At the end of last month’s e-teaching, I mentioned the fact that only 2.6% of all American workers earn the federal minimum wage and that minimum wage workers are typically young, single people who have just entered the work force work and who only want to work part time. They are earning the minimum wage only temporarily, and are on their way up and out.
I knew as I wrote those statistics that they would be little consolation to breadwinners who are only earning the minimum wage (or slightly higher) and who are struggling to meet the needs of their families. Thankfully, one compassionate reader, whom I will refer to as “Glenn,” wrote to provoke me to consider their plight. I asked if I could use his words as the starting point in my next e-teaching, and he gave me permission:
In this third article in my series on voting, I would like to address some of the thoughtful feedback I’ve received. If you haven’t read part 1 and part 2 of this series, I ask that you would. One thing that I dislike about publishing series of teachings is that inevitably, some readers read only part of what I’ve written on a particular subject, and then they judge my argument to be deficient in some way, not realizing that I’ve already addressed their objection in an earlier article.
Also, there is no need to be concerned that, because of three articles on the biblical rationale for Christians voting and voting morally, the ministry of Heaven’s Family is “turning political.” Heaven’s Family is and always will be focused on advancing Jesus’ kingdom. And if you’ve read my first article in this series (or Romans 13:1-7), you understand that the authority to vote is God-given. Voting morally is one of many things that Christians do to love their neighbors as themselves.
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing (Rom. 13:1-6).
I wonder if you are like me. When I read this passage from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, I think to myself, “Paul, what were you thinking?” Because what Paul wrote obviously isn’t always true. Some rulers don’t seem to be “ministers of God” in any sense. Many practice and promote what God says is evil. Paul himself suffered under corrupt rulers. According to early church historian Eusebius, Paul’s martyrdom by decapitation was due to the decree of one of those corrupt governmental leaders, Roman emperor Nero.
It is said the wise avoid discussions about religion and politics. The reason is because people can be passionate, and thus unbending, about religious and political convictions, and the inevitable consequence of heated discussions is broken friendships. So if you want to preserve your relationships with friends who might differ on religion or politics, avoid those subjects we are told.
That piece of advice, I think, contains some truth. Obviously, however, mature and gracious people can discuss topics of disagreement without harming their relationships. It is only the immature who can’t respectfully disagree. Moreover, humble people love to have their personal convictions challenged, as they realize that they could be wrong. To thus avoid any and all discussions about religion and politics betrays that I think that all people, including myself, are immature and ungracious.
I don’t think that “fundraising” is a dirty word. Rather, fundraising is biblical. You can find examples of it in both Old and New Testaments.
Paul, for example, was quite a fundraiser. He devoted two chapters of his second letter to the Corinthians to communicate the needs of poor saints in an attempt to persuade his readers to give sacrificially to meet those needs. That is fundraising. When people sometimes tell me that I shouldn’t communicate needs or attempt to motivate people to meet those needs—but instead just pray about them—I point them to 2 Corinthians 8-9.
God knows I love pastors. I was a pastor, off and on, for about twenty years. I’ve spoken to thousands of pastors around the world and expended myself on their behalf. I know something about the challenges they face. But sometimes they say things that I’m certain they will one day regret.
For example, have you ever heard a pastor say, “Your tithe belongs to the local church”? I’ll bet I’ve heard that hundreds of times over the past 40 years of my Christian life. That familiar claim is often followed with, “If you want to give to other ministries, you can give offerings over and above your tithe.”
In last month’s e-teaching I shot a sacred cow about tithing to the local church. I pulled the trigger with fear and trepidation.
My fears, however, proved to be baseless, as most of the feedback I received was very positive. We emailed that e-teaching to 9,000 subscribers. We also posted it on our website here, where about 4,500 people have since read it. 888 Facebook subscribers “liked” it and 529 of them “shared” it. That made it our most popular e-teaching ever.
One of the earliest lessons learned by the Mayflower pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony is one that many Americans seem to have forgotten or never learned. It is a lesson about human nature, poverty, prosperity and toxic charity. It has profound implications for ministries like Heaven’s Family and for any Christian who is trying to follow Jesus and help the poor. I heard the story some years ago in a series of books that many homeschooling families use to educate their children known as the Uncle Eric Series, authored by Richard Maybury. This month’s e-teaching is his. — David
The Great Thanksgiving Hoax
by Richard Maybury
Each year at this time school children all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating.
It is also very deceiving. This official story is nothing like what really happened. It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving’s real meaning.
It is certainly tempting to become cynical about the claims of nutritionists when what is touted as being unhealthy one year is deemed healthy the next, or vice versa. Chicken eggs, once villains, are now good guys. Avocados were also once scorned due to their high fat content. Then it was discovered that some fats, like those in avocados, are very good for us.
Not only do we receive conflicting information year to year, but there are always so many “experts” contradicting one another.
I’m hoping to live to be 100. So far, so good! At 55, I’m more than half-way there—although statistics indicate that my chances of reaching my goal decrease annually. Since I’ve learned that there are currently 53,000 people in the United States who are over age 100, however, I know my dream is possible.
Why do I want to live to be 100? First, more years mean potentially more fruitfulness for God’s kingdom. Since God entrusts those who are faithful with more, then more years mean more opportunity to earn His trust, in hopes that He might grant more opportunities, responsibilities and spiritual gifts. More years also means more Bible study, prayer, experiences and mistakes, all of which means more wisdom. I could then help 55-year-olds avoid mid-life folly!