Put a Ring on It

Pastor Winters shares a bible verses about testing God with money.

Linn Winters
Dec 2, 2018    42m
In this sermon Pastor Linn Winters wraps up the Unfinished series with a challenge to his congregation to pray and then fill out their commitment cards, so they can start building a new building with cash. He goes to The Book of Malachi to share a bible verses about testing God with money. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

PaulJames: 00:01 My wife got asked in the video for the unfinished series, and of course she said yes, and told part of our story, our unfinished story. Of course being unfinished, we got more to the story recently. Since the last part of the story you heard, we've been struggling to catch up, because you know for a little while we were homeless. We were living in our car, we both didn't have jobs. My wife was in between work, she was sick. I was trying to get on with the fire department, and trying to go to school to become a firefighter, and not able to pay our mortgage in the exact amount they wanted. So working with the mortgage company, trying to catch up, come to find our house was selling through foreclosure. It was just all falling apart again.

Lauren: 00:43 One of the things that we knew we needed to do this year, especially after I got my job, everything we had been through was be obedient. We'd been praying like, you know, whatever your will is God, like just tell us what to do and we'll do it 100 percent.

PaulJames: 00:58 We tithed our unemployment because at the point that we were so low, the only way we could go is up. And we've invested so much into the church, you know, a kids serving, the only thing left to do was tithe.

Lauren: 01:10 That's not easy, however, we trust and we know that if it was prayed about, it's something coming from God, and we've been challenged to be obedient, and we decided to be obedient. And in our obedience we've been blessed. This was after the story aired, after we'd made our commitment to increase our tithe, I found out that I got a three percent raise, which doesn't happen at my company at all. It was on a Friday, that night, the night before. Paul had this nagging feeling of I've got to call the mortgage company in the morning, I have to call.

PaulJames: 01:51 I get on the phone and call. Go through the whole thing with the mortgage company, asked you what happened. So I had to tell them the whole story, you know, hey, my wife got sick, and my daughter got sick, and we just struggled. We have a hard time paying the full amount. And I said, but do you know what? God is good. And the lady on the other side said yes he is.

Lauren: 02:10 And she said, you won't believe this before I got to work today, I prayed to God that he would send me someone I could help. What are the odds? And she said, I'm going to help you. And she said, take my name, take my number. She said, I will follow up, I will make sure the underwriters get your paperwork, I'll make sure something happens for you.

PaulJames: 02:38 One week after that I'm like, okay, let's see what happens. They stopped the foreclosure on our home.

Lauren: 02:46 See, it hasn't nothing to do with us, it just had to do with being obedient and faithful and praising him. And taking that moment in that conversation to say, although we're facing foreclosure, but to say God is so, so good. I mean, it's incredible, absolutely incredible.

PaulJames: 03:07 Everything that's been going on since we said yes to giving, is starting to come back our way. We're finally starting to come out of that storm, come out of the hardship. And there is still a little bit more to go, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel, we're getting closer.

Linn Winters: 03:31 So how cool is that? I don't know about you, but I, I see a video, I hear a story like that, of real people. I mean, there our people right there in the midst of us, and I'm just so encouraged. I'm encouraged because chances are when you hear what their story is and what they faced, when they had to make that decision, hey, are we going to be faithful in giving or not? My guess is their circumstances are more scary, more trepidatious, than probably just about any of our stories in the room. And then the encouragement to go, and then God shows up. Right? It just reminds me that what you and I are part of, it's real. This isn't religion, this is a real God that we follow, who responds in real ways. And I don't know about you, but I just ended up super encouraged, out of that.

Linn Winters: 04:22 Okay, so we're finishing up, we're wrapping up, this conversation we had about unfinished. And if you've been in the room at all, we've said right up front, hey look, we're going to have some conversations about money, and we're going to have some conversations about building. But don't get fooled by that because the real conversation isn't about money, and it's not about buildings, it's about unfinished lives. And the idea that our services are filling up, and we're running out of room, and we know there's a city out there that needs to be in this room figuring out who Jesus Christ is. And what does it mean for us to make sure that when they come, that there's actually a place for them to sit. And we've talked about the idea that we're going after maturity. We're trying to grow up our children, we're trying to grow up ourselves because we're an unfinished people, and we have long ago run out a maturity rooms to get that done.

Linn Winters: 05:08 And so we said, look, we're facing a moment where brick and mortar is keeping us from finishing the mission that God has put us on. And banks aren't giving loans right now, so what are we going to do? And our answer has been let's go build a building for cash, let's go get that done. And so we've been talking about making a commitment together, for the next 13 months, that we would take the budget as it exists, lock it in. Just say, look, we're going to hold it there. That's despite air conditioners that need to be replaced, cost of living, you can imagine, all sorts of stuff. Your staff said, we'll just, we'll hold the budget. That will be part of our sacrifice as we do this, and then if the people of God will step up, and will just be more faithful in a moment like this. We'll take every single month, the surplus, everything you give above the general fund. We'll take that put into the building, and the next 13 months we'll put a building up over there, we'll take a step in the right direction. The cool part is it will put us in a better equity position. It will get us a little bit closer to banks be willing to loan us, it just has all sorts of value. This has been the unfinished conversation.

Linn Winters: 06:17 So today, I just want to say it out loud, today is commitment Sunday. Today in a little while, we're going to ask you to take your commitment cards to bring them forward, but here's what else I need to say in the room. If you're here today, and you go look, I'm just not ready to make a commitment. I'm just not at that place, or God hasn't spoken to me. It's okay. It's okay. Don't worry about it, we're not going to twist your arms, we're not going to make you feel weird. We will not make you uncomfortable. This is going to be for the people who want to do that. Matter of fact, there's a whole bunch of people in the room who aren't going to turn in cards today, because they already turned in cards several weeks ago. So if you don't turn in a card today, everyone will think you were just an early adopter. Okay, so no pressure, but this is going to be a moment for those who want to respond, who wants to do something?

Linn Winters: 07:08 Okay, conversation. Ever had a relationship, you know, maybe it was a relative, maybe it was somebody you were dating, maybe it was somebody you married, it was your spouse, who you ended up looking at the very same circumstance, the very same moment and seeing it completely different? That you would have said, hey, I mean I get it. I get that this has some importance to it, and I get that there's some reasons to think, but for some reason you think this is huge. For some reason this is like the litmus test of our relationship. For some reason, I mean this is just like life and death to you, and I don't get why you're placing that much value on this. It just doesn't make sense to me. So here's what we're going to do, I'm going to give you the moment to be a counselor in a similar situation, you tell me what you would do. Here's the situation. The young man who has been dating your daughter, and now wants to be engaged to her, comes to you and says, I need some help with your daughter. Because we've been having this discussion about engagement rings, and my stance is this, look it engagement rings are just a hunk of metal, my love for you doesn't change because I put a ring on your finger. And we've got, if we're getting married, we've got some bills were both bringing to the relationship. We could take that same money, and pay some bills down. We're both going to need a car, we could buy the second car rather than a hunk of ring, that really doesn't mean anything. Your daughter doesn't see it the same way. For some reason, your daughter, this is like huge. She's saying to me, this ring is a statement of your commitment and your love to me, and I don't want to walk around naked fingered.

Linn Winters: 09:07 If you were counseling your soon to be son in law, how many of you in here would say, dude, get the girl a ring. How many would say that's where I'm at. How many of you in here would say, no, I totally agree, pay some bills, don't get her a ring. Okay, for all of you that just raised your hand, we'll have counselors here at the front, because clearly you've got marriage issues going on. And I'm just telling you, there are moments even when you don't understand, when the person you love says, this is huge to my heart, this is critical to how I feel about our relationship, that how you respond in that moment is actually going to steer the future of your relationship. These are moments you don't pass by easily.

Linn Winters: 10:01 What if I told you, that's how God feels about the tithes. That God would say to you and me, hey, this is huge, this is a monstrously big statement about our relationship. And you and I would be going, well God, wait, wait, wait, I don't understand that. Because here's the deal, since I became a Christian, I've done a whole bunch of things to express my love to you. I mean, I started coming to church on a regular basis, I even joined a small group for awhile, I served in the children's area, I mean, I stopped cussing. So God, look, here's the deal. I've done all sorts of gestures, this should already have expressed to you how deeply I love you. So why is this one so important? Why is this one such a big deal to you, and you can't get past it? And I just wanting to have a conversation today. I just want us to maybe sit on a couch with God, and say, God, help me understand why. Why is this the litmus test of our relationship? And at the other end, if nothing else, you and I walk out of the room going I get it. I get why God thinks this is a big, big deal in my life.

Linn Winters: 11:26 So grab your bibles, go with me to The Book of Malachi. Malachi chapter three. If you're not real familiar, probably the easiest way to get there. Just go to the back of your Bible, start working left. If you do that, you're going to be going through what we call the New Testament. As you keep, keep, keep, going you're going to get to a book of Matthew, which is actually the first book of the New Testament. Keep going a little further, you're going to get to Malachi, which is the last book of the Old Testament. Malachi chapter three. Let me set up the moment. The children of Israel have wandered away from God. They've gone to serve other gods, serve other idols, they're living their lives the way their neighbors live their lives. God has allowed them to go into captivity. He is about you. Ready for this? He's about to go silent for four hundred years, and as he does it, he says, okay, so here's the deal. If at any point you decide to come back to me, if you decide to get your lives right, here's what I'm going to ask you to do to prove to me that you're serious. Tithe. Isn't that interesting? That of all the things that God would pick to demonstrate that their hearts were serious, he says, tithe. And then you're ready? He goes silent for 400 years.

Linn Winters: 13:00 As I read this passage, ask this question. Does it sound like God thinks tithing is a big, big, big, big deal? Even if I think it's this big, does it sound like he thinks it's this big? Here we go. Malachi chapter three, starting in verse six. Here's what it says, "I the Lord do not change so you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." The descendants of Israel, remember he says, hey, you wandered away from me by all rights, I should have just killed you all, but I've made promises and so I'm going to keep my promises, I'm not. "Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and you have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you says, the Lord Almighty. But you ask, how are we to return? And then God answers will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, how are we robbing you? In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse, your whole nation, 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 there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops. and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it's ripe, says the Lord Almighty. Then all nations will call you blessed for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord Almighty."

Linn Winters: 14:44 Now, here's what's interesting, of all the things for God to choose, why does he choose the tithe as the statement of coming back to him, of given our hearts to him. Why didn't he say to Israel, Hey, bring me your best oxen, we'll put it on the altar, we'll sacrifice it. Why didn't he say that? Why didn't he say, hey, I want you to put a little fish emblem on the back of your camels, or alert or maybe a bumper sticker that says, in case of rapture, this camel will be unmanned. You know? Or what about perfect church attendance, or I mean of all the things, think about it. Of all the things that God could have demanded and said, hey, when you want to give your hearts back to me, here's the thing I'm asking you to do. Why does he choose the tithe? And I believe if you and I were sitting on a couch and saying to God, help me understand this. He would say, you ready? Because it is a gesture that absolutely shows you're sincere. So you could have done a lot of those other gestures, and I wouldn't know for sure that you were sincere, but you can't do this and me not know what's going on in your heart.

Linn Winters: 16:53 It's the same as, you ready for this? It's the same as when a woman's been dating a man for seven years, and he says to her, hey, I love you. I don't want to date anybody else, I'm planning on marrying you. To which she says, put a ring on it. Right? So stop and think what she's saying in that moment. I'm going to ask you to do a physical thing, to give me a ring, in order to prove what's going on in your heart. It's a physical act that clearly signals I don't want to date anybody else, I choose you, and I intend on marrying you. Who knew that Beyonce had it right? They made me do that, I'm sorry for whatever the images that conjured in your mind. Please, I'm sorry. I worked for twenty-three years to have dignity is a pastor, lost it in an instant. But you get the moment right? You and I aren't surprised when she says, put a ring on it. Right? It's a physical act that demonstrates the attitude of the heart. And here's what God says, when you tithe, it's a physical act that demonstrates you ready? That you love me more than what you could have bought with that piece of paper with green ink on it, you love me more than anything that, that one-tenth of your income could have purchased. And ready for this? I am your number one priority. You're placing me ahead of cable TV, you're placing me ahead of Ford Motor Credit Company, you're placing me, but ready for this? You're placing me ahead of visa, when you tithe. A physical act demonstrates the heart.

Linn Winters: 18:41 Okay? $10.00. How many of these dollars belong to God? Oh you're being all spiritual. But you're right. Right? I mean that is true, because God gave us all of them, right? And ready? And ownership never transferred. You and I are managers, not owners, so you're right. But let me ask the question different way. How many does God require? One, he requires the 10th, right? And here's what God is saying, in the physical act of bringing me the 10th, you're declaring, ready? That you love me more than what you could have bought with the 10th. So we know how many belong to God, which one belongs to God? The first one. And I don't care where you take it out of the pile, as long as it's the first one you take out of the pile. Because in that moment, you ready? Physical Act that declares to God, you have first priority. More than any of my bills, more than any other thing, your first. Isn't it true though that this was what we do. Got a mortgage, I've got the car payment, cable, the phone, why the kids using so many minutes, groceries, utilities, and then we get down to this. And you ready? Because we waited till last, we can still think of 10 other things that we could spend this on, and now tithing becomes terrifying because it feels like we're losing something. So guess what we do. We go, God, there you go, and we ended up tipping God. Ready? With the leftover. And when God says, hey, here is a physical act that tells me about your heart. Leftover.

Linn Winters: 21:14 Ladies, you get this one. Suppose the guy who wants to marry you, comes to you, gives you a ring. Something happens to the physical anatomy of a woman when she gets an engagement ring. For the next three weeks, she walks around like this, it just happens. So now you're walking into the room, and all your friends are looking at the ring. And one of your friends looks at it pretty close and says, Hey, your ring is crusty, what did you do to it? And you say, I didn't do anything, I got it last night, I haven't done anything to it. Now you go back to your boyfriend and you go, hey, I think the jeweler gypped you. They gave you a used ring. He says, I didn't go to the jeweler, that's the ring I gave my last girlfriend, I was recycling. Leftover. And the very thing that, that statement said to your heart, is what it says to God's heart, when you and I wait to the end of the month to decide if we can afford to tithe. It's why God says, ready, it's a physical act, that tells me everything I need to know about your heart. Why does God think the tithe is a big deal? You Ready? God's saying, put a ring on it. You say you love me, you say I'm first place in your life, show me. Put a ring on it.

Linn Winters: 22:49 Back to the passage, verse eight, "But will a mere mortal rob God, yet you rob me. But you ask, how are we robbing you? In tithes and offerings?" I think it's interesting that he chooses the word rob, and not thief, because you realize there's a difference between the two, right? A thief sneaks in, a thief waits till you're not home, steals what he's going to steal, and then absconds, runs off with it. But not a robber, robbers are brazen. Robbers will walk up to you and the light of day, hold a gun to your face, and say, I'm robbing you. And God says you robbed me, you haven't even tried to hide this. You haven't even been subtle about it.

Linn Winters: 23:50 Years ago I had a person in my life who borrowed some money, and when I loaned him the money, I said, okay, so monthly you'll pay me. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Anybody want to guess what happened after the first month? Second month? Third month? And then you ready for this? Talk about brazen. Right? Ready for this? Then they came to me and said, Linn can I borrow your car? See, my car is in the shop getting repaired right now. Oh by the way, with the money that you didn't pay me. My car's in the shop getting repaired right now, I don't have a way to work, can I borrow your car? And then you and Lisa can double up, you know, giving each other rides in her car for three days, and then my car will be out. And I said, okay. But I said, I just want to remind you, remember you have a loan and you haven't paid my loan. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. When they returned my car, three days later, they'd had a wreck in it. They'd backed out of a driveway, scraped the entire side of my car along the side of a house. And as they came back they said, Lynn, look, we know you've got a deductible, we'll pay the deductible. Okay. Month number one came, month number two came, and then I start seeing posts on Facebook. Hey, just went to the theater tonight, it was so cool. They posted vacation pictures. You want to know what my heart said? Dude, you're robbing me. You're taking the money that you promised, and really ought to be coming to me, and you're spending it on all sorts of things for yourself. You're a robber. Anybody here had a similar situation? You have loaned money to a friend, you have loaned money to a relative, and they just go on in life and never pay. Anybody had that happen? Here's what God's saying, when you don't tithe your that relative, you're that friend, you're robbing me, he says. Big, big deal. It hurts my heart.

Linn Winters: 26:22 Back to the passage, verse 10. Verse 10 says this, "Bring the whole tithe, bring the whole 10 percent into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the Lord Almighty, and see if I won't throw open the floodgates of heaven, and pour out so much blessing that will not be room enough in the store. It almost feels like, as we're having this conversation with God, that all of a sudden God changed his tone. He says, look, look, look, here's how you've hurt my heart, this is where you've disappointed me. But look, if you would simply be obedient with this, you realize my intentions are to bless you. I'm trying to see a moment, an act, a gesture of love and obedience, that on the other side of I would bless you. And guys look, here's the deal, I don't know what the blessing is. See, I don't know if it's a financial blessing, I don't know if he gives three percent raises, I don't know if he causes banks to restructure loans, I don't know if he just causes you and me to make an amazingly wise decision that changes the direction of my life, I don't know if he keeps my children from harm, I don't know what the blessing is. All I know is God said that if I had been obedient, if I had done what I was supposed to do, that he had blessings in store for me. And the intent was not to take, the intent was to give, in response. Kind of in the same way when the gal gets the ring. She's not taking the ring to take, it's when she sees that gesture of love, it opens up her heart.

Linn Winters: 28:06 There's a story about a young man. His parents were really, really strong Christians, so they were always encouraging him to be faithful, and to go to church, and go to the youth activities, and do all that stuff. And he just looked at his parents, said, look, I'm not interested. I just want to be an everyday 16 year old, I just want to do what all my friends are doing, and right now that doesn't include God in my life. And I don't know., maybe when I'm older, maybe it will make sense, but just get off my back. I don't want any of it now. He gets to his 16th birthday. His parents come to them and say, Hey, what do you want for your birthday? And he says, a car. To which his parents go. I mea, that's a big gift. He goes, that's all I want, I don't want anything else, I want a car. So sure enough, the birthday rolls around, they sing the songs, they blow out the candles. And then his parents bring his gift in a box, takes him only moments to realize that not a car. He begins to unwrap the box, it's a bible. He grabs the Bible, says see, this is it. You're trying to cram all this stuff down my throat. You want me to be what you want me to be, and I am sick and tired of it. And he heaves the Bible, and then says a few words that a pastor can't see in church. And from that moment forward, their relationship changes. He puts his head down, he does everything he can not to interact with his parents for the two more years till he graduates high school. He goes off to college, and very seldom comes home. He eventually gets married and has kids of his own. And they only on occasion ever come back, and then his parents die. And now the son comes to have to do that cleanup thing you do, where you have to decide, hey, are we going to sell this on a garage sale or you know. And as he's sorting through his parents things, he comes across the box with the Bible. And he sits down and opens the box and picks up the Bible, and as he does an envelope falls out. He picks the envelope up, and inside is a letter that says, Jeffrey, I just want you to know that your mom and I love you, and today we'll take you to get a car. You realize in a moment, not understanding his parents motives, thinking that they were trying to push something on him, trying to take something from him. In that moment, he misses the blessing they were actually trying to do for him. He not only doesn't end up with a car, he ends up with a relationship that's on the rocks. What does he miss?

Linn Winters: 30:59 Is it possible that in a moment when God comes and says to you and me that he wants us to tithe, that in a moment that you and I look and we go, God, it feels like you're taking, it feels like you're diminishing, it feels like you don't understand, and that my life will be less if I do this. And God says, you don't understand, I'm trying to bless you. And you have no idea what's on the other side of this act of obedience. How much blessing have you and I missed, because we have failed to obey/ I don't know, but I want to find out.
Linn Winters: 31:47 Back to the passage, verse 10 again, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house. Test me in this says the Lord." Do you realize how remarkable that statement is? That God would say, look, look, look, look. It's like he leans forward in the conversation and says, look, I get it. I get it. I get that this is scary for you. I get it, that it feels like less to you, and I've been promising to bless, but you don't know. I get it. Test me, just test me, and you'll see. Now, here's why that statement's remarkable. In the new testament Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, goes out into the to the wilderness be tested for 40 days and 40 nights. While he's there, he encounters Satan. The first temptation that Satan brings to him. He says, Jesus, you've been fasting for these 40 days, turn these rocks into bread. And Jesus says to him, he quotes scripture, he says, man shall not live by bread alone. The second temptation that Satan takes, he takes Jesus to the top of the temple. He says, here's the deal. Look, if you leap off the temple, God will surely send his angels to catch you and everybody seeing that happen will instantly know that you're the son of God. They'll know who you are. You could prove yourself right here and right now, so jump. To which Jesus quotes scripture back to him again and says, you ready? Thou shalt not test the Lord your God. So the overriding principle is look, look, look, look, look, you have no right to test God. You are not the teacher, and God is not the pupil. You have no, even if God has promised something, you don't have the right to put him to the test.

Linn Winters: 33:49 What does it mean to you? Then on this topic, God would say to you and me, okay, we're going to suspend the rule. Test me. I get it. I get that this is terrifying, I get that you're scared. Test me. Do you get the sense that this tithe thing is a really, really big deal to the heart of God?

Linn Winters: 34:25 We're getting ready to make commitments in just a moment. Here's what I'm going to ask you to consider doing, I'm going to ask you to consider testing God. If you're in the room right now, and you're not a tithing family, I'm going to issue a challenge. I'm going to say, hey, would you consider becoming a tithing family for 90 days? Would you consider that? And because your leadership, and because your church, has absolutely no doubt that God is faithful, we're going to stand behind God. And if you tithe for 90 days, and at the end of 90 days you come back and say, Linn, God let me down, God didn't show up, he didn't come through. We'll refund all your tithe. I mean, what's the risk then? Right? If you're in the room, and you're somebody who already tithes. We're trying to get that building up, right? We're trying to stay on mission. Would you consider increasing your tithe for the next 13 months, thirteen months by two percent? Would you consider that? Hey look, I have no right to ask you that, because you're already in and being faithful. And if you say no, it's okay. You said no. I'm just asking you, would you think about the mission that God has us on, would that stir your heart to say, I want to see that happen, and would you consider two percent? Here's what you need to know, we already went to your leaders. We had separate dinners with them, and we asked them to increase their tithe by five percent. So that you could see their example, and know that they had gone further than we were asking you to go. And would that encourage you and say, hey, if my leaders can do it for 13 months, I can do it for 13 months. And would you pray about considering that. If you're here and you just go, Linn, I can't do any of that, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't. Would you do something? I mean, wouldn't something at least be some sort of a gesture? So would you consider just doing two percent then? If you're not going to do the tithe, would you consider just doing two percent? If you did two percent this year, and then you increase it two percent more next year, and if you increase it two percent more the next year. If you did that for five years, in half a decade, you'd be a tithing and family, and at least wouldn't it be steps in the right direction?

Linn Winters: 37:01 So here's what we are asking you to do, we're asking you to pray about, thinking about the commitment, we're going to make that together in a moment. We're going to ask you to start giving now, just right now in the month of December, start giving. In the month of December, we're going to take everything that you give. We're going to pay our bills, we're going to end the year in the black. It doesn't make sense for us to end the year debtful, we're going to end the year in the black. Starting January one we'll hold exactly to the budget, we won't spend a new penny anywhere. Everything we give in excess, starting January one, will go right to the building project. We'll build a building with cash. We'll do that together. Okay?

Linn Winters: 37:47 So if I had the chance to talk to the young man who was trying to figure out what to do with the ring. Here's what I would have said to him, you realize the decision you're getting ready to make is going to take your future marriage in one of two directions. You're going to buy a ring, you're going to do the thing that it doesn't make sense to you, and as a little bit scary for you, and you're going to buy her a ring. And let me tell you what's going to happen when you buy her a ring, your going to thrill her heart for the rest of your married life. She's going to look down at that ring, and it's going to remind her that her man loves her. Because he did that, that didn't make sense to him. He did that, that didn't feel practical to him. And that made it an even bigger gesture for him. You will thrill her heart. Or you're going to hold your ground, you're going to go, no, no, no, doesn't make sense to me. And I'm telling you that for the rest of your married life, your wife looking down at her naked finger is going to wonder, does he really love me more than stuff? Does he really hold me in first place? Is he embarrassed to declare that we belong to each other? And here's what I would say to that young man, don't just buy her a ring, go big. Because she knows that going big, would say something really powerful about your love for her, go big young man.

Linn Winters: 39:36 And guess what I would say to a congregation as a pastor, when we come to a moment in which God says, hey, this tithing thing tells me everything about your heart. Hmm, I'd say put a ring on it, and when you put a ring on it, go big. Let God know how you feel, let God know that he's more important than anything you could have bought with that money, let him know that he's the first thing in your life before visa or car payments. Go big.

Linn Winters: 40:11 So here's what we're going to do, all of us should have cards. If you're going to take the 90 day challenge, write ninety days on it, we're going to give you a few moments to pray about it still, to think about it. When you get ready, I'm going to encourage you, we're going to come forward. We've got some thumb tacks, you're going to stick your card on the letters up here, up front. I'm going to encourage you to put it on backwards, put it so the white side, no one needs you to know what your commitment was, right? That's you and God, no one else needs that, so just put it on backwards. Here's what I want to say to those in the room, and you go, Linn, I'm just not ready. It's okay. We have a whole bunch of people in the room who already made their commitment, so if you're not ready today and you don't come forward, everybody's going to think you're an early adopter. No one will ever know that you had a moment, so there's no pressure, there's no funky weird twisting your arms. But there's some people in this room, who coming forward right now is going to be a big statement in their lives, and we're not going to miss that moment.

Linn Winters: 41:12 So here is what we are going to do, the band is going to come out, they're going to play. We're going to come forth with our cards, we're going to go back to our seats, and then I'm going to come out and close this. Okay?

Linn Winters: 41:20 Here we go, let's pray. Hey, dear Lord Jesus, it's interesting because we wouldn't have thought the tithe was such a big deal. We would have thought there's so many parts of our lives that you would know how we feel about you. And yet suddenly we run into this book of Malachi, and this moment in which you expressed to say, I want to see a physical act, that reflects the attitude of your heart. That that says to me that you love me more than what you could buy. That I'm first in your life, ahead of car payments, ahead of the cable bill, I rate number one. God, you asked us to put a ring on it, if we were really serious. God, I'm just asking in this room that a whole bunch of us, right now, would go big. And I pray that in Jesus' name, Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286