New Book Release – Money and the Church: A Better Way to Live and Give

Dear friends and family,

We’re happy to announce the release of our latest book: Money and the Church: A Better Way to Live and Give!

MoneyandtheChurch-BookCoverSmall

A two minute introductory video can be found here

For a limited time these are available at an introductory sale price of up to 40% off of retail! SOFT COVER , PDF , KINDLE and E-Pub 

What some are saying:

  • The time has come for mature believers to embrace the Way of the Kingdom, and release antiquated concepts regarding finances that have kept them bound to a worldly system . . .  a seminal work. – BW
  • This is a magnificent book, I wish I had read it twenty years ago. It would have helped me see my way through the numerous twists and turns with greater clarity and discernment. Now that I have read it I cannot commend it too highly. It is a sober and prudent book. – JA
  • A no-punches-pulled book that addresses core issues concerning money . . . challenging and inspiring. – AA
  • If I could give every believer two books they would be: The Misunderstood God, by Darin Hufford, and this one by Steve Crosby. – LR

AFFILIATE OPPORTUNITY

  1. If you would like to help us distribute our materials, you can, and make some money yourself! By becoming an affiliate you will be able to obtain our materials discounted by up to 50%. You can then sell to friends and family for as close to retail as you might like and keep the profit, or you can give them away as an offering/seed!
  2. There is NO inventory for you to carry. You can purchase on demand!  It’s as simple as letting us know that you would like to be an affiliate, provide us your email, name, and address, and you will be automatically discounted at checkout for anything you buy . . . lifetime!
  3. It’s that easy. Let me know if you’re interested – stephcros9@aol.com

Due to the high cost of international shipping, we regret that for soft and hard cover books, DVD’s, CD’s and other “hard” materials, that this offer is good ONLY for friends in the USA. We recommend our international friends obtain an electronic version of any materials.

A Challenge for “Organic Church” Believers and their Money

Woman Signing a CheckThe twitching and knee-jerk reactions I get from many (not all) “organic church” believers when the topic of money comes up, reminds me of what the Holy Spirit said to Saul of Tarsus: “It’s hard for you to kick against the pricks.”

The topic of money and finance has been severely abused in the past, and continues to be, in Christian media and many church environments. This abusive “static interference” makes it hard for believers to “hear” God’s genuine frequency on this subject. What is heard stirs up echoes of a painful history and a reactionary protective (understandable) posture: “I’m not going ‘there’ again.” If our pain and desire to protect ourselves ends up desensitizing our hearts, we will be in a bad place. The Holy Spirit in us has to be, and is, greater than the pain of our past.

Many believers in non-institutional environments who experienced financial manipulation and coercion in the past have reacted and settled into a very unhealthy place. My good friend, Stephen W. Hill, says it like this: “For many, the freedom from the selfishness of tithing (giving to get, or to avoid a curse) has been replaced by the selfishness of not giving at all.” Well said. That’s the problem.

Historical abuse is being used as an excuse to deflect any scrutiny or criticism by others of personal financial giving habits and disciplines. In some circles we have gotten so reactionary that the mere thought of any personal discipline, in ANY area,  is considered “performance,” legalism, and religion. Only the insecure with unhealed identities would think so. It is not about “performing to standard.” It is about being alive or dead. A good tree does bear good fruit: regularly, predictably, in season, and on cycle.

If our alleged Christian liberty and understanding of grace results in the decrease of the life of Christ and personal disciplines, it is neither grace nor freedom, but self-deception. Our freedom is not to be used for self-indulgence, but to serve one another in love.

The accurate reflection of our Father in time in space is the definition of being “Spirit-led. Our Father is a giver and to proclaim one’s self to be Spirit-led, free, and spiritually mature, and to be tight with our time, talent, and treasure (money) is not only oxymoronic, it is high-level delusion. (I have written elsewhere in this blog on the joy of Spirit-led giving: Why I Quit Tithing: http://wp.me/pPFqI-Hk 

We do not need any special “leading of the Spirit” to obey simple scriptural mandates. The Spirit has already led us, through the scripture! Now, we can seek the Lord for details (how much, to whom, or what entity), but the fact of the mandate to give financially and regularly, is not something we need to “seek the Lord” about. We just need to do it! (1 Cor. 16:2, etc.). I am not telling anyone what to give, or where to give. Seek the Lord for that, and be generous like your Father. But giving itself, and the disciplined regularity of it, are scriptural non-negotiables. Just do it.

I do not believe that our structures, meetings, meeting mechanics, what does or doesn’t happen in meetings, how they are conducted–open, closed, participatory, passive, “teaching vs. sharing,” “leading vs. facilitating,” etc., –have any bearing at all on how spiritual, mature, or “revelated” we might be. They’re all irrelevant to me. I’m more concerned about the cold love in my shriveled heart, than the spatial geography of my body during a meeting. There’s a better measure of the temperature of our love than futile OC/IC debates. That measure is our wallet. Closed wallets=shriveled hearts, regardless of how we do meetings. God looks on the heart, not our meeting mechanics.

Many try to rationalize their lack of financial generosity by saying: “Well, there are more ways to give than with just our money, and after all, Paul said that if I give all my money to the poor and have not love, I am a tinkling cymbal. It is true that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Indeed, love’s bandwidth includes much more than financial giving. But it does include financial giving! Giving includes the totality of our being! It includes all three dimensions of our life–time, talent, and treasure (money)—it’s not a take your pick buffet! God bought all of us, owns all of us, and has the right to distribute all of us, including our money.

So, Paul is right, but so is James. What is the essence of true religion? Winning Facebook debates about the deficiencies of the institutional church? Hanging around in eternal do-nothing holy-huddles in living rooms, swimming in our own sense of superiority because we’re in a living room instead of a sanctuary? Hardly. Seems to me that a cold, indifferent heart in either place is not a good thing.

My dear friend, Michael Rose,  says it in beautiful simplicity: love has feet.

Let’s try a simple experiment, a self-reflective reality check to see if your love has any practical feet. Fill in the blank after each of the following regarding your giving of time, talent, and treasure (money), but particularly treasure, to what follows:

  1. Widows __________
  2. The Poor __________
  3. The brotherhood in need _____________
  4. Expansion of the gospel _____________
  5. Other general opportunities for charity _______________

(Going to meetings/gatherings with your friends does not count as giving of your time! That is what you enjoy. I am talking about practical expressions to others that have no derivative benefit to you.)

How did you do? If you are a westerner and have enough money for a computer, and are reading this, you are able to regularly give financially to some, if not all of these. If you are not regularly financially giving, you’re self-justifying behind the “not all giving involves money” argument.

  • Most westerners could do a garage sale of their “stuff” and feed a poor family for a month or more.
  • Most of us could drink water instead of wine, soda, or fruit juice at our meals and times when we eat out (let alone other alcoholic beverages at $6.00+ a pop) and easily fund $50-$60 a month to one of the above.
  • Budgeting $2.00 a day–the price of a cheap hamburger or small bag of potato chips–would enable you to give $50-60 a month to something . . . can’t? OK, cut it back to $1.00 a day. Are you really saying that you can’t find $1.00 a day to give on a regular, disciplined basis to something that really matters? How about 50 cents a day?
  • Do you have any idea of what a $5.00 or $10.00 offering done regularly can do for the poor or someone in the third world?
  • You used to “tithe” faithfully to the institution based on self-centered manipulation and guilt, and now that you are out in “freedom,” you are giving what to whom? Nothing? Little? That’s not freedom. That’s just a different form of religious bondage.

The –“there are more ways to give than just money” or, “you might be giving in the flesh” etc.,–arguments are all bogus sophistry.  It’s not that you can’t give financially. You won’t. Your love, personal discipline, concern for others, or creative thought  (or all four) are so meager, that you won’t.

Closed wallet=shriveled heart, in need of a refreshing touch from Jesus. If Jesus touches my heart, and my wallet, and touches others there also, everything else will be just fine, without the distracting hyperventilating on other things. I think “how we do meetings obsessiveness” is a giant distraction from the essence of “true religion.” So, maybe you’re “right” about “how to do church.” Big deal. What are you doing for others? Does your love have any feet? And are your feet connected to your wallet?

I pray you and I will have a heart-touch instead of making self-justifying arguments about why we may not be giving financially.

Love is not a noun, a sentiment, an opinion about ourselves. Love is a verb and that verb has feet. Yes, our use of treasure does reveal our hearts. Our wallets are lighted highways that lead directly to our heart.

_________________

Copyright 2013,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephrcrosby@gmail.com.

This ministry is sustained by the freewill offerings of those who partner with us and believe in the message of a radical grace in a new covenant understanding. If this article has been a blessing to you, would you prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible contribution through our Paypal button to help? Thank you and God bless  you.

Why I Quit Tithing

U.S. Coins and Paper MoneyNothing like talking about money to stir passions. I was a faithful tither to various institutions for over thirty years. I quit in 2005, and contrary to all the dire threats from mandatory-tithe-preachers, I have not been cursed by God. Rather, I have been blessed in every way.

If there was ever an issue that stacking up proof texts for or against is ineffective in persuading someone of the opposite persuasion, this is it. So, I am not going to do that. I would like to go beyond a proof-text shouting match. Besides, anything “theological” to be said on the subject, has already been said by others–pro and con. Resources are readily available. Tithe if you want to. There’s no sin in it. But lay off the sweeping pronouncements against others who don’t, and don’t think you are increasing your righteousness or favored status with God because you tithe. That’s an insult to the work of Christ.

And yet, like Paul, I think there is a better way . . . the way of love.

For me, any issue in the kingdom, that is not animated by love, relationship, and family, is suspect. My problem with tithing is relational. I can’t relate to a thing, an entity. I can “belong” to a thing or entity, but I can’t relate to one. I can only relate to a person or persons. The way I see it, tithing hinders relationship with Father and the brotherhood, and anything that hinders relationship must be discarded.

You see, the way tithing is normally taught, you do not need to relate to God, or engage God relationally at all about your giving. All you need to do is relate to a calculator, because allegedly, as long as I am giving 10.000000000000% I am in the goods with God, and the “windows of heaven will open for me,” but if I give 8.487645345678%, I am going to be cursed by God for disobeying Him. (Never mind that the total Levitical tithe obligation to avoid being cursed by God approached 22-27% of total annual income, not 10% . . . ah, but that is story for another day, but all those folks committed to ten percent as the magic to open the windows of heaven, need to re-read their Bibles. You’re still “disobeying” at ten percent.)

I regret the thirty years I tithed, not because the money was wasted. Nothing offered to God in faith and sincerity, even in our sincerely ignorant faith, is ever wasted. No. What was wasted and missed was the opportunity to relate to my Father in my giving, and relationship is everything.

Not once in those thirty years did I ever pray or engage Him about my giving, because, I was being a good, dutiful, little Christian making sure that the “open door to cursing” was closed and the “windows of heaven were opened” by my faithful obedience to tithe. Thirty years of no relationship. I didn’t have to pray. I was “obeying” therefore, God was going to bless me whether I relationally engaged Him or not. Relationship is everything. The windows of heaven are opened to me in Christ. I live every day under open windows and I don’t need to put my token in the heavenly lotto machine to “get my blessing.”

So sad. I doubt that I am the only one with this experience.

Since I quit tithing, I have not quit giving. Rather, I have discovered the joy of generous, Spirit-directed giving, out of my own need at times, as the overflow of my relationship with my heavenly Father. What a thrill it is to experience being the answer to someone else’s secret prayer. What a thrill to be the practical hands of God reaching out to others with my finances. What a joy to feel the relational knitting of hearts together in a community, in the bonds of love when someone’s need has been met through Spirit-led giving that I am a part of.

In Second Corinthians 9:14, the ASV states that one of the overflow benefits of Spirit-led giving is a “longing for each other.” I must say, that in all my years of tithing to a machine, an institution, an entity, never did I experience a longing for my brother or sister. No, it was all clinical, duty-based, and selfish . . . so I could avoid being cursed. Fear-based preaching about money will never realize God’s kingdom intentions for finance . . . never.

The best thing that ever happened to me in my giving was to quit tithing. Some say that 10% should be the baseline of our giving. I say . . .  put the calculator away . . .  PERIOD! Relate to your Father. Do what He says. He values you and your relationship more than your money. What you do with your money will just be a reflection of your love quotient. In love with Him, in love with the brotherhood, and in love with a world that needs Jesus, should be all the motive we need to be cheerful, generous, disciplined, regular givers of time, talent, and treasure.  How could it be possible if we are extravagant lovers in these three arenas that we would not be givers? Closed wallets always indicate cold hearts. I don’t need a calculator to be a giver. I need a warm heart.

Let’s love extravagantly, including through our finances.

___________

Copyright 2013,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.
 
This ministry is sustained by the freewill offerings of those who partner with us and believe in the message of a radical grace in a new covenant understanding. If this article has been a blessing to you, would you prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible contribution through our Paypal button to help? Thank you and God bless you.

The Economic Responsibility of Agape

Everything that matters in God is relational.

His Triune Being is relational in fundamental nature.[1] The Great Commandment[2] (that fulfills the law and prophets) and the New Commandment,[3] are both relational in essence. When any legitimate biblical topic looses its mooring in relationship, it will inevitably be unhealthy in application, regardless of how well-intentioned the attempts might be. The manifestation of the life of Jesus in us, and the exchange of His life between us, will never be realized through enthusiastic implementation of spiritual mechanics based solely upon revelation and conviction from the Scriptures. Everything is relational.

This applies to the topic of giving, finance, and money. At the present hour, this issue needs relational realignment.

Millions of believers around the world are being set free from the coercion of a mandatory tithe, or the extortion of a “seed-faith” cosmic lottery. However, many seem to be missing the middle road of joyful, disciplined, regular, Spirit-led giving. This causes God’s kingdom advance in and through human vessels, to suffer stagnation and loss.

It is appropriate to resist abusive extremes. However, if in our liberty our giving dries up, we need to reexamine the exercise of our liberty. Spiritual lethargy is not gospel liberty. It is not enough that we reform our thinking, doctrine, and meeting forms. Our giving must also be reformed in this present hour.

Rather than argue proof-texts back and forth for various points of view, I would suggest that the foundation of the conversation needs to shift. We have to look deeper at foundational values. I suggest that the context of our understanding needs to change

FROM:

TO:

organization

relationship

church

purpose

tithe

family

position

need

ministry

heart

authority

love

pastor

service

vision

generosity

God’s family is a relational community characterized by grace and gift exchange between people. It is up to each of us to recognize the relational lines of attraction, the bonds of Holy Spirit-birthed relationships, the “direction” of the flow of Holy Spirit love,[4] and allow finances to flow along those lines based on love, opportunity, and need.

It’s possible to be in a “place” organizationally, geographically, and situationally and have no relational bonds at all, other than the commonality of experiencing a Sunday lecture together. Sharing a pew (or a sofa!) with someone neither establishes, nor proves, any God-ordained relationship. God unites hearts in love, not heads in doctrinal accord.

Some might argue that past practices appear to have been blessed. I believe God’s redemptive grace covers all our fumbling and corrupt past efforts. If it were not so, none of us would have any hope for the present, or the future. His grace always sustains us, not our spiritual rectitude on any topic at a given moment. However, flowing in His redeeming grace does not mean that we should not educate ourselves along the way and abandon or change defective or deficient practices. Excelling in love does not require the entrenchment of ignorance.

Too much of the financial status quo is simply based on fear: fear of the loss of cash flow that sustains salaries, rents, mortgages, and community prestige. Rather than the perpetual maintenance of our own spiritual pleasantries, perhaps the most loving thing God would have us do for our communities is shut down our church or organization, and bring all the human resources to bear in ways that genuinely and directly affect our community for Jesus. That is a legitimate possibility. There is nothing in the Scripture that says that any of our groups or organizations are divinely commissioned to exist for perpetuity. Hardly. His increase in a community may be directly related to our decrease: individually, corporately, and “organizationally.” If I am married to the cultural financial status quo within church systems, such a thing is not even a consideration. “Jesus is Lord,” is more than a creedal confession!

I really doubt that the “revival” we seem to beg God for, will ever happen when all the dogs in the pound are scrapping for the same piece of meat, trying to outdo each other by the consumeristic leveraging of religious desires in a human soul. The love of God does not abide in such exercises driven by cultural definitions of “success.”

There is an Economic Responsibility of Agape—God’s E.R.A. if you will, and it summarizes my “theology of giving.” It is simple:

I love, therefore . . . I give.

If you find yourself removed from more traditional expressions of the faith, and if you formerly were a tither whose regular giving has virtually dropped to zero, I urge you to seek God to resurrect your regular, disciplined, giving along relational lines, as a simple matter of the overflow of a loving heart.

Fat notebooks and shriveled hearts and wallets, are kingdom incompatible.


[1] Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in interpenetrating, covenantal communion, one-ness, and love.

[2] Matthew 22:37-40.

[3] John 13:34.

[4] Rom 5:5 – the love of God is poured out, through our hearts, by the Holy Spirit. We need to recognize His presence, where it is flowing through us, and cause our finances to follow His lead!

Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

Kingdom Economy

The Greek word for the KJV, “household,” is oikonomia. Literally, it means the rule, or law, or order of the family/household: “How the family is run.” It is also exactly the same word from which we derive the English word “economy.”

God’s economy is based on the exchange of love and charis (gifts) in a family of relationships. It is not based upon money. Without functional relationships in which love and charis are exchanged, there is no kingdom economy, nor can there be.

In God’s economy, finances and material resources follow upon the exchange of love and charis.  Gift exchange in the family is the economy of God.  It is possible to have lots of finance and never touch God’s economy because the genuine relational infrastructure of love and gift exchange is absent. Rather, in its place are the mechanics of money and the strong arm of human determination to build something for God, even using “biblical principles of finance.”

The flow of finance is the logical fruit of an economy based on the exchange of love and charis. A lack of finance for legitimate kingdom efforts is not a lack of money. It is the fruit of a lack of love, and a lack of the understanding of the financial responsibilities of “one-anotherness” in a functional relational community. Love expressed has an economic element.

There are those today who think that a more “faithful” approach to the “stewardship” of money and finance, if overseen by “governmental apostles,” is somehow the magic key of the hour to open up untold kingdom opportunities in the present day. God’s economy is much more sublime than the “release of marketplace ministries,” as valuable as that may be. I submit to you that Calvary’s plow must go yet much deeper than that if we are to even approach a semblance of a  “kingdom economy.”

Everything . . . and I mean every practice, belief system, theology, value . . . every precious “conviction,” up to and including our right to be “right” in our views, must be on the table for radical reassessment and reconfiguration to Christ.

If we get the cart of spiritual money mechanics ahead of the horse of loved-based family economy, we will experience the logical end of that order of things: nothing.

Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.