Following Christ or Culture? (4)

Welcome back.

Two items today.

1] “Is creating wealth a Christ following value?” With regards to my post of August 16 …

Interestingly, although there were a healthy number of comments and contributions, there were very few real practical applications.

But here’s the rub: Why did no one mention “giving to the local church” as something practical we can do?

What do you think?

2] Why do we buy things we don’t need?

According to an article in Mission Frontiers by Bob Putman, who is citing from “Why People Buy Things They don’t Need,” by Pamela N. Danzinger, we “fork over 30 percent of our income for stuff we don’t need.”

Danzinger lists 14 ways we justify our unnecessary spending. Marketers tap into these 14 “justifiers” and sales skyrocket. So I’m looking around and asking myself: Thirty percent? Why do I buy stuff I don’t need?

What do you think?

Into the Mystic…

Alex McManus


36 responses to “Following Christ or Culture? (4)”

  1. davidt Avatar

    30%? Hmm, let’s see – iPod, Starbucks, vacation expenses, birthday gifts, movies, CD’s, DVD rentals, yeah, that’s about 30%.

  2. Conrad Weber Avatar
    Conrad Weber

    Paul wrote that he had learned to be content in whatever situation he was in….I haven’t.

    Why do I buy stuff I don’t need? Probably because in spite of what I know to be true (that all my money is God’s), I give to my local church and to other causes or people, but I don’t think I really lay it all out there for Him to use however He wants. And for those of us in the West, that often leaves a decent amount left over after food, shelter, etc.

    So I guess I buy stuff I don’t need because I can, and maybe because my movements are directed, more often than I’d like to admit, by the consumerism that comes from culture rather than by Kingdom values. I don’t know that God cares if I buy an iPod…I hope not, ‘cuase I really want one :)…but I don’t think I stop to ask if He has other things in mind…I’m probably scared that He might.

  3. Brent P Avatar
    Brent P

    I’m in LA for a few days. Are you around?

  4. Alex Avatar

    Brent, I’m here. Come over.

  5. Alex Avatar

    I see what you mean, David. Maybe it’s more than 30%.

  6. Alex Avatar


    Too honest. Thanks. It hurts but it helps too. I feel like saying, Run! Get the ipod before it’s too late. Well, I guess I did say it.

  7. James Petticrew Avatar
    James Petticrew

    I met a group of business men earlier this year, who were funding a leadership project in the UK (but they were American) who live on 20% of their income and give away 80%. Yet that 20% still paid for us to stay in would you believe, THE RITZ, in London. At first I was a bit uncomfortable with the cost and opulance but then I thought its not up to me to decide how these men use the 20% of their income when they give away 80%. There is a fine line here. We have to be careful we don’t end up sounding like the disciples who complained that using expensive perfume to anoint Jesus was a waste of money.
    Having said all of that, we are on a pretty limited budget here on this scholarship so we have cut back on a lot of non-essential stuff. And I can’t say I have missed all the bits and pieces I used to buy.
    One of Ann and I’s small rules has never been to buy a new car because we feel to tie up so much money in something when an older model does us just as well is bad stewardship. This has freed up more money for us in terms of Kingdom investing.

  8. Joseph Dworak Avatar

    One of the things my wife and I have tried to do is every few months we go through everything we have and decide to give stuff away, throw stuff away, or keep using it. We have actually downsized in the amount of stuff we have since we have been married. We pride ourselves in keeping our storage space less and less empty. I have a strength that wants me to save everything (Input) so I have to fight that and keep away from saving saving saving.

    One small thing I made a committment to is to make coffee at home (ghast sigh groan) instead of spending $5 at Starbucks or Caribou each day. Basically my coffee spending, and now lack of, allows us to support some friends monthly in Hungary. Yes I do miss my triple – quad cappuchino’s, but not that much. JVD

  9. Conrad Weber Avatar
    Conrad Weber

    As James mentioned, I agree there’s a fine line. A number of years ago, I was having worship team practice and one of the vocalists (retired early from the coporate world) mentioned that he paid someone to do all of their ironing.
    I grew up in a traditional Mennonite culture where you do everything yourself, so my first thought was to judge him for spending money on something he didn’t need and that they could easily do themselves.
    I was wrong to judge even on that information, but then he proceeded to say that for all the years he spent in the business world, his wife would keep his clothes ironed for him. So he decided that when he retired, she was going to be able to retire too. So he paid someone to do the ironing she did all of those years. Ouch.
    On the home front–my wife has felt dissappointment in the fact that her parents never invested in and nurtured the artistic bent she had as a kid. So I surprised her last year for her birthday with an expensive camera setup that we technically couldn’t afford.
    It has been a blast for me to watch that artistic side of her come alive…she has talent and now it’s on our desktop as I type and hanging on our walls…and I get to be a part of. Did we “need” it? I don’t know, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

  10. Krys Avatar

    Interesting observation regarding the lack of comments about giving to the church.

    That one struck me and caused me to think about why it isn’t such an obvious and practical way to give…

    Maybe for a lot of us (as is the case for me) the churches we have been involved with and have given financially to, spent the majority (if not all) of their funds on sustaining the structure and institution of the church itself. It had very little impact on the community and the world itself outside of the walls of the church.

    Often times, I would find myself tuning into other congregations via the web etc… who seemed to be churches that gave sacrificially to work outside of their church ministries and I would literally cry and my heart would deeply yearn to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Ourselves being, us as a family but also us as a church community.

    Although I understand churches need to fund ministries and structures inside the church such as facilities, and children’s ministry, and pastors. What I saw was very little giving to the poor and needy. Very little outreach, very little impact.

    Eric has recently been teaching on God’s justice and my focus, my passion, and my life has changed through the understanding of God’s purposes and aligning of our lives to God’s heart for others.

    I have so far to go in this area, but I hope that whatever our community of faith looks like, that it truly can be seen as a practical way for others to pour themselves out for others….


  11. Joshua Shanklin Avatar

    Great article Alex. It was fun for Elizabeth and I to do the math with the 30% and figure out where it’s going.

    Practically speaking, we have a couple of questions that we go through before we make a purchase. They center around us being honest about the motivation for the purchase. We try to apply it to most things. Sometimes we eat out because we are hungry and we need food, sometimes we eat out because it provides us with some sort of false comfort, those are the trips to the local eateries that we try to eliminate.

    As far as giving to the local church…your comment struck me hard and I realized I have a mistrust of the local church and what they would do with the $. I’ve seldom experienced the local church as a facilitator of funds, a clearinghouse if you will, that strategically distributes the $ to advance the Kingdom, (the whole budget is missions). As justified as I feel the mistrust may be, it is definitely something I want to get past and help others (I think alot of people feel this way, which is why they don’t give to their church). My hope is this trust will come with people experiencing first hand missional community – community with a cause.

  12. Joshua Shanklin Avatar

    Krys, you and I were posting the same thoughts at the same time. Interesting.

  13. Marty Schmidt Avatar
    Marty Schmidt

    your picture of the “get your eyes checked” reminded me of a conversation I had with my doctor a few weeks back. With all the advertising for different medical drugs I asked if he ever gets asked by patients for something that was way out there. He cracked a smile because the day before an 80 year old woman asked if cialis would help her Parkinson’s. Sadly, in a lot of ways I am looking for something that I don’t need.

  14. Paul Brethen Avatar

    The only reason I could think of why I buy things I don’t need is because I want to. It brings me pleasure. It is all about pleasure. I am a pleasure creature. I like to be pleased, to feel good, be comforted, to be excited, to have fun, enjoy life. Is this wrong? God charged me to take dominon of this world. He gave me the compacity to experience these pleasures. So the question is, is my problem my longings or where I go to satisfy them?

    My greatest frustration is that the things I buy never seem to satisfy my hungry heart. They fade as fast as they come. But there is one experience that moves me deep in my soul and fills my cup to the brim and then some, is being with Christ. When I hear his voice my heart is comforted. When I feel his presence I am satisfied. When I receive his word I am excited. Something profound happens that nothing in this world can do, I am changed and my longings are embellished, like a love sick fool all I want is my beloved. Something strange begins to happen. All the things of the world grow dim in comparison to the one I love. All I want is him.

    Yes I am made for pleasure, but I found that He alone can only satisfy my longing heart. I am a pleasure addict. I am intoxicated with the things of his Kingdom. I can’t stop spending all my time and money on him. Even if I want to I can’t stop. I’m hopelessly addicted.

  15. kyle Avatar

    alex, good call on the lack of mention of the local church. i was thinking about this last night. i hear a lot of criticism about the Church or local churches from the Christian community. what i’ve found, though, is that a lot of the criticism comes from those not willing to invest (financially, spiritually, with time/effort). they have left what is often gets labeled the “institutional church,” for some enlightened view of church.

    i think the issue of people not mentioning or giving to local churches is part of a deeper issue. part of it is valid (people hurt by church people, lack of accountability among leaders, mismanagement of $$, etc), but some is just the desire to take the easy road. it’s much easier to criticize from the sidelines and call for change than it is to actually dig in and fight for change. the latter is much more difficult, and i speak from experience.

    i do give to my church, not just financially, but also in prayer, spirit, effort, etc… probably more than i should sometimes. there’s a fine man, of 84 years, in my church body, who will often say, “don’t you trust that God can do more with your 90% than you can do with 100%?”


  16. tony sheng Avatar

    Wow. Your comment about the local church – ouch. And a totally justified ouch.
    Like Joshua, I would agree that there is a high level of mistrust. People don’t see that the church is that strategic.
    In my experience, as I’m trying to build a strategic piece of this idea with students, I see tons of people that have that small perspective on the local church.

  17. Amy Nicholson Avatar

    On Monday I walked through the condemned building of the oldest continually meeting Baptist church in New Orleans. They have such a long history of giving, loving, supporting, and church planting. In a time of great prejudice and segragation, they sponsored most of the “black” churches of the city. In the early 1920’s they bought one of the first radio stations in New Orleans to better reach the world around them to tell the Good News of God and His grace. They were the first church in La to have a Spanish speaking dept that is now a thriving church that has started many other churches. It is the birth place of the seminary that is now one of the largest seminaries in the world.

    When the inner city began to be evacuated by the middle and upper class in the middle of the last century, only a faithful few stayed behind (mostly because they could not leave) to love the poor, weak, and helpless – but they had no one to support their ministry. Today the building is in crumbles. The church now meets in what was the livery stables with the smell of mold and mildew. I have pictures of the sanctuary’s pathetic state on my most recent blog entry. It would cost no less than five million dollars to save this beautiful anti-bellum jewel from the wrecker.

    I read about giving to the local body in that light today. I think of the business people who walked away from that church for the suburbs. There are no other English speaking evangelical churches in that neighborhood. People are moving back in and fixing up the houses, but most people don’t even know the church is open because so many have closed.

    How do we respond to stories like that? We are trying to come up with solutions, but we are the poorest city in America. We’re trying to feet the hungry and give shelter for the homeless – an old building has to come secound to most of us compared to giving home ownership. I would rather the church have a vital ministry in the community than keep the building. But if people had been faithful in support of their local congregation and kept a missional attitude, I feel like this situation would not be an issue.

  18. Mike Harris Avatar

    Hey Alex, great insight. I recently read a statistic (I can’t rememeber where I read it), but it listed the average charitable giving among people who claim to be Christians at around 1% of their income. If you match that against the 30% that we spend for stuff we don’t need–you’re right–there is a big “rub”.

    My wife and I have subscribed to the belief that the 10% tithe is the minimum standard. Giving really begins when we give beyond that. We have found great joy and freedom in this.

    I also believe that giving to the church is really about obedience. I certainly want to know that the money I give is being used appropriately, but I’d rather be obedient and let God judge the rest.

    One day, believers are going to stand before God and give an account for how we obediently stewarded the resources He entrusted to us. I don’t think He’s going to buy the excuse, “well, I didn’t like how the church was spending my money.”

    I could be wrong, but that’s what I believe anyway. Maybe the bigger issue is to find a church that you can get behind, then pour your heart, soul, and wallet into it.

  19. Mike Harris Avatar

    btw– Alex, I need to go over some details with you about your upcoming trip. Would you email me with how to call you? Thanks.

  20. Cliff Avatar

    There is irony plastered all over that book.

    I would say buying that book would fit into the 30% of things I don’t need.

    As far as the local church is concerned. I will consider giving to the local church as practical when the local church becomes something practical to give to.

  21. kyle Avatar

    cliff, when is giving ever practical? or sacrifice practical?

  22. Alex Avatar

    hey guys, excellent discussion. i feel passion here. I have some responses coming but i wanted to know if you’ve seen the cool new feature underneath the “Your comment” text box?

    It says: “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail (click the checkbox above).”

    If you check the box, you’ll be notified when someone comments. For example, if cliff checked the box he would know that kyle responded to his input. [at least, that’s how i’m thinking it works. try it out and let me know what you think.]

  23. Nicolas Nelson Avatar

    Boy, Paul Brethren (8:04am) has me nailed. that’s exactly why I buy what I don’t need, and how I’m trying to wriggle free of the trap. And at least for me, Cliff is right: that book is part of the 30%. I get it, I get it, I don’t need a book to help me get it better.

    “Wealth-creation a Christ-following value?” Yes, it is. One of Erwin’s sermons from 2004 hit me so hard I re-read my notes from it every few days for 4 months. Application for me: don’t settle for an income or an economic impact below my potential. Maximize my wealth creation, not for wealth’s sake, but for the sake of stewardship. So I have started two businesses, one’s doing well. So far only one other person in the world is being financially enriched because of it (my sole employee!), but he confided to me last week that this job has opened doors and opportunities for him that otherwise may never have happened. He went home this summer and saw his old high school/college buddies, and most of them are in dead-end jobs with no prospects, or in his words “just doin’ nothin’.”

    He is not a Christ-follower, but we are praying for him and being the best witnesses we can to him. Odd, but being an employer actually put me in a position where I feel more restricted than if I were his peer: I sense an awful lot of “social power” and I am afraid of manipulating him into spirituality. that’s another issue. But if a lot of us go in for Kingdom-building in the economic realm, we’ll need to deal with it soon.

    “Practical application”: besides the above (don’t just get a job, make a job— or a dozen, or a thousand), this foray into mystic capitalism has shifted my financial thinking, even in my personal finances. When considering a purchase, ask yourself: is this capital, or inventory?

    “Inventory” is dangerous. You need enough to meet short-term needs, but any more than that and it quickly undermines your business. That’s why stores have sales. That’s why my wife and I are ruthlessly decluttering our homes and lives, and resisting buying more stuff, if it’s just going to be “inventory”. Think like a producer, not a consumer, in other words.

    “Capital” on the other hand is strategic. Capital by definition is CREATIVE, i.e. you use it to create wealth, value, get things done. Mystic capitalism includes ministry as part of “wealth” and “value”— valuable to others, valuable to God. Education, for instance, is a capital investment if you put it to use: but a retired person taking basketweaving with no intention of sharing the benefits with others is merely “inventory”. Same with a car: that $200,000 Benz mentioned earlier, is that church elder using the Benz to incarnate himself in a social circle or oikos in order to reach it for Christ (it’s Capital!)? Or just indulging his love of luxury (it’s Inventory!)?

    So I am unabashedly trying to create wealth, out of obedience to the spirit and purpose and word of God. But I am creating it for Kingdom purposes, as much as it lies within me to do so, and in both its creation and its distribution I hope to build the Kingdom of God as best I can.

    Purpose is everything. Our purpose, especially as far as lifestyle is concerned, is to be relevant to the Unimpressed within our sphere of influence, and to be strategically supportive of God’s Kingdom outside our sphere of influence.

    Hope I’m making sense.

  24. Conrad Weber Avatar
    Conrad Weber

    I was remodeling an apartment by myself today so I had lots of time to think about your question, and after thinking and now reading what’s been posted, it leads me to some additional questions for myself–kind of on either side of your initial question.

    1. Why do I default to a presumption that God doesn’t want me to have anything beyond the basic needs? As a father of young kids, I love to sometimes buy them a toy that they don’t “need” but that I know will be tons of fun for them. What ruins it, though, is when they whine because they “wanted a blue one” or some other ungrateful equivalent, or when they’re selfish and don’t share it with friends and siblings. Scripture is clear that our hearts are not to be captured by stuff, but does God sometimes enjoy our enjoyment when our hearts are still His?

    2. Money follows heart, so I buy stuff I don’t need because I want it. Why do I want this stuff so intensely? And if I sense the Spirit telling me to give money away instead of buying another music toy, why do I initially feel that I’m being deprived of something? So the music toy is better than my Creator choosing me to partner with Him for something that won’t be outdated in 6 months? Maybe I don’t always want what He wants as badly as I like to think I do?
    Thanks for the question.

  25. Alex Avatar

    compelling conversation. nick, i feel you…i’ve just started a couple of businesses myself.

    thanks for the bold posture: you believe creating wealth is a Christ following value.

    drive, sweat, risk, ambition, perseverance, self-motivation …i.e responsibility for the gifts and talents we’ve been given are difficult in a culture that trains us to be consumers rather than producers.

    the easier path is to not create wealth, to not produce, to not have any “capital” as you used the term in your comment.

    your distinction between capital and inventory may be why the book referred to in the article or any other book would be unnecessary spending for you and cliff.

    For you it may be inventory, but for others, the purchase of books might be capital. Creative “mavens” seeking to master an area of discussion might have more use for this kind of intellectual capital if they use it for others rather than just for self.

    thanks for the thoughtful input. i’m unabashedly seeking to create capital as well.

  26. stephen Avatar

    great comments here.

    i would like to point the discussion in a bit of a different direction if i might….

    as someone who gets a paycheck from a non-profit organization (i have recently started a new church here in the dallas area and thus my salary comes directly from those who do choose to give to the local church, and my family and i are extremely appreciative by the way) i wonder “how much is too much for me to make” as a paid minister? many of us on this discussion board are in the same boat. do any others feel awkard about this situation? and what rule of thumb, if there is one, should we pursue to maintain creditability with those we are trying to reach? can i strive to make as much capital as i can, or do should i also resort to “side businesses” to make the big money?

  27. Cliff Avatar

    Giving and sacrificing can be very practical.

    I think it has always been this way.

    However, both can be equally impractical.


  28. Mike Harris Avatar

    Cliff- I may not totally understand you, but it seems like you’re approaching giving from a relativistic approach. “If its practical, then I’ll give. If its not practical, then I’ll not give.”
    The problem with that is Jesus defined love by serving, giving, and sacrificing. For the follower of Christ, this is not optional, or something we do if it is practical. We are commanded to love in all circumstances.
    This is why I refer to this as an “obedience” thing. Obedience triggers God’s voice speaking into my life. The more I’m obedient in the basic things, God voice will be clear in many other opportunities.

    If I’m not understanding your thoughts clearly, please expand.

  29. Cliff Avatar


    I don’t think you used the word “relativistic” correctly here.

    I think you may have meant my giving is subjective. And you’re right.

    You mention Jesus embodying and exemplifying serving, giving, and sacrificing. And He did so for practical reasons.

    Jesus didn’t die on the cross just because God told Him too.

    It wasn’t a, “Jesus, don’t ask any questions, just obey” situation.

    Jesus served, gave, and ultimately sacrificed because He was fully aware that His doing so would bring about the rescue of those in captivity.

    And that’s the giving I try to do. What I am trying to articulate is that once the local church is concerned with bringing about the rescue of those in captivity, I will give to it.

    There are local churches who work diligently to bring hope to the afflicted. That’s what Jesus did. He didn’t blindly give of himself. He fully knew the implications and the ramifications of what he did.

    I would say that sums up practical giving.

    There are many people who give with what seems to be your mentality: “Don’t ask questions, just give”… and they have church in a really nice building and their pastor has a really nice care and wears nice clothes, yet they struggle to make it by each week.

    That is ridiculous.

    There are a lot of people who also walk blindly in their faith. I don’t think you would support the idea of people following being Christians without knowing why they are Christians or people who are Chritians because they were born in the south. That’s blind and foolish… you could even say it is impractical.

    “Let each give what he has decided in his heart to give”

    If you want to give without questioning, then do it. That’s your decision.

    But you shouldn’t expect everyone to do so or even feel obligated to do so.

    I don’t see Jesus as one who gave without questioning. He questioned until He bled from His pores. He wrestled with God to discover whether or not His giving would be the best or only solution.

    He concluded that it was.

    Jesus did affirm that it was the Father’s will that mattered above His own, but that didn’t stop Him from questioning.

    I don’t assume that you,Mike would give to a local church if you knew the pastor was gambling the money you gave. But why not? Doesn’t God call you to sacrifice, give, and serve? According to the Sermon on the Mount, doesn’t Jesus even call you to do so when someone takes advantage of you?

    That’s the mentality I try to utilize when I give to anything. What is this money going to pay for? Granted, maybe my pastor (hypothetically speaking) won’t gamble the money away, but will it be used wisely?

    Is my money going to be used to help the hurting and the sick, will it be used to fix someone’s car when they can’t afford to do so and need it to work? Or will it be used to make sure we have cool lighting and sound and my Pastor gets to eat expensive dinners and have new clothes?

    This is the issue of practical v. impractical giving as far as I am concerned and as far as I mean it.


  30. Cliff Avatar

    Sorry for the typos. That’s what I get for not proof-reading.


  31. kyle Avatar

    a couple of things, here. cliff, i understand what you are saying here, even though i’m not in total agreement. i agree wholeheartedly on where the money should be going, which is why i also support other organizations in addition to my local church. but, i don’t think this should exclude my giving to a local church.

    in my mind, the only time my giving would be practical is when i’m getting something in return. like some of the large churches around here that have private schools give discounts on school tuition to members. or if my membership (tithe) gives me access to a recreation facility.

    i’d also say that the case of giving to a local church where you know the pastor is gambling it away (and i’m assuming you are using “gambling” metaphorically) is not a very valid arguement. that would just be plain stupid. it would be stupid for me to give, and it would be stupid for me to allow that to happen to the offerings of my church body.

    in the less extreme case, where the money just isn’t managed to my liking, i have recourse other than to stop giving. i can and probably should attempt to change the mindset of my church, or i can leave and find a church that is more suited to my way of thinking.

    when i give to my local church, i’m giving as unto God. same as when i go down to help a food bank or volunteer to take spend time with some kids from the projects or whatever. i give and i trust that God will do with that money what He would have.

    i know this is long, but one other thing on the tithe. the whole premise is based off of jacobs offering to God, in thanks for protection from his enemies. jacob, as did the israelites in generations to come, offered their gifts to God by way of burnt sacrifice. how practical is that?


  32. Cliff Avatar

    I’m not saying I don’t give to the local church. I do give 10% or more to Mosaic. But Mosaic is also reaching the lost. Mosaic is actively involved in reaching people.

    Not many churches in the West are that way.

    I don’t know what you guys think when I say practical. I’m not looking for tax deductibility or something. I’m speaking of a spiritually practical giving.

    I will never give to an organization unless they are spiritually practical, so to say. I don’t think God would want me to, either.

    If I have the choice (and I do have the choice) I am not going to do my “giving unto God” to a financially irresponsible local church. That’s not “giving unto God”. That’s giving to a group of poor stewards, not God.

    Giving unto God is practical. God’s blessing on people is practical. God blesses so that we can be a blessing. He doesn’t just hand out blessing like candy on Halloween. He gives so that we can give and vice versa.

    I give to the local church so that the naked will be clothed, the hungry will be fed, the thirsty will have a drink, those in captivity will have a visitor, etc.

    Jesus said that when I do such things I am doing “unto him”.

    God commanded a specific type of farming from his people in the Old Testament not so they would just be obedient but rather so the poor could eat.

    It is all practical as far as I can tell.

    We can easily say, I will just give and have faith that God will take care of what I give. That’s not an issue of practicality, that’s an issue of irresponsibility. And few people operate that way.

    That’s being a bad steward of the gifts God has given. God has given you and me responsibility and if we lived our lives in the way you said we should give, I would be very afraid for the local church.

    People would not wear seatbelts and just say,
    “Well, when God wants me to go, I’ll go”

    I could drive fast on the freeway and say the same thing.

    I would never have to exercise and just argue that God will use the few steps I take today in the right ways.

    I don’t need to critically choose a spouse. I should just give my heart away to some woman and trust that God will make our marriage work.

    I don’t need to teach my kids common sense; I just need to trust that if I have kids God will lead them in the right ways.

    All of those things sound ridiculous. They do so because it is impractical to live that way. It is impractical to invest in a stock that is plummeting. It is ridiculous to invest in horse-drawn carriages.

    But why don’t you do that?

    Why do we seek practicality with our money in our “normal lives”? Why do we want the bang for our buck when shopping? Why do we not want to waste money on things we don’t need? Why do we watch closely our spending habits?

    Why do we strive to be good stewards of our finances everywhere but in Church? Why do we seek to be practical in our spending everywhere but in the local church?

    That’s foolish.

    I think it is holy smoke-screens when we say, “Oh, just give man and God will take care of the details” especially when we don’t live that way any other day but Sunday and with anything but our tithe.

    Does God only want our tithe? Is that what God cares about?

    I think God wants all of our finances. I think He wants all of us. So we must apply the same practices to our regular spending and living that we do with our church spending and living.

    It is about being a living sacrifice, not just one on Sunday and only to the local church.

    If you won’t be practical on Sunday, don’t ever be practical. That’s a double-standard.

    If you seek to be practical on Sunday, be practical always, otherwise it is a double-standard and inconsistent faith.

    It isn’t a matter of my tithe; it is a matter of all of my finances. It isn’t a matter of how I treat or act with the local church; it is a matter of how I treat all people and how I act all the time.


  33. Mike Harris Avatar

    Hey Cliff, man, I really appreciate you hanging in here and working to clarify your thoughts on “practical giving”. I admit I’ve never heard giving explained that way before. After reading through all this again, I think we probably agree on more things than may appear.

    I think I was concerned at first that you weren’t giving to a local church because you didn’t think there were any churches that met your criteria. It felt like sort of a blanket statement. (Cliff writes: “As far as the local church is concerned. I will consider giving to the local church as practical when the local church becomes something practical to give to.”) I’m glad to hear that you are tithing to Mosaic. That, in and of itself, says a lot right there.

    Our postmodern culture is steeped in a moral relativistic way of thinking about truth. (i.e. truth is relative, or subjective, to how i feel about it) At first, I think the way I was reading your post, it appeared to lend itself to this type of thinking.

    I would only add that Scriptural obedience is not about blindly following without every engaging your brain, asking questions, or holding people accountable. Scriptural obedience is about submitting to God’s authority, and the authority structures he places over you. In all of Jesus’ compassion for the lost, in the end it was his obedience and submissiveness to the Father that compelled him to go to the cross. Philippians 2:8, “…he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!”

    Certainly, there are people and churches out there that preach a “don’t ask, just fall in line” kind of blind following. This is not obedience, but rather just plain ol’ stupidity IMHO.

  34. kyle Avatar

    cliff, i understand what you are saying, though i guess i’m unclear on how far-reaching the statements are.

    it’s like this: i did say that when i give i trust that God will do with it as He pleases. that does not mean that i will give to organizations, including the local church, if they are mismanaging money. but, that doesn’t mean i’ll quit giving to a local church… it just means i’ll probably have a new one. although, i might first make a public call for change! mike was right on in his call for holding people accountable. if i just quit giving, yet remain, i have, by omission, failed my church.

    there are times, though, that i may not agree wholeheartedly with the allocation of the money given. does this mean that i stop giving? where’s the line between mismanagement and my management?

    you are right in saying that God wants us to be sacrificial with all that we have (please do not read that we must be poor). actually, i’m not sure that i disagree with anything you said at surface level and maybe i’m just reading too much into it (please tell me if i am)…

    but, some of your arguement gives the impression of a defeatest attitude toward the Church. i see this a lot in our peers, where the idea is that the Church or churches are too far gone to change. instead of calling and promoting change within the Christian faith, they quit… either by totally dropping out or just checking out. i think there is a “cut your losses” point where you find a new church, but just quitting, or silently checking out just drives me crazy.

    again, i may be reading way too much into this… may even be projecting my frustrations of others into this, but i think this is what caused me to “bow up”. and i’ll apologize in advance if this is the case.


  35. Tony Myles Avatar

    Dave Ramsey’s stuff is huge into this whole idea of getting to a point where you can be wealthy for the sake of others and the church.

    If you’re going to be wealthy, I think that’s the best way to do it.

  36. Alex Avatar

    Thanks for the input, Tony.

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