Monday, November 30, 2009

The best email of the day (so far):

Dear Matt,

Dr. Danny Carroll, chair of your M.Div. orals committee, has reported that you have successfully completed both the oral and written components of the orals process, and has forwarded to me a hardcopy of your approved doctrine and ministry paper. Congratulations!

At the end of the semester, I will report to the Registrar’s Office that you have passed M.Div. orals, and they will officially post this result with other course grades shortly after the end of the semester.

Again, congratulations on this milestone and accomplishment.

Dr. W. David Buschart

Instructor of Record, M.Div. Orals, Fall 2009

Sunday, November 29, 2009

C.S. Lewis on charitable giving - great advice

"I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give [that is, no set standard for every person]. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we ought to give. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, [homes, cars,] etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little." -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Solving the economic crisis--C.S. Lewis style

I came across this quote in my reading today and I wonder what my readers might think??

From C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, ca. 1942-1944:

Now another point. There is one bit of advice given to us by the ancient heathen Greeks, and by the Jews in the Old Testament, and by the great Christian teachers of the Middle Ages, which the modern economic system has completely disobeyed. All these people told us not to lend money at interest: and lending money at interest—what we call investment—is the basis of our whole system. Now it may not absolutely follow that we are wrong. Some people say that when Moses and Aristotle and the Christians agreed in forbidding interest (or "usury" as they called it), they could not foresee the joint stock company, and were only dunking of the private moneylender, and that, therefore, we need not bother about what they said. That is a question I cannot decide on. I am not an economist and I simply do not know whether the investment system is responsible for the state we are in or not This is where we want the Christian economist But I should not have been honest if I had not told you that three great civilisations had agreed (or so it seems at first sight) in condemning the very thing on which we have based our whole life.

Thanksgiving reading - "Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor"

Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson

I read D.A. Carson's book on his dad over my Thanksgiving break from Denver Seminary. It is entitled "Memoirs of An Ordinary Pastor: The Life and Reflections of Tom Carson." I recommend this book to seminarians, pastors, and for anyone who sits in the pew. It is a humbling reminder that ministry is hard. Pastors are not supposed to be like super-heroes, but rather more like faithful farmers putting in hours of labor that may yield a rich harvest or be destroyed by a storm in a moment.

On the last page, D.A. Carson summarizes his father's life:

"Tom Carson never rose very far in denominational structures, but hundreds . . . testify how much he loved them. He never wrote a book, but eh loved the Book. He was never wealthy or powerful, but he kept growing as a Christian: yesterday's grace was never enough. He was not a farsighted visionary, but he looked forward to eternity. . . . His journals have many, many entries bathed in tears of contrition, but his children and grandchildren remember his laughter. Only rarely did he break through his pattern of reserve and speak deeply and intimately with his children, but he modeled Christian virtues to them. . . .

"When died, there we no crowds outside the hospital, no editorial comments in the papers, no announcements on television, no mention in Parliament, no attention paid by the nation. . . .

"But on the other side all teh trumpets sounded. Dad won entrance to the only throne room that matters, not because he was a good man or a great man--he was, after all, a most ordinary pastor--but because he was a forgiven man. And he heard the voice of him whom he longed to hear saying, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; enter into the joy of your Lord.'"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thoughts on death at a tough time . . .

Having just celebrated the life and mourned the death of a family member, I was struck today by the words of another pastor on how we ought to do to prepare for our own death. These are sobering, but I believe true words.

I don't want you to go into final judgment. I've prayed and worked, even wept, that you would repent. But nobody forced you to sin, not even once were you forced; and nobody forced you to live your life defying God in the particular way you did it. I am not your judge, and for that I thank God. You answer to Someone a million times higher than I. You may be my father, my mother, my sister, my brother, or my child, but I defer the handling of your case to the Lord, who is the only one who can be trusted to do the right thing by you. God is no sadist. He orchestrated the murder of his own Son for you, so that you could be offered redemption. The suffering in your life that you blamed on God, would have been healed by God, if you had brought them to Him, but you refused. Instead, you used them as another excuse to live how you please. I've chosen my side. When the final judgment day comes, I won't feel any divided loyalties. I won't be happy for your judgment, but I won't be un-happy with my Lord, either. I recognize that you are individual living life in the sight of the God who made you for Himself, and I know that, in the end, you will have to stand before God as you, with me standing by and watching from the sidelines. -Pastor Jack Brooks

O, how I long for all my friends and family to put their faith in the Savior Jesus Christ. Death is the most sobering reality for every person because of our sin, but for those who embrace Christ as their Savior and Lord there is hope, rich abundant, eternal hope.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Grandma Teddy

We are in Cedar Rapids, IA celebrating the life and mourning the death of Grandma Teddy. Teddy had two daughters, Sue and Mary (Mary is married to Carrie's dad Steve). The last years of Teddy's life were spent never fully recovering from some mild strokes. I (Matt) never had the privilege of knowing Teddy in her prime, but she still had lots of wit whenever I talked to her!

We will miss her. If you'd like to see a short video that Carrie made in her honor click here to download a small file:

Monday is the funeral. Carrie will be accompanying her brother James on the piano while he sings Amazing Grace. And I have been asked to share a few words about her life and from the Word. We'd appreciate your prayers as we try to make this a special day for all present.

Here's Teddy's obituary: and her video tribute

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Quote of the Day - Mark Galli of Christianity Today

Whenever the Bible is read, a hush should come over us. We should be inching toward the edge of our seats, leaning forward, turning our best ear toward the speaker, fearful we'll miss a single word— the deeds and words and character of Almighty and Merciful God are being revealed! In a world of suffering and pain, of doubt and despair, of questions about the meaning and purpose of existence, we are about to hear of God's glory, forgiveness, mercy and love, of his intention for the world, of his promise to make it all good in the end, of the way to join his people, of the means to abide with him forever! And there we sit, tapping our feet, mentally telling the preacher to get on with it.

But if we take the trouble to listen, really listen, to that Word, we'll discover something else marvelous: that the One being revealed is as patient with us as we are impatient with his Word, and as enamored with us as we are bored with him. Ah yes, even more enamored.

Mark Galli is senior managing editor of Christianity Today and author of A Great and Terrible Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Attributes of God (Baker).

Full article:

Monday, November 02, 2009

"What Are You Guarding?" - Sermon from November 1, 2009

We protect what we value, but what should we protect most of all?

I preached on this very question Sunday Nov. 1.

Check out and/or download my message: "What Are You Guarding?"

Also, I am looking for more constructive critique from my friends regarding my preaching. So if you feel comfortable giving me some honest feedback, it would be most appreciated. Feel free to email your comments or if you don't have my email, leave a comment with your email address and I will send it to you.

On a different note, I am one step closer to graduation. Monday afternoon Nov. 2, I successfully defended my theological beliefs before 2 professors at Denver Seminary (a requirement for all Master's of Divinity students). I was greatly humbled by this oral examination. They asked questions to which I had a difficult time answering and many that I simply did not know the answer. It was a great reminder that you can never stop learning. There is so much of the Bible I still have to learn.

Blessings to you!


Here are some pics from the holiday Samuel refers to as "how-ween". He was Batman, if the picture isn't very clear (and is seen among a bunch of his super-hero friends!). Caleb just wore an orange little sleeper and bib that said "my first halloween". He did, however, smile for the camera for the first time. Very exciting! Also, there are some pics of Samuel painting our pumpkin and getting ready for church yesterday. He very much wanted to wear a tie just like his daddy.