Scrooge is Alive and Well! (and other thoughts)

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According to the latest Christianity Today Scrooge is alive and well in our churches. CT reports that overall church collections are down. The article claims that the average after-tax amount regular church-going Christians give per year per household is $200. Wow.

Isn’t it interesting how the auto makers are in trouble because- at least in part- they refused to hear and heed the call for change in their industry and just keep doing the same ole stuff the same ole way. Why is it that it takes a crisis to get folks to awaken to fresh ideas? Kind of works that way down at the church house too.

In most industries an executive coming off of ten years of sustained success would be lauded, promoted and have a feeling of security- even if the eleventh year was not as successful, but not in college football. I am no fan of Auburn or Tommy Tuberville, but- as a friend used to say- why in the name of common sense was he forced to resign? Mercy. No team- even the very elite- can win every year. Of course it is difficult to feel sorry for TT when he gets a six million dollar buy-out. But it all just demonstrates how crazy big-time college football is.

Hotty Toddy! How bout them Rebs!

Christmas season is officially here. While channel surfing I ran across the movie, Christmas Story. My guess is that it will be shown about 1429 times before December is over. You will shoot yer eye out kid!

Recently I had the chance to hear on radio an extended presentation about the “last days” we are now living in. Were you aware that Russia is going to ally with Iran and a Muslim coalition and in great force descend down upon Israel in the valley of Megiddo for a fierce battle which Russia will win to become the world power- only to have China’s millions swarm all over them later- after which the anti-Christ will appear- followed by Christ himself coming. Wow. All of this is found clearly in the Scripture too. Seems Daniel, Isaiah, John and the other prophets of old could have cared less about the needs of their day and time and were writing in great detail strictly about us today. Twenty years ago Daniel, Isaiah and John had the USSR and China joining forces to defeat Israel according to these same radio voices. Too bad they have all forgotten one hard fast rule of biblical interpretation- Scripture can never mean now what it did not mean then. And I am fairly certain the prophets of old were not thinking about Russia in their proclamations. They had more immediate threats and situations in mind.

Don’t forget to go to church Sunday and don’t be a Scrooge! 🙂

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13 Responses to Scrooge is Alive and Well! (and other thoughts)

  1. Otis says:

    Right now, i need a cousin Eddy (Christmas Vacation). No Christmas bonus this year through my wife’s employer. Talk about your scrooges!

  2. Donna says:

    Man you hit it all…except for the mighty Crimson Tide. I hate it for Tubberville, but for whatever reason they have never really rallied around him down on the plains. I think he will be just fine though.

    As for scrooge…do you think some people give less directly to the church where their money is spent on buildings and such and just take it directly to the streets? I have a hard time with the $200 per year thing….could that be right?

    I watched part of “put your eye out” last night. I got to see him cuss and suck on a bar of soap…..

    I just realized my comment rambled all over the place too…..

  3. Tim and I made a commitment when we were first married and still in dental school based on a comment by a dear friend and elder, J. C. Allen, who has gone to be with the Lord some 20 years ago, to write our checks for church when we write our bills each month. That way, the money is already gone out of the checking account and is not there for us to spend on anything else. We also made a promise to each other and to God that if we were ever tempted to the point of NOT giving, that we would double our contribution that week (and we’ve never had to do that!). Thank you, God, for putting wise men like J.C. in our young lives.

    Like Donna, I have a hard time digesting families giving only $200 a year to the church…$200 a month sure, but almost anybody can come up with $200 a year just by giving up cokes and junk food for one week a month!

  4. dannydodd says:

    The $200 was an estimate based on several factors.

    If only we had more folks like you and Tim, Tammie.

    Donna, I do think most do not give all their money to the institutional church- and for many reasons.

    Bonus? What is that Otis? Well, we do normally get one here, but this year I am not so sure.

  5. Scottie says:

    Bah-Hum-Bug! If it wasn’t for the kids, you could have the whole holiday back as far as I am concerned. It’s turned into such a stressful time instead of a relaxing hoiliday–who needs it!

    Seriously, I would like to have the day off and that would be reward enough. Yeah, yeah, I know..not the cheeriest person at this time of year. 🙂

    As far as the contribution goes, maybe if the people who managed the money put more of it into ministry and people and less into facility planning, then poeple wouldn’t make a distinction between the institutional church and the “streets”.

    i think a big challenge is that our facilites have become a burden bigger than helping others. I am not sure how to fix that…just an observation.

    As far as football goes, DON’T GET ME STARTED!! I have had to watch this travesty with my beloved Longhorns occur. Arrg! Maybe we can get an at-large bid in the BCS. I think Bama is going to have their hands full with Florida….it should be a good match-up.

    HOOK EM HORNS!

    See ya soon Danny…I’ll be back stateside Saturday night.

    scottie

  6. jim miller says:

    The sad thing is that Coach Tuberville is a faithful member of the church and a good example.

    But you can’t lose (at all) at either school in Alabama. Ask Pat Dye, Terry Bowden, Bill Curry…all winners.

    I find that “the Wizard of Oz” is an interesting view of what alot of Christians want Revelation to be. Weary Pilgrims travel on the street of gold (yellow brick road) to the great gleaming city to find (their idea of) GOD- plus, this theolgy keeps alot of radio and tV preachers off the unemployment line. Personally, I just want a white robe and palm branch.

  7. dannydodd says:

    Lol Jim, never thought of the Wiz of a Wiz that way before.

    Hey, Scottie, we miss you since you have been down under. Look forward to seeing you soon- and with that kind of jet lag- a little bah humbug is acceptible.

  8. benoverby says:

    Danny, though I have little precious time to read blogs any longer, your’s is one I can count on to be stimulating and well-written every time I’m blessed to read it.

    You touched on a couple of reasons that after 8 months my family still hasn’t found a local congregation that is even in the category of appealing. Those reasons . . .

    1. Pathetic twisting of scripture.

    2. Constant badgering for money to support “church” activities which can hardly be defended in the context of the gritty gospel Jesus taught and lived.

    To the first, it’s not just the “left behind” sorts who manage to muddle up the end times. My jaw gaped recently as I listened to a couple of the CoC’s best and brightest on a local Know You Bible program discuss the end times with language that was sprinkled with much more Plato than Paul. I wanted to spend some time with one of the local speakers who shared the TV space with an out of town guest so I e-mailed him and invited him to discuss the subject(s). By the way, the out of town guest (once a trusted friend) was from a church who took the initiative to publically pronounce, mark and disown me as a heritic a few years ago in TN because I suggested the Baptist were our brothers. The last time I spoke with the out of town guest he declared his assurance that I was headed straight for the gates of hell, and he didn’t sound displeased. The other speaker, whom as I mentioned I contacted, initially indicated that he’d love to get together with me to study and converse. But after the initial contact he ceased to communicate. Probably heard about how useless I am to those in the one, true church.

    To the second point, maybe we should exercise caution when characterizing a failure to give with Scrooginess. Scrooge was selfish. Probably a lot of us will not give to an institution until it’s budget somehow reflects that IT isn’t selfish. I’d switch the characters in the analogy–the church is Scrooge (not always, but much of the time), spending most of it’s treasure on facilities and white collar salaries. In the meantime, just because money isn’t always flowing into the church’s treasure house, that doesn’t mean it isn’t getting into the hands of some who really need it–those who are really poor, who are really homeless, who are really alone.

    Grace to you!
    Ben
    boverby@southeasterncardiology.net

  9. dannydodd says:

    Ben,

    Thanks for your kind words. Your comments are always welcome, appreciated and insightful.

    Sorry to hear about your treatment by these guys. It does not reflect the spirit of Christ. Too bad you cold not have relocated in P’Cola!

    Your point on just who is Scrooge opens up a major train of thought for me. I hear pretty consistently how the institutional church is failing us- and I experience and understand that. But what can we do about it- abandon it or hang in and try to bring about a change- a revival of biblical discipleship within the institution? I realize the latter is difficult because often the institution resists. So what do we do?

  10. ben overby says:

    Danny, here’s my two cents in response to your question.

    Leadership has to grapple with a simple question: Why are we here? The CoC wing of the Restoration Movement answered that question for most of last century with some version of this: We’re here to restore the church to the ancient paths, the New Testament order. It sounded pure enough but by now many of us have noticed that the focus was on a handful of external identifiers which marked the faithful over and against all the “denominations” who’d been reformed (we were told) rather than restored. OK, good enough, many have now come to the conclusion that we had the wrong answer to the right question. But realizing we’ve had the wrong answer is no guarantee that we’ve found the right answer. And I think that’s where many churches of Christ are today. In limbo. Not fully dead and certainly not fully alive, but with tremendous potential to slip either direction.

    When we get Jesus’ answer to the above question embedded in our heart and head we will not be able to continue the comfortable existance we’ve embraced as the one, true church. That is when we get the right answers to the right questions the form will march behind the function; some will probably sale property, divide into little effective groups of kingdom people, and go into all the world (their neighborhoods) living and speaking the gospel. Some funds will be centralized in order to support elders and evangelists and their families, as well as larger projects for coping with poverty. But the evaporation of expensive complexes with their expensive overhead will leave us with no other choice than to redefine what we mean by church. Without that expensive concrete symbol we will have to rely on hands, feet, and words.

    Maybe one day the following will be the norm: “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the church has nowhere to lay its head.” And without our props we may just rediscover our humanity.

    But what do I know, I’m not even a preacher. I’m living in Dostoyevsky’s mouse hole, amazed by what I’ve experienced and what I’m witnessing, having lost all the credentials that count with the crowd and gaining my eyesight in the process. : )

  11. I am not surprised by the CT article. I was disheartened by Tubby’s departure from Auburn … he has a record of winning even against Bama (even Saban …. just not this year). I have no love for Auburn but i think they are crazy.

    Shalom,
    Bobby V

  12. Jim Sexton says:

    I enjoy the thoughts that got the ball rolling and the follow up comments from everyone. I think that we have, in many ways, restored the first century group… only in too many cases that group is not the church but rather the Jewish leaders that believed that what they were doing was God’s work and will. Much of the persecution that we get in the form of ‘friendly fire’ makes me think of how dedicated Saul was to keep the status quo in place. He and the men that sent him with letters (early church periodicals no doubt) had become so misled by years of tradition and opinion that it took Jesus in a vision to set Saul on the right path.

    And what is up with all of the disrespect that Penn St. gets?

    Just sayin’…

    Jimbo

  13. Royce says:

    One of the subjects sorely lacking in our pulpits is what the Bible teaches about giving for Christians. It seems that most who teach on giving at all teach 10% tithing as the norm, hardly supported by the NT body of truth. If my wife and I, and many others, adhered to the 10% “rule” our giving would be far less than it is.

    Jesus teaching about the widow who gave a “mite” indicates that a better measure for giving than what we actually give might be looking at what we have left after we give. The widow gave little but gave all she had. Tithing far too often becomes only one more thing to check off on a list of items for those who want to be counted as “faithful”. In my view, God is seldom impressed. Does God bless tithers? The law of sewing and reaping is valid even when the motive is wrong perhaps.

    We make the mistake of assuming that everything any local church does is “God’s work” and thus worthy of support. The majority of people who teach tithing also teach “storehouse tithing”, the teaching that all giving must be through the local church. Many choose to give only through the church for tax purposes, a clue that perhaps motives are impure.

    The “grace of giving” involves first the giving of ourselves to God. Only after we have done this elementary thing does what we put in the plate on Sunday really matter. Writing a check for 10% of my salary and then ignoring the needs of people all around me is not Christian, it is hypocritical and foolish.

    We should learn what the Bible teaches about giving, teach that “everyone” is mandated to be a giver, and not limit where the money is given or the amount. It is between the giver and his or her God.

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