Monthly Archives: February 2013

Now THAT’s a Good Question!

It’s Monday morning and you know what that means. . . images

Today’s the day where I answer for the world wide web a question that was posed to me as a pastor during the week that I think others might benefit from.

Okay, so maybe my mom and two others may benefit. . .

This week’s question (and answer) came in the form of an email. I thought it was a tremendous question.

Here’s the message sent to me. . .

Matt,

My wife and I saw this commercial on TV last night. It left me speechless. Then, my wife did some research, and found this article on the founder of Amazon, maker of Kindle. Question. Do we, as Christians, not buy anything on Amazon? Should we, as Christians, not buy a Kindle?
If you click on the links included in the question, you will be able to firmly say with me:
“NOW THAT IS A GOOD QUESTION!!!!!”
Here was my response . . .
You have asked a very, very good question. A question more and more Christians are, and need to be, asking.
Though there is a really big part of me that wants to reply to your answer with a, “Let’s all boycott Amazon and Kindle!” reply, I do not think that is the right, or best approach to take.
There are several reasons I say this:
1. If we do stop buying from Amazon because of their same sex views, where do we stop?
One, there are TONS of other companies with the same views as Amazon that we purchase all the time.
Two, if we stop buying because this company believes in same sex marriage, do we stop buying from others because they are Pro-Choice? Others because they believe in the legalization of marijuana? Others because their CEO drinks Budweiser? On and on and on. If we take this approach – where is the line and where does it stop? Make sense?
2. Boycotting, to me, just seems like Christians are afraid. 
What I mean is, if you think about it, refusing to buy something from Amazon because they believe in ‘same-sex’ marriage communicates, “Hey, I am important. You exist because of my money. I won’t buy from you until you change your views on homosexuality.” Let’s say they stop broadcasting their views publicly. Who won? They did. Why? Because they get our money again (or still) and still haven’t changed their views. The only way anyone will change is by the power of the Gospel – not by Christians refusing to pay for something. Besides, we are in the minority (evangelical Christians). Boycotting something just looks like we are scared that maybe God really isn’t in control and we have to use money to define power. For the Christian, money doesn’t define power. God is power. All-power.
3. The way to communicate truth is to intentionally use our hearts and our mouths. 
When Jesus left the earth He said to intentionally “make disciples” and “be His witnesses.” I’ve never known of a boycott to be a means by which unbelievers finally turn to Christ. I’m not saying boycotting is a sin or evil. There certainly my be instances where it is the right thing to do. However, by and large – especially for something like this – the way to change perspectives is for believers to intentionally engage their lost friends, neighbors, family members, and coworkers and give reasons why they believe what they believe about marriage and divorce and sexuality.
Russell Moore – in a very important article on this subject – writes:
“We won’t win this argument by bringing corporations to the ground in surrender. We’ll engage this argument, first of all, by prompting our friends and neighbors to wonder why we don’t divorce each other, and why we don’t split up when a spouse loses his job or loses her health. We’ll engage this argument when we have a more exalted, and more mysterious, view of sexuality than those who see human persons as animals or machines. And, most of all, we’ll engage this argument when we proclaim the meaning behind marriage: the covenant union of Christ and his church.”
 
Again, you have asked an incredibly important question. It needs to be asked and it needs to be answered well – with careful thought, love, and compassion for those who don’t hold to our same biblical understanding. I hope I have made some sense here. Please continue to ask questions like this and help me and others think as carefully as possible about these things.
So, that’s how I responded to this really good question. What do you think? Am I right? Would you add anything? Would you take away anything from my response? Thoughts?

 

 

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“Are You Better Seth???”

I love how God uses children to make a PhD feel like a helpless infant in theological understanding.

Don’t you? It just makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I have a PhD in Practical Theology from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. But my 7 year old (Luke) made me consider going back for more . . . ’cause I may know some theology, but I sure haven’t been very practical with it.

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Translation: I got taken to the woodshed (spiritually speaking) by a kid (unknowingly by him) in one of the most fundamental aspects of being a Christian.

Last Saturday, my 6 year old (Seth) was having some major leg pain and just wasn’t feeling well at all. I didn’t think much about it until he said he didn’t want to play in his Upward game. When he said that, my thought was: “It’s over. He’s dying. There’s no hope. Let’s gather round and sing his favorite hymns as he passes on into the sweet by and by.”

Translation: Seth LOVES to play Upward Basketball. It’s all he talks about. When he didn’t want to play, I knew something was bothering him.

I could bore you with alot of other details about the situation, but let me get to the part where I get schooled by Luke. . .

While we were in the car after the game – the game Seth didn’t play in – I suggested we pray for Seth and his leg (being the Pastor-Theologian-PhD-Loving Father-Humble-Man that I am). Everyone thought it was a good idea, so I led us in prayer (I was driving, so I kept my eyes open . . . I think God understands). I thanked God for Seth. I acknowledged that God knew all that was going on with Seth. I waxed eloquently as to how God was all powerful and could heal Seth in an instant. I asked for healing. I asked for wisdom to know whether to take him to the doctor. I am sure my prayer sounded like one of heaven’s finest on that Saturday morning.

Then I said, “In Jesus name, Amen.”

MY next thought was, “Now how far down are we from Shipley’s donuts? I’m hungry!”

LUKE’S next thought was (blurted out vocally), “Seth, is it better now?”

Yeah. He did.

He actually believed God could have healed him right there on the spot.

He actually thought God would have done something like that.

He actually thought the reason we pray was because we think God is going to act.

He actually had. . . faith.

Was Seth healed at that moment? No. He is now (praise God), but not at that moment.

But that’s not the point. Luke believed Seth could have been healed because we asked God to do it. Luke’s daddy, however, didn’t. Luke’s daddy had the theological belief that God could heal Seth, but not that He really would right then. Luke’s daddy knew the ‘pastoral-dad-leader thing’ was to pray for Seth to get better; but not actually pray in faith that God could do it.

It’s a scary thought, but true nonetheless: It’s possible to believe that something is the right thing to do, but not believe what you are doing actually ‘works.’ 

I believe it’s right to pray for healing and help. But I didn’t believe God was going to heal Seth right then.

Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

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Now THAT’s a Good Question!

Today’s edition of “Now THAT’s a Good Question!” comes from an email I received late last week.

The email (direct quote):

“I was wondering what your view on tattoos was.  Are they wrong to get?  What does God think about them?”

Say it with me: “NOW THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION!!!”

How did I respond???

Here ya go. . .

 

Thanks for your question. You have asked a REALLY good one for sure.

The short answer is this: No, it is not wrong to get a tattoo. You will not go to hell if you get a tattoo. God will not be mad at you if you get a tattoo. God might even like a certain tattoo you may choose to get.

I must say, however, a better question to ask is, “Is it WISE to get a tattoo??” In other words, though it may not be sinful to get a tattoo and though some tattoos may be used as a tool to witness to others; I cannot say for certain that it is the wisest of choices to get a tattoo. Again, it may be wise in some circumstances. But – you know as well as I do: tattoos are permanent; yet people and their preferences change. What may be REALLY awesome today may be SUPER dorky in 20 years. What is trending now may be frowned upon in a decade. What you may want to show everyone today may be ridiculous when you are 60 years old.

You can get a new pair of shoes.images

You can get a new shirt.

You can buy a new hat.

You can get a new car.

You can even get new hair.

But you cannot do anything with a tattoo. It is there. Forever. Like it or not, it’s with you – until you die.

So, before you tat yourself, be sure to answer the question: “Is this the wisest thing I can do with my body?” It may be. However, there’s a good chance it just ain’t. If you choose to get one, or already have one, I would love to see it. I won’t judge or condemn. I’ll probably even say, “Wow, that’s awesome. . . did it hurt?” As I already said above – it is not a wicked or evil act (depending on what and where of course).

For me, however, it won’t be happening. I know myself too much. I change preferences like I change socks. So Matt Pearson won’t be getting a tattoo. For me, it just ain’t smart. In college I liked Garth Brooks, Hootie and the Blowfish, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Can you imagine if I got a few tats related to those things? Oh. My. I can picture it now: On my right forearm a Timberwolf in basketball clothes eating a Cowboy Hat wearin’ Blowfish. I’m thinkin’ it’s a good thing I didn’t get one.

Besides – I don’t like pain OR needles.

Two more thoughts before I sign off:

First, never forget that our testimony for Christ should be on our faces and with our words. People should not have to look at a tattoo to know we are Christians. They should see it in our actions, in our joy, in the way we serve others, and in what we say/what comes out of our mouths (See Ezekiel 37:26-27 & Galatians 5:22-23). Be careful not to use the excuse, “I am going to get all tatted up so people might know Jesus!” That’s nowhere in the Bible. God might and can use it, yes. But that’s not the primary means by which He has chosen to ‘make disciples of all nations.’ A heart that has been transformed by the Spirit of Christ and words that proclaim the Gospel message is how it will happen.

Second, someone will be quick to point out a law in the Old Testament about getting a tattoo. Leviticus 19:28 clearly says to not tattoo your body. Leviticus, as you know, is an Old Testament law book. If someone were to use that verse to say that it is a sin to get a tattoo, however, they would also have to agree that it is a sin not to dig a hole with a shovel every time they go to the bathroom (see Deut. 23:12-13)!!!!
There are laws in the Old Testament, in other words, that were specifically for the Israelite nation living at that time and place in history.

A good treatment of how New Testament Christians should treat the Old Testament law can be found in chapter 9 of the book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Doug Stewart.
Consider this summary of ‘Dos and Don’ts’ from their book:

1. Do see the OT law as God’s fully inspired word for you.
Don’t see the OT law as God’s direct command to you.

2. Do see the OT law as the basis for the Old Covenant, and therefore Israel’s history.
Don’t see the OT law as binding on Christians in the New Covenant except were specifically renewed in the NT.

3. Do see God’s justice, love, and high standards revealed in the OT law.
Don’t forget to see that God’s mercy is made equal to the severity of the standards.

4. Don’t see the OT law as complete. It is not technically comprehensive.
Do see the OT law as a paradigm – providing examples for the full range of expected behavior.

5. Don’t expect the OT law to be cited frequently by the prophets for the NT.
Do remember the essence of the Law (10 Commandments and two chief laws) is repeated in the prophets and renewed in the NT.

6. Do see the OT law as a generous gift to Israel, bringing much blessing when obeyed.
Don’t see the OT law as a grouping of arbitrary, annoying regulations limiting people’s freedom.

Thanks for asking. I hope this helps somewhat.

God Bless,
Pastor Matt

 

What do YOU think? Agree? Disagree? Something else you would add? How would you have counseled this inquirer?

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What We Church People Can Learn from Cinnamon Bread

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All three of my children love the bread pictured above. LOVE it.

They love the CINNAMON bread part.

NOT the cinnamon RAISIN part.

A couple of years ago, yours truly was dumb enough to start taking the raisins out when we had this for breakfast so they would eat it. Yeah, dumb huh?

You know what that means – the precedent has been set. Now when the bread is served . . . no raisins.

Before you judge me (you should, but still . . . ) you ought to see the looks on their faces when they do find a raisin in their mouth. Have you ever seen a dog get a bug in its mouth? Have you ever seen Clark Griswold eat the turkey his cousin Eddie’s wife fixed for Christmas Eve dinner? Have you ever seen three children dry heave all at the same time after gagging for several seconds?

Okay then – it’s not ALL bad that the raisins are taken out.

I have been serving the bread less and less for breakfast. As a matter of fact, the only reason I did it today was due to the fact that we had NOTHING else in the house! N-O-T-H-I-N-G. It was this kind of bread, dog food, or leftover fish tacos from last night. So I went with the bread.

Why have I been serving it less and less you ask?

BECAUSE IT TAKES FOREVER TO GET ALL THE STINKIN’ RAISINS OUT OF THE BLASTED BREAD!!!!!!!!!!

I’m not bitter. Seriously. I’m dealing with my issues.

Whoever is in charge of getting the raisins in that bread at the Nature’s Own factory should get a raise. There are raisins EVERYWHERE. In the middle, on the sides, under the crust, mixed with the cinnamon swirls, in the packaging, etc. EVERYWHERE.

When they advertise ‘Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread’ they mean it. When you buy ‘Cinnamon Raisin Swirl Bread’ from Nature’s Own – you get a lot of cinnamon, a lot of raisins, and some bread mixed in. To make it palatable for my 3 little bundles of joy I have to get up around 2:30 am to start taking out the raisins (okay, slight exaggeration . . . but still).

What’s the point? When Nature’s Own says that when you get their ‘Cinammon Raisin Swirl Bread‘ they mean it. They promise and then OVER DELIVER.

Oh how the church can learn from this!!!

I fear we are so guilty of either not promising and not delivering; or worse: promising something but severely UNDER delivering.

What do people who are seeking God get when they come to our churches? What do people who are ‘shopping’ for a church get when the visit our churches? Do they walk in with expectations to be wowed with gracious people who have been overwhelmed by a real and loving God only to leave disappointed and empty? Or do they walk in with huge expectations and leave blown away at how their hopes have been exceeded?

Nature’s Own gets it. I hope we do.

There’s a lot more at stake for people leaving our churches than a raisin pickin’ daddy and three little happy tastebuds.

 

 

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The President, the Apostle Paul, this Pastor, and Consistency

Last night I watched President Barak Obama give the annual ‘State of the Union’ address to congress.

This morning I read some verses in Philippians.

Interesting words from two different leaders.

Consider what Paul said as a leader to the believers in Philippi:

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17)

“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)

These are remarkable things to say to anyone. Think about it: “Imitate me.” “Practice what you have seen me do and the God of peace will be with you.” Are you serious? What a daunting statement to make! The only peace you will have if you watch me is a peace that you are better off than I am!

This is an incredibly difficult challenge for me as a leader. I simply cannot imagine saying to anyone, “if you do what you see me doing, the peace of God will be with you.” And yet, I should aspire to this as a leader. My life should model that. The Apostle Paul didn’t bat an eye at it. He was a leader. He knew he would be imitated. So he determined to live a life that would bring peace from God to others’ lives if/when they did practice what they saw in him.

After watching our President and reading this from Paul, I long to be consistent.

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When I blow kisses to my wife, I want to be consistent in being for marriage between a man and a woman.

When I plead for dead children ‘having a vote’ on gun use, I want that to include aborted children too.

When I speak of the rich giving to the poor, I want it to be out of compassion – not out of what is so often inconsistently assumed as ‘fair.’

What frightens me in this regard is not so much the ‘consistent inconsistency’ I see in certain leaders (yes, it frightens me, but that’s not the point here). What is so scary is how blind I know I can be to my own inconsistency.

Sure, I could blast the President for these glaring inconsistencies I see from him. But I have a big log in my own eye to get out first.

Hearing what I heard and seeing what I saw last night, coupled with what I read this morning haunts me. It haunts me to think that I could consistently go to the pulpit week after week after week after week and preach the greatest truths in all of the universe with all the gusto of a heroic warrior . . . and by Monday morning live/think/talk/feel as if I have never even been in a church my entire life.

What about you? Are you like me?

How are you doing with what you learned Sunday?

What about what you read this morning?

Could others experience the peace of God in their lives if they practiced what they observed from you?

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And the Winner Is. . .

So apparently parents didn’t like my idea of having children draw two men wrestling during my sermon. . . I can’t imagine why not?!?!?!?!

I only had one drawing turned into me yesterday, thanks to my own flesh and blood, Luke Pearson (leave it to the preacher’s kid).

The sermon was out of Genesis 32:22-30 – the story where Jacob wrestles God. You can listen to it here.

In my personal – and totally unbiased opinion – this is one of the best. drawings.  ever.

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Way to go, Luke! Keep it up!

 

 

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Now THAT’s a Good Question!

It’s Valentines Week here in El Dorado and, I guess,  the rest of the world (do they celebrate Valentines Day around the world???) and you know what that means. . .images-1

  • it means we spend a week totally contradicting everything we’ve said to our kids about not having a ‘boyfriend’ or a ‘girlfriend.’ 
  • it means if we didn’t blow our New Year’s Resolution Diet during the Super Bowl then we are certain to blow it with chocolate this week.
  • it means a lot of Junior High boys will be breaking up with their girlfriends on Wednesday in hopes to get back with them on Friday (so not to have to purchase a V-Day gift).
  • it means bringing back hateful, bitter, and frustrating memories of all the Valentines Days you spent alone in High School and College while your best friend had the time of their life at Pizza Hut followed by watching the VHS version of ‘The Little Mermaid’ with their significant other and their parents.
  • it means that the price of roses will mysteriously jump 800% this week and miraculously go back down next Monday.
  • it means reservations at all the good restaurants are already booked through the weekend, so Denny’s it is . . . again this year.
  • it means pretending that we like to eat the chalky-like, initiate-the-gag-relflex hearts that have cheesy messages on them.
  • it means not finding the ‘perfect’ card that simply does not exist anymore at Wal-Mart on Thursday morning after you take the kids to school (why can’t they restock them the Wednesday night BEFORE Valentines Day. . . Geez!).
  • it means, everywhere you look, there are signs of LOVE (insert Barry White voiceover here).

It also means it’s time for an attempted answer at a question that came up last week. Due to being a pastor as well as events surrounding my own personal life, the following inquiry has emerged several times in recent days:

What does a wife MOST need from her husband???

What is it? What is the number one need of a woman from her husband? I’m not talking love language here. I am talking the deepest, below the language level, heart need a wife needs from her dude. What is it?

Ready? Here goes. . .

(Insert Barry White voice again)

L-O-V-E

That’s it. That’s the big one! (Did anyone catch that Clark Griswold thing I did there?)

Seriously, it is. Just listen to what God said through Paul to husbands in Ephesus:

“Husbands, love your wives. . . ” (Eph. 5:25)

“. . . husbands should love their wives. . . ” (Eph. 5:28)

“. . . let each one of you love his wife . . . ” (Eph. 5:33)

I wonder what point Paul is trying to make here?? Hmmmmmmmm.

Guys, how are you doing here?

Let me speculate for a second. I am guessing that you have probably spent more time recently thinking about what ‘else’ you could get her for V-Day that you haven’t done before than you have contemplating how you can best LOVE her.

[NOTE: I am NOT saying do not get her anything for V-Day. Big mistake. Get her something. Anything. Chocolate. Balloons. Flowers. Card. Blender. Vacuum. Bird Feeder. Guinea Pig Cage. Anything. My point here is NOT not to get her anything.]

Perhaps the best thing you can get your spouse for Valentines Day this is year is something you never tell her what you are committing to do: study her so you can know how to best love her (again, see NOTE above please).

Our wives need love from their husbands more than any other thing. Not the way their friends are loved. Not the way the people on TV or at the movies are loved. Not the way our mommy’s and daddy’s showed love (GROSS!). No. The way she is wired to be loved.

Husbands, how are you doing here? Seriously, how ’bout it?

 

 

 

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