Exploring the Biblical meaning of 'Loving Our Neighbors’

Chapter 16

Tithes, Offerings, and Loving Our Neighbors

"Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is." - Will Rogers.


Do bad things happen in threes? They did to us in the summer of 1993. And finally we had to respond in faith.

First, the insurance company that protected our home mortgage against layoffs dropped all its policies in our state (Florida). New insurance wouldn’t take effect for three months.

A few weeks later my wife’s doctor told her she’d developed spinal arthritis. She needed to move to a drier climate or face life in a wheelchair.

Ten days after that – and six weeks before the new insurance was available - the layoffs that had claimed three-fourths of our plant’s work force caught up with me.

We talked with our church’s financial counselor. He told us to cut every possible item from our budget. That even included our church giving, because the church chose to help us and wanted to stretch its money.

I job-hunted actively, concentrating on dry climates where we thought Yvonne could live. Results? None.

So, in November 1994, a year and a quarter after the layoff, we and our two teen-aged children were living in a tent trailer in California’s Mojave Desert. We had no home, no aid, no savings, and no unemployment insurance. Our only income was a $337 monthly pension. Food alone cost more than that. In many campgrounds rent did too. Only our credit cards were letting us survive.

Then a quiet, illogical-sounding thought began to nag at me: start giving 10% (a "tithe") of each pension check to our church in Barstow.

Now normally giving $30 or so a month isn’t difficult. But when your family’s lowest monthly expenses are three times your income, how can you give anything extra? I pushed the idea aside: "It’s not possible."

But that still, small, persistent prompting wouldn’t go away. It kept at me. And at me. Until finally, one Sunday morning, I took what seemed like a giant step of faith and put a $33-plus check in the church offering.

Three days later the kids and I drove into town to check our mailbox. There was a letter from a friend back East – with a check for $500! I was overwhelmed; almost speechless. 14-year-old Yvette spoke up: "Dad, you’d sure better tithe on that one!"

Then a quiet voice seemed to say, "Look at the postmark." I did. The letter had been mailed Monday, one day after my "step of faith!" So that coming Sunday a $50 tithe check went into the offering!

The next evening we asked our 13-year-old son Bill to wash our dinner dishes at the campground laundry room. While there, he chatted with an overnight guest about what had happened to us. She said, "If your Dad wants to work that badly, have him come talk to me in the morning!" She was setting up a special display in a Palmdale, California store from Thanksgiving till Christmas, and needed help!

I met her Tuesday morning. On Wednesday we drove the 100 miles to Palmdale, saw her display, talked again, reached agreement, and returned. Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) we packed up, had dinner at a neighboring church, and towed our tent trailer to a Palmdale-area campground. On Friday, 15 months after my layoff and just five days after giving that second tithe check, I began working!

At first it looked like a temporary fill-in job, and only paid half our bills. But it grew into full-time self-employment for five years. It wasn’t easy. We all had to travel to a new city in any of eight Western states every week, paying our own expenses. But we did it. We worked hard. Gradually our income grew.

That work continued for five years. Finally it ended when our traveling stopped in Wyoming, just as the manna ceased when Israel entered the Promised Land.

Self-employment was no cure-all. Ultimately, it didn’t even let us avoid bankrukptcy, though it delayed it for several years. Most importantly, it bought time and let us survive. It paid for groceries and rent in a long series of campgrounds, trailer parks, and inexpensive motels. We never had to sleep in our car or out in the desert. We didn’t have to make meals from ketchup packets like one mother and three children we knew. Once we’d taken such simple blessings for granted. Now we appreciated them.

Tithing - by faith - had been our key.


What are tithes?

A "tithe" is 10% of one’s income. The word comes from the English word "tenth." The original Hebrew word was "ma’aser." According to Harper’s Bible Dictionary, the principle of giving a tenth to either God or the king was widespread in ancient Mesopotamia. It appears early in the Old Testament (twice, before the Mosaic Law).

In Gen. 14:20, Abraham tithed to the "high priest" Melchizedek.

And when Jacob dreamed that God spoke to him from the top of a ladder reaching to heaven, he promised "I will give you back a tenth of everything you give me!" (Gen. 28:10-22.)


Why tithe? Deuteronomy 14:23 teaches that it’s "to teach you always to put God first in your lives." The NIV translates it "so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always;" the King James, to "fear God."


My first pastor explained, "The first 10% of what you earn is God’s. The other 90% is yours." (That agrees with Proverbs 3:9-10, "Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income.") For me, that teaching came at an ideal time: before I’d set up a budget or lived on my own. I tithed from the start. That turned out to be much easier than changing my spending habits later.


Should we still tithe today? I know people – including good friends – who say "no." For them, that’s because Christians aren’t required to follow most Jewish laws. Why do I believe it’s still right? Partly because tithing was widespread before the Mosaic Law, so its validity doesn’t depend on whether that law is still in force. Partly because "learning to put God first" is timeless. And partly because God has impressed my family that we should do it. But we do npt criticize Christians who don’t. We know from personal experience how difficult it can be..


One pastor I knew scoffed at Deuteronomy 14:23. He said, "people won’t give if you tell them that." He preached that we should give because our money would be multiplied. That bothered me. It seemed to say "Things are first: money, cars, boats, RV’s, jewelry, cruises. Give to us and you’ll get them." I thought of the Living Bible’s translation of Romans 2:22: "You say, ‘Don’t pray to idols," and then make money your god instead."

But the Bible says to give because God is first! If he is, it shouldn’t matter how or when he rewards us, in this life or the next. God has blessed my own family abundantly. But he’s done it with love, unity, faith, ideas, rich experiences, and an awareness of his presence. Money? Not yet.

Jesus also taught us to put God first. "Your heavenly Father ... will give ... [food and clothing] ... to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to" (Matt. 6:32-33; also Luke 12:31; 14:33; Prov. 3:6; 3:9-10.)


Is tithing easy?

Here’s my experience.

In the spring of my senior year at what’s now Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, its president asked if I’d consider attending summer school, getting a Master’s degree, and becoming their librarian. I’d never thought of that career, but after prayer felt a quiet witness to say "yes."

It was too late to apply to any Master’s program for that summer. But the nearby University of Washington accepted me as a "transient" student, which meant I could earn graduate credits to transfer to another university. It was still too early in Northwest’s history for Washington itself to accept its credits, though that happened soon afterwards.

The University of Denver accepted me for the following summer, but with one condition: first they’d verify that Washington accepted Northwest’s degree. My heart sank. I knew what UW would say.

Needing advice, I talked to Northwest’s registrar, Amos Millard. He said, "Go. Get enrolled. Establish a record. Then you can bargain." That sounded good, if they’d let me in to start with!

There was one other problem: money. Northwest was a "faith" ministry. That year I earned less than $300 a month, and tithed on it! I tried hard to save money, but by spring it was obvious that, whatever we did, my salary wouldn’t stretch far enough. And we’d have to pay rent on two apartments, in Seattle and Denver, because my wife was almost 6 months pregnant, and the doctor wouldn’t let her travel.

Would my plans have to be cancelled? It looked that way. Yet I’d committed. What should I do?

At that point an intelligent, reasonable person would likely have tapped his tithe money. But, naive or not, I honestly never considered it. I simply believed that 10% of "my" income was God’s, and that I could live on the rest. All my planning was done that way.

Finally I knelt down in the living room of our tiny apartment north of Seattle and prayed. "God, you know there isn’t enough money to get me to Denver and back. But I believe you want me to go, so I’ll go anyway. And I’m asking you to send whatever money I’ll need, when I need it." I paused, then added "And, so I’ll know it’s you, I not only won’t tell anyone else how much we need, I won’t even tell anyone that we need anything."

To this day, I can’t imagine how I prayed that. Someone certainly must have been praying for me! Missionaries did this sort of thing. I didn’t. It was worse than scary. It felt as if I’d pledged to walk a completely invisible high-wire across a deep canyon!

But, right after that, little things started happening. Nothing big. Looking back, it seems as if God was telling me "this is easy!" But it certainly didn’t feel that way to me.

I’d been paying a professor $2 a week to car-pool to work. A month or two before time to leave, he said "Pete, you’re going to need all your cash for summer school. I won’t take any more gas money from you."

Then a Japanese student came up to me in the library and handed me $5, saying "I feel God wants me to give you this." Akiei was attending school full time and working full time to support his wife and children. Both elbows of his suit coat were patched. I didn’t want to take his money! Yet I didn’t know how to refuse. (God blessed him; he later became superintendent of the Japan Assemblies of God.)

I found a ride as far as Wyoming with a student who was driving home to Nebraska for the summer. When Bob dropped me at the Cheyenne railroad station, I gave him $20 for my share of the gas. He looked at it, shook his head, and handed back $5.

Before the train reached Denver, I’d acquired a full-blown case of the flu from a dry, cracked throat (after crossing Wyoming’s deserts without enough water). My first night in Denver was spent fighting fever, chills, and loneliness in a $3 downtown hotel, serenaded by clattering dishes and silverware from a restaurant kitchen next door.

But things improved the next day. I found an attractive basement apartment within walking distance of the University for half the going rate. I saved more on the apartment each month than I was paying in tithes! I mailed the address to my wife in Seattle.


Registration day came. I entered hesitantly. At every table I expected someone to say "Please step over here. There’s a problem with your admission." But no one did, and I wasn’t about to ask.

I knew I didn’t have all the money, so I kept asking "how much do I have to pay today?" Everyone answered, "the cashier will tell you." I thought, "Thanks a lot! I want to know before then!" It did no good.

Finally I pushed my completed papers through the cashier’s window, and repeated the question. She replied, "all the fees are due today, and a third of the tuition. You can get a loan for the rest." She told me the amount. I had enough, with three dollars left over!

I thought back to Professor Simpson’s $2-per-week; to Akiei’s and Bob’s $5’s. Every one of them had made the difference!

It was thrilling! Marvelous! Real! Faith-building!

Still, I needed books, and $3 wasn’t enough. I walked home, and found a letter from my wife, with a check from relatives who never sent money except for Christmas or birthdays. It covered all my books.


The summer passed steadily. Cabbage was 1 cent a pound, and I cooked a lot of it. Classes went well. No one mentioned Washington’s non-recognition of my degree, and I didn’t bring it up.

In August a note came from my advisor. The results of the Graduate Record Exams we’d taken early in the summer were in, and would I see him? I did, and was shocked to be told I’d gotten the highest scores of anyone in the library school!

As we talked, he commented "Your file says that your admission depended on the University of Washington validating your degree. But I don’t see any results." He picked up the phone, called Admissions, talked for several minutes, hung up, and said "They never contacted Washington! So now they wanted you to take extra classes to validate your degree. I argued, because of your GRE scores and all your A’s. I won. You’re fully admitted!"


The tuition loan was due in two payments: one in July, one in August. As each deadlilne neared, there was no extra money at all, and no source in sight! My stomach’s butterfly collection rivalled the magnificent one in the Denver Museum of Natural History! But each time, mere days before, an unforeseen check came. Each payment was made.

It was thoroughly nerve-wracking. Yet it was uplifting, transforming, life-changing! I learned that God was indeed real. My faith, too, became real. It had to! Nothing was ever the same again, except the butterflies. Even today, they never lessen. I just have to try to ignore them.

At summer’s end, Greyhound delivered me back to Seattle with less than $5 in my pocket!

God honored my decision to tithe despite the challenges. He turned my faith into reality. And I got my Master’s degree exactly on time.


How were tithes used?

In Scripture, tithes had three recorded purposes.


Tithes supported the nation’s worship.

"Moses had decreed that these offerings belonged to the priests, Levites, the members of the choir, and the gatekeepers" (Neh. 13:5).

All these groups were from the tribe of Levi. Just as all pastors are church workers, but not all church workers are pastors, not all Levites (only Aaron’s descendants) were priests. But all had a role in worship, and tithes supported them all - including choir members, musicians, bailiffs, and temple guards.

Read: Num. 18:2-3; 18:6; 18:21; 1 Chron. 6:31-49; 1 Chron. chapters 15, 16, and 23-26; 2 Chron. 31:2-21; Neh. 10: 35-39; 12:44-47; 13:10-14; 13:30-31; Ezek. 44:29-30.

Kings Joash and Josiah used special offerings to repair the Temple (2 Kings 12:4-16; 2 Kings 22:3-7; 2 Chron. 24:4-14; 2 Chron. 34-8-13).

Neh. 10:37-39 describes how tithes (often in the form of grain, fruit, vegetables, wine, or animals) were distributed after the Jews returned from exile.

When the people didn’t tithe, the priests and Levites could go hungry. "Gone are the offerings of grain and wine to bring to the Temple of the Lord; the priests are starving. Hear the crying of these ministers of God.

"O priests, robe yourselves in sackcloth. O ministers of my God, lie all night before the altar, weeping. For there are no more offerings of grain and wine for you" (Joel 1:9, 1:13).


Tithes were used in thanksgiving feasts.

"Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name ... you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice" (Deut. 14:22-26, NIV).

Did you know that tithes were used for feasts? I didn’t!

Do you suppose that means you can spend your tithe at Denny’s after church?

I wish! But this was more like a church pot luck dinner at Thanksgiving: feasting to thank God for his blessings in a way that taught people to revere God. And, as much as I like the Olive Garden, I’ve yet to find that eating there teaches me to put God first!

One prophet cautions: "In your holy feasts to God, you ... think ... only of the food and fellowship and fun ... the prophets warned ... that this attitude would surely lead to ruin" (Zech. 7:6-7).


Tithes helped the poor.

"Every third year is a year of special tithing. That year you are to give all your tithes to the Levites, migrants, orphans, and widows, so that they will be well fed" (Deut. 26:12).

Also read: Deut. 14:28-29; 26:13-19.

We Christians often forget these verses. I’ve never heard them quoted in any sermon or Bible study. Not once. That made me curious how long the Jews continued to obey them. So I checked.

I was impressed. To begin with, the books called the Apocrypha show that, even during the Captivity, hundreds of years after Moses, Jews gave tithes to the poor. Tobit says "I performed many acts of charity for my kindred and my people who had gone with me in exile to Nineveh" ... "A third tenth I would give to the orphans and widows and to the converts who had attached themselves to Israel. I would bring it and give it to them in the third year, and we would eat it according to the ordinance decreed concerning it in the law of Moses ... I would give my food to the hungry and my clothing to the naked" (Tobit 1: 3; 1:8; 1:17; NRSV).

Today, Jews are taught to "give at least 10% of their net income to charity every year," not every third. That’s charity, not just church giving. It includes giving to local synagogues, but the share that’s used to help people still appears higher than is common in Christian churches. (Lisa Katz, http://judaism.about.com/od/beliefs/a/tzedakah_what.htm).

The colloquial Hebrew word for giving to those in need is "tzedakah," and it has a very interesting background. Literally, it means "righteousness." It comes from the word "tzedek" ("righteous") coupled with the Hebrew letter "hey," which represents the Divine name. So charitable giving, or tzedakah, is "a good deed that is made in partnership with God." In the Bible, it also refers to "justice, kindness, ethical behavior and the like."

Katz asks how one Hebrew word can mean both justice and charity. Her answer is that Judaism considers charity to be an act of justice. She explains that "Judaism holds that people in need have a legal right to food, clothing and shelter that must be honored by more fortunate people. According to Judaism, it is unjust and even illegal for Jews to not give charity to those in need. Thus, giving charity in Jewish law and tradition is viewed as obligatory self-taxation, rather than voluntary donation."

Pope Benedict XVI agreed with Katz. In 2008, he told Christians that helping the poor and abandoned is a "duty of justice, even prior to being an act of charity" (Associated Press).

Tzedakah includes "giving money to the poor, to health care institutions, to synagogues or to educational institutions, to both Jews and Gentiles. Supporting grown children and elderly parents is also a form of tzedakah."


Some Christians believe tithes were never paid on income, only on things like cattle, grain, and wine. Jacob’s promise to give God 10% "of everything you give me" seems to disagree. And that would have meant craftsmen, metalworkers, tentmakers, field workers, and others would never have given anything. But remember Proverbs 3:9-10, "Honor the Lord by giving him the first part of all your income." That’s ALL. And on the same web site where Lisa Katz writes, Rabbi Shraga Simmons says that, for Jews, the tithe consists of "ten percent of a person’s wages after taxes." Those who wish to can give up to 20% (more than that is discouraged).


To God, how important was using tithes to help the needy? So vital that it was the only command in the entire Law that He required the Israelites to certify they’d done:

"Then you shall declare before the Lord your God, ‘I have given all of my tithes to the Levites, the migrants, the orphans, and the widows, just as you commanded me ... I have obeyed the Lord my God ... Bless your people and the land you have given us, as you promised our ancestors; make it a land flowing with milk and honey!’" (Deut. 26:13-15.)

Can we, as Christians, honestly justify doing less than the Old Testament standard? At the Judgment, how will we defend our lack of love?


How generously did the early church give to its neighbors?

"All the believers ... shared everything with each other, selling their possessions and dividing with those in need. They ... shared their meals with great joy and thankfulness, praising God. The whole city was favorable to them" (Acts 2:44-46).

Paul painted a moving picture of early Greek Christians’ generosity toward hungry believers in Jerusalem:

"Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others. They gave not only what they could afford, but far more; and I can testify that they did it because they wanted to ... so they could share in the joy of helping the Christians in Jerusalem.

"You people there are leaders in so many ways ... Now I want you to be leaders also in the spirit of cheerful giving ... it isn't important how much you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you haven't" (2 Cor. 8:2-4; 8:7; 8:11-12; also Acts 4:32-37; 2 Cor. 9:1-2; 9:6-13).

Those Christians measured their giving simply by the love God had placed in their hearts.


Today, should we still give part of our tithes to the needy?

Should we still put God first? Love Him? Prove we love our neighbors by helping them?

Has God changed any of those commands? No.

So I believe he still expects us to help the poor with our tithes.

But it does seem to me that, in today’s society, it’s more efficient to set aside a third of every offering for the poor, rather than giving all of it every third year. My own family does that, in a variety of ways that depend on needs, circumstances, and how we sense God leading us.


Because of one modern innovation.

Monthly payments.

In Moses’ day the church had no mortgage, no pastors' salaries, no utility bills, no insurance bills. It was much easier to give a whole year’s tithes to the poor. Now churches have all those expenses every month, every year.

Today, it’s also impossible for most of the needy to live without monthly income. In Bible times the poor often still owned land and homes. They could grow (and glean) food. But today almost everyone, rich or poor, has monthly payments for housing, groceries, clothes, water, utilities, medical care, and more. Those all take regular income.

Who should help the needy? Relatives? Friends? Individual Christians? Local churches? Nonprofit organizations? City, County, State or Federal agencies?

My experiences tell me "This is an Air Force test!"

What's that mean?

In the mid-1980’s, when I worked at Vandenberg Air Force Base, we took many Air Force classes. An Air Force officer always taught the lesson, for instance about the Launch Pad.  Then we’d end with a multiple-choice test.

Before we took the test, our teacher would read all the questions and possible answers. Often the choices would include "all of the above." On those questions, the officer would pause, grin at the class, and say "Remember, this is an Air Force test!" And we’d know the answer

Who needs to help our neighbors? "All of the above." We ALL have a share in "loving and helping our neighbors." Each can reach some "neighbors" others can’t. If we want the job done to God’s satisfaction, we all have a role.


Why does the New Testament condemn the Pharisees? They tithed.

The Pharisees were the "Bible believers" and most dedicated churchgoers of their day. So why did Jesus condemn them? Two major reasons. They rejected him. And they forgot that even religion doesn’t please God unless we love and help our neighbors!

"Purity is best demonstrated by generosity.

"But woe to you Pharisees! For though you are careful to tithe even the smallest part of your income, you completely forget about justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but you should not leave these other things undone" (Luke 11:41-42).

More Scriptures: Prov. 28:24; Matt.15:3-6; 23:23; Mark 7:10-13; 1 Tim. 5:3-4; 5:8; 5:16.


Can we "rob Jesus" even if we don’t "rob God?"

"‘Will a man rob God? Surely not! And yet you have robbed me.’

"‘What do you mean? When did we ever rob you?’

"‘You have robbed me of the tithes and offerings due to me. And so the awesome curse of God is cursing you, for your whole nation has been robbing me. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so that there will be food enough in my temple; if you do, I will open up the windows of heaven for you and pour out a blessing so great you won’t have room to take it in!’" (Mal. 3:8-12.)

But what if we do tithe, but don’t give the Scriptural third of the tithe to the needy?

Jesus teaches in Matthew 25:31-46 that if we don’t feed and clothe the poor, we’re not feeding him. If we don’t help the sick, we’re not helping him.

If we don’t budget part of our tithes for the needy, there’ll be many of Jesus’ "brothers and sisters" we won’t be able to help. And if we don’t help them, we’re not helping him.

Isn’t that like letting Jesus go hungry or without clothing?

Isn’t that robbing Jesus?


Can churches easily give a third of their offerings?

Only one church I’ve ever attended gave the Biblical third of its income to the needy, and that church only did it during the tenure of one pastor. Most of the others gave less than 1% of their budgets to "loving their neighbors." That’s less than 1/30th of what the Bible teaches!


Can churches afford to help their needy as much as the Bible teaches? Many pastors and board members will first respond exactly as I did in that Mojave Desert campground: "No. It’s not possible."

A friend of ours, Jonathan, told us about a ministry leader whose group’s income kept dwindling. He sought the Lord in prayer, asking how the ministry could recover. God answered in an unexpected way. That "still, small voice" told him clearly, "help the poor." He responded "God, we can’t!" God didn’t argue. He simply repeated: "help the poor."

At the next board meeting, Jonathan’s friend reported what he believed God had said. The board replied, "We can’t." He told them, "We have to." They did. Within a few months, their income recovered. They not only helped the poor, but once again met their regular budget.


A few years ago the Internet site of one U.S. ‘megachurch’ listed nearly 20 pages of volunteer opportunities, but no "love your neighbors" ministries! Then the pastor and his wife realized "we weren’t doing anything." They started. The last time I looked, that church had grown in both caring and membership. They needed volunteers for a dozen "people ministries."


One Illinois pastor says, "We found how little we know about the people around us. We started asking around, ‘What are the needs of the community?’ When you present that need to people, they’re very responsive. People have very generous hearts."

It’s true. Often we simply have to see the need, know that God teaches us to pitch in, and trust him to help us do it.

God did establish the principle of giving that third. He thinks "loving our neighbors" that much will make a real difference. He’ll reward it.


How can a church start?

There’s no easy answer. Love for God and our neighbors must find a common path with faith, vision, and practicality.

But pastors encourage even low-income people to tithe by faith. We use "faith pledges" for missions. Can we use the same principles to love and help our neighbors?

Obeying opens whole new ministry horizons. We can help senior citizens, single mothers, or laid-off workers with rent, medicine, or food. We can help students through college. And more. The community will respond.

It all comes down to our priorities.

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all." -Dale Carnegie

Doors to starting a "help" ministry will often appear firmly shut. But the Word tells us that’s when we should "knock."


Years later, I still smile at the way one of my own "closed doors" opened.

One weekend when I was single, a lady friend (not a girlfriend) wanted to go with me to explore the Anza-Borrego desert 125 miles east of San Diego. However, our schedules created a problem. She needed to come back Sunday night for work the next day, while I had to stay over for a Monday business meeting. We decided to drive over together, but first park her car in a safe suburb to which she and her young son could return by bus.

I asked advice from a policeman friend. He suggested leaving her vehicle in his police station’s parking lot. It was close to the bus, in a good neighborhood. As a bonus, he promised "We’ll watch it for you."

Everything seemed set. Then, without warning, it all fell apart.

When we rendezvoused after work Friday evening, the stricken look on her face warned me we had a problem. "I just realized my license plate’s expired!" she cried. "I can’t get a new one till Monday. What are we going to do?"

It hardly seemed wise to park her car at the police station. We tried to think of another solution. Anything workable! But we came up blank.

Finally I said, "Look. Just follow me. Let’s drive out near ‘John’s’ station. We’ll look at the neighborhood and then figure something out."

We drove to La Mesa. I parked near the police station. She parked a discreet distance away. 

I went in. The receptionist was young, friendly, and wanted to be helpful. But when I explained, she looked doubtful. "I don’t want to disagree with John," she said, "but we get awfully busy on Friday and Saturday nights. I don’t think we’d have room for your friend’s car." She frowned, thinking. Then her face lit up. "I know! She can park at the curb right in front!"

I didn’t want to admit why I didn’t think that would work. Buying time to find a reasonable way to say "no," I said "Let me go look." It didn’t take long to find my "out." Directly in front of the station was a "two-hour parking" sign.

I went back in. "Thanks," I told the receptionist, "but that’s a two-hour zone, and we’ll be gone for the whole weekend."

The young woman beamed. "No problem!" She handed me a 4-by-6-inch placard. Bold letters across its face read "DO NOT TICKET THIS CAR."

As I read it, light dawned. That card didn’t say why! Just "don’t ticket." For any reason! Including expired plates!

Now it was my turn to beam. "Thanks!" I said, and meant it wholeheartedly!

So we left my friend’s car in the two-hour zone in front of the police station for two full days and nights, with its outdated license plate in full view. As John promised, the police watched it for us. They did not ticket it!


Beginning a "help" ministry isn’t usually that simple. It takes prayer, patience, work, love, faith, and commitment. But it has been done. I pray that it will be done in your community. It will bring God’s blessing!



"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?" - Vincent van Gogh

















































































































































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