Rejoice with Those Who Rejoice

This command is found in the Bible in Romans 12. One would think that this would be a natural response for us all – to rejoice with someone who received a blessing. I got to do this twice this month – the first time with a couple who got married and the other time with a single mother of four who now has her own home. I am thrilled for these two families. I have walked with them during some difficult times, and they have been with me through some tough stuff also. I know the road that led to these blessings. Those roads had a lot of potholes, so I rejoice even more with them.

What prohibits us from rejoicing with those who rejoice? Jealousy. A sense of entitlement. Asking why someone else got blessed instead of me. You will be a miserable person as long as you have that attitude and mindset.

I remember being jealous over people who ministered in larger churches, people who had larger houses, newer vehicles, nicer clothes, etc. Many people have all these things and are still empty inside. For some of them, the big that they have isn’t big enough. I came to a point that I realized that with bigger things comes bigger responsibility. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Sometimes it is. Our attitude and perspective has a lot to do with it.

Are you miserable today? Does everything in your life feel like doom and gloom? It’s time for a change of mind and heart. It’s time for you to realize how blessed you are. So what if you don’t have what someone else has? If you have the necessities of life, you are blessed. Most importantly, if you have a relationship with Christ, you are most blessed. You get a taste of Heaven here and the fullness of it throughout eternity. Choose to rejoice!

Who Is My Neighbor? 

Someone sent a song to me recently that speaks of how the church needs sound doctrine but also needs love. This is a rap that is not all that old. I know that many of you may not like raps that have Christian lyrics, but I could not deny the power of the lyrics. 

While many today are proposing that most people who attend church want a very shallow experience, I beg to differ. They want substance balanced with relevance. It takes work to present truth in a way people can understand, but it can happen.

I expressed to our people at Overcomers today that I have no desire to abandon sound doctrine. I do, however, want to reach this generation in a relevant way without compromising biblical principle. Some say it can’t be done. I disagree. I want to balance that with love.

Another blogger wrote a post today about religion versus relationship. I encourage you to check out The Way Online. It seemed to reiterate in some ways what I preached today about the Good Samaritan, a story of doctrine demonstrated in love. In this, two religious leaders passed by a wounded man because someone may think lowly of them or that they may get into some messy ministry. The Samaritan, a reject by society because he was half Jew and half Gentile, went above and beyond to care for the wounded man. When an expert in the Mosaic law asked Jesus who was his neighbor, Jesus used this parable. The man concluded at the end of the dialog that the Samaritan was the one who acted neighborly.

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood taught us that everyone is our neighbor. That includes the drug addict, alcoholic, pimp, prostitute, thief, gossip, hypocrite, and anyone who doesn’t give us warm, fuzzy feelings.

This week, you may encounter some of these. You will encounter difficult co-workers, beggars in front of Walmart, and countless others. I challenge us all to love these our neighbors as much as we do ourselves.

I’ll leave you with the song I mentioned at the beginning:

I Want to, but I Can’t 

Depression is something that has plagued many people. Even the prophets in Scripture had moments of depression. A pastor who does not struggle with depression once explained to me that he felt that many condemned Elijah after the Mount Carmel experience in I Kings 18 for his depression when this pastor saw it as his adrenaline bottoming out after the exhilarating emotional experience on the mount. That makes sense to me. I pour my heart and soul into preaching on Sundays, and my energy bottoms out afterward.

Many have a major struggle. They desire to do things, but they cannot muster up the emotional strength to complete the task. It is not that they are lazy, but something in their body is not functioning correctly and they need help.

Before you criticize someone who struggles with depression, please do your best to be understanding. The cause can be a physical, emotional, or spiritual trigger. You may not understand it, but I encourage you to do your best to encourage and pray for the one who is struggling. You cannot fix that person. Sometimes they may even drain you. If it is to that point, the individual needs a professional counselor who can help him or her with this.

Do not ever think that you are immune from depression. I have known people who never struggled until one day it hit them like a ton of bricks. It could happen to any of us, so let’s be careful to refrain from condemnation.

Are You in the Right Denomination?

I can see some of you now getting defensive, thinking Matthew is going to start promoting a denomination. This boy won’t do that because I’m a nondenominational pastor. Everyone can now breathe a sigh of relief😀.

I talked with someone today that I have not talked to in several years outside a few Facebook comments and messages. He was telling me about some major news within the denomination with which he is affiliated. I mentioned to him that I have not kept up with denominational news like I once did. He told me that he did not get caught up in the denominational social issues. At the end of the day, what matters most is that Christ is the only way to Heaven. He and I had never really discussed church matters, but his comment truly focused on what matters most.

I know that some of us were taught to be “fighting fundies”. I gave up on fighting about secondary issues a long time ago because I care more about people’s souls. My heartbeat is to train them and help them grow. 

I know some have denominational pride. That is fine for you. However, denominational labels no longer define all churches that possess the same label. We continue to have splits and splinters. I have resolved that I just want to be as close to the Bible as I possibly can. 

Please do not lose sight of the fact that Jesus is the answer, and the Bible is our guideline for living. If you really want to know the truth, the Holy Spirit will guide you. Those are promises you can take to the bank.

The Hard Part of What I Do

As a pastor, I love weddings, watching people come to Christ and grow in that relationship, and all the joyful moments. The hardest part for me has been sickness and death. When I was recommended for the position as a hospice chaplain where I currently work, my first thought was, “I don’t know about this, but we’ll see what happens.” I was recommended for the position, and I was not going to get in God’s way. 

Three years later, I see how God placed me where I am for this season. It has taught me so much. I still do not like sickness and death, but God has given me grace to walk into situations I would of myself choose to walk away. God has blessed this work, and I have seen fruit come from it. 

I am always reminded when we have patients pass away. As much as we try to maintain professional distance, our team has great compassion. Because of that, we hurt with these families. We “weep with those who weep” as the Bible says. 

I do not always have the luxury of finding out where our patients stand with God. This week, I know that God took some people home who were ready. They did not live perfect lives, but they placed their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

Have you trusted Jesus to save you? Have you asked Him to be the Lord of your life? As a result, are you living for Him? Please do not delay. We never know how much time we will have.

I Have An Idea…

Extremely convicting post from another blogger! I could not help but share it.

Fat Beggars School of Prophets

Let’s raise a bunch of money and devote it to the homeless ministry!  Yeah.  Then the problem will finally be licked.

Well, okay, so we need to use it wisely too.  I hear you.  So here is my next idea:

Let’s educate people about the problem!  Then we can use the money wisely.

Oh, yeah… that’s been done too and still we have a persistant problem.

Oh… Oh… Oh… I know.  Let’s raise awareness!  Yeah!  That will do it.

Wait.  What?  that’s been done too?

Yeah…  I suppose so.  And really, that is just one more aspect of educating people anyway, and we were doing that before too.


So what should we do then?  I am out of ideas.

What would Jesus do?

Die on a cross for our sins and three days later be raised from the dead?

How is that an answer to the homeless problem?

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You’ll Catch More Flies with Honey Than with Vinegar

Great title, huh? You probably have no idea what this means unless you live in certain parts of the southern United States. I am a southern boy. I cannot help where I was born and raised. If you hear me speak, you will hear a blend of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Georgia, and “the preacher accent”. To sum it up, it’s in my blood.

If you are wondering what the title means, I would rephrase it to say that a kind approach gets you further than a harsh approach. Your delivery can determine how well someone will receive what you have to say. I’ll give you an example. When I was 21, I began serving in a church as interim worship pastor until they called someone permanently. I was very timid and unsure of myself. An older man in the church approached me about how I would sit down before the service rather than interact with the people. His approach was perfect, but I was still offended. I naturally lean toward being an introvert, so I pushed myself to act like I was running for political office before the next Wednesday night service. Initially, it was done in spite. Eventually, I broke out of my shell and all the grannies were asking for hugs. Back then, they called me the “little choir director”. That used to bother me. Now I embrace when someone says something about me being young. This man helped me more than he will ever realize.

Had that man approached me hatefully, my response would have been different. I would not have had the respect for this man as I do. He may have gone to my “mean-spirited church people” list.

Proverbs 15:1 says that a soft answer turns away wrath. The sad part is that those who possess the truth can often be the harshest people when it comes to how they deliver their message. I have seen ugly word wars online between people who profess to know Christ. One person possesses one interpretation while the other belittles them and calls them ignorant. Legalism makes people hateful. The sad reality is that legalists think they are holding fast to the truth while everyone else is a compromiser. They do not realize how hateful they are in the name of trying to convert people to their version of the truth. It does not matter how harshly I write because my harshness will not change your mind or convert you to my way of thinking. My harshness will most likely provoke you to rebellion, and you will want nothing to do with me or what I try to communicate.

I challenge each of you to allow God to guide your words and your delivery. You can be firm without being harsh. Aim for balance. You might be surprised by the end result.

I Used to Preach Against Me

As a younger preacher, I often mimicked what was modeled before me. The pastors who mentored me were often preaching against Bible versions, songs written after 1812, pastors who didn’t preach in suits, and other things that have nothing to do with biblical Christianity. Those issues seemed to get their crowds shouting, so it seemed natural to be negative about everything so I could get a few people to shout “Amen!”

Over time, I learned that I was not going to hell for using something other than the King James Version (spoiler alert: it was revised several times, and we do not use the 1611😢), many great songs are being written today and are used by God, and I could preach in a tutu if I wanted to (which I do not). 

The saddest part was that I judged the motives of guys who ministered then like I do now. I wish I could go back and undo some of the shallow preaching on preferences and give those people the real meat of the Word. I have asked God to forgive me for that judgmental spirit. The only thing I can do is preach the uncompromised truth in love as I move forward.

To those who preach, teach, or write, I know the temptation is strong to address preferences. People really long for substance. Invite them to the table and give them what they need.

Checklist Spirituality

✔️Read my Bible

✔️Attended every church service this week


✔️Told somebody about Jesus

✔️Served on a church committee

✔️Sang in the church choir 

✔️Didn’t do anything on my church’s naughty list

Looks good, right? But is it really spiritual? Is it flowing from a heart in love with Jesus, or is it driven by guilt and obligation? Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 15 that they drew near to God with their mouth, but their heart was far from God. 

Why do you do what you do? If it is not motivated by love, it is a bunch of loud, useless noise (I Cor. 13:1). Are you marking off a checklist to impress others, or these acts of love to our Lord? It’s time for an examination of the heart.

God Showed Out Today

For months, we have been hearing about this eclipse. People can choose to explain it however they choose, but I saw the magnificent hand of God the Creator showing the world how only He could have so masterfully done such a thing. People united today to view this eclipse. I loved seeing people of various backgrounds standing together in awe of what my God did.

Every time something like this happens, I am reminded of Psalm 19:1 which says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.” You and I do not have to look far to see God’s work. Look in the mirror. Look at the sky. He has performed miracles all around you. Slow down and take it all in. It just might make a believer out of you.

***Photographer is unknown, but he or she beautifully captured this moment.