Friday, December 30, 2011

Plan to Read the Bible in 2012

You will, Lord willing, do many things in 2012. But only one thing is necessary.

If you really believe one thing is necessary, if you really believe that man cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, then why would you not PLAN to do in 2012 that most necessary thing?
"But I don't know where to start."
How about looking here? If you can't find a plan to suit you among those options, you may want to consider creating your own!
"But I'm not much of a reader."
Well, I'm not much of an exerciser, but I need to do it. And you need to feed on the Word more than I (or you) need to exercise!
"But I don't have time."
Really? You don't have time to feed your soul? Will you have time to eat in 2012? Or will you be too busy? Do you know how much Bible food you can eat in 2012 in just 15 minutes a day? You're probably not going to believe this math when you read it. So, first, double check it. Then, after you see for yourself, why don't you go and really see for yourself over the course of 2012?!

Let's say that you are a pretty slow reader. You read, on average, about 200 words per minute. Just for the sake of reference (and to anticipate the objections), 200 words per minute is not very fast. It's just a hair slower than an average read-aloud speed. Reading at 300-350 words a minute is not abnormal for your average caffeinated adult.

If you read the Bible 15 minutes a day for just 300 days out of the year (missing 65 days!), at 200 words per minute, that amounts to 900,000 words read in one year. The total word count of the Bible varies from translation to translation, but most translations come in under 900,000 words. The ESV, for instance, is just a bit over 800,000 words. Theoretically, you could read the entire Bible in 2012 if you were able to give 15 good minutes a day to it!

The question is, "Do you want to?"

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Flashpoint For Our Life in Christ

Life is highly combustible. The flashpoint for ignition is pretty low. It often takes very little to set us off. Thankfully, God doesn't leave us to burn up and destroy ourselves. In fact, it's often at that point of ignition and in the pain and loss that is the burning where we become aware of our need for gospel grace. And there it is, like so many extinguishers...and so much more.

If you need a brief reminder of how Jesus meets us in the everyday, this little article by David Powlison is well worth the minute or two it takes to read it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

McGarvey Christmas Letter

Dear Family & Friends,

Warm greetings from The First State! This year, we decided to employ the help of the kids to write ye ol’ Christmas letter. We figured the best way to do so would be to put together a questionnaire of sorts. Here’s the fruit of the interview labor:

Hannah (11 years – 6th grade):
Nickname(s): Hans, Sis, Sissy
Favorite things to do: Sing and play basketball
Favorite subject: Gym!
Least Favorite subject: Grammar
Favorite foods: Crepes, steak, mac & cheese, peaches, pickles, peppermint ice cream, pound cake
Least favorite food: Meatballs
Favorite color: Green!
Favorite movie: Rudy
Favorite musical artist: Sara Groves
Favorite vacation: MI (Grand Haven in the summer)
Favorite restaurants: Outback & Giordano’s
Favorite song: Setting Up the Pins (by Sara Groves)
Favorite date with daddy: Rock climbing
Favorite/most valuable possession: I don’t have one
What you like to do in your spare time? play knockout, make cards, bake with mom, draw
What would people be surprised to know about you? I don’t like to eat breakfast. I haven’t liked the color pink for the last few years…but, it’s starting to grow on me. I like to act.
What do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher (probably elementary school)
What are you future plans? To be the coolest mother of 5 children
What do you want for Christmas? I don’t know. Mac & cheese boxes. A lot of things green.

Sam (9 years old – 4th grade):
Nicknames: Sambo, Dude, Buddy
Favorite foods: pizza, ketchup, pancakes, ketchup, Sunday roast & potatoes , ketchup
Least favorite food: Well, I don’t really know. There are several different foods that I haven’t tried. So, I don’t know.
Favorite books: Magic Tree House, By The Great Horn Spoon, The Phantom Tollbooth, Keeping Holiday, Hardy Boys, The Bible
Favorite movie: Honey I Shrunk the Kids
Favorite sport: Football
Favorite team(s): Bears and Steelers
Favorite subject in school: Recess! Seriously…lunch!
Least favorite subject in school: I don’t have one.
Favorite music/artist/song: Rap / Lacrae / Don’t Waste YourLife
Favorite vacation: IL – because most of my family is there and I moved here from there…so it also brings back a lot of memories…it also has The Bean.
Favorite restaurant: Red Robin
Favorite flower: Lily – because she’s my sister.
Favorite dude time with daddy: When we went to the go kart place together in MI
Favorite/most valuable possession: Lowrider – my pellet gun
Favorite joke: Here’s one I really like: Doctor, doctor. My eyesight is getting worse! You’re absolutely right. This is the post office.
Favorite Bible story: The Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. (Why?) Who wouldn’t like that?! One, because of the power!
What would people be surprised to know about you? I don’t feel good when I am called, “Sam I am.” I’m a sort of a picky eater. I like to dance.
What do you want for Christmas? The Black Pearl (a Lego pirate ship), and a sword
Future plans? I want to be in heaven (as in 10,000 years from now).
What do you want to be when you grow up? I don’t know. That’s a long time away. Whatever God wants me to be.
Some interesting facts about yourself: I’m a big ham.
What you like to do in your spare time: Dress up like a pirate, read pirate books, read joke books, plain old read, play with Legos, shoot Airsoft guns and pellet rifles
Coolest thing you know about God: He doesn’t have to go to sleep!

Lily (7 – 1st grade):
Nickname(s): Lils, Beaner
Favorite things to do: Eat, play dolls with Hannah, ride my bike
Favorite foods: Pizza bread, strawberries, jello cake, peppermint ice cream
Least favorite food: Pizza with sauce (scrape the sauce off, replace the cheese, and she’s happily eat it!)
Favorite subject: Math
Least favorite subject: Geography – we have to stand up and say lots of things! And I get bored. I don’t like doing that.
Favorite books: My Father's Dragon, The Princess and the Kiss
Favorite movie: Tangled
Favorite sports team(s): Bears & Bulls – I’m on Papa’s side, Daddy. (Ouch!) … And maybe some Steelers. (Phew!)
Favorite music/artist/song: He’s Alive & Ma Ya Hi
Favorite vacation: Going to Ama and Papa’s and going to MI and Nana’s (and Jason’s house)
Favorite restaurant: Charcoal Pit and Red Robin
Favorite flower: A white lily, and lily of the valley...and snap dragons!
Favorite daddy/daughter date: Berry Yummi & to the park
Favorite/most valuable possession: Elizabeth Mae McGarvey, my (American Girl) doll
Favorite Bible story: David and Goliath
High from this past year: when baby Benjamin was born!
Low of this past year: I don’t have a low!
What would people be surprised to know about you? I can run faster than lots of people and pick people up on MY BACK!
What do you want for Christmas? A dog (Malanie and Mia have one!), I don’t know! American Girl things
Future plans? Have a castle. I want invisible stairs and I push a button and I put these glasses on and I can see the stairs and climb them. And there’s a giant bed. And you can jump on it and do anything you want. And you can get food without asking. And there is any food you want in the whole wide world. Like Jello cakes, ice cream, apple mountains, strawberry mountains, a chocolate kiss hill, a big lion made out of ice cream, and a buttered popcorn mountain.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to walk dogs and take care of people’s cats and dogs. Or, a teacher.
What you like to do in your spare time? play school with Jono
Coolest thing you know about God: He can do everything! He helps us! He died for our sins.

Jonathan (4 and a half! – valedictorian of the imaginary school in which his siblings regularly enroll him):
Nickname(s): Jono, Bubbalicious, Little man (though he informed us after Benjamin was born that this nickname no longer applies)
Favorite things to do: Play Legos – build Lego cars, do puzzles, ride my bike and scooters, play store with Lily, play school with Hannah and Lily, go to the store with mommy, go to Longwood Gardens, eat seaweed snacks and play with Daniel Ho, tackle daddy, climb in bed in the morning with mommy and kiss baby Ben
Favorite food: mac and cheese, pizza, Daddy’s Friday afternoon leftover surprise (especially when he arranges it like a face on the plate!), ranch dressing, french fries, hot dogs (cut up), pizza bread, brownies and ice cream, and chocolate pie
Least favorite food: olives – black and green; hot salsa (but I like the normal salsa that is NOT hot!)
Favorite drink: apple cider
Favorite books: Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel
Favorite movie: Cars 2
Favorite sport: Steelers!
Favorite subject in school: I don’t have school.
Favorite music/artist: Josh Garrels (good taste for a 4 year old, eh?)
Favorite vacation: Michigan (Grand Haven)
Favorite restaurant: Chili’s! & Mickey D’s!
Favorite game? Jenga, puzzles, Busytown
Favorite dude time with daddy: Going to the wood park (there’s a park in MI where we vacation in the summer where all the playground equipment is made of wood)
Favorite/most valuable possession: My silky (i.e. his blue blanket)
Favorite Bible story: When Peter got caught in the water and Jesus picked him up!
Coolest thing you know about God: That he’s powerful! That he has the Bible!
What do you want for Christmas: Finn McMissile PJ’s
High of this past year: Being with Mommy all day – that’s my high
Low of this past year: My low is I have to nap
What would people be surprised to know about you? That I like to run errands with my mommy.
Future plans? Future?! That’s what no one has seen! (that’s really what he said!)
What do you want to be when you grow up? A police [sic]. (Why?) So I could stop people who are going fast on the road.
What you like to do in your spare time? What does that mean?

Benjamin (0 – born 10/26/11, 5:25pm, weighing 8lbs 9oz, spanning 21.5 inches):
Nickname(s): Ben, Benny, Super Cute (Jono’s nickname for him),
Favorite music/artist: mommy
Favorite restaurant: mommy
Favorite/most valuable possession: my Steelers binky
Favorite food: you guessed it, milk
Least favorite food: raw onions
Favorite books: Are You My Mother?
Favorite sport: Boxing. I have a mean right cross. Even more lethal is my patented nostril hook hook.
Most embarrassing moment of 2011: the day with that horrible yellow outfit – I finally had to blow out in it just to get it off me!
Favorite music/artist: Sam McGarvey, especially when he sings me Spanish lullabies (en EspaƱol, of course!)
High of this past year: When mommy’s milk came in!
Low of this past year: Can you say, “circumcision?” I shudder even to say the ‘c’ word.
What do you want for Christmas? Milk, more Steelers binkies, and a Terrible Towel burp cloth
Future plans? Sleep, eat, poop, repeat.
Some interesting facts about yourself: I can sleep soundly through junior high basketball games and home improvement projects with nail guns popping, and mitre saw a buzzin’.

As for mom & dad, we’ll make it quick. This thing is already way too long. We are happily married, happily overwhelmed with the task of parenting 5 precious little souls, and happy to be making our new house feel like home. Chris is thankful for the continued privilege of serving Bethel Baptist Church and Beth is steering clear of boredom as the mother of this growing and active brood.

Most of all, we are more thankful for Jesus today than ever before. He’s why we love this time of year! Where would we be (both now and for eternity), without his perfect life (the one we could not live), his death in our place (bearing the just penalty we deserve), his victorious resurrection from the grave (vindicating every claim he ever made), and every great and precious promise that he purchased for us on the cross! This good news of great joy is music to our ears! We long for it to be music to your ears as well...and the life-giving soundtrack to your days.

With much love,
The McGarveys

Monday, December 12, 2011

Firing On Your Foot

Imagine yourself taking a loaded gun, aiming it at your foot, and firing. That would be really dumb. Not only would it hurt, there would be all kinds of other inconvenient and painful fallout. First, an immediate trip to the ER. Who likes to waste time waiting in the ER? It would mean extra medical bills you don’t need. It would preclude most kinds of exercise for a time. Instead, there would likely be inconvenient, time-consuming, and painful rehab. It might affect your ability to take a shower for awhile. Working, walking, driving, sleeping, and all manner of other normal activities would be affected. 

Now, think of covetousness, or lust, as a loaded gun. When you toy around with, and especially when you buy the "greener grass" lies, you pull the trigger on yourself. You assault your joy. You do violence to contentment. You poison the present with a false future. And that has all kinds of other unhappy effects. You become more dissatisfied with the present, which makes the greener grass lies all the more appealing. And turning away from God as your portion to look for quick relief or satisfaction elsewhere always leads to dissatisfaction and regret and shame and grief. It’s a nasty, self-perpetuating, suffocating, life-sucking, joy-stealing, contentment-choking downward spiral.

Don't fire on your foot. Take aim instead at the soul-killing lies of covetousness and lust. Look up to God as your comfort and joy and refuge and satisfaction and treasure. He is enough.
Keep your life free from love of money (and other forms of contentment-stealing desires), and be content with what you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb. 13:5)
Walk today with your more-than-enough God and Savior with your two feet whole.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Love at First Sight

Fanny Crosby (1820-1915), prolific writer of gospel songs and hymns like "To God Be The Glory" and "Blessed Assurance," was blind.

When asked by a preacher if she was upset that she was never able to see. She said, "No."

When asked, "Why?"

She replied, "Because when I get to heaven, the first face that will ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior."

Christianity & Brainwashing

Does Christianity believe in brainwashing? Of course! They (our brains, that is) are dirty!
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom. 12:1-2, emphasis added)