Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Tithe Test

The Tithe Test - What Do You Really Know?

Is 10% of your gross income to be given to the local church for the rest of your life? What do you actually know about the Biblical teaching on the tithe? Well, here is your chance to find out! Below are twenty questions worth five points each. Normally, 60% would be a passing grade. But in this case, I want you to study this subject until you score 100% ! Why do I want this? Well, if your income averages $50K a year, after fifty years, you will have given a quarter of a million dollars to the local church. It does seem sensible to ask some questions about this - and know some answers. Actually, it is wrong for you to give 10% of your gross income to anybody without knowing for sure it is God's will ...100% sure. That's why I want you to work on this until you are an A+ student!

So, ... get your pen and paper and take this 3 minute test right now. Don't cheat by looking at the answers. Go!

1. How many Bible authors wrote commands about the tithe - its purpose, amount and procedures?

2. Who are they?

3. What was done with the third and sixth year tithe? Who had access to it?

4. Can you explain the "tithe cycle" of the Israelites?

5. What was done with the tithe every seventh year?

6. Explain Abram's tithe. What did Abram give Melchizedek?

7. Did any of the Levites tithe? If so, to whom and how much?

8. How much money did the tithers give to the Levitical Priests?

9. In the "to the Levites" tithing years, did all the tithe go to the Levites?

10. What group did Jacob give his tenth to?

11. What were the conditions God must meet before Jacob would give that tenth?

12. When was the tithe "rediscovered?"

13. Who is credited with that "rediscovery?"

14. What was the catalyst for that "rediscovery?"

15. Is tithing the number one responsibility for the Christian and his/her money?

16. What kind of curse should the Christian expect for failing to tithe (Mal 3:17-23)?

17. Where did Jesus tell Christians to bring their tithe?

18. Where did Paul, or the other New Testament writers, tell Christians to bring the tithe?

19. When the Corinthians, and others, were making their collection for the saints, what was done with that collection before Paul and company took it to Judea?

20. Can the tithe be given to parachurch ministries?

Now, before rushing down to grade yourself, let's address one other little item. It seems reasonable to me that anyone who tells you God requires you to tithe - should be willing to answer a few questions (like ... maybe twenty?). And if that person fails to score 60%, well, ... where I grew up, that was an "F." Should you be expected to yield to such "expertise?" But, even if expected ... should you?

How to give this test to others.

1. Try this out on a couple of friends (I did). It's fun.

2. Let your "testee" know you took a test about the tithe - and share your score. Tell them you are interested in seeing how well they will do. My friends were eager to show me up.

3. Either give the test orally or lay a copy of this before them. In either case, let them write down their answers. All that really matters is that the test is taken right then, in the order written, as a "pop quiz." No questions in advance - or taken home.

4. Grade it on the spot (they will want to know how they did).

The Answers

"The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of fools feeds on folly" (Pr 15:14).

To calculate the score, count the number of correct answers and multiply by 5.

1. One.

2. Moses. In Malachi, God was speaking and simply reiterated the commands in the Law.

3. It was kept in the local town. It was for the local Levite, alien, orphan, and widow.

4. Year one, two, four and five were taken to the designated place (eventually Jerusalem). Year three and six - see question 3 answer. Year seven - see below.

5. There wasn't one. There was not one on year fifty (Year of Jubilee) either.

6. He gave him 10% of the choicest spoils of a bunch of stuff he had no intention of keeping anyway. He gave nothing of his own possessions.

7. Yes. Those Levites not of Aaron's family gave a tithe of the tithe they received. They gave it to the priests of Aaron's family.

8. None. The tithe was never money.

9. The tithe of year one, two, four and five were shared by the tither with the Levite in a celebratory meal when the tithe was given. What was left over stayed with the Levite. In year three and six, it appears the tither deposited the whole amount in the local town without partaking of any of it.

10. There was no "group" to give it to of which we know. If your testee responds with, "God," count that as a correct answer. The testee is still going to flunk.

11. God had to be with him, keep him on his journey, give him food to eat, give him garments to wear, and return him safely to his father's house. At that point, God would be his God. The tenth came (we assume) twenty years later. It was a vow fulfillment.

12. After the Bill of Rights was adopted in the United States.

13. American Theologians in the Higher Criticism of Systematic Theology.

14. The loss of the church's ability to tax citizens (The First Amendment in the Bill of Rights) caused a financial crisis in the church. That led to this "rediscovery."

15. No. Family obligations are number one. There is no tithe for Christians anyway.

16. There aren't any. Christians are not Jews under Law.

17. He didn't, because there isn't one.

18. They didn't, because there isn't one.

19. It was saved ... most likely at home by each contributor.

20. There is no such thing as a parachurch ministry, and there is no tithe for the Christian either. All the assumptions in this question are nonsense.

These answers are correct.

The teaching that is going around today is not the Tithe of the Bible. In fact, this "new teaching" is totally foreign to the Bible. A legitimate Biblical word and teaching (tithe) has been hijacked - and applied it to this new concoction.

God does give clear directives for the use of your money. But that design is not found in this "new teaching." This "tithe" teaching is actually extortion in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, it is not just the extortioner who will be held to account. The duped one is accountable too. It is ultimately our responsibility to learn God's will for us - especially when it is written in black and white. And in this matter, "I have not spoken in secret, in some dark land" (Isa 45:19). God's material on the tithe, and His priorities for our money, are clearly stated in the Bible - there for the reading.

So, how did you do? Are you comfortable with your current knowledge level on this matter?

Article Source: WRITERS

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Life As We Know It

My friend since childhood, Heidi wrote this and posted it on her Facebook account. She has given us permission to post it here. :) Thanks for the reminder, Heidi! :)

Life, according to ABC is over. with the bailout failing, americans should just run to their homes, pull the shades and sit in the center of the floor rocking back and forth on their backsides. I tried that. it didn't work. I just got some awful rug burns on my hinny reminding me that i''m not five years old anymore.

But, seriously, what's the deal? Oh, i understand the bank failures, the stock market crash, the increase in gas prices and groceries. That i understand completely. My bank account reminds me of an anorexic teenager...too thin from a side angle and too immature to know better.

The media would like me to feel really bad about my situation. They want me to get fired up and point a finger of blame at someone. They want me to feel depressed about the hopelessness of america becoming a 3rd world country. I'd like to see if Charlie Gibson's huge bank account is anorexic like mine. I doubt he goes home depressed about the economy. He probably lives the same way he always did...with opulence.

And let's talk legislature for a short moment. I wonder if Barack Obama or John McCain would give up their campaign contributions to "bail" wallstreet out. Perhaps if one of them did, we would have clarity in the polls. Yah, Congress is going to reconvene on Thursday. That's great. the country needs some leadership and the elected officials are probably out all playing golf, making deals with lobbyists. I doubt they are suffering. I doubt the "bail out" will even touch them economically. (I've always thought that "serving" our country through congress should be a "without pay" position. Then, perhaps, we might have people in there who really care about the "little people...oh shut up barack, you are NOT a little person)

Hmm...These have been my thoughts after watching the news this morning. I find it frightening that the news can disillusion me from who i am and who i was created to be in about an hour. I was created for display his glory. I was created to depend solely on him for life (even when gas prices soar).

Watching the news this morning made me forget about who God really is. I forgot that "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

I forgot that He holds this earth together. He even holds wall street together. I forgot that He created this world and everything in it, even my bank account. I forgot that He is bigger than Obama or McCain. He is bigger than Abc news. He is bigger than hurrican Ike and kyle and for the love would someone name a hurricane after me? Hurricane Heidi is so "eye" catching.

And so today i am saying goodbye to abc news, charlie gibson, meredith viera and matt lauer. My day gets so confusing when i listen to you babble about how "bad" life is. I'm not concerned.

My life was created by HIM and is held together by HIM.

I am not afraid.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Godly Retirement

by Al Boyce

Two dozen newly hired employees of a large financial institution gathered in a conference room for three days of orientation. A good part of the first day was devoted to taking full advantage of the company's 401K plan. The entire last day was devoted to IRAs and other retirement plans.

Repeatedly, speakers warned that Social Security would soon be a thing of the past; that we must work to assure our own solvency when we retire. One woman estimated each of us would need $500,000 in retirement savings accounts in order to retire "comfortably." Another suggested putting away every spare penny to protect against the ravages of inflation.

With the best of intentions, this company was systematically instilling in its employees the desire -- no, the NEED -- to look out for themselves, to hoard their money, to define their "comfortable" retirement years by how lavishly they would be able to live. Vacation homes were a given.

Is it any wonder that Americans struggle to tithe, or to serve others, or even to reduce their own worldly appetites when we are surrounded by trusted advisors who lecture us about materialism as if it were the ultimate virtue?

Contrast that with Christ's admonition that we give freely to others; that we are to live simply and hold our material possessions with open hands.

His "investment" advice was this:

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."(Matthew 6:19-21)

I know a man who is in his mid-40s. He lives in an unheated trailer behind someone else's house. When he can't get day labor jobs, he panhandles. Sometimes he gets food from dumpsters behind grocery stores.

This man also volunteers four hours a day at a warehouse that provides food, clothing and other necessities to the homeless, to migrant workers, to displaced families. He refuses to take anything from the warehouse for himself because he wants to "give back" what he has received from others.

One gift he has received has been the support and friendship to help him stay sober for nearly six months.

This man has no IRA, no pension fund, no 401K, no savings account. He is looking for a steady job, but with poor reading skills, hearing difficulties and a spotty employment history, his prospects are not good.

Still, he reaches out to his brothers and sisters on the street; those who can't shake their own substance abuse. He doesn't counsel them on how to save up money, get a job or prepare for retirement. He encourages them to embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior; to relinquish their grim hold on things of this earth and to recognize the joy of living by God's grace.

In this way, he contributes to the ultimate 401K. There are no contribution limits. You are never too old to start paying in. Your assets are controlled by someone with a proven track record.

One more thing: God provides an infinite match, which is a good thing, since your life expectancy will be off the charts.

Al Boyce is a former writer and reporter for The Associated Press. He lives in Raleigh, NC, where he now writes for God.

Article Source: WRITERS

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Extreme Money Make Over

Manna Church in Fayetteville, NC has been doing the EXTREME MONEY MAKE OVER for the past three weeks.

Check out the Manna Church website and listen to the sermons for free. Just go to "resources" and then you will see the Podcast player. :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Military Family Finances: Surviving the Financial Stress of Deployment and Reunion

By Sarah J. Schmidt

With four years as a career military officer and a world of professional experience as an Army Family Team Master Builder, Amy Mangelsdorf never imagined she'd face difficulties when her husband deployed.

"I had attended every class the Army offers for deploying soldiers and their families. I had even taught some of the classes myself, so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect," she remembers. But she hadn't planned on juggling so many responsibilities and dealing with the stress of separation at the same time.

Experts say that's typical of the struggle military spouses undergo when a military member deploys. Family finances sit squarely in the middle of that struggle. In Amy's case, her husband managed the finances, although they both did planning. Shortly before deployment, he converted their checkbook to a new software program.

"That was a total mess," Amy recalls. "I tried a tutorial but didn't have time learn the software with everything else I was juggling."

To make matters worse, her two-year old became clingy and dependent. "For months, it seemed like I spent every waking moment of my son's life holding him, which didn't give me many opportunities to get other things like finances done," Amy says. The checkbook suffered.

"My husband nearly had a cow when he came home and realized I hadn't balanced the checkbook in four months," she admits. Because the Mangelsdorfs had planned well, they didn't experience any serious financial difficulties, but Amy says there were lots of pitfalls that she now tries to warn her friends about before deployment.

Financial Pitfalls of Deployment for the Military Family

"The number one issue deployed service members worry about is how they'll communicate during the deployment about finances, child care, family decisions, etc.," says Dr. Earl Beale, Director of the Family Support Center at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

To help ease those worries, the military provides free phone cards to deploying service members. In Grand Forks, as in many military communities, local businesses and citizens contribute additional phone cards to military families.

Many military installations also offer e-mail and video phones. "We have military family members who come in just to use the video phone to discuss a major purchase with their deployed spouse," Beale says. "Communicating about finances during the deployment solves a lot of problems down the road."

For Debbie West, whose husband deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom last spring, those phone calls are lifesavers. As part of an Army National Guard engineering battalion, her husband is too remote for e-mail. "The finance issue and the separation issue have just created overlapping stresses," she says, "but being able to talk through some of it with him has really helped. Getting his military pay straightened out was the most frustrating thing."

Deployed personnel serving in combat zones receive tax-free income. But the system is set up to withhold taxes as if it were ordinary pay, then refunds the withheld taxes a few weeks later. Debbie says none of the Guard families in her husband's unit received refunds at first. "It took a couple months to get those kinks worked out."

Extra Expenses May Offset Deployment Tax Breaks

That tax break on combat income was a real plus, says Kelly Campbell, whose Air Force husband deployed for five months during Operation Iraqi Freedom. With her part-time job and no children to support, the Campbells managed to keep their expenses "at about the same level during the deployment," Kelly says, "so the extra money we got back on the tax refund was a nice little windfall."

It's not that easy for others, however, warns Amy Mangelsdorf. "We thought we'd save all that money on taxes, but what we hadn't figured into the equation was the extra child care and travel costs I'd have," Amy recalls. She visited family and friends often, which cost more than she'd budgeted, and she incurred child care costs because her husband wasn't there to share parenting. A simple dental appointment, for example, now necessitated a babysitter since Daddy wasn't home to watch their son.

Navy spouse Kathy Radosta agrees. "There were months during the deployment when I probably spent close to $300 on child care, and I'm a stay-at-home mom!" she exclaims. The government helps out with affordable child care at Child Development Centers located on most military installations and free child care programs such as the Air Force's Give Parents A Break.

Still, these spouses warn military families to remain conscious of the extra expenses they're likely to incur and not to be fooled into thinking the tax refund will cover them. "You really have to be responsible about your spending," says Kathy.

"The smart thing, if you can afford it, is to put some of the savings away for when the deployed member returns," says Debbie West. She has opened a special savings account and tries to put at least some of the tax refund into it each month.

Deployment Reunion Planning

"Don't plan on any big expenditures that first month after he gets home," suggests Amy Mangelsdorf. She saw families fall into debt shortly after the deployed member returned because they "spent a lot of money trying to make up for lost time," she recalls. The worst financial times are the first two months of a deployment and the first two months after the deployed member gets home, because "that's when all the bills start pouring in," she warns.

"The good thing is that the family may actually have some money saved from the extra pay; but people tend to go out, buy a new car or something and end up with too much debt," says Bonnie Skinner, former Navy Ombudsman attached to the USS Lincoln.

The debt issue, coupled with the problem of deciding who now controls the checkbook, creates real complications, Bonnie says. "The spouse has been taking care of finances, and in comes the deployed member who now wants to take back control," she explains.

Air Force spouse Doreen McLean says this has been a big issue since her husband returned last spring from a six-month stay in the desert. "I'm still having a hard time letting him have the checkbook. It was hard for me to take it over, but now it's a struggle giving up the freedom."

Bonnie suggests couples again discuss who's going to perform which household roles. Doreen and her husband now pay the bills together: "We're still working on it, but talking over even the little purchases helps."

# # #

Deployment Financial Checklist for Military Families

  • Plan ahead.
  • Discuss what and when bills are due, where receipts are kept, etc.
  • Have enough saved.
  • Create a family budget.

Source: American Red Cross

Attorney Sarah J. Schmidt is a military spouse and the editor of a monthly legal newsletter, The Nonprofit Alert, published by the Virginia law firm Gammon & Grange, P.C.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

To Stay At Home, Or Not To Stay At Home... That Is The Question

Have you been confronted with the recession crisis yet? Have you noticed your interest rates on credit cards and unsecured loans shifting and moving upwards? Have you noticed the increase in fuel or the uprise in heating costs? I sure have!

Staying at home with my children was a decision my husband and I made once we reached Fort Bragg in April of 2006. I've always worked outside the home and being DINK's (dual income no kids) was a great life for a long time. Then having children changed our perspective. However watching our cost of living going higher and higher and looming rate hikes we decided its best for now if I do return to work.

It was a difficult decision and one we've struggled with for many months. Separating the main priorities from our desires was very emotionally draining. In the end, taking responsibility for our debt load, our home, our utilities and providing for my children took precedent over my desire to stay at home with them.

My father always tells me when you look behind you in your past decisions you laid every brick in that path. I want to make sure my path is the best for my family and myself. If your are in a similar situation try to maintain objectivity. Money is an unfortunate necessity in this day in age. You shouldn't feel guilty about providing for your family if you feel it is the only option open to you.

I've always resented the government or society dictating whether I should stay at home or work outside the home. Either choice is commendable.

If you are struggling with these same issues and would like to apply for government positions near your closest military station please utilize the following links. If you need assistance in applying and creating your resume please ask me.

God bless you and yours!

Cassie (mostly accounting positions)

It's What's On The Menu

Recently I received a tip from a family member about creating a functional and practical menu in order to save on money. I found not only am I saving money by utilizing this tool but I'm also helping to conserve energy by not standing in front of the fridge deciding on what to fix for dinner.

In order to simplify the "creation" of the menu I went to and looked under templates for Excel. I typed in "menu" and there are several templates you can work with. They will take some customizing but that's part of the fun. I also threw around the idea of using a dry-erase board to create my menus.

I found the average my own family spent at the store was $250.00 every two weeks. With a prepared menu and only listing exactly what is on the menu our grocery bill went to $180.00 every two weeks. The average savings per year for my family is $1,680.00!

I put all 7 days of the week across the top of the menu and on the left side I put Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and then 3 snack choices a day. Have fun with your menu's and arrange them in any order that works best for you and your family.

If nothing else what do you have to lose by trying it out for yourself? You could end up saving yourself some big bucks in the long run. I found by utilizing a menu I am more likely to prepare a healthier meal for myself and my family. I don't over spend by purchasing lots of unnecessary canned goods or boxed goods. I put a copy of my menu on the front of my fridge for easy access.

Good luck with your menu's and your bottom line!