"Find a need and fill it!" -Tommy Barnett, Phoenix First Assembly
When the offering plate comes down your aisle, do you smile or cringe?
According to Christian pollster George Barna, 3 out of 4 Christians cringe. That means 75% of Christians are not financially supporting the next move of God with a glad heart. This is sad, because Christian entrepreneurs and leaders should be on the frontlines, not the sidelines in the accelerating battle for our mind and our money.
For many years I too was an armchair skeptic when it came to giving. I thought like most bottom-line oriented businessman that tithing flew in the face of earthly economic logic. The humanist worldview had been instilled in me from an early age --complete with its economic truisms like; "as sound as a dollar," and "a dollar saved is a dollar earned."
Nevertheless, I began putting the economic principles of the kingdom of God to the test over a decade ago. My wife Melissa and I have been active members of Phoenix First Assembly church since 1986, lead by Pastor Tommy Barnett - a man of great vision. Little did we know that our decision to begin faithfully tithing, both personal income and business income, would mark a major turning point in our Christian and corporate lives.
Over the past decade, through many trials, toils and snares, God has blessed us with the resources to employ hundreds of people and finance the kingdom of God through both the local church and para-church ministries.
I want the same for you -a genuine spiritual and financial breakthrough starting now. I believe many Christians want to become financially faithful to God, but feel squeezed and frustrated by increased costs of living, massive technological changes and conflicting priorities between giving God our very best -- and also giving our family the very best.
"God the Creator has no needs. However, man the creature has needs. And one of man's greatest needs is to be needed. God in His great love for us has met man's needs, including his need to be needed. Thus allowing man to be a necessary contributing party in God's plan of salvation for man." --C.S. Lewis
A major step of economic maturity came when we began practicing kingdom principles of stewardship. After years of building "our kingdom" we realized that everything we own really belongs to God, including our businesses.
This revelation stunned the accountants and staff of our growing investment-coin firm, yet we felt the inner peace of God that comes from "blind" obedience. Yes, obedience to God's Word and blindness to worldly 'wisdom' is necessary to test kingdom economics.
Jesus reveals that the key to enjoying kingdom living on earth is to use our resources wisely. In the parable of the talents (Luke 19:12-26) notice that the amount of talents we are given will vary greatly, but the mandate is the same -- use it or lose it! We are commanded to be good stewards or face the prospect of losing what we think we own.
Stewardship also brings the possibility of loss, an essential part of God's plan to mature His children, just as discipline is vital to preparing our children to discover their destiny. A Christian worldview of stewardship produces prosperity and justice in a family, a city, or in a nation over the long term because a steward is accountable to the Master.
As the earthly stewards of God's kingdom, we are called to be habitual givers. It is in giving out of our own need that we fulfill our deepest human need - to be needed. As Jim Jackson, author of Christianomics aptly states, "Kingdom economics requires EARNING all we can, SAVING all we can, and GIVING all we can."
In fact, the freedom to support Christian organizations is part of our uniquely American heritage. The vision of our Founding Fathers was to birth a new nation of self-governing people living under God's umbrella of truth. According to David Barton of Wallbuilders, 34% of our Founder's quotes were taken directly from Scripture - including those inscribed on our currency.
But over the last several generations, our political and economic worldview has slowly shifted from a Christian worldview of dependence upon God for blessing … to an ungodly dependence upon civil government, technology, and human achievement. Biblical principles of stewardship have been almost entirely erased from the public arena because fewer than one in four Christians are practicing what the Word clearly teaches.
The world is watching the church. But, until Christians grasp the difference between self-centered "ownership" and God-centered "loanership" of material wealth, our nation will remain locked on a trajectory toward economic upheaval, cultural crises, or worse.
Kingdom economics teaches that true wealth is built intergenerationally (from parent, to children, to grandchildren) and rewards patience and good stewardship. We must focus on creating a Biblical model starting in our homes, businesses and churches... not centered in Washington D.C.
LET'S STOP TIPPING GOD
"Prosperity is not the goal, it's a by-product of righteousness in a life." --Dr. Edwin Cole, Christian Men's Network
Are you ready to take the next step of stewardship - faithful tithing on both personal and corporate income? You must be willing to trust God's economic principles, and if so, then I will tell you how I did it. If not, then skip the rest of this article. You will likely remain stuck relying on yourself and will probably always cringe at the offering plate -- trying to find contentment by "tipping" God.
Tipping God is motivated by guilt, yet this is exactly what the majority of Christians do, and then justify it by saying they'll give more if God blesses them first. Yet, for some strange reason, the blessing never comes. Why? Simple, God does not reward our disobedience because He would be violating His Word.
Here is a model for kingdom economics that I believe works at home or in your business. For those brave souls ready to test kingdom economics, I challenge you to tithe on the gross income of all of your assets. Let's say you earn $1,000 per week in personal income plus a gross of $3,000 income per week on your business. Let's say after paying bills you're left with $250 personally and $750 from the business(es).
Next time the offering plate arrives you must decide, "Shall I pay a $100 personal tithe, and $300 business tithe? Or ... tip God with $25 personally and $75 from the business?" This is the real road less traveled. In fact, this is where the earthly rubber meets the kingdom road. Will you hit the gas pedal or put on the financial brakes?
If 100% of our assets belong to God, then we should stop complaining about giving 10%-20%, and start praising God that we have been blessed with 80-90% to live on! The Scriptural question we should ask is, "LORD, how much can I give back to You today?"
See the difference? If you reject the Old Testament model of giving a 10% tithe, then welcome to the New Testament model -- giving everything you possibly can. The good news is that God is ready to begin pouring out a fresh blessing upon you and your business in response to your obedience and sacrifice.
Obedience motivates our payment of the tithe, but sacrifice motivates our giving of offerings. When a man or woman of God becomes obedient to the Holy Spirit in giving, it releases other financial strongholds in our lives that stunt our growth. While Jesus does not need our money, He does yearn for our obedience and is exalted by our sacrifice.
In Mark 12:41-44, it is recorded that Jesus watched as the townspeople gave into the treasury and then He singled out a lowly widow who gave all she had (2 mites) as a role model for kingdom giving. She didn't cringe; she smiled at the offering plate, because she understood kingdom economics meant demonstrating a thankful heart.
We too must learn the lesson that the measure of our giving can directly effect the measure of God's blessing! Some are content with a teaspoon giving, but I want a big shovel! So next time your pastor begins teaching on stewardship, stand up and applaud him. Who knows, in time you may be called to teach others about kingdom economics.
As we stand on the precipice of the new millennium, I see tremendous opportunities everywhere I look - all of which need resources to grow into maturity. Over the years I've noticed that in every single life (and business) there comes a season of sowing, watering, weeding, waiting, harvesting, and pruning. One of our businesses has recently undergone a season of pruning by the Lord to prepare it for the next step of obedience.
In what season are you right now? What about your family, business, and ministry? The ability to discern God's truth is a uniquely human trait that Christians are all called to develop over time. Discernment, like maturity and freedom, brings more responsibility.
I'm convinced that personal and corporate tithers are the backbone of the advancing church in the 21st century. May the men and women of God have the courage to confront our financial strongholds with a new boldness that is born out of a lifestyle of obedience and a repentant heart. May we all learn to model "godliness with contentment" as Paul told Timothy to a generation hoping to be a "Survivor" and "Millionaire."
Our current cyber-generation is brimming with new hopes and dreams, but they must have a foundation of truth built on the Rock to overcome the storms of life. The meteoric rise in popularity of the Internet offers Christians a new window to the world and greater transparency. I see this as a major a breakthrough for truth because it lays every heart open for examination, allowing us to discern more clearly.
The Internet revolution should motivate us to develop an even clearer Christian worldview on as many subjects as possible -starting with economics. Not only for our own edification, but also for the sake of those thirsty Internet seekers - many of whom are called by God to greatness through a relationship with Jesus Christ via your outreach.
As for me and my house? I'm thankful for the moral, spiritual and emotional support of my family, pastor, church and co-laborers. I've been in the place of waiting on the Lord for the first half of the year 2000. The Lord told me to discern what was in my house, rather than running to and fro as the world does. Recently, God has put a fresh fire in my heart to equip the next generation for the many challenges ahead based on the wisdom of Godly counselors.
Beginning June 2000, I've been busy with media interviews about emerging investment opportunities (see http://www.BuyCoin.com) recording a daily "True Wealth" radio feature, (see http://www.True-Wealth.com) and preparing my new national talk-television program "Our Times" (see http://www.OurTimesTV.com) starting Sept 2nd.
God is giving me the opportunity to testify of His faithfulness to an ever-growing audience because I am a living testimony that "Corporate Christianomics" works. I believe he wants to do the same for you.
Some are called to preach the kingdom of God, some are called to teach the kingdom, and others are called to finance the kingdom of God. This is a noble cause indeed, but remember that God's power is guarded by problems, so be prepared for unimaginable blessing and plenty of earthbound obstacles on the road to being a Kingdom financier. Jesus gave it all. We can do no less.