The Old Testament Tithe

March 2nd, 2009

What is the tithe? Some Christians use the word tithe as if it means little more than a regular offering.   Bono (lead singer for U2) used the word tithe in this fashion when he spoke at the 2006 National Prayer breakfast.  Bono said, “I was amazed when I first got to America and I learned how much some church-goers tithe.   Some tithe up to ten percent of the family budget.”

Strictly speaking, a tithe is always 10 percent.  According to Easton’s Online Bible Dictionary a tithe was “a tenth of the produce of the earth consecrated and set apart for special purposes.”

Some Christians believe the Bible teaches that we (Christians) should give 10 percent of our income to the local church and they refer to this practice as tithing.   Does the Bible teach that Christians should tithe? That’s one of the questions I’ll try to answer in the next few months.

Beginning an Examination of Biblical Patterns of Giving

February 25th, 2009

I’m rereading the book “Set Free to Give” with the other deacons and pastor in my church.  Reading the book is part of our process of studying what the Bible really teaches about tithing, offering, and giving.

Between now and April I’ll be posting articles on this topic.  In regards to the book “Set Free to Give” I’ll be writing about the facts, interpretation, logic, and conclusions of the author, (Brent J. MacDonald), and any questions his book has raised in my mind.

The book is available as a PDF file and can be downloaded from the author’s web site for the very reasonable price of $5. Clearly Brent isn’t trying to make a lot of money from the book because the $5 entitles you to give one copy of the PDF to someone else and Brent has posted the full text of the book on his web site, allowing you to read it without spending a cent.

I have to mention that some parts of “Set Free to Give” seem somewhat strident  (perhaps reflecting the author’s frustration at the evangelical community’s lack of reasoned response to many of issues he has raised). When I read those sections of the book I have to make a conscious effort not to let the strident tone interfere with my understanding.

Bushmaster.com: it’s better to order over the phone.

February 24th, 2009

On Sunday, I ordered a set of scope rings for a hunting rifle from www.bushmaster.com only to discover today (Monday) that Bushmaster doesn’t process Sunday Web orders until Tuesday!

The customer service representative politely informed me that you’re usually better off to order over the phone on Monday instead of ordering from the web on Sunday.

Strange. Very Strange.

A Fever for Flashlights Part 2: Tactical Flashlights

January 31st, 2009

What is a tactical flashlight?  My definition of a tactical flashlight is a small, lightweight flashlight with an intensely bright light that can be used to startle, disorient, and control anyone on the receiving end, and is tough enough to survive hard use in potentially dangerous situations.  Wikipedia’s article on tactical flashlights has lots of good information worth reading.

I believe the original tactical flash was the Surefire 6P. I bought a 6P at a Dallas gun show many years ago and never regretted it.  At the time there was nothing else that provided such an intense beam of light in a small package. The 6P is still being manufactured and it is still a good flashlight, but I can’t recommend it unless you don’t mind paying too much money for too little flashlight.  The LED version, the Surefire 6PL might be OK, but to my mind, it also seems to be a bit too expensive for what you get.

I haven’t purchased any real “tactical” lights since getting my Surefire 6P, so I can’t recommend any from personal experience, but there are many places on the web you can go for more information. Here are three sites worth checking out.

  1. Candlepowerforums.com
  2. Lights For Law Enforcement
  3. FlashlightReview.com

Unfortunately, FlashlightReview.com hasn’t been updated since  June 2007 so it’s usefulness is going to decrease with time.

Instead of buying expensive tactical lights, I’ve been collecting less expensive LED flashlights can can serve the typical householder in a tactical role.  I’ll review several of those in my next post.

A Fever for Flashlights

January 28th, 2009

I have a fever for flashlights.  The fever started 25 years ago when I bought my first Mini-MAGLITE, it jumped a couple of degrees a few years later when I got a high-intensity police flashlight (a Streamlight SL-20X Halogen) and it began to rage out of control when I saw my first quality LED flashlight.

The LED (Light Emitting Diode) is the best thing to happen to flashlights ever.  LEDs have many advantages over other types of flashlight bulbs. LEDs are almost unbreakable, they are much more efficient in their use of battery power (more light for less power, so batteries last longer with LEDs), and they can deliver almost as much light for lower cost.

Every home, every car, and every keyring should have a good quality LED flashlight.  Here are some flashlights I have used and can personally recommend:

A friend has asked me to recommend a flashlight for home/tactical use, so I’ll be writing more on flashlights in the days to come.

Experiential Knowledge: Our Greatest Need

January 25th, 2009

I’m teaching an adult Sunday school class on growing in spiritual maturity.  I was eager to teach the class for several reasons, not the least of which was because I hoped that by preparing to teach on spiritual maturity I myself would grow greatly.  I’ve been a Christian for about 28 years and most of my Christian life has been spent as an spiritual baby, with some years spent in outright rebellion to God.

A few years ago, when I turned fifty, I realized it was long past time for me to change.  Now I yearn to live the Christian life that Jesus calls us to live.  It seems somewhat ironic to me that Watchman Nee refers to the life I want to live as “the normal Christian life.”

On page 56 of Watchman’s book The Normal Christian Life  he said “Our first step is to seek from God a knowledge that comes by revelation–a revelation, that is to say, not of ourselves but of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross.” 

This type of knowledge can only come by the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the type of knowledge that Paul is referring to in Ephesians 1:16-19.

Ephesians 1:16-19 (ESV) I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe,

Watchman Nee, A.W. Tozer, and Andrew Murray all write about this kind of knowledge in a way that makes me want to experience it, too. The question is, do I want it more than anything else in life?

A Convenient Way to Brew Loose Leaf Tea

January 15th, 2009

I love coffee (in my opinion, there’s no coffee better than fresh ground Gevalia), but when I drink too much coffee in one day my stomach complains and I suffer from foot cramps in the evening. For that reason, I decided to switch to drinking tea in the middle of the day instead of coffee.

For black tea I like Red Rose Orange Pekoe. Red Rose used to be made and distributed by a Canadian Company, but a few years ago Lipton started distributing Red Rose. Quality was down the first year Lipton marketed Red Rose, but quality appears to be good again. Newman’s Own Organics Royal (black) Tea is also very good.

I like green tea, too, but I don’t have a favorite green tea, yet. I brought five or six different brands of loose leaf green back from China last June but I hadn’t drank any until recently because I didn’t have a good way to brew it. That’s all changed now, thanks to my son, Ty.

This Christmas, Ty got his wife, Amber, a neat little tea pot called the IngenuiTEA from Adagio Teas. I had seen the IngenuiTEA on the web a few weeks before Christmas and I thought it looked like just the thing to promote green tea drinking in the Margheim household. Amber’s IngenuiTEA worked so well, I had to get one for myself.

To use the IngenuiTEA you: heat the water, put the loose leaf tea in the IngenuiTEA, pour the hot water over the tea, steep for the proper amount of time, set the IngenuiTEA on top of your cup and watch the brewed tea flow into the cup.  To clean up, simply rinse the tea out the IngenuiTEA.

I’ve brewed three or four pots of green tea with the IngenuiTEA and recommend it highly. It is convenient to use, easy to clean and brews good tea (I’m not qualified to say whether or not it brews great tea).

The IngenuiTEA holds 16 ounces of water.

The Best Guitarist(s) in the World

January 13th, 2009

I don’t know who the best guitarist in the world is, but I know which guitarists I would most like to be able to play like (if I could play the guitar).

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I would like to play guitar like Lindsey Buckingham (lead guitarist for Fleetwood Mac).  Lindsey’s unique style, devotion to his craft and willingness to take chances  sets him apart from most other rock guitarists. As the All Music Guide says, he is a breathtaking guitar player.  His latest CD, “Gift of Screws” is a must listen for anyone that appreciates “rocking, heady electric pop…, as well as some glorious, lyrically sophisticated, acoustic singer/songwriter fare”

On  Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I would like to play guitar like Dave Evans (The Edge) U2’s guitarist. The Edge is known for his ability to create powerful melodies with minimal flashiness. Larry Mullen, U2’s drum player said something to the effect that The Edge is always searching for the perfect song, the perfect sound, the perfect idea. I have the feeling that The Edge often thinks of God when he is playing guitar.  I know his playing often inspires me to worship God.

On Sundays I would like to play like Peter Green, Fleetwood Mac’s original guitarist.  A guitar player’s guitarist, he is regarded by many as the finest white blues guitarist ever.  Peter replaced Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and won over a legion of Clapton’s fans to his own sound.  My favorite song of Peter’s from this era is “The Supernatural.”

Peter wrote Carlos Santana’s signature hit “Black Magic Woman” and performed it on Fleetwood Mac’s album “English Rose“.  Fleetwood Mac’s original version of the song is every bit as compelling as Santana’s.

The body of work represented by these three outstanding guitar players is nothing short of amazing and their influence on generations of guitar players is incalculable.  They have given me countless hours of pleasure listening to their songs for which I am exceedingly grateful.

Chris Rea – British Singer and Guitarist

January 12th, 2009

Blues-tinged guitar rock is one of my favorite types of music (think Dire Straits, Eric Clapton, very early Fleetwood Mac).  I’m always thrilled to hear talented musicians in this genre for the first time.  Recently I discovered Chris Rea, a very talented guitarist, song writer and vocalist.

Chances are the only song by Chris that you are familiar with is his 1978 hit “Fool (If You Think It’s Over), but his album “The Road to Hell” is a modern masterpiece of great guitar playing, lyrics and vocals.  Highly recommended.  (His album Espresso Logic, while not as consistently good as “The Road to Hell,” is also worth listening to.)

Good Backup Software Saves the Day

January 8th, 2009

I hadn’t intended to write about backup software today, but since it saved my bacon yesterday I have to recommend Cobian Backup software to you.  Cobian Backup makes it very easy to schedule automatic backups of select folders on your computer.  On my computer, Cobian backs up my most important files to external USB hard drive.  Cobian Backup is free and it is easy to install and setup.

Thanks to Cobian Backup, after the primary hard drive in my PC crashed Tuesday night,  I was able to restore copies of most of my important files from an external hard drive.

I say most of my important files because I had neglected to configure Cobian Backup to backup my Outlook email files. Due to that oversight I lost nine months of emails.  Drat!

By the way, I have to warn you that inexpensive external hard drives fail way more frequently than they should.  My first external hard drive went bad after 13 months of light use (one month past the warranty).  Some of my friends and acquaintances have had similar problems.  Now I only purchase (and recommend)  external hard drives with five year warranties.  My current external drive is a 500GB Seagate Free Agent.  The Seagate drive costs about $20 more than the least expensive external hard drives of the same size, but, in my opinion, the five warranty justifies the additional expense.