Thursday, June 21, 2018

Financial Time Travel - A Little Wisdom in a Word Picture

An insightful way to look at borrowing and saving (quote by CPA Brent Esplin, found in a YNAB newsletter, emphasis added):
While physical time travel is still only fantasy, financial time travel is a reality. Modern finance provides us the necessary tools to send money to our future selves through saving and investing and to send money from our future selves back to the present through borrowing.
In other words, when you borrow or use credit, you are forcing your future self to pay for your past self's decisions. When you save or invest, you are blessing your future self (and other persons you love) with your past self's decisions. No ground breaking discoveries here, but a helpful way to capture some financial wisdom in a word picture.

Speaking of financial time travel, the most significant form is summed up by Randy Alcorn's "Treasure Principle" (when you give money away as an act of grace and worship - see 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 and Matthew 6:19-24): You can't take it with you, but you can send it on ahead.

Monday, May 21, 2018

7 Marks of a Good Apology by Brad Hambrick

Brad Hambrick is the Pastor of Counseling at the Summit Church in NC. His website is filled with biblical counseling wisdom and resources.

In the message yesterday on Psalm 51, I summarized part of his helpful post entitled, “7 Marks of a Good Apology Vs 8 Marks of Bad Apology” I'd encourage you to go read the whole thing, but here's the summary I quoted yesterday: 

Repentance is when we quit trying to make our dysfunction “work” and embrace the life-giving alternative to our sin that God offers.
7 Marks of a Good Apology
1. Address Everyone Involved.
When you fail to seek forgiveness you leave that person believing you think your actions were acceptable to God
2. Avoid If, But, and Maybe.
Our first tendency in repentance is to soften what we admit. Words like if, but, and maybe have no place in repentance. “If” calls into question whether what you did was really wrong. “But” transforms repentance into accusation. “Maybe” indicates you are not convinced your actions were wrong and invites a conversation (or debate) that is likely to go badly and, regardless, is not repentance.
3. Admit Specifically.
Generic confession is often a sign of insincerity. “We all know what happened,” is no excuse for brevity. Hearing that you can be specific without falling into blame-shifting or self-pity is an important indicator that you are a “safe” person and that restoration is wise.
4. Apologize (Acknowledge the Hurt).
Sin has consequences; both intentional and unintentional. Repentance expresses empathy and often takes responsibility for the dominoes that fall as a result of our sin. This is not groveling or penance (both of which are emotionally manipulative). It is an exercise in other-mindedness. 
5. Accept the Consequence.
Repentance is not a plea-bargain or negotiation. Repentance is not a time when we establish the “acceptable terms” for our sin. …we are not presenting a contract or deal, but that we are seeking to be restored to a person.
6. Alter Your Behavior.
The repentant conversation is not the culmination of the journey.
…repentance, …is rooted in the Gospel paradigm of dying to self to find life.
7. Ask for Forgiveness & Allow Time.
…forgiveness is commanded by God, but Scripture never calls on the confessing party to be the one who reminds others of this command or to insist that it be obeyed. As a general rule to promote humility and patience, allow at least as much time for forgiveness as it took you to come to repentance. It is hypocritical to expect someone else to process suffering (your sin against them) faster than you changed your sin.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

"Unequally Yoked" is Unwise

We just finished our study through the book of 2 Corinthians this past Sunday. When we looked at Paul's instruction to "not be unequally yoked with unbelievers" (2 Cor 6:14), I quoted from an article by Kathy Keller on why a Christian should never marry an unbeliever.

Here's part of what I quoted (emphasis added), but I'd encourage you go and read the whole thing:
Over the course of our ministry, the most common pastoral issue that Tim and I have confronted is probably marriages—either actual or proposed—between Christians and non-Christians. I have often thought how much simpler it would be if I could remove myself from the conversation and invite those already married to unbelievers do the talking to singles who are desperately trying to find a loophole that would allow them to marry someone who does not share their faith. 
Despite the fact that the Bible is clear on the matter (e.g. 1 Cor 7:39 and 2 Cor 6:14), 
…variants of the serpent's question to Eve—“Did God really say?” are floated, as if somehow this case might be eligible for an exemption, considering how much they love each other, how the unbeliever supports and understands the Christian's faith, how they are soul-mates despite the absence of a shared soul-faith. …
There are only three ways an unequal marriage can turn out … :
  1. In order to be more in sync with your spouse, the Christian will have to push Christ to the margins of his or her life. This may not involve actually repudiating the faith, but in matters such as devotional life, hospitality to believers (small group meetings, emergency hosting of people in need), missionary support, tithing, raising children in the faith, fellowship with other believers—those things will have to be minimized or avoided in order to preserve peace in the home.
  2. Alternatively, if the believer in the marriage holds on to a robust Christian life and practice, the non-believing PARTNER will have to be marginalized. If he or she can't understand the point of Bible study and prayer, or missions trips, or hospitality, then he or she can't or won't participate alongside the believing spouse in those activities. The deep unity and oneness of a marriage cannot flourish when one partner cannot fully participate in the other person's most important commitments.
  3. So either the marriage experiences stress and breaks up; or it experiences stress and stays together, achieving some kind of truce that involves one spouse or the other capitulating in some areas, but which leaves both parties feeling lonely and unhappy.
Does this sound like the kind of marriage you want? One that strangles your growth in Christ or strangles your growth as a couple, or does both? Think back to that off-cited passage in 2 Corinthians 6:14 about being “unequally yoked.” Most of us no longer live in an agrarian culture, but try to visualize what would happen if a farmer yoked together, say, an ox and a donkey. The heavy wooden yoke, designed to harness the strength of the team, would be askew, as the animals are of different heights, weights, walk at different speeds and with different gaits. The yoke, instead of harnessing the power of the team to complete the task, would rub and chafe BOTH animals, since the load would be distributed unequally. An unequal marriage is not just unwise for the Christian, it is also unfair to the non-Christian, and will end up being a trial for them both. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Circumstantial Joy? Help for a Hypocritical Parent

I've been thinking and praying lately of how to shepherd one of my kids. And I've felt the need to tell this child that their mood, their happiness, seems always to be tied to their circumstances. If things are going well, it's likely that this child will be happy (though not guaranteed!). If things are not going their way, we will all know it.

I'm hoping this revelation is an eye-opener. I want to challenge this child to fight for Joy -- the grace-born kind that can be present despite circumstantial troubles and disappointments.

I was pondering and praying about this as I walked this morning. And then I saw the finger pointing back at me.

And even more ironically, I saw how I have often allowed the mood of said child to steal my joy! It seems my joy is all-too-often tied to my circumstances. And I know I've often made my family feel it.

So, I had some repenting to do. And I have some grace to pursue. Blood-bought, Spirit-delivered grace that can bear the fruit of joy no matter the circumstances. And then, my children just might believe me when I tell them of this Joy. And they might even follow me in pursuing it, no matter how bad the day.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Wave that Throws You Against the Rock

No stranger to suffering, Charles Spurgeon once said,
"I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages."
Dave Furman is also no stranger to suffering. He's written a book telling his story, and of God's gracious designs for our pain. Here's a brief introduction to how he is "Learning to Kiss the Wave":

Learning to Kiss the Wave: Dave Furman's Story from Crossway on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

McGarvey New Year Letter

Dear family and friends!

Happy New Year! We are grateful to God for all his grace and faithfulness in 2017 and we are so thankful that we can expect his mercy and faithfulness each and every day of 2018 (Lamentations 3:21-23; Hebrews 4:14-16).

Chris and I celebrated 21 years together this December and are so thankful to be doing life together!

Chris is serving in his 9th year as lead pastor of Bethel Baptist Church. Most of his free time is spent throwing a football with the kids, reading to the family (it’s like radio theater!), meeting the family for one of our child's sporting events, or taking out the next child in line for a “daddy-daughter date” or “dude-time” (with the boys). He works hard to try and keep our dates regular too!

Beth is staying busy being the "bus driver" (now with Hannah’s help!), leading Women’s Ministry at church, coaching volleyball, and substitute teaching. On the side, when time permits, she loves to paint. She has also slowly been working at remodeling rooms in the house, one at a time. She's keeping Chris on his toes with an ongoing “honey do“ list.  She is ever so thankful that he is the ultimate handyman!!!

With all that activity, this is often how we feel:

Hannah (17) is a senior in high school.

She still loves volleyball and basketball, enjoys singing on our worship team at church, could eat fried pickles and drink bubble tea for days, is a great big sister, worked hard all summer as a nanny, and hopes to attend Wheaton College in the Fall to study elementary ed.

Sam (15) is in his sophomore year.

Sam loves football -- playing for the Lions and watching the NFL, especially the Steelers. He's not the only fan in the family: 

Sam also loves theater and got to play a dream role this year as the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz.

He also played the Prince in Sleeping Beauty with the Carousel Performing Arts Studio. Taking his penchant for the dramatic to another realm, he entered the Poetry Out Loud contest for the first time. He advanced to the state finals where he took 2nd runner up.

Lily (13) is in 7th grade.

She's creative and witty, considerate and tender-hearted. She loves the outdoors, animals, insects, birds, flowers, the sky and the stars. She and her two younger brothers are regularly found exploring and making little habitats for the wide variety of interesting critters they find. Lily has an eye for beauty and received a camera for Christmas. She looks forward to honing her photography skills in the coming year.

Jono (10) is in 5th grade.

Along with his love for football, Jono also loves to read, drink coffee (whenever we'll let him), build with Legos, and play with his siblings. For his age, he's conscientious and responsible and has a soft heart.

Ben (6) is in 1st grade.

The "I'm 6 years old" pretzel!

Ben is a ball of energy, 110% boy! Being a gym rat comes pretty naturally and he can usually be found running around in Jono's shadow. His reading has taken off this year, opening up a whole new world. He enjoys school and is growing up way too fast. His siblings all love him to the moon and back and give him special attention. The benefits of being the caboose!

We enjoyed a couple of wonderful family vacations this year -- one to Niagara Falls for Spring Break and one to Vermont for summer vacation.

Real life hiking candid. Anyone know where Ben is? Probably about to dive bomb from above.
From our crazy family to you and yours, we wish you a blessed New Year! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all.

Sincerely in Christ, 
The McGarveys

Friday, September 1, 2017

Follow up on "Lust and Faith"

Last Sunday in our "Summer in the Psalms for the Fight of Faith" series, we covered "Lust and Faith" from Psalm 119:9-16

I read some stats on how pervasive the porn problem is in our day. I said I'd send a link to the Tim Challies post where I found them. Here's the post: 

It's very sobering. It ought to get us asking, "How can a young man (or young woman, or older man, or older woman) keep his way pure?" And we ought to be on the lookout for answers and grace wherever we can find it. 

There are a lot of helpful resources out there. If you're looking for some accountability software and you don't know about Covenant Eyes, I'd encourage you to check it out. In addition to their accountability and filtering software, they also have a lot of helpful articles and resources on their website.
If you have kids, the Disney Circle is an effective tool as you seek to help protect your kids. Tim Challies reviewed it HERE. Our family has used it for about a year now and we can recommend it. 

And for a good one stop round up of helpful book reviews and articles, check out THIS POST. Challies provides links to 10 articles he's written on porn and also recommends a number of good books written by others.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Psalm 100 Follow Up

A little follow up to yesterday's message "Grumbling and Faith" from Psalm 100.

First, some humor (I saw this at the store last night, shopping for school supplies with Sam):

Second, a simple and practical idea:

A good friend of mine has long been a model to me of durable, steady, buoyant, gospel-saturated gratitude. He often leads off conversations by asking, "What are you thankful for?" He fights for grace-fueled gratitude through thick and thin. He influences others to remove the myopic lenses of negativity and put on the panoramic lenses of gospel grace. I'm really thankful for him.

What if you started asking yourself, daily, what you're thankful for? (See Psalm 103:1-14 and Colossians 1:12-14 to prime the pump.) And what if you started asking others, regularly, what they're thankful for? Rather than disseminating negativity, we would be curbing it, and pumping grace and gratitude into the atmospheres of our homes, our churches, our places of work, our neighborhoods, etc. All with a simple question.