithing is mentioned as part of the Law, which could not provide perfection.
Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? [...] For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. [...] For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.
So, then, I think we're called to a standard above and beyond a simple tithe in the same way that Jesus went above and beyond the standards of Levitical priesthood. Ever heard The Sheep And The Goats by Keith Green? It references the Final Judgment in Matthew 25. That kind of giving is far beyond tithing, and is motivated by love, not duty.

So, why do I tithe? 10% is not a magical number. It is, however, a historical benchmark that I find useful to evaluate just what, exactly, I ought to give my church. Ideally, I would tithe from every pay check consistently because it serves as a reminder of my financial priorities. When God calls me to go above and beyond that, I pray that my heart is willing and ready to follow his calling. I won't judge others because they don't tithe, but I do think it is important that Christians make it a priority to honor God with their finances and give when he leads them to.

If I am wrong, please tell me how! If you're struggling with giving sacrificially, please talk to someone about it! If you have repented of your sins and are seeking to love God with all your heart, your soul, your mind, and your strength, it is important to put your money where your mouth is.

06 October, 2008

The LORD Is At Hand, And Will Provide

Lately I've been feeling distant from God. I "feel" him when I pray and worship, but there's a constant nearness of God that I've been missing for the past few days. Tonight I reluctantly opened my Bible to Jeremiah 16, wondering if I should be reading something more emotional to get that "nearness" feeling back. But this chapter was next on my list, so I read it.

Then I ran into verses 10-12.

“And when you tell this people all these words, and they say to you, ‘Why has the Lord pronounced all this great evil against us? What is our iniquity? What is the sin that we have committed against the Lord our God?’ then you shall say to them: ‘Because your fathers have forsaken me, declares the Lord, and have gone after other gods and have served and worshiped them, and have forsaken me and have not kept my law, and because you have done worse than your fathers, for behold, every one of you follows his stubborn, evil will, refusing to listen to me.
God pushed a button.

I'm not disciplined with tithing, and God showed me that I've been making my tuition bill a financial idol. I haven't forgotten to tithe, but I've pushed it back "until this bill gets paid." Um. The point of tithing is giving God the FIRST fruits of my labor, not the dregs. *cough*

Soooooo, maybe I've been feeling distant from God because I'm not completely focused on him? DUH.

Tonight I sorted through months of pay stubs and figured out what I should have tithed and stuck a check in my Bible for next Sunday. But I found something among all those pay stubs. I found a paycheck that more than covered what I should have been tithing...so...it kinda drove home the point that what I have is not mine. It's God's, and I'm foolish to think that I can keep what is rightfully his. He provides, even for tithing.

01 October, 2008


I came away from this movie with two dominant thoughts: I would never be able to love anyone unconditionally on my own, and I am so glad that someone loves me unconditionally. This movie was superb in almost all aspects. The content sets it apart from most films in that it shows Love, not fluffy romance.

Technically, this movie is much better than the average low-budget religious film. The Kendrick brothers (a director/producer duo) seem to have learned a lot from Facing the Giants, and put that experience and knowledge to work even harder on Fireproof. The actors did a tough job very well, especially for inexperienced volunteers. There were moments where I wished certain actors would diversify their facial expressions and poses, but the acting rarely felt forced and flowed smoothly. The soundtrack did exactly what it was supposed to do: Support the actors' emotions and occasionally become part of the story. The song "While I'm Waiting" became part of the story, and I loved it.

Most religous films get uncomfortably preachy. Some deal with this up front (like VeggieTales). Some try to hide it, and generally fail miserably. Fireproof was not preachy; it was a story. Everything that happened was for the sake of character development or the plot. At no point did I ever feel like someone broke the 4th wall (which is when movies start to get preachy) and gave me info that could possibly help me, but had little to do with the story. However, as I thought about the movie, I was reminded of Bible verses and sermons that expounded upon topics that were integral to the film and applicable to my life. It was PERFECT!

You've probably heard me rant before about the Disney Princess Franchise. I have come to hate Disney Princess movies and other such romantic trash. There is little redeeming value in those stories, and they've brainwashed my generation of women to expect perfection from obviously flawed men. What's more romantic than a man devoted to a wife who will not love him? I work in a household where the husband shoulders a staggeringly large burden in order to care for his wife, and in two years I've never heard him complain about it. That's romantic. "Making out" under the Eiffel Tower is not romantic. Romance is when a wife lays down her agenda and desires to follow her husband to the ends of the earth, not waking up when the "right" man (i.e. whoever happens to find her first) kisses her.

So this movie was like water to my romantically parched soul. At the same time it gave me hope and despair. Despair that I will ever be able to love the way God does, and hope that God can change the hearts of sinful, dirty humans like me. My ideals of Love were challenged. I realized that a marriage can reflect the Love that Christ has for the Church, and I also realized that I know much less about Love than I thought I did. My first thought when the end credits rolled was, "man, I am never going to be able to get married." And then, "but honestly, would I want marriage if it meant anything less than what I just saw?" The answer was, of course, no. So now, instead of looking for a husband, I am looking for Christ in a man. And training myself to Love unconditionally. I think the latter will be the hardest.

Ack! I'd love to talk about details, but the movie is SO GOOD if you don't know the story. So go watch it. Then talk to me about details. Go watch it multiple times, in fact. The first time I saw it was the best, but the second time was more meaningful, if that makes any sense whatsoever. I'd like to go watch it a third time...my brain still hasn't processed everything that happened, and the story is SO GOOD!

Dear Kendrick Brothers, please make a sequel to Fireproof! Caleb and Katherine could have children, and you could call it Childproof! :-P