Is it Possible to Cheat God?

6“I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already completely destroyed. 7Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my laws and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.

“But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’

8“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!

“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’

“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me.  9You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.  10Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Let me prove it to you!  11Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not shrivel before they are ripe,” says the LORD Almighty.  12“Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 3:6-12, NLT)


If you’ve ever been to a church and heard a sermon on tithing, you have probably heard this passage preached.

Malachi was a prophet who lived about 400 years before the time of Christ. He wrote to Jews who had very recently returned from being in exile (taken captive by the Babylonian empire).

Malachi was rebuking the people for their neglect of the temple. In this passage, he specifically addresses the people for their neglect of the tithe.

What is the tithe?

The word tithe literally means a tenth. When the Israelites entered the promised land of Canaan, every tribe was alotted an area of land as an inheritance , except for the Levites. The Levites were the tribe of Moses and his brother Aaron. The Levites were commissioned by God to be the priests who would lead worship and administer the temple sacrifices and act as mediators between the Lord and the people.

Because the Levites had no land, and their job was essentially religious clergy, they had no means of sustaining themselves. The tithe was implemented to take care of the Levites, who in turn were responsible for caring for the spiritual needs of the people.

When the Jewish people neglected the tithes, the Levites were forced to care for themselves in other ways and with other jobs. Therefore, the duties of the temple were neglected. It is in this way that the Lord is saying that the people had cheated Him. Because the tithes weren’t given, the priestly duties were neglected and therefore God was robbed of the worship that is rightly His.

It’s important to realize that the tithe wasn’t just money. It could be grain or some other portion of a harvest. This is why the author mentions the storehouse. The storehouse was a physical room in the temple that was used for storing the grain and other produce that the people brought into the temple as part of their tithe.

The principle of the tithe is still valid in the church today. Essentially, the Lord is asking His people, as an act of faith and worship, to give back to Him a portion of what He has given to us.

When we give a tithe, we are expressing to the Lord that we acknowledge that everything we have comes from Him. We also are trusting that He is able to sustain us on the portion that is left over.

In this passage, The Lord invites us to test Him. He says that if we give to Him the first fruits of our labor, He will richly bless us and the balance of our resources will be more than enough to provide for us.

This sounds counter-intuitive to our finite minds. It seems logical to us that if we keep all of our resources, we will have more wealth to spend and invest. But in God’s economy, He promises that if we give to Him first, we will actually end up with more because He will bless the balance of our resources and we will see a greater return on that smaller portion than if we had kept the whole for ourselves.

Reflection

What role has tithing played in your own spiritual life? How have you been able to integrate tithing (giving) into your spiritual practice?

If you have struggled to implement tithing as a spiritual practice, what are the factors that keep you from taking that step of faith? What experiences with the Lord can you draw upon in order to help you take a small step of faith?

 

Photo by Istiqamatunnisak on Unsplash

30 Years and Counting

A few weeks ago, our boys had a rare weekday off of school so we decided to spend the day at the Happiest Place on earth, thinking it might be less crowded than normal.

A Family Fun Day at Disneyland – the Happiest Place on Earth!

Later in the day, we were waiting in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, when a woman who was in line right behind us asked us if our boys were twins. We responded “yes”, to which she replied, “my daughters are twins too!” I looked down to see two cute twin girls who were probably about 9 or 10 years old.

1991 – Dave in Boston. Thanks to my friend Dan Barnard for the photo!

The mom began chatting with Jen about twindom while the girls and their cousin began telling me about all the rides they had been on and their exploits of the day.

After a few moments, one of the twins fearlessly asked me, “how old are you?” My response was to answer her question with a question, “how old do you think I am?”

The reality is, I’m old. Many of my friends from high school and college have kids who are married, and some are grandparents. Many of the students we’ve discipled over the years are married with kids, some of whom are high school age and beyond.

2000 – Dave in New England in one of our last vacation trips before kids!

What amazes me even more than the many lives we’ve been able to influence is the fact that the Lord has provided for every financial need for over 30 years. You probably know that one of the responsibilities of Cru staff members like us is that we raise all of the funds to cover our salaries, benefits and ministry expenses.

Last week, I received an e-mail from my employer (Cru) congratulating me on being on staff with Cru for 30 years. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long, and yet, when I think about it, we’ve had the privilege of ministering to thousands of students and Young Professionals in many locations over the years.

2005 – Dave (center) at a Cru staff conference with former UC Davis students Tommy Forester (left) and Josh Payne (right).
2010 – Dave on a Paddle Boat at Lake Mission Viejo

Thirty years ago, when I joined Campus Crusade’s staff (now Cru), I received training in developing a Ministry Partnership team, a group of people who would commit to partnering with me financially to enable me to serve the Lord full-time. We are incredibly thankful for everyone who has partnered with us financially over the years, but as I reflect back on 30 years in full-time ministry, I’m especially grateful for the handful of ministry partners who have been supporting our ministry for the entire 30 years!

2019 – Dave (right) with Robert, a Young Professional living in Orange County!

Thank you for your continued partnership. Please know that you are an incredible blessing to us and we are extremely grateful for how the Lord continues to use you to demonstrate His faithfulness!

The Power of Partnership

How many people does it take to impact a life for Christ? Read on to find out.

(Click here to read the pdf version of “The Lowedown”)

Earlier this month, I spent perhaps my longest period of time on the road away from my family.

As you know, Jen and I are transitioning to a new ministry of Cru called Cru City, where we will be investing our time and energy into reaching out to Millennials in Orange County.

Jim partnered financially with Andy Henry...
Jim partnered financially with Andy Henry…

Before we officially launch this new endeavor, we’re taking time to raise some much needed funds that will enable us to continue ministering full-time for the Lord.

While I was on the road raising funds, I had the opportunity to meet with my friend Jim Gove. I first wrote about Jim in our May, 2005 newsletter, which you can read here.

I love meeting with Jim, first of all, because he has such a passion for the Lord and he’s one of the most encouraging guys I know.

But I also enjoy Jim because he is a reminder to me of the power and fruit of partnership in the gospel. Let me explain.

Years ago, Jim began supporting a young missionary named Andy Henry who had just graduated from Sacramento State University and was raising funds to join Cru’s full-time staff.

...who led a Bible study with a student named Dave Butts...
…who led a Bible study with a student named Dave Butts…

When Andy completed his team, he showed up at Cal Poly, Pomona, where I happened to be attending.

One of the students who was in a Bible study led by Andy was Dave Butts. Andy encouraged Dave to invest a summer of his life on a summer project, knowing that it would be critical to Dave’s spiritual development and ministry training. After much persistence from Andy, Dave decided to attend a summer missions project in Lake Tahoe, where he learned to share his faith.

After that summer, Dave returned to Cal Poly and his on-campus job. As the Lord would have it, I got a job on campus working with Dave. In addition, we became study partners for a class that we happened to have together (are you getting a picture of God’s providence?)

Dave Butts played a key role in my renewed commitment to Christ.
…who played a key role in my renewed commitment to Christ.

One night while studying together, Dave shared the gospel with me. Though I was already a believer, I wasn’t walking with the Lord at the time, and that conversation was the beginning of a spiritual journey that led to me making a recommitment to the Lord several months later.

I immediately got involved in Campus Crusade on campus and I ended up in a Bible study led by a guy named Mark Matzaganian. I had known Mark a few years before and I did NOT remember him being a Christian, much less a religious person at all.

It turns out that Mark had met Andy on campus a few years earlier and Andy led Mark to Christ after sharing the gospel with him. Mark was now a leader in Cru and became my Bible study leader and discipler during my 5th year.

Mark came to Christ through Andy and became my Bible study leader and discipler.
Mark came to Christ through Andy and became my Bible study leader and discipler.

Years later, I met Jim when he showed up for an outreach event we hosted at UC Davis with Hugh Ross. Jim was part of a local “Reasons To Believe” chapter and was there to man the resource table for Dr. Ross’s ministry.

A few weeks later, I had the opportunity to meet with Jim and hear more of his story. What amazed me was when I learned that he was a financial partner in Andy Henry’s ministry.

Imagine Jim’s surprise when I was able to share with him how he had directly influenced my life through his financial partnership with Andy!

We don’t often get the privilege of seeing the living results of the ministry investments we make. But my hope and prayer is that some day you might randomly meet a believer and through the course of your conversation learn that they had been impacted spiritually because you chose to financially partner with a missionary couple, Dave & Jennifer Lowe, who had influenced them to live for Christ.

How many people does God use to impact a life? Too many to count!

I thank God for Jim Gove and how his investment has impacted my life through people like Andy Henry, Dave Butts and Mark Matzaganian. And we thank the Lord for you and your partnership with us, which has impacted so many other lives for Christ!

Multiplying Your Giving Through a Matching Fund

Hey friends,

My friend Shawnda, who works with Campus Crusade, recently sent out a notice to some of her friends and partners, letting them know that their contribution could be matched through their employer. I shared this a few years ago but thought it would be good to share again with you as well. The main idea is that if you give to Campus Crusade, or any other charity, you might be able to get your contribution matched through your employer. Some employers even match dollar for dollar. This is an easy way to multiply your giving dollars to us or any other ministry which you support.  We’ve compiled a list of employers who have matched donations in the past and another list of companies that don’t match. It’s always a good idea to ask your employer, even if they are on the list of companies that don’t match. Companies are changing their programs all the time. So if you don’t see your company listed, ask if they match. You might be surprised at how easy it is to stretch your giving dollars with no extra out of pocket expense to you! To find out more, CLICK HERE.