Poured Out

A familiar story can lose some of its punch over the years, and some things I just never got before.  So it is with the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

Disclaimer:  I am shamelessly plagiarizing much of this from our awesome youth pastor, Andrew Williams.  Thank you God for sending him to us.

Many of us have heard the story.  The people of Israel following idols.  The prophet declares that there will be no rain.  After three years there is a showdown, Elijah the prophet of God versus the 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah.  Winner takes all, all the people that is.

The challenge, both set up altars with an animal sacrifice on them.  Whichever one goes up in flames wins.  The prophets of Baal and Asherah go first.  For hours, they chant and rave, even coming to the place where they are cutting themselves and going crazy.  Nothing happens.

Then it’s Elijah’s turn.  But he starts by telling them to pour water on the sacrifice, but not just a little bit, dig a trench around the altar and pour so much on that everything is soaked and the trench is filled.  Elijah prays and boom!  Everything is burned up.  And I mean everything.

But hang on.  I’ve heard it told that the water was to make it more difficult for the sacrifice to burn but that doesn’t make sense.  Somehow, the fire would have more trouble with burning things if they’re wet.  That never seemed to fit for me but I couldn’t understand why they poured water on it when they were already in a drought.  Where did they get the water from anyway?

It is one thing to watch God do something miraculous.  I stay on the outside and watch.  It is another thing to be His vehicle of transformation, His conduit of power and grace.  I can’t stay on the sidelines for that.  I have to jump in, and it will cost me.

For the people of Israel it cost them their most precious commodity of the time.

Water.

Where did they get it from?  From the last bits, the last drops that they could survive on.  It took them becoming so desperate for a move of God that they would risk their lives to see Him show up.  And so they poured out.

I’m desperate for God right now.  I need Him to move in my life.  I need Him to act, to show up.

You need it too.

So….

What’s your water?

Pour it out.

Nicaragua Trip

For those of you that are new to this site, I will be going (again) to Nicaragua for what is called 1 Nation 1 Day with the missions organization Missions.me.  My website is:

http://missions.me/go/matthew-nicaragua-2017

Please visit for more information and please consider praying for me and donating toward the trip.  It has already been proving to be blessed by God and we are all excited to see what He has in store.

Lives will be changed!  Hearts will be changed!  A nation will be changed!

Thank you!

I Pledge Allegiance 

All these players taking a knee during the national anthem has riled me up and got me thinking.  Why do we stand for the Anthem?  Why do we place our hands over our hearts?  Why can’t we just “sit it out” because of the problems we see in our country today?

Well, as a soldier in the United States Army, I will tell you one thing.

We fought and sacrificed, some laying down their lives, literally pouring out their blood, so that you could.

We stood and swore an oath, life long and binding, that we would, “defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic…”  The freedom that we believe in is that this country will allow for freedom of speech, religion, the press, the right to bear arms and protect ourselves, rights against illegal search and seizure, the list goes on.  Our constitution is an amazing document that provides for the greatest level of freedom ever experienced by any nation in the history of mankind.

And it is the document that continues to stand against tyranny, and so many other evils in the world.

And the symbol of this great nation is a Flag.

And the song we sing in honor of a nation that has flaws, make mistakes, has evil within its borders at multiple levels, in multiple forms, is the Star Spangled Banner.  

Some will protest to raise questions about social injustice.  Some will speak out and angry words may be spoken.  Some will stand and honor this country.  Others will not.

It is part of the process.  It is what should be done in any great relationship.  Argue, disagree, get mad, forgive, find equal ground, give a little, live together.  Love will win the day.

If you don’t believe that, believe in it, you are serving the enemy.  If you do believe that, if you will sacrifice, pour out your blood, sweat and tears, then I don’t care what color your skin is, what uniform you wear or don’t wear.  Whether you stand, sit or do the fandango.

We can not lose.

Such a Gringo

His dad has a video of Chito running across his backyard, trying to jump the fence into his pool.  He slips several times and on the last attempt slips so bad that he slams into the fence.  I also see him climbing a rope, hands only, getting to the top and slipping.  He didn’t fall, just scared us all to death.

And here I am crying.

I think he would tell me I’m being a gringo.

He would then tell me he found the perfect woman to marry because she cooks just like his mom, only now he can’t marry…

…’cuz he’s in heaven…

I think he would describe his accident with less fear than I presume.  I think he’d say something like, “man I was flying and then bam, I was in heaven.  It was sick.”

He would laugh at our tears, but only a little.  He’d tell us all to wear crazy shirts at his funeral.  Do something stupid like have jumping contests over chairs or off the stage.  And then he’d tell us to worship.  Worship with all our hearts.

He loved to worship.

I need to quit being such a gringo.  Because I think he’s right.

https://www.gofundme.com/2wbd3vkc?pc=fb_co_shareflow_w&rcid=f720a630784211e68374bc764e065bc4

Please consider donating to support this family during a very difficult time.  Thanks.

I Can’t Feel

Last weekend I lost a very dear friend of mine.  I have not recovered.

My mind, my head feel full, pressured, blocked.

My hands, as I write, feel numb, thick, unwieldy.

My heart, oh that feels.  But what?  As I hear his voice in my head, his laughter, see his goofy smile and remember the stupid, silly things he said and did.  What can I allow it to feel?

I break down in tears over and over again and then laugh.  Then I am so angry and embittered.  Not at God, not at this young man, not at myself even.  I think I’m just angry at life.

What a crazy thing this life is.  So strong and binding…

So fragile and transient…

I’ve seen the pictures of birds on the internet, the swallow that feeds his dying mate, the protection of a pod of dolphins.  I don’t know what they’re feeling, what is happening inside them.  Maybe we are unique in the depths of our feelings, the strength of the attachments we are capable of forming.

Maybe we aren’t…

But I know enough of all of us that, if we let ourselves, we all enjoy living, we love life.

That means that when it is taken, when it is ended too quickly, when it is ended at all, a part of us dies too.

So, maybe how I feel right now is a gift from God too.  Maybe the hurt that I can’t feel, and the hurt I can’t allow myself to feel are all part of the evidence that, as stupid and ridiculous as I am, I’m alive.

Whatever…

I only know that I would rather feel this loss and know love, know friendship, than to set my heart aside and truly never live.

I can feel.

Daddy, it hurts

I remember when we first learned that my brother had died.  

It felt like this.

I lost somebody special today.  Forever, the world is marred.  Forever darkened.

Oh, when he was here, he sure brightened it.  The memories I carry are of fun and laughter, craziness, brotherhood.

When my brother died, I knew so little.  I was in shock, couldn’t even cry for a long time.  I’m not sure I understand much more today, and I keep crying.

When my brother died, I felt so far from him, so unable to help, wishing there was something I could have said, something I could’ve done.  Not very realistic, it had been awhile since our last meaningful conversation.  And our control over circumstances is limited, no matter what we think or say.

But, for both of them, I would want them to know they were loved, that they are still loved, will always be loved.  I would want them to know that, despite their humanity, we were proud to have known them, honored to walk with them.

So daddy, your people are hurting right now.  King and Lord, we don’t know why and can’t breathe because of how sad this feels.

Can we lean on you right now?  Could you carry us a while?

You Are Chosen

In follow up to my last blog, I want to share something with you.

The world may call you worthless and say that you aren’t enough.  Your credentials may be weak, your heart may quaver, you may be downright homely, you may be caught in addiction, ashamed, forsaken, alone.

God is choosing you!

The God that created the universe, put planets in orbit, developed each strand of DNA and breathes life into every creature invaded earth and died, rising again to destroy the work of sin and hopelessness.

He then looked forward into time to make sure that you were on the other end of this post and reading words of hope, maybe for the first time.  Some of you already know this and believe in Jesus.  Some of you are not so sure.  Jesus is too far out there, to far removed by history and religion.

But He isn’t.  He’s right here, right now speaking to you.

You are chosen.  No one else may believe in you or give you and opportunity to live.  Not just be alive, but LIVE!

He wants your life, your dreams, your heart, everything.  He calls you to be a living sacrifice, to give your strength and love to others in serving, in giving.  But not to destroy you, to steal what little you have left.

He takes our broken to make it whole.  He takes are ruined to make it new.  He takes our falling, our failure to make us stand.  He takes what is dead and buried to make it rise again!

He has chosen you.

Will you choose Him?

I would love the opportunity to come and speak to your small group, church or organization about what God has done in my life and what He can do in yours.  As I seek to raise the remainder of the support for the mission trip to Nicaragua, please consider having me come and meet with you.  We’ll sing and share and pray together.