Friday, September 30, 2011

The Movie: Courageous

The same group of people that made the movie Fireproof (and Facing the Giants) is releasing their new movie today. It is called Courageous. It appears to be a movie calling men to be men. The tagline of the movie is "Honor Begins At Home." This movie is receiving quite a few endorsements from some big names in the world of Christiandom. John Piper has said about this movie:
"I watched Courageous with my wife and was thoroughly engaged. I like action, and I like reflection, and I like affection—explosive moments, wrack-your-brain moments, and break-your-heart moments. Rarely do movies combine them all. For me this one captured me. Does the movie preach? Well, it sure has a point. But about the time you think you might get preached at, a bullet may cut through your car door. I would willingly take anyone to see this film, assuming they can handle suspense. And I think the conversations afterward would not be superficial."
I won't be able to go see it this weekend, but I do plan on seeing it. Maybe even next weekend, any guys from around here want to go? There are many reasons why you should probably see it, particularly you men. But one reason to see it while it is in the theaters is to encourage movie producers to put out more movies like this. If you haven't seen the trailer, check it out.

The Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven K. Scott

I love the book of Proverbs. I always have. I have studied it. I have taught from it. It is a wealth of wisdom for my life. And I have a pretty good idea what it teaches. So when there comes along a book that claims to have inside information on how you can be successful, wealthy, and happy based on the principles of the book of Proverbs, I will always be skeptical.

But let me say from the beginning, that as I read The Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven K. Scott I found myself agreeing with him more than I thought I would. I appreciated many of the principles that he stated in this book. For instance, in chapter 2, he deals with the key principle of diligence. He gives numerous Proverbs that compare it against selfishness and self-centeredness. In the third chapter, he deals with vision. I appreciated how he walked through a vision mapping process to establish a road map to achieve your dreams (37). In chapter 5, he deals with the issue of communication, which is all over the book of Proverbs. He quotes many passages and for the most part, seems to interpret them correctly. 

But here is what I really did not like about the book. Like a good infomercial, he plays upon the greediness of man. He would probably disagree with that statement. He will point to the fact that he does write an entire chapter, 13, on the issue of greed in Proverbs. He even says things like this: 
"Solomon clearly teaches us not to set our focus on getting rich. Doing so is the quickest way to go broke. In Proverbs 23:4-5, he writes, 'Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.' The times I've invested in projects with the intent of getting rich, I've lost my investment. On the other hand, when I have kept my focus on achieving goals through my labor, I've had more success than I could have ever imagined." (203)
I agree. But the problem is that is not how the book begins. He begins the book with a hook of "do this and God will do this in return for you." If you just simply obey these commands or principles in the book of Proverbs, you will be successful and wealthy, and happy. Specifically, here is how the books begins:
"Imagine going from a below-average wage to a personal income of more than $600,000 per month! Imagine losing nine jobs in your first six years after college, and then, on your tenth job, building more than a dozen multimillion-dollar businesses from scratch, achieving sales of billions of dollars. Imagine doing all of this by following specific steps taught by Solomon in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs." (1)
What is the average person going to think with that "hook?" He is going to think that if he follows the specific steps taught by Solomon and he is going to become rich. It sounds just like something you might hear late at night on some obscure TV station. 

I wondered why he would start this book like that until I came to what he believes is the greatest motivations in life: "the desire for gain and the fear of loss" (17). Here is where I differ from Scott. I am not going to pretend that those are not highly motivating factors, but isn't the glory of God a greater motivation for the Christian? Or shouldn't it be? Shouldn't I be motivated to live these principles because it honors and pleases and gives glory to my King? Not because I can get something in return for living it? 

Overall, I think Scott couldn't get out of his own way and the main issue I have with this book is the marketing of the book. (I speculate that it is marketed the way it is because of his background; the jobs that have made him millions is indeed infomercials). If he had marketed the book differently, I think it would have been a much better book!

 I received a copy of the book: The Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven K. Scott from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Commentaries on 1 Thessalonians

Last Sunday, I started a preaching series that is based on the book of First Thessalonians. As I study each week, I have around 15 different commentaries that I use. Some of them are technical and some of them are pastoral. These commentaries are my friends that help me at different points in my study through this book. I know that might sound strange and only pastors might fully understand that statement. But it is true. I thought I would give a brief rundown on some of my favorite "friends" as I study this book. Also, realize, that I am just at the beginning of the study, some of these might find their way out of my "friend" list and others might find their way onto the list. But for now, here are some that I am very impressed with in my studies.

This great commentary by D. Edmond Hiebert might just be one of the very first commentaries I ever purchased. I have vivid memories of sitting in the library at IPFW in Fort Wayne, Indiana (where I was a pre-med major) and reading this commentary. I have used it often and keep coming back to it. What I love most about the works of Hiebert is how consistently he shows the flow of arguments in outline form. He is committed to the Greek text, yet it is not so deep that the average person can't benefit from it. For the average person who wants to do some in-depth Bible study on either of the books to Thessalonica, this is the first one I would recommend to you.

I have come to love all of those that are part of The Pillar New Testament Commentary series, and this edition by Gene L. Green is no different. Through my study of chapter 1, I have been really impressed. The Pillar series uses the NIV translation as it's English translation of choice, but they do a great job of pointing back to the Greek text as the foundation. I found this interesting, particularly as I read through the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians and Green continually kept saying how the NIV had missed this or that.

The NICNT series has always been one of my favorites since I began to study the Bible and preach. It is a series that is very committed to the original languages, but doesn't write as it is. Most of the technical Greek references are found in the footnotes, which makes it easier to read for the person who has not studied Greek. The edition that I have is from Leon Morris, but recently the NICNT has replaced it with an edition by Gordon Fee. I guess they felt like Morris' edition was too old. I don't think so, I have appreciated it so far and since I already have this edition, I doubt I will purchase a newer copy by Fee.

When it comes to a series on the Greek text, I have always appreciated the NIGTC. This edition by Charles Wanamaker will be one of the most technical commentary that I will use and might not be worth the cost for the average layman.

There are many others that I will be using that I find helpful. For instance, I appreciate Richard Mayhue's commentary, particularly his insights on the Day of the Lord. I always use Hendirksen & Kistemaker's volume that deals with the Thessalonians, Pastorals, & Hebrews. If you do not have this series, it might just be one of the first NT series that you purchase. And of course, I will always take a quick glance at John MacArthur's commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Then there are a few that I have recently purchased and look good, but I have not used them enough to make a final decision on them.
  • 1-2 Thessalonians by G.K. Beale -- Beale seems like a solid theologian. I am particularly interested to see how he deals with some of the eschatological issues in 1 Thessalonians as I know he comes from a different background than I normally read. Should be interesting.
Question for Pastors (or anyone): What Commentaries Have I Missed?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Does Preaching The Bible Work?

Since the time I arrived at Cornerstone Bible Church, I have been asked by many people why I so strongly believe in preaching. There was even one well-meaning individual that graciously questioned whether I was seeking to build a personal ministry or platform by spending so much time studying to preach. I appreciated that question and always seek to evaluate my own heart in regards to this. But my answer to him was frankly that I believe a solid preaching ministry is the most effective way to build a church. Not fun and games, but preaching! Not great music, but preaching! Not small groups, but preaching!

Not that those things are not important. They are. And I think that a church will not be what it should be without many of those things. There are many in the church today that say preaching is out of fashion. It just doesn't work anymore. I would argue that preaching does work! It is God's method and God's method always works! I have been slowly making my way through The Work of the Pastor by William Still. In a section I was reading yesterday, he makes the point that preaching is indeed necessary and that it works.
"Having been called or appointed to minister to a local congregation, begin to minister the Word of God to them at once, depending for all you are worth on the Holy Spirit, and believing that this is the biggest thing you can do for them in all the world. This is your life; not a part of it, but your life. Other things come in, of course, but this is your life, the most thrilling life anyone can live on earth, to expose a group of people, Christian or not, to the all-searching eye of the Word of God." (32)
He continues . . .
"The great thing to know is that God is at work creatively, through His Word, in answer to the prayers of His people. There is not a greater task a man can perform in the whole world than this, that he is being used to release the all-searching Word of God upon a company of needy souls. It is the most amazing thing. It works! God works. His Word works. Prayer works. The Spirit works." (34)
I am not trying to create a platform for personal endeavors. I am trying to be faithful to the Bible and give the people that come to CBC a word from God each and every week. It takes time and I work harder on this than anything else in ministry because my view is that preaching is necessary, but it doesn't need to be boring. Preachers, don't make the Bible dry and boring. Be interesting and insightful.

And listeners, be ready to hear from God each week. What about preparing to listen to the message with the same eagerness that you would want your pastor to prepare to study? I guarantee that if you did that, it would change the way you viewed the sermon. The sermon that God wants to use to change your life.

Question: What Sermon Has Made The Greatest Impacted  On You?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All I Have Is Christ - An Animation

Yesterday, I saw a friend had posted this video on Facebook. It was so good that I wanted to share it on my blog. It is an animated story set to the song, All I Have Is Christ. From the first time I heard this song, it has become one of my favorites. The main reason is the lyrics. They are so deep and meaningful and tell the story of my life (and yours). My favorite part of the song (and video) is at the end of the 2nd verse which says, "You bore the wrath reserved for me, now all I know is grace." Watch for it in the video. 

I once was lost in darkest night, yet thought I knew the way.
The sin that promised joy and life had led me to the grave.
I had no hope that You would own a rebel to Your will.
And if You had not loved me first, I would refuse You still.

But as I ran my hell-bound race, indifferent to the cost.
You looked upon my helpless state, and led me to the cross.
And I beheld God's love displayed, You suffered in my place.
You bore the wrath reserved for me, now all I know is grace.

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ. Hallelujah! Jesus is my life!

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone and live so all might see.
The strength to follow Your commands could never come from me.
Oh Father, use my ransomed life in any way You choose.
And let my song forever be My only boast is You.

© 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI), by Jordan Kauflin

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Morning After: An Authentic Ministry (Acts 17:1-9)

In 1964, a young man at the age of 16 began what has become known as one of the greatest scams of all time. Over a period of five years, Frank Abagnale, Jr., passed 2.5 million dollars worth of forged checks in 26 countries, while continually escaping from the law. How did he do it? He was an expert forger, of course, but he was also an expert impersonator. He pretended to be a pilot. He pretended to be a doctor. He pretended to teaching assistant, and an attorney. The incredible story of Frank Abagnale Jr. was made famous in 2002 in the movie, Catch Me If You Can.

When I think about the life of Frank Abagnale Jr., I am always struck with how easy it is for people or even organizations to pretend to be someone or something they are not. I think of how easy it is for people to assume the identity of a church-going Christian. Yesterday I started a series that I am calling "Authentic Ministry: Learning from the Church that Didn't Play Church." The purpose of this series is to look at the book of 1 Thessalonians and see how they exhibited a church that didn't play games.

But before we jump into the book, I wanted to illustrate why this church was authentic. A church that is birthed out of severe suffering & persecution will only contain those that take it seriously. Nobody would fake going to a church that will cost them physically. They would have been the real deal. And their story is found in Acts 17:1-9. There were five principles I shared about the birth of an authentic ministry.

First, An Authentic Ministry Is Started Because People Are Not Scared Of What Others Think Of Them. In the city just before entering Thessalonica, Paul and Silas are beaten and thrown into prison. But that didn't stop them from preaching in the next city they enter. If we ever become paralyzed be the world because we think that if we respond Christianly in that moment, it might come at some personal cost, we might just be proving to everyone that our faith is anything but genuine.

Second, An Authentic Ministry Is Built Upon The Authority Of The Bible. When Paul entered the city, he went straight to the Synagogue of the Jews and opened the Bible for them. He used the Bible as his authority. A ministry that is not centered and built upon the Bible will almost certainly produce shallow people in the faith.

Third, An Authentic Ministry Consistently Points People To Jesus. Paul opened the Bible, and his message was about Jesus. He reasoned with them that the Christ had to suffer, die, and rise again. Later in his message to Corinth, he said that he determined to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).

Fourth, An Authentic Ministry Sees People Converted To Jesus. When he preached Jesus, some people responded. We are called to be faithful in preaching the gospel and then trust God to open hearts and change lives. But Jesus does say that as we are faithful at spreading the seed, some will fall on good soil. He will do a work in our midst's.

Fifth, An Authentic Ministry Will Experience Persecution. While some responded well, some of them really got ticked off. They were extremely angry at the message of Paul. They drove him out of town and eventually drove him out of the next town, Berea. While they persecuted Paul and these young believers, the church not only survived, but grew quickly. 

If you are interested in listening to the entire sermon, you can find it HERE.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Video Sunday: Rant Against Church Consumerism by Matt Chandler

In this video, Matt Chandler takes on the consumerism mentality that has crept into the church. I love at the very end of the video when he says that this mentality is not church. It is the opposite of church. Church is not about what you get, but about how you serve and are involved.

How do you view your church?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Introducing Bloodlines by John Piper

I just received the new book Bloodlines by John Piper. I have read most everything he has written (or at least I have it in my library). This book comes as no surprise, as Piper has long been a voice of racial reconciliation. I have only thumbed through it and read the preface and introduction at this point. But I thought I would take a moment to share a thought he makes at the beginning of the preface. Maybe this will intrigue you enough to read the book.
"As I prepare to send Bloodlines into a world of ethnic and racial discord, I thank God that he has spoken. We are not left to ourselves. We humans have never had the resources in ourselves to love each other well across ethnic lines. There is too much selfishness in all of us. 
But God has told us what we must do. And he has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to do what we can't and to give us new power to do what we must. His death for us, and his Spirit in us, can make a world of difference. 
God has told us not to murder (Ex. 20:13). He has told us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Lev. 19:18; Gal. 5:14)--including the neighbor who is an enemy (Matt. 5:44). He has told us to do good to everyone (Gal. 6:10)--including those who hate us (Luke 6:27). He has told us to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9) and to treat others the way we would like to be treated (Matt. 7:12). 
He has revealed to us that every human is created in the image of God (James 3:9). He has shown us that we all have the same human father and are therefore kinsman by blood (Acts 17:26). And he has made clear that, when his Son died on the cross for our sins, he 'ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation' (Rev. 5:9). Racial harmony is a blood issue, not just a social issue." (13)
It looks like a good book. You might want to pick it up and read it!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I Pulled My Son From Sex Ed Class

Let me begin by saying I am fully in support of the public school education system for our family at this point in our life for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that I want my children to interact with those who do not know Jesus. I think it tests their faith, to see if it is theirs or just mom and dad's faith. I can quote just as many verses to you as you will to me on this topic of public education. My point in this post is not to argue what is the right or wrong way to educate your children. It is ultimately my view that each family needs to make the decision for each of their children on this issue. And we have fallen on the side of public schools at this time. We have always had our children at public school and when we moved to Ohio, they entered the Cardinal School District. Now that we are moving to a house, they have been placed in the Berkshire School District. We have found the teachers extremely nice and helpful and the kids are enjoying their time at the school.

The other day, we received a note from the school that the 6th graders were going to take part in the puberty education. My post title might be a bit misleading, for it is not really called "sex ed" anymore, but now it has to do with maturation (although, you probably clicked on this link because of the title of the post). Anyways, we contacted the school to find out what exactly was going to happen. They sent us a link to the video that was going to be shown in their class. We are thankful that we have the opportunity to interact with the school district, but after watching the video, we are pulling our son from this class. If you want to take the time, here is the video they will be watching in class:

It is usually a situation like this that makes the non-public school contingent of Christianity rise up against the public school. I am not rising up against them, but after giving it some thoughtful discussion with my wife, here are the reasons why I have pulled him from this class. 

1.  Boys & Girls Will Be In The Same Room
I see absolutely no reason why they need to have boys and girls in the same class to talk about this. The video talks about a girl getting her first period while she is at a sleep over with her friends. Her friends mom shows her what to do. She even shows her how to put a pad on her underwear and what to do with it after. I am 37 years old and I don't want to know this information. Certainly my 11-year old son does not need to know how a girl is to put a pad on her underwear in order to respect her, does he?

We were told that the reason for having the boys and girls in the same room is so that they can develop mutual respect for one another. Really? How does my son sitting next to Sally as they watch what happens to each others body help develop mutual respect for each other? If it were just the boys in one room watching a video on what happens to the male body, I would probably let him sit in and watch it. I have already talked to him about all of the things concerning the boys body becoming a man. But because they are combined, he will not be in there.

2.  It Contains Animated Pictures
Once again, does my son really need to see even animated pictures of a girl growing to become a woman? Does he need to sit next to a girl as she watches what happens when a boy gets an erection? Really? My guess it that for many of you, even my writing that is too much. This just brings about too much curiosity that I don't want my son to have. I don't want him to have any thoughts or images, even animated, about the body of a woman. No wonder pornography is such a problem in our world. We are arousing the curiosity of young minds as to what is behind clothing.

3. It Is The Parent's Responsibility
Unfortunately, the school has to do this sort of thing because the parents don't! My wife was curious and so when she was talking to the principal, she asked how many parents have asked about information on this class. One other parent. Yes, one other parent had contacted this principle to talk about this class. There might be many reasons why this is the case. Many parents just don't care about the sexual mind of their child. Many of them don't think about it and will have to respond instead of being proactive. And maybe many of them are embarrassed.

If your child is in the 6th grade (or higher) and you have not had multiple conversations with them about these things, shame on you. Christian parent, it is about time to stop treating sex as if it is some secret sinful thing. As I talked to my son about why I was pulling him out, I expressed to him that sex is a beautiful thing between a husband and wife. It is created by God to be a beautiful expression of intimacy. We need to stop treating it as shameful.

Let me end with some thoughts by Steve Farrar in his book, Point Man. He says,
"You cannot afford not to educate your children about sex. Yet the majority fail just here: 'Sex education is ignored by most parents, both Christian and non-Christian, out of discomfort, ignorance, or indifference. According to most surveys, most adolescents report they have never been given any advice about sex by either parent.' . . . A man is responsible to teach his children about sex. As a rule of thumb, fathers should teach their sons and mothers should teach their daughters. But the father, as head of the family, has a responsibility to make sure that each child is given the proper and correct instruction by the appropriate parent at the right time." (205)
He goes on to say that the policy of parental sex education is: "Get to your kids before their peers do" (210). You can take this blog post one of two ways. Either you can see how bad the public school system is or you can see the importance of your involvement in your child's life in the conversation of sex.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever

This last week, I took some time and read What is a Healthy Church by Mark Dever. It is a book that was given free to me as part of the welcome packet from "The Weekender." It is a really short book and can easily be read by the average reader in a few hours.

The second half of the book briefly walks through the nine marks of a healthy church (there is a much longer book with the same title for a more thorough explanation of these marks). Three of the marks he qualifies as "Essential Marks of a Healthy Church." They include: Expositional Preaching, Biblical Theology, and a Biblical Gospel. The other six marks are qualified as "Important Marks of a Healthy Church." They include: Biblical Understanding of Conversion, Evangelism, Membership, Church Discipline, Discipleship & Growth, and Church Leadership. Each one of these chapters are short snippets designed to give an overview of parts of the church.

That is the second half of the book. But the first half is worth the price of the book. He asks some very thoughtful questions and offers some insights into what is or isn't a church. One of the most helpful thoughts is found in the following statement.
"God created the world and humankind to display the glory of who he is. Adam and Eve, who were supposed to image God's character, didn't. Neither did the people of Israel. So God sent his Son to image his holy and loving character and to remove the wrath of God against the sins of the world. In Christ, God came to display God. And in Christ, God came to save. Now the church, which has been granted the life of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, is called to display the character and glory of God to all the universe, testifying in word and action to his great wisdom and work of salvation. Friend, what are you looking for in a church? Good music? A happening atmosphere? A traditional order of service? How about: 
a group of pardoned rebels . . .
whom God wants to use to display his glory  . . .
before all the heavenly host . . .
because they tell the truth about him . . .
and look increasingly just like him--holy, loving, united?"
That's what this book is about. It is about reshaping our view of what a healthy church is all about. I would highly recommend it to anyone! Let me finish with a short quote from the beginning of the book that really impacted me.
"Being a Christian means caring about the life and health of the body of Christ, the church. It means caring about what the church is and what the church should be because you belong to the church, Christian . . . Christian, are you ready for the day on which God will call you to account for how you have loved and served the church family, including your church leaders?" (30-31)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What I Learned From The Weekender

If you have been following the blog for the past week, you know I attended "The Weekender," a conference sponsored by Capitol Hill Baptist Church in conjunction with 9Marks Ministries. In case you missed what the conference was all about, check out the bottom of this post for a link to my perspective on each day of the conference.

In order to get the most out of a conference like this, I think a person will need to force themselves to think strategically about everything they were taught and everything they witnessed. There is always the temptation to come back from something like this and mimic everything they do. That hardly ever works. I need to be Thad Bergmeier & our church needs to be Cornerstone Bible Church. We are not them. Yet there are some things that we can learn from them. In order to work my way through this, I have asked myself this question: "What principles did I see that can be of good impact upon my current ministry?" Here is the initial answer to that question.

First, Membership Matters
I have never seen a church that stressed the importance of membership like Capitol Hill Baptist Church. But I have also never seen a church that stressed the value of membership. They will be the first ones to say that the Bible never didactically speaks of church membership, but they will say that it is all over the NT Scriptures. Not only do they call everyone that is a believer to commit and join their church, they expect it. They expect it so much that they limit the activities of what a non-member can be involved with in the life of their church.

Don't worry, we are not going to bring the hammer and limit what active non-members can do right now. But it does mean that I will recommend to our elders that we begin the process of talking about the value of membership. It does mean that we might have a conversation with those at CBC that are regular attenders, but not members. It does mean that we need to start treating membership as if it means something. But everything will be done with patience and teaching.

Second, Pastoral Care
The work the Elders did at their meeting really humbled me. They knew their members. They knew what was going on in their life. They knew their spiritual condition. And they prayed for them. They modeled what it means to shepherd the people of their church. Even with a membership of over 850, they knew what was going on in the lives of their people.

Third, Preaching Works
There are no frills at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. The music simply is a piano and a guitar. They sing older songs. They prayed and read Scripture four times each. And they preached for almost an hour. All the experts say that to draw younger people, a church needs to entertain. They were anything but entertaining. I know that preaching works. Opening up the Bible, explaining the Bible, and applying the Bible is my model. It is not always the quick model, but it is the best model for long lasting results. Seeing what they do was just a helpful reminder to me that preaching is and should be the core of what you do in your main worship hour.

Fourth, Be Deliberate
They had a reason for everything they did in their church. That reason was never, "it's the easiest" or "it just makes sense." They are very deliberate about every nuance of everything they do, even down to the type of prayers that are offered at which service. I think sitting back and asking the question, "why are we doing this?" to every activity or ministry at our church will be a humbling activity. But it might just be necessary.

In the end, I would highly recommend this conference to any church leader: pastor, elder, or deacon. I would recommend it to any young man who is looking to be involved in ministry. I would recommend it to any church that is trying to make reform in their church. But if you go, don't mimic everything they do. Be yourself. Take the principles that you learn from them and apply it to your specific context of ministry. Thank you 9Marks! Thank you Capitol Hill Baptist Church! Thank you Mark Dever for your kind, gracious, and humble attitude! May God continue to help you help churches seek to be healthy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Weekender, Day 4

Sunday was the last full day of "The Weekender" and should be called "A Day in the Life of Capitol Hill Baptist Church." And it was a full day! The morning started by attending their Sunday school hour, which they call Core Seminars. Everyone meets in one part of the sanctuary, someone welcomes everyone, and then each teacher explains what they are teaching. Then they give everyone five minutes to get to their class and it begins.

I attended a core seminar on Christianity Explained, a course designed to walk through large parts of the Gospel of Mark and explain Christianity. It was a good class, good young teacher who engaged most people in the class, and most everyone participated.

Then came the worship service. I would describe their style of worship as somewhat liturgical. It lasted just over two hours, which was great to see, since many have told me that our 1.5 hours is too long. The service was mixed with Scripture readings (four of them) and designated prayer times (four of them). It all lead to the sermon, where Mark Dever preached on 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:18. After the sermon, we sang one of my favorite new songs that I hope to sing at CBC sometime soon--All I Have Is Christ. One of the best parts of the service was the time of baptism at the end. They baptized three individuals. They each gave a very powerful testimony and then were baptized. One unique aspect of their church is they end each service with a moment of silence. Everyone sits down after the final prayer and sit there reflecting upon the service for about two minutes. Then the piano starts to play and everyone begins to interact with each other. Very interesting.

I was one of the select few who went to lunch with Mark Dever at his house. We had a great time of interacting and asking questions about the Weekender and different aspects of our ministry.

The evening service was unlike anything I have been part of in the past. He gave away books. He had many different people come to the front and share aspects of their personal ministries. After each person shared, he would assign someone in the audience to pray for that ministry. There was a very short sermon (15 minutes), it was more of a reflection of a short text than a full sermon. It seemed as though the evening service was designed more for care and relationship building than anything else.

After the evening service, they had a Members meeting. They dismiss anyone who is not a member (except all of us men there for the Weekender) and they had a 2+ hour members meeting. They voted in new members & voted out old members (who were going to different churches). Let me just say, they take membership very seriously. And that was encouraging and convicting to see.

After that, the staff & interns of the church meet every week to evaluate the day's services. They talked about the order of service, the music selected, how people sang, and how the sermon was delivered and structured. Everything was up for evaluation. It is an incredible display of grace by Dever to open himself up to review each and every week of his sermons. He leads the way in humility with his staff.

That was their Sunday. As I sat there, I remembered one thing that one of their associate pastors said during the weekend. They design their Sunday day of worship in order to confront nominal Christianity. If you want to be lazy in your Christianity, then you will not want to be a member at this church. They take it very seriously.

Tomorrow, I will share some final conclusions about this conference. What I learned and why you might like to go at some point. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Morning After: Laziness by Mark Dever (2 Thess. 2:13-3:18

Instead of preaching yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit and listen to some good preaching at Capitol Hill Baptist Church as part of "The Weekender" that I have been attending. I like doing this from time to time because it helps me remember what it means to listen to preaching. Pastor Mark Dever preach from the second half of 2 Thessalonians, specifically 2:13-3:18. He dealt with two aspects of the Christian Life.

First, he talked about Christian Work from the second half of the section. In a meeting later in the evening, he explained that he went out of order in this passage because he knew that more people in his church would have questions about this section, but he wanted to emphasize the previous section of the text. So, this was in some way, to get the work question out of the way early, so he could emphasize the grace question later. (As a side note, he's is much more gifted than I am in preaching, but I would not have done it this way).

He has a way of asking some very diagnostic questions that helped me think through the question of work. For instance, he asked, "Are you helping your children understand what it means to work?" That made me stop and think about my kids, am I teaching them an ethic of laziness or an ethic of hard work. And are there consequences to them when they are lazy and do not work? Are there certain people that I look to that are models of what it means to work hard? Am I that guy? Do I want people to follow my work ethic as I work hard in following Christ?

The bulk of the sermon was found in the first half of the text when he talked about Christian Grace. The Apostle Paul writes, 
"But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thess. 13-14).
He emphasized six subpoints about the Christian being saved by grace.
  1. This Grace is God's favor contrary to what we have done.
  2. This Grace comes through faith
  3. This Grace brings hope
  4. This Grace does not preclude our effort
  5. This Grace gives strength
  6. This Grace stirs up prayer
I was particularly impacted by the 5th point when he asked everyone to fill in this statement: God has given me the strength to do ______________. How would you answer that question?

It was a good sermon, great questions to help diagnose a heart of laziness at the beginning and great statements to help encourage a heart of sin at the end. If you want to listen to the sermon, you can find it at their church website by going HERE.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Weekender, Day 3

The Weekender by 9Marks
The Weekender, Day 1
The Weekender, Day 2

Yesterday was the third day of "The Weekender," the conference I am attending at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in conjunction with 9Marks Ministries. Saturday was a much lighter day than Friday, but still as helpful.

The morning included some thoughts on developing a culture in the church for discipleship and counseling. It was about developing and training a mindset in people in the church that if they have their Bible, they can minister to the needs of other people. They say this is not something that you can necessarily program. It is very difficult to structure a culture of discipleship and care. But it is something that takes time to develop.

My favorite part of the day was the evening session when Mark Dever talked about preparations for preaching. One cool thing that they do is to publish a "Sermon Card" that covers all the sermons and texts for the next four months. It is their view that God can and does move them as they schedule the preaching calendar for the next several months. The question was asked by someone in the crowd, "what about being flexible with the schedule, for instance what did you do after 9/11?" It was then that they passed out the cards that were printed about a month before 9/11 and this is what they had scheduled. Just look very closely at that picture. We often think about 9/11 being a tragedy for NY, but don't forget what happened just down the road from the Capitol. God was providential in the planning of their services.

I do plan ahead on my sermons. I have my schedule made up for the rest of this year & I have began thinking about next spring. And I think I will look at publishing it for people to have. Dever said what it does is to help people in their private preparation in anticipation for the morning message. They know what passage you are preaching on and they can read ahead.

The other thing that he does which I found helpful is that he rotates what kind of Scripture he preaches from. For instance, he will do a series on OT Law, then NT Gospels, then OT Prophecy, then Pauline Epistles, then OT Wisdom, then NT General Epistles, then OT History, then back to NT Gospel and so on. He does this in order to expose the entire genre of God's Word to God's people. He said, "You will want to preach the truth in such a way so that people will know how to find the truth." I like that.

It was a good day. I'm looking forward to the rest of the conference. If you have not thought about being part of a conference like this, I would highly recommend it.

Video Sunday: What Is The Gospel by Mark Dever

I thought it would be very appropriate to post a short video that I recently came across by Mark Dever. It is appropriate because today I am at his church, Capitol Hill Baptist Church. I have been at his church since Thursday evening as part of a church leaders conference called "The Weekender" which is sponsored by 9Marks ministries. It has been a great time and if you want to know what we are doing, check out the blog posts from the previous couple of days.

This video is also appropriate because it is a short summary of the gospel. We constantly need to be reminded of the gospel. I constantly need to be reminded of the gospel. It is good for my soul. If you ever wanted to hear a summary of the gospel in under two minutes, this is the video you need to watch!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Weekender, Day 2

As I have stated the past couple of days, I am at a conference called The Weekender which is put on by 9Marks Ministries & Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Yesterday was probably the longest of the days for the conference. We started at 9:30 am and ended about 10:00 pm. And there were not many breaks during the day. It was very long, but it was also very profitable.

If I were to summarize the day, I think I would have to use the word "Church Membership." I know they are baptists and I should not be surprised, but they really talk about and encourage church membership. And there were a few things that did catch me off guard in regards to their concept of membership. I need to process these things, so let me just explain what they said without stating what I think about it at this time.

The day started with a Q & A with a few of the elders concerning the meeting from the night before. There were many good questions asked, but the main question I was hoping to get answered was this: How do they care for the regular attendees? I made the observation that at the elders meeting, they prayed through the membership role of those whose last name ended with J or K. But, I thought, how do they care for the regular attendees? Do they pray for them?

I was somewhat shocked by their answer. NO. They don't. They care for them like they would care for us this weekend. They love us, they help us in any way that they can. If we ask questions, they will answer them. In the same way, if a regular attendee at their church is not a member, they will be glad to answer questions and love them, but they do not pursue them or pray for them. Mark Dever even said in the evening membership class meeting that "he does not pray for those who are not members." I assume by that he means that he does not regularly pray for those who are not members.

I have always taken a stance on church membership that it was important, but it wasn't going to keep me from treating someone differently simply because they were not members. If they came to my church, I would seek to get to know them and shepherd them. Maybe this is something that I need to rethink.

The rest of the morning had to do with Mark Dever explaining the history of the church. Which might sound boring, but it was really interesting. He is a very engaging person. He emphasized not changing things too quickly, but that when you do, you had better be willing to die with your decision. But he seemed to be emphasizing grace and patience. I appreciated that.

After lunch, we sat through a few hours in discussion about Church Discipline. One again, you cannot talk about discipline if you do not talk about membership. They are intrinsically linked. They do NOT discipline anyone who is not a member of their church. Probably because they do not know them personally.

The evening finished with three hours of their membership course they call "Membership Matters." They walked through their doctrinal statement in the first hour. I found it interesting that they ask every member to sign their doctrinal statement saying they believe it. If you do not believe it, you cannot be a member. Period. In the second hour of class, they walked through their church covenant. In the last hour, Dever talked about why someone should join a church.

In the end, what I appreciate most is that everything they do has been well thought through. It is giving me many things to really contemplate. I might end up not totally agreeing with everything they do, but I am forced to think things through and for that, I am very thankful.

Question: Are There Any Good Reasons You Can Think Of To NOT Be A Member Of The Church You Attend?

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Weekender, Day 1

As I stated yesterday, I am at "The Weekender," a conference put on by 9Marks Ministries in conjunction with Capitol Hill Baptist Church. It is a smaller conference where the church pulls back the curtain and lets you look behind how they operate the church. I will try to make each day's comments brief, but there are a few things I want to point out about last night's activities.

Welcome & Orientation
The staff and volunteers at Capitol Hill Baptist Church were just great. For starters, there was a mix up with my hotel and the free shuttle they "supposedly offered" and we were not able to take it. So we drove the short distance to the church and they allowed me to park in their very small parking lot. We were greeted with smiles and kindness. I can't express enough how welcoming the people of the church have been. We have been offered plenty to drink and snacks to eat. We were even given several free books, which of course made them special in my eyes.

Elders Meeting
The bulk of the first night was observing an elders meeting. I have been to many elders meetings in my life. Some have been good, some have been long, and some have been boring. But usually most of the elders meetings I have participated in have been very similar. But they did some things in their meeting last night that really impressed me.

First, they began the meeting with a song. Of course, it helps having 14 men around the table plus many interns that were sitting nearby. And it was even better having another one hundred men singing "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." I do wonder how it would be to have the eight of us in our elders meeting singing, but maybe we will have to try at some point.

Then they read Scripture together. I guess they read the passage and context of the next weeks message. This week, they read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:18. But they incorporated prayer with the reading of Scripture. They went around their table and each guy said a short prayer of praise on that text, whatever made an impact on them.

I was also encouraged to see how they shepherded each other. They went around the table and each man shared how they were doing and what the other men could pray for them. Then they each prayed for the man on their right. Then as the meeting ended, they went around and shared thoughts of thankfulness for one of the men who is going off the elder board. The things they shared about this man was deeply personal and thoughtful. It appears they know each other as elders and are leading their church arm in arm.

Now, the thing that impressed me the most of this elders meeting is how they care, pray, and shepherd their people. This week, they went through their membership role, names that end with J & K, and asked how each person is doing spiritually. And someone around the table had something to say about each one of the 46 names on that list. Let me emphasize that again, they knew something about the spiritual life of each person on their membership list, names ending with J or K. Then they prayed through every single name.

I was deeply convicted that I do not do that as I should. I was convicted that there are some at our church that I do not know about their spiritual condition. There are probably some at Cornerstone that not any elder knows of their spiritual condition. We need to do better at this and we need to spend more time in prayer for the body of believers. If any member of Capitol Hill Baptist Church ever reads this, trust me, it seems very apparent that your elders pray for you!

Today is a very busy day. I will try to post some later or at least tomorrow morning. Thankful so far.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Weekender by 9Marks

Today I am driving to Washington DC to take part in a church leaders conference called "The Weekender" that is sponsored by 9Marks ministries. On their website, this is how they describe this conference:
Three times a year, 9Marks and Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC host around fifty pastors, seminarians, and church leaders from Thursday night to Monday morning for a full-on immersion in the life and inner workings of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, a church committed to living and ministering biblically.
You'll have box seats for a new member's class. You'll be front and center for lectures from Mark Dever on expositional preaching and implementing change. You'll even go behind closed doors to observe an elders' meeting. And all that's just the first half of the weekend.
From leadership to worship to body life and more, it's all on the table. So bring your questions.
Most of the church conferences I have attended in the past are the large scale events that have some options for break-out smaller groups. But nothing like this. This is a church that stands behind a "church ministry" pulling the curtain back to show you how they administrate the church.

The Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church is Mark Dever, who has written many books on the nature of the church. I will count it a great privilege to pick his brain on so many things. Look out Mark, here I come. I have my list of questions already formulated.

Here are a list of some things that I am interested to learn and see this weekend.

  • Elder Meeting - I am really looking forward to seeing how other churches run their elders meeting.
  • Purpose of Membership - I am interested to see what they have to say about the importance of being a member vs. being a regular attendee. Someone asked me this question just a few days ago and I often find it difficult to give a difference between those two (except voting).
  • Service Planning & Sermon Preparation - I look forward to hearing from Mark Dever on several aspects of planning for the service & sermons. How far out should a pastor plan his messages? Just to the next week or for several week or several months?
  • Adult Education - I am interested in seeing their strategic plan for educating adults.
  • Services at Capitol Hill Baptist Church - I love attending other churches to get ideas and thoughts of how to do new things.
If you think about it, I would appreciate your prayers. I am attending this conference with one of my elders, Alan Unangst. I look forward to spending some quality time with him and learning from him as well. And stay tuned. I plan on blogging each day with things I am learning. So even though you did not pay the $255 to register, you might learn something as well.

Question: If You Were Going, What Is One Church Related Question You Would Ask? (I will try to get answers to your questions as well)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

31 Days To Finding Your Blogging Mojo by Bryan Allain

I have been at this blogging thing for just over a year now. The more I blog, the more I really like the process of writing. While doing it, I have yet to read anything from anyone on how to become a better blogger.

Until now. Today is the release of Bryan Allain's new e-book, 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo. I never thought I would ever read a book on blogging, yet alone, a book that had the word mojo in the title. But I have. And it was worth the effort.

I shouldn't say it was worth the effort because it is really not that difficult of a book to read. In fact, it is designed in such a way that if you were to read it the way it was designed, you would only take less than 10 minutes a day for a month. What makes it even more interesting is that Allain is a self-proclaimed humorist, which means he writes funny things. And some of the things he writes are in deed funny. It will keep things light-hearted and not focused on the real difficult business of blogging. 

The book is written to be a 31-day journey to help bloggers become more focused on what they are doing. That was my take anyway. While it is easy to read, I am not saying that it will be easy to apply. He asks you to do some very hard things (like remember your blog post from one year ago or determining the audience of your last ten blog posts). But as I tried to do these things, they helped bring some clarity to my purpose of this blog. I came away from this book with a renewed vision and energy for blogging. I hope you will subtly see a few changes over the course of the next month or so that is an influence of this book (of course, you will only know that if you buy and read the book).

If you want to do that, you can find the book by clicking the book title above or by going to the website, If you are a blogger who wants to become more focused or you are just a person who wants to figure out which changes I am making to this blog were a result of this book, you might just want to purchase this book.

I received a free copy of 31 Days to Finding your Blogging Mojo by Bryan Allain in exchange for this unbiased review.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Not Forgetting 9/11

Today is September 13th. That means it is officially two days after the 10-year anniversary of what forever will be remembered as 9/11. And most people are moving on. I don't mean that sarcastically. What I mean is that the fanfare of the anniversary is over and it is back to life as usual. It has made me think, should it be life as usual? I mean, on one hand, our lives will never be the same. We have been changed forever because of those events. But on the other hand, we have to live our lives. As Christians, we have to embrace what we are going through and live the next day by faith in Jesus. Then the next day. Then the next.

Over the last several days, so many people have written so many good things as a reminder of how the Christian should respond to 9/11. I thought I would just give you a link to them, at the mere idea that you might want to know what others have said. Here are three helpful articles I have read over the past couple days.

Keven DeYoung offers a very helpful prayer.
"O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we worship and adore you, for you are our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. We will not be afraid though skyscrapers tumble and fall, though terror alerts are raised and the constant noise of wars and rumors of wars is all around us. The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; you utter your voice; the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 
We live in an uncertain, sad and dangerous world. We always have and always will. But your sovereignty is secure, your love is fixed, and your promises are altogether sure . . . [keep reading]
Adrian Warnock says that he has posted a very similar article every year since that tragedy on 9/11. What is interesting about his article is his calling to wake up to the reality of evil, every day.
"In the end 911 was, however, a single day. A very important day, but it was nonetheless just a day. Part of history that can never be erased but just one day. We have had evil days before and we will have them again. Without minimizing the pain of this day, or for a moment suggesting that we should turn back the clock or stop commemorating it, it was just a day. Somehow such days must be integrated and life must continue, as indeed it has . . . [keep reading]
The Gospel & NYC: Some Research & Analysis on the State of the Church--10 Years Later
Ed Stetzer provides some helpful thoughts on the state of the church in NYC after those events. He writes,
"It should not surprise us that there is interest in how people respond after tragedy. Missiologists have long known that receptivity to the gospel tends to increase in times of distress (especially nation distress) . . . The horror of 9/11 left a smoldering pile of dusty rubble, but the gospel of Jesus Christ has overcome the terror in the lives of many New Yorkers, changing lives where the likelihood of change was doubted . . . [keep reading]

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Morning After: A Life of Obedience (Matt. 7:24-29)

The ending of the Sermon on the Mount is classic! Jesus spent extended time teaching His disciples (and the crowds) on the nature of the Kingdom. He taught them that they could do nothing to enter the Kingdom. He taught them their only hope was to be broken and come in as a beggar. He expanded the law for them, saying that what really matters is the heart behind the action. It does not matter whether you have never murdered, but have you ever been angry? That is just as bad in God's eyes. When He gets to the end, He drives home the entire sermon with a story.

Yes, that's right, He ended His sermon with a good illustration. The story is that of the wise and foolish builder who both built the same house. They were both hit by the same storm. But there were quite different results. Why did Jesus tell this story at the end of the Sermon on the Mount? He is asking one last time: "what are you going to do with my words?" This is His final appeal, are you going to obey and listen and be different based upon what He just said, or not?

Jesus is saying that the only appropriate response to His words is obedience! I have studied this passage many times in the past. I have read it, taught it, been taught it, and have sang songs about it. And that is probably the most dangerous part of this text--familiarity. My experience has often been that those who approach texts of Scripture with an "I already know that" sort of mentality, they will miss what the Lord is trying to teach them. But if we come with open hearts, wanting and ready for the Lord to teach, we just might be surprised at how He changes us.

For this story of the wise and foolish builder, I think it can be boiled down to this: one guy planned and worked hard and one guy was lazy. The wise man worked really hard because he knew that the dry season wouldn't last forever and eventually he would have to face the storms. The foolish man just wanted to finish building as quickly as he could so that he could just enjoy the house.

The only difference between these two guys is the foundation. And according to the context, the foundation is obedience to the words of Jesus! The wise man was not comfortable with shallow responses to the words of Jesus. He cared so much about it that he worked really hard to ensure that it would endure till the end. Why is it difficult? Because the message of Jesus is difficult. It is free, but it is difficult. Even in this sermon, Jesus' message is "plucking out your eye" or "cutting off your hand." Does that seem easy? No, of course not. But that is why it is going to take some careful planning and hard work to obey the words of Jesus.

But don't misunderstand what I am saying. Ultimately, the hard work is found in trusting Jesus and responding in faith to all that He says. Are you willing to trust Him and obey Him that when He tells you to do something and it makes no earthly sense at all, that He will take care of you? It is responding to His message by faith. Will you respond to Jesus by faith and work hard to apply His message to your life? Then you are the wise man who built his house upon the rock. If not, you are the foolish man!

Much of what I learned from this passage, I have detailed in my book, Helping Johnny Listen. It is in chapter 4 on what it means to Live the Preaching of God's Word. If you want more information, I would refer you to the book or you can listen to the message HERE. (usually posted by Wednesday).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Video Sunday: How Our Suffering Glorifies God by John Piper

Today is the 10th anniversary to the worst tragedy to happen in America of my lifetime. I know exactly where I was and what I was doing. I remember what I was thinking. I remember who I talked to. I remember seeing the second plane hit the second tower. I remember watching the first tower fall in the background as the news anchor was talking about something else. I remember talking to some friends downtown Chicago as they wondered whether they should get out of the city. I remember the flight I had cancelled just three days later because all flights were grounded. I remember just about everything about that day. So do most of you.

I was going to write an entire blog post on how the Christian should respond or remember events like this in their life. Maybe I will do that someday. For some reason, I just never got to writing an entire post about it. Yet as I thought about this day, I thought about all those people who are suffering even to this day because of those events. For many people, today is a very difficult day. They have lost their father, their mother, their husband, their wife, their son, their daughter, or their friend. Today is a hard day and I will be praying for them as they cannot escape this day.

As I thought of these people suffering, I asked myself this question: Is There Any Good That Can Come From This Sort Of Suffering? To answer that, let me introduce to you a short sermon by John Piper. For so long, he has been the suffering guy. He writes about the good that can take place when we are going through horrible events. And for the Christian, this sort of suffering can and should glorify God. But that depends on how we respond to the event. As you contemplate this day, let me encourage you to take about 37 minutes and watch this sermon?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9/11 - In My Seat

This is an amazing video of a man who should have been piloting flight 11 that crashed into one of the towers. He shares his testimony of what Jesus has done for him and his desire to live for Him even more fervently after being spared from this tragedy. One thing I particularly liked was when he shared his life plan. Make sure and take the 16 minutes to watch this. It will not be wasted time.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Snowball Debt Program

The last couple of days, I have made an attempt at stating what the Bible has to say about money and debt (part 1 & part 2). I ended it with this thought: that debt should never be something that is long-term and that we are content to live with. It should be something that we seek to eliminate and get rid of in our life. Now, there have been a few times when my wife and I have started and effectively used a plan to eliminate debt. Almost every snowball debt program I have seen is very similar.

The first step is to create a list of your debts. Now, this list can be in different orders based upon which program you are using, but for this illustration, let me use Dave Ramsey's order. He says to put them in smallest balance to highest balance. He says to not worry about the interest rate at this point. So, make a list of your debts. Take the following chart to illustrate what it might be for some random couple (taken from pg. 91 of Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey).

Interest Rate
Gas Card
Student Loan
The next step is to do everything you can to pay off that first debt. Pay the minimum on all your other debts, but also realize that you cannot take any more debt. Don't use the gas card. Don't use the credit card. Don't go buy a new car. Nothing more. This will only work if you budget your money. Do you know where every dollar that you earn is going? Do you control your money or does it control you?

In John Cummuta's Cascading Debt-Elimination System, he says one of the most important factors in paying down your debt is to create your Accelerator Margin. This is money that is left over after you budget your money. Let's just say for the couple above that after budgeting their money, they find out they have $50 left over every month that is not assigned. They take that $50 and add it to their $60 payment on their gas card until it is paid off.

Then when it is paid off, they take the $110 they were paying on their gas card and add that to the $70 they were paying on the MasterCard. Now, they are paying $180 a month on their MasterCard and should have that paid off in a couple months. Then they take the $180 they were paying and add it to the $200 so that they pay $380 a month on their Visa. They keep doing this until everything is paid off. (By the way, if you are paying 9% on your home right now, might I suggest refinancing).

Make sense? Then why don't we do it? Might I suggest that we do not do it because we fail at the very beginning of the process: creating and living by a budget! I don't care how much money you make. I don't care how much money I will ever make. If I want to be a good steward of God's money that He has given to me, I must know where I am spending it. And might I suggest to you that you should know as well. Create a budget, live by it, organize your debts, and pay them down. Why don't you start today?

Question: What Would You Do With Your Money If You Had No Debt?