Friday, August 29, 2014

A Positive Shift For the Future of IMB/SBC

If you read my last post then you know that I have always been sort of an anomaly in life. This would include not completely fitting in within my own denominational background of the SBC. A large part of this is due to the fact that I believe that we are first followers of Christ and I enjoy fellowshipping and networking with people from all different networks, tribes, and denominations. I regularly meet with church planters and pray for them and maybe to your surprise I meet with guys that are planting churches that I don't always agree with and sometimes would not even consider joining their launch team. But you know what I will do for them, pray with and for them.

Along my journey within the SBC my family felt called to be church planters. We considered a few different organizations and paths to do international church planting, but landed right back with the International Mission Board. I knew before ever starting the lengthy process with the IMB that I would once again be an anomaly and not really fit in the way that many others would, but I also knew that despite my differences that they are doing some of the best overseas work out there. I will not say that our process or two years serving under the oversight of the IMB was not without its hiccups because there were plenty, but overall we feel that it was an honor and privilege to serve with this organization.

Upon my departure a few months ago I had many concerns about the future of the IMB and still hold some of those, but when it was announced a couple of days ago that David Platt is the new IMB president many of those fears left. First, I have met Platt personally and heard him preach many times over the last five years and know his heart. Second, I always joke that if you have served overseas then you are more radical than Platt, but if there is anyone cut out for this role that is known within the SBC it is Platt. Third, the church he has been leading has been an example of how the local church can both partner with an organization such as the IMB and also do things completely on their own.

Platt gives me hope for the future of the largest and most historic missions agency in the world. It is exciting to see a man not much older than myself to take the reigns of such a large organization.  Yes, he is only one man and ultimately Christ is in charge, but I believe that Platt is the chosen man for this next season of leading the IMB.

I'm personally praying for him and his family, the people at Brook Hills, and the IMB as all three are about to experience radical transitions!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Being an Anomaly

Some people will only love you as long as you fit in their box. Don't be afraid to disappoint them. -Lecrae

I have experienced this quote in my own life with different people or groups over the years. As long as I fit neatly or they think I fit neatly into their box then everything is okay and we can have a relationship, but as soon as I get outside of the box, which often happens, then I have suddenly disappointed them. For years these type of people would confuse me and I would feel down like it was my fault that our relationship changed, but one day I finally realized it is not me, it is them.

I remember sharing a situation similar to this with the global church planting pastor at our sending church and I told him I assumed it was just my personality that rubbed some people the wrong way, which caused some conflict with others when living overseas. He and his wife both turned to me and said, "Matt, do not believe that lie. You are not the problem, the way these people are treating you and your family is the problem." Hearing the truth from someone else caused a light bulb to go off in my head when I suddenly realized that what they were saying was true.

If you have known me for any amount of time then you know that I do not easily fit into most boxes that people want to put you inside, whether that be a denominational box, an organizational box, a group or club, etc. Yes, I am a part of many of those things and in some ways they do make up part of what I do, but I do not let one or any of them define who I am. I have come to a comfortable enough place in my own life to recognize that I have freedom in the Spirit and that I do not neatly fit a box, system, or program because I can only be me in Christ.

A couple of years ago my wife and I had to make a very important decision that would affect the next few years of our lives. We delayed for quite some time as more and more pressure was put on to make a decision, which resulted in more delay because of my fear of disappointing them. We knew the decision had been made well before the actual time to voice it, but when we sensed the Lord moving us a different direction from what we knew this individual would want to hear we were afraid to disappoint them.

There is probably a situation in your life right now that you are about to step outside of the box, but you are delaying for fear of disappointment. I agree with Lecrae on this one, don't be afraid to disappoint as long as you know that stepping outside of the box is the right thing to do. There are aways going to be haters and talkers wherever you go, but you need to realize that God has called you to do too many other things than to fear disappointing people that get in your way. Go ahead, get out of the box, disappoint, and move on!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pray For Schools & Students

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. -Ephesians 3:20

Today marks the beginning of a new school year for many around our country and my local church has called on us as a body to pray for our schools and students in our community. My family is not yet at the point where we are sending a little one off to school, although it will not be long from now, but we still believe it is important to support schools and students by praying for them. 

Below are seven ways that you can join me in praying for the schools in your city and the students that will be returning to them.

1. God, help us to know you. (Ephesians 1:17)

2. God, help us to make you known. (Ephesians 6:19)

3. God, help our school leaders. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

4. God, help us to be respectful and obedient. (Romans 13:1-2)

5. God, help us grow in wisdom and knowledge of the truth. (Proverbs 2:6)

6. God, help us to be kind and compassionate. (Ephesians 4:3)

7. God, help us to build good friendships. (Proverbs 13:20)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A New East Raleigh Urban Church Plant - Connect Church

If you know me at all then you know that I love church planting and I love it when I hear of new church plants being started all over the country and across the globe. I just learned recently of Connect Church that is planting a diverse gospel-centered church in the urban context of east Raleigh. One thing that has me excited about this particular church plant is that they are planting in my area of the city. An area that many have overlooked and is in need of physical renewal, but also gospel renewal.

Check out this recent video below to hear from lead planter Sean Bynum:

Bynum Family - 2012 Marsh Creek from ConnectRDU on Vimeo.

To learn more see go to their website at Connect Church.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why Is the Cross Offensive?

First, the cross is offensive because of the type of people that were crucified on a cross. The worst of the worst of criminals in Roman society. The fact that the God of the universe would have anything to do with such a type of penalty was an offense. The image of a crucified man represented weakness, shame, and disgrace. Christ being crucified was both a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles (1 Cor. 1:23).

Second, the cross is offensive because it exposes our own spiritual condition. The cross is humiliating to us as man because it shows that there is absolutely nothing that we can do in order to earn Gods' favor. It says that even our good works are like filthy rags (Isa. 64:6); which also reveals that the human nature is not good but rather sinful. This make the cross, the gospel, offensive because in our best efforts we will always fail and are lost. It took the death of Jesus on the cross in order to have any means of justification before God. So we are helpless and lost in our own sin without the cross.

Third, the cross is offensive because it is exclusive in its message. The cross claims that the only way of justification before God is through the death of Jesus on the cross. There is no other form of forgiveness given so stop trying to display your own righteousness (filthy rags). It is offensive to mankind to claim that Jesus is the only way of salvation and the only way to have a restored relationship with God.

The cross is offensive for many more reasons than the three brief reasons we examined above. Without the cross we lose a significant part of the salvation message we proclaim. The offense as Paul stated in Galatians 5:11 is one that is meant to last forever; because the message of the cross is offensive to all men everywhere throughout history. And until Christ himself returns and all eyes are fully opened, it will only continue to be offensive to those that are perishing.

How are you displaying the cross in your own life? Are you living in such a way that your life demands an explanation? 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Are You Practicing "Methodaltry?"

Last week on the blog there was some discussion that revolved around working with other followers of Christ that may not be from the same background, tradition, or tribe. The main idea being whether or not there are issues that would cause one to either break fellowship or not work alongside with another believer based on issue x, y, or z. Basically what was looked at was are there such things as non-negotiable and negotiable issues within the church? 

For the record I am a huge proponent on working with people from varying backgrounds as I see the benefit of the larger body of Christ in the Church Universal being whole and on mission together. But I do not think that means that you just incorporate every idea or method in order to get along with every guy who comes along claiming to be a Christian because I do believe that there is a place for the gift of discernment within the church.

That being said, I still hold to there being non-negotiable and negotiable issues within the church, although my view or may be how I articulate it has been challenged in recent days.

I want to briefly look at an issue that goes hand in hand with this whole idea, that being principles and methods. In regards to this overall discussion over a few blog post, I like how Mark Driscoll sums it up in his recent leadership coaching video by saying,"Principles are close-handed and timeless; whereas, methods are open-handed and timely."

It is often our methods that would fall into the negotiable category, but many are guilty of making these non-negotiable, which in essence has turned a methodology into an idol. Driscoll has created his own term here in calling it "methodolaltry," when ones method becomes the "only way" of doing things.

Much of this is played out in the church today as being the "big issues" that split churches when in reality they are not "big issues" at all other than the fact that they have become idolatry to some. Practical examples would be robes or no robes (My Orthodox Priest friend), choirs or bands, the way in which to serve the elements of communion, etc. These are all methods that are timely, open-handed, and contextual.

I am sure that this is convicting for some, so my question is what methods have you tried to make principles? What methods in your life have become idolatry? Please feel free to share below an example from your own life or that of your church as you have seen "methodolatry" or the repentance from such.

The above post originally appeared on in August 2011.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ordinary People Used for Everyday Missions and Evangelism

This past Sunday I preached at Restoration Community Church in Raleigh, NC and as promised here is the link to the sermon. I am thankful to Restoration and Pastor Robin Phillips for the opportunity to fill the pulpit as he was away on vacation. I apologize that it is not a video upload, but the church currently only does audio recording of sermons. If your church is interested in having me as a guest speaker one weekend here is a link to my speaker request form.

Friday, August 1, 2014

9 Marks at Southeastern - Membership

9Marks at Southeastern - Membership from Southeastern Seminary on Vimeo.

September 26-27, 2014 is the 6th Annual 9Marks Conference at Southeastern. This years theme is membership and answering the questions: What is it? Where is it in the Bible? Why is it important? These conferences never disappoint and I am looking forward to attending myself for the first time in three years. Below is some general info and be sure to go here for more information.
According to the Bible, church membership is a commitment every Christian should make to attend, love, serve and submit to a local church. Throughout Old Testament history, God made a clear distinction between his people and the world. The New Testament explicitly refers to some people being inside the church and some people being outside. Biblical church membership is important because the church presents God’s witness to himself in the world and displays his glory.
Speakers include Danny AkinThabiti AnyabwileAlistair BeggMark DeverLigon Duncan andJonathan Leeman.