Tag Archives: tithing

Tithing

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are invited to pay tithing.  We pay 10% from any source of income.  For me, this has always meant a monetary donation.  Many people who are not members of the Church comment about the fact that 10% seems like quite a sacrifice.

I am a student. I live in the Boston area where housing is expensive.  And, I have three children! My wife and I have to be very careful about our finances. We budget our money cautiously and track every penny.  When we sat down and planned the financing of my education, we calculated how long our savings would last and at what point we would have to go into debt.  By our calculations, our savings weren’t going to last very long.  However, one factor we failed to consider was the extent to which the Lord would bless us for paying tithing. The Bible (Malachi 3:8-10) says, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings…Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse…and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

I have a testimony of the law of tithing because I’ve seen the blessings that come as a result of paying tithing.  Our savings have lasted far longer than we expected. We still live on a small budget, but we have everything we need. I know that our Heavenly Father has helped us do far more with 90% of our income than my wife and I ever could have done with 100%.  What’s more, the blessings of tithing are not limited to financial blessings.  For one thing, our faith in Heavenly Father and His promises has greatly increased.

Is paying tithing a sacrifice?  A wise man once told me that a true sacrifice means giving up something good for something better. By this definition, tithing is absolutely a sacrifice!  I am grateful for the blessings that have come into my life, and the lives of my wife and children, as a result of paying tithing.

Guest Post: What do Mormons look like?

My boss sometimes asks me, “Is that person a Mormon? He looks like a Mormon!” I always agree with him. Mormons do not have any visible identifiers, yet somehow people recognize Mormons. What does a Mormon look like?

Mormons come in all shapes and sizes, but there are certain attributes most Mormons share. We are encouraged to dress modestly, be clean, and be well-groomed.  However, there is more to the Mormon look than external decoration. We embrace internal principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ that affect the way we look physically.

Mormons are obedient. We strive to follow all of God’s commandments. We are honest in all of our dealings and we endeavor to live what we believe all the time. It brings us happiness and helps us have the Holy Ghost in our lives. Mormons are also obedient to the laws of the land and try to be good citizens. People can see how Mormons look honest on the outside and can sense truth and goodness.

Mormons are givers. They give 10% of their income in tithing. They dedicate their time and resources to serve missions, serve in church callings, and serve their neighbors. We believe in doing good to all men. When you see a Mormon, they are respectful and even helpful to others.

Mormons are seekers.  “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, [Mormons] seek after these things [1].”  We seek after joy (2 Ne 2:25) in this life and eternally. Part of that joy is engaging in good activities and conversation. Not every Mormon likes the same activities, but the way we go about our activities usually gives us away in a crowd.

Mormons are repentant. No one is perfectly obedient but through the atonement of Jesus Christ we can be clean from our sins. This makes a huge difference in appearance as we are not weighed down by guilt or dulled by compromises with sin. It makes our appearance lighter and even happier. Mormons appear clean.

The outward appearance of Mormons is often described as the light of Christ that is apparent in everyone striving to live good, truth seeking lives. I believe that Mormons are recognizable because they carry this light by living gospel principles like obedience, repentance, and service. The attributes listed are some of my ideas. What do you think makes Mormons recognizable?

written by: Brooke, an adventurous newly wed Mormon from Utah living in Boston who loves videography and exploring New England.

Humorous–and Mutual–Misunderstanding

I teach English. I saw this in one of the classrooms at my school as I was walking down the hall. As a Mormon, the top bit caught my eye:


Bless the educated teacher who teaches this to his or her students! I think the Amish are awesome, faithful, and amazing people. Though Mormons and Amish may share many things, I would think that most people know the difference between the two faiths and that neither of them is limited to northeastern United States.

This sort of misunderstanding happens a lot. In my mind, Mormonism is one thing, but to some non-members, it is something very different. We all do it to each other. I know I don’t know nearly enough about Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.

Here’s a typical example of how this plays out:


In my mind being Mormon means thinking about Christ, constantly praying for guidance in life, pondering my relationship with my Heavenly Father, etc. But, some people know Mormons only by stereotypes–some false, some true–that float around in the media and what not.

We believe in Jesus Christ with all our hearts, that we have a direct connection to our Father in Heaven, that we can pray for guidance and help, that the Book of Mormon was written by ancient prophets, that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Heavenly Father knows and loves us each personally, no matter who we are. From an Amish man plowing a field to an enlightened Muslim imam preaching in a mosque, God loves each of us. This is the meat of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Yes, Mormons abstain from alcohol and cigarettes; we stay away from non-marital sexual relationships; we give 10% of our income to the church for humanitarian assistance and church maintenance. We are peculiar in many ways, but our belief in Jesus Christ is the absolute foundation of our faith. I testify of that!

To those of you non-Mormon readers, I do apologize for any over-generalizations about your religion, culture, etc. that I’ve made. It’s easy to do as humans. Anyone of other faiths experience this type of situation?

Mormon Finance: Dealing with Debt

Are Mormons richer, poorer, or statistically the same as everyone else? I have no idea. If you do, I?d love to hear it. (Update: A reader just pointed out a great graph from the New York Times that answered this question for the USA). What I do know is exactly how being Mormon is impacting my personal finances, so I’ve decided to write an entire series on the topic.  We’ll cover topics ranging from the donations we are expected to make, to surviving as a single income family, to maintaining a year’s worth of food in our basements (yes we actually do that). I hope you enjoy.

Debt

Thought I’d kick the series off with the subject that has been top of mind for me recently.  Next week, I graduate from business school and along with my wonderfully framed diploma, I will also begin receiving a monthly bill asking me to start paying off my sizable student loans. Ahhh debt, how we love thee.

For the past several hundred years, Mormons have been taught to stay out of debt. It’s drilled into us. Our prophets and leaders talk about it all of the time. The only exceptions for our debt aversion are to finance a modest home, an education, and maybe a first car. All other debt should be strictly avoided.  And the debt we do have, we are counseled to pay off as quickly as possible.

This doesn’t mean all Mormons follow that counsel. I know plenty of fellow Latter-day Saints who have fallen into the debt trap.  Bankruptcy rates in Utah are among the highest in the US. It’s just so hard to say no to things we want sometimes, that we convince ourselves that we can afford things we really cannot.

However, there are a lot of Mormons who do try to follow this counsel. My parents are some of them.  They made some serious financial sacrifices in order to pay off our house as soon as possible.  They’ll tell you it was the best thing they’ve ever done, but they worked very hard and went without a lot of other luxuries in order to achieve it.

My wife and I have decided to try and follow their example. As we go off into the real world and start earning income again, we’re basing our goals around getting out of debt as fast as we can.  You are all invited to the party when we make the last payment in a few years. Just don’t judge us if we are hosting that party in a cramped apartment with outdated furniture. Paying off debt doesn’t always come cheap. 🙂

…..Don’t forget to leave comments sharing your thoughts on debt.  I’d be happy to get into discussion on interest rates, the value of debt, the difference between good and bad debt, or whatever else floats your boat. Just drop a line.

My religious life in bullets:

Melanie 1 kicked off our blog last January with some of her “dailies.”  This week I wanted to add to her idea and give a little snapshot into what my life looks like as a Mormon…

My “dailies”:

  • Pray in the morning right when I get up
  • Study the scriptures (currently reading the Book of Mormon but some years I study the Bible, etc.)
  • Read a chapter with my husband (this year we’re reading the New Testament because that’s we’re studying in Sunday School)
  • Pray with my husband before we go to sleep

My “weeklies”:

  • Church on Sunday–3 hour block which consists of:
    • Sacrament Meeting (where we partake the Sacrament & then several members of the congregation give short talks on Christ and following Him)
    • Sunday School (the Church worldwide is on a 4-year rotation where each year we teach one of the books in our canon—The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Book of Mormon, and The Doctrine & Covenants) and we have class discussion on the principles taught in the lesson
    • Relief Society (the largest women’s organization in the world—at church, we have a lesson on Gospel principles and have a class discussion (this is usually my favorite part of church!)  My husband during this time is at Priesthood with the other men, the youth have a separate class, and the young children have singing time & little lessons)
  • Write one blog entry
  • Usually have some kind of responsibility I am asked to help out with for our congregation—right now it’s to prepare a little lesson for our nursery kids we teach during Sunday School

My “monthlies”:

  • Fast Sunday—the first Sunday of every month we go without food or water for at least 2 consecutive meals.  We begin and end this fast with a prayer, and usually “fast with a purpose”—pray for help or for someone else.  This day we also pay fast offerings—basic concept is that we give what money we would have spent on food that day to help the poor—but many people give generous fast offerings.  I also pay my tithing for the month on this same day–We are asked to pay 10% of our income.
  • Visit 2 women in the ward—called the Visiting Teaching program.  I am paired with another woman (my “companion”) and we are assigned to at least 2 other women to kind of watch over them and make sure they are doing okay temporally, socially, & spiritually.  We make at least one visit a month where we share a short message and chat for a bit.  We also try to make contact with them several times during the month
  • Go to the temple:  this is different from church.  Our temples are much bigger and nicer than our churches, and most are on some kind of hill—very beautiful.  My husband and I have a goal to visit once a month, and sometimes go more if we really feel like we need it.  It’s probably the most serene place I know of.  We go there to perform ordinances for our deceased ancestors and to have a more sacred, quiet, personal communion with God.  I always feel refreshed and recommitted to being just a little bit better in my life.  Just got home from going this month!

This week I wanted to give a little snapshot into what my life (and most others) looks like because I am a member of the LDS church…

My “dailies”:

  • Pray in the morning right when I get up
  • Study the scriptures (currently reading the Book of Mormon but some years I study the Bible, etc.)
  • Read a chapter with my husband (this year we’re reading the New Testament because that’s we’re studying in Sunday School)
  • Pray with my husband before we go to sleep
  • Pray by myself

My “weeklies”:

  • Church on Sunday–3 hour block which consists of:
    • Sacrament Meeting (where we partake the Sacrament & then several members of the congregation give short talks on Christ and following Him)
    • Sunday School (the Church worldwide is on a 4-year rotation where each year we teach one of the books in our canon—The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Book of Mormon, and The Doctrine & Covenants) and we have class discussion on the principles taught in the lesson
    • Relief Society (the largest women’s organization in the world—at church, we have a lesson on Gospel principles and have a class discussion (this is usually my favorite part of church!)  My husband during this time is at Priesthood with the other men, the youth have a separate class, and the young children have singing time & little lessons)
  • Write one blog entry
  • Usually have some kind of responsibility I am asked to help out with for our congregation—right now it’s to prepare a little lesson for our nursery kids we teach during Sunday School
  • Call/Skype our families on Sun night

My “monthlies”:

  • Fast Sunday—the first Sunday of every month we go without food or water for at least 2 consecutive meals.  We begin and end this fast with a prayer, and usually “fast with a purpose”—pray for help or for someone else.  This day we also pay fast offerings—basic concept is that we give what money we would have spent on food that day to help the poor—but many people give generous fast offerings.  I also pay my tithing for the month on this same day–We are asked to pay 10% of our income.
  • Visit 2 women in the ward—called the Visiting Teaching program.  I am paired with another woman (my “companion”) and we are assigned to at least 2 other women to kind of watch over them and make sure they are doing okay temporally, socially, & spiritually.  We make at least one visit a month where we share a short message and chat for a bit.  We also try to make contact with them several times during the month
  • Go to the temple:  this is different from church.  Our temples are much bigger and nicer, and most are on some kind of hill—very beautiful.  My husband and I have a goal to visit once a month, and sometimes go more if we really feel like we need it.  It’s probably the most serene place I know of.  We go there to perform ordinances for our deceased ancestors and to have a more sacred, quiet, personal communion with God.  I always feel refreshed and recommitted to being just a little bit better in my life

Many Ways to Give

The Church’s clean water projects in Africa have blessed such places as Sierra Leone, the central African city of Luputa and the Congolese villages Tshiabobo, Mafumba, Kasha and Ibola. These projects have blessed the lives of nearly four million Africans since 2003.

Two things contributed to the choosing of the topic I am writing about today. One was the documentary called God Grew Tired of Us that Melanie mentioned in her last post and the other was the article called Blessed to Give that was published the last edition of the Ensigna magazine published by the Church. The first is about the resettlement in the United States of a few boys from Sudan who fled from their country during civil war.

After watching this documentary, which portrays quite well the hardships and suffering of the group of courageous yet hopeful group of males, besides making me emotional and sad it inspired me to do something to help. Besides being a student and not having much money myself I thought I could still help in some way-it could mean sacrificing a night out or holding off on something I want to have or even giving out used clothes, shoes or books. The key is to be grateful for what you have and realize that you might don’t need all you want and that there are others that need the essentials and don’t have them.

The Mormon Church does more charitable acts than it is known. There are many people who donate money, time, stocks, etc. This can be done together with our tithing or through LDS Philanthropies there is much that can be donated. The beautiful thing is that anyone could donate any amount they wish. This can also be done online, it doesn’t take much time and it will sure benefit someone in much more need than us. We are also counseled by our leaders to live within our means and to be self reliant. Our first responsibility is to provide for ourselves and our families and then to others.

I believe that when we give we are blessed and that God does bless us so that we can help Him bless the lives of others and fulfill our dreams.

Why Do We Pay Tithing?

I was going over the budget this week, as I often do, and I took note of something that I often don’t think much about. I noticed that the amount of money we pay to The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon Church) is really quite a nice chunk of money (at least for us recent graduates). It is 10% of our income, to be exact. The reason I don’t think about this donation (known as tithing) much is because paying it has become second nature to me. I have done this my whole life. This time looking at it though, I tried to take a step back and to think about paying tithing from a different perspective. I tried to analyze how I really feel about it. I don’t view it as a financial burden, which at first may seem like the natural thing to do. Maybe if I explain the reasons why we pay tithing it will become clear why I feel it is not a burden at all.

First of all, we believe that God has given us everything. He has provided my family with employment; he has provided us with means to live in a warm and comfortable apartment. He has provided us with all of our material possessions, our health, our happiness, our families, etc. We view tithing as a way to give back to God so that God’s work can be done. When you think about it in those terms, 10% of our income doesn’t really seem like that much. Everyone in our church pays the same percentage of tithing, no matter how rich or how poor. We believe that if we act on faith and pay 10% of our income to the church then we will be blessed with the things that we need according to God’s will. So far, this has happened in my own life. We have never suffered because we paid our tithing. When my husband and I were students and not making very much money, we paid our tithing. The check was small, but we believe that God has blessed us for our small offering. We feel that my husband found his current job because we paid our tithing. The blessings God gives us for paying tithing are always personal and individual.

Now that we have graduated and my husband is working and even though it can be hard to give away a decent amount of our income, we still pay our tithing and we still feel God’s blessings. Just to be clear, the money that is paid to the church is not going toward any clergy’s paycheck. All of our clergy work is done on a volunteer basis. Church leaders have day jobs and they do their church service in addition to their employment. The money that is given to the church through tithing is used to build churches, temples, to provide relief to the poor and hungry (of all faiths), to support church programs such as the youth programs and seminary programs, to support the missionary program, and to provide affordable education to the universities run by the Mormon church: Brigham Young University (in all of it’s locations: Utah, Idaho, Hawaii, London, and Jerusalem). Paying tithing every time we get a paycheck has become second nature because I know that is where I want my money going. I am willing to sacrifice a nicer apartment, new clothes, and fancy dinners because I want to do my part in helping people know their Savior, Jesus Christ.