Archives For tithe

Lately I’ve been praying to God to help me understand money and generosity better.  We tithe, we give, but I never want to assume that what I am doing is all that God wants for my life.  I always want to be asking God if He wants something else from my talents and resources.  Not in a pathetic, “I’m not good enough” kind of way, but in a “As long as I’m alive, I want to be growing” kind of way.  What do I believe about generosity that is limiting me and therefore limiting God?  Limiting God…that was an interesting perspective to dive into.  Can I really limit God?  I’ve been reflecting back on various teachings I’ve heard about generosity and trying to match it up with my own ministry experience.  It’s pretty interesting!

I’ve heard countless sermons about giving and how it’s about our own hearts, not because God needs our money.  I’ve even bought into the idea that God will find a way despite our personal generosity.

“He owns the cattle on a thousand hills…”

“It’s all His anyway…”

“Money doesn’t limit God!  We give to unlock our own issues with greed!”

But what if it doesn’t work that way?  What if our inability to obey in this one area DOES limit God?  What if people don’t know Jesus, simply because the vast majority of His people don’t understand that generosity really does further ministry?

As I was praying about generosity, I got a mental picture of the cattle on a thousand hills.  What if God gave them to me and I put up a fence with a padlock on them to keep them for myself?  They may be God’s, but His ability to bless others with them has been limited by me.  As long as I hold the key to that padlock, those cows are mine and mine alone.  Now I understand that I serve a God who could tear down my fences or take back the key to the padlock, but I also see in scripture that isn’t the way it works most of the time.  God loves ME so much that He gives me free will to do what I want with what I’ve been given.

Being on the backside of a church I see this all of the time.  There are very few other limiting factors in ministry other than the generosity of others.  If God’s people were truly generous…if I was truly as generous as I could be…the world would simply be different.

So, here’s my challenge of the day…how can we all be more generous?  Where can we start or where can we grow from?  One of the ways that Mark and I try to work on this area in our spiritual growth is just to give more this year than last year.  Tithing 10% has always been the foundation of our marriage.  We just write the check every month like clockwork, but that’s not where I want to be in the end of our story.  Where I want to be is at the place where I understand the heart of God for people, not possessions.  I’m not there yet, so the solution is to keep giving until I am.

 

 

Making Change

stacynewell —  February 9, 2013 — Leave a comment

titleRight now we are finishing up a financial series at church.  I think there is a myth out there that people get angry when the church mixes the topics Bible and Money.  That has not been our experience at all!  We have been flooded with questions, emails, and kind messages of gratitude as people are starving for financial principles that will give them the boundaries that we are all looking for.  I know that we will take all the help we can get!

One of the interesting facts about our marriage is that we have never had a fight over money.  And it isn’t because we have an enormous salary, a big house, nice cars, and no need to discuss a budget.  Quite the opposite.  I believe we’ve never fought about money because we base our decisions from the Bible.  If we want to argue, we’ve got to argue with God Himself…and that’s not a good plan.

Although I don’t think we have our financial picture completely worked out, I thought I’d share some of our foundational beliefs about money and maybe you’ll find some common ground to help your own financial stress.

1.  We give first.  The Bible gives us a foundation of 10% to give back to our church.  We tithe off of our gross because that’s what we are paid.  Then we decide how much we want to give to missionaries, facility fund, and camp scholarships within North Creek.  There’s no guilt in this conversation.  It’s not about breaking the bank, but about consistently supporting things we believe in.  Then we evaluate other opportunities outside of the church that we have a passion to support.  If one of us doesn’t feel good about something, we scratch it off the list, even if the other person would like to support it.  It’s about agreement.  There are plenty of organizations that we can both get behind.  It’s not his money and my money…it’s our money.

2.  We had a values conversation a long time ago where we decided what was important to us.  The main thing about this list is that it benefits our family as a whole.  That means we each say no to personal desires along the way.  The exception to that rule is that birthday and Christmas gifts are FUN money.  Mark saved his fun money for years to buy a TV he wanted.  He was like a kid in a candy store, and it didn’t hurt us financially at all.  We have decided that retirement, travelling on a vacation once a year, having an emergency fund, and having a date fund are priorities for our family.  That means other things just can’t make the list.

3.  We hate debt.  We have never paid interest on a credit card in our married lives.  That means we say no more than we say yes to things.  We have a budget and our desires must fall within the amount of money God has entrusted us.

So, there it is!  Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, but maybe something we are doing will help you.  I’d also love to hear your tricks and tips for living a financially healthy life.  What is working for your family?