The World According to kcillini77

June 18, 2008

Feed the world or feed the pastor(s)?

Filed under: America,Christianity,Kansas City,tithe — kcillini77 @ 11:17 pm
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My parents taught me from an early age to tithe, and I’m happy they did.  When I got a dollar, I put a dime in the collection plate at church.  It became a habit and I knew it was the right thing to do.

The first time I remember having any qualms about giving to the church was in high school.  I had my first real job, and I knew I needed to give to the church.  But I couldn’t get it out of my head that we lived in a small house with no air conditioning and had one car.  Meanwhile, one of my classmates was my pastor’s daughter.  She was never wanting for the latest fashions, lived in a house with plenty of privacy and central air, and drove her own car to school.  Every day I saw her, I would wonder how much of the money I put in the collection plate ended up as a new outfit for her.  I would quickly try to correct my attitude.  It doesn’t matter what happens to the money, as long as we’re giving it to God, right?  God loves a cheerful giver, and I need to be cheerful!  Stop thinking about it, dufus!  But of course the next time I saw her she had a new watch and… STOP IT!  I felt tremendous guilt for being jealous of my pastor and his family, and I constantly tried to get it out of my mind, but it really never left.

I’ve gotten over the jealousy.  Really, I have.  But lately I’ve been pondering this scene that I have seen over and over again in the churches I’ve been in.  A video is shown of hungry kids in Africa or poor people on the streets of our city and a sincere plea is made for funds to help them.  Our hearts are genuinely touched.  Then enter the pastor.  “This organization really needs your help.  Please consider giving generously.  Remember this should be above and beyond your regular tithes and offerings.”  Excuse me???!!!  You just told me about starving children who are going to bed hungry every night, and you feel compelled to remind me that while I should be helping them, I should not do it at the expense of keeping the church mortgage and salaries paid?  Why not?

Recently I read through all of the biblical references to tithing.  All are in the old testament, and most references refer to the tithe (usually crops and livestock) being used to sustain the livelihood of many, and to celebrate the LORD.  Check out Deuteronomy 14.

22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. 24 But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the LORD your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the LORD will choose to put his Name is so far away), 25 then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. 26 Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice. 27 And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.

28 At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, 29 so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Some day suggest to your pastor that instead of paying his salary every year the church throw a big barbecue in the presence of the LORD with a nice assortment of wine and mixed drinks, except for every third year, where we just feed the poor and destitute.  See what kind of reaction that gets you.

Listen, I am NOT suggesting that our churches don’t need money.  I’m not suggesting that a pastor shouldn’t receive a salary.  I’m not saying that we don’t need buildings or to have the power bill paid.  But when the church says that it is more important that we have a staff of a hundred with salaries and benefits sufficient for suburbia to keep all of the church programs and activities going than for children to eat, that’s when I cry foul.  I challenge anyone to show me (biblically, not traditionally) why the firstfruits must go to the administrative needs of the church rather than to the aliens, the fatherless, and the widows.

I’m probably crazy, but I think God would rather that a child in South Africa find nourishment and live through another day than that a child in suburban Kansas City have a youth center to play XBox.  But maybe I’m just not reading my Bible correctly.  You tell me.

April 22, 2008

What would the church be without its buildings?

Filed under: Church,Kansas City,Westside — kcillini77 @ 10:02 pm

I’m trying, really trying to keep from being cynical.  But I really can’t help it.

Next Sunday we start the annual “Come Together” campaign at church.  I think this is the fifth year I’ve been through it, though it may have had a different name at some point.

In essence, it started as a campaign to convince the church that we needed a bigger building to reach our community for Christ.  Once the ball was rolling and commitments were in hand, the building was constructed (with pledge cards in hand, but not necessarily cold hard cash).  Every year, we enter this “celebration time” which is pumped up as a time to reflect on all the great things our church is doing and dream even bigger.  But a key component of it is getting the newbies to sign on to help pay off the debt that the church amassed when it decided God was calling it to build a huge building and to remind us who may have fallen off the wagon that we need to keep giving as well.

There’s a part of me that thinks I should be preparing my heart for God to speak to me and show me that my church is indeed right and that it is very important that we have this building paid off in order for the gospel to be communicated.  But what I keep hearing is this:  Worst case scenario, if the church loses the building, so what?  Yeah, our big machine that keeps kids programs going and cool worship bands playing wouldn’t be able to maintain the status quo.  But the church could survive.  The church would survive.  In fact, the church would truly need to “come together” and seek God for guidance as to how to proceed.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not rooting for my church to lose its building.  But it’s not the church’s building in the first place, just like my house isn’t really my house.  It’s the bank’s, and by God’s will I am allowed to stay in it for the time being.  And if God wills the church to lose its building, then that is his prerogative.  So let’s just skip the pep talk and work on the gospel, okay?

March 4, 2008

Gratitude

Filed under: America,Faith,Family,Home,Kansas City,Prosperity,Shawnee — kcillini77 @ 9:16 pm

    Last Thanksgiving our furnace went out and we had to buy a new one.  It cost us $3,200 that we didn’t have.  I bought it on a one year same-as-cash deal figuring that I would just time the market and take it out of my 401k sometime this year when we were on an upswing.  Well, as you may know the market hasn’t been doing so well and our 401k is down about ten grand from where it was Jan. 1.  So I decided I should rethink my strategy.

Well, after doing my taxes, despite the effort I made to get as much out of my paycheck as possible and NOT get a refund, I somehow failed and between the feds and two states we are getting about $2,000 back.  And thanks to the Bush economic stimulus plan, it looks like we will be receiving an additional $1,500 in a few months.  Problem solved.  What a great blessing!  God is in control!

Except our reaction is not excitement or gratitude.  We look at that $3,500 and think, ‘Why do we have to spend that on something boring like a furnace.  That would be enough to get some of the furniture we’d like for the house, or an AWESOME HDTV, or even really jump start our savings toward our next car.’  Our natural reaction is pity that we have to spend this money on something that “just” keeps us warm through a bitter winter.

God, forgive us for our selfishness.  Forgive us for our greed.  Thank you for providing what we don’t deserve.

February 24, 2008

Waldo Pizza

Filed under: Beer,Kansas City — kcillini77 @ 9:01 pm

My new favorite pizza place:

waldo-pizza-beer-list-2_22_08.jpg

January 12, 2008

On the Second Trimester of Life

Filed under: Brinton,Family,Kansas City — kcillini77 @ 6:04 pm

Brinton and Dad at Union Station

There are times when I miss the happy hours, the church singles social events, the possibility of meeting some girl that could be “the one”. Those times last for about 1.35 seconds. When I talk to my single friends who don’t want to commit or my married friends who just aren’t ready for kids, I can barely empathize with them anymore. I was there once. It seems like a long time ago.

Brinton’s down for a nap right now, but I have him for the day while my beautiful wife has a well deserved girls’ day out. Today, my son and I headed out for lunch at Chick-Fil-A. I was passing an area with a train track (not pictured, I’m talking about a real one) and I decided to stop. We got out of the car and walked over to a fence bordering a small farm nearby. A donkey came toward us and Brinton got a big kick out of watching it. Then we heard a whistle in the distance and we hustled toward the tracks so we could watch a massive freight train approach and pass us. I held him in my arms and as the train came close it blew its horn. I’d forgotten how loud they could be. Brinton buried his head in my chest, a little frightened. Then he straightened up and watched the cars rumble along the tracks. He pointed and said “choo-choo.” As the last car passed he waved and said, “bye-bye”.

We went back to the car and headed to the restaurant. Brinton decided to be ornery and eat only one chicken nugget and no fries (go figure). He wanted the wheat bun on my sandwich. We try to be firm about eating what he’s given, but when what he’s given is fried potatoes and he prefers wheat bread, I suppose it’s not a bad decision to let him “indulge.” After eating he played in the toddler playland, clearly marked “FOR CHILDREN 3 YEARS OF AGE AND YOUNGER”, and filled with massive 5 foot tall 3 year olds, some of whom had cracking voices and I could have sworn one had some chin whiskers. He smiled and laughed and climbed to the top and waved to daddy from the windows in the playland and got knocked to the ground by the behemoth 3 year olds playing tag in the tunnels and came down the slide laughing and smiling. He tested my patience a little as we were leaving by refusing to carry his sippy cup out to the car.

We stopped by the scrapbooking store where his mom is spending the day. She and her scrapbooking friend were across the street picking up some things from Hobby Lobby, so I had plenty of time to change a particularly ripe diaper in a bathroom with no changing table while we waited for her. We spent a little time with mommy, and then I brought him home for his nap and he decided he was now ready to eat his chicken nuggets and his fried potatoes. I figured Love and Logic could wait until he can talk, so I gave him his lunch (again) and then put him down in his crib.

If my single friends or “not ready for kids” friends wind up on this page, I’m sure they’ll skip to another entry. And I understand. But would I trade this Saturday in January for one day sleeping in and waiting to go out to the movies or a bar? Or for the kind of extra cash I used to have that would let me watch tonight’s Patriots-Jaguars game on a 60-inch plasma screen instead of a much smaller analog TV? Never. This is my life now, and this is living.

December 13, 2007

They’ve Finally Figured it Out!

Filed under: Evolution/I.D.,Kansas City,Sarcasm — kcillini77 @ 9:08 pm

Found this in the Kansas City Star today. My comments follow the article (in italics).

Researchers discover why pregnant women don’t tip over

By SETH BORENSTEIN

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON | Scientists think they have figured out why pregnant women don’t lose their balance and topple over despite ever-growing weight up front.Evolution provided them with slight differences from men in their lower backs and hip joints, allowing them to adjust their center of gravity, new research shows.

This elegant engineering is seen only in female humans and our immediate ancestors who walked on two feet, but not in chimps and apes, according to a study being published today in the journal Nature.

“That’s a big load that’s pulling you forward,” said Liza Shapiro, an anthropology professor at the University of Texas, the only one of the study’s three authors who has been pregnant. “You experience discomfort. Maybe it would be a lot worse if (the design changes) were not there.”

Harvard anthropology researcher Katherine Whitcomb found two physical differences in male and female backs that until now had gone unnoticed: One lower lumbar vertebra is wedge-shaped in women and more square in men; and a key hip joint is 14 percent larger in women than men when body size is taken into account.

The researchers did engineering tests that show how those slight changes allow women to carry the additional and growing load without toppling over — and typically without disabling back pain.

“When you think about it, women make it look so very … easy,” Whitcomb said. “They are experiencing a pretty impressive challenge. Evolution has tinkered … to the point where they can deal with the challenge.

Walking on two feet separates humans from most other animals. And while anthropologists still debate the evolutionary benefit of walking on two feet, there are notable costs, such as pain for pregnant females. Animals on all fours can better handle the extra belly weight.

The back changes appear to have evolved to overcome the cost of walking on two feet, said Harvard anthropology professor Daniel Lieberman.

When the researchers looked back at fossil records of human ancestors, including the oldest spines that go back 2 million years to our predecessor, Australopithecus, they found a male without the lower-back changes and a female with them.

The lower spine in humans had already developed a unique forward curve that helps compensate for the extra pressures that arose when the primate ancestors went from moving around on four limbs to walking upright.

Because the engine of evolution runs on the passage of genes from one generation to the next, pregnancy is a critical moment. Without that adaptation, Whitcomb said, females would have been in considerably greater pain during pregnancy and might not have been able to forage effectively or escape predators, ending the pregnancy and the genetic line as well.

As solutions go, the forward spine is only partly successful, Shaprio said, because women still commonly complain of back trouble and pain during pregnancy. Even the basic forward curve that promotes balance in upright walking is “not a structurally ideal solution,” she said, because it can lead to instability and even fractured vertebrae.

If evolution provided relief for women in pregnancy, one might ask, what about the equally awkward morphology of men with beer guts?

Shapiro said that their research shows that “men would not be as well adapted to a beer gut” as a woman.

Whitcomb noted that in terms of the time that the evolutionary shift occurred, “finding extra calories wasn’t likely,” so an early hominid primate with a potbelly would have been quite a rarity.

John Schwartz of The New York Times contributed to this report.

 

I find the choice of words the author used to begin the second and third paragraphs very thought provoking. “Evolution provided…”, “This elegant engineering…”

Biological evolution, by definition, is anything but engineering. It is trial and error. There is no end goal in mind other than survival, so the solution that is arrived upon is the best means to an end reached by random chance. It can by no means be referred to as engineering, and certainly not as elegant.

But this article does point out one very critical question we all must consider when it mentions that “anthropologists still debate the evolutionary benefit of walking on two feet.” Wouldn’t we all be better off on all fours? Let’s all give it a shot for the next week. My son moved pretty quickly on all fours before he started walking… Maybe he was onto something!

November 26, 2007

Pouring it on

Morton

When it rains it pours.

Everything happens in threes.

Well, here we go… in the span of the three days since Thanksgiving:

1) Furnace goes out… could be fixed to function for $500, but also has cracks in the heat exchanger meaning if we continue to operate the furnace family could die in the night from CO poisoning. Family got to spend 3 nights at the in-laws, and I’m home from work now typing as our brand new furnace that I don’t have the money for is installed.

2) Jen’s car has been leaking coolant for a couple weeks. Assumed it was a cracked hose and topped it off a couple of times. Finally got up under it yesterday and found it’s not a cracked hose. Don’t know what it is, but have an appointment to take it in to a shop tomorrow. My pessimist brain has already determined that they’ll probably tell me it’s a crack in the engine block and I pretty much need to buy a new car. Which I certainly don’t have the money for.

3) Brinton woke up from a nap yesterday with a 103.2 degree fever. For those of you without kids, they would send us home from the emergency room if we had taken him in – they don’t get too anxious about fevers in young kids under about 105, but another thing to add to the stress. Oh, and we did take him to see the doctor today – which means a copay – and a prescription. Which I have no money for anymore. See (1) and (2) above.

Anyway, here I sit in a house full of things with a family that loves me waiting to come home when the heat returns and complaining about how rough I have it because for pretty much the first time in my life I have some uncertainty about how I’m going to pay for something I need. And I’m reminded of all the people that do not have what I have and that don’t have people to love them and I feel selfish. And blessed. And undeserving. And angry with myself for my lack of faith. And stressed out. And fat. I ate too much this week.

There’s a lesson in here somewhere. Comment if you find it.

September 11, 2007

Great Weekend

Filed under: Beer,Charlotte,Kansas City,Sports — kcillini77 @ 9:42 pm

    My friend Josh surprised me with a visit this past weekend.  He arranged with my wife to come out from Charlotte for a three day weekend, and showed up on my doorstep much to my delight and surprise.  We enjoyed a Royals game, watching an Illini football game at a sports bar, some quality brews, and lots of great conversation.

Guys have a hard time typically developing friendships like this.  I know, because I don’t have any others that I would call a friend to this degree.  I hope he can eventually move his family back closer to KC.  I know Charlotte is an awesome city, but I really wish we could hang out together on a much more frequent basis.

Josh, it meant a ton to me that you would take your time and money to come out to see me.  Thanks, bud.  And Jen and I both can’t wait to see your bride again and meet your handsome little son.

August 7, 2007

How does someone deal with this?

Filed under: America,Baby,Family,Kansas City,Shawnee — kcillini77 @ 10:27 pm

In the wake of the Minnesota bridge collapse tragedy, I came across this article in the KC Star and it struck me hard.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot ever since.  The house where this occurred is about 2 miles from mine, and on some longer walks we end up in that neighborhood.  I just keep thinking about how the parents must feel.  From the outside looking in, it’s easy to say to Mom “It’s not your fault.  Accidents happen.”  But how does she recover from this?  How does she come to grips with what happened?  How does the dad keep himself from blaming his wife?  How do they return to normalcy?  I don’t know.

July 18, 2007

A couple of thoughts

Filed under: America,baseball,Beer,Christianity,Church,Kansas City,Sports — kcillini77 @ 10:39 pm

First off – came across this church in East Lansing, Michigan that has a homebrewing ministry. I love the fifth objective: To resume the Church’s historical role as making the finest beer in town. Honestly, I’m not 100% sure what I think of this, and I know my SBC affiliated church won’t be doing this anytime soon, but browse the referenced verses in the FAQ and in particular read the tab on “Church & Beer”. Needless to say I’m mostly in agreement, but feel free to share your thoughts be they pro or con.

Secondly, how ’bout them Royals, beating the Red Sox two out of three at Fenway. Take that, “Fever Pitch”! Make fun of the Royals in your movie, will you?

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