I Can’t Breathe

Worship is one my favorite experiences in Christianity.  We have an awesome worship team at our church, excellent musicians, hearts that love Jesus with all they have, lights, big screens.

But lately, I can’t breathe.

I sing but I’m afraid to pour it out, to let go.

I am going through a season where I don’t have enough.  We pay the bills.  We even get McDonalds or Chick-fil-A sometimes.  But we are just surviving, no money to dream, no extra to give when we see a need.

And it’s all my fault.

I thought…

I thought.  I thought.  I thought.

But things didn’t turn out the way I planned.  Dreams I hoped for died.  And it feels like everyone has turned away from me as I lay wallowing in the ashes of those fires.

It changes worship.

“You’re a good, good Father.”  Why Lord?

“Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”  Where are you, my God and King?

Our big, fancy mega-churches with comfy chairs and temperature controlled sanctuaries can’t take away the pain of what seems like abandonment.

I think about churches around the world.  Some hiding, many so small that the world will never know they existed.  Churches where believers die at the hands of government or suicide bombers, or apathy.

I think the beauty of the bride, the church of Jesus Christ, shines from a queen, not a princess.  A princess has everything perfected for her, protected for her.  A queen stands with her King, fights beside Him, rules with Him, dares with Him, suffers and dies with Him.

Our churches can give the illusion that we are all princesses, that we are safe and comfortable as we lift our hands in praise.

But that isn’t what is real.  What is true is that many that walk through the doors can’t breathe.  Life has kicked at beaten every bit of joy and peace out of us and we can’t see a way out.

That is where our life is found.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself take up his cross daily and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Blessing will come, through the cross.  Peace and joy will come, through the cross.  Life, real life will come only through the cross.

I can breathe, through the cross.

Jesus Wins

I have felt such heartbreak over things in this world.  Suffering, human trafficking, divorce, pornography, wars, racism…

How long, oh Lord?

I listened to a song yesterday.  It is one of my all-time favorites.  And I needed the reminder.

See, Jesus isn’t shocked by racism, though it breaks his heart too.  He’s not overwhelmed by the cruelty of man, our propensity for violence and our exploitation of those weaker than ourselves.  His voice is not silenced by the tumult of evil.  His light is not dimmed by the darkness on the horizon.

Remember, oh my soul, He wrote the story.  He placed the characters and set the stage.  His death on the cross culminated in His declaration that, “IT IS FINISHED.”  

So do I live from His victory or do I wonder every day whether the darkness will win.  Will satan ever be able to defeat the church of Jesus, the Holy Spirit inside us, His resurrection power?

Not even remotely!

Jesus wins, has already won.  You can bet your life on it.

Demons

According  to Josephus (Jewish historian), Jews were able to cast out demons in the name of Solomon.  I didn’t know that.

So when Jesus asked, “And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.” ‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭12:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬), they could have said by Solomon.

OK, before I lose all of you, let me explain.

Today, I was reading Matthew 12 and became intrigued by two questions.  Could, and can people cast out demons without Jesus?  And, is Jesus referring to demons cast out by other means or demons cast out by any means when he talks about them returning to the person and making him worse?

Yeah, that’s how I spend my free time…

Sounds intellectual (or just weird) but there is a burning question that is at the bottom of it all.

Can I be free?

Demons can refer to literal spiritual entities or addictions, habits or mental predispositions that govern our behavior.  And I want to know if we can ever be really free.

If there is another way to freedom than the name of Jesus and, by association, His cross, then it might be good to pursue it.  Jesus wants all of me and the cross is just painful.  And if, even through Jesus, those demons might return to us, what is our hope?

I have only read bits of Josephus.  I am no intellectual giant or prophet or philosopher.  But I hear Peter when he faced the Jews.

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Nothing else can save us. What are we being saved from?  Saved from death.  Saved from fear.  Saved from slavery.

Saved sounds like free to me.  The only freedom I’ve ever known is through Him.

The same answer applies to all these questions.

Only through Jesus can anyone be set free and only by remaining in Him, and being filled up by Him, can we remain free.  Psychology, religion, drugs, meditation, positive self talk can all be useful tools, but the demons will return.

But not to a life surrendered to Him.

Not to a heart and mind and soul that is surrendered to Him!

Raise Your Voice

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Eph.6:12

So much hatred.  So much anger.

I’m reading the articles about the people calling for assassinations,  ranting, rioting.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard this.  We create enemies and feel so justified in our treatment of each other.

There are many reasons we worship.  God deserves our praise no matter what it changes, or even if it changes nothing at all.

But it does change us.  We can’t help but be changed as we focus our hearts and minds on the God of the universe.  We can’t keep further away as we bow our heads and bend our knees to such a great King.  As we breathe Him in, our hands naturally open  against the clinging, grasping, clutching that divides us from each other, and from Him.

So raise your voice!

When you hear the cries of accusation, the shouts of anger and hatred, shout your praise.  When you hear the confusion and fear that would tear our homes, this land, to pieces, sing your heart out.  When you can’t see a way through, when peace seems so far away, pray.  Pray out loud.  Pray hard.  Cry out to God!

Healing, unity, love are still possible.

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!

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.

New Every Morning

The naughty squirrel is eating at our bird feeder, the noisy jay is picking at the last of the suet cake and the sun is shining over our yard.  It is Labor Day and for once we are not rushing somewhere.

What a summer we have had!

 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””

Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Can I remind you, remind me that Jeremiah penned these words when all hope was lost for Israel?  He said this after he had been thrown in a cistern, mocked and imprisoned for speaking what was true.  Somehow, in the midst of all that was wrong, he could still see that God had not given up on his people.

It is good to remember, when we have a day to look, that through everything, the good, the bad, the arguments, the praises and ministry, the selfishness and meanness, God has been and will always be good.

He will be faithful.

His love for us will never end!

Therefore, for all my days yet to come, I will hope in Him.
Missions.me/go/Matthew-Nicaraugua-2017 is my web page for more info about my upcoming trip to Nicaraugua.  Please visit to learn more, to pray for us, or to donate.

Do Nothing

I’m reading in Joshua, just started.

So if you don’t know the story, you’ve at least probably heard about the battle of Jericho.  The people of Israel marching around the city and finally the walls fall down.

I saw it in a different light this morning.

The story begins with Joshua sending two spies into Jericho who are hidden by a woman named Rahab.  She agrees to help them if they will in turn spare her family.  She says something really interesting.

“I know that the Lord has given you this land and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you. 10 We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. 11 When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.”

What amazes me is that they had all this fear but they didn’t run away.  They didn’t throw rocks from the city walls.  They didn’t attack in an effort to go down swinging.  They stood there.

Paralysis….

God used it against Jericho.

Satan uses it against us.

Paralysis through depression, through fear, through guilt and shame

Just stay still and maybe all the problems will go away.  Drink and feel better.  Do porn and feel powerful.  Drugs and feel nothing.

Comatose…

Hey, I’ve got an idea.  Are you failing, making mistakes, ruining everything?  Don’t quit!

Are you sad, lonely, afraid, filled with guilt and remorse?  Don’t quit!

No, I won’t fill you with clichés about the answer is just around the corner.  Your dreams will come true if you just push a little further, though I think there is some truth to that.

Moses pushed all the way to the border of the promised land and died.  Others have been martyred, betrayed, forsaken and when all hope was lost, they were shot to pieces.

It doesn’t change the goodness of God.  And it doesn’t change the fact that the worst thing you can do is give up.

Don’t give up!

An Update!

I promise, I’ll write more soon!

But first, just to let everyone know…

Next year I will be returning to Nicaragua.  Missions.me has planned an extensive amazing outreach into the country of Nicaragua and I just can’t express how excited I am to be a part of it.  Check it out by going to the missions.me website.

I have already had $700.00 donated to my trip, such a blessing.  Thank you to everyone who has donated, and those of you who will donate at some point.  I don’t feel worthy but I love sharing this blessing and ministry with you.

Seriously be watching Nicaragua over the coming months.  God is changing the country at so many levels.  There is a culture that is present there that is warring against what God would do, but He cannot be overcome.  When our King moves, nothing, nothing, nothing can stand in His way.

Please stand with me in prayer for lives to be changed.  That God would awaken the people to His love and the greater purpose that He has for them.  Pray that there would be healing, restoration, financial backing for the cultural changes that need to take place.

And please pray for the children, the beautiful children that are caught in the difficult times this country has been through.  Pray for fathers to stand up and be men.  For alcoholism and the occult to be brought to the foot of the cross and left there.  Pray that hope would be restored.

Thank you for your prayers and support.  They mean so much to me.

LOVE YOU GUYS!!!

Casting Your Net

“Staring at the shoreline, wishing for some hope, the weight of empty fishing nets is more than twisted rope.”

These lines from a band called “Five Iron Frenzy” came back to me just in time yesterday.  It speaks of a time after Jesus was crucified when the disciples were all but despairing.

I have been there.  I am there right now.

They thought that God had called them to something great.  They had argued about who would sit at Jesus right hand in His kingdom, who would be the greatest.  And then they watched Him die.

But then He rose, after all their failures and betrayals, he came back.  No discussions of self-importance, no more grand ideas.  They had messed up and they knew it.

So they returned to fishing.  I’m never going to be great.  I will never be anything.

And then, they fail at that too.

“See the figure on the shore, He speaks as plain men sing.  His hands they still have holes in them, Glory to the King!”

Then Jesus, THEN JESUS, my hero, my King…

“Try one more time.”

“But I’ve been trying.  Everything and everyone is telling me how I’ve failed you, how much a mess I’ve made of my life.”

“Trust me.”

“I hear they’ll hang you upside down, stretched across their boards, for hearing distant voices and crossing to the Lord.”

Peter ended up hung on a cross too.  But we’ve got to see beyond this.  He lived a life, found a love worth dying for.  In casting out his net one more time, he found what he had always, unknowingly, hoped for.

I’m tired.  I don’t know how to keep trying some days.  Maybe you can relate.

Don’t give up.  A life worth dying for is just on the other side.