Sunday, August 31, 2008

Five Tithing Talks in a Row

I'm working the night shift this weekend. So on Sundays I miss our church meetings which start at 9am. Today I was able to attend the other ward that meets in our chapel at 1pm.

All four talks today were about tithing. That makes 5 talks in row on tithing I've heard in that chapel. Obviously this is coming from the stake president (since he spoke about it last week). I wonder if he and the bishops are seeing a trend in the stake.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Journal Entry on Tithing

After I posted that story on tithing, I remembered writing in my journal some thoughts on the subject. I finally found that journal entry.

Here is what I wrote on tithing March 3, 2003:

I wanted to include a bit of my testimony about tithing in this journal this evening. Over the weekend, I was working on our budget and trying to figure out how to pay off our credit card bill. This bill had been growing since November of last year. Jill and I are convinced that we do not want this type of thing to happen again this year. So, I was working on our budget and trying to figure out how to better handle it so that we are saving a sufficient amount of money to support ourselves.

After the budget was finished, I noticed that tithing is our largest bill next to our mortgage. The little evil thought crept into my mind about what we could do with that extra $560 each month. But quickly, I reminded myself (or it was the Spirit who reminded me) that I should think of all the blessings we’ve received from paying a full and honest tithe.

Going through this little trial made me realize that I needed to re-strengthen my testimony concerning tithing. So, on Sunday morning, I looked up many verses on tithing and read several talks from General Authorities about tithing. One of the best scriptures on tithing is in Malichi 3:8-10 and 3 Nephi 24:8-10. I also found a reference to Psalms 73. In this Psalm, he talks about how the wicked prosper in the face of defying God (Psalms 73:3, 12).

Sometimes, this is how I feel about tithing. When I see a coworker buying a brand new BMW or Dodge Ram truck, I ask myself where in the world does he get the money from. Then when I see our budget, I understand that many people don’t pay tithing and they “prosper.” But, the Psalm goes on to say that those people will eventually “pay.” Perhaps they will not pay in this life, but they will pay in the next.

Of the talks I read, I particularly enjoyed the faith-promoting stories told of saints who were faced with either paying their mortgage or paying their tithing. Others were faced with either buying food or paying tithing. One particular sister had a choice to pay tithing or go buy a sack of flower to feed her orphaned children. She and her kids decided to pay tithing. So she walked a few miles to the Bishop’s storehouse and paid the tithing. When she arrived home, she found a stock of food sitting on her doorstep, including a sack of flour. A note stated that her late husband had done some work for the local grocer and that the grocer had not paid him for his labor. The groceries were a payment for her husband’s work.

Now, we are not living check to check. We have a good budget where we have money left over each month (if we stay on budget) and we are saving plenty for us and for our kids. My test is to continue to pay an honest and full tithe and to make a generous contribution to the fast offering fund. All that we have is from the Lord. We are simply stewards.

I hope I remember this and I hope that Jill and I will strive to live a good life by focusing on the things that matter rather than striving to become so wealthy that we have to build new barns (or houses) to hold all of our possessions. Just as Jesus taught in a parable, the man who lays up treasures for himself on this earth and then eats, drinks and is merry for the rest of his days, will be damned. First seek the kingdom of God, and then all things will be added to you.

I know tithing is a true and just law. I love the law of tithing. I love to pay my tithing every two weeks. I feel good after I hand that envelop to the Bishop. The Lord has blessed us abundantly. Emma and Ben have beds to sleep in, they have blankets, clothes, food, drink and lots of toys! We have a good home and our health is good too. We have been truly blessed!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tithing Story

I don't have much time this morning to post an in-depth devotional on tithing, but I wanted to share a story our stake president shared yesterday in our ward conference.

I'm not sure where he heard the story. But there was a temple open house and a Jewish rabbi went to attend. He was so impressed with the feelings he felt there that he went back to his congregation and preached to them the importance of tithing. His point was that the reason he felt the Spirit in the "living temple" was because the people (the members of the Church) actually paid their tithing. He taught his congregation that tithing has been a commandment a long, long time ... even preceding Moses and he admonished them to pay a full tithe.

It was a very interesting story ... especially the point that we will have the Spirit of the Lord with us if we pay it.

Friday, August 08, 2008

It's Worth It

The radio turned on at 5:23am. Opening my eyes felt like pulling apart two freshly glued pieces of paper. The breeze from the fan seemed to instantly dry my already dried out eyes. I had a choice before me ... get up to play some basketball or smack the clock radio, roll over and fall back asleep.

I know from past experience that I should never think about this decision while in bed. I know that I should quickly get up and get into the bathroom where I can turn on the light and wake up.

I force myself to do it. I throw the covers off and put my feet on the ground. I know I've won.

After I arrive at the gym and have played the first game of basketball, I sit on the floor, wiping my face with a towel and realize how much fun it is playing early morning basketball. It is good to think about this because I am reinforcing my resolve to get up in those first few critical minutes after the alarm radio turns on.

Like scripture study, like prayer, like attending the temple ... I've found that when I've taken that first step, the rest becomes easy and I enjoy it and am glad to have done it. But it all needs reinforcing ... we need to remember why we are doing what we should be doing - because we find joy in it. This will help us make the initial step when it is time to get up to exercise or to pray or to study or to attend the temple or to do whatever we should be doing but don't exactly "feel like doing it."

I remember reading a quote by Brigham Young on the topic of prayer. He said,

Some of the brethren come to me and say, “Brother Brigham, is it my duty to pray when I have not one particle of the spirit of prayer in me?” True, at times, men are perplexed and full of care and trouble, their ploughs and other implements are out of order, their animals have strayed and a thousand things perplex them; yet our judgment teaches us that it is our duty to pray, whether we are particularly in the spirit of praying or not. My doctrine is, it is your duty to pray; and when the time for prayer comes, John should say, “This is the place and this is the time to pray; knees bend down upon the floor, and do so at once.” But John said, “I do not want to pray; I do not feel like it.” Knees get down, I say; and down bend the knees, and he begins to think and reflect. Can you say anything? Can you not say, God have mercy on me a sinner? Yes, he can do this, if he can rise up and curse his neighbor for some ill deeds. Now, John, open your mouth and say, Lord, have mercy upon me. “But I do not feel the spirit of prayer.” That does not excuse you, for you know what your duty is (DBY, 45). “Chapter 6: The Communication between God and Man,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, 41

So the next time you're faced with something you don't feel like doing, but you know you should, just do it ... take the first step; take the plunge and the rest will follow.