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The Bible gives a two-sided portrayal of wealth: It is good, but it can seduce us into sin. The solution, according to New Testament scholar Craig L. Blomberg, is to freely share it. In Christians in an Age of Wealth: A Biblical Theology of Stewardship ...

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Matthew Henry

January 29, 2014  7:39pm

Thank you, wonderful challenges. Your two basic points 1) Why aren't Christian's giving more and 2) Is the church spending to much on the wrong things. To your first point, R. G. LeTourneau, founder of LeTourneau University and prolific inventor of earth moving equipment used to say "I shovel out the money, and God shovels it back to me, but God has a bigger shovel.” R.G. gave 90% of his income and lived on 10%. I believe the root of our issue is we really don't understand that none of our "things" including our money is ours. It's all His!! We shouldn't be asking ourselves to give 10%, we must be asking ourselves and reminding each other to give it all, all of it! That thinking leads to right thinking and better questions. How much of God's money do I live on? When I go shopping, I ask, what I'm going to buy today, what does He want me to buy. It reminds me of the parable of the fool, his issue: he saw all the goods and the bigger barns as his, they weren't.

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CHARLES CIARFELLO

December 23, 2013  9:03am

To: JANET HALL Sounds to me like your constantly stepping into mega-type churches in which (sadly) you are constantly seeing the ugly side to that. Yes the church is beautiful, the music is top notch, etc.. but there is always a price to pay for this. The type of people that go there and the message will always be compromising. There may be some that aren't and I only heard of a very few.

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JANET HALL

December 21, 2013  8:33pm

I used to give more than 10 %. My giving is definitely down this year. I attended a local CC. Several things stopped my giving: pastor's wife revealing about the pastor's anger problems in a message about submitting, my calling the church when my son got hit by a car (he was a schoolmate of the pastor's son) and getting no reply and my learning that the pastor had a boat. A different local church whose pastor scrapes by brought in a "missionary" (short term trips) whom they gave some of their missions money to. Looked up his org. on Guidestar, $700K income. Saw on tax collector's website, he owns 3 condos besides his house. Switched to web CC in Ft Laud, since we planned to move there. The pastor owns a $450K house and a $270K condo on the beach. Samaritan's Purse seems to have every member of the Graham family on the payroll (and still request mailing money for shoeboxes). Giving is depressing. I want to feed the poor not support an admin's lifestyle of luxury.

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Adebumiti Bamidele

December 20, 2013  10:21am

He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given Proverbs 19:17. God associates Himself with the poor by taking their plight personally. He promises to repay those who care about the marginalized and show kindness to the poor (read Psalm 41:1-3). To Mention Few: Sheltering a homeless family, Befriending a frightened stranger, Visiting a despondent prisoner, Or Feeding a hungry child is a wise investment. The Lord Himself will repay us_not necessarily with wealth and comfort, but with the honor of reflecting His character by sacrifice we make on behalf of the poor. http://www.kingdom-dynamics.blogspot.com/

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Jeremy LeVan

December 20, 2013  8:03am

PSS - The question is not can I afford to tithe, but can I justify the life-style that consumes 90% of my income? And behind that is the question: Do I love to use God's money to spread justice and mercy and spiritual hope in the world, or do I prefer to keep his money to purchase more and more personal comfort? The question is where is your treasure… because where your treasure is there is your heart.

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Jeremy LeVan

December 20, 2013  8:00am

PS - The best way that I know how to capture the spirit of the New Testament generosity is simply to say: the issue is not, How much must I give?, but How much dare I keep? Not: Shall I tithe? But: How much of the money that I hold in trust for Christ can I take for my private use? The financial issue in the church today is not tithing, but exorbitance of life-style. The question is not can I afford to tithe, but can I justify the life-style that consumes 90% of my income? And behind that is the question: Do I love to use God's money to spread justice and mercy and spiritual hope in the world, or do I prefer to keep his money to purchase m

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Jeremy LeVan

December 20, 2013  7:58am

John Piper said, “To commend tithing as the ideal simply does not capture the New Testament view of discipleship. • (Luke 3:11) "He who has two coats let him share with him who has none. And he who has food let him do likewise" That's 50% not 10%. • (Luke 19:8) Zacchaeus stood and said, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor.” Again 50%. • (Matt. 19:21) Jesus said to the rich young man, "If you would be perfect, go sell what you possess and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; and come follow me." That's 100%. • (Luke 14:33) "So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." Again 100%. • (Luke 9:57) "A man said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head'"

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sandra kerr

December 19, 2013  8:58am

Abraham gave tithes in the book of Genesis and so did Jacob and this was 430 before the law of Moses, so I don’t think the ‘under law’ argument has any credibility. If ye be in Christ then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:29 Giving is a part of worship and God LOVES a cheerful giver which should be motivation enough. However if that doesn’t do it lay up for YOURSELVES treasures in heaven should be added motivation. Anything we give is going into our own heavenly accounts.

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sandra kerr

December 19, 2013  8:43am

Abraham gave tithes which was 430 years before the Mosaic Law. And we know that Jacob tithed - also before the law. I think 10% is the minimum levels as a benchmark for giving as we know in the early church they had everything common which of course is way too radical for most Christians today. So I think using the excuse of it being 'law' to tithe isn't really correct and 'If ye be in Christ then we are Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise.' Gal 3:29 Giving to God is not a burden it is a privilege and is an important part of our worship. If 'God loves a cheerful giver' - I don't know about you but that makes me want to give and be really happy about it! Not to forget the added bonus of I am actually laying up treasures for myself in heaven! Hello? I don't get why a Christian wouldn't give as much as they can into their own treasures as eternity is going to last a lot longer than any time that we spend on earth!

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Richard Magnus

December 19, 2013  7:26am

@ Richard Folland. Actually, Richard, the Bible talks about the church being a community that takes care of its own needy. It never says we're just to give everything away and hope that God will miraculously provide for us - in fact, the Bible even condemns statements not too different from the one you just made. (See James, where it talks about taking care of brothers in need and not simply offering to pray for them.) As we're fond of saying, "We're God's hands." If we aren't God's hands to each other, than to whom? It's sad that today's pastors seem adamant in refusing to accept the mission God has for them - shepherding the followers of Christ through economic collapse and societal dissolution. We want to pretend it's still 1970 and our biggest struggle is coming to grips with our post-WW2 prosperity...

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Richard Folland

December 18, 2013  8:19pm

Sorry RM, but I'm wondering if in your comments you are revealing again our Western Evangelical upper-middle class pre-occupation with safety and security that comes from wealth and prosperity. We seek to find our security in our savings not our Saviour.

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CHRISTY VOELKEL

December 18, 2013  6:28pm

yes. yes. yes. Amen.

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Steve Skeete

December 18, 2013  5:16pm

The 'scary truth about Christian giving' is that when you add the number of those who give very little to those who give nothing at all the figure is scandalous. Among those who do give regularly sacrifice and 'cheerfullness' seems to be lacking. I agree with Mr. Magnus that too much money is spent by Churches on building and maintaing elaborate structures. He is true, in my opinion when he says that there are too many persons being paid to do what could conceivably be done voluntarily. For example, rather than having a 'pastor' or 'minister' for every function - youth, elderly, music, outreach, missions etc., more responsibility could be given to mature members of the assembly. I also believe that more of the Church resources should go towards supporting the faithful needy of the assembly.

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J G

December 18, 2013  3:27pm

Well said, RM. But I have little hope that the American evangelical church will heed this advice: far too many of them will see in your wisdom the thin wedge of socialism (eek!), and/or are in thrall to the ungodly philosophy of Ayn Rand. Basically, too many are indeed serving Mammon, and not the God they profess to follow.

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Wendy Holladay Moore

December 18, 2013  1:54pm

Thanks for the thoughts in the article. If I am giving out of my surplus, am I really sacrificing?

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Red Well

December 18, 2013  1:38pm

I tend to agree with Richard Magnus: Unless the church is also helping build an independent social safety net, not unlike some Jewish communities in the US, those between wealth and poverty have little to spare. I suppose we could all live "by faith," but who then would be generating excess wealth to give away?

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Richard Magnus

December 18, 2013  11:54am

I go to a church that has hedge fund managers, lawyers, doctors, and corporate executives, many of whom give more than most people make. But the reality is that my church is the exception. Most Christians - like most Americans - have no "surplus wealth" because we've been abandoned to a 401K system that requires us to save every spare penny for retirement (and many are unemployed or make low wages). Even then, most of us will come up short, unless we make $120,000 or more per year and save 30-40% of our income in good investments. As long as the church refuses to come to grips with the fact that the middle class is dead and that we must unite to survive, the church will flounder. It is time for the American church to become a society that supports its own members, where giving is for each other - and not for larger steeples and foreign missions that are long-overdue to support themselves in their own countries.

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