Category Archives: The Christian Life

Why We Didn’t Take Offerings


some churches don't take offerings or tithes

The Church Up The Street handled finances differently than most congregations: We didn’t take offerings or have a church bank account. We could legitimately say we didn’t want people’s money. We got asked a lot why and how we could operate this way. Here are several answers:

First, we believed the Gospel would be more effectively communicated to the lost if we took away the constant complaint of non-Christians: “They just want my money!” We didn’t, and our philosophy about that gave proof.

Secondly, we wanted to free people to use the money they would normally give their church to minister to others. If their neighbor or co-worker was in financial need, we wanted them to be able to give to meet that need, in the name of Jesus.

We also wanted to free people to tangibly meet the needs of fellow disciples who were in need. Jesus commanded us to love one another, and this view of giving helped us do it. We encouraged everyone who was a part of The Church Up The Street to open a special checking account. We called them “Kingdom Accounts”, and each person could regularly set aside whatever amount God put on their hearts and give as they were led.

Let’s face it, many people are torn between giving to their local congregations and giving to others in need. Often we can’t do both. We’re forced to choose between one or the other. By telling people we didn’t want their money, they were free to give to whatever need God put on their heart: a fellow Christian, a neighbor or family member, or any worthy ministry.

How could we possibly do this? It was simple. Think about how much money is spent on church meeting facilities, overhead expenses and salaries. The amount is staggering. We eliminated these, and that’s why we didn’t need to take offerings. We met in places that were already paid for: Business and homes. Our leaders volunteered because they had other sources of income.

This is impossible for the church building kind of churches. The good news is, any house church can do it! It works!

What do you think would happen if more churches found a way to approach finances like this? Would you support it? Would you be against it? Do you think it could work?

What Does God Want?


What does God Want from Me?

Does He want you to believe the right things or live the right way? Does He want you to hold the “correct” teaching about Him? Or is He more concerned with who you become?

Let me put it to you another way. What do you think pleases God MOST about your life?


Is it when you’re diving into the deep end of the pool to study Him in all his glorious ways? When you’re learning more about Him? Or is it when you love your neighbors as you love yourself? When by faith and through choices you’re transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus?

What matters MOST to HIM: That you amass more information about Him, or that you become more like Him?

Sorry, you can’t have it both ways

The easy answer is to say it’s both. He does care about both. They both matter. But for the purpose of this discussion, I’m asking you to think about which takes priority and take a side. What do you think God wants to be the priority in your life and his church? More Knowledge of him or more transformation? I’m NOT asking us to discuss this in relation to soteriology.

Job, the man God brags about

Consider Job. Man, did he ever impress God. He even brags about him to Satan. The Lord may be holding Job up as the most eminent among all living humans. What was it that grabbed God’s attention? What turned his head and caused him to consider Job?

It wasn’t his systematic theology. It certainly wasn’t his understanding of the sovereignty of God or the problem of evil. Not if you asked his friends. According to them, Job was a theological newb, a borderline heretic! They’re the ones who understood the deep things of God. Not Job. But God wasn’t impressed with them. He was impressed by Job’s blameless and upright life.


We don’t have to guess about this. God tells us in His own words:

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

We don’t know how much Job knew about the God of the universe. But we do know that he knew enough to radically alter the way he lived. THAT’S what impressed God. I think that’s what always impresses him.

What did Jesus believe?

When they asked Jesus to sum up the Old Testament law into one command, he gave two. They both deal with how we live: Love God and love your neighbor. God wants each of us to have Him as King and then to treat every person around us the way our King commands. Both of those broad categories have behavior as the key component. The Epistles and the early church fathers all say the same thing. God wants us to live a certain way.

Go Deeper

American Christianity has become more concerned with understanding the ways of God than living by them. And it’s decimating the church. We’ve mistakenly believed that God’s goal is that we have more information about Him. But is that what He wants? Is that the object of the Christian life? Does God want us to have more and more information about who He is? Simply for the sake of having our theology wrapped up in a nice box and stored on our bookshelves? Or does he want us to become like Jesus?

Ask your Neighbor

I heard a missionary tell a story about a primitive culture they were working in. When a new convert came to Christ, they’d teach them to love their neighbor. They taught them what it meant and how it looked and how they should do it. Then then they sent them out to do it.

In a week or two, the people of the church would ask the unbelieving neighbor how the new convert was doing. “Is he treating you like you want to be treated?” If the answer was “NO!” then they would go over the lesson again and send him back out to live his faith. When he finally got it right, they would move on to the next thing.

How’s that for a discipleship course?

Don’t misunderstand me. I LOVE theology! It’s so much easier to study about God and the Christian faith than it is to put it into practice. Isn’t it? But imagine a world where Christians live out what they already know about God. There would be a lot more Mother Teresa’s than theologians.


That’s my take. Now it’s your turn. What do you think is most important to God, how we live or what we believe? Why do you see it that way?

If you liked this post, you should check out this one: Does God Care about Our Theology?

What Does God Want From the Human Race?


What does God wantWhat Does God Want From the Human Race?

Does He want us to believe the right things or act the right way?  Is His primary concern that we believe the right doctrine or that we behave the way he created us to behave?  Does He want us to hold to and defend until death the “correct” teaching about Him?    Or is God more concerned with how we choose to live our lives?

Think about it before you gather up the kindling to burn me alive for the heretic that you think I am.

Mother Teresa or John Calvin?

Does it please God more when we give ourselves to study every facet of his character, diving into the deep end of the pool to contemplate God in all his ways or when we devote our lives to living according to those ways?  Put another way, do you think that God was more pleased with John Calvin Read the rest of this entry

So You Want To Change the World…. Start Here!


Life's biggest problems

What is Wrong with the Church? It’s You, You’re What’s Wrong!


lucy surpriseThat’s right!  I said it, and for God’s sake SOMEONE had to tell you!  You still don’t get it, do you?  Your theology is warped, your view of worship is flawed, you are too worldly, you never share the gospel, you don’t give enough and you certainly don’t serve enough.  I could go on and on and on with your failures to live up to the standards of Christ as I see them.  What is wrong with Christianity you ask?  It is you, you are the problem.

I feel a LOT better now, thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

I want to say that on one hand, I am not being serious.  But on the other hand, there is some truth to what I am saying.  Let me explain… Read the rest of this entry

The Early Church Teaches Us…How To Pray! Instructions on the Lord’s Prayer from the 300’s


not for itching ears It's Old but it still goodIt’s old….But it is still GOOD!

Quite good as a matter of fact.

Recently I read through perhaps the earliest Catechism of the church, St Cyril of Jerusalem’s Catechism c. 350ad. The only possible earlier one still in existence today is the Didache, though some people dispute that being a Catechism.

Reading through that was simply amazing. I will be sharing a lot on this in upcoming posts. Today, I wanted to give you a taste. Enjoy Cyril’s instruction on what the Lord’s Prayer means. You might be a little surprised! Read the rest of this entry

Sometimes Our Biggest Problems are Staring us in the Face!


Life's biggest problems

Are the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Views on How One is Saved Actually That Different?


What-must-I-do-to-be-saved Not for itching ears

Not Really!

I am beginning to think that there is less disagreement between the Protestant view and the Catholic / Orthodox view on salvation than we realize.

The misunderstanding is a result of how each part of the church defines “salvation.”

When a Protestant talks about “being saved”, “getting saved”, “accepting Christ” or any other number of terms we use for this, we are primarily referring to the idea of forgiveness of sins. Our sins are forgiven when we “come to Christ”. We have been ‘saved” from sins eternal penalty.  We can not earn this forgiveness of sins, it is a merciful free gift from God and we resist anything that makes it look like it must be earned.

In this sense Salvation IS an event, we have been forgiven of our sins!  However, Read the rest of this entry

Two Different Views of Salvation: Protestant vs Orthodox – Which Makes More Sense to You?


If you are like me, you might not even know what the Orthodox Church is!

The Orthodox view salvation and the purpose of mankind through a different lens than most Protestants do. In this short video, you will see a very accurate portrayal of mainstream protestant soteriology which you will recognize immediately. You will also be introduced to the Orthodox view.

After you watch it, come back and share your thoughts about the video. Which view best represents the Gospel in your opinion?

They Devoted Themselves to What?


disbelief not for itching earsI’ve never heard of this translation before and I don’t think it is correct. It does seem to accurately reflect the direction of the church in the USA though. Here’s a quote of Acts 2:42-45 from the New Testament For Today’s Christianity.  Check the Greek and you decide. Read the rest of this entry

Inspiring Lives From Church History: James, the Great Martyr of Persia


martyrs for ChristPeople have been living and dying for Christ for over 2000 years and history is full of wonderful examples of men and women who followed Christ faithfully. We can learn a lot from studying their lives. Yet, there is something truly compelling about those who suffer for Him and pay the ultimate price for their faith.

When I read the historical record of what some of these ancient brothers and sisters went through, it challenges me deeply. I often wonder how I would respond in such situations. I guess we won’t ever know unless and until we find ourselves in the same place. The one thing I can say with certainty is Read the rest of this entry

Does God Care More About Our Character OR What We Do In His Name?


I'm Right and You're WrongIt is a simple question, really…

In your opinion, is God most concerned with character or accomplishments in our lives? In other words, does He care more about the great things we accomplish (or don’t) in his name and for his kingdom OR who we ARE or BECOMING as his followers. In this poll, you can’t say “both” because the question is which one does he car MOST about?

Saturday Soup for the Soul


sould foodFor Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I Cor. 5:7b-8

9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Romans 6:9-11

20 Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. I Cor. 15:20-22

Inspiring Lives From Church History: Hesychius 300AD


The_Christian_Martyrs_Last_Prayer_by_leon_geromePeople have been living and dying for Christ for over 2000 years and history is full of wonderful examples of men and women who followed Christ faithfully. We can learn a lot from studying their lives. Yet, there is something truly compelling about those who suffer for Him and pay the ultimate price for their faith.

When I read the historical record of what some of these ancient brothers and sisters went through, it challenges me deeply. I often wonder how I would respond in such situations. I guess we won’t ever know unless and until we find ourselves in the same place. The one thing I can say with certainty is that Read the rest of this entry

Are You Running from God in The Valley of Transformation?


running from dangerDuring the 1996 Superbowl, Nissan launched its now famous “Life is A Journey, Enjoy the Ride” advertising campaign. In the two-minute spot, a young boy finds himself in an underground garage, where a mysterious man shows him some old cars. As the boy begins to leave, the old man offers him a parting word of sage advice: (You have to say this with a thick Japanese accent for the full effect) “Remember….Life is a journey. Enjoy…..the ride.”

Of course the commercial was designed to sell Nissan’s, so people could “enjoy the ride” in a nice car! It had a different impact on one young pastor who was watching.

I paused to reflect on my life and the journey I was on Read the rest of this entry

Inspiring Lives From Church History


The_Christian_Martyrs_Last_Prayer_by_leon_geromePeople have been living and dying for Christ for over 2000 years and history is full of wonderful examples of men and women who followed Christ faithfully.  We can learn a lot from studying their lives.  Yet, there is something truly compelling about those who suffer for Him and pay the ultimate price for their faith.

When I read the historical record of what some of these ancient brothers and sisters went through, it challenges me deeply.   I often wonder how I would respond in such situations.  I guess we won’t ever know unless and until we find ourselves in the same place.   The one thing I can say with certainty is that these accounts inspire me to live for Christ.  That is why today, we are beginning a new series.  In it, we will highlight men and women who suffered for Christ, because of their faith.  They won’t be long posts, so you should be able to read them in less than 5 minutes.  My Prayer is that they will cause you to reflect on your own life and faith, inspiring you follow Him more deeply.

Today, we will read about Mark, the Bishop of Arethusa  (361 AD)

Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, suffered for his faith in Christ under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). By order of the emperor Constantine, St Mark had once destroyed a pagan temple and built a Christian church.

When Julian came to the throne, he persecuted Christians and tried to Read the rest of this entry

Daily Prayers For Holy Week


cropped-cross-with-nail-2.jpgDaily Prayers for Holy Week

[EDITOR’S NOTE: These prayers are taken from the contemporary wording of the Book of Common Prayer. The U.S. online version can be found HERE.]

Monday in Holy Week Almighty God, whose dear Son went not up to joy but first he suffered pain, and entered not into glory before he was crucified: Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other that the way of life and peace; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday in Holy Week O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday in Holy Week Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Maundy Thursday Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Good Friday Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Saturday O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on his holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Originally posted over at Glenn Packiams Blog: http://glennpackiam.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/04/daily-prayers-for-holy-week.html

Check out Glenn’s  Fantastic Book, which we HIGHLY recommend:  http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0781410436/gpackiamc-20

An Interesting Take on The Lord’s Prayer


prayerlordsI found it rummaging through a rack of used books. Rather surprised to see it there, I quickly picked it up. I thought to myself, “How often will one run across an obscure book like this?” After perusing through it for a few moments, I turned to The Lord’s Prayer, and the deal was closed.

This unique and thought-provoking version of The Lord’s Prayer is found in “A New Zealand Prayer Book”. We hope Read the rest of this entry

Dead People Speak To Me


Dead people speak to me. It’s true, they really do!

Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that the dead visit me in my sleep, or that I hear voices in my head. I am talking about the writings of the early church leaders, those great men of God who passed from this earth 1700-1900 years ago. Their writings speak volumes to me about what it means to Read the rest of this entry

Making Room for God in Your Life


Making Room For GodMerry Christmas everyone!

Not being catholic, I seldom read what the Pope has to say. But this year I actually read his Christmas eve sermon. I was moved by his words and challenged in my own life and faith. I have posted it here. I hope my protestant friends can read it and Read the rest of this entry