ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: KINGDOM ECONOMICS XXXVII
May 21, '09 6:00 AM
By Regner Capener
Greetings, Salutations, and the Blessing of the Lord to you!
Kitty and René Loyd are two of the funniest, and two of the most unusual people you could ever meet. During the 1960's and 70's -- and even into the 80's -- Kitty traveled around singing in different churches with a couple of ladies from Spokane, and she developed quite a reputation for her musical gifts as well as her sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Some time in the future, perhaps, I will share some very funny anecdotes from Kitty's life.
More than 60 years ago she married René, a transplanted Frenchman whose life story all by itself would make a fabulous adventure volume. After many years in the Spokane area, they moved to Atlin, British Columbia -- a very remote mining community some 50 miles or so from the Alaska border -- where they established a base of operations for ministry beginning in 1979 and the early 1980's.
René has often shared with us his adventures during the Second World War when he was a member of the French Underground resistance movement. One story worth repeating here took place when he was on the run for his life from the Gestapo. René and a friend were hidden by a family in a barn. When they heard the sound of voices outside the barn they hid in some tall stacks of hay.
Someone had apparently seen René go into the barn and reported it to the Gestapo who had been doing a house-by-house or farm-by-farm search. When the Gestapo came into the barn, they began using their bayonets and stabbing at the piles of hay in search for René and his friend. René told us he began to pray like he'd never prayed in his life.
"Lord, if you deliver me from these Gestapo police and get me out of here alive, I'll serve you for the rest of my life."
Sure enough the bayonets were thrust into the haystack where René was hiding. He told us that they literally brushed up against him or the point of the bayonet came right to his chest on several tries. The Gestapo gave up and left the barn. Both René and his friend made it out of there alive and unharmed.
Here's an interesting tidbit for you. The 1965 movie, THE TRAIN, starred Burt Lancaster as Labiche, the French Railway inspector. The movie, parts of which were fictional, was based on real events. The real-life Inspector Labiche was René's supervisor or superior officer in the French Underground.
René kept his promise to the Lord and has been a faithful servant of Jesus Christ ever since. Kitty and René were an integral part of our spontaneous worship gatherings at Trails' End in Post Falls, Idaho during the 1990's. This past week, just shy of her 80th birthday, Kitty changed addresses and went home to be with the Lord. Though we will miss her for awhile, we look forward to seeing her and joining together in worshiping the Lord when we are all gathered together for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. We'll be with René this next week -- and at 90 years of age he looks pretty much like he did at 60: strong and vibrant.
OK. That story had nothing to do with today's discussion on Kingdom Economics, but I couldn't let Kitty's passing go unnoticed because of the part she has played in our lives.
Good Morning! Good Morning! Good Morning! Coffee's on! The French Press is steeping right now with a blend of dark-roasted Rwandan and some very oily French Roast. Love that aroma!
A fair number of folks have responded to the last few Coffee Breaks in which I've noted how tithing -- and more accurately, seeing the tithe as the "God's holy portion" -- has been an integral part of God's economy from the time of the Garden of Eden to the present. Most of the responses have been appreciative because of the revelation of seeing the spiritual principle which far transcends the Law of Moses. A few, however, have offered some comments and questions that I should respond to in this Coffee Break since these are questions that many believers have.
Since I went through a period of time where I was personally caught with the serious misconception (Let's call it what it really is, folks! This is deception, pure and simple!) that because I was in the ministry, I was exempt from tithing. I felt that everything I earned from my various business ventures and everything that I received in the way of tithes and offerings from others was to be used however I saw fit and however the Lord directed me.
You see the twist don't you? In the role of priest, I receive (and was receiving) tithes from men and women. In the role of king, I earn (or was earning) a substantial income from my engineering skills, and talents in the business and banking world. I believed that it all went into one pot, and that I was to use it in the advancement of the Kingdom of God as directed by the Lord.
What I missed was the fact that even under the Law, priests paid tithes. They paid tithes to the High Priest. And the High Priest was required to tithe to the Lord. Very specific guidelines for tithing had been established.
With the Law fulfilled in Christ Jesus, many believers mistakenly relegate tithing to the Law, believing that it went away at the Cross. Yet Paul clearly states that while "here men that die receive tithes" (Hebrews 7:8 -- note the context in the present tense some thirty-plus years after the Cross), he goes on to say that "there He receives them, of Whom it is written that He lives."
Tithing, therefore, transcends the Law. It existed as far back as the Garden of Eden and it was demonstrated in Abraham 400-plus years before the Law of Moses was established. To not tithe, folks, is to rob God and touch the Holy Portion. To not tithe is to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil -- and that's exactly what I was doing: ignorantly, perhaps, but still doing it!
I saw the devourer rob me time after time after time and still didn't see the connection. For those of you who've read earlier parts of this discussion on Kingdom Economics, you'll recall my story of being robbed of $7 Million by a crooked banker who fled the country with commissions I'd earned over a period of two years in an investment operation on behalf of the Canadian government.
One story I haven't shared took place in the mid-1980's when Mel Fisher located and recovered the wrecks of the two Spanish galleons, the Atocha and the Santa Margarita. The treasure he recovered was valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Mel had a number of investors who were anxious to recover their investments in his diving and recovery operations, and he was in debt to them for tens of millions of dollars. (My memory tells me that he actually owed a total of around $250 Million.) Piecemealing the treasure out to various buyers would take a lot longer than the investors wanted, and Mel was anxious to get out from under the financial pressure.
He gave me an exclusive contract for the sale of the entire treasure. I had two potential buyers for it: the first being the Spanish government. King Juan Carlos of Spain was anxious to have the treasure back on Spanish soil because of the rich heritage and historical value it represented -- never mind its intrinsic worth. Mel wanted $400 million for the entire treasure intact. The Spanish government didn't feel it could drain its treasury of that amount and appealed to the Vatican for assistance. The Vatican agreed and I met with a representative to arrange for the transaction.
Once all the pieces of the transaction were in place and we were ready to complete it, Della and I flew to Los Angeles where the deal was to be consummated. Mel Fisher was ecstatic over the prospect of being able to complete. He called me at the hotel where we were staying and said he would arrange to fly us to Florida and take us out to the recovery site as soon as the deal completed. He even called me one morning at 4:00 AM excited over the fact that his team had just recovered the ship's compass from the Santa Margarita.
It was a giddy and almost ethereal atmosphere to think that we were less than 24 hours away from completing a historical sale. The fact that Mel was going to pay us a commission exceeding $10 Million from the proceeds was almost anti-climactic in view of the import of the moment.
Then the unthinkable took place. The agent representing the Vatican learned of our commission structure and got greedy. He called Mel and tried to get him to rescind his agreement with us, offering to do the deal for a smaller commission. Mel was incensed! He called me immediately and said, "How well do you know this guy?"
I told him that we'd only just met as a part of transacting this sale and that I'd never had any contact with him prior. "I won't do business with this man, Regner! He's a crook! He's trying to get me to eliminate you from the deal and I don't go back on my word, signed contract or not!"
It was a mark of Mel Fisher's character that we could really appreciate. Nevertheless, we just couldn't get another agent within Mel's needed time frame to consummate the deal with the Vatican and the transaction came to a sudden halt. Walt Disney's companies were interested in acquiring about $200 Million of the treasure to divide up at their theme parks for exhibition, but they weren't interested in an intact purchase. In the end, Mel wound up having to do what he didn't want to do: piecemeal the treasure through a fistful of small purchases and buyers. Years later, Della and I saw bits and pieces of the treasure in shops throughout the Caribbean.
We were robbed. Sure. We never actually had the money in our hot little hands, but Satan took advantage of the open door we'd provided him to effectively interfere in a business deal at the last possible second and block us from receiving what would have amounted to around $12 - 15 Million. We'd been touching the Holy Portion, and now our portion was being stolen and devoured.
It happened time and time again before we finally awakened to the fact that we were giving the Enemy a legal right to steal from us.
"But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day." (Deuteronomy 8:18)
There is a condition attached: Don't steal from God! If you do, you give the devourer the right to put holes in your pockets, rip your wallets apart, block you from receiving the wealth God has available and steal what you do have so that you live on the edge of nothingness! Wealth is made available and the power to get it is a gift from the Lord, but if we don't "remember" Him first, Satan comes along to prevent us from being the means by which God establishes His Covenant through us, with us, in us, and around us!
Once again as I've already said, my objective in sharing all this is not to hammer home some religious doctrine or ride some kind of hobby horse but rather to demonstrate that the Blessing of the Lord is directly tied to our recognition of and obedience to this very basic of spiritual principles. This is not about money -- even though money is involved. This is about walking in the Blessing and seeing it manifested tangibly.
This is about living as citizens of a Kingdom which is foreign to the kingdoms and thinking and reasoning of this world: the Kingdom of God.
There's one last aspect of this topic of tithing that I need to comment on before we move on. The Word has always been very clear on where the tithe belongs: the storehouse. This is a subject that often gets some Christians riled up when I talk about it, but we need to discuss this.
I can't tell you how many believers I've run into who think they have a right to delegate where their tithes are given. Now bear with me, folks. The Word of God gives very clear direction on this. What gets confused is the separation or distinction between "giving" and "tithing." They are not synonymous with each other.
Tithing -- the first ten percent of everything you receive -- goes to the storehouse. The Hebrew word translated "storehouse" in the Old Testament is: otsar: treasury, a repository for corn, food, provision, gold, silver and other precious things. We see this word, otsar, otherwise translated throughout the O.T. as "treasuries" or "treasury."
The New Testament Greek text uses the word: tameion. It parallels the Hebrew and adds the component "dispensary" to the above. Hence, the "storehouse" is a repository of provision ordered and ordained for dispensing food (both spiritual and physical) and provision (again, both spiritual and physical) by those in spiritual leadership.
Nowhere in the Word does God give permission -- much less instruction -- to the individual person as to the distribution of tithes. We are instructed to give our tithes to the repository or treasury which dispenses our spiritual food, nourishment and provision. For most folks, that represents the church body to which they are an integral part. If you are not part of a regular church, then you need to be a part of a home fellowship. If you are not connected on a daily and weekly basis to some body of believers, then you are starving spiritually.
There are many Christians who give, but don't tithe. Tithing, as I've already noted, is completely separate from giving. Giving, sowing seed and giving of offerings is a completely separate function of our spiritual lives -- and it is equally commanded -- but it does not do away with tithing.
We don't have the right to decide where our tithes go. That's clear in God's economy. It is a clear rule of Kingdom Economics. They go where we receive our spiritual nourishment. That is the fellowship or Ekklesia to which the Holy Spirit has joined us. Whoever leads that fellowship, church body or Ekklesia is tasked by the Holy Spirit with the responsibility of dispensing those tithes.
When we take upon ourselves the decision to choose where our tithes go, we effectively usurp God's authority. We usurp the Word, and we make ourselves God above the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus instructed His disciples to go forth in ministry without taking advantage of their business or economic skills and to receive their provision from those to whom they ministered. Twice He made the statement that "the laborer is worthy of his hire." (See Matthew 10:10 and Luke 10:7.) The Scriptural picture constantly demonstrates that those who minister the Gospel are to receive their provision from the tithe.
The apostle Paul notes the following:
"Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel." (I Corinthians 9:13-14)
The tithe, therefore, is designed first of all to make provision for those who "live of the Gospel." And they who live by their ministry in turn tithe to those from whom they receive. The priests always tithed to the High Priest. Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ must likewise tithe to those who are their spiritual fathers or source of their continued growth.
It doesn't stop there, of course. Some time ago, Della and I made a covenant with the elders of our fellowship. Our income from River Worship Center is 10% -- the tithe -- of whatever comes in. If the fellowship receives $500 in a given week our income is $50 for that week. If the income is $3,000, we receive $300.
But we take it beyond that. No bills are paid until a second tithe is paid. That second tithe goes to one of the four major ministries with which we partner and participate. We do this on a rotating basis, week-by-week. Above and beyond that second tithe, we contribute to certain missions around the world and support certain missionaries. Above and beyond that we minister to the needs of individuals and families locally to whom the Holy Spirit directs us. Our objective as a fellowship is to consistently tithe 30% of our gross income. We haven't quite reached that level yet, but we continue to increase our tithing and giving, and the Lord continues to increase the income of the fellowship.
It works, folks! You just can't outgive God! When we are faithful to honor the Holy Portion, God is faithful to meet our every need. It never fails. We never have a month go by when the bills are unpaid and we are operating in deficit. Since we began operating this way, we've never had a deficit.
Next: The principle of partnership.
He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. (Sir Isaac Newton)
The Blessing of the Lord: it makes rich and He adds no painful toil and sorrow! (Proverbs 10:22)
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