Posts Tagged ‘finance’

Tithing

October 13, 2014

Occasionally I speak with people who are having financial problems.  I ask them two questions at the beginning.  Do you tithe?  Do you have a budget?  If the answer to either of those questions is no, then I know where to start.

A tithe is one tenth.  So tithing is giving 10% of your income to your local church.  Some people think that tithing is a part of the Mosaic law, and no longer applicable to Christian practice.

I disagree.

I.  Before the Law

Genesis 14:18-20

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said:

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And he gave him a tithe of all.

Abraham , who was earlier called Abram, gave a tithe to Melchizedek.  This is the first place in scripture where it is recorded that a servant of God gave a tithe to a religious leader.  Abraham lived 500 years before the law was given.  Tithing predates the Law.

Genesis 28:20-22

Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”

Jacob, who later became known as Israel, also declared his intention to practice tithing.  It was his response of gratitude for the provision of the Lord.  He had left home with the clothes on his back and the staff in his hand.  God provided for him throughout his time away and he returned home twenty years later, a wealthy man.

II.  The Law

Leviticus 27:30-33

And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. 33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.’”

Israel was primarily an agricultural society and so the tithe was described in terms of seed, fruit and flocks.  The principle of giving a tenth of our income is easily enough applied to a cash society.

III.  The Prophets

Malachi 3:8-11

“Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.

11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the Lord of hosts;

In these verses are a warning and a promise.  The warning is to those who do not tithe.  They are under a curse.  This curse may be fulfilled in a wide variety of ways, but the most common is continuing financial hardship.  Giving a tithe expresses obedience and trust.  Not giving a tithe expresses disobedience and distrust.

The promise is two-fold.  God will bless the person who faithfully tithes.  This blessing will also be fulfilled in a wide variety of ways.  The second promise is that the devourer will be rebuked.  Now, what exactly “the devourer” is, is not known for sure, but clearly it is bad.  When we give God the tithe, God blesses the remainder so that 90% will go further than 100%.   I personally have tithed since I was first introduced to the practice at age 16 and God has always taken good care of my family and I.  We have never been wealthy, but our needs, and many of our wants have been met throughout the years.

III.  Jesus

Matthew 23:23

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.

Here Jesus is rebuking the scribes and Pharisees for neglecting justice, mercy and faith, which are more important than tithing.  Still, he says that tithing should be done.

IV.  The Epistles

I Corinthians 9:4-14

 Do we have no right to eat and drink? Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working? Who ever goes to war at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its fruit? Or who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk of the flock?

Do I say these things as a mere man? Or does not the law say the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it oxen God is concerned about? 10 Or does He say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? 12 If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more?

Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

Paul supported himself by working as a tent-maker.  Today many ministers support their families by working a secular job.  That is not the way that it is meant to be.  Ministers should be able to devote themselves full-time to the work of the ministry.  They can only do that if they are supported by the giving of the people they serve.

The principle of tithing predates the law, is established by the law, is confirmed by Jesus, and it’s purpose clarified by Paul.  These verses that I have shared are a representation of the scriptures about giving and I believe that they are adequate to support the continued practice of tithing.

These are the notes from a teaching given to the youth group 10/12/14.

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ACA Loophole

March 21, 2013

I was reading in my local paper an article about changes that the County Conservation Board would be making in the future.  They regularly employ individuals for seasonal work.  These employees work forty hour weeks, some of them for more than four months.  Under the Affordable Care Act the county will be required to provide health coverage for these individuals.  Some of these people are actually retired, covered by Medicare.  The county will still be required to provide health coverage under the ACA.  Anyone working more than thirty hours a week for more than four months  must be provided health insurance or the employer will face penalties.

The solution is likely to be either limit the employee to four months, or more likely, reduce the weekly hours to less than thirty hours a week, and hire more people to make up the hours.  This will allow the county to still get the work done and not have to provide coverage.

I strongly suspect that there will be a lot of companies that will take advantage of this loophole.  Instead of providing health care, they will simply have more employees, working less than thirty hours.

This, of course, will mean that their employees will make less money, and be legally responsible for their own health care.  This health care will be made available at lower rates, subsidized by the government, adding to the financial burden placed on our country.

In addition, the workers will most likely need to find additional employment, working a second job to provide enough income to meet their needs.

I am concerned about the future for workers, employers, the medical field, and our government.

In God We Trust

September 29, 2011

I appreciate that we still have the saying “In God We Trust” on our money.  These days it seems even more important to realize that our ultimate trust is placed, not in our government, nor our own resources, but in God.

As the fiscal year for our country comes to an end, we have serious problems  facing our country.  I regularly pray that our leaders will make good choices and good decisions, that God will give them the wisdom to know what to do, and the strength and courage to do what is right.

I think I need to pray harder…perhaps you will join me.

Perhaps we can hold meaningful discussions of possible solutions, rather than shouting matches of entrenched ideology.  Perhaps if we worked together, we would collectively find the wisdom and strength that we need to build a stronger country.

May God help us.

The Search Continues

July 20, 2010

“Think carefully, you only get to spend your money once.”

This is advice that I gave to my children when they were young.  To begin with they got an allowance and they were allowed to spend it however they wanted to spend it.  Then when they were sixteen they got part-time jobs.  Again they were allowed to spend their money however they wanted to spend it, but we no longer gave them money.  We provided a place to live, food to eat and some basic clothes.  They had their own money for gas, entertainment and stuff.

You only get to spend it once.

We are currently in the market for a black leather studio couch.  It has been hard to find.  We are also looking for a travel trailer.  We have specific ideas about what we are looking for and it has not been easy.  At times it has been discouraging but we hold off on our purchase because we too, can only spend our money once.

Do you wait for what you want, or settle for what you can find easily?

There are many things in life that we have to choose.  How we spend our money and our time, are important decisions.  Sometimes we have to choose quickly.  Sometimes we can afford to wait.

Choose wisely.

Something’s Not Right

April 12, 2010

According to the Quad City Times, April 8th edition, nearly half of U.S.  households will not have to pay any federal income tax.

That just doesn’t seem right. 

Why should one half of the country pay the cost for the other half?  I understand that the people who make more money should pay more in taxes, and I fully support that concept, but that doesn’t mean that 47% should pay nothing!

Politicians get elected by lowering taxes.  Politicians think that rebates and credits will stimulate the economy.  So politicians reduce national income and increase spending.  This is a problem.

It has gotten out of hand.  We have an enormous national debt.  We need to reduce spending and increase tax income.  We need to be financially responsible as a country.

Everybody who has an income can pay something.  We should be sharing the load, not getting a free ride.

Cut Back!

March 11, 2010

If an individual is spending more money than they make, they must either make more money or spend less.  If they decide to spend less, they will maintain the essentials and trim back on the non-essentials.

The same is true in the business world.  If you are not making a profit, then you need to remove non-essentials from your operating costs.  This can sometimes involve painful decisions.  It is important to make the right cuts.

The same is true with our government.  It is time to recognize  what is necessary, and what is non-essential.  It is high time to reduce spending in non-essential areas. It is not a time to be spending more money.  It is time to be spending less.

National Debt Reduction

March 10, 2010

I have an idea.

Personally, I think it is pretty good.

We have a huge national debt, with basically no repayment plan.  We just keep spending more money and racking up the debt and I don’t hear much talk about what we are going to do about it.

What if we tied political campaign contributions to debt relief contributions?

If you make a contribution to a political candidate, then, let’s say 50% of your contribution goes to the candidate’s campaign, and 50% goes to debt relief.

Furthermore, any candidate that leaves elected public service should surrender their remaining war chest funds to debt relief.

We really don’t need quite so much money spent on attack ads and telephone solicitation.

We sure could use some help paying off the debt our politicians have created.

Car Trouble

January 6, 2010

I drive old vehicles.

I don’t mean classic, restored, or vintage…just old, with pretty high mileage.  Our van is a 1995 with 173,000 miles.  I hope to get at least another 50,000. 

This past weekend, I was returning from dropping off the deer at the processors when I lost power steering, and an assortment of lights came on, on the dash.  The van was still running so I pulled off to the shoulder and called a friend who is far more mechanically inclined than I, and he suspected that I had broken my serpentine belt.  It was very cold outside and I was not far from home so I prayed, and drove home and into the garage. 

I was supposed bring my son and his fiance back to Minnesota the next day.  A couple of men from my church offered to repair the van during the second service so that we could still leave on schedule.

It turned out that the water pump had also failed, but they were able to make the repairs and we were on our way on schedule.

About an hour into the journey we stopped for gas…and the van would not start.   This time, the starter was the problem.  We called AAA to get the van, and a friend to come get us, and we went back home.  A local shop replaced the starter and we were back on the road before noon.  This time the trip was without mishap.

I drive old cars.  I anticipate problems by having a AAA membership, and by having money set aside in the budget for repairs.  Even more important, I trust that God will watch over us.   Christian friends helped in time of need, and when problems occurred, we either made it home, or had a warm place to wait. 

Even in times of trouble, God is good.

2nd Stimulus Package

December 10, 2009

President Obama is pushing for a second stimulus package.  He seems to think that we can spend our way out of economic trouble. 

That would be fine, if we had the money to spend.  When we continuously borrow money to pay for our ever-increasing programs we are headed towards economic disaster instead of economic recovery.  Instead of adding to the deficit, in the hopes of recovery, we should be reducing our spending.  Our economy will recover on its own if we quit adding to the burden placed upon the business world.  When families overspend, they go bankrupt.  When businesses overspend, they go out of business.  What will happen if our government continues to overspend?

It won’t be good.

Health Care Bill Concerns

November 23, 2009

It looks like we are going to get a health care bill, whether we want it or not.

It not that I don’t think that something should be done, it’s just that I don’t think that this bill (either the house or the senate version) is the way to go.

Here are my concerns.

COST

1.  Government:  it is going to cost the government way too much.  We need to be looking for ways to reduce our spending, not increase it.

2.  Companies 

    A.  Companies that are unable, or unwilling to provide health insurance will be forced to either provide insurance, or pay a penalty.  Either way companies will see a significant increase to their operating costs.  How many companies will be unable to continue doing business?

    B.  The extra tax on medical supplies will be passed on to the consumer, raising the cost that is paid for health care, not lowering it. 

    C.  Forcing insurance companies to accept all applicants will cause an increase in expenditures by those companies.  Premiums are established from year to year based on the rate of claims paid out.  If everyone is included, the costs will go up.

3.  Individuals:  individuals who do not have health insurance will be forced to buy insurance or pay a fine.   Many of these individuals are having a difficult time making ends meet now.  The extra cost will only make things worse.  For those people who have health insurance, there will be extra taxes, and higher premiums. 

4.  Economic impact: the health industry is an enormous business that is interwoven into our economy.  By forcing these changes, there will be an economic upheaval that is unpredictable, and possibly catastrophic.

AUTONOMY

I don’t like the government taking away the freedom of companies and individuals to make these decisions for themselves.  If the government wants to provide a public option at a sliding fee cost, that is optional, that would be great, but to force individuals and companies into compliance is a reduction of our basic freedoms.

QUALITY OF CARE

As the government moves more and more towards a socialized health care system, the rate of return will probably go down.  There will not be as much profit in the industry.  The lure of economic gain is a powerful stimulus for innovation.  I would like to say that everyone who has contributed to health care advance has done so for humanitarian concerns, but I am reasonably certain that profitability has played an important role.  How many of the advances in medicine in the past fifty years have come about as a result of government facilities anywhere in the world compared to companies that are pursuing profit?

BUREAUCRACY

The mess involved with filing claims for Medicare and Medicaid is legendary.  Sometimes it works well, but there are frequent problems that are very difficult to resolve. 

Here are a few of my concerns.  I have not heard, or read where these concerns are being addressed to my satisfaction.