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.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I have been challenged recently to start looking at the Bible a little bit differently than I used to. Look at its stories from a different perspective. It's really amazing how we think we know a story from the Bible, because we've heard it in Sunday School and read about it in our lesson books. Why don't we look back in the Bible at these stories? Are we so inflated that we think we've gotten everything there is to know about them? Take Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Shane and Shane's most recent album has a song called "Burn us up", it's quite possibly their coolest song of all time, and it's about that story. But there's a point in the bridge where the lyrics say:

You are able to deliver from the fire of affliction
It's the declaration of my Lord
You're not an image of gold
You're the God of Old
You have made us, come and save us, we are yours
But even if you don't we will burn.
I decided to go back to Daniel and read this story from the Bible. This is what Daniel 3:16-18 says:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to give you an answer to this question. If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, But if not we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”
We always look at this story as a great story of deliverance for God's servants, and it is, but I have never heard that part before: Even if God doesn't save us, we will not bow to you. They went there fully expecting to be burned alive for God, and they were ready and willing to. What a picture of obedience! For some reason, we tend to overlook that part of our stories. Even with Jesus. Most people, when you ask them why Jesus died on the cross, they will say it's because He loves them. And that is definitely true, I am not saying He doesn't, and that is definitely one of the reasons. But if you read any of the four gospel accounts, Jesus was praying to God beforehand, pleading for any other way. But, God planned only one way, and Jesus loved His Father so much, "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death-even to death on a cross." (Phillippians 2:8)
The ultimate picture of obedience was Jesus Christ. God, in the form of a man, resisting all temptation to do His Father's will and lay down His life for us on that cross. Can we really say we love God that much? That's where our obedience comes from: our love. Do you love God enough to lay down your life for Him? It's a difficult question to answer here in America. We can easily say of course we do, never have to think twice about it, because the odds are we'll never have to find out. If I can love God that much, what would anybody have on me? That's my challenge to myself. To increase my love for my heavenly Father, to the point where I can say with Paul "to live is Christ but to die is gain."
Sorry for the novel, but this has been stewing around in my head for a while...til next time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

First Week

This is it...I just got home after possible one of the LONGEST weeks of my life. Our first day we checked the trip odometer and it read 108 miles traveled. We went from Lake Wylie to Rock Hill to Chester in one day....for those not around here, that's a good bit of traveling. We started every morning at 9 o'clock and I got home every night around 8:30 or 9, after driving all over Northern SC it seems like and hanging with around 200 kids everyday.

I wouldn't change it for the world.

This was quite possibly also one of the greatest weeks of my life. We ran the whole spectrum, starting off in the morning with 3-5 year olds, going to two YMCA camps in Rock Hill for 5-7 and 9-10 year olds, then finishing our night with a VBS in Chester with all ages. Suffice it to say, we had to adapt the material we got very quickly, because preschoolers and 5th graders have veeery different tastes. Luckily, the songs we had are good for everyone (even some adults got into them) and most of our memory verse stuff we were able to keep intact, and I was even dubbed "Bubba" at the VBS for the week, which is a persona I'll probably keep for the rest of the summer (for some reason I make a dang good ole' Bubba). But it seems like we had to make drastic changes to the way we told our Bible story and the words we used.

However, one thing we didn't change was the gospel message. I was very proud of my team, who are both a bit younger than I am and neither of them have had much practice with this, but they shared Jesus Christ with these kids, sometimes using simpler words, but never watering down the message. We had at least 13 decisions just this week...and this is only the beginning. I'm getting really excited to see how God is moving in this ministry. I can't wait to see how it starts expanding and gaining more notice in our community.

Please keep us in your prayers though. We had a fantastic week, but we are exhausted. There are only three of us in the team, sometimes with an adult, sometimes by ourselves, standing in front of 50 kids trying to keep them attentive and entertained, while trying to share the love of Jesus. It's a daunting task, so please pray for us that we'll have the strength and wisdom to deal with any problems, and that we can be worthy vessels for the Holy Spirit to move through these kids in our community. Next week, while I'm off, I plan on diving back into the Word and reflecting back on some of the things I've learned these past couple of weeks, so I should be updating pretty soon. I love you all! God Bless!


Saturday, June 21, 2008


There really isn't anything like a week at camp to get you pumped up. For serious. I had an awesome week...a long week, but a good one. I got to meet a lot of youth from all over South Carolina that were there for the same thing I was, and for the most part, waaay more excited about it. It kinda put me to shame.

All week long I was reminded of Revelation 2, when the church at Ephesus receives their letter:

I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place-unless you repent. Revelation 2:2-5 (emphasis added)

I really have been struggling for a long time, trying to regain my first love for Christ...and I've failed miserably. I didn't know how. But our chapel speaker this week (Matthew Elrod, check him out, he's awesome: challenged us to look at God from a different perspective, looking at God's magnificence, and really took us down a few notches. I'm regaining a zeal to study God's Word more, and I'm really excited about this summer now. In the midst of updating you on how our clubs are going, I wanna reflect on some of the things I've been challenged with this week, so look for that in the future.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

So it starts

Well, in around an hour and 40 minutes, we will be leaving to start our week of training camp. I passed my salvation presentation with flying colors (yaaay) and have everything done that I needed. I'm actually starting to feel a little giddy :D

But anyway, training is a week long, and I won't be back until next Saturday, so I probably won't be posting anything til next week. After we get back, Monday starts our official job, and we have a busy week ahead of us: 3 bible clubs from 9 to 3, then a VBS that night at 6:30, Monday through Friday. I'll be keeping you updated every couple of days, and everytime something happens that I get excited about. So anyways, please keep me in your prayers this week as I go through training, and I'll let you know how everything went in a week!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Finally Back on Track obviously my hope at the end of my last post didn't quite work out, as it's been well over a month since my last post, but a lot of things have happened in the past month, and computer usage was scarce. But I'm home now, back in SC, and I'm getting back on track with everything.

But not without a few changes. While I do plan on finishing out part 2 of contentedness (and I know you're all dying for the conclusion :P), I'm gonna be changing the format of my posts, and a little bit of the content. While I'll still be posting my studies in the Word, many people back in WaFo asked me to keep them updated on the progress of my summer I figured this would be the easiest way.

Speaking of my summer job, for those who don't know I have a job with Child Evangelism Fellowship for the summer, where I'll be working with kids in the area at YMCA's, churches, and other programs. I'm pretty excited about it, but I need a lot of prayer support, currently in the area of funding, and later for the children I will hopefully be able to reach.

So to cut this a little shorter, I'll just say come back often, as I'll be posting waaay more often than I have been, and please be in prayer for me, my team, and the children we'll be ministering to this summer. Thanks!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Contentedness Part 1

"But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness."
1 Timothy 6:11

I'm not completely sure if the title of this post is even a word...but oh well. I haven't been able to get to a computer much in the past week, hence the week long absence again...but hopefully I can make it up by what I found in 1 Timothy.

"If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
1 Timothy 6:3-10

How many plexiglass preachers do we hear these days that preach about money? How often do we ourselves complain about it? When does concern over your finances cross over into worrying too much about money? Unfortunately, I have no clue. What I do know is, 1. Too many, 2. Too much, 3. Too quickly. As a college student, my finances is usually one of the main things I worry about. I'm always worried about if I'm going to be able to eat, or buy gas, or other things like that. But I shouldn't. At all. For a very good reason.

I started at Southeastern in fall of 2005. I had plenty of money over the summer, but due to some really, really stupid decisions on my part, I had none by the time I started college. And after books, I had less. And after my first month of rent, I had less. After a couple of weeks worth of groceries, I had none. After my first tuition payment, I had debt. Lots. And I could not get caught up. I never barely ever had money for groceries, much less anything else. And yet, I NEVER went without a meal. I never had to buy gas because I had a job I could walk to, and didn't have a car anyway. I am LIVING PROOF of Matthew 6:26.

So why can't I be content in what I have? Why must I have more? As I continue my journey towards higher integrity, I have to answer this. And it's a very hard answer. Please pray for me as I try to be content in everything God graces me with. Thanks...and I'll try to get a post up more often.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Saved by Doctrine?

"Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine."
1 Timothy 4:13

This post is a pretty difficult one, which is why it's been a week since my last post. This doesn't so much constitute my personal studies, this actually came from my experience this past weekend. I taught the 11th and 12th grade guys at Wake Forest Baptist Church for their DiscipleNow weekend. For those who don't know, the relationship between Southeastern Seminary and Wake Forest Baptist Church is not exactly a good one. WFBC is not part of the Southern Baptist Convention, and some of their theology and doctrine are more liberal than Southeasterns. Since Paige Patterson came to Southeastern and began making changes leading to Southeastern becoming very conservative, relations have become strained. Patterson was denied membership at WFBC, because they did not want the same thing to happen to their church. Ever since then, stories and rumors have been circulating about anything and everything.

And I was not immune to this. When my friend from Gardner-Webb called and asked if I could help her out, I accepted immediately, but with quiet reservations. Even as I walked over from my dorm to the church (which is right on campus by the way) I was silently praying and fearing that they would shun me when they found out I was from the seminary. I was scared. And it was completely ridiculous. Not only did I meet some of the sweetest, nicest people I have ever met there, I was accepted immediately and treated like one of their own. The guys I taught were great, and while we didn't agree on everything, we had a great time and I hope I get to know them better. I gave my contact info to the youth minister there, and he invited me to come and help anytime with anything, and even invited me to have lunch with him anytime.

You see, we, especially at seminary here, are very doctrine-centered. Please don't get me wrong, I am a Southern Baptist, and Apologist-in-training, and doctrine is very important. But we tend to elevate it to the point where if you don't have the same doctrine we do, you're not as saved as we are. And that's wrong. GRACE is what saves us, NOT doctrine. Whether someone is Methodist, Presbyterian, Anabaptist, Southern Baptist, Free Will Baptist, Pentecostal, non-denominational or any other of the thirty one flavors, what matters is that you have accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life, and no matter what you do, God's grace is sufficient for you. It doesn't matter if you use grape juice or wine during your Lord's Supper. It doesn't matter whether you believe in free will or predestination. Frankly, and this is a tough one for me, it doesn't even matter if you've been sprinkled or if you've been dunked. Baptism doesn't save you. Christ does, and He'll do it even if you aren't baptized.

Again, I'm not promoting throwing away your doctrine, or not pursuing the truth, or "tolerance". What I am promoting is an understanding that not everyone is going to believe what you believe. And that's ok. Christians should fellowship with Christians, and Christian encompasses more than Southern Baptists. I, personally, am looking quite forward to working with my brothers and sisters in Wake Forest Baptist Church in the future.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


"Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You."
Psalm 25:21
God has many, many ways of convicting. I have found that out in the past week. It seems every day something happens and it hits me that I'm not as I should be. Just last night, I taught the guys bible study we have every Wednesday, and I convicted myself during the lesson. In my last post, I said I wanted to find out what my reordered priorities should be. Of course, God is above all, and I have to make Him first in my life. As long as I can do that, the rest should fall in line. And the only way I can do that is by increasing my integrity. A lot.
I was recently given a model as to what a man of integrity is. I was extremely humbled, and I appreciate this man and all he does. And I know God put him in my life for the purpose of showing me this, providing me a model of integrity that I can strive for. I can only pray that I don't get in my own way of attaining this goal, of being the same man everywhere, no matter where I am or who I'm with. I have to let God work in me, and I tend to get in the way of Him.
That's my other issue. Pride. I have way too much. Whenever things start going the right way, I like to pat myself on the back. So, I have a request: don't give me any praise. If I do well at something, don't tell me. If I don't do well at something, tell me how I can improve. This is going to be difficult for me, because I enjoy receiving praise...we all do. But it tends to inflate my ego a little, and that's not good. I must decrease, He must increase. Please help me in this, and keep praying for me. And if you had anything to add, please do, I would appreciate any comments.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Slapped with the Word

He must increase, I must decrease. John 3:30

Well, as I began my study, I started reading through 1 Corinthians for no apparant reason at the time. Then I got to Chapter 3 and started reading Paul's humble look into his own ministry....and I got slapped with the Word.

That ever happen to anybody else? You're just innocently reading your Bible, and all of a sudden God slaps you with a conviction so hard, it makes your head spin. I had to reread this many times, praying that God would let this lesson sink in. We can all learn from it, I believe.

You see, I thought I was ready for ministry. I know that is what God has called me into, and that is what I'm going to do. He has been prepping me for the past several years for this, through many ups and downs, dragging me through a refiner's fire, painfully removing everything in my way of Him. And so, after years of this, culminating in January of this year, I read this verse and find I still have a LIFETIME of work ahead of me. Let me elaborate.

"Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building."
1 Corinthians 3:5-9

Wow. As much as Paul could have patted himself on the back, he places himself right with Apollos. The church had been dividing, half saying they were with Paul, the other with Apollos. Paul calls them carnal, saying they were nothing but spiritual babies. Paul humbly takes the focus off of them and points them to God. But that's not what really gets me. What really hit me was verse 9. "For we are God's fellow workers". The HCSB says we are God's coworkers. And he is speaking not just of himself, but all ministers of the Word of God. God's COWORKER. Do you realize how unworthy we are? As John the Baptist said, we're not even worthy to untie our Lord's sandals, and yet we are coworking with God, planting, watering, and harvesting this field before us. I look back on my semester, my Personal Evangelism encounters that I've had to do for class, and I wonder if I was doing it for class or for God? I want to say I was, but I can't say for sure...a whole new set of priorities has been defined for me. Next time, I'd like to get into what those are and how I need to go about them. Please, if you have anything to add, I would love to hear it. Thanks!!!


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

My Journey to Manhood

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

Romans 7:24

This is jumping on the blogging bandwagon...but I hope that mine will be at least a little different from the norm. My blog will chronicle my journey and my studies in becoming a Biblical Man of God. I hope that some of you will join me. I'm sick and tired of seeing all the boys running/ruining our country. I know that God can use the smallest thing to create revival in His church. I'm not so egotistical to think that my blog will start an awakening amongst the men of the church, but I hope that at least someone can get something out of my limited understanding as I stumble my way through this study.

P.S. It'll be pretty obvious when I haven't been studying if I haven't posted in a while, so don't be afraid to call me on it...I need all the accountability I can get. Thanks!