Best of 2011 Series, Finances, Tithing

Best of 2011: #8 – Where “Dem” Dollars At?

We are featuring our top EmpowerMoments of 2011. They made us laugh and they made us cry. They comforted us during troubled times and made us uncomfortable in our mess. But most important, they EMPOWERED us to be greater women all around! We are better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, servants and employees. We have been EMPOWERED to love harder, forgive more and listen better. We thank God for EmpowerMoments! Enjoy the Best of Series!

Literally, ask yourself, do I really know where my money is going? Furthermore, am I being a good steward over my money? Often times we can have money matters mixed up. For example, there is a difference between being able to afford something versus being able to pay for it; having wealth and having money; and budgeting versus balancing. The former tends to require effort and self control while the latter may have you broke, stressed, and unable to effectively manage your funds. When my husband and I married we had big dreams to ensure we followed all of the statutes learned in our marriage maintenance sessions prior to our wedding day. We knew that tithing was a big part of that. Unfortunately, the day after our wedding our financial life shattered. Not due to the wedding, thank God it was paid in cash, but due to an unexpected occurrence that changed our lives (another blog). So we ignored the thought of tithing because we couldn’t “afford” it. What we noticed, shortly after our “bright idea” was that our money started to become extremely tight. It almost seemed as if it was infected. And according to Malachai 3:8-11, it was infected. We could not get past our swamp of bills because we were being disobedient.

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.  “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing You?’  “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachai 3:8-11)

At one time, we reached a really low point financially, so we came up with another bright idea to “tithe.” (Insert chuckle here.) We were convicted with money maintenance and gave God our issue. He gave us a heart to tithe. (Pause) When you tithe, it is an act of worship. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Pastor, the Deacons, or the Trustees and what you perceive they are doing with the money. God gave “you” a command to fill His storehouse. After you’ve done your part, that’s all you need to worry about. If you truly believe that God is a just God, you will also trust that He will deal with those that mishandle holy things. Don’t get caught up in judging someone else or you will be judged in the same way. If you need to search for a new church home, etc. that’s one thing, but don’t disobey tithing because of your criticism.

Girlfriend, there is a difference between affording something and being able to pay for it. If you have to shuffle your bills and suffer your budget to purchase something, then you “can’t” afford it. Better yet, if you don’t have a budget, you need to get one fast. We have to learn to live within our means. Does this mean you can’t buy nice things? No. One of my family members has an affinity for authentic Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and the list goes on; however, she budgets her money by saving throughout the year before she goes on her fashion frenzies.

I want to encourage you to make smart decisions with your money. Don’t take the scripture “Do not worry about tomorrow” out of context. It’s about worry, not about wise financial preparation. Be smart about preparing for hard times, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8).

I don’t want you to think you are to center your life and focus around money. But we should be good stewards of it. Are you leaving an inheritance for your children? Can you pay for a flat tire or collision without borrowing money? If you are snowed in, can you feed your family for a week or three (don’t mistake this for greed or hoarding)? Can you own your home or car? If you lose your job, can you manage your household for, at minimum, three months? This has nothing to do with status, but everything to do with the ability to manage your funds.

Dear Daddy,

You know that finances are a thorn in my side and I am thankful to know that You have set out a map for me, in Your Word, to follow. Help me to grow in this area realizing that I have to tithe to You out of obedience and to give to the needy as an offering of love, also through obedience. Help me to be a good steward and to think before I swipe, and pray before I purchase. Help me keep it in order. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to look at your pocket book and do a self examination. Am I being a good steward over my funds? Am I tithing? Am I giving to those that need it? Is my house financially in order?

There are thousands of formulas and programs to use to help you manage your funds. My husband is a Dave Ramsey fan, so we use the envelope method. But here is our simple and easy Excel program we use monthly, and sometimes weekly. Sometimes it’s thin (or even invisible) and sometimes it’s okay. But at least we know where our money is going, how we can improve, and what changes we need to make to fix the bumps of last month. Download it here and enter your numbers! Sample Budget

The Proverbs 31 Woman had it right, read her passage here.

Read a related EmpowerMoment: What Do You Have to Offer?

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment.  Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their energetic three-year old daughter. They attend St. Luke Christian ChurchCheck out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

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Faith, Finances, God's Provisons, Growth/Maturity, Inspirational, Tithing, Trusting God

My Faith Building Summer

As my time as an EmpowerMoment writer draws to a close, I am desperately searching my mind, heart, and “closet” for pertinent topics that I have yet to cover.  Then it hit me…I have yet to tell the full testimony of my faith building summer!  A little over a year ago on my 25th birthday my best friend told me that I would not recognize myself by the time I was celebrating my 26th  birthday.  I knew exactly what she meant; I would be astounded at my spiritual growth. 

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1 NIV)

I was raised in the church spending six out of the seven days worshipping God in some capacity.  The only reason I had one day off is because the church was closed on Monday- Thank you Lord!  I didn’t understand back then why I had to be the “Holy Roller” when all my friends could do as they pleased.  In my opinion, my mother was the worst because she forced me to commit social suicide because I had to constantly attend church functions.

Even with all that religious backing, I still went away to college and did only God knows what.  During my rebellion phase, I always felt the presence of the Lord but I had to make up for lost time. All the time I spent in the storehouse could have been spent in the streets!  However, prior to graduation I realized that I could run as much as I wanted but the hold God had on my life was not going anywhere! 

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)

I had to give you a little background in order for you to understand the significance of THIS summer.  From the day I experienced that life changing epiphany until this year, I was still what you considered a lukewarm Christian.  I was able to turn on and off my relationship with God like it was a light switch on the wall.  I understood my destiny but I let my selfish ways of thinking determine how I behaved that day. 

Then it happened…God heard me!  I prayed that He remove me from the hectic work conditions and He did just that.  (Click here to read about it.)  Once God answered my prayers, I was officially unemployed without a plan.  Sure I had a little money saved up, but how long could I live off a few thousand dollars.  Instead of panicking I just prayed again.  I sat there a while after Amen and God reassured me that this was going to be a time for me to increase my faith in Him.  This was going to be a time that would make or break our relationship depending on how much I could rely on Him!  Lastly, He let me know that I was getting ready to transition from a religious female to a spiritual woman of God!  This was the beginning of my faith building summer.

“These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7 NIV)  

Ladies, I got fired from my job on May 5, 2011 and I have joy that I have never experienced before.  I receive $220 a week ($880/month) for unemployment benefits and I make it my business to deduct my tithes and offerings off the top.  Ironically, my monthly bills total over $1,200 and I have yet to miss a payment on anything!!!  Just doing the math is evidence of the miracle but whole-heartedly trusting God to provide is where the spiritual growth comes into play.  My transition over the last four months has been more intense than the preparation process the last 25 years.  I was finally at a point in my life where NO ONE could help me but my Daddy and He made me a believer for certain!  Having celebrated my 26th birthday a week ago, I can definitely recognize the change that my bestie prophesized in 2010.  I have made the move from using my religion as my basis to making my spirituality my entire being.

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for staying with me on this journey.  I apologize for the times that I deliberately disobeyed You in order to feed my flesh.  Please forgive me for not embracing our relationship earlier.  I just praise Your name that You were still there with open arms!  I am super excited about those faith increasing moments because it brings us closer and reminds me that You are my EVERYTHING!!! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

I EMPOWER you to be dedicated to increasing and strengthening your faith in God.  Just because you can’t see Him doesn’t mean that He isn’t making things happen.  Having total faith in God can make many of the issues you have been battling non-factors in your life because you are trusting and believing He is in control.  Have a safe weekend.  Be Blessed Ladies!  🙂

Ms. Latasha Sampson is an accomplished writer who is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Human Resources Management.  She resides in Nashville, Tennessee where she is a faithful member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church.  Her favorite scripture is “No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn” Isaiah 54:17

Finances, Tithing

Where “Dem” Dollars At?!

Literally, ask yourself, do I really know where my money is going? Furthermore, am I being a good steward over my money? Often times we can have money matters mixed up. For example, there is a difference between being able to afford something versus being able to pay for it; having wealth and having money; and budgeting versus balancing. The former tends to require effort and self control while the latter may have you broke, stressed, and unable to effectively manage your funds. When my husband and I married we had big dreams to ensure we followed all of the statutes learned in our marriage maintenance sessions prior to our wedding day. We knew that tithing was a big part of that. Unfortunately, the day after our wedding our financial life shattered. Not due to the wedding, thank God it was paid in cash, but due to an unexpected occurrence that changed our lives (another blog). So we ignored the thought of tithing because we couldn’t “afford” it. What we noticed, shortly after our “bright idea” was that our money started to become extremely tight. It almost seemed as if it was infected. And according to Malachai 3:8-11, it was infected. We could not get past our swamp of bills because we were being disobedient.

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.  “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing You?’  “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing Me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachai 3:8-11)

At one time, we reached a really low point financially, so we came up with another bright idea to “tithe.” (Insert chuckle here.) We were convicted with money maintenance and gave God our issue. He gave us a heart to tithe. (Pause) When you tithe, it is an act of worship. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Pastor, the Deacons, or the Trustees and what you perceive they are doing with the money. God gave “you” a command to fill His storehouse. After you’ve done your part, that’s all you need to worry about. If you truly believe that God is a just God, you will also trust that He will deal with those that mishandle holy things. Don’t get caught up in judging someone else or you will be judged in the same way. If you need to search for a new church home, etc. that’s one thing, but don’t disobey tithing because of your criticism.

Girlfriend, there is a difference between affording something and being able to pay for it. If you have to shuffle your bills and suffer your budget to purchase something, then you “can’t” afford it. Better yet, if you don’t have a budget, you need to get one fast. We have to learn to live within our means. Does this mean you can’t buy nice things? No. One of my family members has an affinity for authentic Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and the list goes on; however, she budgets her money by saving throughout the year before she goes on her fashion frenzies.

I want to encourage you to make smart decisions with your money. Don’t take the scripture “Do not worry about tomorrow” out of context. It’s about worry, not about wise financial preparation. Be smart about preparing for hard times, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8).

I don’t want you to think you are to center your life and focus around money. But we should be good stewards of it. Are you leaving an inheritance for your children? Can you pay for a flat tire or collision without borrowing money? If you are snowed in, can you feed your family for a week or three (don’t mistake this for greed or hoarding)? Can you own your home or car? If you lose your job, can you manage your household for, at minimum, three months? This has nothing to do with status, but everything to do with the ability to manage your funds.

Dear Daddy,

You know that finances are a thorn in my side and I am thankful to know that You have set out a map for me, in Your Word, to follow. Help me to grow in this area realizing that I have to tithe to You out of obedience and to give to the needy as an offering of love, also through obedience. Help me to be a good steward and to think before I swipe, and pray before I purchase. Help me keep it in order. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!

Ladies, I EMPOWER you today to look at your pocket book and do a self examination. Am I being a good steward over my funds? Am I tithing? Am I giving to those that need it? Is my house financially in order?

There are thousands of formulas and programs to use to help you manage your funds. My husband is a Dave Ramsey fan, so we use the envelope method. But here is our simple and easy Excel program we use monthly, and sometimes weekly. Sometimes it’s thin (or even invisible) and sometimes it’s okay. But at least we know where our money is going, how we can improve, and what changes we need to make to fix the bumps of last month. Download it here and enter your numbers! Sample Budget

The Proverbs 31 Woman had it right, read her passage here.

As a professional, Mrs. Khalilah Burton is College Biology Instructor. She is also currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education in Higher Ed and Community College Leadership. Khalilah is passionate about her faith journey and uses this key scripture as her inspiration: “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 KJV) She teaches Young Adult Bible Study and Sunday School and also serves as a guest speaker and panelist for various events for women and Christian empowerment.  Khalilah resides in Millbrook, Alabama with her wonderful husband Donald Burton, Jr. and their energetic three-year old daughter. They attend St. Luke Christian ChurchCheck out Khalilah’s Christian weight loss blog here.

Finances, Growth/Maturity, Inspirational, Motivation, Tithing

What Do You Have To Offer?

“ Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes AND offerings. Malachi 3:8 (KJV)

A few Sundays ago I was sitting in church and what most people deem as the most tense ten minutes of service arrived. I filled out my envelope because I pay my tithes without incident but that offering part is where I get stuck. So many times we use the above verse to teach about tithing but the word AND let’s us know that not only are we required to tithe but we MUST give God an offering too. Giving to God isn’t my issue as much as “what shall I give.” Well God, I just gave you 10% of my money but let me see what I can spare on that offering piece.

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. II Corinthians 9:6-7 (NKJV)

In reality, I had this whole situation mixed up. You see, your tithes already belong to God. It’s not yours to begin with so He gives you the power of the honesty policy to return to Him what is already His; but your offering is how you truly show appreciation to God for His goodness to you. Your offering is your gift to God. When you give someone you love a gift, you want to impress them, use it to show how much you know about them, and show how much you care. You want them to be pleased. Is God pleased with your gift? I want my offering to make God smile.

While giving money is important to ensure there is meat in God’s storehouse and to make sure the church functions, you also give to God through your service to others, your work in His house and your devotion to Him. How is your offering measuring up?

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. Luke 6:38 (NKJV) 

Although God has already done enough for us, He lets us know that he blesses our gifts but he does assess them. Whatever criteria we use to give, He will use that same criteria when giving back to us. With that thought in mind, I know it’s time to step up my offering game because I have laid some major requests at God’s feet. I am expecting BIG things, what about you?

Dear Daddy,

Thank You for teaching me the power of giving. Continue to groom me so that I give from my heart the types of gifts that You like to receive. Heavenly father, I want to impress You with my gifts and give without any reluctance. Let my offering to You truly express my appreciation to You and my faith in You.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

EMPOWER yourself by evaluating your offerings to God. Do you aim to please God when you give your offering or are you giving out of routine? If you are shaky about the present you should bring to God’s party (church, charity etc), call Him up and ask Him what He likes. EMPOWER yourself to give God your best!

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Ms. Chancee` Lundy currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is an entrepreneur as she is the co-owner of Nspiregreen, LLC an environmental consulting firm. She is also a dedicated daughter, sister, friend, community servant, and child of God. She is passionate about causes that truly uplift the community. This week she is leaning on Matthew 6:1-4 “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.”