Thursday, March 11, 2010

Book Review: Tithing...test me in this

Who would have thought that a book on tithing could be a page-turner? But Tithing...test me in this, was just that. Douglas LeBlanc's interview with individuals or couples about their experience with tithing (giving away 10% of their income) was an easy read that inspired me toward generosity.

LeBlanc starts the book with a simple overview of the practice of tithing which I found very helpful. He quotes a number of early church Father's showing that tithing was the norm for the early church showing that it wasn't abandoned because of the New Testament teaching of grace. He said that tithing is like prayer in that God doesn't need our help but welcomes our joining him in his kingdom work. When we open our grip on money we invite God's blessing on us but when we tighten it we miss an opportunity to join God at work.

Each interview flies by as people relate how they came to be tithers and how they see God has blessed them for it. It's more of a book of stories than teaching but each chapter teaches you about the discipline of tithing through the people's experiences with giving.

LaBlanc interviews some notable people, one being Ron Sider, author of the classic, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and Randy Alcorn, author of a number of books including The Treasure Principle, a helpful book on principles of generosity from the Bible.

Many people referenced Malachi 3:10 as an inspiration for their tithing practice. This is where God told Israel that if they tithed on their income that He would bless them. And God even said..."test me in this". In other places God says that we should not test him but we are given the right to test God in one area; tithing. Give to God his ten percent of your income and see if God is not faithful to meet all of your needs.

Some commons themes that came up from different interviews was that:
  • tithing is a simple matter of obedience to God. It was never meant to be an option.
  • tithing is the beginning, not the end of generosity. Tithing is a discipline that gets our generosity wheels turning when our natural selfishness would cause us to keep everything to ourselves.
  • tithing acts like training wheels on a bike. It gives us guidance in our early days of giving. As time goes on giving 10% is kidstuff compared to true generosity. After awhile we stop thinking about how much we are giving and think more about how much we keep for ourselves.
  • tithing was never done to receive a blessing but nearly every interviewee talked about seeing God bless them in many ways both tangible and intangible. Frederica Mathewes-Green said..."When we tithe, the blessings keep flowing in faster than we can bail them out again!" page 13.
The church has gotten a bad rap for "always talking about money". Tithing...test me in this, bypasses this complaint and shows how tithing is an invitation to share in the character and joy of God through generosity. If you are currently tithing this book will remind you why you do. If you are considering the practice it will convince you to take the risk.

Note: I review books for Thomas Nelson Publishers for a chance to read free books!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Reality of Walking with God

I've been enjoying the Lenten posts from Larry Crabb's devotional that I recommended in a previous post. He's been hitting the theme of what it REALLY means to walk with God. It's not all fun and games. He's not a God who runs around keeping us from scraping our knees and wiping our nose. He's a God of great purpose and wants to include us in that purpose. But he doesn't always include us in on all the details and we need to learn to humbly accept that fact.

Here's part of his post from today. Click the link at the end to read it all or to subscribe yourself...

The Book of Jonah

God says, you are growing up. You can no longer celebrate My love the way a little boy celebrates the care he receives from a good mother, from a tender woman who provides her child with a nutritious meal and a sweet dessert and then, after an hour of play and reading, tucks him into a warm, comfortable bed with the promise of another fun day tomorrow.

Part of growing up, of seeing Me as I am, tempts My followers to run from Me, to establish a safe distance from the distinctly unsafe and inexplicably disagreeable ways I sometimes involve Myself in the lives of those I love.

You are growing up. Your days of naïve worship and shallow but exciting intimacy are
over. It is always difficult for a child to become an adult, to draw close to Me as I AM. read more...