I want to tell you a story about tithing. It's a true story and I call
it My Ninety Percent because that's the amount I get to keep after I've
given ten percent to God.
You see Mandy and I have always tithed, no matter what. Before Church on
the Hill started in 1999 we gave ten percent of whatever income we had
to Christian Life Centre, Selly Oak, and later to Northfield Christian
Fellowship when we went there. I would say that we tithe religiously(!!)
By that I mean Mandy checks with me or else I check with her as a matter
of priority whether we have paid our tithe or not. That is how serious
we take it.
People say you are crackers - giving your money to church folk when you
need it so badly yourself. But I always kept something in mind, and
still do: If I read Malachi correctly I think what God is saying is
this: 'Give me what is mine and I will look after what is yours!'
Check it out for yourself, see if I am not right. It says 'Bring
the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.
Test me in this," (Mal 3:10); Then in the next verse: 'I
will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your
fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.
Or in the present tense: 'I will prevent you being robbed or swindled
and stand guard over your business, your stock and your assets.'
God promises to look after my ninety percent if I am faithful with
Wow! Does it really mean that? Well check this out:
We struggled to make ends meet for some time. I suppose it was at the
end of 2001, when we finished paying the mortgage on our house that the
corner was really turned, but we didn't start getting into the black
until 2002. In 2003 we moved into the church flat and began renting out
our house and this helped the finances. I know a lot of people are under
the impression that we get paid for pastoring Church on the Hill, but
that isn't the case. All right, so you don't get paid but you live in
the flat for next to nothing? - Not exactly. The owners used to
charge a nominal 'caretaker' rate but by 2003 they had already decided
that the next tenant would pay a more commercial rate. We were the next
Then late in 2003 we began negotiations to borrow money in order to buy
the Air Taxi company at Birmingham Airport. The only real asset the
company had was an aeroplane….
It was a white aeroplane, something that Elsie had always said I would
own. But I had completely forgotten about it. She read in the local
paper about us buying the company early in 2004 and called me up: 'Is it
white' she asked. 'Pardon me' I said before the penny dropped. Yes Elsie
had prophesied that I would own a white aeroplane one day and I forgot
all about it until I did!
Anyway, it so happened that in earlier in the year, our particular
white aeroplane had suffered a nose undercarriage collapse during take
off. Now you can imagine what happens when the engines are at full power
and the wheels fold up: Suddenly the propellers come into contact with
the ground and wallop! It wrecks the propellers and causes massive
trauma to the interior of the engines, a very expensive mishap indeed.
The engines must be completely stripped and repaired from the 'shock
loading' they have received.
But by the time we bought the company the aircraft had been repaired and
had been back in service for about six months. And so it came to pass
that three of us (a pilot colleague, another member of Church on the
Hill and myself) came to be owners of Air Taxis Ltd for about nine
months in 2004. In late 2004, we sold the company on, making a small
profit in the process. I continued to work for the company, and to get
paid for it!
Then in 2005, about six months after we sold the company, the nose
undercarriage collapsed again in almost exactly the same circumstances:
the aircraft was at take off power, only this time it was not yet
Now I want to tell you how elegantly, how perfectly God has looked after
my ninety percent:
In January 2006, we received the accident report for the aircrafts' most
recent mishap. As I write it is not yet in the public domain but I am
not betraying any confidences by telling you the first sentence of the
report. The 'synopsis' reads thus:
|'As a result of
progressive damage which remained undetected following a
previous nose landing gear collapse, the aircraft suffered
another nose gear collapse during pre take off power checks.'
Let me unpack this for you - Not all the
damage from the first accident was discovered and repaired. Some
remained undetected (in the form of a crack in the nose of the
aeroplane) and this gradually increased the 'play' in the operating
mechanism until one day the play was too much and the nosewheel
Let me put it another way:- All the while we owned the aeroplane it was
an accident waiting to happen! If it had collapsed when we owned it, we
would have been wiped out. The present ownership is able to absorb the
costs within a much bigger budget but we were operating on a shoestring.
I never knew until I read the report how
well we had been protected. The fact is that from six months before we
had it, until six months after we sold it, the aeroplane was like a
ticking bomb, with its nosegear ready to collapse at any time. The
report makers it clear.
God looked after my ninety percent and I never even knew until
afterwards how close to disaster we had sailed. Don't ever think about
tithing in terms of giving to men - it is giving to God and He keeps
good records. He is able to protect your Ninety percent. In fact he is
the only one who can.