March 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
Below is an article that I wrote in honor of Great Friday, enjoy!
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. -John 19:30
Today is a day that we all hold in reverence as we observe the day that our Passover Lamb was led to the slaughter so that we can be made justified in Him. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is immense. He lived a flawless, sinless, law-fulfilling life, and His payment was death by execution on a cross. Of course, His life was not taken from Him, but rather He gave it of His own free will.
When He was nailed to the cross he experienced separation from God (so that God would never forsake us), became the curse of all the sins from all the sinners who had ever lived and would ever live (so that the curse of sin would be broken over our lives), and ultimately was sent to Hell (so that anyone who believes in Him can have eternal life in Heaven). Think about that last one for a second… Jesus did not just die for your sins, He went to Hell in your place. The One who knew no sin, became sin, paid the penalty of sin (death), and descended to the fiery pit of Hell.
That is humbling.
But Jesus gives us a hint, through His pain, blood and tears, that He knows something. You see, Jesus is the only person who lived in Heaven before coming to Earth. He Is the Lamb that was slain from the foundations of the world. He knew that he would suffer this brutality before he entered into Mary’s womb. He knew the end from the beginning.
It’s odd from a human perspective that just seconds before Jesus gives up His Spirit that he says, “it is finished.” The word that he used was the Greek word teleo, meaning to bring to a close, finish, to end; to carry out the contents of a command; to perform the last act which completes a process, to accomplish, fulfil. This is the picture of a command being given, and someone going over every detail to ensure that it gets done, totally, with nothing more to be done.
This is beautiful. Jesus knew before he had descended that He would ascend. He knew at payment for all corruption that there would be a victorious ressurection.
Because He said that “it is finished,” we can now rest in the full knowledge that we no longer have a price to pay. The price for our righteousness has been fully paid, and that is Jesus’ amazing Grace.
But there is more. With the knowledge that it is finished, now you and I can be completed. There is another Greek word which we render completed, pleroo, which means to make full, to fill up, i.e. to fill to the full; to cause to abound, to furnish or apply liberally; to make complete in every particular, to render perfect.
This word is used by Peter in his sermon at Pentecost (quoting David’s psalm):
You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full (or completed) of joy in Your presence. -Acts 2:28
How awesome! When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, literally the Spirit of Jesus, we can be made full (complete, filled to the full, abounding, perfect in every way) with joy in His presence.
Friend, if you have believed on Jesus as your Savior, He now resides in you, which means that His presence is forever with you. You are not alone, but instead you are made perfect and can be abounding in Joy in His presence. Praise God! Embrace His Holy Spirit. Be made complete in Him.
So while we hold this day in holy reverence, we have no need to be sad for Jesus, for He gave His life, finishing the work, and we can rejoice in the victory that He supplies in His ressurection.
December 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
Below is a post that I wrote for our missionary website: garzafamily.us
For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying:“Do not say, ‘A conspiracy,’Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy,Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow;Let Him be your fear,And let Him be your dread.” Isaiah 8:11-13
I’ve seen a troubling trend among many Christians, and God addressed this for me as I read Isaiah 7-8. You see, in Isaiah 7, God warns the people that three different groups had been plotting to attack them: Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah (Isa. 7:5). He continues on to reassure the people of their victory and that he already knows the fate of these groups. What caught me in chapter 8 is that apparently the people of God had fallen into a habit of thinking based on political defense. They would worry about all the possibilities and speculations of war and tragedy. They wondered what their fate was, and what would happen if their war was lost.
This is what I see God’s people doing in today’s society. Many Christians get together and instead of focusing on what is noble and good (Phil. 4:8), they fall into the trap of discussing political affairs and worry of what will happen if “their guy” wins or not.
“What will happen to gas prices?”
“Well, there goes the stock market, and my retirement…”
“What about the middle-class families?”
“Do the unborn have any hope?”
“Is this the end of Israel?”
“Will the Fiscal Cliff be our ruin?”
I know that the intentions of these brothers and sisters are good, but unfortunately, these political conversations often turn into worry-fests. Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Mat. 25:26-27)
So what did God have to say to His people in Isaiah 8? He warned them not to worry about the conspiracies or threats. The root of worry is fear. God says that if you want to fear, fear the Lord and His Holiness. When He says this, he is establishing His supremacy, not that he wants you to avoid Him in fear. He’s saying that you can fear these earthly things, or you can be aware of the greatness of our God. When you focus on God’s greatness, supremacy, and holiness, and know that God is for YOU and NOT against you, all these earthly worries fade away. Colossians 3: 2-3 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” If you believe on Jesus for your salvation, His desire is that you find peace in your earthly life through Him.
Be ever cognizant of God’s greatness, holiness, and his goodwill towards you by His Son, Jesus. As you focus and meditate on God’s goodness towards you, your fear, worry, and thoughts of conspiracy will grow strangely dim.
God loves you, and His Grace is sufficient for you!
October 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
But be you doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22
Having been raised in the church, I came to be very familiar with the most popular of Christian one-liners. Among these one-liners are Bible based phrases such as, “rest in the Lord”, or “Be a doer of the word, not a hearer only”. These two specifically have confused me because one sermon will tell me that His Grace is enough, so rest in His finished work. Then not too long after the same preacher will tell us that the blessing is in the doing. Faith without works is dead, so to show our faith, we should be doers.
The Lord has in the past several months opened my eyes to the revelation and the mystery of his Grace. It’s as though I’m reading the scriptures with new eyes.
I’d like to examine this concept from James 1:22 and it’s accompanying verses, as I feel there is a key here for you as a believer.
I do want to make one thing clear: the whole Gospel; no, the whole New Testament; no, the whole Bible is summed up in God’s Grace. In the Old Testament when the Law was in place, God’s people proved over and over again that they could not keep the Law, and over and over again God blessed them and called them back to him by Grace. In the New Testament, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ to be Grace embodied, taking the penalty of sin and death in our place, and reconciling us to God the Father. Knowing this, it is clear that much of the New Testament is instruction on how to avoid falling back in to legalistic law keeping, while staying in Grace.
OK… Back to James 1. Let’s look at the passage:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror;
24for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
It’s very easy to take a single verse (usually out of context) and preach a sermon on the concept behind that one verse. The problem with doing this is that it can often show the speaker’s, or writer’s, bias. Most people lean towards teaching legalism or the law, and verse 22 is a prime offender.
What I love about these verses, is that James actually defines what he means. So he first says that if you are a hearer only and not a doer, it’s like you look in the mirror and then walk away and forget what kind of a man (or woman) you are. Hmmm… that’s interesting. So if you are a hearer only, it does not mean that you are lazy, or that you aren’t busy in the church or helping people, but rather, it means that you have not focused on the concept of who you are as a new creation.
Secondly, James tells us exactly what it means to be a doer. A doer is a person who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it. Again, I find this very interesting.
We, as believers, are considered doers of the word when we look into the perfect law of liberty (and continue in it). What is the perfect law of liberty, you may ask? I’m glad you did. The word for liberty here is eleutheria. This word is also used in verses such as:
Romans 8:21 – because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.2 Cor 3:17 – Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty.Galations 5:1 – Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
While there are some other examples, these three come from Paul, who constantly wrote about the battle between Grace and Law. I love that verse from Galations, that we should stand fast in the liberty by which Christ made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. That yoke of bondage is not a yoke of sin, but is actually a yoke of trying to live right on our own by the law.
So, to look into the perfect law of liberty is to intently study, focus on, and curiously examine the perfect law of God’s Grace which makes us free from bondage. As you gain more and more understanding of this unending Grace through Jesus Christ, you are called to continue in it. Continue in His Grace. Don’t be distracted by Christians telling you that God is unhappy with you or that you are not doing enough to earn His blessings… His Grace is sufficient! Live under His Grace!
If you are a doer of the word in this way, the Bible says that you will be blessed in what you do.
Don’t underestimate the goodness of Jesus Christ. He did not die to save you from the yoke of the law, just so you can “be a doer” of more works. No! He took you out of that law of works to cover you with His law of liberty = Grace!
Hallelujah! Thank You Jesus!
August 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Below is a post that I just wrote for www.garzafamily.us :
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. John 1:16
This morning the Lord woke me up early, telling me that he would give me a different way of seeing his scripture and ministry than I had previously known. Not being able to go back to sleep after He woke me, I got up and continued a brief search through the Scripture on the word “grace”. I use the BlueLetterBible app because it has built in access to concordances and lexicons.
As I perused through the list of scriptures using the word, I came across John 1:16-17. It reads:
(NKJV) 16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
I have always taken for granted what seem to be little word redundancies. Without the will to dig deeper, I always just read over them. So I decided to go deeper this time, and this is what I found:
(NKJV) John 1:16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
In this verse, the word for “have” and “received” are the same word “λαμβάνω or lambanō”. john also uses the same grace word for “grace for grace”, “χάρις or charis”. The word “for” is translated, “anti” meaning:
1) over against, opposite to, before
2) for, instead of, in place of (something)
a) instead of
c) for that, because
d) wherefore, for this cause
So it reads, “And of His Fullness (Abundance) we each receive receiving indeed grace in place of grace.” how can we have one thing in place of the same thing? To find out part of what makes the grace we receive in place of the grace we have different, we must dissect the next verse.
(NKJV) John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
In this verse, the word for given is “didōmi” which means to give something that already existed. So, the law is something that already existed in the world, but God gave it to Moses tangibly.
This Grace and Truth on the other hand was not given (didōmi), but rather “came” (ginomai) through Jesus Christ. Ginomai means to come into existence. So instead of Jesus’ grace and truth coming from something that already existed in the world, God introduced a new grace and a new truth, of which the world had never known. Jesus’ grace and truth did not exist before He came to display it.
So to go back to verse 16, “and of His fullness (abundance) we each receive receiving indeed a grace that the world has never known in place of the grace that we already knew, a grace and truth that has become redefined through Jesus Christ.
I’m learning more and more about Jesus’ grace. I just found it neat that the morning that the Lord wakes me to tell me that he will reveal things to me that I did not realize, is the same day that he reveals that His grace through Jesus Christ did not exist until He came.
Yours in Victory,
David J Garza
July 26, 2012 § Leave a comment
Isn’t it amazing how some babies can sleep so peacefully. They don’t have a care in the world, because they know that they are in the arms of loving, nurturing parents that won’t let them miss a single feeding or diaper change. They live a life of no burdens and no obligations.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1 (NIV)
I’d again like to credit Orrin Woodward‘s book, Resolved: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, as it is in his eighth chapter that he addresses the resolve to improve one’s finances. It is by following his financial principles that my wife an I were able to dig ourselves out of debt.
This fifth principle is another one that does not require much sacrifice, yet has the power to completely change a person’s finances.
“When a person desires financial freedom more than he desires things, then he will get his freedom by allowing many things to remain un-purchased.” –Orrin Woodward
The Impulse Buy
“Impulsive, impatient purchases are debt’s best friend.” -Dave Ramsey
Impulse buying will blow your budget out of the water. It will sink your battleship. I know that this sale is today only… I know that this is the only red one they have… I know that without this you, your spouse, or your kids will never be able to be seen in public again… But you have to think of this as a law:
Set Your Price Limit and Then Sleep On It!
- Some people will penny pinch all year long, reusing paper lunch sacks, turning their underwear inside out, and shifting their car in neutral every time they hit a downhill slope. This same person will come home one day with a new motorcycle, boat, $400 golf club, iPad, infomercial juicer, or a bangin’ new designer handbag.
- The second person does not make any large purchases, but instead nickel and dimes themselves into oblivion. They get their hair cut and highlighted, nails done, Starbucks anyone (?), candy bars, girl-scout cookies, valet parking, or eat-out for lunch and dinner several days per week. I could go on, but I’ll spare you.
There is nothing wrong with an occasional large purchase (if it has been calculated, budgeted, and can be paid in cash) or with an occasional small purchase, but there is a better way of managing your money.
Orrin Woodward earns millions of dollars per year and claims that he and his wife Laurie have a set price of $500. If either of them find an item they’d like to purchase that is more than $500, they follow their self-imposed rule, and go home to think, pray, and sleep on it.
Now, if their income is so high, yet their set price is only $500, do you think it might be a good idea to set your price limit a little lower? I would suggest $50 or $100 to start.
In addition to just setting this limit, you should budget that amount into your monthly budget — meaning that you can only make that sort of purchase once a month. Just because an item is less than your impulse buy limit, does not mean that you should buy it.
I apologize for having taken a short break from blogging without notice. A very close friend of mine died in a motorcycle accident, leaving behind a young pregnant wife. Please keep her in your prayers, and if you’d like to contribute to supporting this widow, please contact me, and I’ll give you instructions.
As always, I appreciate your comments and suggestions, so please feel free to comment below.
Keep Reading and Leading!
David J. Garza
July 9, 2012 § 2 Comments
7 Characteristics of Debt-Free People
Why is that?
Obviously, the second family has a spending problem. They make plenty of money—more than enough to pay off that debt in two years. But they have so much money going out, they can’t keep their head above water.Whether it’s in the form of an overbearing mortgage, credit cards, a hefty car payment or just making poor choices like eating out every night, their debt keeps them from making progress.
So all of their income gets sucked up by other stuff, which leaves them making minimum payments on their debts and never gathering any momentum. It’s a difficult, stressful way to live.
At some point, people who become debt-free decide that enough is enough. Their old lifestyle wasn’t working, and they’re ready to make some serious changes. It’s like they have a personality change, but that’s not what really happens. All they are doing is rediscovering aspects of their personality that have always been there.
So what are some of these traits of people who get debt-free?
They are wise.
People who decide to ditch debt for good realize that debt isn’t a tool. While their FICO score may go up, their net worth goes down. They treat debt like it’s a skin disease—which isn’t a bad idea. Don’t you wish you could wipe away debt with a little Benadryl cream?
They are patient.
Someone who really wants out of debt can walk right pass the shoe aisle or the flat-screen TV aisle without blinking. Why? Because they know all of that stuff can wait.Impulsive, impatient purchases are debt’s best friend.
They are confident.
People who are getting out of debt don’t care what others think. You know you’re on the right track when your broke friends are making fun of you. Getting out of debt can require drastic lifestyle changes, which means you’ll never succeed if you aren’t mentally prepared and confident in your decision to find financial peace.
They are goal-driven.
No-brainer, right? Getting out of debt is a goal in itself, so of course people who want to get out of debt are goal-oriented. But the catch here is that these people do more than just set goals—they map out how they plan to get there. That’s what Dave’s Baby Stepsare all about—small goals that lead to the one giant goal of being debt-free!
They are responsible.
Getting out of debt takes a sense of responsibility and maturity—two traits that match up well with patience. And maturity has nothing to do with age. Some 50 year olds still treat money the same way they did when they were 20. They just have more of it now. When you’re responsible, you want to get out of debt as fast as possible so you can begin saving, putting money into a college fund, investing, and paying off the mortgage early.
They are not materialistic.
Becoming debt-free isn’t about stocking a garage full of cars and living in an eight-bedroom house. The purpose is to change your family tree for generations to come, helping others along the way. Materialism can affect any of us—rich or poor. It’s all about how much importance we place on stuff.
They are willing to make sacrifices.
Eating out. Cable. Going to movies every week. These are the types of things that might have to go while you’re getting out of debt. But keep in mind: Budget cuts are just temporary. When you’re debt-free, you can begin slowly adding those things back into your lifestyle.
The bottom line? You have to be motivated and do something about it over time.
If you want to get out of debt, you can get out of debt—no matter how much money you owe. Even if you don’t think you’re particularly strong in all of these characteristics, you’ll be amazed at how your perception of “wants” and “needs” will change once youstart the Baby Steps.
When you’re motivated, passionate and even a little angry, you’re more than willing to do whatever is needed to find financial peace. Everything else will take care of itself.
What are characteristics you’ve noticed in debt-free people that you’d like to mimic?Leave a comment to share your insight.
July 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
Principle #4 is all about the concept of what is called “delayed gratification”. I know, sounds complicated, right ;-) Delayed gratification means that you delay (put off till another time) the purchase or acquisition of something you think will be gratifying (bring pleasure, usually momentarily). I say this in jest because it seems that so few people in today’s western society have the slightest amount of delayed gratification. We as a people are known worldwide for our consumption habits and lack of personal discipline. However, since most people are swamped by debt, usually for perceived “needs”, let’s just make it our goal to NOT be like most people.
Google defines “depreciate” as:
- Diminish in value over a period of time.
- Reduce the recorded value in a company’s books of (an asset) each year over a predetermined period.
That said, the idea here is to never finance (lease, loan, borrow to purchase, etc.) anything that will lose value over time. Here are some examples of items that depreciate:
- entertainment systems
- lawn mowers
You get the idea.
Let’s take a quick look at the true cost of financing items that depreciate. In the first example we’ll look at one of the most common mistakes that people make: the leased car.
Early in our marriage, we were given some advice (note: NOT good idea), “If you just build a car payment into your budget, you can drive a new car every 3 years. It’s great. You’re always under warranty, and you’re always in a newer car.” We took this advice, and just recently got out from under the last lease. I tell you this so you know everybody is tempted by this enticing offer.
Example Calculation Using the Leasing Formula (borrowed from leaseguide.com)
Let’s assume you’ve decided on 3-year (36 month term) lease of a Toyota Camry XLE that has a sticker price of $24,600 (MSRP).
You have managed to negotiate the price down to $23,000 (Cap Cost). You decide not to make a down payment, but you have a trade-in worth $5000. Your Net Cap Cost is therefore $23,000 – $5000 = $18,000.
Now, the dealer tells you (because you asked) that the Money Factor is .00375 (.00375 x 2400 = 9.0%) and the Residual Percentage is 60% of MSRP. So your Residual amount, in dollars, is .60 x $24,600 = $14,760.
Now let’s do the math:
Depreciation Fee = ( $18,000 – $14,760 ) ÷ 36 months = $90.00
Finance Fee = ( $18,000 + $14,760 ) × .00375 = $122.85
Sales Tax = ($18,000 x .08) ÷ 36 = $40.00
Monthly Lease Payment = $90.00 + $122.85 + $40.00 = $252.85
(sales tax included)
In this example, you have a monthly payment of $252.85 over 36 months, which means that at the end of your lease (assuming you stayed within miles, didn’t dent the car, and don’t have to replace the tires, etc) you will have paid $9,102.60 for a car that you don’t even own. If you’d like to buy the car at this point, you’d purchase it for $14,760. In essence, leasing a car is just a fancy finance term for renting. Most people would never rent a car for 36 months, so don’t lease either.
Again, I am guilty of falling into this trap (more than once), so I am not condemning you if you lease.
Suggestion: Whenever you can, get out of your lease, and purchase a car for cash. It pays!
Lastly, let’s look at the true cost of making a financed purchase of a motorcycle (yes, I’m guilty here too).
Let’s say that you went to the local Harley Davidson dealer and picked out a brand spanking new Road King (MSRP about $20,000). You talk them down to $18,000, and put down another $3,000. Your total financed amount would be ($18,000 + $1,440 tax) – $3,000 = $16, 440 (assuming an 8% Sales Tax rate). Assuming a 6% loan rate over 60 months, your payment would be $317.83/month.
At the end of your loan term, the cost of the bike would actually be about $27,000 ($19,069 sum of payments + $3,000 downpayment + $5,000 depreciated value). My question is this: would you ever pay $27,000 for a base model HD Road King?
Please watch the video below… it makes a simple point: If you don’t have the money, DON’T BUY IT! (PS, it’s funny);