Many times in the past when I am teaching a financial training session for Pastors or church leaders, they are amazed that I list as my first Financial Best Practice “having a biblically-sound basis for giving”. I am a CPA and of course, the expectation is that I will focus on tax and financial methods and advise, but I’m a Believer first and foremost. As I am given opportunities across the U.S. to train church leaders, God has mandated that I first lift Him up and make clear that His way is still the only way. The Internal Revenue Service has established rules for financial that we are required to adhere to or face the possibility of substantial fines. But, if we adhere first to the words found in II Corinthians 9:7; Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver., we would find that much of the anxiety facing many churches would be addressed. I find many churches constantly looking for their next fundraising campaign to provide funds. There is a lot a work, time and effort that goes into these campaigns. The basic truth is each of us has a basic responsibility to give and give generously to God’s work here on earth simply in response to what we have been given – eternal life through Jesus the Christ. We must teach generosity directly from the Bible and trust God when He says that if we lift Him up, He will draw all unto Him. No gimmicks or fundraising campaigns are needed.
It’s amazing when you start to actually study – I mean really seek Him through studying – the Word of God, how He will continue to reveal Himself to you. I’ve been a tither for many years and teach on it frequently but as I have delved into the Word more for a clear understanding of all the things that I speak to others, I have found that this tithing idea really needs a lot of further clarification. It is clear from the Word of God that we are no longer under The Law of Moses where tithing was commanded and all of the instances in the Old Testament where givers showed their reverence for God with a gift of 10% or by offering a tithe of 10% accompanied by a 5th (20%) as an atonement for their sins from their increase. It is also clear that while the law is confirmed in the New Testament, we are now under Grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ which atoned for our many sins. That debt is paid in full. Yet we still give just a tithe as if it is the requirement and therefore meaningful. I know many of you have heard me say that we know tithing won’t save us. We are saved by believing what John 3:16 states. The only examples in the New Testament where Jesus recognized any gifts as meaningful were sacrifices of 100%. He gave His only Son so we are expected to sacrifice and do so cheerfully. While I still believe that the practice of tithing is worthwhile simply for the reason that if we willingly give 10% consistently we are at least recognizing God as the giver of the 100% and we are giving to Him in appreciation for the gift. But in these days where we are given an unmerited abundance of Grace even though we are a hot mess, 10% is just a bar minimum and almost a joke! Until we give generously and cheerfully from our hearts 20%, 40%, 60% and even 100%, we are still falling far short of loving Him like we should. I’m working on getting this type of true Love in my heart for God as I should. I love Him dearly and serve Him each day but I’m not even close to loving Him like I should or being His totally devoted steward. Are you? I’m going to keep at it until I get it better and better each day! I pray that you will as well. Loving Him Always and In Abundance!!!!!!!!
I spend quite a bit of time reviewing tax returns and advising as best I can on tax strategy and helping Pastors find new ways to conquer their various tax situations. I don’t believe this is a time to lose it! Tax planning is for real and understanding how to structure your income and expenses in a fashion that minimizes your tax burden, takes some time and effort. So, Pastor’s take full advantage of that housing allowance exclusion. No one in the country enjoys this benefit and therefore, because of the wonderful affect your work has on the community, you are given special tax treatment. Maximize it by taking the time to understand it! Then hold your tax preparer responsible for reporting correctly for you and reap the benefits of being in control of your financial future. Tax time is not a time to freak out, its a time to win through your knowledge and preparedness! Bravo!
I sometimes find it amazing how everything continues to change and evolve. Even though we don’t really like change, no one cares because life continually evolves and we are forced to change – whether we like it or not. This is a season of change for me and I’m trying not to buck against progress (smile) and embrace all of the wonderful things God has in store for me if I will just trust Him in this season. I can even sense the great blessing that is in store for me yet I find myself a bit hesitate to jump in the boat and set sail. Are you in a season of change like me? What we can be sure of is His guaranteed return for our meager investment of trust! His promises are the only sure thing we can count on and we should never hesitate to change directions if we know that is His Will for our lives. I think I’m going to take that boat trip now. Come on…..Come on……He’s a guaranteed investment and we can’t lose betting on Him.
Each year, I approach Ash Wednesday and the Lenten Season as a time of serious, character-building, soul-searching, come-to-Jesus-and-tell-it-all opportunity. Time just seems to fly by with all of the responsibiities of just living but each year I have become more and more determined to slow it down and reflect. This season has been really good for me because I’ve once again discovered a new reality that I can simply step into if I choose another path. There are so many things in my life that I can simply do without. As I fast from some things that I really love, I’m finding it much easier than I thought to do without. So, I pray that I’m pruning for a new leaf and new bud that can be of help to my Christian Walk and in the life of someone else. Join me as I reflect on who I really am and who I should be. Pull out your mirror. It’s time to let some things go……..