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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hearts and Treasures Part II

Earlier this month, I celebrated the thirtieth (30) anniversary of my ordination into the ministry. Man, that's a long time ago.

In May, I celebrated the 42nd year of my Conversion to Christ. Wow, I need to stop with the dates. I just keep getting older.

In August, I celebrated the 8th year of being a tither. Technically, the tithing didn't start until about 6 years ago. It took me two years to phase it in.

The math doesn't work, does it? How could I have been a Christian so long and even be a Pastor so long and not be a giver? Disobedience. That's how.

It seems that like many people, my wallet was the last thing I surrendered to Jesus. I'm not proud of it. But it's true.

In IOU NO MORE, I tell about the day I finally broke down and surrendered my finances to God. I gave him my debt, my failures and my weaknesses. I repented, meaning I changed my behavior.

I began making money behave almost immediately. And I was fortunate that my wife agreed to get on board the debt free train. But because our debt was so big and our income was so small, I was afraid to actually tithe. Instead of jumping in by faith, I waded in. I began by giving 5% of my income. I was afraid. God still honored my 'mustard seed' of faith and we were on our way to reducing our mountain of debt. We had a plan and we were following it.

About two years into what would become the IOU NO MORE program, I was reading Malachi and Matthew in my daily devotions. On the very same day I read in Matthew, "Where a man's treasure is, there is where his heart is also" and I read in Malachi, "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob Me.... in tithes and offerings."

I was devastated. Yes, I was under grace not law, but I couldn't escape the idea that as a Christian, the Old Testament principle of tithing was still a Biblical concept. How could a Christian want to give LESS than the old rule, when God had given the BEST in His Son?

Armed with a fresh conviction and still fairly deep in debt, we began giving 10 percent of our income. It was at that same time that we began writing our tithe check as the first thing we did on pay day. The check wouldn't go into the offering plate until Sunday and we got paid on Friday, but we wanted God to know that He really is first in every part of our lives.

We've never regretted it. When you begin tithing, you won't regret it either. I'm just sayin'.

If you aren't a Christian and this whole 'tithing' thing seems weird, I encourage you to investigate Jesus. Heck, I dare you. I double dog dare you! Check out the Bible. Read the Gospel of Luke. It will tell you who Jesus is. Then read the Acts of the Apostles. It will explain how you should respond to Him.

Please drop us a line with any questions that come out of your reading. For that matter let us know any money matter questions you have. We're here to help. Write to us at info@iounomore.com.

1 comments:

Snobound said...

Awesome post! I remember being skeptical about writing those checks each week. When I saw that money going into the offering plate I had to stop myself from thinking of all the ways in which that money would be more useful to us - paying off our debt, covering our monthly utility bills, buying groceries, changing the oil in the car, paying our rent, etc. I had to remember that a cheerful and a heart-felt gift is a gift that pleases God. And strangely, when I started thinking in those terms, the money seemed to make its way back into our pocketbook somehow. Not because we stopped tithing, in fact, I think our resolve to tithe became even stronger, but God honored our gifts by giving them back to us in other ways - gift certificates to restaurants and grocery stores, money showing up in plain, white envelopes, pay raises, unexpected bonuses, lower utility bills, etc.

Our God is the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills. He doesn't NEED our money, but he wants us to be obedient to his word and to develop a spirit of gracious generosity. When we do that, he shows us his overwhelmingly gracious generosity in return.