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If you’re a Christian, you’re a Christian because God gave. If you want to be blessed, you need to learn how to give. True blessing in life does not come from what we hold, but from what we let go. At NewSpring Church, we believe you can’t outgive God. Having a huge view of God is essential to being a great giver. Jesus was generous—to the point of giving His own life for us. As you follow Him, you will become more generous, not more greedy. You begin to see Him more and more as your

provider, so you’re quicker to give things away rather than try to hoard things. Generosity is “I see a need, and I’m going to meet it.” Having a lot of money is not a sin. Money having you is a sin. Being generous really is fun, especially when you see that it really is impossible to outgive God. Your generosity will forever mark the people you are generous to. Radical generosity changed the world when Jesus died on the cross over 2,000 years ago. Because of His sacrifice, we can be generous and point back to Jesus.

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Money was always a source of stress in Jennifer Johnson’s marriage.

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Jennifer realized her next step was to tithe—to bring the first 10 percent of her income back to God. The $20 she gave could have gone to food or diapers, but Jennifer felt obedience to God was far more valuable.

From the beginning, Jennifer never had access to her husband’s paycheck. She guessed he was squandering it on fast food and video games. Whenever she confronted him, a U.S. Marine, he would just get angry, so she eventually dropped the subject. Instead, she worked two parttime jobs to keep food on the table and make sure their expenses were covered.

A month later, her ex-husband stopped paying child support altogether. Jennifer watched her savings dwindle, month after month, until one day she found herself down to her last few dollars and some change—not enough to even buy diapers.

Financial dysfunction was only one aspect of the couple’s struggles, which continued after his enlistment ended and they settled in South Carolina.

“I remember thinking, ‘God, what am I supposed to do with this?’ And I felt God say, ‘Just give it to me.’ I thought it was crazy.”

A split may have seemed inevitable, but to Jennifer the end of their five-year marriage came without warning: On Thanksgiving night,  he walked out on her and their oneyear-old daughter, Zoie. Jennifer, now a full-time student, had to fend for herself as a single mom.

Jennifer counted the money—$4.60—and placed it in her purse. She felt like a little kid bringing her change to church. She prayed God would somehow show her how this tiny amount of money mattered to Him. The following Sunday, 460 people met Jesus! Jennifer felt God’s assurance that whatever she gave, He would give back much, much more.

“I was heartbroken,” Jennifer says. “I had no idea what I was going to do.” Jennifer had to find a way to live off her savings and the $200 a month she received in child support. Her parents, who were dealing with health problems, weren’t in a financial position to help her either.

That test of trust proved to be the turning point. Within a month, Jennifer got a third shift job at Amazon. It was the type of job she had been praying for for

The following Sunday, 460 people met Jesus! Jennifer felt God’s assurance that whatever she gave, He would give back much, much more.” “I pretty much had nothing,” Jennifer says. Overwhelmed by the fresh financial challenge of being a student and a single mom, she knew she needed help managing what little money she had.

years. It allowed her to work full-time and study, without having to pay for childcare for her daughter. And because she worked at night, she was able to borrow a car from her parents to get to and from work.

When she learned of an opportunity to gain some simple budgeting skills through NewSpring Church, she jumped at it.

With income coming in, Jennifer knew it was time to put into practice the lessons she learned in the budgeting class.

“When I walked out of that budgeting class, I had hope that things could get better,” Jennifer says. “It also gave me the tools to help me know what my next step should be.”

Jennifer began using spreadsheets to track where her money was going and plan for purchases, like new clothes for Zoie, well in advance. She

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also insisted on using cash instead of debit cards, because it made spontaneous purchases that much harder. She discovered her biggest battle was to resist the temptation of buying fast food and make her own meals instead. “It took a lot of work to learn that I had to plan. It’s so much easier to stop and pick up food,” Jennifer says. Jennifer says financial discipline was a huge reason she was able to afford to enroll her daughter in a pre-school, buy a car, and get her own apartment—all within the span of a year. In the summer of 2015, Jennifer took a day shift job at Amazon so she could spend more quality time with her daughter—time when she wasn’t fighting to stay awake. The change meant a pay cut, but she was able to afford it. “The key was learning how to use my money,” Jennifer says. All the way through, Jennifer tithed even when it seemed impossible. She was scared to put money in the basket as it passed by at church, not knowing how she would be able to make ends meet. Then somehow, she’d get a higher-than-expected bonus that week or she’d receive an unexpected gift card that was just enough to cover gas that week.

It always looked like I couldn’t tithe, and I always did. Almost every single time, He did something miraculous. There was never a time when God didn’t provide.” When Jennifer looks back on her journey from financial ruin to financial freedom, she finds it almost impossible to believe. “The only way I could have gotten where I am today is because of God’s provision and grace.”

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“But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.” —Deuteronomy 8:18

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“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” —Matthew 6:24

This verse clearly showed me that EVERYTHING I have is from the hands of God—EVERYTHING! (See also Romans 11:36)

This verse has always served as a reminder from Jesus that the #1 competitor for my heart is money. If I am going to follow Him financially, I must do so intentionally because it will not happen accidentally.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” —Proverbs 3:9–10

(Also see Jesus DESTROY the myth, “if I had more I would give more” in Luke 16:10–12, and the warnings about loving money in I Timothy 6:10 and Ecclesiastes 5:10) “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” —2 Corinthians 9:6–8

In this verse I see a command and a promise. If I will honor God with my money, Scripture clearly says He will take care of me. That promise is true for you as well! “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.” —Proverbs 22:7 I remember the day I realized I was a slave to debt, and I didn’t want to stay that way. So I made the decision to become a good steward of what the Lord had given me, get on a budget, and make tough financial decisions. (See also Proverbs 21:5 and Proverbs 21:20)

I’ve had people try to use this section of Scripture to try and justify not tithing or giving, because they do not have a “cheerful heart.” My response is always, “So let me get this straight: Jesus Christ came from heaven to earth, died on the cross to pay for your sins, has promised to always be with you, is preparing a place for you in heaven, and is at work in your life right now but you do not have a cheerful heart? If that’s the case then there is a MUCH deeper issue going on.”

“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 there will not be room enough to store it.’” —Malachi 3:10

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”.................... —2 Corinthians 9:15 This one wrecks me every single time I read it or hear it. It is proof that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

I did not tithe for the first nine years I followed Jesus and I was ALWAYS broke. I began to tithe in 1999 and the Lord has always provided what I need and when I needed it.

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Why Budget?  As Christ followers, we are called to be great stewards of everything God gives us—this includes our money. Put simply, this is a call to operate within our means. Practically, this means get on a budget. In America, we don’t have an income problem, we have an outgo problem. It’s time that we stop making excuses and start making a difference, and Christ-followers should lead the way. What we believe about money will determine how we behave with money. It has nothing to do with what you make; it has everything to do with how you handle what you make.

Money itself is not evil— it can do a multitude of good things. What we need to fight to remember is this: Money is an incredible servant, but it’s a terrible god.” If you want to be a great steward—to tithe, get out of debt, etc.—you have to have a plan. Anybody can make the decision, but it takes discipline to follow it through. Debt will rob you of peace, joy, hope, and the abundant life Jesus promised. Jesus didn’t die for debt to screw up your life.

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Don’t know where to get started?†Join us online for a free budget class to help you get started. Go to www.newspring.cc/finances for more budget tools, online classes, one-on-one coaching sign ups, and other ways to learn how to win with your money.

www.newspring.cc/finances

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I surrendered my life to Jesus in 1990. However, I did not surrender my finances to Him until 1999. It was a battle—I believed I could trust God with my eternity, but was not sure I could trust Him with my money. How insane is that? But, in 1999, I completely surrendered my finances to Jesus. I began to tithe and also tried my best to listen to the Holy Spirit as He led me in certain situations to be generous. If someone were to ask me why I give, the following four reasons would be my answer.


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I want to be a fully devoted follower of Christ. I once heard someone say that He is either Lord OF ALL or He is not Lord AT ALL. And it took me quite a few years to realize this included my money as well. As I mentioned earlier, I trusted Him with my salvation and that He promised me a place in heaven, but I could not trust Him with my money. I began to realize how insane and hypocritical that was for me. I began to see verses like Colossians 1:17, which is a promise that in Him all things hold together. I took a look at my finances, which were in complete shambles, and realized I had tried to do it all on my own and was very unsuccessful. By the time I married Lucretia in April of 2000, we had over $100,000 in debt and didn’t even own a home! I saw Jesus said I should tithe in Matthew 23:23. I saw Jesus said my heart will always follow my money in Matthew 6:21. I saw Jesus said I could not serve both Him and money in Matthew 6:24. I heard someone tell me that if my wallet wasn’t fully surrendered to God, my walk with Him would always have a limp. I finally came to the conclusion that it was a spiritual impossibility to be a fully devoted follower of Christ without being completely surrendered in my finances.

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I believe it’s impossible to outgive God! Either the Bible is true and can be completely trusted, or it is false and cannot be trusted at all. Personally, I have bet my life and eternity that the Bible is true. I have NEVER met anyone who had pain and regret in their life because they had decided to live by biblical principles. With that in mind…

The Bible says in Proverbs 3:9–10 that if we will put God first He will bless us—period.” The Bible says in Malachi 3:10–12 that if we tithe (give the first 10% of our income), God will pour out so much blessing that we will not have room for it. The Bible says in II Corinthians 9:6–15 that if we sow financial generosity we WILL reap generously. The Bible tells a story in John 6:1–13 of a little boy who had five loaves and two fish, put them in the hands of Jesus, Jesus multiplied them, fed over 15–20 thousand people, and took up 12 baskets of leftovers! I can honestly say I believe it is impossible to outgive God. When we put Him first, He will honor us doing so because He said He would.

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I believe there isn’t a greater organization with more potential to change the world than the local church! Before I begin, let me say my explanation that there are godly people who love Jesus on both sides of this issue. However, I personally believe (based on my study of Scripture and personal convictions) that the tithe belongs to the local church—period. There are some who argue they tithe to schools, hospitals, and parachurch organizations. I believe with all my heart that Christians should be the most generous people on the planet, and should be the first to financially support worthy causes. I also believe Scripture is clear that the tithe should be brought to the local church. Malachi 3:10 says the tithe should be brought to the house of God. Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that HE will build HIS church—I believe that means it is His house. Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 1:22 say He is the head of the Church! If He is the head, meaning he’s like the CEO, then believe me—IT MATTERS!

What schools, hospitals, and other organizations are doing is not bad. But the Church is the ONLY organization that has been around for 2,000 years. It is the ONLY investment that will last for eternity.”

Ephesians 3:10 says it is through the Church that the wisdom of God should be made known to the world! In the book of Revelation we see Him come back for His Church! What schools, hospitals, and other organizations are doing is not bad. But the Church is the ONLY organization that has been around for 2,000 years. It is the ONLY investment that will last for eternity. And, when the local church is working right, there is nothing more powerful and breathtaking in the world. It’s the place where lost people are found, found people grow to love Jesus more, addicts are set free, people who were excluded get included, hopeless people find hope, marriages are restored, forgiveness is extended to other people, and God gets the glory for it all!

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materialism had the potential to take my eyes off Jesus and put them in places they do not belong. As a result, my desire to acquire could go haywire.

I believe giving protects me from materialism and greed. For those who don’t know my story, I have experienced firsthand what it is like to live in poverty.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it is a sin to have nice things. But it is a sin when nice things have you.

My father made some bad decisions after my mother died in 1982, and as a result:

People who are able to get ahead financially often forget that EVERYTHING on the planet belongs to God (Psalm 24:1). HE is the One who gives us the ability to produce income!

I know what it’s like to have to move to another state because your dad couldn’t pay his bookie the gambling debt he had racked up.

“But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

I know what it’s like to be homeless. After my dad was arrested in 1988, we lost our home and I had to live with whomever I could “spend some time with.” I know what it’s like to pawn your high school ring for $50 so you can have some money to live on.

With this in mind, Lucretia and I made several decisions in our financial journey to be generous when we could have chosen otherwise. Two I will mention on this post because I have spoken about them previously:

I know what it’s like to work in the lunchroom at the school you attend, not because you want to, but because you didn’t have lunch money.

We made the decision that every single dollar made from my first book, Unleash!, would be given to NewSpring Church. I did not receive any advance money for the book—the church did. I will receive no royalties on the book at any point in the future—NewSpring Church will.

I know what it’s like to have no idea where the next meal is coming from.”

Lucretia and I have been saving money to buy land and build a house “in the middle of nowhere.” Both of us dream of being able to live in the country one day. However, during our church’s recent Step Up capital campaign, the Lord led us to give every bit of money we had saved for what we wanted to something HE wanted—the expansion of His church.

I know what it’s like to depend on government assistance to survive. I could go on, but you get the point. I have lived in complete rat holes and driven cars that were held together by prayer and duct tape!! After I surrendered my finances to God I realized that my next step after tithing was to get out of debt, and that required a PLAN: “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5). By the way—no one has ever prayed their way out of debt!

As I look back on both of those decisions I am thankful the LORD led us to them. It’s so easy to get so caught up in ourselves that we lose sight of how good God is and how many awesome things He’s done.

After being seriously committed to our plan, my wife Lucretia and I were able to become debt free in 2006. That was when I began to really notice passages such as Luke 12:13–21, 1 Timothy 6:6–10, and 1 Timothy 6:17–19.

These are my personal reasons as to why I give—they may not be yours. You may need to develop your own list of why you do or do not give. My prayer is that they will serve you as you continue to think, research, and pray about the financial decisions you need to make in your own future.

They shook me to the core to see that greed and

You really cannot out give God!

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Or—in other words—I did not tithe. I used the excuse that I couldn’t afford to tithe, and it was through some painful financial lessons that God actually showed me I couldn’t afford NOT to tithe. In the fall of 1999, I completely surrendered the 10% of my paycheck. And I can honestly tell you that I’ve never missed that other 10%!

When Lucretia and I got married on April 8, 2000, we had over $100,000 worth of debt and DIDN’T EVEN OWN A HOME. It was all credit cards, student loans, and ridiculous purchases—all made by me!

When I began tithing, I sort of expected God to strike up the heavenly marching band. For about a year I was quite proud of my newly formed spiritual discipline.

In November of 2006, Lucretia and I became debt free—we owed nothing except for the house. Trust me—if we can do it, YOU CAN TOO!

I felt trapped—heck, I was trapped—and I had just about given up hope until I heard about this guy named Dave Ramsey. It was in one of his all-day sessions that I began to understand I could get out of debt. It was going to take sacrifice and a lifestyle adjustment, but it COULD be done!

In the summer of 2000, Jason Wilson, our executive pastor, was speaking at NewSpring Church and said, “We all know that Scripture says to tithe. What I want to ask tonight is what are you doing with the other 90% to advance His kingdom? After all—He owns it all!”

I remember my first credit card. After getting it I stopped at a sporting goods store and bought a gun. It was $300, and when I got the bill in the mail the next month the payment was only $15 (I didn’t know what 19% interest meant)!

That statement hit me in the face like a ton of bricks. Psalm 24:1 became more real to me than ever before, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it…” That night I surrendered the other 90% to Jesus!

It was the beginning of a painful lesson for me—making the minimum payment is NOT a great financial plan!

Tithing isn’t the finish line—it’s the starting point. God has called us to be generous givers because He is generous.

Within four years, I was carrying maxed-out balances on about seven credit cards and “successfully” making the

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minimum payments every month. It was KILLING ME financially. I reasoned that if I continued to make the minimum payments I would one day be out of debt—which WAS true—but “that day” would have been in the year 3000 at the rate I was going!

Today I own my cars—they do not own me. And that, my friends, is a very freeing feeling. Most people I’ve talked to could free themselves up so much if they would just sell their car. But their desire for status, rather than financial freedom, will prevent them from it most of the time.

I would get a “convenient credit card offer” in the mail and it would say, “Transfer your balances today and get no interest for six months.” What the offer didn’t tell you is that the interest rate was an arm and a leg after that six months.

One of the things that Dave Ramsey teaches is that emergencies are going to happen. The car is going to break down, the kids are going to get sick, the tire is going to go flat—but if money is set aside for these emergencies, they are less worrisome when they take place.

I always told myself I could pay off the balance within six months—WHICH NEVER HAPPENED. I realized then that Proverbs 22:7 was and is true, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”

You CAN set aside an emergency fund. It just takes time and discipline.

In just four years of having a credit card (which was only going to be used in case of an emergency) I had discovered that my ticket to financial freedom wasn’t in obtaining more debt, but rather in turning over my finances to Jesus instead of the banks!

I used to be the guy who said, “I will always have a car payment.” Whenever a car needed a repair I would say, “Go get another one, you don’t want to sink money into that old thing.” Because of my desire to have a new car every year and a half (no, I am not making that up), I kept trading them in. I quickly discovered what the term “upside-down” means: “I am a stupid, materialistic person.” At least, that’s what it meant to me!

I once financed a car that was two years old for 84 months at a 12% interest rate…DUMB!”

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