Pushback

TheRealRobSelf

I’ve been talking about the importance of tithing for the past few weeks. I’ve taken this much time because I honestly feel that it’s THAT important for the spiritual development of every Christ follower. This is especially true in the world of American consumerism.

Next week I will start talking about some other issues, so if you’re not following or liking my blog right now because it’s “all about money”, maybe you’ll get something out of it starting next week!

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But before that, I want to spend a few minutes talking about all of the pushback that I hear from people when it comes to tithing.

The best definition that I can find for “pushback” is:opposition or resistance to a plan.

So what is the “plan” that we’re pushing-back at? I believe that it started with The Great Commission.

What is The Great Commission, you ask?

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Pushback

I’ve been talking about the importance of tithing for the past few weeks. I’ve taken this much time because I honestly feel that it’s THAT important for the spiritual development of every Christ follower. This is especially true in the world of American consumerism.

Next week I will start talking about some other issues, so if you’re not following or liking my blog right now because it’s “all about money”, maybe you’ll get something out of it starting next week!

1420077_orig

But before that, I want to spend a few minutes talking about all of the pushback that I hear from people when it comes to tithing.

The best definition that I can find for “pushback” is: opposition or resistance to a plan.

So what is the “plan” that we’re pushing-back at? I believe that it started with The Great Commission.

What is The Great Commission, you ask?

The Great Commission can be found in the book of Matthew. You can read it here.

When Jesus returned to visit His disciples after His resurrection from death, He told them that they were to spread Christianity (although it wasn’t called that yet).

They were to teach people how to follow Christ.

And those new Christ followers were to teach others.

And this cycle should continue until you and I become Christ followers, and until every single person on Earth has learned of Christ.

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Well, reaching people all over the world happens to take money.

Money is a man-made institution. So this teaching of Christ and reaching of people must be financed.

Who else is going to finance this mission? The government? People who don’t know or don’t follow Christ?

OF COURSE NOT!

You and I are to finance this mission. How do we do that? Through our tithe to our local church.

In talking about tithing, and giving to the church in general, in any of my sociology, psychology, and world religions classes at school, the number one pushback that I hear from people who identify as Christians is:

“I don’t like the way that the church spends my money”

Then why are you attending that church???? If you don’t trust them with your money, how on Earth do you trust them with your spiritual growth? How do you trust them to teach your children about the love of Christ?

Here’s the thing, once you submit your tithe to a “Kingdom-minded” church, it shouldn’t concern you what they’re spending it on. There should be no doubt that they are spending it on “Kingdom-minded” projects. When I say “Kingdom-minded” I mean a church that is focused on expanding God’s kingdom, not their own. If you attend a church that you don’t trust with your money, that’s a good indication that you are either attending the wrong church, or you are attending that church for the wrong reason.

It’s easy to figure out what the priorities are at your church. Whatever those priorities are is where they are spending most of the money.

If your church supports several mission trips per year, and teaches about missions a great deal, that’s probably where they are spending a large portion of money.

If your church is charity-minded, or runs a homeless shelter, or a large food pantry, then this is probably a priority for their money.

If your church has 200 different classes for it’s members to attend, ranging from calligraphy to Zumba, this is probably where your church is spending a large portion of it’s money.

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If your church is known for the show, and prioritizes lights, sound, smoke, special effects, videos, and talent, then that’s what they are spending money on.

If your church is t-shirt, or billboard oriented, that’s where their money is going.

Whatever your church prioritizes is what they spend money on.

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Can a church support a combination of any of these and still be doing God’s work? I absolutely believe that they can! Are they reaching people for God? I have no doubt.

The point is, if what the church is spending money on doesn’t align with your beliefs or your vision of The Great Commission, then you are going to the wrong church. It’s time for a change.

It is the responsibility of every Christ follower to fund the church financially. That means you and me. There is no exception to the scriptures when it comes to tithing. There is no:

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse so there can be stage props and Sunday School for my people to enjoy with their coffee and cookies, unless you don’t trust the storehouse with your money, then you’re good, you can opt-out.” -2 Rob 6:3

Here’s the thing, I believe that tithing is a form of worship, just as I’ve said many times. Worship comes from obedience and honor. I am honored to worship God with my money.

Part of my worship of God is my willingness and obedience to separate myself from that 10% and offer it to God through the church. My worship is not demonstrated in the way that the church spends it. 

Stop making excuses why you can’t or shouldn’t tithe!

“I can’t afford to tithe”

If you can afford to spend money on junk food, you can afford to tithe.

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Dunkin’ Donuts brought in almost 800 million dollars in 2014!

Not sophisticated enough for you?

Starbucks revenue in 2015 was 19.16 BILLION DOLLARS!

EVEN WITH THE SATAN CUP!!!

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It’s clear that we absolutely can afford the things that are important to us.

There is so much else that I would like to say about this. There is so much more that I believe about this subject. What it boils down to is that if it’s not in your heart to tithe, then don’t. If you have reasons not to tithe, or why it shouldn’t be 10%, then don’t tithe. If you don’t pray, then don’t tithe. If you aren’t a Christ follower and don’t feel like you want to be one, then don’t tithe. If there is some little voice inside rejecting this as being truth, don’t tithe.

I don’t want you to tithe out of guilt or out of shame. I don’t want you to tithe with the expectation that God will return your money to you multiplied. If any of these apply to you, I want you to take the time to seek God and to develop a relationship with Him. I want you to build a relationship with Him that makes you want to worship Him with every single aspect of your life. When you develop a love like that, when your whole heart belongs to God, not just the non-financial portion, you will find joy in giving your tithe. You won’t miss it. Believe me, Karen and I haven’t.

Until then, the church will be happy to use whatever money you will give to them. As I mentioned before, bills have to be paid, the Kingdom has to be funded, people have to be reached. The church will still use your talents. The time that you spend fulfilling the mission of the church is greatly appreciated. When you are truly ready to submit to Christ, and truly ready to give it all for Him, tithing will come easily and naturally.

What other reasons do Christ followers use to not tithe?

How to perfect your swing, and your faith

TheRealRobSelf

This past summer I took some golf lessons from a PGA certified instructor.

They were pretty hardcore!

I’ve been playing golf off and on for over 23 years. But I had never taken any real lessons. So, although I could pick the correct club for each swing, and I could keep the cart on the path, and I could dress like a pro, I hadn’t progressed in my game…. ever. I wanted to change that. So my wife and daughters bought me a lessons package for Father’s Day. I was excited to take my game to the next level!

Those lessons were brutal! I had to un-learn everything that I had learned over the past 23 years of trying to golf. I had been watching and emulating how other people played. I had taken advice. I had driven a thousand balls on the practice range. I had even read a…

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How to perfect your swing, and your faith

This past summer I took some golf lessons from a PGA certified instructor.

They were pretty hardcore!

I’ve been playing golf off and on for over 23 years. But I had never taken any real lessons. So, although I could pick the correct club for each swing, and I could keep the cart on the path, and I could dress like a pro, I hadn’t progressed in my game…. ever. I wanted to change that. So my wife and daughters bought me a lessons package for Father’s Day. I was excited to take my game to the next level!

Those lessons were brutal! I had to un-learn everything that I had learned over the past 23 years of trying to golf. I had been watching and emulating how other people played. I had taken advice. I had driven a thousand balls on the practice range. I had even read a few books. But my game was still mediocre at best.

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My new coach had his work cut out for him. He taught me how to swing a golf club again, starting from square one. I wanted to go out and start dusting balls with my driver but I probably hit about 200 balls only about 30 yards for the first two lessons. My coach told me the same things over and over and over. I felt like I was doing what he was telling me, but inside I was resisting because I’d been doing this for so long, there was no way that I could be completely wrong.

Finally, out of my frustration after hearing the same thing come out of my coach’s mouth for about the 64th time, I made a wise remark at him along the lines of “you make this sound so easy!” He instantly responded, “Rob, it’s simple, not easy. If it were easy then everyone would be great at it. It’s not easy. But it is simple, you just have to stop resisting.”

Wow! Isn’t that the same with this tithing thing? I’ve been spending money for years. I’m a pro at how to spend money. I watch what everyone else does. I try to be like them. I’ve asked for advice. I’ve even read a few books. But taking that first step to begin tithing was H-A-R-D!

Other Christ followers made it sound easy. And I really wanted to tithe. I wanted to take my faith in God to the next level, and I knew that tithing would do that for me (and it has). But it irritated me to hear people talk about it like it is so easy. It isn’t easy. I’m a grown man! I got bills and stuff!

So let me tell you this…. Tithing is NOT easy when you start…. But it is simple. It really is. And as you get used to it, and you take control of your money, and you discipline yourself, it gets easier. I promise.

So let’s take some practical steps to get started, because I want us all to fund our church and our God’s Kingdom. And I want us all to experience the faith, and the worship, and the peace of mind that comes with obedience.

  1. Begin by praying and asking God to give you the courage to put His work first in all things…. ALL things.
  2. Figure out just how much 10% of your income is.
  3. Create a budget. You can find some great budgeting tools on the internet. Microsoft Excel also has some really decent searchable budget templates. You have to start telling every single dollar where to go. If you don’t tell your money where to go, it will end up going everywhere but the places that it should be going. And at the end of the month, you won’t have a clue where it all went. I know budgeting is dull and boring, but once you start making progress, budgeting is rejuvenating. It shows you exactly how much progress you’re making so you can celebrate the wins.
  4. The first thing on your budget to be paid should be your tithe. That goes to your home church.
  5. Figure out what needs to be cut so that your tithe takes priority.
  6. Figure out the difference between your “wants” and your “needs”. Prioritize the “needs” and start trimming the “wants” until you are more financially stable.
  7. You have to get out of debt! I know that it sounds easy…. It’s not…. But it is simple. You will never be able to fully focus on Christ as long as the devil has got you stressed out about your finances. My wife and I completed the Financial Peace University class by Dave Ramsey this past fall…. GAME CHANGER! I would recommend this program to anyone who isn’t debt-free. Check to see if your church sponsors a Financial Peace University class. Click HERE for more information.
  8. Start an extra savings account for the big items that you know are going to show up. My wife and I have an online savings account that isn’t tied to our regular bank. We make regular deposits into this account each payday so we will have money available when it’s time to pay personal property taxes, or get oil changes, or get new tires, or buy Christmas presents. We know that these expenses are on the horizon and we refuse to continue to finance things that we should be purchasing with cash.
  9. Get rid of car loans. You really don’t have to have that new vehicle. I know that it looks nice. I know it’s really impressive to the thousands of people that you drive by every day that you will never talk to. I know that you couldn’t possibly be driving around in something less than amazing when you can finance amazing TODAY! Then you can make monthly payments at 20%-30% interest for 4 to 6 years, just so you can get another new car because this one is too old.

My wife and I have two hoopties! But we don’t have any car payments!

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They’re not really that bad… I just had to.

But seriously, if one of our cars were to break down, we would probably just sell it to a salvage yard and go buy another hooptie with cash. These cars get us everywhere that your amazing, beautiful, very classy, and very financed car gets you. Except mine gets me there with no loan payment, very low insurance premiums, ultra-low personal property taxes, and not a care in the world about someone running their shopping cart into the side of it. That’s a whole lot of extra money and peace of mind that I have that you probably don’t. Believe me, we were just like you not even a year ago. Then something clicked and we decided we weren’t living like that any more. And we never will again. You can do it too!

There are many other things you can do to honor God with your money. These are just a few steps to start out with.

Here’s the thing. If you look at your budget and realize that there are things that you are just not willing to cut in order to tithe, pray about it some more. Worship has to come from your heart. Don’t do this out of guilt. If you do it out of guilt you will resent God for it and it will damage your relationship with Him. You will never see the benefit of your obedience like that. Pray that God helps you feel His love more strongly. Pray that the things that you love more than Him will eventually let go of your heart. Name them out loud, cable TV, fishing tackle, Tupperware. Whatever it is. Be honest with God. Tell Him that you want to be obedient and you want to worship Him with all that you are and all that you have, but you’re just not there yet. Ask Him to help you.

He loves you. He desires a relationship with you that isn’t forced or coerced.

The spiritual maturity that I’ve gained since I decided to start tithing cannot be described. I want that for you as well.

One last shameless plug:

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Why do you think that it’s so hard to take the first step to tithing?

 

 

Blessings poured out!

I’ve been blogging a LOT about tithing.

I think that anyone who is a Christ follower should be tithing.

I think many Christ followers are misinformed about tithing.

I think that when people hear the word “tithe”, this is the image that smacks them in the brain.

I think many preachers mislead Christ followers about tithing (whether intentionally or not).

I think many Christ followers begin tithing out of guilt, which leads them to eventually stop tithing.

I think many people are taught that if they tithe, they will receive their money back, plus more, as a blessing from God.

I don’t think this is usually the case.

I can’t find the scriptures that reference money as something that God really wants you to be motivated by.

I can find lots of scriptures that make it really clear that money is NOT something you should worship.

I CAN find scriptures where God wants you to be motivated by LOVE, OBEDIENCE, GRACE, FAITH, and WORSHIP, among other things.

So, do my wife and I feel that God blesses us because we tithe? ABSOLUTELY. But not always financially.

We are blessed more than we deserve to be.

  • I am unemployed (no income from me for over a year now).
  • We have two healthy and beautiful daughters (more blessings)(and many more expenses).
  • My wife works for a municipality (not getting rich there).
  • I go to school full-time.

We have the perfect combination of events that should be making us struggle financially.

We don’t.

 

We are always blessed with what we need. There have been times when we didn’t even know how we were going to make ends meet, but God has always shown up in a very clear and evident way.

We have dealt with job-loss, health problems, medical procedures, family emergencies, and other events with no problem. These are all just more reasons why we worship. Our faith is fully in our God.

Did I mention that I am pursuing my bachelors degree, full-time, without paying a dime out-of-pocket?

But the thing is, God blesses us in other ways because of our obedience and our worship. He blesses us with an amazing relationship. Our marriage is strong and full of love.

He blesses us with our daughters. They are healthy, beautiful, and extremely intelligent.

He blesses us with our faith. We have no doubts that God has our best interests for His mission in mind. We have the peace in believing that He has His hand in all things.

We show our faith in God by giving Him what little we have, even when we don’t know how we will make ends meet, out of worship and obedience. Our faith is rewarded for this obedience, thereby strengthening our faith in other areas.

God makes good on His promises!

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. –Hebrews 11:1

Faith isn’t faith until it is actually put to the test. Until then it’s just a really awesome word that Christians like to use to sound Christiany.

We tithe as a way of worshiping our loving, giving, faithful, and awesome God.

We are honored to tithe. We have NEVER regretted it.

I pray that if you are still reading this, then you are ready to begin tithing faithfully. In my next post I’m going to share some very easy steps to get started. The biggest step is the decision to start and the belief that honoring God with your money is more important than doing anything else with your money.

I’m not going to say that you should pray about whether you should tithe or not. I think that command and expectation by God is pretty clear.

I will say that you should be praying that God moves in your heart so that you will feel honored to worship God with your money and that He will give you the courage to tithe faithfully.

We have NEVER regretted tithing. You won’t either. 

 

 

 

 

This is a test!

Didn’t mean to post this in the middle of the night 😦 Check it out!

TheRealRobSelf

Thanks for coming back to my blog. I know that the last few posts have seemed very sermon-ish. I promise that they won’t always be like this, but I’ve really been feeling strongly that many Christians have become superficial in their faith and especially in their worship. And because of that we are missing out big-time!

superficial
adjective su·per·fi·cial ˌsü-pər-ˈfi-shəl

  1. 1a(1): of, relating to, or located near a surface (2): lying on, not penetrating below, or affecting only the surface

  2. 2a: concerned only with the obvious or apparent : shallowb: seen on the surface : externalc: presenting only an appearance without substance or significance

I apologize if that sounds harsh, but I think a lot of us do things that we know looks Christian-y to others, but then make a conscious choice not to worship in ways that others can’t…

View original post 677 more words

This is a test!

Thanks for coming back to my blog. I know that the last few posts have seemed very sermon-ish. I promise that they won’t always be like this, but I’ve really been feeling strongly that many Christians have become superficial in their faith and especially in their worship. And because of that we are missing out big-time!

superficial
adjective su·per·fi·cial \ˌsü-pər-ˈfi-shəl\

  1. 1a (1) :  of, relating to, or located near a surface (2) :  lying on, not penetrating below, or affecting only the surface

  2. 2a :  concerned only with the obvious or apparent :  shallow b :  seen on the surface :  external c :  presenting only an appearance without substance or significance

I apologize if that sounds harsh, but I think a lot of us do things that we know looks Christian-y to others, but then make a conscious choice not to worship in ways that others can’t see (i.e. below the surface).

We as Americans LOVE our money! We L-O-V-E it. And we find very creative and indulgent ways to waste our money. We love stuff! We gotta have stuff! We can’t get enough stuff!

 

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But when it comes to following God’s command to tithe, we simply decide that someone else will fund the Kingdom.

I just read an article at HealthResearchFunding.org which had some interesting statistics. I want to share just a few. You can read the rest on your own if you’d like.

  • Total Christian income in the United States is $5.2 trillion annually, nearly half of the world’s total Christian income.
  • For Christian families making less than $20k per year, 8% of them gave at least 10% in tithing.
  • For families making a minimum of $75k or more, the figure drops to just 1%.
  • The average donation by adults who attend U.S. Protestant churches is about $17 a week.
  • If Christians followed the Old Testament standard of giving across the board, then $139 billion would become available every year for additional ministry work.
  • 37% of people who attend church every week and identify themselves as Evangelical don’t give any money to their church.

These are some enlightening statistics. I don’t know how accurate that they are, but they are similar to all of the other statistics that I’ve seen. You can read the article here.

The command to tithe was given in the Old Testament in many different scriptures. Some say that the command to tithe was ended with the new covenant. But in Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 Jesus himself is recorded as instructing the religious leaders that they are to tithe, among other things.

One of the most commonly preached scriptures about tithing is Malachi 3:8-10:

“Begin by being honest. Do honest people rob God? But you rob me day after day.

“You ask, ‘How have we robbed you?’

“The tithe and the offering—that’s how! And now you’re under a curse—the whole lot of you—because you’re robbing me. Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don’t open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessings beyond your wildest dreams. For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers.” The Message of God-of-the-Angel-Armies.

This one is pretty clear. The coolest part about this scripture is that God asks us to test Him in this area. Maybe we don’t give that statement the respect and excitement that it is worth.

We…. Are…. To…. TEST…. GOD!

The God of the universe! The God who created Adam and Eve! The God who spoke to Moses and Noah and Daniel! The God who offers us forgiveness that we can’t even imagine! The God who wants us to spend eternity with Him! The God who sent us Jesus, the Messiah!

TEST HIM! FOLLOW HIS COMMAND! SEE IF HE DOESN’T POUR BLESSINGS OUT ON YOU!

I love blessings. I think we all enjoy blessings. Blessings are awesome.

This tithing leading to blessings is kind of like working out leading to weight loss. We all love losing weight and getting into shape, but it’s the working out part that hurts. It’s painful. Sometimes we don’t trust it. We think to ourselves “this workout plan is making me sore, I hope it’s actually working.” This goes on until we actually start seeing the results of our efforts. Unfortunately, you can’t have one without the other.

So, if every single Christian in America would tithe, not only would we flood the church with $139 BILLION a year, but we would be blessed as a people and as individuals! That’s a win-win! I can’t imagine the amount of good that our churches could do with that money!!!

So why do so many of us trust that God can heal cancer and illness, God can help someone become employed, God can help a desperate couple become pregnant…. BUT we don’t trust Him with our money?