Treat the guest as God; the guest's heart is more sensitive than the most sensitive flower. If we generously give to others, we will attract more wealth in this and future lives. Siva's followers serve holy men, honor elders, help each others families and grow together in Godliness. Giving to a temple builds punyam; you are helping the temple help humanity. "Charities merit cannot be measured by gifts given, it is measured by measuring the receiver's merit."
We need to perfect Ishvarapujana, personal worship, before we can expect to do really well in meditation. "The idea of Ishvarapujana, worship, is to always be living with God, living in Siva in God's house..." Learn the spirit of the puja, learn the spirit of devotion, get deeply into worship in the home. During puja, we're giving prana and devotional energy to the Deity; we receive blessings in return. God isn't living in your house, it's God's house and you are living in it.
The three stripes of vibhuti across the forehead signify trying to purify ourselves from the influence of anava, karma and maya. There are two ways we're attached to the world, that which gives us pleasure and pain. We're slowly changing our karma over a period of many lifetimes through wise action in the present. With humble action we work on lessening the ego-sense rather than enhancing it.