Friday, September 11, 2009

This September 11

Eight years ago I was a freshman in high school. On September 11, like every other day, I went to my first period class. Then, about 8:50 or so I walked to my 2nd period class, which happened to be English. I got there just in time to see my worldview come crashing down along with thousands of American lives.

The President at the time decided that this couldn't happen again, and took action, with the support of Congress and politicians from both sides of the aisle. And for a while, the nation was with him. But then it got difficult, and started taking too long, and suddenly it was a terrible idea. Suddenly, it seemed like the nation turned against the President and it was now time to bash him and his decisions.

Respect was lost for the President, and hating him became the "thing to do", and he was continually blasted over every decision that he made. The media made sure every misspeak, every hesitation during a speech, every slight error he made was blown out of proportion and the public knew he was completely inept and unsuited for this job.

Now, do I think everything he did was right? Was every decision he made the best? No. I disagreed with several things he did, especially toward the end of his presidency. But to blast him? To berate him? I like to make jokes, and poke fun at things. But blatantly disrespecting someone like the President? Especially during such a critical time in American history? What happened to the unity we experienced after 9/11? The leader of our country deserves a certain amount of respect. Especially one elected twice. Apparantly, he did something right, at least during the first four years. The outpouring of downright hatred for our President was unpatriotic, unAmerican, and downright disturbing.

Now you're saying, "But that's over now! So what?" Well, my point is, it wasn't cool then, it ain't cool now. I am not a fan of Barack Obama. I think nationalized healthcare is a bad idea. I don't particularly like his stance on abortion, or his overturning of funding for embryonic stem cell research. Nor do I much like his foreign policy, and for that matter most aspects of his domestic. But he is my President, the leader of this country, and should get the respect he deserves. Disagree with him, dislike him, but don't disrespect him.

But neither should you idolize him. He's just a man, and men make mistakes. Just because he comes up with a policy doesn't mean it's gonna be great. Just as the media hung on to all of Bush's mistakes, they've glazed over Obama's. A politician is only as good as the media makes him. The media has turned Obama into a savior, who will lead America out of the depths of Bush's failures. But one man can't save an entire country, just as one man can't destroy one. It's time we stopped looking for the one person who can change things, and start looking to help change things ourselves. Maybe we should be trying to get back the unity we had as a country 8 years ago. That'd be a big enough change for now.

But what do I know. I don't even like politics.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Bridge: What I'd like to see

"Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things which one may edify one another."
Romans 14:19

Well, it has definitely been a pretty dang good while since I've updated this thing...but as I begin a new chapter in my life, I thought now would be a good time. I also decided it would be good to update it with why it's starting in the first place: The Bridge. There are plenty of things I could write about, like the whole huge broiling controversy that's going on right now over this thing. I could also try to reach out and tell everyone about how we're going to do things and invite people and be all evangelistic. I could even write about why I think that God has moved me here and why I decided to destabilize the first and only time I've ever been moderately stable in my life.

But I'm not.

I've kind of had this on my mind for a good while now, with no way to really articulate it, so I'm going to try my best to do it here. The following is a list of things that I would like to see The Bridge become/do.

  • First of all, I would like to see The Bridge become a place where the church meets, instead of becoming a "church". During the past year, I've learned quite a bit about what the church really is, and how we can practice it in our daily lives and not just in theory. Anyone with a bit of biblical knowledge can tell you that the Bible says we are the body of Christ, and that we are His church. But if you ask those same people about their church, they'll almost definitely give you the rundown of their buildings, their programs, their "worship times" (which I'll get into later), etc. I think it's about time that the church stops being the building and becomes the people again.
  • Secondly, I would like to see The Bridge begin to correct a skewed view of worship. "Worship" nowadays mainly involves getting together one morning a week so we can "worship" while we're singing, and then sit back and listen to somebody talk about God for a while, and then maybe "worship" one more time during the invitation, and then go about our lives the rest of the week in preparation for the next time we "worship". This is not right. Our entire lives are supposed to be lived as worship to God, our thoughts and our actions. While music is definitely a part of this, it is only a very small part. Sunday mornings make up only a tiny fraction of our lives. How are we worshiping God the rest of the time? I would like to see The Bridge focus on the many other aspects of true worship, such as exhorting and encouraging one another, spending time with God one on one, serving other people (which I'll get to later) and being mindful of how your actions are representing Christ.
  • Next, I'd like to see The Bridge focusing on making disciples. Not making discipleship classes, but actual disciples. Here is an excerpt from my friend Alan's blog, The Assembling of the Church ( “All of those things can be included in discipleship, but none of those things are discipleship. When I say that we should ‘make disciples’, I mean that we should spend time with other brothers and sisters in Christ and help them do the things that Jesus did. We help them serve others and teach others. While classes can be part of this, primarily discipleship happen when we live our lives among one another. It happens in our homes and at restaurants, in parks and stores. We disciples when we drive somewhere together, work together, eat together, anytime we spend time together. And, in order to make disciples, we must spend alot of time with the people that we discipling – and most of the time should be outside of the classroom.” Now, the rest of the post tells how this quote was the answer to a question he asked after the professor had already moved on from the topic of discipleship. I encourage you to go here and read the rest of his post. Anyway, the modern church seems to have lost the art of discipleship, relying on afternoon classes on Sundays, rather than Jesus' example of simply saying, "Follow Me."
  • Finally, I would like to see The Bridge serve. Simply serve. Placing other people ahead of ourselves. I'd like to get away from "mission projects" and the kind of "evangelism" that seems to only involve an invite to church instead of an invite to Christ. People don't need to go to church. People need to know Jesus Christ. Meeting people's needs, showing the love of Christ should be at the forefront of our evangelism. "Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. " Acts 2:44-45. There are people all around us who need to be shown love and caring. They need financial help, or manual labor, or just someone to listen to them. And it's our responsibility to do it. It's never easy, not usually fun, and extremely hard work to invest in people's lives, but it's what God has called us to do.

There are many more things I could list, but these are going to be hard enough. Will The Bridge do these things? I don't know. I don't even know if anyone else there agrees with me. But I do know that as I've studied and prayed, these are the things that have stuck out to me, and I believe they are what we need in this community. The trick, of course, is putting this into practice instead of theory. As usual, I welcome any comments, rebuttals, or snide remarks anyone may have.

Til next time,


Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Art of Seeking One's Self

"but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury." Romans 2:8

Those who went to Messiah last Sunday morning heard my rather harsh reality check God gave me about my selfishness. For those who weren't, I'll say very briefly that I let a lot of stupid, minor inconveniences put me in a really bad mood that all but extinguished my light for Christ one particular morning. Later on that same morning, after I'd stewed around and gotten myself into an even worse mood, I found out about a lady I worked with whose newborn granddaughter wasn't going to make it through the day, as all of her vital organs were failing. Could I keep them in my prayers?

Everyone at the CVS I work at knows exactly where I go to school, knows exactly what I'm going to school for, and knows exactly what I claim to be. How am I reflecting Southeastern? How am I reflecting Christianity? How am I reflecting Christ?

Of course, this is no isolated incident. I usually hide it a little better though. That's why I titled this the art of self-seeking. Because that's what I've honed it to, an art form. I can be selfish while making it seem like I'm not. I can serve my own needs while seeming to serve others. Now this isn't always the case, many times I have genuinely served others with no gain to myself. But have I gone out of my way to do this? Have I searched for opportunities? Have I genuinely loved my neighbor more than myself? I cannot in good conscience say yes to these, and it's finally beginning to shame me. "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;" 1 Corinthians 1:27

If I were smarter, I could put together some eloquent process of prayer, Bible study, and fasting to make me more humble and Christlike. But I'm not. So all I know to do is get down on my knees and beg for God's help. I have to reteach myself that anything I can do I couldn't without God, so everything that I do should be for His glory. It seems so simple, so obvious, but I can't seem to make my flesh do what my spirit longs to. I need your prayers as I continue my journey through my most difficult part ever.

This was a pretty tough post for me, especially with it being almost 4 months since my last post. I'd like to believe I'm growing, but how can I know without chronicling my journey? Pray I can keep up with this thing a little better also.

God Bless,

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Like breathing out and breathing in

One thing I've been wondering about is my prayer life. I think I've started to fall into praying when I want something, begging God and then adding in the "Will Clause", you know, the whole "only if it's Your will thing" but knowing you're gonna be mad if it doesn't happen to be in God's plan. So, over the next few days, I'm gonna study about praying. Paul says in Romans we are to "continue steadfastly in prayer" (Rom 12:12), and Jesus has a parable about how "men should not lose heart in prayer."

But how? How am I to know God is always there listening to every demand I make of Him? How can I change from making demands to sincerely seeking His will for my life? I'm going to be looking for answers to these questions and more. It should make for an interesting weekend.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

And so it ends...

Well, this past Friday was my last day with CEF. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it...I'm glad I can get back into a real job, with a steady paycheck, but I'm really gonna miss hanging out with the kids everyday. But I have officially decided that this was the best job in the world, and I'm going to try to do it again next summer. I was able to pray through the salvation prayer with 5 little girls who knew exactly what they were doing, and had incredible questions that I didn't even think about at that age. I definitely got more out of this summer than any of the kids I taught, and I've never felt more in tune with what God has planned for my life. I still have a long way to go, but I think I'm getting more and more on the path God set for me.

Now I just need a job. A real job. A full-time job. If anyone knows of ANYTHING, please let me know. I can't live off CVS, so when I return to Wake Forest I will be job hunting. I'm not taking any classes this semester, so I'll be able to fully devote my time to any job. Please keep me in your prayers for this, I have a lot of financial issues that need to be settled, and CEF and CVS just can't quite cut it.

But more importantly, pray that I can keep on the path that I'm on right now. I'm starting to begin to almost start to maybe almost understand exactly what it means to have God at the center of my life, and I'm hopefully beginning to change for the better. I've already made several hard changes in my life, I'm hoping I can continue that. And, now that CEF is over, I can go back to my studies in being a man of God instead of figuring out how to childrenize the NT stories. So hopefully, more posts for Matthew. That's all I got for today, God bless and thanks!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Godliness

It's been another little while, as I've been rather busy, but I've been wanting to get this post up for several days now. Last weeks camps went very well, but that's not what I want to write about. I've been able to talk with one of my very good friends alot the past couple of weeks, and they have amazed me with how spiritually mature they are, and being several years younger than I am. I can tell you, when I was in High School, I was nowhere near like that.

You see, I tried to make God my top priority for years. And I failed, quite miserably. I have learned a lot in the past 6 months, and one thing I've learned is you can't make God a priority. God has to be your life. If you try to make Him your top priority, you can't have the relationship He wants with you. Make God your life, and then your priorities will fall in line.

My friend has done this, 4 years ahead of me. I can probably quote more scripture, debate doctrine more intellectually, give history behind a lot of Bible stories, and do basic word studies on some Old Testament passages. But what good is all that without the right relationship with the One who made all of that? I have been challenged, my friends, to increase my love for my Lord and Savior. It's really not the gospel message everyday. In our camps, we weave the gospel into every story we tell, so I hear it everyday. When you hear what Jesus Christ did for you every single day, it's hard not to thank Him for it, to praise Him, and to love Him all the more. That's my challenge to you guys: reflect on what God did for you.

John 3:16- God loves the entire world.

Romans 3:23- We have all sinned, and that seperates us from God

Ephesians 1:7- Jesus came and died on the cross, shedding His blood to cover our sin, only to rise 3 days later to prove His power over sin and death, and therefore gives us a way to be with God again.

1 John 1:9- Just confess our sins to Him, and He is faithful and just to forgive them, just like that.

2 Peter 3:18- We must grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and further our relationship with Him.