was born into a so-called ‘nominal’ Christian family, meaning that my
parents went to church and called themselves Christians but were in the words of
the Apostle Paul, “holding the form of religion but denying its power.” I
still pray that they will come to receive the LORD Jesus Christ as their LORD
I was baptised as an infant by sprinkling and attended Sunday School when I was
old enough. Strangely enough, whatever they may have been teaching me in Sunday
School, I ended up being in fear and dread of death and hell.
my teenage years, I lost interest in my studies and my grades suffered as a
result. When I was 15, I failed my mid-year examinations and my parents were
unsurprisingly displeased with this and I was grounded during the June school
holidays. About that time, an evangelistic music group called The Crossroads
performed at my school and I heard the performers share their testimonies about
how they had received Christ in their lives and were now saved from sin and
was something new to me, despite being in Sunday School for a decade and I
wanted it! So when the sinner’s prayer was spoken during the altar call, I
silently recited it in my heart and received Jesus into my life.
there was no thunder and lightning announcing this momentous event though I am
assured that there was rejoicing in heaven as the Scriptures tell us. Nor did I
become a changed person overnight. But a seed had been planted that day which
began to blossom and grow over the course of the next few years.
became involved in the Youth Fellowship of my church and ultimately became a
committed youth leader. Subsequently, I took on the responsibility as a Sunday
School teacher and became the Senior Sunday School Superintendent. Together with
a few mates from the Youth Fellowship, we formed our own Jesus Rock band called
True Vine and served the LORD by performing at several evangelistic events,
writing many original inspired songs in the process.
did well in my studies as well, went to Law School and got my law degree. By the
end of the 1980s, I had started working as a lawyer, was married with one son
and things were looking good. Or so it seemed.
the inside, I was drifting away from the LORD – using the excuses of family
& work commitments – not to mention the political situation in my church,
to spend less and less time pursuing God and His ways. By the end of the 1990s,
I was barely recognisable as a Christian. I was uninterested in going to church,
harboured negative judgemental thoughts against the church leadership and
compromised my faith in many different ways. This situation was exacerbated by
the Asian financial crisis in 1997-1998 which deeply impacted my own livelihood.
our lives spiralled downwards, my wife suggested that we move to another church
– Trinity Christian Centre – where my in-laws worshipped. I resisted the
idea as I had been “born into” my church and was deeply fearful about
leaving. But the LORD somehow convicted me to do so, despite myself. And so we
remember telling myself on that first Sunday morning at Trinity CC, that I was
going to hate every moment. I also recall telling myself that that the sermons
would be very weak, after all, aren’t Pentecostals all airy-fairy and
emotional without strong grounding in the Word of God?
thinking, as Trinity’s Senior Pastor Naomi Dowdy is wont to say.
greeted me was a worship service that I likened to a rock concert (and to a rock
music lover like myself) that was rather jarring and the negative thoughts were
spinning in my overtaxed brain. It was quite an experience! Then came the
message and I was rather impressed, to say the least, my misconceptions falling
by the wayside.
my reservations, despite my doubts – the LORD was slowly but surely working on
me to bring me back into His flock but I still resisted. I would attend the odd
service but that was it – no further commitment from me was the bottom line.
We (my wife and I) kept ourselves safely within our own comfort zones. A good
thing that God is not so easily deterred…
mentioned before, due to the poor economic climate, my company was doing very
poorly and this resulted in pay reductions and retrenchments and a gloomy
office. Money had become a serious issue as the cost of maintaining a family of
three boys often outstripped my financial resources. In February 2001, I turned
40 and the shocking realization that was my life was on a downward spiral become
very very real.
one morning, whilst reading the bible (I had returned to spending time alone
with God, thanks to the positive influence of Trinity CC), God spoke to me with
the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 6: 33, “But
seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given
to you as well.” I must have read this verse a million times in my
Christian life and could recite it by heart. But this time around, God spoke
into my heart and soul and it became a real
promise from Him. If I would indeed seek first His kingdom and
righteousness, He would take care of everything else in my life. I broke down
and cried. The Word of God had cut deep into my spirit and gave me the
resolution to my predicament as clear as day.
I decided to take God at His Word.
how was I to seek His kingdom and righteousness first? I was soon to find out.
is a Godly principle which requires Christians to return at least a tenth of
their income to God. I have never really tithed my earnings to God, at the most,
I gave Him one percent! Part of my refusal to do so (apart from selfishness, a
distinct flaw of mine) was in rebellion to the manner my previous church used to
present this issue. “You’re robbing God,” the pastor used to rail. And I
cynically considered this a blatant attempt to guilt the congregation into
giving a rich church even more money.
Now in Trinity CC, our Senior Pastor Dowdy had a somewhat different (and unique)
approach – “Why are you robbing yourself?”
Dowdy went on to elaborate that tithing was not for God’s benefit but for our
blessing. God wanted His people to be cheerful givers (to be a blessing, as God
had spoken to Abraham in Genesis) in order to receive. In particular she
highlighted two passages of Scripture.
a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
tithes and offerings. You are under a curse-the whole nation of you-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 you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring
your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says
the LORD Almighty. "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours
will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.
(Malachi 3: 8 – 12)
and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and
running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it
will be measured to you."
Luke 6: 38
cannot out give God,” Pastor Dowdy stressed. This was no longer about my
selfish desires; this whole issue was about honouring and glorifying God. But
most of all, it was about trusting and yielding my finances totally over to Him.
And so I did. And so, despite the difficult circumstances and not having enough,
I gave God what was due to Him – my tithe.
happened for the next few months but in November of that year, I was informed
that my company would go through another pay reduction exercise, to take effect
in March of the next year. “That’s the wrong direction, LORD!” I
complained but this time, I had the odd assurance that if I remained faithful,
then God would provide for my needs as He had promised.
with this announcement, my wife noticed a job advertisement and encouraged me to
apply. I was not keen, I had been in this company for 12 years and I was too
comfortable (despite the financial problems). Also, many doubts entered my
consciousness – I am too old, I don’t possess the relevant experience etc.
But I relented and applied, albeit with a self-sabotaging one-page resume which
hardly communicated any value or worth to a potential employer!
January of the next year, I was asked to come to an interview, attended it and
within two days I was offered a job. By March, I was in a new work environment,
with better status and most importantly, a remuneration package that was almost
50% more than what my salary would have been if I had not moved! HALLELUJAH!!!
did not let me down! His faithfulness was amazing!
that faith experience, God has been changing me, from glory to glory, testing
and shaping me into the person He wants me to be. Those years in the wilderness,
out of His presence, seem like a distant memory now. I still carry Matthew 6: 33
firmly in my heart – it is God’s promise to me and my earnest desire is to
see His Kingdom come and to live His Righteousness in my humble life.
you’ve made it this far and God has touched your heart with His goodness and
His grace and you want to experience this in your life as well. I would ask you
to receive Jesus Christ into your life as LORD and Savour by saying this prayer
I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been
living for myself and that is wrong. I need You in my life; I want You in my
life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your Son Jesus Christ in giving His
life for me on the cross at Calvary, and I long to receive the forgiveness you
have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now,
Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my king, my Lord, and my Saviour.
From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to
please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in
Your hands. I ask this in Jesus' precious and holy name. Amen.
you just prayed that prayer, contact a nearby church and tell someone about your
decision. They'll help you with your walk as a new believer in Christ. Also,
don’t forget to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
grace and blessings be with you always,