I’m Not Feeling It

I was driving down the road making hospice visits this week, and I was just thinking about life. You, like me, have those days when everything is moving along just fine and some days when you’re just not feeling it. Once I do what I do, I feel it. Until I just step out and do it, I often don’t feel it.

What are you and I to do when we’re not feeling it? The answer is quite simple – do what we know! You might get up and think about your job and think, “I’m not feeling it.” But you KNOW that if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. You might not be “feeling” the whole thing of paying bills, but you KNOW that your lights could be cut off, your car taken from you, etc.

This is a generation that’s all about “feeling it”. The truth is your emotions change from minute to minute. So you’re going to be a yo-yo until you do what you know.

Principles and truth are solid. You may not feel that God loves you, but the absolute truth is He loves you ALL the time! You and I must live by truth NOT feeling. So next time you’re not “feeling it”, live by what you know anyway!

This Day Changed My Life

December 25…what do most people think? Stockings, candy, gifts, decorations, Santa, food, family time, etc. But there is more to it.

Many have attempted to historically prove that this day is not what it is claimed to be. However, the evidence is there. Jesus Christ was born, and we celebrate His birth.

Who is this Jesus? Just a good man? A prophet? For me, I call Him Lord, Savior, and the One who changed my life. I had no purpose until I surrendered my life to Him.

The awesome part is He can change your life also. I’m no one special, but He made me royalty. So I will continue to celebrate every day because Jesus Christ came to this earth to wash away my sin. Is He your Lord and Savior? If so, every day can be Christmas for you.

The Church Boss

I must admit that I am a fan of the TLC show “Cake Boss”. I am fascinated with the creativity and moreso that it is delicious creativity. However, the word “boss” in most cases carries a negative connotation, especially in the church world.

“Who’s the Boss” is a major struggle in most churches. The answer will unfortunately make or break the effectiveness of each church. I never realized that until a few years ago.

Churches are battling today over if church government should be a dictatorship or a democracy. If a pastor exercises any degree of authority in some churches, he is viewed as a dictator. Then churches go to the other extreme and vote on toilet paper (true story!). The bottom line that makes many uncomfortable is a lack of accountability. If churches vote on every single thing, they never move forward. If they don’t have a visionary leader (pastor), they won’t move forward either. So who should call the shots or be “the boss”? The chairman of deacons? The deacon “board” (which is nowhere found in Scripture)? A committee? The oldest member(s) of the church? The largest family? The people who give the most money? (I’ve seen all of the above.)

Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that the church is His, so He is the boss. Jesus calls the shots! Jesus directs the pastor! Jesus directs every leader!

This concept is not a strange concept. Businesses have CEOs. Someone has to direct the company. Employees work for this CEO. There are people in authority who ensure that the vision and management of the company is implemented properly. Power struggles will exist, but the chain of command remains the same. People will be offended by the way the company functions, but the work still goes on.

For some reason, some church members want too many Indians and no chiefs. Jesus Christ is Chief. Everyone else aligns with Him! When a church functions as it should, the pastor follows Christ and the church joins him. This way, everyone follows Christ.

I realize that some will disagree with this, but the evidence speaks for itself. The strongest churches are the ones who have a Christ-led leader at the forefront. The dying churches have multiple people trying to call the shots.

What kind of church do you want? Do you want to be a part of a place where everyone is fighting for first place, or do you want a church where Jesus has His rightful place? I want the latter.

Church Swimsuit Competition

I know some of you who are reading this article are about to go on a conservative rant with thoughts that I am condoning a church wide celebration of women’s flesh. If you know me well enough, you know that this blog will take a different turn.

I have been amazed at the desires of churches. As someone who has talked to several pastors and search committees, most conduct their search for a pastor or church staffer like a swimsuit competition. People who are shopping for a new church do the same thing. Is the pastor young? Is his wife attractive? Do his kids sit like statues in church and act like robots who are at the end of their parents’ remote control? Can the youth pastor or worship leader fit into skinny jeans? These are among the “qualifications” for church leadership.

Whatever happened to biblical qualifications? What about beliefs? Does the preacher, preaching, music, and ministries all draw people’s attention to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Sadly, it’s the young and hip ministers who are winning in this area. Jesus has faded in the background as primadonas have made their way to the forefront.

Please don’t label me sacrilegious because I’m not trying to portray Jesus as a swimsuit model. I’m using an illustration to prove that churches have lost focus. Until Christ has his rightful place in the church, many churches, programs, and pastors will be a passing fad. When it comes to church and my Christian life, I just want Jesus. Is anyone with me?

Is Dead Worship a Baptist Doctrine?

As a worship leader and pastor, I have often heard comments that would make one believe that the answer to the above title is “Yes!” Some ultra conservative Baptist friends believe that anything that evokes emotion is from the devil and should be avoided. Such thoughts are rooted in unbiblical thought!

What disturbs me more is that some of my Baptist friends say that expressive worship is reserved for Pentecostals. Where is that in the Bible? NOWHERE!!! In fact, Scripture commands worshippers to clap, shout, dance, etc. So where did this crazy idea that dead worship is part of Baptist doctrine originate? Extremists!

People who mean well and have seen unbiblical things take place in worship services (extremists on one side) responded by going to the other extreme and became cold and inexpressive in their worship. Both are wrong!

God wants biblical balance. What I have discovered in my experience as a worship leader and pastor is that when you are balanced, you have people shooting at you from both sides. When ultra conservatives and liberals are both mad at me, I sit back with great joy in knowing that I’m right in the middle where God wants me. I’m not straddling the fence and compromising. I’m just standing in a God-honoring place.

Maybe you are reading this article and wishing you could lift your hands in church, clap, or shout. The Bible tells you to do it, so why don’t you? Are you self-conscious? Is pride standing in your way? If you read a Baptist statement of faith, I promise you that there is no commandment to be a member of the frozen chosen. The joy of the Lord is your strength! Cultivate a life of worship, meaning worship daily in practice for what you do with others on Sunday. So what if someone has something to say about how you worship! Let them talk about you! If they’re talking about you, they’re leaving someone else alone!

Slow Cooking in a Microwave World

I bet some of you are thinking, “Matthew is going to give us a recipe or talk about his cooking expertise.” That thought is hilarious!!!! Those who know me well know that I barely cook, so this blog has absolutely nothing to do with food.

As a hospice chaplain, I travel a good bit among three counties. We provide care within the home, so I have a lot of driving and thinking time. Today, I was praying (with eyes open) as I traveled to make my first chaplain visit of the day. I was reflecting on my future in church ministry and wondering what, where, and when God had in store for me. As I reflected and prayed, God brought something interesting to my attention. Because of my life transitions, the process God is using in my life to prepare me for what’s ahead is more like cooking in a slow cooker when I want to be microwaved and instantly thrown into what is next.

Many of us are just like that. We want microwave quickness when God wants to “slow cook” to adequately prepare us for the good thing He has in store for us. We want the shortcut when God wants us to learn permanent lessons.

I can personally tell you story after story in my life about when I tried to rush God or hurry healing. You don’t put a bandaid over staph infection. It takes a long time to heal.

I know that you’re probably impatient like I am. Take this word from someone who cares and trust God while He is preparing you in the “slow cooker”. You will be fully “cooked” and ready to soar like an eagle in this next stage of life.

Is God really a “Good, Good Father?”

This question is not something that has rarely been asked. Some may think that only atheists or agnostics would ask such a question, but many Christians who are going through dark times in life are asking the same question. They know what the Bible says. However, when the hard times come, they’re just not feeling like God is good, close, or hearing a word that comes from their mouths.

Many would say, “How dare a person who says he or she knows Jesus question the goodness of God?” Even the godliest of people in Scripture wondered where God was in their suffering. They had moments of doubt.

I am not ashamed to admit that I have been there. I would lie if I said my faith was always strong. I doubted God when I had a newborn baby and no income to support it, but God provided. In deep, dark times of depression, I wondered where God was when I did everything I knew to do to come out of that. I prayed warfare prayers, rebuked the devil, quoting countless Bible verses, but still no victory.

The darkest was when my family fell apart, I was without a job, and had no clue  what the future held. But God! God provided for me financially. God gave me friends and people to support me through the darkness. God gave me a church where I could lead worship. They never condemned or questioned my situation but loved me into their fellowship. God allowed me to sense His presence in a way I had never sensed Him before. I actually drew closer to God because He showed me what a “good, good Father” He really is.

I would like to close with the lyrics to this new worship song called “Good, Good Father” by Chris Tomlin. I pray that they bless you as much as they blessed me:

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased
And that I’m never alone

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think

As you call me deeper still
Into love, love, love
You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am