Sunday, February 21

A Sunday Afternoon Post

Today was my last day teaching 2nd grade. It was a great blessing to see some of the impact the Lord has given me with the children. I've been with my 2nd graders for two years, so Ive seen some of them just grow and mature. I've been blessed to have earned the respect of most of them after many months work. I am going to miss them SO much - I know many of them are not saved and I just feel a burden to see them come to Christ. I hope some day some of them will come to me and tell their testimonies of God's salvation. I do trust that my Father will grant salvation to some of them. What a blessed day it will be to hear the work of my Lord in their lives. Maybe in a year, maybe in five years, maybe when I'm much older. It saddens me so much to not be able to teach them the Word, but I have great hope that the Spirit that causes change and growth is going to work!

My kids are so dear to me, I've been so blessed to have taught them for so long. We often think of serving as doing things for God, as blessing others. But, the Lord has used my service in teaching these kids to bless me so abundantly! In being faithful to serve each Sunday Ive seen the Lord give grace to persevere and provide energy. In being faithful to discipline the children when its hard Ive seen the Lord change hearts through his Word. Life is difficult, life is hard, adults are caught up in the worries of today. The business and academic world are abstact and brutal. But kids are honest, kids are joyful, kids are forgiving. What an amazing joy its been to work with them! I have learned so much through having to teach the Word almost every week. Studying Scripture to teach, meditating and praying for the lessons has taught me so much about the Lord and about his works. I've been challenged, convicted, and encouraged by the lessons I've had to prepare. God has so faithfuly used the Word to work in my own life as I've sought to share it with my kids.

I will now be helping out with leadership in kids ministry. When I announced to my class that I'd be leaving the classroom to help oversee the ministry my little brother Jared stood up and gave me a fist bump and said, 'That's awesome Mr. Matt, be a leader.' I was encouraged by that. I won't get to interact with the kids much, but hopefully what I will be doing will impact many of their lives. And eternal impact is what's important.

Had lunch with my brother. We just spent a good time talking about the future and life. Life is busy, life is now. But, God is with us today and gives so much grace always! It was good to be encouraged by his example of steadfastness, perseverence, prayer, love. I am very, very thankful for my brother. I am truly blessed by the Lord to have a friend who offers encouragement based on the Word, who loves in Christ, and whose main desire is to see the Lord honored with his life.

To finish... work hard for the glory of Christ! What we do today has eternal consequences. May the Lord bring salvation to the kids who are lost, and bring maturity to those who are saved!

Sunday, January 31

In the Beginning of the End

Well, two weeks down.

Its been quite a while since I've posted here. About 8 months. Wow, no one is probably checking anymore, but I thought I'd write anyway.

I finished my second week of what will, Lord willing, be my last semester in grad school. Its going to crazy. About 75 books, 2 extremely difficult tests, and a multitude of ariticles, papers, and assignments. So far this has been a very awesome semester of homework, though. haha! I'm taking classes on modern German history, Byzantium, nineteenth century world, and taking my tests in modern American and Soviet. In each I get to look at church history! Its so incredible! In what seems like such a field dominated by secular interests I have seen Christ honored in each of my classes in readings. German: God's providence in the translation of the Bible into the vernacular, and the rediscovery of Biblical salvation. Byzantine: despite the hypocracy and blaspheme of the time, the Lord still honored his name in various ways. World: I get to write a paper on English missionaries in South Africa, New Zealand, China, and India. In my research I'm reading 1800s journals of missionaries seeing the mighty hand of God working to bring children to himself. Soviet: the good old Soviets tried to kill god. They failed. God is alive and powerful. Modern US: I get to study church history from 1865-present. Despite the liberal theology that has grasped our faith today and despite the arguement that there are more atheists and less believers - God has preserved his church and true believers through each and every generation.

I think of Eph 3: Now to him who is able to do far more adundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Oh the blessings of studying history! Who can claim that it is dull? It is the workings of our great God who is constantly revealing himself to generation after generation of those saved by grace. History is not fatalistic - it has an ending. Its ending is the complete glorification of our Lord Jesus Christ!

In church I am moving towards ministry towards teachers instead of the children. As of today I will no longer be teaching regularily. Oh, I had a blessed 'last' day of teaching! God is good! My children asked me some amazing questions, and God gave me wisdom and passion to answer their questions. We talked on the giving of the Word, the preservation of the Word, the humility of Christ, and the judgment in the end days and the glory that will given to Christ! Kind of broad, but the Spirit was moving the lessons along so well. I have seldom seen the children ask questions like today, and I have seldom had verses and answers come to powerfully. God was at work today! We made palm branches in class to act out the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem. My brothers and sisters reading this - please ponder how utterly amazing it will be to honor Christ in all his majesty when he returns!

There have been trials and hardships this month, the rejection of Christ by several of my friends, sickness, business. But, God is a faithful fortress and shield and a help and a rock to those that run to him! Psalm 18.

Solo deo gloria.

Saturday, May 2

Glorious and Mighty

There’s a newer song by Sovereign Grace that I have come to love this week. Its called “Glorious and Mighty.” Part of it goes:

Majesty, Your glory is shining
Brighter than the moon and the stars
Marveling, we honor and fear You
Above all gods

Glorious and mighty, You’re awesome in beauty
Joyful songs we raise
Glorious and mighty, You’re awesome in beauty
Greatly to be praised

The song is simple, only three verses. But all point to the glorious God revealed in Scripture. Glorious and mighty He is! This week I’ve been struck by the theme in this song in mainly two ways.

One, He is mighty. I am but weak! Last week I got little sleep (paper time…) and I’ve been extremely tired and weak the last few days. I’ve seen just how little energy I posses when I stand alone, but what strength there is to be found in God. I’ve worked my longest week in several months, given a presentation at school, and God has provided enough strength to get me through both. There’s a verse, in Corinthians I believe, that says to be reminded that the power which raised Christ from the dead is at work in us sanctifying us today! Now, I can’t fathom how much power God possesses to raise Christ (and create the world and sustain it!), but I believe that I can trust my Lord to provide the strength to love Him, obey Him, fear Him. Its sometimes easy to see God provide the power to get us physically through a day – I can say ‘gee, I couldn’t have done that work without God’s help.’ Its harder to remember that it is only by God’s mighty sanctifying hand that I can be made into His Son’s image. Or, possibly to remember that God is mighty and working. Its so sad, but its true. My sinful heart wants to think that I deserve the credit for obedience, or love, or discipline. But, I do all things because of Christ! Do I remember how mighty my God is? Stand before a mountain and be humbled – God spoke it into existence. And that is just but one mountain! I stand amazed at the transforming power of Christ in the lives of the believers around me and in my life. God’s power is incredible.

Two, something I was hit with today is that God is above all gods. I’ve been stressed lately, and I think much of my stress comes from putting my trust in myself or others. All people are sinners, and therefore have the potential of letting me down. I am a sinner, and I let myself down. But God, He is infinitely perfect and glorious! I always laugh at the foolish Israelites, they carved wood figures and then worshipped them. Stupid huh? But, I do the same thing! I create gods and worship them over the true King. Sinful, yes? Disobedience = sin. I don’t think I pause enough to remember that when I don’t seek and love the Lord will all my heart I am being disobedient. How easy it is to throw idols this way and that and arrange them on the table of life. But, they eventually disappoint, they will never please. While I look at my pretty idols my heart is not really content, it wants to worship the Lord. My Sunday School lesson for tomorrow is on King Solomon’s disobedience. Ouch. The Lord has a gracious way of convicting! I praise the Lord that he shows us our sin, because if He didn’t reveal it, I’d never know I am such need of Him! Psalm 103 says, ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity.’ O, may my soul not turn to idols but praise the living God!

Tuesday, April 14

Easter Weekend

So, I had a great weekend.

Thursday I spent about 8 hours at the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles. Probably one of my favorite places in LA next to the LACMoA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and Walt Disney Music Hall. Found so many great resources for my papers on Robert Service (a Soviet historian) and the 1916 Kazakh Revolt. Went to a concert of Mozart's Reqium... beautiful. Fun day with my roommate Andre.

Friday I helped out the children's pastor at church. I have come to really respect the man... he's got a huge heart for the children and a passion to see the parents actively involved in their children's relationship with the Lord. Had lunch with he and his wife... so fun. Went to the Good Friday service at PBC. Then, went to Olive Garden with my best friend. Had a blast, then watched 'Blood Diamond.' He's an MK from SA, so he has an interesting insight into things African. Went back to my college days... and stayed up talking with him until 3am! haha. So nice, though! Miss living with some of my bros...

Sunday I went to G-Com with a friend for their sunrise service. Good traditional service. Then 'taught' the 2 year olds... hilarious. They are so different from my 1st and 2nd graders! Went to a pastor's house and got to fellowship with my old discipler and some really amazing people. A real blessing! Great to be at a home since I could not be at mine. Went to another family's home, and had a nice time. Then, had my two Josh's over for dinner. Love those guys. It was so nice to spend the day with my family in Christ! I missed my own, but was thankful that I'm not alone here in SoCal.

Today I had fun at Baja Fresh with Josh and Stephen. Fun to be with them both! Don't get to be with both of them together much any more... it reminded me of old times. One told me that he wished i was still in Hotchkiss... I really do miss living with a few of my brothers. But, I'm thankful for where the Lord is taking me. Maybe i'll get to live with some of them in the future.

Well, I'm stalling from writing my papers... so until later... praise Jesus for the grace He gives abundantly to those who call upon him. He gives much joy and peace when we delight and trust in Him! how amazing is that!

Sunday, April 5

Your Righteousness is like the Mighty Mountains

I was blessed to spend two days up in Bishop with two of my best friends this weekend. I had never been to the Eastern Sierra's... wow... what a beautiful area! Driving into Owen's Valley and into Bishop was incredible. I saw a peek of Mt. Whitney's peak! After being surrounded by crowded San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys... it was such a blessing to escape and go to the mountains with some dear brothers.

The mountains get above 12,000' ... that's about triple the size of Mt. Diablo! These mountains are magnificent... and its so incredible to think about how the Lord spoke them each into existence! God's power is amazing, yes? I think of the Psalm,
"Your Love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments like the great deep. Man and beast You save, O God."

We bouldered at the base of the mountains, at the Buttermilks. What amazing scenery to climb in front of! I hadn't been bouldering in over a year, but it was so much fun! I got a few boulders and it was quite a blast! Had a great time being with my buddies and talking, chilling and reading. Had a sweet time talking to my good friend on the way back home.

Today had church - main service was on God's omnipotence. Was a beautiful match to this weekend's experience. Pastor Scott talked about God's power in speaking into existence all of creation, and how we should praise Him for that awesome power! In Sunday school I got to teach the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ! Got so pumped up to share the Gospel with my kids! Oh, I love them so much, it is so humbling and exciting to share the power of God to my kids! It is so incredible to share Christ!

Sunday, March 22

Sunday Reflections

So I haven’t updated here in a very long time. Too long, probably no one reads this anymore. But I just had a day that was a true blessing from the Lord and thought I’d write about it.

Started off with a prayer meeting at church at 7am. Then, a sermon by one of the missionaries my church supports from Uganda. Great! On what God desires in His servants: a humble and contrite spirit, and a trembling at His Word. Oh, how do I need to grow in each of those areas!

Helped with 1st and 2nd grade. Such a blessing to be with my kids. Love them to death. Had to talk to a kid about loving God and obedience. I’m not I ever realized how hard it was to discipline until recently. Growing up you always think teachers and parents are annoyed and even angry sometimes when they have to discipline. I never really realized that discipline stemmed from great love and a desire to see a person honor God. It’s been a cool challenge to learn that.

Did the ‘coordinating’ for 3rd service. Talked to one man. He told me his mom’s testimony: his mom’s sister had picked up some tracks from a church, brought them home and left them at his mom’s place. The man’s aunt was not saved, but had just gotten the tracks for no real reason. The man’s mom read the tracks, read the New Testament, and God called her to Himself! What a glorious testament to the amazing work of God!! Had three of my lil buds help me out. Funny times.

Then, this week it was one of my best friend’s birthday and his sister’s as well. So, an amazing family in the church invited the three of us over to celebrate their birthdays. I teach their youngest son in my Sunday school class and have taught two of their other kids. What a blessing to hang with a family, and their family provides such a godly joyful example as well! So much fun! Seriously, I love them so very much. So great to celebrate the life of my friend. Love him so much – God has blessed me with a great brother.

Heard the testimony of a pillar couple in our church. Found out that she was saved when she was 35 and he at 37. They almost divorced and were having a bad marriage. But, God being rich in his mercy, called them to Himself and restored their relationship with Him and built up an amazing relationship with each other. God is good! At night church got to sing with one of my Sunday school kids. So encouraging. He was so excited to sing ‘Blessed Assurance.’ What blessed assurance do we have that in Christ we are justified and will be glorified with Him one day! Amen.

Saturday, November 15

SoCal Fires

Well, there is a big fire near where I live. I can see flames reaching over the mountains several miles from where I am. But, compared to last years 'ring of fire' surrounding SCV, this really doesn't hit my hometown as much. This Sylmar Fire is a devasting one, but thankfully, at this time, it does not appear to be heading towards me. The fire is to the south of me, located on either side of the I-5 where the 14, 210, and 118 converge. Pray for those that are being affected by it! This fire is a massive one, and the winds are ridiculous right now.

Sunday, November 9

Snipets of Grace

So I don't have one 'big' thing to write about. Instead I'll write about little things the Lord encouraged me this week. Some aren't that little actually...

1) Got to serve at the Fall Festival at my church. I worked with my 1st and 2nd graders. It was such a joy to play a bunch of crazy games with them and have them cheer me on during the leader competitions (I won the whipped cream eating contest...)! It was a bit of a shock helping out with the 1st and 2nd graders in August... now those kids have become so dear to me. One drew a picture of me today and gave it me... the picture is complete with thick rimmed glasses! haha.

2) A dear friend of mine had a friend of his saved! Praise the Lord! I got teary hearing him tell of God's amazing grace. My friend not even a year ago was not walking with the Lord. In the Spring he came to me and confessed much sin, and I realized that God had worked mightly in his life that day. I knew that the change that was taking place in his life was only by God's good grace. Now, my friend was telling me about his friend getting saved and how excited he was to see God work in someone who he never expected God to work in! What an amazing thing it is to see the cycle of grace. My friend who normally has little emotion over anything was borderline giddy when he told me about his friend's salvation. A year ago today my friend would have never been excited about the Lord or His work... now thanks to God's work in his life he is rejoicing over our Lord's work! Amen!

3) An older gentleman delievered some paint from another store to my job on Saturday. He was a very joyful fellow. When I signed my name on the delivery ticket he mentioned that my name was a biblical name. I smiled and said 'yes, Matthew was a tax collector but was saved.' He smiled wide and said to have a blessed day. I thought how cool it was to be encouraged by a brother in Christ. He was old, African American, and I had never met him before... but my brother encouraged me that hour. We didn't need anything in common, we have Christ already.

4) I've gotten to enjoy much good fellowship with my roommates, a dear friend, and my brothers and sisters in Christ. My time spent with some of them is short, but what a joy my time is with them!

5) Sunday night dinners continue to be an encouragement to me! Tonight was no exception. It's such an amazing blessing to have fellowship with my dear brothers and sisters.

6) I got to have lunch with a very godly couple, Micah and Molly. What amazing examples of Christ's love, service, and encouragement.