Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 7: Becoming Debt-Free

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Why are credit card fees and interest so high?

Credit operates using basically a two-tier system. Tier 1 consists of those who pay no fees or interest. Consumers who pay off their balances on-time monthly pay no fees or interest charges. Tier 2 consists of those who pay fees and interest due paying late, not paying the minimum payment or due to carrying a balance and being charged interest. Tier 2 credit card customers not only pay for their own credit card service, they also pay for the credit services of those in Tier 1.

Any customer may be a Tier 1 borrower. Falling into the Tier 2 category is the customer’s choice.

Another reason for high credit fees and interest is that there is expensive technology infrastructure in place to support the service. The infrastructure includes network expense and computer hardware and software expense. It also includes real-time processing with failover—the most expensive type of computer processing. Additional infrastructure expenses include fraud detection processing and the cost of plastic production and the associated mailing. Read more about Ordering Finances Wisely, Part 7: Becoming Debt-Free

Theology Thursday - A Presbyterian on Baptists

On “Theology Thursday,” we feature short excerpts on various areas of systematic theology, from a wide variety of colorful (and drab) characters and institutions. Some are orthodox, but decidedly outside the Baptist orbit. Others are completely heretical. Regardless of heresy or orthodoxy, we hope these short readings are a stimulus for personal reflection, a challenge to theological complacency, and an impetus for apologetic zeal “to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3).

“The author of Hebrews characterizes all of the ceremonial sprinklings of the Old Testament—the sprinkling of those who were ceremonially unclean with the blood of bulls and the ashes of a heifer (9:13), Moses’ sprinkling of the scroll and all the people with the blood of calves mixed with water and scarlet wool (9:19), and his sprinkling of the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies with blood (9:21)—as ‘baptisms,’ that is, as ‘ceremonial washings,’ (9:10). Moreover, the same writer immediately thereafter and Peter as well speak of Christians as being ‘sprinkled’ with Christ’s blood:

Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in the assurance that faith brings, because we have had our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water (see Ezek 36:25).

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Jim Elliot Was Not the First to Say It

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

“He is no fool who gives away what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

That quote is universally associated today with the name Jim Elliot, one of five American missionaries who were martyred in South America in the 1950s. He had indeed written them in his journal, and they convey a profound truth. But they did not originate with Elliot. Almost those precise words were spoken and written centuries earlier.

To find the original (or perhaps yet one more preacher who borrowed these words from someone else), we must go back almost 300 years, to the mid-1600s, to the life of Philip Henry (1631-1696), father of Matthew Henry (1662-1714), the famous Bible commentator. In Matthew Henry’s biographical account of his father’s life, he notes his father’s practice while pastor in Worthenbury, England (1658-1662) to set aside a tenth of his income for charitable purposes, notably the relief of the poor. Matthew then states regarding his father, Read more about Jim Elliot Was Not the First to Say It

Evangelism that works

Sweet Publishing (freebibleimages.org)

Many Christians are looking for a style of evangelism that works, which is to say one that produces visible, measurable results. Surely every Christian desires to see people turned from darkness to light, but most have learned that reported results and genuine conversions are not necessarily the same thing. Let’s take a look at one of the Apostle Paul’s evangelistic efforts recorded in the opening verses of Acts chapter seventeen. Here we find a biblical example of evangelism that works.

A Strategic Location

This endeavor took place in the Macedonian city of Thessalonica. The location was carefully chosen. After laboring fruitfully, and being expelled from the city of Philippi, Paul and his missionary team traveled west. They passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia without stopping because they had their sights on Thessalonica. Both of these cities were smaller and less significant than Thessalonica. Were there people in these locations who needed Christ? Yes, but Paul, a master strategist, had reasons to push on to Thessalonica because of its major importance. Read more about Evangelism that works

God's Highway & the Trinity (Mark 1:3)

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God can speak about Himself, yet actually be referring to His eternal Son, Jesus. This speaks to both a oneness between Divine Persons and a clear distinction. Oneness, because one can refer to the other as Himself. Distinction, because, when this is worked out in the pages of Scripture, each Person is clearly differentiated from the another.

This is the case in our passage today—Mark 1:3. John Mark is continuing right along, explaining that the beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ came about just as it has been written by the prophets (Mk 1:1). How so, Mark? Three reasons: Read more about God's Highway & the Trinity (Mark 1:3)

The Importance of the Golden Rule

I’m assuming we’ve all heard The Golden Rule—“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” the origin of which is usually credited to Leviticus 19:18 and the words of the Lord in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31; also known as The Great Commandment.

For people who like techie speak, The Golden Rule represents the ethic of reciprocity. And every major religion, including some not so major, recognize this maxim as words to the wise. Most parents use it as a way to teach children empathy and how to treat others.

I’m Libertarian enough to believe the Golden Rule applies to the role of government, in the sense that individuals have the right to do whatever they wish with their own life, liberty, and property, but the line is drawn at the life, liberty, and property of others.

We’ve heard it so often and take it all so for granted it’s become a cliché.

I was taught The Golden Rule when I was a child, but unfortunately, I don’t think much of it stuck. Or should I say I practiced it instinctively as an aspect of simple self-preservation. However, after receiving Christ I felt a compelling need to embody the love and compassion that Jesus showed to those around Him. Read more about The Importance of the Golden Rule

Theology Thursday - The Roman Catholic Church on Baptism

On “Theology Thursday,” we feature short excerpts on various areas of systematic theology, from a wide variety of colorful (and drab) characters and institutions. Some are orthodox, but decidedly outside the Baptist orbit. Others are completely heretical. Regardless of heresy or orthodoxy, we hope these short readings are a stimulus for personal reflection, a challenge to theological complacency, and an impetus for apologetic zeal “to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints,” (Jude 3). 

“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water and in the word.’”1 Read more about Theology Thursday - The Roman Catholic Church on Baptism

Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 3)

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Covenants & Promises

The seventeenth chapter of the Book of Genesis affords us an occasion to distinguish between a covenant and a promise. This difference is seldom noticed in the literature, but it deserves our attention since it shows up a tendency to take things for granted which we ought perhaps to be more discerning about.

There is no problem with the idea that a covenant includes promise. All covenants are about what one will do or refrain from doing at a future time. In Joshua 9:15-21 the elders of Israel swear a covenant with the Gibeonites to be at peace with them because they were fooled into believing that they were not native to the land. They could not go back on the words of the covenant they had made on pain of Divine wrath, a wrath that did come upon Israel because of Saul’s breach of the promise made in the covenant (2 Sam. 21:1). But saying that promise is embedded in covenant is one thing. To attempt to assert that covenant is part and parcel of a promise is another thing altogether. The fact is, it is not reversible. All covenants contain a promise, but not all promises are covenants. This ought to be apparent upon but a little reflection. Promises do not contain covenants like covenants contain promises. A room may contain a computer but a computer does not contain a room. Read more about Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 3)