“You have sown much, but harvest little;
"You eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied;
You drink, but there is not enough to become drunk;
You put on clothing, but no one is warm enough;
And he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes.”
— Haggai 1:6
It’s been several weeks since I wrote and posted the last chapter. Looking back, I have to laugh at my childlike faith. Immediately after posting it, I began looking for that “six-figure check” in the mailbox, in my post office box, or in an email from someone telling me it was on its way. That’s the way it happened last time, the last two times, as a matter of fact, huge checks just showed up—immediately after I radically obeyed, but not this time.
So sure that everything would happen instantaneously, I had the last chapter of the book titled quite appropriately “Mountain Moved” just sitting there ready and waiting for my fantastic testimony. A testimony that would leave everyone speechless, in awe, dumbfounded.
When it didn’t happen by the end of the week, I wasn’t sure what to do, so I began posting testimonies from other women who had seen mountains move in their lives. Some were quite good, a couple amazing, some were just so-so (at least for the reader; sort of “you had to have been there” quality). But they filled the gap until I could write and post my testimony—my mountain moved; that huge mountain of debt, gone, vanished, and sitting deep at the bottom of the sea.
After a few weeks had passed, I figured I needed to switch gears into the “waiting” principle. You know, so I would be ready with the “mount up with wings as eagles” variety. Isaiah 40:31 KJV, “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.” I mean, that’s a lot of money and responsibility to carry, so waiting, I decided, would get me all pumped up spiritually, or so I thought. I began to work on other projects to busy myself, while I waited for my miracle to break open and to see the showers of blessings pour over my life.
Looking back, I am not sure how many weeks into this period of waiting that, what “broke” was not my miracle, but a startling revelation that took me completely by surprise.
Due to writing this book and posting it, I discovered a much deeper understanding of giving and the need to give. As a result, many fellow RMI members also became convicted and started to give too. They began to tithe to RMI and then send their offering to me. As soon as the checks began to pour in, I thought that maybe there wouldn’t be just one big check, but hundreds (maybe thousands) of small checks and online donations whereby that would provide my amazing testimony. The women who sent them, almost immediately, became “My Heroes.”
Rather than send the usual automated response, I began sending out personal thank you notes and also asking everyone to explain how He'd been showing them other things about tithing. Without realizing it, God was about to use several fellow RMI members to teach me, and the very first lesson was a doozy.
Early one morning I got a really nice email from a close friend and RMI member in Europe, but there was something she said that I just couldn’t shake. This precious member mentioned, in the course of her testimony, about a ministry that was struggling, so she asked them if they were tithing.
It was early in the morning, as I said, so I just read right over this point since I knew “I” was tithing. Erin was tithing. And RMI was always “tithing” by giving books away for free online. I'd learned how RMI send out free books when someone couldn’t afford a book. Even noting that Encouraging Bookstore “tithed” when they’d send out books when someone’s credit card was declined. Yet, all of a sudden, I understood—that wasn’t really “tithing”!
My beliefs on tithing were first challenged when my husband ATT (at the time) was still in full-time ministry. Often, he got very upset with me because he said I made him debate this issue of tithing. To be honest, we really never debated at all. The truth was that he knew I felt convicted that we should tithe from everything: the sale of our books and from donations received, and he felt we shouldn’t. So, as a wise woman wannabe, I no longer involved myself in anything financial while married, after studying A Wise Woman. Yet just knowing how I felt made him angry with me. Often, without saying a word, my husband ATT would go into rants on this topic but as taught, I remain quiet simply nodding my head.
Then, one evening I found myself in a position to actually ask the pastor who ran the finances of the megachurch where we attended at the time; a church that was very blessed and debt free!! Normally I would never ever ask anyone, anything, “Let the woman keep silent in the churches. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. Yet, I had the strongest sense that what I felt “convicted of” may be guilt.
That night this pastor told me that small ministries such as ours really couldn’t afford to tithe or they would go under. He said that tithing should only be paid from our “personal” income—not 10% from our ministry. He convinced me that to also give from our ministry income was “double tithing” since we were basically a sole proprietorship. After being enlightened, I was eager to get back home in order to humble myself and tell my husband ATT that he was right, and I was wrong. “Most gladly therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” Philippians 12:9-10.
So now, years later is when I read the testimony about the other ministries’ financial woes and the source, which was that they were not tithing as a ministry. That’s when I had to take a long hard look at what I had been told, even if it was from someone I admired, and assumed would certainly know the truth regarding ministries and churches tithing.
Thankfully, God knew my heart and He knows that I continually and will forever crave for His truth! It’s not just about me (nor is it just about you either); my family and my members are counting on me to seek the truth and live by the truth—no matter what. So, I kept seeking and asking the Lord to show me the truth. Wow, did He ever.
First, He reminded me that this pastor was no longer running or handled the finances of this megachurch. Several years later someone wanted to tell me details, saying he’d been asked to leave our megachurch and was not welcomed elsewhere. They said that something wasn’t “right” and wanted to share more; however, I asked this person not to tell me why or any details. It really didn’t matter to me why he left, and I also didn’t want to be in a place where I judged him, lest I be judged. Yet, it did make me wonder if this misinformation had finally led to his disastrous outcome (see James 3:1).
Leaving that thought behind, the Lord then reminded me of a huge ministry that was more than prospering. I knew that they tithed from everything they received as a donation, so much so, that they were able to help support lesser ministries as the Lord led them. This proved to be so prosperous that they actually had to start new ministries of their own, each was fed from the 10% the main ministry took in.
Right away, I knew I wanted to do that too!!! I wanted it for my ministry and also for RMI to be in that place! I shared all of this with Erin, who I knew would be just as excited, and of course, she was!!
That’s when it hit me—why would a ministry or church “go under” if they tithed?? That seemed so ludicrous the minute I really thought about it! Isn’t that what people think about tithing? All tithing?
So why, then, would God have allowed me to run into that pastor, at that particular time, if what he told me was not true? To keep the peace. My husband ATT was seeking to be set free from the law of tithing, and what you seek is what you will find. (Matthew 7:7) God also used the situation to, once again, train me for deeper submission to an earthly husband so that I would be ready to be the bride of my now, Heavenly Husband.
Also, by excitedly humbling myself and telling my husband ATT that I was wrong, and then abiding by what I had been told, prepared me for much greater acts of submission. It was just two weeks after my divorce when I was packing my bags and traveling around the world; traveling, something I loathed more than anything I can think of right now.
I also believe that it was God “setting me up.”
Though most Christians seem to love to give the devil credit for every crisis in their lives, the Bible actually tells us in Isaiah 45:6–7 “That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other, The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.”
Just as He set up the Israelites with huge adversities that allowed them to flee the Egyptian bondage so they could set off to The Promised Land. God set me up way back then so that I could see and experience firsthand the consequences of failing to tithe by “going into exile for [my] lack of knowledge” (Isaiah 5:13). God allows each of us places of exile— not so we panic and think God has forsaken us—because He can’t! Isaiah 49:15 “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.”
No, the Lord uses our times of exile and drought in order that we might experience Him to the fullest.
As we obey and seek Him, our sorrow is soon turned into dancing! (Psalm 30:11) Even though I truly believed I would be dancing due to the six-figure check that I would receive, I found myself dancing when I was able to tithe from my own ministry, likewise, Erin began rigorously tithing throughout each of RMI's ministries.
All I can say is—giving— in the midst of my lack— felt marvelous!!
The next thing the Lord reminded me was when I got my very first BIG donation, just two and a half weeks from my divorce—I tithed from it! And I was thrilled to do so too!!! I remember feeling led to give to a couple of African ministries, one that built churches, something I had longed to do for years but something my husband ATT would never consider doing.
That is when I realized that I could NOT remember ever tithing on the next BIG donation, and it was years ago. Yet, the next revelation was that God didn’t say just to tithe on our HUGE increases, but on EVERYTHING!! So, then, I knew I needed to know how I was going to pay all those back tithes, and where He wanted me to tithe.
I knew it was God who had to show me the way. I was nervous and excited to set out on a new journey and chapter of my life! This is the verse He gave me that I read over and over and over again for days until it was time.
Caught Up with Taking Care of Your Own Houses
Haggai 1:3–11 MSG
“How is it that it's the 'right time' for you to live in your fine new homes while the Home, God's Temple, is in ruins?” [asked God].
“Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over. You have spent a lot of money, but you haven’t much to show for it.
You keep filling your plates, but you never get filled up.
You keep drinking and drinking and drinking, but you're always thirsty.
You put on layer after layer of clothes, but you can’t get warm. And the people who work for you, what are they getting out of it? Not much—a leaky, rusted-out bucket, that's what.
“Take a good, hard look at your life. Think it over.”
Then God said: “Here’s what I want you to do… rebuild the Temple. Do it just for Me. Honor me. You’ve had great ambitions for yourselves, but nothing has come of it. The little you have brought to my Temple I've blown away—there was nothing to it.
“Because while you’ve run around, caught up with taking care of your own houses, my Home is in ruins. That’s why.
"Because of your stinginess.
"And so, I’ve given you a dry summer and a skimpy crop. I’ve matched your tight-fisted stinginess by decreeing a season of drought, drying up fields and hills, withering gardens and orchards, stunting vegetables and fruit. Nothing—not man or woman, not animal or crop—is going to thrive.”
Selah. Stop and think about that for a while!!