Ever heard of Otis Blackwell? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Otis Blackwell was a prolific, African-American songwriter who wrote over 1,000 songs, which sold more than 185 million copies. He died over fourteen years ago at the age of 71.
While you may not know him, you’ll probably recognize some of his works like: “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Great Balls of Fire,” and “All Shook Up.” “Great Balls of Fire” was made famous by Jerry Lee Lewis and became his signature song. “Don’t Be Cruel” and “All Shook Up” were made famous by Elvis Presley.
Here’s an interesting side note on “All Shook Up.” Evidently, “Goldy” Goldmark, who worked at Shalimar Publishing, told Otis one day he was such a great songwriter he could write about anything. “Goldy” took a bottle of soda and shook it. He handed it to Otis and said, “Write about this!” Otis came back with a best-selling tune that’s still being played on the radio outlets today.
Ironically, Otis Blackwell never met Elvis Presley. But he wrote a number of songs for Elvis and even recorded demos so Elvis could learn the tune, the beat and the style of each song. (Most people don’t know Elvis couldn’t read music.) One of the more famous Blackwell songs was “Return To Sender,” written for Elvis’ 1962 movie, “Girls, Girls, Girls.” The song is about a letter sent to a former girlfriend who didn’t want to be bothered anymore. So, she wrote on the envelope: “Return to sender, address unknown. No such number, no such zone.”
Otis Blackwell wasn’t the first one to come up with the idea of “Return To Sender.” In Malachi 3:7, God says, “Return to Me, and I will return to you.” When the people responded, “How are we to return?” God said, “ Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’” and God answered, “In tithes and offerings.”
The simple truth is tithing is merely returning a portion of that which has been given to us, to the One Who sent it to us in the first place. In other words, we are merely returning to the Sender: God. James says, “Every good and perfect gift comes from God” (James 1:17). David said, “Everything on the earth belongs to God” (Psalm 24:1). Paul said it is God “Who gives us all things richly to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17). In other words, the Sender of everything we have is God.
Unlike the Otis Blackwell song, “Return To Sender,” you and I and everyone else on the planet know full well where everything comes from. We also know how to return to the Sender.
“You and I and everyone else on the planet know full well where everything comes from.”
So, “Don’t Be Cruel,” acting like you don’t know Who the Sender is, where the Sender is, or what His address is. And don’t get “All Shook Up,” thinking somehow you lose when you give, or that you can’t possibly afford to tithe. Just do what the Bible says and return to God by bringing His tithe into the storehouse (the local church) every week of your life, for the rest of your life (Malachi 3:8-12) and you’ll be blessed so much you won’t have room enough for it.
What happens to those who don’t obey God?
Ever hear the Otis Blackwell song, “Great Balls of Fire?”
© 2016. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.