Daily Reflections (7-31-13)

– I have been thinking for some time lately about changing the way I blog. I greatly enjoy reading Dave Black’s daily blog and thought I would try to do something similar. I will try to update the blog towards the end of each day focusing on what I have been thinking, reading, and doing on that particular day. I plan to write some articles on various topics as well as book reviews but this “ongoing commentary” on my day will be what occupies the majority of my blog space.

– I finished reading Thom Rainer’s book, I Am A Church Member: Discovering The Attitude That Makes The Difference recently. This would be a great book to use for a new member’s class or to give out to church members that want to know what their responsibility is as a member. Very helpful!

–  Have you ever wondered what makes life worthwhile? J. I. Packer offers some great insight into this question:

“What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance; and this the Christian has in a way that no other person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?” (J. I. Packer in Knowing God)

I hope you have experienced true life in Christ because a relationship with him is what makes life worthwhile.

– I listened to an interview recently conducted by Tony Reinke that is available on his Authors on the Line podcast. The topic was “Spurgeon’s First Five Years In Ministry” and Reinke interviewed Tom Nettles and Christian George, both of whom have spent years studying the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon. I can’t wait to get Nettles’ book when it hits the shelves and would love to help George edit and transcribe those journals (anyone with connections let me know!).

– Spurgeon is one of my heroes in ministry. This past Christmas my wife gave me one of his heavily amended manuscript pages. I love it and if you want one you can pick it up at Rare Document Traders!

We Are Debt Free & You Can Be Too!

Our family hit a milestone this past week. We are now debt free (with the exception of our house)! This was a goal that we have been aiming at for several years and are beyond excited to finally hit.

You may be wondering how in the world we did this and the answer is very simple – we began following Dave Ramsey. He gave us the tools and motivation to get started and make this happen. Listed below are his baby steps that we are following. We just finished step 2 and are working hard on step 3!

Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps

1. Set aside $1000 for a starter emergency fund.

2. Pay off all debt (excluding your house) using the debt snowball.

3. Set aside 3-6 months of living expenses in savings.

4. Invest 15% of household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement.

5. Begin saving for your kids to go to college.

6. Pay off your home early.

7. Build wealth and give generously.

Why did we begin this journey? The answer is simple – we want to be good stewards of all that God has given and we want to be an example for others in how we handle our finances.

Can you get out of debt? The answer YES! I encourage you to pick up Dave Ramsey’s book The Total Money Makeover and watch the video below for some encouragement to find financial peace.

It may sound weird but you CAN be debt free!

A Good Problem To Have

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No one likes dealing with problems. In fact, we usually avoid problems like the plague! Several days ago I was reading 1 Kings 8 and encountered a problem that I believe most of us would love to have.

1 Kings 8 details the arrival and placement of the Ark of the Covenant in the temple. This is a great time of celebration for the nation of Israel and Solomon is elated to complete what his father had begun. Once the ark is placed in the Most Holy place in the temple something amazing happens:

And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord (1 Kings 8:10-11).

God’s glory filled the temple to the point that the priests could no longer minister. What if we had that same “problem” today in the church? Imagine not being able to have church (singing, preaching, giving, etc.) because the glory of God was so consuming that all we could do was sit in His presence.

It is very possible to get so caught up in religious activity that we miss basking in the presence of the Lord. May we echo with our very lives the words of Psalm 140:13, “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name; the upright shall dwell in your presence.”

The Greatest Danger For Growing Christians

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I began reading J. I. Packer’s book, Knowing God, recently. This is a book that I read in seminary and wanted to work through once again. Every believer should have a great desire to “know” God. In fact, this is Paul’s prayer for the believers in Ephesus: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).

So what is the greatest danger for those of us who seek “to know the love of Christ” and “comprehend… the breadth and length and height and depth” of His love?

Pride. Arrogance. The dangerous and destructive thought that we are better than other believers because we “know” more that them.

In the first chapter of Packer’s book, he addresses this very issue:

For this very reason we need, before we start to ascend our mountain, to stop and ask ourselves a very fundamental question – a question, indeed, that we always ought to put to ourselves whenever we embark on any line of study in God’s holy book. The question concerns our own motives and intentions as students. We need to ask ourselves: What is my ultimate aim and object in occupying my mind with these things? What do I intend to do with my knowledge about God, once I have it? For the fact that we have to face is this: If we pursue theological knowledge for its own sake, it is bound to go bad on us. It will make us proud and conceited. The very greatness of the subject matter will intoxicate us, and we shall come to think of ourselves as a cut above other Christians because of our interest in it and grasp of it; and we shall look down on those whose theological ideas seem to us crude and inadequate and dismiss them as very poor specimens. For, as Paul told the conceited Corinthians, “Knowledge puffs up… The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know” (1 Cor 8:1-2).

He continues, by examining the attitude of the psalmist who wrote Psalm 119:

The psalmist was interested in truth and orthodoxy, in biblical teaching and theology, not as ends in themselves, but as means to the further ends of life and godliness. His ultimate concern was with the knowledge and service of the great God whose truth he sought to understand. And this must be our attitude too. Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are. As he is the subject of our study, and our helper in it, so he must himself be the end of it. We must seek, in studying God, to be led to God. It was for this purpose that revelation was given, and it is to this use that we must put it.

Should we seek to grow? Absolutely! But we should seek to grow in our knowledge and understanding for one purpose – to know Him more deeply so that we live holy, God-honoring lives.