Tithing and Hilarious Giving

The first ten years of marriage, my husband and I gave to the church, but we didn’t tithe.

Tithing traces back to the Old Testament, when God commanded his people, the Israelites, to give ten percent of what He gave them back to Him.  This tithe provided for the tribe of the Levites who served as priests and did not have their own land or jobs with which to earn a living.  Their “job” was to serve God and the congregation of Israel.  Today our tithing should go to supporting the Church and those who have dedicated their lives to ministry: pastors, missionaries, etc…, and supply the funds needed to do the work God has assigned the church.

Giving is talked about in the New Testament.  In 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul teaches the church in Corinth that individuals should give as they have decided in their hearts, cheerfully, because God loves a cheerful giver.  (Paul was encouraging the Corinthians to give to take care of the poor in Jerusalem.)  Giving is extra.  It goes above and beyond a tithe.

Tithing and Hilarious Giving

{An interesting fact that will make you smile if you make it to the end of this post… this word that is used for a cheerful giver… it is the Greek word, hilaros, which not only means cheerful, joyous, prompt to do anything… it also means hilarious.  So imagine what hilarious giving would look like for a moment, and we’ll come back to this in a few minutes.  😀 }

Anyway, I guess you’d say that my husband and I had it backward in the early years.  We gave, often, but we never tithed 10%… this was something we had not committed to doing.

Then a woman who taught classes for Crown Ministries came to speak for my MOPS group.  She talked about the Crown Money Map which encourages people to budget so that they can live within their means, tithe, save, and pay off debt.  She shared some of the strategies her family used to accomplish this, and it was pretty impressive because they lived on a very modest income.

My husband and I are so blessed that the only debt we owe is our home mortgage.  God provided in amazing ways while hubby was in college, month to month, so that he graduated debt free.  This allowed us to enter into the ministry job force right away, without loan payments.  We were able to work at a smaller, growing camp on a minimal salary ($1,000 a month, back in the day).

If we use credit cards, we pay them off when the bill is due so that we don’t accrue interest.  We drive older vehicles that we paid for in cash.  My husband is the son of a mechanic, so he has done most of our fix-it work himself.  We’ve been blessed this way.  So when I heard this Crown Financial Teacher speak, it wasn’t debt that motivated me to do anything different, but it was the conviction that God wanted our family to honor Him.  When I talked with my husband, he agreed.

If you only look at the numbers, giving 10% off the top of my husband’s salary definitely gave me less money to work with each month.  But have you heard about the woman who only had $20 to live on every month?  She said,

“Twenty Dollars is impossible to live on, but $18 is easy.” 

When you dedicate yourself to giving God his share, he makes sure you have what you need to ensure you can give and still be taken care of.

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:10-11

Several months ago God woke me up at 3 in the morning to tell me He wanted us to commit to giving back 10% of what is left at the end of the month.  We have been tithing 10% at the beginning of the month for many years now.  10% at the end of the month is extra… it’s giving.

I almost laughed, partly because I was punchy from being so tired, and partly because it’s a major event when we have anything left.  But I agreed.  “Okay, God, if that’s what you want.  You know there’s not usually anything left at the end of the month, but if you can stretch what we have so that there is, you can definitely have 10% of it.”

Kind of seemed like a small amount… 10% of whatever is left, but something interesting happened.  Budgeting and shopping, which I normally find stressful as all get out, suddenly became challenging in a good way.  The amazing ways God provided the things we needed, and the uncanny savings that popped up during shopping trips, they did not escape my notice.  As the month passed and I could see the potential for having a surplus, it became almost like an exciting game.  The idea of having something more to give back was making me giddy.

Dance to Give

And you know what?  We’ve had something left almost every single month since then.  When we have experienced an unexpected expense, God has provided an equally unexpected gift that allows us to tithe more, and still give.

When I tally the numbers at the end of the month and figure out how much we get to give, praying about where God wants us to give it, and writing out the check… I literally feel like dancing with joy, and suddenly the idea of hilarious giving is not so hilarious.  It’s wonderful.  It’s Jehovah-jireh, our God who provides.   🙂

God loves a cheerful giver.  He loves it when we scheme to save to give.  He loves it when we giggle with joy at writing that extra check, and when we dance to be able to put it where He wants it:

the benevolence fund,

that teenager’s upcoming missions trip,

YWAM team to Mexico (1)

Bethany's trip to Mexico

full time missions support,

scholarships for kids to attend camp,

cup camp 2015

gift cards for the family who is struggling…

Where would you give your gift?

God said He will enrich us in every way so that we can be generous in every way.  That includes enriching our desire to give.   I can’t tell you how many ways doing for others will bless you.  

Do you tithe from your income?

Have you witnessed God provide for you in amazing ways?

Would you ever consider giving, above and beyond your tithe, and see what God will do for you?  Why or why not?



The Light in Us

Have you read missionary Sheila Scorziello’s beautiful blog about the country of Italy where she lives, and the culture and people she loves?  I recently discovered her corner of WordPress, and I am just so delighted to meet her.  Her writing just draws one in.

She wrote a post sharing how Italians celebrate February 2nd, as opposed to the American “Ground Hog Day”.  They call it Candlemas Day.  She wrote,

Candlemas, in many Christian traditions, marks the presentation of the Christ child in the temple. It is also the day when many take their candles to the church for the minister to bless. Using these blessed candles throughout the year serves as a reminder that Christ is the light of the world.”

The Light in Us

As I thought about it, I had to do the math… if Christ was born on December 25th, and in keeping with Levitical tradition, she would have gone with Joseph to the temple for purification rituals 40 days after Christ’s birth.  This would have fallen around February 3rd.  Mary and Joseph brought Jesus with them to the temple, as the first born child was to be set aside to the Lord.

The Bible introduces us to some beautiful people there at the temple that day.  Simeon, an old man and a prophet, had been told by the Spirit of the Lord that he would not die until he laid eyes on God’s promised one.  He recognized Jesus, and taking the baby in his arms, he blessed the Lord, saying,

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
 for my eyes have seen your salvation
     that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.”

And Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph also.

Anna, a prophetess was also at the temple that day, as she always was, worshipping with fasting and prayer.  Scripture says she came up at that very hour and began giving thanks to God, speaking about him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

After this, when Mary and Joseph had completed what was required of them at the temple, they returned home.  Luke chapter 2 tells of all this, and in verse 40 we are told that Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.

I know I’m random, but all of this got me to think about the fact that this account is one of the very few we have about Christ as a child.  Only one other is recorded.  Most of what we know of Jesus’s life begins when he started his ministry around age 30.  So that leaves 10,950 days of his life that are not recorded, and yet, we know that the baby grew to be a boy, shared a home and meals and memories with family, had brothers who didn’t always like him, went to school and followed all of the traditions that every Jewish boy was expected to observe.  He had the same kind of relationships we have.  He faced the same temptations we face.  Day after day, year after year, he fulfilled, step by step, every iota  required to grow up into the man who ministered, died and rose again on our behalf.

Every second, Jesus was faithful.  Not only at the end, but every moment of His life that carried Him to the end.

Every moment, God with us…

Precious babe, bearer of hope…

Growing bigger, audacious love….

Son of God, strong and wise and boldly humble…

Light of the world, extinguished on a cross to be ignited in the hearts of men and women across the world… of a kingdom not built with hands or won with swords, but on bowed knees, bent wills, and by the power of the Spirit.  

Children of God, the light of the world (Christ) lives in usMay we bear His brilliance faithfully and authentically in the low and mundane moments of life as well as the moments that crescendo into seasons of fulfillment, as we see God’s plans unfold in miraculous, because it takes all of the moments to hasten the return of Christ.

It takes all of the moments to bear hope to a helpless world.

It takes all of the moments to  love audaciously.

It takes all of the moments to testify loudly.

And it takes all of us.  What a privilege to be part of God’s plans.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galations 6:9-10


Finding Funding for Missions in Unusual Places

The collection deadline for Samaritan’s Purse missional shoe boxes is fast approaching!  Our church collected the last of our donated boxes on Sunday.  My kids were SO excited to send ours on its way, and rightly so, because they played a big part in providing the funding to make it possible.

A few months back, I mentioned that we wanted to come up with funds for supporting missions.  We set a goal to reach by the end of the year, and the kids caught the vision that they could be God’s hands by helping send the gospel into the world, literally.  Excited, they went through their rooms looking for spare change.  They found a lot, actually.  I think they probably dipped into their hard earned spending money.  They caught the “giving bug”.

Being God's hands to the world

We joke that our 9 year old is a money magnet.  She loves going to town with me, and no wonder since she always comes home with change in her pocket.  It helps that she is very observant, but this kids finds money everywhere!  She began the habit of tucking it into my hand and telling me, “Here, you can put this in our missions money.”

I offered that maybe she should keep every other coin, and give every other coin (cuz honestly, some days she comes home with more than a dollar), but she wouldn’t be deterred.  She set such a good example that we all decided to do as she is doing.  When we find coins in town, we bring them home and add them to the mission fund. 🙂  Bring on all those nice Aldi shoppers who give away their carts when leaving the store!  They have no idea the good that they are doing!

Nearly all the contents of our Samaritan Purse shoe box was paid for with lost change.  We’re pretty excited, because we’re re-starting our mission fund now for next year, and I can’t wait to see how much we’ll be able to do.  I’m positive that we find far more change than we used to find, whether because we’re more aware of our surroundings (ulterior motives) or God is blessing our plans.  Probably both.  😉

I paid for our shoe box label/shipping donation online.  You can learn more about it at this address.  When you pay for shipping online they track your shoe box so you know to which country it has gone, and that knowledge is going to be such joy for my crew.  It will keep them motivated to want to do this again!

One thing I will do differently from now on is that I will more intentional when shopping this coming year:  I will notice bargain items that are appropriate to put in these shoe boxes.  I  will buy school type supplies ahead of time, when they are on sale in August/September.  EVERYONE was buying shoe box stuffers in November, and I ended up paying more for items like colored pencils and a pencil sharpener because the “deal items” were completely gone, even at the Dollar Store!  I did find a Ty Beanie Baby at the thrift store for 50 CENTS that was like new, tag and all.  Kinda the frosting on the cake!

Anyway, the purpose of sharing all this is not to show off, but hopefully to inspire you that it’s possible to give more… pray how God would have you do it.  Maybe it’s:

  • Buying less Starbucks
  • Buying a more affordable cell phone so the monthly bill is less
  • Contributing funds you save when couponing
  • Raising money with a garage sale
  • Have a bake sale!  One of the families we know sells cookies, pies, and other delectables to raise money for missions–their friends are very generous when they know where it’s going!
  • Or, perhaps you’re just a money magnet too, LOL.

Do you have ideas?  How does your family set aside funds for missions?  Please share them with me so all our mission funds can benefit from your creativity!