My Body is a Temple?

I was in my late twenties and I was not well. My immune system was shot. I was on antibiotics more than I was not. Not only was I sleeping 12 to 14 hours a day but was suffering from frequent migraines. I could not seem to stick to any workout. There was no energy to do much of anything but the bare minimum. I was depressed and failing. It took a serious conversation with my wife to realize that something was not right. What do I always fo when I am in trouble? pray! James 5:13 “Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray…”

The next day I made an appointment with my doctor. She agreed that I should not be experiencing these health problems at such a young age so we began running tests. Over the next weeks I had been poked and prodded in a variety of uncomfortable ways. One doctor decided that I could have a brain tumor and should see a neurologist. Of course the neurologist was backlogged with patients and so for weeks I agonized over the possibilities. The day came for my exam. Thankfully, not the normal poking and prodding but he did do some of his own strange tests. After wading through my records from other doctors offices he concluded … The foods I was eating were making me sick. No tumor! This neurologist figured out what others, including myself, never considered! He changed my diet radically. Within a few days I was feeling better. Within a week I was exercising again. Within 2 months I had lost 45 pounds! It made me wonder how this could happen and did the Bible have anything to say about it.

In this case I cannot really blame anyone but myself. My parents tried valiantly to get me to eat things that were good for me. In fact, I learned to like vegetables quite a bit. What I did was what many young adults do when they get on their own. Overindulge! Proverbs 23:2 “Put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite.” Pretty serious statement but I have to admit my overindulging was killing me. I had convinced myself that I could eat whatever I desired as long as I had something healthy along with it plus didn’t smoke, do drugs or drink heavily. How dumb was I?! I could eat 4 big macs, large fry and a soda and be proud that I had eaten fruits and vegetables earlier that day. I now realized I needed forgiveness for something. Gluttony!

1 Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” I considered how people ought to treat a temple of God. Respect it. Clean it up. Air it out. Keep it pristine. This seemed complicated but I vowed that I would do better and learn how to care for this temple God gave me. I think everyone should do likewise.

  1. If you have not been keeping the temple pristine then begin by asking God for forgiveness and request His intervention to do just that. If you think you do it well then congratulations as according to the Mayo Clinic only about 13% do this well.
  2. Make a plan to do better. It will be different for everyone. No fad diets! If your plan is overly aggressive then you are likely to fail. It must be a change in lifestyle.
  3. Share what you are doing. Maybe even get input from a doctor or nutritionist. Your best bet is to get someone to take the journey with you.

This is what I discovered. I have reaped the benefits for sure. Playing soccer with my kids is a memory I will carry with me forever. It would have been impossible in the old beat up temple. I hope to do this with my grandkids one day. People around me noticed the difference. Isn’t that positive testimony in itself? I never stop learning how to take care of myself and it changes as my life changes. The trick is to adapt to whatever place in life you are. There is a great deal of information available to help you and the Bible is one of the best places to start. If you don’t believe me then read Daniel. Daniel learned how to thrive in a toxic environment just by making some faithful decisions. I also consider Deuteronomy 11:13 “…love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul.” I want to reflect this verse in my life. Was I really doing this to the best of my ability when my body was falling apart because of my poor choices? Taking care of the temple is a testament to what God can do. It will overflow into the people around you.

My prayer is that you will faithfully take care of the temple God has provided you and that others would benefit from your good choices.

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The Only Constant is Change

Is everyone’s life in flux? Nothing seems to stay the same for me, although, I work very hard to make things ordered. In my life I have experienced so many things. Some traumatic like debilitating illness, depression, death of family members, injuries, moving to new cities, leaving friends, divorce, job loss, to name a few. Some changes are good like marriage, birth, new jobs, graduations, etc. Many of you have experienced way more than me I am sure. Life is always changing and it is sometimes difficult to get a grip. Admittedly I have not always dealt well with change. It was the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who coined the phrase “change is the only constant”. There is truth in this but I have figured something out and it has always been important to me to remember in the midst of the fluctuations life throws at us.

  1. There is a God. Revelation 22:13 “I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” He is real, creator of the universe and thinking about you. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” He has a future in mind so no matter how chaotic things get, God is in control of it. It’s not always in my ability to grasp the meaning of any event that is thrown at me. Just to trust that there is one. I can’t count how often I need to remember this.
  2. Jesus is our way to Him. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”. How cool is that! He not only cares about me, He is willing to sacrifice his son. I don’t deserve that! I totally admit how weak and unable to do much of anything of importance yet here we are. Eternity with Him. God has already dealt with all the change in my life that I deal so poorly with by making one offering for all my weakness.
  3. The Holy Spirit will help. John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” Jesus knew that we would be incapable of remembering what we needed so when He left, the Holy Spirit was tasked with the job of helping us make sense out of what we could not understand. He would be tasked with helping us to experience fruit. Galatians 5:22 “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.” These things can be had in any situation. Remember the Apostle Paul in jail? Singing praises despite facing judgement and possible execution. The Holy Spirit was helping him experience fruits despite the situation.
  4. The Bible is my inspiration. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness: so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” As if the Holy Spirit wasn’t enough, God left us a training manual! Could it be made any simpler for us? I for one avoid reading manuals but this one is always worth my time. I have attempted and continue to use it as my blueprint to life. The bible is a help to me when the world wants to drown me in negativity.

I have found that when life around me is falling apart or changing faster than I can cope I can fall back on these things. Like most people I have experienced lows usually caused by change but I have always found my path again when I stand on these basic truths. They are my solid ground. My safety. My refuge. My comfort. My light in a crazily changing world. My blueprint in overcoming the curve balls life can throw at me. So amidst war, famine, illness, hurricanes or whatever happens I still have my constants that never change.

My prayer for you is when life changes you lean into your constant.

Judging a Book by it’s Cover

In my younger years I managed a video game store. It’s a job I really enjoyed. It was a slow evening before the Christmas crush kicked in. I had noticed a large family passing by the front of the store. They were dressed in shabby, well worn, clothing. They were all skinny and acted as if they were poor country folk. My immediate reaction was that they probably had little more than the minimum to live on. The smaller children were tugging at their parents arms to try and goad them into our brightly lit store. The parents were obviously of a negative disposition. I mentally agreed with the parents stance as they could obviously not afford the products I sold. They walked away until a little later the entire group walked in. I happily greeted them and engaged the mother in conversation while the children and father looked over the games. Come to find out they lived hours away and were on their yearly trip to the mall as there were no options where they were from. I secretly pitied the family as I answered the myriad of questions the very polite children hurled at me. After a short stay they left with disappointed looks on the children’s faces. Later the father came back, picked out a small armload of items then came to the counter. My brain was wondering what sacrifice was being made to buy something so frivolous. Would they eat this week? I tallied the amount and the dad did not even blink as he pulled out a wad of cash from his pocket. There was more money rolled up in his hand than I made in months! I truly hope he did not notice the stunned look on my face. He paid and left with what I assume were Christmas presents. I had judged that book by it’s cover.

I realized that I had a problem. I do this constantly. Making calls about people with too little information based on dress, color of skin, nationality, political preference and even facial expression. This is bad! John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” It affects my interactions with people and I was realizing that some of my attitudes in this respect were deep routed. Don’t we all do this on some level? The Association of Psychological Science says that we can make judgements on a person after seeing them for only 50 milliseconds. The Apostle Paul understood the problems with this reliance on our own judgement. In Galatians 2 he chastises Peter for separating himself from gentiles because they were not Jews. His judgement of the gentile lifestyle caused a division which dragged others into this negative behavior. Paul attempted to impress upon them that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Shouldn’t we follow the example of Jesus? He engaged all types … men, women, children, unclean, thieves, beggers, blind and tax collectors to name a few. He wasn’t judging at all, just showing his love for them wherever they were in their life. It is nearly impossible for me not to size people up but a verse I like to remember is Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” It reminds me that I am a sinner and need Jesus just like the people I make judgements about. Maybe even more than them if I would be honest with myself.

  1. Think about people or situations you may be judging right now. Make a list if it helps you to visualize.
  2. Ask forgiveness for this sinful nature.
  3. Pray that God would help you change your judgemental thoughts.

That was almost 30 years ago. Admittedly this is still work in progress for me. A constant battle to keep from thinking worst case scenario with almost no information to go on. I had always feared that I would pass this onto my children. Praise God as a couple years ago I witnessed my son be approached by a homeless woman. She appeared legit at first glance but my reaction was of a negative nature. My brain wondered what her issue was. Perhaps lazy, mentally ill or hooked on drugs was my immediate evaluation. I watched as he calmly and lovingly engaged the woman in conversation. She shared a little about her situation. Meanwhile, I am antsy to get to our destination. He wrapped things up by reaching into his wallet and emptying it of his last twenty dollars. My son lovingly engaged this stranger and showed her compassion. John 13:34,35 “…love one another, as I have loved you … by this all men will know that you are my disciples …” My reaction made it impossible for God to use me in this manner. How many other opportunities had I missed due to my split second judgement. It brings tears to my eyes to this day thinking about the awesome testimony my son was making by loving like Jesus. Praise God he did not inherit his father’s judgemental way. My son was a better man than me and making his father and his Father very proud.

My prayer for you is that you would allow God to work out your judgmental attitudes so that you would be able to engage people more lovingly like Jesus.

Misers Never Prosper

This is part 3 of 10 in a series I call Financial Freedom. The previous was called Save for a Rainy Day:

I’m a saver. What that means to those who may not understand is that any time I spend money on anything frivolous I feel guilty. It could be something as inexpensive as a pack of gum. A totally unnecessary expense in my mind that carries a small amount of burden with it’s purchase. I am not exactly sure why I get this feeling but I will say it may be a product of my youth.

My grandparents grew up in a different time. When they were young, times were difficult. They learned to use everything they had. Nothing was thrown away because there was always a use for it. When my grandfather died, I had the job of helping get my grandmother organized. What I found astounded me. I wouldn’t exactly call them hoarders but they did save things that may one day have a use. There were 3 freezers full of leftovers, a closet full of empty plastic containers for more leftovers and another closet full of shoes along with a shed full of cardboard. All useful things. Their house was tidy and clean but full of things they would never be able to use. I don’t hold any ill for them as I understand that they were a product of a different time. Indeed, we could all learn from there frugal habits but there needs to be boundaries on what is practical.

There are much more extreme examples. An 18th century man named Daniel Dancer is known for his miserly ways. His saving went to the extreme. He would not bathe or wash his clothes with soap because he did not want to spend the money. Dancer barred his front door and exited an upper level window so no thief could steal his things. Only taking one meal a day he died a lonely life. In fact, Dancer refused medical attention in the end even though money was hidden throughout his house. Consider these verses Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal: for where your treasure is, there our heart will be also.” and Matthew 6:33-34 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Do not worry about tomorrow: for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Was fear creating an unhealthy attitude toward saving in preparation for what could happen? We know that saving is good but at what point are we not trusting God for tomorrow? Consider this … Jesus himself used resources in ways that seemed frivolous. Familiarize yourself with the story of Mary anointing Jesus in John 12. Mary anointed Jesus feet with very expensive perfume which could have been sold for a great deal of money. When she was chastised by Judas, Jesus proved her act justified. Now there are many things that could be learned from this passage but what I would submit is not everything need be used for the poor or in seemingly righteous means. There is benefit in sometimes spending some on ourselves. Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 ” Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God had given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God.”

My interpretation of this is to spend some of your hard earned money on yourself. This is God’s gift to you! Working hard with no reward is draining. Forbes magazine suggests that those who spend money on experiences are happier than others. It does not need to be a lot, complicated, righteous or hinge on anyone elses expectation. It just needs to be meaningful to you. It could be movie tickets, dinner out, a pair of shoes or an origami class. You decide but it must bring you personal satisfaction and cannot break the bank. It will be different for everyone based on budget, time, ability and personality.

  1. Ask God to reveal in you any misplaced attitudes you have toward money and the things it buys. Put fear of the future at the top of that list. God has the future taken care of.
  2. List areas that may be hold outs for a sinful nature. These may include overspending, hoarding or miserly ways. Ask forgiveness for these impediments to your relationship with God.
  3. Consider ways you can spend a little on yourself. Make a list and prayerfully consider which ones are doable within your budget. Enjoy!

Here is an experience I had a number of years ago. It was a big leap for me at the time but it was a hobby that brought me joy. I wanted to save $500 to build a climate controlled room in my garage to hold reptiles. I know this sounds odd to most but it was a frivolous expense at the time. I saved a little out of my personal allowance for months. It took about 1 year but was very satisfying and it paid dividends in some unexpected ways.

I had no skills to do the job so I enlisted the help of my stepfather. Quite the handy guy! In a couple days we built a small space in my garage. I learned how to build walls, run electric and hang drywall. However, the best part was spending quality time with my stepfather. I had never had a male figure willing to help with no strings attached. My faith was being restored by a simple act of kindness. I will admit that was unexpected. The finished product was super useful. I later turned the space into a small animal breeding business and when we sold that house it was one of the selling points that the buyers desired. But the most beneficial outcome in my wife’s eyes was that the animals she feared would never need to be viewed by her again. I witnessed so much in this frivolous act … love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. God is able to produce fruit in ways we could not imagine if we faithfully seek Him.

My prayer for you is that God would reveal unhealthy extremes in saving and help you identify positive ways to spend money on yourself.

Save for a Rainy Day

This is the second installment of a 10 part series I have entitled Financial Freedom. The first is entitled “Tithe”.

My wife lost her job in our second year of marriage. We were not sure how we were going to manage. She has always been our main source of income. I simply did not make enough to support us. To add insult to injury we had expensive repairs to do on my car. I recall leaving work to find her outside in tears. She was devastated. There was no money to pay for it and we needed our vehicle. We felt helpless! It’s a terrible feeling to need something and not be able to get it. We survived the storm but it could have been so much easier. (Familiarize yourself with the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis) The nation of Egypt was experiencing a time of plenty but there was a storm brewing. They were forewarned of a time of famine. They placed their faith in Jospeh who followed God’s leading. Instead of making themselves fat on their abundance they saved up enough to get them through the emergency. Not only did God provide their need but there was enough left to help their neighbors as well. As an added bonus, Egypt grew rich while other peoples were failing under the strain. Egypt survived because they trusted someone who trusted God.

Everyone experiences troubles in life. Car repairs, illness and joblessness to name a few. When it happens, trust God to have your best interest in mind. (Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.) But before an emergency happens, take the advice Joseph gave to the Egyptians and act likewise. (Proverbs 21:20 There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but foolish men swallow it up.) Emergencies will happen but if you are prepared they can be much easier to ride out with a little preparation. Most people do not prepare well enough. Indeed, Bankrate did a survey which found that only 39% of Americans have $1000 saved for emergencies. According to The Atlantic an average emergency room visit costs $2168. This could be devastating for those without insurance.

Here is what I suggest. Try to save at least 3 months of income. Even a little is a lot. My mother gave me good advice once. I wish I had listened sooner. Even if it is just $10 a month it adds up. Make whatever adjustment you are able. Be creative. Perhaps you could save pocket change or change you get from bottle returns. Our plan was to save in times of plenty. Whenever we had some windfall or extra leftover it would get put away for a rainy day. Raises and bonuses were put away until we got our 3 month backup. Do it however you want but do something not nothing. A little bit will add up but don’t be tempted to spend your emergency money on just anything.

A. Pray for guidance as you make your plan. Put it in writing. Share this plan.

B. Be thankful that God has provided the resources to save up for emergencies.

C. Pray that God keeps you faithful in saving and gives you strength to resist the temptation to spend your emergency stash.

I was a amazed at how easy it was to save once we had committed ourselves to it! We had 3 months safety net within 2 years! Over many years we were able to save up 6 months. Praise God that we were no longer devastated by emergency car repairs. We were experiencing a freedom from the minor storms that life brings by faithfully acting on the concepts exhibited in the Bible. It exhilarated me to realize something about the Bible. It works! By following simple truths put forth thousands of years ago, I could be free from bondage today. I believed in the Bible but had I really seen these concepts at work so plainly like this? I always just wanted my problems to magically disappear or for money to magically appear. Thank God that he was thinking of me when he breathed words into a book for generations to learn from. I was motivated to seek more knowledge about not only money but life in general. Our new found freedom in faithfully saving was yielding dividends in other areas of life. Not only did it allow us to experience less stress in the lean times but it made us more effective Christians. Only God can do that! (Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master.”) He will multiply our simple obedience in ways you would not have imagined.

My prayer for you is that God would motivate you to save for a rainy day and to let the Holy Spirit reveal truth about saving that will spill over into other aspects of your life.

My Testimony

At the age of 16, I wanted to disappear. Indeed, I did think that nobody would miss me all that much. Although, I was becoming a little less so, introvert was my middle name. My outlook on life was low at best. In fact, I had the idea stuck in my head that I was doomed to be like my father. He was an alcoholic, never held a job long and an absent parent. Not the best life to aspire to. The few friends I had were not the best caliber. They did not treat me well and they dabbled in drugs. I did have sense enough to stay out of that scene. Thank God! (Actually, I did not really believe there was a God at the time.) I wanted desperately to be anyone but myself. Really just wanted to be that confident party going jock that always had a girlfriend. Unfortunately, I was really just the nerdy, quiet kid who mostly went unnoticed but when noticed it was only in a bad way. So, I did everything I could to not be noticed. I wasn’t really doing anything wrong, yet, but wasn’t doing anything right either.

So, when a girl I liked invited me to a church function of course I said yes. Her group of friends accepted me with no problem. They didn’t seem to notice my shy personality. After only a short time I was part of the friend group. The only price to pay for admittance was accepting Jesus into my heart. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” That verse and others were repeated ad nauseum. So I took the leap. Otherwise, I am afraid I would be out. I prayed with my friend and I was in. By the next day people were congratulating me and making a big deal. It was a little embarrassing honestly as I did not want to be center of attention. Wasn’t really sure what the big deal was. Until …

It was an evening service. The sanctuary was packed. I was standing in the back of the room with my new found friends. There was the normal singing and prayer then there was a call for anyone who wanted to share to come forward and speak on a microphone to the entire gathering. It was all adults talking about this and that. I thought to myself how foolish. I would never give up that type of personal information. It would surely be used against me. Then the unthinkable happened. One of the girls from my new friend group headed to the microphone. I was aghast as she began to pour her heart out in front of a room full of people she mostly didn’t even know. Through tears she relayed how broken she was and the need for forgiveness. Proverbs 28:13 “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.” I was stunned. What would drive someone to share such personal information? In my life, up until that moment, any sign of weakness would have been thrown in your face, used against you, stepped on a few times then held over your head at every convenience. I watched her receive hugs, prayer and encouragement. It was at that point that I understood that there was something to this Chrisian stuff and I was desperate to experience it. I even tried to share my decision with a number of people. The reacitons were interesting … “Foolishness! God doesn’t exist! The church just wants your money! Now you will become a priest and never have sex! Just a bunch of rules! Why would you do a dumb thing like that!” To name a few. It was a little discouraging at first. It seemed so difficult a path to walk. I even tried to turn away from my new path only to find it empty and lonely. I was hooked. I reapplied myself in the privacy of my bedroom. Tears flowed freely. I was confused how I could feel both broken and strong at the same time. I would understand better soon after.

It wasn’t much later that I became aware of the Holy Spirit in me. I learned to trust the things that the Bible says. I wanted to learn more. 2 Timothy 3:16 ” All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” The validity of the Bible has been supported in my daily experiences. Every time the scripture is tested it is proven accurate and sometimes in unexpected ways. I trust what is written in it fully now. It has never failed me. Over the years I have had my ups and downs for sure. Each crisis I face my first reaction is to turn to God. Over time I have learned to lean on God in the good times as well. I hope you will do the same.

John 19:35 “And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and we know that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.” Please share your testimony. I would love to hear it.

Tithe

Shortly after my daughter was born I had been at church and frustrated over a sermon about tithing. It just wasn’t something I had ever felt able to do and I was a bit offended how many needs they wanted us to support in recent history. There seemed to be this constant need for me to give. Food, presents and church repairs to name a few. It was never ending. Maybe I should put my own name in for needing a little extra cash. The sermon on this day, however, peeked my interest when the preacher said something that set me to thinking. It was, “If you are gainfully employed in the united States then you are rich.” I actually didn’t believe the statement as I certainly was not as rich as my neighbor and he was definitely not a rich man. It was true, however, that I always had clothes, food and shelter, which many people could not boast. The sermon did hoever set me to do a little research. What I found astounded me. Not only were we making above average but we were in the upper 4 percent of the population of the world! It was at that point I realized how “rich” I was. But that set me to wondering. If I am rich then why do I struggle so much with finances. We were literally living paycheck to paycheck and practically crippled financially for a time whenever emergencies like car repairs happened. I always felt like we were one emergency away from drowning financially. My new job allowed me time and resources to study our situation and I realized a number of things but the main one was … I needed to tithe!

Lev 27:30-33 “Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. If, therefore, a man wishes to redeem part of this tithe, he shall add to I one-fifth of it. For every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. He is not to be concened whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; or if he does exchange it, then both it and its substitute shall become holy.

Have you wondered why billionaires are giving money away? Hundreds of billionaires are pledging to give away over 50% of their wealth. No, it’s not just a tax break. They are realizing that they just don’t need any more wealth (How many boats does one person need?) and giving it away gives them a freedom and joy that money can’t buy. Granted they are giving out of an abundance but the ability to give something away grants us an ability to detach ourselves from that thing. Heb 13:5 “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have: for He Himself has said, I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” The problem is that as Americans we have become too attached to money and the things it buys. We don’t think we can tithe because there is no ability to differentiate between want and need. Consider this … I am a big coffee drinker. My family and friends know this about me and they also know what I am like without it. They would all submit that coffee is a need for me. OK fine, I’m addicted and need an intervention but there are many like me and it serves a purpose. Let’s say I buy coffee at Starbucks every day for a month. At $3 a cup that is about $90 every month I spend on coffee. Probably money well spent honestly but hear is what I am getting at. If I were to make the coffee at home it only costs about 30 cents a cup. That is only $9 a month for a savings of $81 a month! That is $972 a year! See my point? I need coffee but I don’t need to buy it at Starbucks.

Consider an actual need. Imagine your car breaks down and is going to cost you $1500 to fix. For most people this is an overwhelming number so they decide to buy a new car. You trade in your old car and get a new car along with $300 payments. Great! Problem solved. However, can you really afford that? Those payments add up to $3600 over the course of a year. Fixing the old car only costs $1500 for a savings of $2100. Even if your old car breaks down again at a cost of another $1500 you still have saved yourself $600. For some people that is their tithe right there. The old car works just fine but we get distracted by the shiny new car and never consider how much we could save. Are you following my process here? We all nickel and dime ourselves for things that are needs but what can we do without or how can we change our expectations to spend less.

Read Mal 3:8-9 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, How have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!” and Deut 10:14 “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it.” What we need to figure out is that it all belongs to God and He will get what is His one way or another so why not give it up as an act of obedience? When I committed my family to tithing something very cool happened. Not only did God bless us abundantly but so much that we were able to make up the difference we had not tithed previously. Boy! God is good!

Do this:

A. If you are not tithing or not enough then pray for forgiveness then prayerfully consider ways you can spend less until you get to 10 percent. If you already tithe then consider giving more.

B. Commit to giving this amount out of the first fruits. When you get your next paycheck, pay your tithe as your most important bill. Before rent, power and food! Set it up as auto pay if you are able.

C. Share your plan with a friend, mentor or spouse. If you are married share what you have learned and get their buy in. If you do not have your spouses agreement the do nothing but prayerfully seek the holy spirit to move in them to tithe joyfully.

Giving God out of our first fruits showed me something I had not anticipated and it was just a simple act of obedience. At first it seemd like this huge burden. We gave up what seemed like a lot. What I did not anticipate is that it was actually a burden lifted. Not that I worry about money but I had never realized my attachment to it. Giving God his due actually freed me from that attachment. So not only did I experience a freedom but God used that act of faith to bless us abundantly in other areas of our lives. I now experience joy in worshipfully doing what God had commanded.

My prayer for you is that the holy spirit give you guidance in identifying those things that keep you from experiencing freedom in you finances and a joyful heart in tithing. If you still cannot find a way to do this, seek advice from someone you trust like a relative, minister or counselor to give you spiritual help in figuring out how to make this a priority. It may require a lifestyle change so go at this with prayer and wise advice from those who are faithful servants as well.