Monthly Archives: December 2012

‘Parental Guidance’ . . . A MUST

Last night, Katie and I had the chance to go see a movie. We decided to watch ‘Parental Guidance.’ It was a GREAT movie. I have never recommended a movie on the blog before, but I want to here. I think anyone would benefit from going to watch this movie for the following reasons:

1. It’s Funny. 

Billy Crystal. Bette Midler. What else needs to be said? The name the little boy gives to the granddad (Billy Crystal) is hilarious.


2. It’s Clean. 

Zero bad words throughout (we did miss the first 5 minutes, so if there is one – sorry!).

Zero sexual innuendos – except maybe one or two small ones that were between husband and wife (which is a GOOD thing).


3. It Promotes Healthy Marriage.

Bette Midler’s speech to her daughter (Marissa Tomei) convincing her to fly to her husband was awesome.


4.It Magnifies Good Parenting.

Tough Honest Love + Great Fun Together = Good Parenting. This was the point of the movie (in my opinion!).


If you are looking for a good movie to take yourself, your date, and/or your family to over the next few days, I heartily recommend ‘Parental Guidance.’ Rare is the movie that can make you laugh, grow your soul, and keep you from feeling dirty when you walk out. I give it two thumbs up!

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Year End Questions

I came across these from Brad Lomenick’s blog. I thought they were powerful and helpful. I would encourage you to take some to think through these, or some you think up on your own, today and/or tomorrow to best prepare you to improve during the next year.


1. What are the 2-3 themes that personally defined 2012 for me?

2. What people, books, accomplishments, or special moments created highlights in 2012?

3. Give yourself a grade from 1-10 in the following areas of focus for 2012: vocationally, spiritually, family, relationally, emotionally, financially, physically, recreationally.

4. What am i working on that is BIG for 2013 and beyond?

5. As I move into 2013, is a majority of my energy being spent on things that drain me or things that energize me?

6. How am I preparing for 10 years from now? 20 years from now?

7. What 2-3 things have I been putting off that I need to execute on before the end of the year?

8. Is my family closer at the end of this year? Am I a better friend at the end of this year? If not, what needs to change immediately?

Here are some additional questions John Maxwell posts in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential:

1. Am I growing daily?

2. What am I doing to daily grow?

3. How am I growing?

4. What are the roadblocks that are keeping me from growing?

5. What are the breakthroughs I need to keep growing? 

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Favorite Music from 2012

Being the son of a music teacher/church organist/church pianist, I have had to listen to, play, and sing songs whether I wanted to or not virtually all of my life. Though in Junior High it definitely had its negatives (being known as a ‘choir boy’ can get you beat up if you aren’t careful), overall I am grateful for the ‘music culture’ I was raised in. I love music. I love how the LORD uses music to affect my soul. I love music with rich, solid, and biblical theology in it.


This is why, at the end of 2012, my favorite two songs are “All I Have is Christ” and “Behold Our God.” Both are by Sovereign Grace Music and both are just remarkable modern-day hymns of the faith. You can get both songs on the same album here. Check out the lyrics:

“All I Have Is Christ”

I once was lost in darkest night
Yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life
Had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own
A rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first
I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race
Indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state
And led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I know is grace

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life

Now, Lord, I would be Yours alone
And live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
Oh Father, use my ransomed life
In any way You choose
And let my song forever be
My only boast is You

“Behold Our God” 

Who has held the oceans in His hands
Who has numbered every grain of sand
Kings and nations tremble at His voice
All creation rises to rejoice

Behold our God seated on His throne
Come let us adore Him
Behold our King nothing can compare
Come let us adore Him!

Who has given counsel to the Lord
Who can question any of His Words
Who can teach the One who knows all things
Who can fathom all His wondrous deeds

Who has felt the nails upon His hands
Bearing all the guilt of sinful man
God eternal humbled to the grave
Jesus, Savior risen now to reign!

Men: You will reign forever!
Women: Let Your glory fill the earth

Yeah, I know. Incredible. Your soul will thank you if you go ahead and download these songs to your iPod.

Some other songs I should mention that had an affect on my soul this year are Paul Baloche’s “Loved By You,” Dennis Jernigan’s “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” and Lincoln Brewster’s “More than Amazing.”

A new group I have really enjoyed this year is Gungor. Their music is definitely different – but incredibly solid, deep, and rich theologically. All their music is great, but perhaps you have heard their song “Beautiful Things” on the radio. It would be well worth your time to give ’em a listen.

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Bible Reading Plan(s) for 2013


“But Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.’ And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.” (Matthew 22:29-33)

In this text, Jesus is ripping into the religious leaders because they had no clue about the power of God. They had no clue about the Scriptures. They ‘knew’ the Scriptures sure enough. . . they ‘knew’ them according to their own interpretation, not according to God’s big picture and plan. They wanted the Scriptures to submit to them, instead of submitting to the Scriptures as God’s Word for them.

One of the indictments against them was that they didn’t factor in the totality of Scripture. They were thinking about the parts, without factoring in the whole.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want Jesus to have to say to me, “Matt, you are wrong. You know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.” Yikes!

To avoid this, we must know the Word. This week is an incredible time to put together an intentional plan to read the Bible through in 2013. Doing so will allow you to learn more and more and more about God; be right about interpreting the Scriptures (unlike the religious leaders in Jesus’ day); and know more of the power of God.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I read the Bible through chronologically in 2012 for the first time and LOVED it. I highly recommend George Guthrie’s compilation.

Justin Taylor, over at the Gospel Coalition blog, has done the evangelical church a TREMENDOUS favor by assembling a massive list of various ways to read the Bible through in 2013. Click here and it will take you right to his post. He links to just about every possible way imaginable for reading the Bible through – in one year, two years, or even longer. If you are thinking about giving it a try, or wanting to look at a different way to approach your daily Bible reading, read through his list.

What have you found to be helpful?

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Top Ten Books from 2012


For any other nerds out there who mark ‘reading’ as their favorite hobby, below are 10 of my favorite books I was privileged to read this year:


1.  Reading God’s Story: A Chronological Daily Bible by George H. Guthrie  

This year I read the Bible through chronologically for the first time. I highly recommend it. For some reason, for me, I enjoyed it better than any other approach. Guthrie’s compilation of the passages was very helpful. On day seven of each week, he does a tremendous job of summarizing everything you have read in about 2 paragraphs.


2. Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Andy Stanley images-1

I recently became a huge Andy Stanley fan. His mission is to create churches unchurched people love to attend. This book is how they do it in Georgia. Whether you agree with him or not, if you are somewhat interested in church health, I think you will find this book to be an enjoyable  and thought-provoking read.

3. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath

If I had to pick a favorite read for the year, this would be it. As a matter of fact, it is next on my list to read through again for this upcoming year. If you communicate to groups of people, at any level, I think you will find the research composed by the Heath brothers will add much value and strength to what you do.

4. One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven by Mark Cahill

The one thing you cannot do in heaven is share the Gospel with unbelievers. Unbelievers will not be there. Cahill not only provides compelling biblical reasons for why Christians must share their faith, but he also provides ample practical suggestions for doing it.

5. Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul by Gary Thomas

If you are a Southern Baptist who loves to eat fried chicken and banana pudding, beware. This book wore me out. . . in a good and hurtful way. Thomas does a tremendous job showing how self control and what we choose to put in our bodies directly affects our personal relationship with the Lord. It’s good, but read at your own risk. Forced me to think through some things through a biblical lens I had never used before.

6. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni

GREAT resource if you are a leader and oversee a group/team of individuals. All leaders know that anything by Lencioni is good. But this book, in my opinion, is by far his best work.


7. Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

If I told you to eat a frog, what would you do? Look at me like I was crazy. Why? Because eating a frog would be disgusting. Nobody wants to eat a frog. But if you were forced to, it would be better to go ahead and get it out of the way instead of dreading the task all day. In this book, Tracy helps his readers deal with those unpleasant tasks that all of us face. He argues that if you go ahead and do those unpleasant tasks first (eat the frog), the rest of the day goes by much easier and with more efficiency.

8. Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People, and Impact Others for a Lifetime by Dan Reiland

Before I left Wynne Baptist, I ordered this book for all the staff guys there. I commented to them that if I ever had the opportunity to teach a Pastoral Ministry/Leadership course at an educational institution, I would use Reiland’s book. It is a remarkable leadership read – in particular for leaders in full-time Christian ministry. If you are a pastor and are looking for a good leadership book to read this year – I HIGHLY recommend Reiland’s work.

9. The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears by Mark Batterson

All I can say for this book is that God used it in a unique way in my life this Spring when I was seeking His will about moving to El Dorado. Thinking back on it now, I am not sure if I would agree with everything Batterson says. However, I can testify to the reality that the heavenly Father used it mightily to lead me this year. Batterson does a tremendous job of encouraging God’s people to pray. Pray and expect God to move in response. I am grateful for this work.

10. Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul David Tripp

The associate pastors at FBC El Dorado are working through this book right now. Let me just say this – and please take my word for it: If you are in the ministry in any way, shape, form, or fashion – read this book. If not, buy it for your ministers.

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Before You Set Goals for the New Year

I am a big fan of evaluating myself, my family, my marriage, and the ministry God has called me to at the end of the year and setting a trajectory (goals) toward intentionally improving myself through the upcoming year. I have learned (am learning!) that I don’t just wake up and ‘become’ the man I want to be. It takes intentional plans and effort. For me it does, anyway.

I hope you do the same in a way that fits you and your personality style.

Before you do, however, I want to encourage you to consider a couple of things.


I came across this article last week and it really ‘got’ me, if you will. The title is “The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.” It was posted by a nurse who cared for men and women during their final 12 weeks of life. This nurse often asked her patients if they had any regrets or what they would do differently if they had it to do over again. Five were mentioned more than any others:

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. 

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. 

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Click here to read the entire article. Each regret has further explanation and insight. Very powerful.

Before you set goals this year, I encourage you to evaluate if any of these might be true of you right now. What can you intentionally do, right now, this week, this year to ensure you don’t say any of these during your final days?

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We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!!! From Matt, Katie, Luke, Seth and Birti!