When God de-prospers us

Couldn't Help Noticing, Life, Sola Panel


Courtesy: Tim Challies, challies.com

Mightn’t it be true that sometimes God lowers our standard of living to raise the standard of our giving!?

This meme is one where I feel very ambivalent (see original at end of this post). I normally like Tim Challies‘ illustrated quotes. And I understand Alcorn is a solid evangelical. And I know nothing of the context of this thought Challies has featured from Alcorn’s works. [* see below for update.] No doubt he says much that’s good.  (more…)

Something more important than charity!

Life, Sola Panel, Sola Panel

In many previous generations and still in some places today, Christians might be surprised that a pastor has to write in this way. But recently I had to remind the congregations I serve that there is something more important than charity. (more…)

The method is the message

It was in the early 1970’s and I wore my clerical collar as I approached her front door. The next-door neighbour had asked me to visit. I did not know the widow but the neighbour told me “She is dying and wanting to talk about it, but is afraid to ask for help”. (more…)

Live to give


Where should we direct our giving? Surrounded by so many needs and opportunities it’s difficult to know where to start. Is there any priority or principle by which to choose whom to give to?

Giving is the Christian way of living. It involves more than money for we give ourselves to the Lord and to each other as we use the gifts that God has given to us to serve one another. We give our time, energy, interest, concern, prayers and hospitality—anything we have that could be used for the benefit of others. However, it does include giving money and that is what I am writing about. (more…)

Beg to give


Because ministers are the recipients of congregational giving they are hesitant to raise the issue of money. It is a hesitancy felt by both the congregation and the clergy.

Some ministers are concerned about church budget and press the issue too often and too hard. Others feel the apparent self-interest of raising the issue and so avoid it altogether. Some congregations are never taught about giving and others feel bombarded about money every time they come to church.

However, this tension confuses the subject of our giving with the object of our giving—or the gift of giving with the recipient of the gift. It confuses the questions of why, what and how we give with the issue of where best to direct our giving. It is the confusion of the long-term principle of gracious giving with the short-term immediate need for financial assistance. (more…)

Leading in Finances

Pastoral Ministry

The last person I heard speak to a group of Christians about raising money for ministry polarized the room. This was partly to do with how that person insisted on getting Bible references to support their ideas. As a result, it seemed to me that half the group couldn’t stop talking about what they saw as bad exegesis, while the other half were wondering why they weren’t taught this at theological college. So I approach this topic with some trepidation, because things you say on a topic such as this can sometimes lead people to tar you with a certain brush. (more…)

In my weakness, your growth

Life, Sola Panel

None of us wants to be the cause of another person’s sanctification – at least, not unintentionally – and yet, so often, that is what we are.
Is this one of the reasons that God allows us to become weak, dependent and forgetful as we grow older? Is it so we can place a necessary burden on those who were once dependent on us: a burden of forbearance and loving care? (more…)

Matters of interest


O Lord, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
… who does not put out his money at interest
and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things shall never be moved. (Ps 15:1-2a, 5)

According to Psalm 15, a holy person does not put his money out at interest. Look at it again. See? That’s what it says. (more…)

The death of good intentions

Everyday Ministry


“I’ll pray for you.”

“I’d love to give money to support that gospel or mercy ministry.”

“I’ll be part of that Bible distribution.”

This is a raw topic for me. My heart pours out for every good work. I want to support gospel ministries and pray for people. On so many things, I have all the right intentions, but not all the right carry through. (more…)

We must focus on the Christian poor

Everyday Ministry


We should be generous with what we have, and be willing to share with everyone, but God’s word gives us a focus. That focus is the Christian poor: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10).


More on generosity

Life, Sola Panel

Following my post on being generous to fundamentalists and not so generous with others, I’ve had some interesting conversations about its implications. A good friend asked me whether my suggested attitude towards non-evangelicals of ‘supping with a long spoon’ meant that certain authors should not be read. Should we have a book burning in the Moore College courtyard? And would my friend be a heretic by association if, for example, he found reading Karl Barth a stimulating and a positive experience, even though he disagreed with Barth at a number of points?


Talking about money in church

Pastoral Ministry

The regular ‘money spot’ can be one of the most awkward and divisive moments in the life of a church. The time comes for the person responsible to update the church on its financial health, and in most cases, to urge an increase in giving to meet the shortfall. That update begins to increase in frequency as the urgency of the situation intensifies. (more…)

How to freak out your church treasurer

Everyday Ministry

Here’s something simple and biblical.

  1. Buy something necessary, but not cheap, on behalf of your church—for example, all the meat for the men’s evangelistic barbecue evening, or a large amount of food for a soup kitchen.