Do you have problems with tithing?

Read this as a humble message from someone who loves and cares, not one who judges. It`s what the Lord has put upon my heart to share.

Many born again Christians encounter problems with tithing. It`s something that is not uncommon, hurting and “eating” up the inside of someone who knows they are supposed to do so but fail for one reason or another.Many diligently spare time immediately after their pay day and carefully calculate the tenth but find that they still cant tithe. Yes some Christians may disregard tithing completely or for a period; today am not talking about these. But I am referring to those who set aside time to calculate the tithe each time a pay slip or cheque comes in, only to find themselves failing to tithe.

The main reason for this is failure to have a long term plan for tithing- In other words when we make our long term plans, our ability to tithe while carrying out those plans must be considered. The examples given below will make this clear. If we feel that tithing will be hampered while executing those plans, then we have to change them. A good number of people are good at making monthly plans for tithing although some do not follow through with the tithing. This shows that short term plans alone are not good enough. All of us should have the long term plans for tithing.   Consider the following useful tips;

Planning to tithe doesn`t only start before you spend any money from your pay slip.

  • Pray for God`s wisdom concerning this. Prayer (Mathew 21:22)
  • Start planning before buying a car. Ask you self “after tithing, will I have enough money to fuel the car and service it?” Not – “will there be enough money for tithing after the car expenses?”  If the answer is no to the previous question, then you probably need a cheaper car or you are not yet ready to own a car currently . If you obtained a loan, will the monthly loan payment be enough after the tithe? If you start with buying the car before asking your self those questions ,you increase your chances of not tithing  because the monthly expenses might go beyond your income.
  • Before renting an apartment or acquiring a loan for a house, find out if  you will be able to tithe before your monthly expenses on the house. You probably need a cheaper house or apartment. Don`t first acquire an apartment or house  and think about tithing later. Before starting to build your house, will you faithfully tithe each month during the building project? Or is this going to hamper the tithing? If so put  off the building for some time.
  • Before choosing a school or course of education , will you be able to tithe and  pay the tuition? Ask your self if you probably need a cheaper school. Don`t first get an expensive school and convince yourself that you will tithe anyway. This is the trap many have fallen into.
  • In summary, think about tithing before considering not only your monthly budget but also your long term projects. Change your projects if you will not be able to tithe and fulfill them, go for cheaper alternatives or abandon them if they will hamper tithing.

The truth is if you don`t consider all those and the like before taking them up, you might be pressured into thinking they are more important than tithing when funds aren’t enough.

May God bless you

Confidence a midst troubles (continued)

God wants us to trust Him despite all situations. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus ( Romans 8: 37-39).

Trials and temptations happen so frequently that instead of trying the futile attempt of running away from them, adopting an attitude of effectively dealing with them is better. Sometimes when we face trials and some one comes to strengthen us, within us we say “its because its not happening to you.” but we can be positive about our prevailing situation if we think of two things:

  •    The high priest we have ( Our Lord Jesus) empathizes with our weaknesses and was also tempted yet He did not sin. ( Rd Hebrews 4: 15). He understands what we are going through and will redeem us. In Hebrews 4 :16, we are urged to confidently approach the throne of God so that we receive mercy and help when we are in need.
  •    The testing of our faith yields perseverance which in turn brings about completeness and maturity.

I pray that the good Lord leads you safely from the situation you are going through and may His name be glorified,

Confidence a midst troubles

Some time around the beginning of of the year 2011 while moving in a small village in the southern part of Africa I met a sister in the Lord with a stab wound on her face; in the last months of the previous year, there had been three robberies in my neighbourhood; still around the same time one of the families in the small village had two of their children murdered on separate occasions.

Friends we had known for some time had lost their jobs; some christian couples have adulterous spouses; accidents happen and people are either hurt or die; you probably are not sure how you are going to pay your bills or cater for your children`s tuition; you are not being promoted at your job and as if that`s not enough, the people you train are promoted instead; You`ve waited so long for a marriage partner but haven’t been successful yet; Up to now you are still waiting for your healing; the list is endless.

Many- including some Christians- thus say that faith in our Lord is difficult to maintain when faced with such situations. The resulting discouragement leads to dangerous compromise. We then end up with a bunch of many people going for Sunday prayers and even midweek devotions but lacking confidence in God. The temptation then is to trust in other things e.g. power, people, money which leads to further failure. ( Psalm 20:7).

God wants us to trust Him despite all situations. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus ( Romans 8: 37-39).

(To be continued next week)

Persistent prayer provides answers

One time a lady friend of ours said ” I know my husband, I will say this over and over again until he gets tired of hearing it; then he will buy it”. She had wanted an item bought for their house but her husband kept putting it off. But she knew what to do to have it bought. In Luke 18: 1-8, Jesus tells a parable about a persistent widow who kept asking for justice from a judge. After several attempts , the judge granted the lady her wishes. After the parable, Jesus asks if God will keep putting off His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night. He adds on that God will see that they get justice, quickly.

Let`s not grow weary, persistent prayer avails answers.

Blamed for something you did not do, how do you react?

Aside

We all want a life full of peace and no strife , hurting , discords or anything in the same category. Unfortunately as most of us grow up we find that this isn’t always the case . One of the most hurting occurrences every one will very likely face many times in their life is being blamed for something they did not do; or being wrongly perceived or judged. The potential consequences of the blame range from being trivial in some cases to serious in others. This depends on what the blame is and the relationship you have with the person doing so. But whatever the consequence , whether trivial or serious no one wants to be held responsible for  something they did not do. So what does one do in this case?

I know many of you have many interesting and good answers to this and am eager to read them. Please feel free to share them if its ok with you . My discussion today is what not to do in such instances. How we respond to those who have misjudged us whether friends or relatives, strangers or otherwise has an important part to play in the state of our internal peace. Almost every human being has the ability to talk back in a raised voice and to exhibit aggression whether active or passive, but our strength is judged by our ability to remain loving , peaceful and calm in such situations. I know it is easier said than done, but getting along with folks requires a willingness to hurt without revenge or fighting back.

When death is seemingly imminent, what goes on in the mind?

“I have some bad news”. I listened carefully because these words were not familiar in this setting. Those that followed would set off a series of thoughts in my mind that I`ve never had before. “The left sided engine has got….” That’s all my mind could take in for a while as it came to reality that the left engine of the plane we had boarded had a problem, passengers seated on the left row remember seeing smoke coming from it. We all later felt the plane losing balance as the pilot said he was flying back to Johannesburg after only 20mins of being air borne. The shaking increased as we descended and the smoldering from the left engine continued.

The journey back was a terrifying one to all of us. I had never been so scared in my life. I went through the well-known stages of grief within 20 minutes only. This usually happens in individuals with terminal illnesses.

I know every one would like to hear the events that followed ,but what I want to share today is what went through my mind in those twenty minutes. I imagine many people think about the same when facing death. Before that trip I had many plans , just like many of us but one thing I remember is that only a few of the plans I had really counted. The financial, career, prosperity plans really don`t matter. The three things I remember thinking about are : What has my relationship with God been like?; What  have I done for the people I love most? And why have I wasted so much time running after things that don`t matter in life? A quick self-assessment showed me that I hadn’t been doing well.. As I went through the last stage of grief which is acceptance, I begged for forgiveness from God- I repented for all the sins that I had committed. I realized that God forgives those who repent of their sins (1 John 1: 9) and knew very well that Jesus forgives our sins. But then after “accepting” the imminent death , I wondered how my loved ones will take the bad news, and how life is going to be… I then begged God for another chance to live.

Since then I very much know that the many things we commonly chase on earth really don’t matter. We usually leave out the most important things in life and pursue the “perishable” and those that don`t matter. When we are facing death  what really counts is how we have lived our lives, whether God approves of them or not and how we have treated our loved ones and those we don`t know.

You did your best given the situation

Each of us is familiar with at least one individual who is very critical of others. One common feature of being criticized by others is that the negative effect that results from it seldom lasts for long. If it does we  often find ways of dealing with it. A few exceptions exist depending on the relationship one has with the person criticizing them.

On the other hand, self criticism may have a longer lasting impact. There are many reasons why we have a tendency of being “harder” on ourselves than necessary.Some of the reasons are comparing ourselves with other people, setting unrealistic goals,  being hyper sensitive to negative evaluation and so on. The resulting emotional impact may be a hindrance to progress with future plans , may affect our career, relationships and self esteem. This unnecessary self trauma can only be avoided by acknowledging that  more often than not,you did your best given the prevailing circumstances.

Is silence ever an answer?

Hundreds of thousands of people everyday wonder if it would make a difference if they had only waited a day before saying it. Some have even regretted why they did n`t  wait a minute before uttering it out. To those who are married this has sometimes meant the difference between trust and mistrust or even worse the only reason to divorce. Scores have lost their jobs just because they would not tame their tongue- at least for that instant. When you are being dragged into an argument by some one with an elevated temper or if put the other way round – at the time when your temper is elevated, then silence is the winning answer.  

Be at Peace, understand your limitations

One of the guides to a peaceful life Iv`e learnt over time is understanding my limitations. And of course as some of you have already guessed, this is both through personal experiences and through observing others. The world today has a tendency of showing us what we don`t have and how we can achieve them through…… many ways. There is a palpable state of urgency in our desire to acquire even the non essential commodities and this we want to do in the shortest possible time. There are few things in the world today that bring about regrets like trying to unrealistically compare ourselves with others. Not being honest to ourselves may bring about unnecessary heartaches and failures. Understanding our limitations doesn’t mean giving up on our dreams, neither does it encourage laziness, but it removes the unnecessary and undesirable pressures as we strive to achieve our goals. The result is a peaceful journey towards one`s dreams; you realize that once you have enjoyed that peace it doesn’t really  matter if things have ended the way you wanted or not.

Putting it ” on the shelf ” might cost you

Have you ever had this important decision you have to make but you are uncertain of when to do so? And as you are in that state of indecisiveness some other seemingly more urgent issues come up for you to decide upon. I have experienced many such situations; postponing making a decision on the first issue one had in mind is what many refer to as “putting on the shelf”. The spectrum of such issues is wide; on one end it may be a decision of when to water your indoor plant and on the other end it may be a decision of whether or not  you should continue flirting with a married classmate. Each one of them has different kinds and severity of potential consequences if not dealt with immediately. Whereas putting some decisions on the shelf may be necessary, doing so with others may lead to undesirable repercussions. Recognizing which ones can safely be put on the shelf and for how long is not always easy, but sometimes it’s our deliberate act to do so even with the complete knowledge of the disastrous sequel should things go wrong. I have come to learn that one should think twice before putting some decisions on the shelf. As a Christian I seek God`s guidance to help me with which decisions can wait and those that should not.

It’s widely said that experience teaches the best, but it is a hard way of learning! I would appreciate if any one has a thought on this post.