Each week, I have the blessing of visiting hospice patients in their homes. I love them all, but I must say that my African-American patients have a way of getting this 37 year old white boy fired up. Such was the case a few weeks ago.
I was visiting one of my patients, and a friend of hers happened to be visiting her. What that meant was double the fuel and fire on this white preacher. I was sitting in a metal chair on the front porch. This style of metal chair is not intended to hold the huskiness I possess.
I was so excited about talking about the Lord that I was moving backward and forward in the chair. I talk with my hands, so that made the impact that much more powerful. I began to feel the chair give a bit, but I was determined that the chair would continue to hold me. My determination was not as strong as my weight upon the chair. There was no support from the back of the chair to the floor, so I went backward. The patient offered to hit her LifeAlert button to rescue me. When she asked if I was hurt, I said “Only my pride.”
As long as I can remember this, I will look back and laugh. If I could turn back time, I would be just as passionate about Jesus as I was then. I’ll leave you with a picture. Maybe you will laugh at least half as hard as I did.
Do you think this could be a child’s recliner?😂😂😂
These last few weeks have been interesting, to say the least. God has taught me and reminded me of some things that helped get me back on track. I want to share those with you briefly and pray that maybe God will use these to give you hope.
Life is not easy, but God’s grace is more than enough for the journey. He is so good to us, even when we stumble and try to get through life on our own. No matter where the twists and turns of life take me, I am blessed!
- Christian unity among during ethnicities is possible. I am not giving up on the fact that ethnic diversity WILL become reality for Overcomers Church.
- The devil is always fighting a move of God. He keeps forgetting that God is greater and that he is limited.
- Unity is a beautiful move of God that I do not take for granted. The journey of Overcomers Church has taken many twists and turns, and my core group has been there through it all. I love these people, and their perseverance and belief in the vision is unmistakable.
- Counsel from Christian brothers and sisters is a must for growth. Even I, as a pastor, need this. I am not above it. I received an email this week from a Christian brother and friend who was concerned and delivered the truth in love. It gave me some clarity that I needed. Don’t despise counsel from people. It is for your good!
Up until the end of 2013, I served the Lord while being paid a comfortable salary with benefits. Then I served the Lord in two part-time ministries with good pay for the situations. I didn’t have benefits anymore, but I was thankful that these churches still thought I could be used by God as a guy who was going through a divorce.
In 2017, I stepped out with no financial support and totally broke all the rules of church planting. God gave us 20 our first Sunday. We continue to average between 20-30. With a congregation full of youth and children, giving is slim. I committed to God to obey His call to plant this church, and I have not received a paycheck since the beginning and will not until we are rock solid. I have made that commitment to serve God with no pay, and I’m convinced that there are people who are crazy and dedicated enough to want to help a new church go to the next level with the promise of a dime. I’m not saying that none of us will go pay free forever, especially if you stick around long enough.
If you volunteer several months of your life to help Overcomers Church impact Oconee County and beyond, I CAN promise you this:
We are looking for musicians, youth leaders, children’s ministry leaders, first impressions staff, and those who can help in other areas. If you think that you would want to play a part in God’s kingdom work through Overcomers, you can contact me at email@example.com.
- You will have a pastor who understands what it’s like to be micromanaged, and I won’t do it.
- You will be a part of a team, not someone who is brought in to serve in your designated and deserted island whether it be youth, kids, worship, etc. You are just as valuable as the next person.
- You will be surrounded by family. Overcomers is a unified family who will love you.
- You will be a part of an authentic atmosphere that does not strive to be like any other church.
I must admit that the devil has been beating me up pretty good this week. God is giving clarity to the direction of His church, but the devil has been whispering lies. For clarification purposes, I am not hearing voices. This is not audible. All of these thoughts are being hurled toward me. God may be allowing me to be transparent with you because you are struggling with this comparison thing too. Let me expound on comparison.
How is the devil using the lie of comparison in your life? Maybe you’ve been single longer than you think you should, so you’re comparing yourself to the looks of other men or women. What’s beautiful or handsome to one is not to another, so the comparison is just someone’s opinion. Are you measuring success by what you don’t have? You may have little because you choose to work for what you have rather than go in debt. Good for you! It is foolish to buy a camper because you’re trying to keep up with the family down the road. Comparison of this sort is hatched out of hell.
With all that said, I hate comparison. And I am going to refuse to allow it to steal my joy. I will send it back to hell from whence it came and choose to walk in who God called me to be. As long as it pleases the Lord, no one or nothing else really matters. Please God not people and kick comparison to the curb!
- Comparison tells you that you are not good enough. But what is the standard? Other people. Should they be? No! The devil wants me to compare myself to other pastors. The truth is that someone will always preach better, lead better, innovate better, minister better, but I am not called to be a Charles Stanley, T. D. Jakes, or anyone else. I’m Matthew Winters, and I am called to be the best one I can be under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
- Comparison will have you feeling like a failure. In the church world, it’s all about having the best youth program, children’s program, worship team, facilities, and number of butts in the seats. If you lack these things, the devil wants you to feel like a failure.
- Comparison misdirects focus. Instead of focusing on Christlikeness, church size, charisma, and prestige become the focus among many other things. I can have all the best programs in the world, but they aren’t worth squat if they are not producing disciples.
Image from sacredmargins.com
I must make a confession. I love sweet tea. It is pretty much an addiction. I make a pitcher almost daily.
Well, my wife decided she would replace my sweet tea with one of her mineral supplement drinks that is colored very similar to tea. I knew I was taking a risk by taking a sip because our electricity had been out, but nothing could prepare me for the taste of that stuff.
My first thought was how the tea was ruined by the power outage. The tea was placed in a separate container and was fine. She was conveniently standing in the kitchen to watch me sip on the tea and immediately spit it into the sink and pour the rest down the drain. I wondered why she so willingly offered to drink it. Now I know.
Many things in life blindside us. No amount of preparation could get us ready for what is coming our way. Some things are pleasant while others feel like a sick joke.
While we may not be prepared for these happenings, God is not taken by surprise. He knows before it happens and has a plan for it. He will ultimately us the surprises of life for our benefit.
Life may not seem fair or good at the moment, but God is at work. Suffering precedes glory. So try to be spiritually prepared for life’s battles. When you can’t prepare, God will give you grace.
Image from dailymail.co.uk
“It sure would be convenient if there were no inconveniences”, said my lovely wife in relation to the power being out twice within the last 24 hours. We are back up and running, but there are lessons to be learned in such times.
Inconveniences are great teachers. By them we learn patience, character, and a ton of great qualities that are gained the hard way. But have we considered that inconveniences May be God’s way of protecting us? We tend to focus on how our whole schedule shifts because of a power outage, but we forget that God might be doing something we have never considered.
Inconveniences also reveal things about us that are less than attractive. The ornery, mean part of us is often revealed when things do not go our way. It is in these moments that we discover how selfish we really are.
The next time your power goes out or your car won’t start, try to see what God might be doing. Scripture says that His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts. As for God, His way is perfect (even if it is inconvenient).
As a pastor, I have never been huge on guilt trips for people to financially give. Our church does not pass a plate. It can make me a little nervous at times that we may not collect enough in a month to cover our expenses, but God has been faithful. We do not have an abundance, but we have enough.
Over the last week, I have seen a few examples of giving where it was sacrificial. I knew in these cases that what was given was not huge to some, but it was to them. I am sometimes contacted by people who read my blogs and ask about giving to the ministry but often state that they cannot give a lot. I always state that the amount does not matter because they are under no obligation to give. There is something beautiful about the heart that wants to give even when $5 may break the bank.
When I consider the price Jesus paid for my salvation, I can never repay Him but I give Him my life. I have often heard that God will not have your wallet until He has your heart. To those who blessed me by your example of sacrifice, you may not read this but I am thankful for your generosity. Little is much when God is in it!
This past Sunday, I had the privilege to preach and for our church to worship with another church in the area. The beauty of it was the free worship atmosphere and the racial diversity. It was two different church cultures that brought something to the table, and Jesus was glorified.
For the first time since Overcomers began, we got to see what our vision looks like – people of different colors and backgrounds United in enthusiastic worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is teaching us so much through this process. God’s plan often comes to us in the most unexpected ways.
God is ushering us into a new season. With that, I am expecting the devil to fight it and some to find that they do not necessarily align with where God is taking us. At the end of the day, I know that I have One to please – the Lord Jesus Christ before whom I will stand at the Judgment Seat. I don’t want to hear Him say, “Good job pacifying people, Matthew.” I want Him to say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Here is a glimpse of the message from Sunday. Please be in prayer for us as God unfolds His plan.
Tonight, a storm came through our neighborhood and knocked down several trees, power lines, etc. While our house sustained no damage, other homes in the neighborhood did. Please be in prayer for those affected.
Part of the effects of the storm includes a power outage. So I am typing this on my cell phone app with no power. When the power is working, you tend to hear noises like the air turning on and off among other noises. There are none of those tonight. I do hear the cutting down of trees that are blocking our road off in the distance, but the stillness in the house is nice.
I am asking myself when was the last time I was still. I honestly don’t remember being still and enjoying the quiet. But I am right now. And I am reminded that I need to do a lot more of it. Would you join me in simply being still? You just might hear the sweet whisper of God’s Holy Spirit.