Message From Matt | November 30, 2018

The 3 T’s 
 
“But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
 
When I worked for Wheeler Mission, I had the great opportunity to speak twice a year to Professor Charles William’s class at Butler University about homelessness, addictions and mental health and what we were doing to help individuals that were living in those situations.  The talks were interactive and it was always something that I looked forward to.  At the end of each talk Professor Williams would conclude the class with his plea for the students to use their “Three T’s” (3T’s).  My first visit to the class was the first time that I heard about these and since then it has always stuck with me. The 3T’s are simple: it’s your Time, Talent and Treasury!  
 
Whether you believe it or not,  here is the truth about the 3T’s….we all have them!  Even if you have a crazy schedule, you still have some time to give!  You might be one of those people who say you don’t have talent, but every single person has at least one talent!  You might have a little money or a lot of money, but we all can give!  Maybe you don’t have a lot of these three things to give, but let me encourage you with this truth….you don’t have to have a great amount of any of the 3T’s to make an impact!  Remember the Bible account of the poor widow who gave all that she had (Luke 21:1-4)?  She probably didn’t have much of the 3T’s either but it didn’t matter, she gave all that she had and is great proof that even the small things that we do can make a big impact!  She lived out 2 Corinthians 9“if you sow bountifully you shall also reap bountifully!” 
 
It’s a Heart thing!
What you purpose in your heart to do, that’s what you will do!  If you purpose that you can’t give much of your 3T’s, then you won’t give.  If you dopurpose to give, then you will; It’s all a matter of the heart!  When I determine to give and then do it, God has always shown me that He will take care of me (Hebrews 13:5, Psalm 37:25-26).  When He takes care of me, then it builds my faith and makes me want to continue the process!  However, if we don’t want to give of any of the 3T’s, then it shows a poor heart condition!  God wants us to give because we want to!  He wants us to give cheerfully and not begrudgingly!  He doesn’t want you to feel like you have to give…He wants you to desire to give!  He wants us with joy to give just a fraction of what He has given us!  He wants us to sacrifice just a fraction of what He sacrificed!  He wants our hearts more than He wants our money!  He knows that if our heart is right, then giving of the 3T’s will be done  right! 
 
God will take care of you!
Let me repeat this, God will always take care of you!  He has the amazing ability to take what you have, even if you think it’s a little, and make something big happen with it!  Some think that It’s easy to give when your money situation is good, but what if your money situation won’t be good until you give?  What if you won’t reach your full potential of talent until you start using the talent that you have?  What if you will never have enough time unless you start using your time for Him?  
 
We can easily misuse our money, time and talent! I have done that a lot in my life but God has given us instruction on how to spend our money…You Obey/Work/Give/Save = Your Needs are taken Care of = You have Greater faith!!
 
Let me end with this oldie but goodie, you can never out give God!  
 
Look for ways to give your 3T’s every day!
 

See you Sunday!


Message From Matt | November 23, 2018

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”  Hebrews 13:15-16
 
What pleases God?
 
According to this passage, the things that please God are to 1) Do Good, and 2Communicate Good Continually!  Let’s not overthink what this means because it’s simple…we should “do good” to others and for God!  It pleases Him when His children obey His Word and Spirit…this is doing good!  It pleases Him when we sacrifice of ourselves for the good of others…this is doing good!  It pleases Him when we let go of pride and ask forgiveness of someone that we have offended…this is doing good!  There are many ways that we can “do good” and we should always be looking for ways to do this!  But, the verse says that we should also communicate good things as well!  
 
Our words are important and they are powerful tools that can be used for destruction or edification!  They can be used to complain or they can be used to show the gratitude in our heart no matter what happens.  Life doesn’t always go the way that we want it to and there are times when the stresses of it can overwhelm us.  It could be finances, relationships, kids going down the wrong path, or feeling like we don’t have much good going on that  causes us to not want to  praise Him but we have to resist that temptation and commit to thank Him!   This might be you right now!  If so, maybe you think, “praising God is a sacrifice!”  Maybe you are in a place that you haven’t been praising God at all!  I think that there are several  reasons for this, here are a few examples:

 
  1. We get caught up in everyday life and forget!
  2. Things aren’t going our way and we don’t feel joyful!
  3. We have loss and wonder why God allowed it to happen! 
  4. Maybe your Thanksgiving day wasn’t anything to be thankful for and family strife was at an all-time high?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

 
If any of these are happening now to you then do yourself a favor and just breathe!  Then start thinking about all the good things that God has done for you and I will guarantee you that your reasons to be thankful are greater than the things that drag you down!  Our problem many times is that we focus on what we don’t have (or what is going wrong) and don’t stop to think about all the good that we do have! 
 
Will you take a moment right now and write down 5 things on paper that God has done for you?

 
  1. ______________________________________________________

 
       2.  ______________________________________________________
 
       3.  ______________________________________________________
 
       4.  ______________________________________________________
 
       5.  ______________________________________________________
 
The last thought for today is that a complaining attitude about the problems in our life is a sign that we might not trust God!  A grateful attitude shows that we trust Him!  God does not like a critical and complaining attitude!  No matter what is happening in your life today, choose to be thankful!  Choose to trust Him!  As Dave Ramsey says, “We have better than what we deserve!” 
 

God bless you all today!  Bekah and I are grateful to call you friends!


Message From Matt | November 16, 2018

Tension! 
 
It seems like it’s everywhere!  Tension over money!  Tension over politics!  Tension over religion!  Tension because of crime and the lack of safety!  It is as if we live in a society where you can hear the ticking of a time bomb that is ready to explode at any moment!  
 
However, tension and chaos seem to be something that our society thrives on. Sitting in the dentist chair waiting for the dentist to arrive, the TV happened to be tuned to the “Maury Show” and I got to see yet again, more chaos and tension.  This trashy show has people come on to air out all their dirty laundry (if it’s even real) and the crowd soaks it up!  The greater the scandal, chaos, and tension, the louder and rowdier the audience gets!  To me, it’s a disgusting show, but to many in our society, it’s entertainment!  That’s why it (and many shows like it) continue to be on the air – because people love chaos and tension!  
 
Unfortunately, one of the areas that we see the most tension is in relationships!  Just this week, I was walking into a gas station and found myself walking into a sea of tension.  One couple were yelling and cussing about some issue as they were walking out the door and another young couple with their small boys were inside having an argument.  It was during a small break in their tension that one of their young sons yelled loudly to the dad, “Daddy, Mommy said that you two were going to get a divorce” which precipitated another argument!  After paying my bill, I left the gas station with emotions of sadness for these couples (especially for the kids) even though I didn’t know them, because that type of tension (relationships) is disturbing.    
 
The reality is that the world will always have tension in it!  But, how do we break free from it?  Let the truth about Christ change every aspect of our life!
 
Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15-17, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”  
 
These words are following Paul’s admonition to PUT OFF the old man and PUT ON the new man!  When we decide that the “old man” way of life is not worth the effort, we will then start living freer from the tension of this world and our worldly decisions and start living in peace!  Peace is so much better than tension but God knows that we can’t achieve that on our own!  We need Him to help us!  So, He gave us His Spirit!  He gave us His Word!  He gave us His Son!  He gave us each other!  We have all that we need to live free from chaos, but are we using it?  
 
If you are struggling today with  the tension that this world’s chaos causes, start thinking about God’s Words and “dwell” on that!   If you’re struggling with depressive thoughts, start thinking about all the good that God has done for you and sing His praises…go on, sing out loud about it!!!  Be thankful and go all out for Him!  We can’t stop the chaos and tension around us, but we sure can stop the tension inside of us!  This is what God does for us – gives us peace in the storm!
 

See you Sunday!


Message From Matt | October 26, 2018

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  – Proverbs 3:5-6

 
I know that these verses get used often as a reminder and a source of hope, but I wonder if we really understand them.  At first glance there doesn’t seem to be anything hard to understand with these verses – 
just trust God, not yourself!  But be honest…how much do you really trust God?  How much do you rely on you to figure things out?  Sadly, in my life, even growing up in a Christian environment, there have been many times that I have to say that I relied on self more than God and maybe that’s you too!  I am sure that I am not alone.  I think that this is a universal struggle that we all have but why is this even a struggle?  Is it because we do not know how to balance trusting God with the biblical mandate to also be a good steward and hard worker?  After all, the Bible says that if you don’t work, you shouldn’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10).  It’s engrained in hard workers to do just that…work hard!  But shouldn’t it be engrained in God’s children to trust in Him?
 
Growing trust!
 
This is going to sound too simple because in writing it is simple…our trust in God grows by believing in God’s Word in the good times and the bad times!  Our trust in God grows by spending time with Him in prayer and reading His Word!  Our trust in God grows when we don’t leave our faith but stick it out to see what He does!  
 
He’s directing even when you don’t see it!
 
There’s another truth to consider – God is working in and on you even if you don’t see it!  How many times have you looked back on situations that you once struggled with in amazement at what God did for you to get you out of the struggle?  Maybe it only took a little time or maybe it was a long process, but no matter, God was working out His purpose for you! I have had many times like this in my adult life and I can say what David said, “
I have been young, and now am old (middle age for me); yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25) If you have lived long or not so long, you have had struggles, but He was working through your struggles, even when you didn’t see it!  
 
Why didn’t we see it?
 
Maybe we just need to clean our glasses!  
 
I just had dinner tonight with a friend and his young boys and one of the boy’s wears glasses.  The son came from the indoor playground to get a drink at our table and my friend noticed that his glasses were dirty, but his son didn’t think so!  To him, his glasses were fine.  But the dad cleaned them anyway, gave them back to his son and he went back to play!  The son then realized how dirty his glasses really were, he just didn’t know it!
 
The son with the dirty glasses is so much like me!  I can go through life looking though my own lenses and think I see clearly, but my vision gets clouded and hard to see what’s really around me!  I need to have my spiritual glasses cleaned!  I need to be washed by the water of the Word and get to know God in greater ways!  With clean spiritual glasses, I see my own sin more clearly and I am able to do something about it sooner.  With clean spiritual glasses, I see what God is doing in my life!  With clean spiritual glasses, I am able to be a better influence on those around me!  With clean spiritual glasses, I am able to trust in the Lord with all my heart and get to know Him in a deeper level than before!
 
Knowing God is more than knowing Bible facts!  Knowing God is spending time talking with Him!  It’s spending time thinking about Him and trusting in Him!  Let’s do everything that we can to get to know Him…in doing so we will trust Him!


Message From Matt | November 9, 2018

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9

 
This weekend is special to us at IBT because it is the weekend that we put a lot of energy into raising money for our missions program.  We raise money for missions for a very obvious reason…we want to continue to send men and women around the world to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ!  We do this because God’s Word commands us to (
Matthew 28:19-20!  We also do this because this world is dark and getting darker by the moment and people need to know about the Light!  Those in darkness need the Light! The good news is that God is long-suffering and doesn’t want anyone to die while in the darkness!  The good news is that God wants all to come to know Him as Savior (1 Timothy 2:4)!  The good news is that while we’re still living, we can do something about the darkness.  We can…
 
Be stirred up!
 
“This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:” – 2 Peter 3:1
 
We need to be stirred up to remember what God’s Word promises us!
 
We need to be stirred up to remember what Christ has done for us! 
 
We need to be stirred up to tell others about the gospel of Christ!
 
We need to be stirred up to send missionaries out to where we can’t go!
 
 
Look up (“for”)!
 
“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” – 2 Peter 3:12 
 
While we are still here in the darkness, we should continue to be light!  We should continue to have hope and live in peace!  We should have love for the family of God and a desire to see those outside of the family to be saved!  To do this, we have to be focused! We can’t get caught up in the despair of this life, but we have to look forward to our future home!  Somehow, someway (by God’s help) we have to look past the now to look forward to what is to come!  If you are struggling today, know that you won’t always be struggling!   There will be a day, when there won’t be a struggle any longer!
 
 
Lay up! 
 
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” – Matthew 6:20
 
Since we should be stirred up to look up, we should work to lay up treasures in heaven (spiritual fruit, crowns and rewards).  We do that by following God’s command to deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow Him!  We do this in a real, tangible way when we give sacrificially for the good of others!  When we go to our neighbors and friends to share the love of Christ!  When we bake a cake so that the money can be used to keep sending missionaries out! 
 
I know that I often talk about the negative in the world, but more importantly , I want to talk about what’s good in this world!  What is good is that God is still in the saving business!  What is good is that we can participate in God’s game-plan to spread the gospel to our city and around the world!  What is good is that even when we give a little (what we can) that God can use it to do great things!
 
I want to stir you up to look up and lay up for the gospel of Christ!  Let’s do this together and see what God does!
 
See you Sunday!


Message From Matt | October 19, 2018

In Genesis we find the story of Joseph, who God blessed and used in a powerful way, but he first had to wait on God for 13 years.  All throughout the Bible we see many examples of people who had to wait on God. Many of these examples had a clear promise from God about exactly what would happen in their lives. Joseph on the other hand had no specific promise from God concerning his future.  For Joseph, God never told him that he was going to save the entire region from famine and become the second most powerful man in Egypt. While Joseph was in prison, he had no idea that God had him perfectly situated for an amazing purpose. For 13 years everything that could go wrong went wrong. His own brothers sold him into slavery, he was falsely accused and thrown into prison, and to top it off, the people he helped out in prison totally forgot about him.
 
Have you ever been in that situation?  No,  I’m not talking about being falsely accused and sitting in a jail cell, I’m talking about waiting on God. Many times waiting is hard. In our society we want it now!  Not having any clear direction or purpose in life can make us feel like we don’t matter,  especially when we feel as if God simply is not listening to us.  It is easy to feel as if you have been rejected by God and to lose all sense of purpose and hope.  When God seems silent in your life, and things aren’t working out the way you planned, and every path you try to take seems like a wrong turn, what should we do?
 
The first thing we can do is to continue to PRAY!
 
Thank Him, cry with Him, beg Him but don’t stop talking to Him. Never stop talking. Use this time of waiting wisely.  Spending more of your time in the Bible and praying might be the greatest outcome of your current situation. If you read Psalm 13 you can see that the Psalmist starts his prayer being angry with God, because he thinks God has forgotten about him, but by the end of the chapter he is singing and praising God.  So in the midst of your waiting, keep praying even if you don’t know what to say, because in so doing you will see how good God has been to you.
 
The second thing we can do is not to SWEAT IT!
 
Trust God in His timing and believe me, His timing is a whole lot better than your timing. Psalm 46:10 says to “Be still and know that I am God.” God might just want you to draw closer to Him and to simply stop, be still and wait.
 
The third thing we can do is to HOLD ON TO GOD’S PROMISES!
 
Psalm 130:5 says, “I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.” Waiting can be difficult, but instead of putting hope in ourselves, people, or circumstances, we need to put all our hope in the promises of God.  If we truly believe that the Bible is truth then waiting on God doesn’t have to be scary.  Knowing who God is and what His word says helps me feel more solid in a very uncertain world.
 

God was not surprised by your current situation or circumstance. He does not need a Plan B for you. As crazy as it may sound, at this very moment you are exactly where God wants you and has placed you. It wasn’t Joseph’s choice to be in Egypt; however, Joseph was right where God wanted him.  If you are hurting right now and feel like God has forgotten about you, just remember you are in the hands of your loving Father and He is using this time in your life to make you more like His Son.


Message From Matt | October 12, 2018

Take Him or Leave Him? 

Shield your eyes for a moment as I throw out a word that to many is a curse word…the word, discipline!  Do you like that word?  I usually don’t because I think of all the areas in life that I lack in discipline.  At times I lack in discipline in how I eat, in how i exercise, in how I spend money, etc… but probably the area in life that I feel most regret is when I am not disciplined to spend quality time with the Lord in prayer and in His Word.  At this point you might be thinking, “Wait! Matt’s our pastor and it’s his job is to be in the Word and in prayer a lot, because isn’t that what pastors do??!” Sorry to disappoint you but that is part of my struggle in life!  Finding the balance in life of spending the appropriate time with God on top of being a husband, father, and pastor.  Don’t feel bad for me though, this is probably a struggle for you too and I know that I am in good company regarding this struggle!  

I have found that when I am in those cycles of poor discipline, I often feel as if I have a “take Him or leave Him” relationship with with God!  Of course, I know that the Lord never leaves me, but there are times that I am out of fellowship with God and it’s as if I been so busy doing “good” things that I lose sight of doing the “best” things!  It’s almost as if things are going good that I neglect to spend time with Him or other times when I am extremely busy that I have leave off doing the best things that I can with God. 

I know that the best things are to start my day with a renewed desire to live for Him!  To put the armor of God on every morning and go out to live a victorious life for Him!  To Love my wife and kids as I ought and to love other people as I ought!  These are the best things but the problem of doing good but forsaking the best is a reality and it leads to me becoming spiritually dry!  It is in those dry times that I am once again reminded that I need to hear from God!  That I need to place myself in position to hear from God and that keeping myself busy doing and doing and doing has left me longing for the best.  

Have you been too busy to spend time with God? (Here’s what I have learned…spending time with God first in your day sets you on a course of being able to handle problems better and allows you get more done throughout the day!)

Or, are things going so good right now that the need for having a deeper relationship with God doesn’t seem like a necessity?  (Here’s a reminder…you can never “peak” in your relationship with God!  You should always be growing in the Lord!)

Look at this quote from Martin Luther, “If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer.”.  Isn’t that convicting? 

If you have been too busy for God, good thing that His mercy is new every morning!

Aren’t you glad for that!  Aren’t you glad that when you are in a pattern of undisciplined living that God is merciful with you, especially when you ask Him for mercy?  Aren’t you glad that He is faithful to us even when we aren’t?  Don’t get me wrong, God will chasten His children as needed (Hebrews 12) and that is never fun, but even in the chastening, His mercy is evident!  He could “consume” (kill us)!  He could do many things to us, but He is merciful!  Look what Jeremiah says about this in Lamentations 3:21-26… “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.  The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.  It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.”

Always Take Him!  Never Leave Him!

Let me encourage you to not ever get too busy to spend time with God!  I am urging and encouraging myself too!  I don’t want to leave God!  I need Him too much!  In a very real sense, I want to be a taker!  I want to take in all that I can of God and never be spiritually dry again!  As I write this, I desire to long for God in deeper ways and see Him with a greater vision!  That’s my desire for you too!

Let’s seek God together! 

Let’s seek God’s BEST together!

Let’s be disciplined in our lives to make Him the first priority!

When we don’t, thank Him for His mercy and then get back on track!


Message From Matt | October 5, 2018

Wide Awake to Worn Out!          

Had one of those nights this week where I woke up at 2:45 AM and was wide awake.  After laying there for a little while, I thought about getting up and doing some computer work or getting in the Word but  I thought I might just fall back asleep in a little while so I stayed in bed.  Unfortunately, I was wrong!  I didn’t fall asleep until it was close to time to wake up.  I went from being wide awake for 3+ hours to falling asleep for a few minutes and waking up exhausted!  

I know that I am getting a little older, but I can’t blame my lack of sleep on old age…not yet anyway!   My problem was that I was thinking too much…but not necessarily on good things.  In fact, I was thinking about all the things that I needed to do, all the things that I wanted to accomplish, and all the barriers that I thought were in the way of meeting my goals. The more I thought, the more my problems seemed to get bigger and the more negative my thinking became!  My thinking and over-thinking kept me awake until I couldn’t stay awake any longer!  

With all of the thinking that I was doing that night, I should have thought about Peter’s words in 

1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” and then maybe I would have fallen back to sleep a little sooner.  But I didn’t.  Instead, my mind was like a snowball rolling down a steep mountain that was quickly becoming a boulder! 

Have you had one of those nights?  If you haven’t, I am happy for you!  But, if you do have one of those nights in the future, please take my advice…give your cares to God sooner than later!

What’s it mean to “cast” our cares?

It means what it says…to cast or to throw!  It gives a picture of someone who has struggled long and hard with a care (burden or weight) and that they can’t go any longer without taking the weight off of them.  It is literally throwing it off of yourself and throwing it upon God!  It’s saying, “God, take this, because I can’t handle it!”  

The great thing is that God willingly takes it!  He wants to take your burden!  Just think about it this way, the God of the world wants you to throw on Him your burdens!  Why wouldn’t we?  

Today, maybe you aren’t burdened by anything…that’s awesome!  But then again, maybe you do have burdens!  If you are burdened, remember that you have a God that cares for you!  He loves you (John 3:16)!  He won’t leave you (Hebrews 13:5)!  He won’t forsake you!  He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7)!  Lean on Him today!   

Speaking of those who have burdens – please read this article and pray for Christians in foreign lands that are suffering for Christ! 

Church Calls for Help as Police Block Stairwell

ChinaAid

(Zhengzhou, Henan—Sept. 29, 2018) Officials in Zhengzhou, capital of China’s Henan province, sent people to blockade off the church during a service on Sunday, Sept. 16. In response, the church posted an SOS notice online, calling on all Christians in the area to support them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The message appeared at 9:00 a.m., calling on other adherents to Christianity to help Dali Church as government officials blocked its stairwell, forcing the churchgoers to worship on the first floor. Around 300-400 Christians were present, and the authorities sent additional people to raid the church.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just five days before, government personnel broke into the church but were intercepted as a few hundred Christians protected it.                                                                                                                                                                                                          In another announcement, Dali Church stated that the current crackdown on Henan churches, spurred by the adoption of the new Regulations on Religious Affairs on Feb. 1, is the worst the area has seen in the past 40 years. The government has ordered the removal of crosses, closed churches, smashed their possessions, and beat and harassed Christians, making it difficult for them to attend church and leaving them endangered, grieved, and enraged, but so intimidated that they fear to speak up.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All of these actions have happened to Dali Church.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Such oppression is also happening in other parts of the nation, such as Chengdu, Sichuan, where Early Rain Covenant Church, a large, unregistered church, is facing repeated harassment. On Sept. 16, Linxishu Evangelical Church, a branch of Early Rain Covenant Church, was raided by local officials. The church’s minister, Cao Qingen, was taken into custody.                                                                                                                                                                                               According to congregants, a dozen officials from the religious affairs bureau and the public security bureau claimed that the church was not yet approved and organized illegal activities. Dozens of churchgoers had information from their identification cards taken down and had to provide their cell phone numbers to the authorities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       ChinaAid exposes abuses, such as those suffered by Christians in China, in order to stand in solidarity with Christians and promote religious freedom, human rights, and rule of law.



Message From Matt |September 28, 2018

Do you have H.I.V?  

Sorry for the personal question and don’t be offended by it!

Actually, a variation of that question was actually asked of me by Mark Wilson a couple of Sundays ago after the message on eternal life and I assumed he wasn’t trying to offend me.  His father, Dr. Art Wilson, once told an audience that he had H.I.V as a way to start his sermon and it definitely got everyone’s attention and Mark wanted to get mine.  The H.I.V that he was referring to of course wasn’t a virus, but was the acronym, Heaven in View…meaning we should be living our lives here on earth with our eternal life in heaven in mind.

Why should Heaven be in view?

There are many reasons and one of those is that sometimes things happen to make life “stink” and we need to realize that these stinky times won’t last forever!  In fact, what lies in store for believers in Christ for eternity is utterly and completely awesome!  

Here are a few things in Revelation 21 that describe what eternity for believers in Jesus Christ will be like:
  • “God himself shall be with them..” (21:3)
  • “God shall wipe away all tears…” (21:4)
  • “there shall be no more death…neither shall there be any more pain” (21:4)
  • We’ll live in a huge city (1500 sq. miles high x 1500 sq. mile wide x 1500 sq. miles long) (21:16) made of pure gold (21:18)
  • There will be no night there and there is safety and freedom (21:23-25)

As amazing as those things are, there is so much more that awaits us, even things that aren’t mentioned in the Bible! 

When your journey’s end is a beautiful place it makes the journey more enjoyable!

Every couple of years or so, our family takes a vacation to a town in Florida’s gulf.  It is one of our favorite places to go and each time that we have been there, it is an amazing experience.  We love the beach, the warm weather, and the time to relax and have fun.  A couple of times we have flown but the majority of the time we drive.  Normally being in a van with all 5 of us for that long of a stretch sometimes makes us all cranky, but as we get closer to our destination the less cranky we are and the more excited we become.  It’s almost as if when we see the “Welcome to Florida” sign that we get a shot of adrenaline knowing that we will soon see the ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In our mind, the final destination made the journey seem not so bad at all.  It’s amazing what focusing on the joy of vacation will do for the pain of driving 18-20 hours in a car!  If that is the case for a vacation, just think  what focusing on Heaven can do for our life now!

This focus changes everything!!  OK, OK, not everything but most things!

It doesn’t change all of our problems, but it definitely helps us process everything that’s going on around us!  Knowing that Heaven is where our eternity will be spent should make life’s problems a little easier to handle.  After all, we don’t know what this life has in store for us, but the little that we know about life in Heaven should make us look past these problems and look towards what God has in store for us!  

What about you today?  Do you have Heaven in View?  With whatever problem that you have going on in your life, are you able to process it easier because you’re focused on Heaven?   This life does stink sometimes, but Heaven life doesn’t!  Heaven will be worth all the pains and struggles that we go through now so just hold on!  Don’t give up!  Keep on going, one foot in front of the other!  Don’t stop doing what you should be doing!



Message From Matt |September 21, 2018

“I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.  For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.” – 1 Corinthians 16:17-18

Are you refreshing?

Don’t you love being around people that are like a breath of fresh air?  Whether it’s their positive outlook on life, or the fact they always seem to have a smile on their face even in adversity, or by the kind things that they might say when you need it…those types of people are refreshing to be around.  The Apostle Paul had a moment in his life that he needed to be around people that would lift him up and he found it in some guys from the church of Corinth.  Paul was away from the church and had needs that needed to be met, and these guys met the need!  I’m not sure what they did but the effect of it was that Paul (and the church) was refreshed by what they did…and probably also by what they said.  When I read these verses in 1 Corinthians I can’t help but reflect about my own life!   Am I saying and doing things that are honoring to God and refreshing to others?  

Are our words refreshing?

Everyone knows that the old saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me ” is a lie…right?  Words can hurt worse than sticks and stones and the wounds last longer.  Quite frankly, I don’t always say or do the right things!  In fact, I have often said the wrong thing and hurt others or there have been other times I didn’t say the things that I should have said.  Although I will feel terrible when I put my foot in my mouth, I have noticed that I can still easily repeat that process over and over.  The Book of James is chock full of the truth about the problems our tongues can cause…
  • “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!” – James 3:5 
  • And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…it defileth the whole body…it’s set on fire of hell” – James 3:6
  • “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” James 3:8
  • Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” – James 3:10

But then our tongues can also be used for good…

  • “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” – Proverbs 16:24
  • “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – Ephesians 4:29
  • “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

We should focus on speaking refreshing words…

  • “let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in the sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14
  • “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”  – Proverbs 18:21

Is your life refreshing?

I long to be a person that isn’t controlled by the environment around me.  Meaning, no matter what someone says or does, I am not going to let their actions dictate my actions!  I want my life to be steered by God and not by anyone or anything else and be refreshing to be around and not a drag!  I want my words to reflect Christ and my actions to be powered by the Holy Spirit and my life to be grounded  in the Word.  I desire to be refreshing!  

I know that I am not what I can be, but I believe that God will help me each and every day to be a person that isn’t a taker but a giver!  I want to use words for life and not death!  What about you?  If your words haven’t been as they should – change them!  If you are thinking negative thoughts ask God to help you renew your mind!  If you are not refreshing someone today, ask God to help you and then see the difference He will make in your life and the lives of those around you!  If you see that someone has a need, do your best to meet that need – the benefits to them and yourself are so great!