If it’s Biblical, it must be true. As believers, we base our lives on this concept. But just because it’s in the Bible doesn’t always mean that it applies now, in our current situation, in the way we think it does. Reread the account of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. Even Satan quotes Scripture. He just twists it, quoting passages out of context, misapplying it, and ignoring other passages.
This is particularly deceitful because there is truth in what we’re hearing. After all, the best lies are mostly true. A nugget of deception is hidden among words that we recognize as coming from God. And so we are misled.
As I mentioned last week, Pete and I have decided to buy a new house. This move is part of our determination to simplify our lives—a smaller house on a significantly smaller lot means less to maintain. Instead of a 2,000 square foot veggie garden, for example, I’ll be planting in two raised beds. After keeping hens for the past twenty-plus years, we’ll be buying eggs at the market. I’m looking forward to investing my time in new ways, or at least getting a bit more sleep!
Of course, there’s more to downsizing than simply moving into smaller quarters. If we bring all the stuff we’ve accumulated in 35 years of marriage, cramming it into a smaller space will mean more work, not less. So, after the fun of choosing a neighborhood and a floor plan, we’re now focusing on eliminating many of our belongings.
Do you tithe?
Not many people do. Some believe that tithing isn’t taught in the New Testament, so it no longer applies to us. They explain that we’re living under grace, and tithing is legalistic. Others insist that all Christians are supposed to tithe, because of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23. I’ve heard many sermons on Malachi 3:10, where the pastor explained that the local church is the “storehouse” and we must bring our entire tithe to them, with any other giving counting as an “offering” above and beyond our mandatory 10%.
Clearly, there’s lots of room for interpretation regarding tithing. Matt, at TheChurchOfNoPeople.com (one of my favorite blogs) recently wrote about tithing. I think he gives us a lot to consider, and urge you to read what he has to say. Matt inspired me, thus today’s post.
God is so amazing!
I hope you know how incredible He is. Let me tell you what He just did for us.
On March 23 I mentioned that we had no money to pay the end-of-month bills. That’s because we haven’t received a paycheck since the end of January. This happens pretty regularly, especially lately. In this economy, supporting a ministry is low on most people’s priority list—after essentials like food, shelter, and taxes. We used to have an emergency fund, but after six years of erratic income, that’s gone. That’s all right—God is faithful. He’s also creative.
So, the end of the month was coming, and I had enough money to pay the credit card bill (food, fuel, some utilities, medical bills, and the like) or the mortgage—but not both. After years of practice, I don’t often stress over situations like this. I get excited. God’s going to come through, and it’s going to be awesome!
I don’t normally go to the other end of town. It’s not that I’m avoiding the area, it’s just that I have everything I need at my end—why drive an extra half hour?
Those at the other end of town tend to earn less money (with some notable exceptions). School districts have lower test scores and parents are busy just trying to make ends meet—they don’t have as much time or energy for getting involved in their children’s education. Many residents are newcomers to our country, and do not yet speak English. The streets aren’t dangerous, although the crime rate is higher there. Neighborhoods are full of families. During the day, children play in front yards and ride their bikes on the sidewalks. But you probably should think twice about walking alone at night.
The other end of town is where the homeless hang out. Street people in many layers of well-worn clothing stand at intersections with signs and a hand out, or pitch “tents” on the undeveloped land next to the freeway.
Giving away money should be fun.
In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Cheerful could be translated hilarious. Yet, how often do we end up with a big smile when we drop our tithes and offerings into the plate? Most of the time, we give because it’s what we do as believers. We don’t put all that much thought into it. In fact, I know a couple who arranged for their tithe to be automatically deducted from their bank account. While that certainly simplifies things, it somehow lacks the personal involvement and excitement I believe God desires.
At the beginning of every year, my husband, Pete, and I sit down to figure out our giving for the next twelve months. We list all the ministries we want to support, starting with our local church. Then, we look at our projected income and budget. Of course, things can change, but you have to start somewhere.
With the media inundating us with heartbreaking stories and photos about the suffering in Haiti, we naturally want to do something to help. However, not all organizations are equally effective at providing the relief they promise. Sadly, some even seek to profit from the situation, more than they intend to help. I suggest you read the article I’ve linked to here, as it provides some well-thought-out guidelines to help you give generously yet wisely: GuideStar’s Tips for Giving Wisely to Haitian Relief.
That being said, here are several organizations we know well, that I unreservedly recommend:
They are all already working in Haiti, have infrastructure there, and understand the situation. They will make effective use of your donation. And, they will minister in Jesus’ name.