Why We Tithe 10%

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  — 2 Corinthians 9:7

In my career, I live and breath philanthropy. I have been the recipient of immense generosity in the past, and I work daily to connect donors to the causes they care most about.

Philanthropy: the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes. 

TRUE philanthropy is cheerful and generous, and it is not something that comes naturally to everyone.

As Christians, my husband and I each feel that it is important to give our time, talents, and treasures wherever possible. But we are also human, and the reality is that we don’t always make the time or effort to pour into others. We can be pretty selfish, getting hung up on our own situations, and disregarding others’ needs. So when we first combined our incomes, we made it a point to put tithing in our budget. At the LEAST, we would give every month.

The “10% rule” comes up early in the Bible, starting in Genesis when Jacob vows:

If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house,and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.  — Genesis 28:20-22

The New Testament references giving MANY many times. It’s pretty clear that it is an expectation of us, not a request.

Look, I know the Bible tells us to do (and not do) a LOT of things, many of which I (and probably most of you) fail at on a daily basis. And there are plenty of months where one of us (usually always me) tries to justify why it just doesn’t make sense to give away that much when we have THIS and THAT and ALL OF THESE THINGS happening in our life. But if we go down that road, there is almost never a GOOD time to just give money away. Instead, we choose to joyfully give to the organizations that we care about and that are doing God’s work in their communities. We do occasionally use a part of our tithing budget to give to non-Christian causes that we care about, but generally speaking, tithing was asked of us in order to give back to God’s work. And honestly, we have reaped so many blessing from God these last several years, I have to believe it is in part, at least, due to our constant and (mostly) cheerful tithing.

PHEW that was a mouthful. I’m wide open for any thoughts or questions you might have. How do you give or tithe, and how do you decide when/ how much?

Changing Perspective {slow but sure}

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If you’ve spent any time milling around my blog, you know that I am constantly trying to discover new ways to improve my health and wellness through nutrition, fitness, faith, and general positive thinking. And slowly but surely, I’m noticing a change in my inner voice. It’s less harsh. It’s more encouraging. It’s more thoughtful. In OTHER words, I have been way kinder to myself lately. The idea that my body and mind and life is unique, and that God created my body and mind and life to serve Him and to love others is soaking deeper and deeper into my bones. I updated my kitchen chalkboard (above) to remind myself when I’m wandering around my kitchen aimlessly. Feed my body because I care about it. Workout for my body because God gave me only one to use while I’m here on earth. While I have a LONG WAY TO GO before everything I do is truly for the GLORY OF GOD, I am beginning to reap what I’ve sowed through years of studying The Word, being in a faith community, and surrounding myself with loving and Christ-loving people.

So whatever it is you are struggling with today – whether it’s health and body image, or something totally different – ask yourself if you’re doing it for the Glory of God. And then go dive into some good ol’ community!!

Good Friday in the Gospels: HOPE

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My God, My God…Why have you forsaken me?

Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34

It’s a mournful day, so it always seemed odd to call it “good.” But I get it – without this day, without HIS SACRIFICE, none of us would have the hope and the future that we do. Without this day, there is no Easter.

This week, I’ve been reading the stories of Jesus’ crucifixion in each of the four gospels. Let me just say honestly…it’s depressing. I have not read on to His resurrection, and without it, the story of His death is lonely and heart-breaking. I cannot wait to spend time on Sunday reading through the resurrection stories and reminding myself of the glory and hope Jesus’ death and resurrection have provided us.

I don’t know where you are at with Jesus today. I don’t know if you think Jesus-lovers are wacky, or if you wish you were one of them. I don’t know if you have a relationship with Jesus, or if you’re searching for one. Regardless, I encourage you to read the stories of Jesus’ death today. Even just one of them. And all of these stories have others leading up to them, and they jump into the story and different points, so if you have the time, I recommend backing up a little bit. But if you just want to read one chapter from each story, read these!

Matthew 27

Until I read this the other night, I did not know that Judas hangs himself…did you know that?! I guess they leave that out in Sunday School…

Mark 15

Here it says that Jesus cried loudly when He breathed His last breath…The other chapters portray it more gently, saying simply that He breathed His last breath, or gave up His spirit. This chapter just seems “louder” in general.

Luke 23

I love this story, because here we get the conversation with the criminals on either side of Jesus. It so clearly paints the difference between a believer and a non-believer perspective of death and heaven.

John 19

I love the image of Jesus taking care of His family (25-27), telling John that he is to be a son to Mary now. Our families should always be our first priority! Also, Jesus’ death is less dramatic in this story – it doesn’t talk about the darkness in the sky or the tearing of the curtain. He doesn’t cry out, “My God, My God…”

There are many more similarities and differences among these stories. I feel like all of these versions together truly paint the picture of Jesus’ death, even though they come from different perspectives. It really goes to show that our relationships with Jesus are all unique, but still have the same underlying story: Hope.

Add and Subtract {Lent}

It’s the usual…giving up sweets for Lent. Or elevators. Or facebook. Or alcohol. Whatever it is that grips your self control and messes with your head. We are SUPPOSED to give up something so that every time during lent we abstain, we remember the sacrifices Jesus made for us not just in those 40 days in the desert, but ALLLLL the sacrifices. Including The Big One.

In recent years though, I’ve tried to use Lent to add something to my life, as well. Something to help focus my life more on my relationship with Jesus. Recently, I’ve been reading The Power of a Praying Wife many nights of the week, but not on an entirely consistent basis. But I can tell that when I’m reading nightly, even just a few nights in a row, it’s impacting my heart. Maybe for you it could be listening to Christian radio in the morning instead of whatever you usually listen to on the way to work. Maybe it’s committing to church every Sunday. Maybe it’s joining a new bible study or church group. Maybe it’s volunteering. What is it you could add to your life that would improve your relationship with Jesus, and maybe even serve others??

So all of this to say, Happy Ash Wednesday. I’m giving up sweets. I’m adding in nightly devotionals with NO EXCUSES. Even if it’s only five minutes, I will spend time in prayer before bed every night. My hope is that every time I say no to chocolate or that I settle into bed with my bible, notebook, and devotional book, I take an extra moment to say, “Jesus, thank you. Thank you for your love and your sacrifices. Thank you for rising again on Easter. Thank you for reminding me that this life is only the beginning. Thank you for helping me keep my eyes on Heaven.”

If you’re reading this, and have gotten this far, and are thinking “well that’s all well and good but I’m not really into the Jesus thing,” I encourage you to use this time of Lent to really think about this. If you don’t pray, start. Just talk to God about the great things in your life, and about the many things you might be struggling with. Read my posts on the Gospel (part one and part two) and reach out to me if you have questions. Open a Bible and just read something. I’d suggest starting with the book of Matthew if you’re feeling like you don’t know how to begin. Ask people around you if they go to church, and where, and then go try one of those churches.

I don’t know you, but God does. And He loves each and every one of you. He formed you in your mother’s womb! He knew you before the stars were ever even made! I’m praying for you today. Peace to you today.

Supplements for Marriage

Happy (Belated) Valentine’s Day, y’all! Vday got me thinking this year…

We take supplements for our bodies. We read and study hard for years to supplement our knowledge and our careers.

But how much time do you spend truly preparing for marriage? And once you’re in it, do you have any idea what you are doing at all?? Are you truly giving of yourself, or are you at least a LEEEEEETTLE bit selfish. Or a lot selfish.

Do you tell your significant other about all the things that he or she needs to improve on? Do you ever think about the things maybe YOU might need to improve on?

Recently at our church here in Columbus, our pastor embarked on a seven-week series on Marriage. This is how he begins…pointing out how very little we really DO to prepare for marriage, where just about every aspect of our life, from education to finances to pet ownership, is carefully planned out.

This series has been an incredible supplement to our marriage. About half way through, I think the hubster and I have already taken many, MANY lessons to heart. We are all human and we need HELP sometimes. We need guidance, mentorship, kind words, direction…and we should never be ashamed or embarrassed or scared to seek out what we need. I encourage you to watch this series, in your own time. Listen to the words and take notes. Read your notes back before bed, and pray for your marriage. Or read them when you wake up in the morning, instead of diving right into your to-do list or your work emails. I promise this will start to change your life.

Another wonderful tool I’ve been using in recent weeks is a book called, The Power of a Praying Wife. It is truly making many of the exact points as Pastor Kevin in his Marriage Sermon Series. While his sermons truly challenge and convict my heart in the best of ways, this book by Stormie Omartian focuses me on praying for my heart in our marriage, and for my husband on a daily basis. It is helping me build an even stronger foundation for our marriage.

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It doesn’t matter if you feel like your marriage is perfect right now, or if you aren’t even married, or if you aren’t even THINKING about marriage. No matter what, we should each always be working to improve ourselves for the many relationships we have in our lives. Do you need a more open and loving heart towards your family? Your coworkers? Strangers? It doesn’t just have to be your spouse. Think about how you are spiritually supplementing your relationships. Think about what sorts of help you may need, and begin to seek them out.

On Listening to Christian Radio

Even the strongest Christians among my friends give me a funny look when I mention that one of my go-to radio stations is the local Christian station. Maybe it’s because the Christian music many of us grew up to was simply hymns (which are lovely but maybe not what you want to turn up during your morning commute), or maybe it’s because as “Christian Pop” started becoming a thing, many of the new releases were AWFULLY cheesy. Like, terribly so.

There are really two reasons I listen to Christian radio:

Music. I have to say that sure, sometimes the songs are a tad cheesy, of course. But many of them are uplifting, energizing, calming, and/or refreshing. There’s a little bit of everything, just like with pretty much any other radio station. If I’m tired and crabby, I hear the song I need. If I’m happy and excited, I hear the song I need. If I need hope, I hear it. If I need praising, I hear it. If I need calm, I hear it. Many, many days, God uses that radio to get to me.

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Talk. When I lived in Nashville, I had a 45-minute commute each morning, and I religiously (see what I did there) listened to The Wally Show on Way FM. Here in Columbus, during my 5-minute commute, I listen to Mary in the Morning on The River. Now, if I had kids, hands down I would have these stations on – you never have to worry about crass or inappropriate chatter. But honestly, even riding solo, do I really want my day to start out with all that crap that’s out there? Not especially. Listening to the banter of these voices lifts me up, makes me laugh, and reminds me that we are all on this journey together. I MUCH prefer to start my day off on that note. Plus, I still get news, weather, traffic, and all that practical stuff we’ve gotta have.

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So much so, that some mornings, I workout to these radio stations. I still use the Way FM app to listen to the Wally Show while I get ready for work. Hearing music with the message “you got this – life is good – you’re not alone” is a heck of a lot more energizing than most the music out there right now. Not that I don’t love that other music sometimes (I do), but I really believe that what we fill our heads with affects other areas of our life too.

Phew, well this got a little longer than I planned! Really, I just want to encourage you to try branching out a little today, whether you need a little pick-me-up or you’re feeling pretty dang good about life, just listen to something different, and maybe you’ll discover a little something new about God and yourself!