Perspective on Giving


During the first couple of weeks of May we posted a link where people could donate to Sapphire on the web, via credit card.  It generated a lot of tension between me and you.  I have received a wide range of phone calls and e-mails and blog comments criticizing my methodology and telling me how to do it right.

The purpose of this article is to push back quite firmly and to make clear that I am utterly unrepentant for my values and theology.  You are free to keep arguing with me, but please understand that I am not doing what I do because I am clueless about how you feel or unaware of the contemporary methods of fund-raising.  I am quite aware of both and quite deliberate in walking as I do, even though it violates the social contract you have created for me.

If you want to see the full theological underpinning of my belief system, go to the CD album “Perspectives for the Church in the 21st Century” and purchase the CD on Giving.  This is the application of the principles I developed there.

Now that I have done the requisite “full disclosure” making plain that this is not a happy article, let’s look at how the culture and the Book are out of sync.

In the contemporary Christian culture of North America, there is a dominant theme that is communicated broadly, insistently, with the claim that it is Biblical.  Namely, Christians have an economic obligation to God which should be principally fulfilled by giving their funds to an institution, preferably a local church.

I flatly disagree.

One of the dominant verses on giving in the New Testament is James 1:27.  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  NIV

Now you can interpret that three ways.  The narrow meaning is a literal “orphans and widows.”  A broader interpretation is “fatherless and husbandless.”  This would include the children of divorce and the single moms.  A very broad interpretation would be to care for a broad spectrum of the disadvantaged and disenfranchised in the community around you.

Wherever you draw the lines, the average believer is guilty of gross malfeasance because they are not involved with any non-institutional mercy ministries to their own needy neighbor.

Yet, the command in James is absolutely, positively, unequivocally directed to the individual Christian.  We as individual Christians are to have as the cornerstone of our religion a direct, hands-on involvement with the disadvantaged and disenfranchised in our culture.  That is what the Bible commands.  Delegating mercy ministries is not an option.

Why aren’t we doing that?

Very simple.  IT IS MESSY!

I should know.

Several years ago, I worked with a single mom who was about to get evicted in December.  I gave her two months rent to get caught up and she promptly spent one month on rent and the other month’s cash on Christmas presents for her kids.

Oops.

I worked with a pastor who had some serious issues in her church.  She was broke, so I sent her some CDs for free.  She made 1,000 copies for sale (I know because she told me so).  When one of her elders challenged her on it, she kicked him off the board and went on.

Oops.

I hired a guy from the rescue mission in order to help him rebuild his life.  He ended up breaking into our church office and stealing checks from the mail.

Oops.

And my life is full of those kinds of situations.  I have made a huge number of poor investments in people because I was good hearted and thick headed.  I was an easy mark — still am sometimes — and I got used by needy people who I was trying to help.  I ended up enabling them because I was not skilled enough to empower them.

My bad.

This is not just my issue or a reflection of the quality of people I work with.  Anyone who works on the edges of society, rebuilding lives has the same experience.  They face two problems.

Those who work in a homeless shelter, a drug and alcohol rehab center, a crisis pregnancy center, a home for unwed mothers, a half-way home for ex-convicts or any such place find out quickly that the culture creates formidable barriers for those people.

Once they are marginalized, it is tougher than tough for them to get back in the game and some significant infusion of outside resources is almost always required to help them restart their lives.

The life givers will also tell you that as huge as the financial need is outside these people, there is a larger need inside.  They not only need money and opportunity, they need retooling of their inner person.  And it is a major challenge to be financially life giving in a transformational way to people who are highly likely to exploit you along the way.

“Major challenge” is a euphemism for “really hard work.”

And since it is hard, we don’t do it.  The average North American Christian delegates to the church or to a professional ministry their God-given responsibility to be involved with the needy.  We have created a caste of specialist whose job it is to deal with the difficult cases, making the hard choices of who to resource and who not to.  We in turn fund those ministries.

Now there are a lot of really fine “parachurch” ministries out there that do exceptionally effective restoration of the marginalized.  Whether they are secular or religious in nature, they are effective.  And I am in no way devaluing their work.  I am simply saying they exist for the most part because they are filling a vacuum that never should have been there.  Also, their existence and the fine work they do, does not change the original command for us to be personally engaged in mercy ministries.

But why is this not happening in the church when the Word of God is abundantly clear that it should happen there too?   In I Timothy 5 there are detailed instructions about how the churches are to financially support the widows in their midst.

That is Scripture.  Clear. Unequivocal. Unambiguous.

I am sure there must be a few thousand churches in America that do have “Care for Widows” as a line item in the budget, but they are a drop in the bucket compared to the bulk of the churches in America.  The bottom line is that the institutional churches are shrugging off this command with no particular excuse for doing so.

Not only are they not caring for the widows which is the most explicitly articulated command, altogether too many churches have little to do with rebuilding the highly broken people, choosing to focus on the middle class needs instead.

But even if the churches were doing a good job, and you were assured that your donated dollar WAS reaching the broken people, it does not satisfy God’s command for us to individually be involved in helping the needy.

Try to move around to the other side of the table and look at it from God’s point of view.  Why did He not bless the current structure and allow the mass of believers to fund the subset of believers who are doing mercy ministries as a vocation?

Very simply.  He wants US to grow.

We are the primary target, not the needy.  It is in wrestling with the realities of the hurting side of life that we are forced to learn what works and what doesn’t work.  We learn more about the principles of God’s word by getting down in the trenches alongside some wounded person and trying to heal them inside and outside than we learn in a lot of sermons.

It becomes a win/win proposition in the Kingdom as we grow and they grow because there is personal, transformational contact between the haves and the have nots.  I could share pages and pages of stories of how I have messed up, and occasionally gotten it right, and how I am a better Noble Subject for having gotten down in the trenches, with dirt under my fingernails, working with some pretty gritty people.

I love C. T. Studd’s little couplet.

“Some want to live within sound of chapel bell.

I want to run a rescue shop, within a yard of hell.”

Right  on.

I would not have the insights I share today if I remained in my lovely sanctuary, spending all my time in Bible study and meditation.  I learn great things there.  I learn immense things in the gutter.

So we come back to the great delusion.  The institutional church has broadly claimed the lion’s share of your Kingdom money with the promise that you have fulfilled your duty toward God by delegating all ministry to them.  The only problem is that the church too often does not do that kind of messy ministry so it is a patently blatant sham.

And the lay people are happy to buy into the codependent relationship with the church because it is so much easier to fulfill their supposed obligation to God by putting $500 in the offering plate than it is to get in the trenches and do personal ministry.

The only problem is that I don’t think it fulfills their obligation at all.

I don’t see from Scripture that any amount of investment in other ministries — even mercy ministries to orphans and widows — absolves you of the crystal clear command to do your own mercy ministry.

The average middle class North American Christian is lazy.  By disobeying the “hands on” command, they deprive themselves of massive growth opportunities.  And that is a devastating loss to the Kingdom.  Our Marines look awesome parading on the 4th of July in their dress blues, but heaven help us if they had to storm a stronghold.  They are chocolate soldiers to borrow George Bernard Shaw’s line.

Allow me to drill down to one more level of non-reality.  Because churches are broadly in need of money, they not only proclaim a theology of duty, but they own the responsibility to make it extremely easy for you to execute your “duty” by donating.

In addition to putting an offering plate in front of you at every opportunity, there are pre-printed offering envelopes, credit card slips, donations online during the week, and automatic transfer of the tithe by your boss before you get your paycheck, so you don’t have to mess with it at all.

A bank here in California has even devised an attractive little freestanding device for the foyer of the church where you can slip your debit card in, select the amount of your offering and be done in seconds.  So convenient.

That systematic enabling by the institutions has produce a sense of entitlement on the part of believers who feel that they have a moral right to have donating to the agency of their choice be consummately simple.

I disagree.

Let me use a secular illustration.  Micky Arison is the owner of the Miami Heat.  They are looking pretty good in this year’s playoffs and might possibly win it all.  This is a hugely profitable franchise.  Micky is a shrewd businessman who took over from his father and is building wisely, for the long-term.  He is not only winning, but making money.

If I owned stock in that corporation, I would be getting a very good ROI.  However, Micky, so far as I can tell, owns it all.  He has a great profit center, but he is not inviting you or me to be part of the action.

This is right and it is reality.

If a Christian organization is doing a super job, bringing in a great ROI for the Kingdom, that does not necessarily mean you have a right to jump on the bandwagon and share in the eternal payoff from their good work.  They do not owe you a cut of the action, and especially do not owe you a clean, simple, fast way to buy in.

So let’s bring all this theory and theology down to what it looks like on Monday morning at Sapphire Leadership Group. Here are some scenarios and my perspective on them.

#1.     Joe listens to the redemptive gifts, finally understands his teenage daughter’s gift and is able to embrace her design.  Their home is transformed.  He is profoundly grateful and writes a letter to us with the glory story, cuts a check, goes on the web to get the mailing address, gets the letter to the mailman and sends it off.  It is an act of gratitude sufficiently deep that he thought nothing of all the effort it took.

#2.     Sam listens to the same set.  It transforms his marriage.  He is grateful, means to tell me so some day, but never gets there until he sees the donate button and quickly makes a donation with never a comment about the glory story in their lives.

To me, they feel different.  #1 feels like deep gratitude.  #2 feels like a 5% tip at Denny’s.  I very much appreciate people’s gratitude, whether it is expressed verbally or financially.  I feel it is quite appropriate to give back where there has been benefit in your life.  The reason I think that is because it says so in the Bible.  Galatians 6:6

Now here is another pair of scenarios.

#3.     Amanda is deeply involved in people’s lives and she has been for years.  She is transformational and works with both the inner and outer needs that people have.  This is a consistent part of her life.  She walks with great wisdom because she has wrestled with great problems over the last 40 years.

Amanda has found that the tools which she received from SLG have been very helpful as she works with people in her unnamed, freestyle, personal ministry.  She wants to widen and deepen the stream of revelation coming from SLG so she sends a donation to enhance whatever project we are working on.  She feels it will benefit her as well as the rest of the Kingdom if the next new insight arrives sooner rather than later.

#4.     Bob and Vicki have left the institutional church but still feel an obligation to divest themselves of some of their income to fulfill a Kingdom duty.  They hang with a fairly wholesome middle class group of people and pretty much don’t do mercy ministries.  They look at the available groups out there and decide to donate to us because they feel they will get a good ROI in heaven.

To me, these feel different.  Amanda is investing in getting more tools for her transformational work.  This seems very legitimate to me.  Bob and Vicki are dodging their responsibility to do hands on work, and therefore are not growing the way they should.  I wonder what the math looks like in heaven.  Plus ten for donating to SLG.  Minus twenty-five for overtly disobeying the very hard command to engage with the messy part of the world.

Don’t get me wrong.  I do think we are a GREAT investment.  Our overhead is low.  Our systems are highly efficient.  Our products are transformational.  And with the range of products from free things to (soon, I HOPE) an intensive training course, we have the capability of touching a lot of lives around the world.  There is something for people in all sorts of different places in their walk.

But I don’t think donating to us because we are a good investment is the right thing to do.  I really, really don’t.  I think that is too often a smoke screen, a salve to the conscience for some people who are not loving their (bruised and battered) brother.

So where does that leave us — you and me?

First of all, do I have the right to judge you and your motives for giving?  No, individually.  Yes, corporately.

Whatever you donated went into the bank.  I asked God to clean up anything that needed to be cleaned up.  I proclaimed that I was not involved in guilt manipulation of anyone and did not claim that I deserved anything from anyone.  So individually, I accepted every dollar and I will dole it out in my usual parsimonious manner, getting a great ROI for each one.  I do not sit in judgment on any individual purporting to know their motive.

But corporately I am pushing back against the whole mindset that you can buy your way out of responsibility.  During the Civil War, men could pay someone else $600 to represent them in battle so they did not have to leave their farm and go bleed.  I don’t think God accepts a financial substitution for loving your (complicated, hurtful, ungrateful) brother.

And I sure don’t believe for a second I have a moral obligation to make it possible for you to donate in the manner easiest and most convenient for you.

So here is where I am going to meet you.  The donate page is still there.  The donate button is not.  You can use the search feature, bumble around a bit and donate if you feel you should.  Whatever you donate, I will invest in Kingdom ventures, continuing to steward the money carefully.

But consider this picture before you donate.  I personally know some of the largest donors from the last two weeks.  It brings me great pleasure to know that they are in-the-trenches kinds of people who are NOT just buying off God with their donations.  They are like Amanda and this is a beautiful thing.

But what if all of the other donors from the last two weeks who have been brainwashed by the religious culture into delegating personal ministry to institutions like ours, were to cease donating to any cause for a year?

What if they were to take all that money and look for a place in their own community where they could invest the dollars and some high risk face time in restorative (not enabling) personal ministry?  Suppose they specifically crafted this personal ministry around their own redemptive gift and calling.

What would happen in the Kingdom if that money were diverted away from SLG?

First of all, it would take a lot of time for them to do due diligence and find a need that matches their skill set and calling, and that allows them to be transformational, not just palliative.

Second, it would take a lot of effort to synchronize to the world of the wounded, before they could be drawn into the walk God has made them for.

Third, unless they are a whole lot better on the start-up than most of us are, they will probably bumble around at first.  In fact, they may totally fail to bring about any transformation in their first year.

But at the end of the year, they would be quite different in their view of themselves, of our God and of their neighbor.   And that is priceless.

Let’s do some math.  Suppose we have 100 people who each have $1,000 they want to invest in the Kingdom.  If they gave it all to SLG, we would have $100K in capital.  We could then do a couple big projects we are not working on now.  That would be great for the Kingdom.

But imagine what an unbelievable treasure it would be for the King, if 100 of you were to invest $1,000 of your money and a whole lot of time and heartache in the community, learning to be transformational with the marginalized.

Do you really think the benefit to the Kingdom from SLG would be greater than the benefit to the King through your growth?

I don’t believe that for a second.

I think it would be very hard work for you to learn to do effective mercy ministry, in your very own key of music, with your neighbors, with money being a secondary tool, and your love and wisdom being the primary tools.

But out of that hard work would come 100 people who are so much bigger, so much more connected to their King, so much more transformational than they were a year ago.

I would joyously forfeit any amount of money you could donate to me, if you would become Biblical Christians and engage in self-funded, non-institutional, hands-on, mercy ministries instead.

I would exult if I were able to give my King the gift of a handful of Noble Subjects who have escaped the trap of the Christian ghetto and are now running a rescue shop within a yard of hell.

Copyright May 2011 by Arthur Burk

From the Quarterdeck, in Anaheim

This entry was posted in Perspectives, The Culture, The Kingdom of God. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Perspective on Giving

  1. Charlotte Neveu says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I cannot thank you enough for your teaching on tithing and giving. I recently listened to two parts of your Perspectives on Giving, specifically Tithing and A New Paradigm.

    I have been a Christian and tither for many years but somewhere down the line I lost my joy in giving. It became a legal issue and a burden. Where did my joy go?? I realized it was stolen little by little by the very narrow view of Malachi 3:10. And even though I read other passages in Leviticus, Deuteronomy, etc., I still couldn’t find my joy. Your teaching put everything back in perspective. My joy is restored and my tithing & giving will have greater impact for the kingdom.

    Just think of it! (And I’m sure you have) If every Christian gave tithes and offerings based on the whole of scripture (and not just Mal. 3:10), we would change the world! Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do!?!

    Again, thank you.
    Charlotte

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  2. Heidi Colquhoun says:

    I’ll tell you why I gave. I think that no ministry, no teacher, no tools have ever effected me more profoundly than your work. You have been at this a long time and the end result is a profound change in my outlook and the way I serve God. I in turn, am passing this information to others and watching them change. So, I gave as much as I could at the moment and will give much more in the future because I frankly can’t put a price on the pricelessness of all you have done in partnership with the Lord my God. I humbly thank you. You can ask any ol’ way you want. I’ll give. It’s been more than worth it, and worth much more than I can say.

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  3. BillB says:

    Arthur,

    For someone with some of the wooliest, wackiest teachings i’ve heard in my life, this post was unexpectedly sane, pertinent and useful.

    Thank you!

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  4. Chris (MN) says:

    I really like your post. I am a missionary and primarily tithe to other missionaries. However, I do give $10/mo to our church as I believe they are feeding me and I want to reinvest into them. Of course I don’t like building costs, but I wonder if Jesus still wants to use “institutional” churches despite those costs to bring people together that otherwise wouldn’t be brought together to learn how to do messy life with each other so we can do it better with the fatherless and husbandless. As we learn how to do messy life together (which I realize not all churches are modeling or encouraging, but I would prefer to err on the side that they are trying to do this), get healed and mobilized, we then start to serve our neighbors the hard way. But I don’t think many can go through that year of learning curve you talk about on their own (or just by reading blogs). And many don’t have the gifts or foresight to gather a team that they could grow with to the point of doing messy life with their (still unmet) neighbors. So I do see a value in “institutional” churches despite the fact that I hate building debt and wish that no church would grow or expand until everything is paid in full AND the building is being used for community events, classes, etc (Christian and non) all week long.

    I’m still processing this post, and of course I agree with the point you are making about doing the hard work of loving the unlovable along with giving to them. I would just rather not tear down Jesus’ bride in “institutional” churches too easily when much of his bride still resides there. I think God is giving many “institutional” churches a new wine skin.

    I’m wondering if the same scenarios you gave for giving to SLG could be used for giving to an “institutional” church as well.

    I’m open for comments and feedback.
    Thanks.

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    • Just a quick comment, Chris. I absolutely believe that the institutional church is part of the plan of God for this season. I don’t believe they need to cease, or people should all leave. I do wish what they did was a little closer to the Biblical model than we sometimes see.

      At the end of the day, my focus is not on the failures in the church. It is over the amazing fact that the King has had a gimpy church for about 2,000 years and still He manages to move His agenda forward in a powerful way.

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  5. Jacq Wallace says:

    Thanks Arthur, I really like your last words of encouragement because I feel like I’m putting in a lot of effort, time and resource to do exactly that and I’m growing immensely and getting in the trenches and it’s totally exciting! I feel bigger and brighter but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the transformational resources and gifts that you and your team bring to the world table.
    Also, I knew I was going to give a gift right from the start because of what you guys have done for me, it’s priceless and immeasurable but God knows and I would’ve given much more had I not invested in an expensive camera. But I’ve been unpacking my spirit for ages on a topic only to find I’m going to need a camera to do what’s in my spirit, so I bought one and a really good one because God wants to take me somewhere! All I can say is Thank you and once again I love reading your honest thoughts in your posts, it’s great!

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  6. Colleen says:

    I think I missed the contribution page altogether as I am mostly a new blog post reader but belive everyone who is in ministry has the right to ask for support from those who are believers. Personally making it convient seems like a good idea to me. I am one who has many fnancial responsiblilities and find giving to the ones who call me directly on the phone get my fastest response. I generally, easily and regularly give to groups who benefit the children both local and non local as a primary focus and I enjoy meeting needs anonimously when moved by the Spirit of God on last personally enjoyable giving is to the local church in the way of the tithe. For anyone to harass you about giving in any way is a reflection on a lack of awareness about how God moves each of us to be conscious and aware of the family of God in Christ Jesus at large. I do encouage good record keeping so as to be responsible to those who support but wether the funds end up focused properly or not, it is given, I would hope to God from the start and God will do the ultimate accounting. Transparancy allows the giver to understand the maturity of the ministry so through prayer and awareness the people are moved to respond. Here’s to the continual blessing of this ministry!

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    • Debbie Goodwin says:

      Ahhh but Colleen, sometimes the King wants to know will we do it even if it is difficult? Will we take time and trouble to do a difficult thing? I believe because the King very much wanted to bless the SLG, (and thus the rest of us who are drooling over what he intends to do with what has been donated), Arthur chose to allow us to have it easy. Our God’s goodness is never ending and always unexpected and oh so delightful.
      Secondly, this isn’t a ministry. It’s a Research and Development business. Do I trust them to use what has been donated wisely. Of course I do. I see a great abundance of the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The kind of fruit that is a result of having gone through the fire and as one writer put it(My favourite book Hind’s Feet on High Places writer Hannah Hurnard) the furnace of much affliction. Whatever they do with what has been given, will be for the glory of our King.
      The things that I have learned through The SLG, have enlarged and changed my concept of God. I am learning and understanding almost more from them than I have from faithful church attendance and Bible reading for 25 years now. I find it somewhat unnerving. My awareness of Spiritual realities and dynamics have grown quite a bit.
      North American churches have gotten quit lazy over the years, if it is easy we’ll do it, heaven help us if it takes effort. What on earth can God do with a mind set like that? I hope he doesn’t choose to wash his hands of us. I hope and pray he will choose mercy.

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  7. Joyful says:

    Used your post as a launching pad for a “home inventory” between myself and husband tonight. Good food for thought for both of us as we reviewed our past giving, the motives and the fruit from the various kinds of ways we have given. Very helpful! Thank you.

    The only “issue” I have with the material coming out of your think tank is the speed at which you are producing it … at the current pace and my current capacity, I won’t be “caught up” in this lifetime!

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  8. Erica says:

    Arthur I keep thinking that you would enjoy another fellow prophets perspective on these types of issues. Dan Allender who is, well many things, but has pioneered work in sexual abuse recovery in the Christian community as a psychologist, teacher and seminary president. There are some free teachings from a seminar he did on story and working in small groups with people. It’s on I Tunes. The ones I’m thinking of are the CCC Guest Speakers Podcast session 1, 2, and 4. are the most relevant. Of course it’s only my mussing in my brain. It may not be relevant to you at all ; ) or you may just have to select it out as you it’s just not part of your strategizing at the moment. I love your intense intentionality.

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  9. Derick says:

    Another South African! I love the word and am convinced that no one can point any finger. That in itself is i believe unbiblical.but thank you for sharing your biblical perspective and about the heart and love of the Father…it is true i am a witness to it when we clothe others He restores our ruins, Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed. Love

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  10. Kerrie says:

    Hi Arthur,

    Some like to serve the needy.

    I like to sit down and eat with them :).

    Today, I am giving one the royal treatment: lunch and shopping :).

    I always thought so go and some sow…

    I once was told to give where I was being fed. So I gave 1/2 there and 1/2 to the building. I have also been in building where Gd didn’t let me give…

    Isn’t there an alignment principle to about where u give?

    I always leave money to give where Gd shows me..

    I am revamping my giving budget as my hubby has gone back to work and I plan on leaving a sig. Amount to give where I live (lots of mentally challenged) and for my friends on the street as Papa leads…

    Thank you for sharing your perspective…

    You also brought light to a new widow I know…
    Love
    K

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  11. Merry says:

    After more thought several scriptures came to mind. The passages that stand out most are from Isaiah 1. As Father walks with me He needs comfort and love. Two months ago we went to Isaiah 1 together and He shared His pain of having nourished and brought up children but they rebelled. That animals know their owners and where to feed but His children do not consider. He describes His children’s condition. Then He shares his hurt over His people not responding to correction. He shared more of the depth of His children’s condition. Then He speaks about being full of all the form, religion, etc., etc., etc…… And then Father says He will not answer prayers and will hide His eyes. I have spent two months mourning. But two months loving Father. The thing for me here is Father. When we see, hear, and know Jesus we see, hear, and know Father and vice versa. When I see, hear, taste, feel, smell and know Jesus and His cross what do I know of Father? Another passage about depart from me ye worker of iniquity I never knew you comes to mind here. Isaiah 1 ends with Father looking through the cross and calling us to repent, be cleansed and restored. Beautiful! What about Father’ s needs? Jesus’ needs? The Holy Spirit’s needs? What about their hearts? What about what God feels and who God is? My thought is let’s real!

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  12. Jeannie says:

    Some of us attending an institutional church asked the leaders how much was being given to the poor and widows. It was less than 5%. Seeing others asking questions I felt compelled also to confront the leaders. I explained why I was not giving to them, but preferred to give to those before me in need.

    I was told they were to do this for me. The wording went something like this–“why would you get your groceries here and pay for them someplace else”. At the time this was said, I had spent the last few years rarely able to attend a service. My husband and I were ministering to the children of church attendees during services every week. I am not sure what groceries we were getting!!!! After this enlightening talk with the leaders, my husband and I took the children and alleged groceries and ran for the nearest exit!

    After 14 years serving in one church God wanted to shake us up and out. We have never looked back. I am not saying it was all terrible. Much was wonderful. We gave and were given to in huge ways. Still, we were working with a system that had become toxic. The leaders insisted all was well. It was clearly time to go.

    I am thankful for the shaking. We have grown more, eyes open after being set free from being blinded, immobilized and mesmorized. Our children understand God better, are less “religious” no longer entrapped every Sunday while their parents worked like slaves. Thank you for helping us see and move with God better. Learning curve helped majorly by SLG.

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  13. Jeannie says:

    I believe many of those reading to the end of this post are going to finish with new found conviction. Way to go Arthur, thank you. Some of us say we must have “sucker” or as a con would say “mark” written on our forehead. To get back up after being conned and find a better way to give and be transformational is a worthy goal. I am inspired and realigned. I look forward to getting back out and giving it another go –with more intention and wisdom.Thank you.

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  14. Carol O'Brien says:

    WOW! Each and every time I read an article, I continually say, “This man speaks my language”. We have endured years of countless criticism from the traditional church regarding our beliefs and views that are “different” than the garbage they’ve been fed year after year after year from the pulpit. We’ve been told that my husbands debilitating condition is a result of not going to church (when he is physically unable to do so) and that we are under judgement because we don’t tithe to a church. For awhile the Mormons came and helped with chores, we were very grateful to think someone from some walk of religion actually believed we needed arms and legs to walk out real religion, but when I shared your article of “A Dangerous Kind of Math”, we haven’t heard from them since.
    Even as a single woman, I constantly stated, to the many walks of life I am associated with, that I was dismayed we didn’t see ministry to the widows and orphaned (pure and undefiled religion…). For years now I have been praying for the pastors of the USA to lead their congregations in repentance (“IF my people, who are called by my name”) with no visible fruit.
    We’ve walked out our beliefs by reaching out to those from other nations, religions and walks of life. Often we take them to church, for lack of a better place to “plant” them. Our latest ministry is to the Asian Indians flooding the USA. It has been our joy to learn about the culture and to help them acclamate to the USA, primarily the women. Here is a huge mission field coming to us…
    Arthur, never apologize. You are the lighthouse that shines for those of us who have sailed out of the dark water to come ashore and blaze a new trail, following our Awesome God. Thank you. Bless You.

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  15. Tracy says:

    Ouch! A message bringing deep conviction. Thanks, Arthur, for keeping it real and biblical.

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  16. Linda says:

    lol, 0-60 in ten seconds flat!! When you get irked you really get irked 🙂 Sadly many who read this post do not have eyes to see and will continue doing what they’ve always done without so much as a blink. To me your perspective is spot on and biblical. I for one will continue subjecting myself to the messy much needed ministry to those less fortunate and in turn receive abundant wisdom and blessings.
    Thanks, and glad to see you didn’t let anyone steal your joy or passion since we last talked.
    Keep on keeping on!

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  17. Amanda Hambly says:

    With you ALL THE WAY Arthur!!! Five years ago God sovereignly pulled me out of “traditional” church to sit at His Feet and brought you into my life as a mentor, albeit a long-distance one (we are farmers in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa). I am forever grateful to my Father for doing that. Thank you and your tank for persevering and literally “banging on Heaven”s Door” to bring us these pearls of such great price. I am constantly challenged, often uncomfortable but mostly exhilirated by coming to know this Amazing Gracious Extravagant God of ours who Himself desires so much that we walk in the way HE planned for each of us, before the foundation of the world, to reflect His Kingdom. It’s all about Him! Every teaching He brings my way from your stable, I apply zealously and we are bearing fruitfully, productively, overflowingly. The Glory is His Alone. Another thing, God gave you to use the name Amanda…He answered a question (I always have so many) and it is intense! Honestly, He leaves me breathless sometimes…

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  18. Linda Alexander says:

    Love your, “Perspective on Giving.” I can’t tell you how blessed I was to see, ahead of time so I could plan, that I would be able to give in May. I have received more from your teachings and blessings than anywhere else in the past 5 years. Nothing else has compared to or moved me further to possessing my birthright than the things you share that you have learned. Gee and just imagine that much of that has come free to me. How refreshing! Thank you for all you do for us. And thank you for not being sorry that you gave us an opportunity to give back, not just to Sapphire but to those who will be listening, for free, in the future. Many Blessings back at you! Linda

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  19. Lisa says:

    Thank you, Arthur. This is a great reminder of a brilliant message. And a deep and timely encouragement to those of us in the trenches … in deep cover … on the edges … misunderstood … in pain … betwixt two worlds, sometimes feeling better understood by the ‘non-believers/those whom we are called to help’ than believers [aka: the Christian ghetto: rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic while the Father weeps]. Thanks for the slap: encouraging us to get real and get back in the ring [aka: the trenches].

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  20. Joyful says:

    May the truth you write be shouted from the housetop!
    I could not agree more.

    I just finished reading the just-off-the-press book, “The Spirit of Adoption” by Randy & Kelsey Bohlender. The parallels between the truths you presented here and the reality laid out in their book seem to vibrate at the same frequency. A key point of their call to action is that three groups today are fighting for the many children that do not have parents. Two of them are hugely exploitative. They challenge us to step up and take our place on the front lines to battle for a future and a hope for these millions of children so that we may create a spiritual legacy, an unfathomable ROI for our King.

    Could it be finally be the day when the light of God will shine on the nakedness of our broken church institutions so that His bride will awaken and buy of Him what she needs to clothe herself in this hour?
    So be it Lord!

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  21. Merry says:

    Arthur, My immediate response is I would personally be disappointed if you repented. I do have a little of SLG’ s teaching. Since January of this year my daughter and I have most every day checked in for the daily blessing or to pray for land and Balmoral. I heard about Plumbline and Arthur Burk about three years ago. I started praying for you then and will continue to do so. Father’s business takes most of all my time, strength, focus and effort. Thank you very much for all that flows through SLG and you. You have said a lot here. And I hear you.

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  22. Jeanne Regenold says:

    I love your perspective on giving and have since I first heard your CD. I have always felt manipulated and “taken” in churches to the point that I just wanted to stop giving–only I did not earn the money. Thank you a thousand times over for your thoughts, and praise God, there is time for redemption!

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  23. Curt says:

    Thank you for posting this and for your call to Biblical Christianity.

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  24. Holt says:

    After spending 6 years on the mission field in the ’90s, the one thing I came home with was a question: how to help needy, hurting people in a way that REALLY helps them? Once I watched my American leaders spend $20k to rent the city ice hockey stadium for ONE NIGHT to do a crusade –looks great in a newsletter. I begged them to give the local church the $20k for Bibles, because we had a list of 40,000 people in that city who had responded to a Gospel message on TV. The local church would have gone door to door for a year with those resources. Thanks for the pepective on personal responsibility. I only got as far as seeing the corporate answers to “missions” didn’t do the job.

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  25. Darla says:

    Thank you Arthur for this very challenging, raw and honest look at investment & giving!!! When I first listened to the “Perspectives on Giving” track it REALLY shook up my “well developed church sense of giving/tithing etc”. Thanks for that. Father is still working with me on this. Two weeks ago I heard a sermon on giving that really pushed the buttons again and brought up a lot of religious condemnation & guilt. So this article comes at a good time. Does not bring “comfort” at all – and for that I thank you, but it challenges me to look to Father and listen to Him day by day, for where & how to invest (and get rid of the “religious voices” of “thou shalt ….”).
    I also have family & friends who have been displaced & lost homes in a major fire in the last few days. This SO puts “material things” in a bigger perspective.
    Thank you too for the opportunity to invest in SLG and teaching that equips us to be more skilled for Kingdom work.
    Bless you to continue to “push religious boxes” and compel people to really follow what is in God’s Word.

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  26. Jana de Jager says:

    Your point is definitely taken!!

    I could not agree with you more on the fact that Mercy ministry is messy… Have my fair share of stories to tell. I am slowly but surely learning how to empower other.

    Here in SA, we have our election day for local government. Actually a perfect time to REALLY think how we can help our neighbor, however we still struggle to define who our neighbor is.

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    • Amanda Hambly says:

      Aangename kennis Jana…another plumbliner in SA. Yay!!!
      Would like to hear your stories…
      Love
      Amanda Hambly
      KZN

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