Message From Matt – September 25

Fitting God into Our Schedule!
 
Just writing that makes me squirm in my seat a bit!  
The thought of my life being so busy that I have to “fit God in” seems way out of bounds from what it should be, but unfortunately I think it is becoming commonplace with our busy schedules.
I know that I am stating the obvious, but this thinking is upside down!  We’re the ones that need to fit ourselves into His schedule!
I want to give myself (and you) a pass if we’re trying to fit God into our schedule!  After all, we are living in such a hectic world.  The tyranny of busyness is all around us and most of the time we struggle with trying not to be overwhelmed.  
 
We can spend our days so focused on checking off chores from our “To Do” list that we often forget the best way to begin our day…seeking God.  By seeking God early, we are not fitting Him in our schedule, we are asking Him…please set my schedule!
David said something like this in Psalm 63:1-2O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;  To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.”
 
I believe that in one sense  David was just like we are!  He was busy!  He was a king after all and I am sure that he had a long “to do” list as well!  On top of that, his family was filled with strife, he oftentimes found himself in the wilderness and even had his son, among others, try to kill him!  I think that he had high stress! 
 
But David’s schedule started with God!  He sought Him early! 
In my opinion, the word “early” can be applied in two different ways. 
First, it means getting up early every morning and starting your day in prayer and in the Word…that’s simple, right?
Next, I also think it can mean that in everything that comes up in your day, you will seek God’s advice and direction first!  For example, when you have a meeting with your boss that you’re fretting about, you will actually take time to talk with God first before doing anything else.  Or when you worry over a bill, or a child, or a health scare, that we will seek God first before being overcome by that worry…this is seeking God early!  
 
The reality is that He doesn’t want us to fit Him into our schedule!  He wants to be the first part of our schedule.  When we allow Him to do that, in my experience, our days will be better!  
When we seek Him early, I also believe that we will be able to say what David did in Psalm 63:3-7….“Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.  My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:  When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.” 
 
I hope to see you Sunday and please consider signing up for our annual Run with a Mission on Saturday, October 12th at Craig Park in Greenwood.  Sign up sheets are at the welcome table!



Message From Matt – September 19

Running in a Pack!
 
When it comes to personalities within a group, everyone is different!  
Some people are loners who aren’t comfortable in a crowd!  Then there are others who are completely comfortable in a crowd and want the spotlight shining bright on them and then there are many who fall somewhere in between these two extremes.  
 
In this culture that constantly tells us to “Be True To Yourself”  or worse to “Love Yourself,” I feel that the two extremes might actually become more of the “norm” than the exception which really shines the light on the person rather than on the whole…or more importantly, on God!
Of course, we could focus on the problems with people that want the spotlight, but the problems that come from that are pretty obvious.  Instead, let me focus on those that would rather do things on their own rather than being part of a group.  
The big problem with this thinking is that a loner won’t go as far as those that are in a group and the loner misses out on important relationships and lessons that come from being in a group!
 
There is strength in numbers!
 
One of the most deflating stories (from an American perspective) from the 2016 Olympics is about the US Women’s Cyclist, Mara Abbott.  Mara was leading the very long road race and actually had a 39 second lead on a group of 3 riders with just under 2 miles to go.  Everything seemed to be going her way and she thought that she was going to win the race…but shockingly she didn’t win!  Instead, she came in 4th place! 
If you didn’t see the race, you are probably asking yourself “What Happened?”  How could she lose and not even medal with that much of a lead and under 2 miles to go???
It turns out that a 39 second lead can be erased very quickly when a competing cyclist gets in a pack and they feed off of each other like they did.  The group of 3 took turns pushing one another!  One would take the lead and then another would pass that leader and it would go back and forth until they overtook Abbott.  In fact, they closed the gap so quickly that when they passed Abbott, they made it look like she was cycling in cement!  
They worked together to make each other better!  
 
There are good lessons that we can learn from this story:

  1. You can go (and our church too) farther and achieve greater success together rather than alone!
  2. You need people around you to push you beyond what you think you can do!

 
I admit, there are times that it’s great to just be alone!  Sometimes we really need this.   Even Jesus modeled this many times when he would get alone to pray (Matthew 26:36-44).  But Jesus also modeled togetherness too!  He picked out 12 disciples to do ministry with.  He took them to each town that he traveled to and showed them how to live and how to die.  Jesus modeled that we can do more together than we can do on our own.  In fact, I believe that we were created to be in relationships and not be loners!  
 
So don’t be a loner! 
Enjoy the people around you and learn from them!  
Please don’t skip church either!  We are told in Hebrews 10:24-25 that we should come together even more as we get closer to Jesus’ return.
We need God’s help every day!  We also need each other!



Message From Matt – September 12

Take a SELAH!  
 
Have you ever heard of that word?  I’m sure you have but I am sure that it’s not a word that you use often in your regular conversations.  
That word is found 74 times in the Bible (71 in Psalms and 3 times in Habakkuk) and no one seems to be clear on what the definition really means.  
Some say it means to “exalt” or “lift up”.  Others say that it refers to a loud sound that should be made by musical instruments.  However, most believe that the word means to take a pause and reflect on what was just stated.
I tend to believe the last possibility!  
I think the writers in Psalms use the word for the reader to stop and reflect on what was just said as a way for it to sink in.
 
For example, look at Psalm 77 and see how Asaph uses the word:

  • Verses 1-3, when he was completely overwhelmed, he said…
    • “I cried unto God with my voice…”; “In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord:…” “…my soul refused to be comforted”; “…I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed”  Then he wrote SELAH!
  • Verses 4-9, when the troubles kept on coming, he said…
    • “…I am so troubled that I cannot speak.”; “Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more?”; “Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore?”; “Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?  Then he wrote SELAH!
  • Verses 10-15, when he remembered how good God was to him, he said…
    • “…This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High.”; “I will remember the works of the Lord:”; “I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings.”; “Thou art the God that doest wonders: Thou hast declared thy strength among the people.”  Then he wrote SELAH!

 
It seems to me that this writer struggled like we do, but maybe even to a greater degree.  Things weren’t going well in life and he had frustrations and questions.  However, before being rash, he decided to take a pause and think about what was going on!  He decided to be still for a moment!  Even while he was questioning God’s goodness, he was wise enough to stop and process what all was taking place!  Simply, he took a SELAH!  
 
You might be having some problems in your life as well!  
Maybe you feel overwhelmed, troubled, and forgotten!  However, before you do anything negative with those thoughts, can I suggest that you take a SELAH?
I believe that if you will reflect on your problems in light of God’s Word and power, then you will come away with a perspective that is completely positive.  
 
After Asaph questioned God but took time to actually think about what he was thinking, he realized how wrong that he was!  He remembered how good God was and is!  He remembered all the things that God did for him and all the wonders that God had done in all the world!  He decided to go from complaining about God to declaring God’s goodness…because he took time to pause and think!
When we think about God more than our problems, things tend to make more sense and we can feel less overwhelmed! 
I decided that I need to take more SELAH’s in my life!  Maybe you need to as well.  Stop, think and reflect on how good God has been to you…you won’t regret it!



Message From Matt – September 6

“They Can’t Eat Me!”
 
This saying from Don Napier has helped me more than once to have a proper perspective when things seem to go haywire!  
When things go wrong, it seems that other things also begin to pile up on top of the problems that you already have and before you know it, you are feeling overwhelmed!  
Overwhelmed by people!  Overwhelmed by your people…family! Overwhelmed by problems!  Overwhelmed by your “to do” list!  
I think problems are unavoidable!  After all, God didn’t say you would have a problem-free life; in fact, it’s quite the opposite, He says you will have problems (see John 16:33)!  
 
BUT…we don’t have to live OVERWHELMED!
The 1st step is to step back from your situation and let go of all the crazy thoughts that come to your mind when you are overwhelmed!  You probably can relate to this one!  When you are overwhelmed, you can begin a snowball process in your mind that will have you thinking the craziest things…that most likely will not come true!  Don’t let the devil mess with you!  Just take a step back and breathe!  After all, they (people and problems) can’t eat you!
 
The 2nd step is to go to the Word!  After all, the Word of God is quick (alive) and powerful!  It is used by the Holy Spirit to speak life, truth and peace into you!  In fact, the best way to prevent being overwhelmed is to pray and read the Word often.  I love the following passages that give me a proper understanding of God’s power in any situation:

  • “”I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place. The Lord is on my sideI will not fear: What can man do unto me?” – Psalm 118:5-6
  • “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” – Romans 8:35-37

The 3rd step is to keep moving!  Don’t let overwhelmed feelings allow you to be defeated!  Use the things that God has given you to keep moving forward!  Don’t retreat!  Don’t surrender to those unhealthy feelings and begin the snowball of crazy thoughts!  Don’t give up!  
Remember that God is on your side…stay close to Him!



Message From Matt – August 29

Enough already!!!
 
Do you ever feel emotionally drained?  I know the answer to that question already because we all do from time to time.  With all of the ups and downs that life brings,  we can find ourselves throwing up our hands or wanting to throw in the towel…whatever that might mean!
 
Life has a way about it that can make you feel like you are on a roller coaster…sometimes you are soaring in the clouds and then other times you might be falling at a rapid descent!  The loops, turns and drops of life aren’t always fun but that’s just LIFE!  
 
Take for example what has happened in our church over the last few weeks with those who have passed away.  Melvin, Patti, Eva, Sam and Dan are a part of our IBT family and to experience their loss, especially bunched up together, is one of those turns in life that can leave us emotionally exhausted!  It is during these times of life that there are things that God gives us that can help us: 
 
1. PERSPECTIVE – I love this quote from Tony Evans regarding his wife’s 3rd bout with cancer…”If you’re going to learn to believe God at a deeper level, you are going to have to go through a deeper trial.  Focus on the purpose, not the pain.”  That’s not good perspective; that’s great perspective!  Realizing that our earthly trials, even death, are meant for the purpose of having a deeper level of faith!  To get to the mountaintop, you are first going to have to go through the valley.  Don’t focus on the pain, but put your mind on the goodness of God!
 
2. PROMISES – You won’t be forsaken or forgotten (Hebrews 13:5)!  You have a Heavenly home (John 14:1-3)!  You have a Great Shepherd that knows you (Psalm 23 and John 10)!  Whenever you are emotionally down or feel defeated, then go back to the Word!  Look at the promises that God gave you and believe them!  
 
3. PEOPLE – Our church is not filled with perfect people!  In fact, quite the opposite.  We are a group of people that don’t have it all together!  We can mess up, offend one another, and hopefully forgive one another.  We’re also a group that is friendly, loves God and wants to help one another.  We’re not a contradiction…we’re just a family!  In times like these, when our brothers and sisters have passed on, we need each other (Hebrews 10:24-25).
 
4. PRAYER – Even though this is last on the list, it should always be first in our minds.  We shouldn’t use prayer as a last option but it should be our first option.  Oftentimes we will try and try on our own, before prayer, thinking that we can fix a problem.  Let’s take our cares (1 Peter 5:7) to God before trying to fix it ourselves.  
 
While we’re on this topic, I want you to know that we are going to do something different on Sunday morning at 9:30 AM.  Instead of a normal lesson, then Q and A, we are going to read Scriptures that will encourage us and then have a time of corporate prayer with several men leading us.  I hope that this time will be  special and uplifting for anyone that might be emotionally and/or physically worn out.



Message From Matt – August 22

When Is He Coming Back?
 
If you live in Indianapolis you have heard this question asked probably every day, multiple times a day,  for the last month….”When is he coming back?”  
 
In fact, this question is probably “THE QUESTION” not only in our city but throughout all of the National Football League….when is Andrew Luck going to play football again?  
 
Listening to the sports radio station this morning, again the talk centered around Andrew  with questions like, “What actually is his injury?”; “When will he be able to practice?”; “Will he play week 1?”  The questions seem never-ending because it’s all that any Colts fan wants to know.
 
Since I am a Colts fan, and football fan in general, I too am asking these questions.  I question this because I want us to have a winning season and I think that the Colts won’t be as good of a football team without him!   I like how he plays!  I like the fact that he is considered to be one of the top quarterbacks in the league and that he plays for us!  I like that he seems like a genuinely nice guy!  BUT, I’m tired of wondering when he is coming back! I just want to see him back on the field now. The longer that he is not practicing. the more doubts arise in my mind.
 
Unfortunately, I think Christ followers can grow weary by the same question even though they are referring to a far greater person than Andrew Luck.  The promise of Jesus’ return has been spoken of for centuries, yet He still hasn’t returned!  Because of this ongoing question,  I believe that people get tired of wondering about His return and some, maybe many, start to doubt if it will ever happen!   It could even lead to Christians in Indianapolis wondering more about when Andrew is coming back than when Jesus is coming back!
 
But, if you believe the Word of God, then take heart…Jesus is coming back again!  I don’t know when, but I know He is coming back!  I know that what He promised will happen!
 
Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” – John 14:1-3
 
So don’t ever get tired of asking “When is He coming back?”  Actually, keep watching and waiting for that great day and never lose hope!



Message From Matt – August 14

Chain Reaction!
 
On my morning trip to the kids’ school this morning, we witnessed something that caused my heart to skip a beat!  There was a guy pulling onto our street (but heading the opposite direction that we were traveling) who wasn’t paying attention and came into our lane, nearly hitting the van in front of us.  Of course, the guy in front of me swerved to avoid getting hit and the result of what happened caused a chain reaction!  
The car coming into the lane caused the guy in front of me to swerve, which caused me to put on my brakes, which caused the guy behind me to put on his brakes.  All because of one person’s action!
 
Chain reactions like this happen every day on the road ways and if you have driven for very long, it is something that you become accustomed to but sometimes it’s hard to see the significance of them. 
There have been, however, certain chain reactions that have happened throughout our history that have been significant!  In fact, they have changed the course of the world! 
The “Fall of Man” was a chain reaction that changed the world!  Satan lied, Eve was deceived, Adam sinned = we are all born into sin and in need of a Savior!  
 
But God caused an opposite chain reaction!  Because man is separated from God by sin, God loved us and sent Jesus to take our punishment on the cross.  He died, was buried and rose on the 3rd day = God provided a Savior for us! 
This proves that a chain reaction can be either good or bad and if we stop for a moment and think about it, we can see that we can cause chain reactions too. Our chain reaction can be either good or bad!  We can have a negative attitude that then leads us to negative words and actions which leads to negative reactions from others.  OR, we can have a positive attitude that can lead to positive words and actions that can lead to positive reactions from others.  
 
If we start witnessing to others, then that will eventually cause a chain reaction of people getting saved!
If we start praying before work on a regular basis, that will cause a chain reaction of peace while you take on the struggles of each day!
If you read the Word of God on a regular basis, it will cause a chain reaction of power to overcome temptations because you are using the Word to resist the devil!
If you encourage others, it will start a chain reaction that will be infectious!  
Your actions will cause a reaction, but the question is, what type of chain reaction are you causing? 



Message From Matt – August 8

Your Job 
 
Bekah recently sent me a quote that has really affected my perception of ministry.  Its simple and pointed truth was something that I needed to hear and I hope it will be as refreshing to you as it was for me.  It states…
 
This job has been given me to do.
Therefore, it is a gift.
Therefore, it is a privilege.
Therefore, it is an offering I  may make to God. 
Therefore, it is to be done gladly if it is done for Him.
Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way.
In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. 
                                                                                                                – Elisabeth Elliot 
 
This reminded me of what God has called me to do…to be a Christian, a husband, a father, and a pastor!   These jobs aren’t always easy, but nothing that is good and long lasting is ever easy, but instead of being a burden, these should be considered a gift and privilege!  In fact, our work should be considered as an offering to God!  
So, what’s your offering like?   
Are you looking at what you are doing as a job that God has given you to do?  Or, are you constantly griping and complaining about what is on your plate?  I sometimes can “quietly” complain about my jobs but when I do it’s because I am not looking at it as an opportunity to serve God, I am looking at it as something that I have to do!
 
If that is you, you need to (and can) change your perspective! You can move from an “I have to serve” mentality  to an “I get to serve” mentality by realizing that what you do is important and God ordained!

  • If you’re a stay at home mother and are worn out by the pressures that brings…look at what you do as something that God wants you to do and do it as an offering to Him!
  • If you are a traveling salesman and exhausted by the miles on the road and rejections...look at what you do as something that God wants you to do and do it as an offering to Him!
  • If you work in a place that seems like a dead end….look at what you do as something that God wants you to do and do it as an offering to Him!
  • If you serve in church but don’t feel like you are making a difference and you go unnoticed….look at what you do as something that God wants you to do and do it as an offering to Him!
  • If you are in school but feel it’s a waste of time…look at what you do as something that God wants you to do and do it as an offering to Him!

Looking at what you do with wrong perspectives leads to a frustrated life!  Looking at what you do from God’s perspective leads to a fulfilled life!



Message From Matt – July 31

What kind of Song are you Singing? 
 
If you know me, you know that I am not a good singer, but that reality has never stopped me from singing!  I like to sing even though no one wants to hear me sing!  To be quite open about it, I like to torture the people that I love with my horrible singing just for the fun of it.  You might remember several times that I have mentioned how my kids normally put their fingers in their ears when I sing…it’s great fun for me but not for anyone around me!  
However, there is one person that loves to hear me sing and He is the same One that also loves to hear you sing; of course, it’s God!  
 
God loves it when His children sing to Him!  It doesn’t matter if you sing off key or sing like Dave Turner, He loves to hear you sing the song that’s on your heart, no matter what’s in your heart!  
With that in mind, this Sunday I am starting a new series on prayer by looking at the Book of Psalms!  A psalm, by definition, is a song or hymn that is sung to God as a means of worship and praise and a psalm is a good picture of what our prayers should look like…like a song!

  • When we are happy we should sing a song of our praises to Him in our prayers! 
  • When we are distressed we should sing songs that remind us of His ability to deliver us in our prayers!  
  • When we are in a “cave” of depression and defeat, we should sing songs to remind us of His eternal presence with us…like David did in Psalm 23 when he wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” 

David’s Psalm 23  was a song to remind himself of God’s presence and guidance!  It was written to remind himself that God is the Good Shepherd and that the Good Shepherd always does what’s best for the sheep!  I think  it’s a good song for us to sing to God too!  It reminds us that…

  1. The Shepherd will give you peace and safety –  “good direction leads to less distractions
  2. The Shepherd restores and mends the broken – “even in your pain God can work all things out for your good.” 
  3. The Shepherd is present in your darkest days –  “”Valleys are meant to be walked through, not camped out in.”
  4. The Shepherd’s rod and staff will comfort you – “God is a multi-directional leader.  He is in front of you, beside you, and encouraging you from behind!”
  5.  The Shepherd can give you peace in fearful situations – “Your days are numbered, God knows the time. It is not for you to think about all the “What if’s” of the future – just trust Him!”
  6. The Shepherd prepares a place for us – “This life is not all that we have to look forward to”

What kind of song are you singing today?  Are you singing to God to thank Him or singing a song to complain about Him?  If you’re complaining, maybe you need to be reminded about all the good things that God has done for you!



Message From Matt – July 24

Does your life need some watering?
 
A couple of weeks ago, Bekah, Brandon and Haley were at kids camp for a week which meant that Brett and I had to pick up the extra chores around the house.  One of the things that I needed to do was to make sure that the garden and the flowers were watered daily, especially since we were in a short drought. I knew that I should have watered in the morning and the evening each day, but I waited until the end the of the day and then just soaked it!  By the end of the week, I was proud of myself that I could tell Bekah that I watered the garden every day and that she could see how healthy the garden looked!  But then I realized my mistake!  I had watered the garden every night but I completely forgot about the flowers…and you could tell it! 
The flowers were wilting, the vines were brown instead of green, and they all were drooping rather than standing tall!  In less than a week, I managed to take Bekah’s healthy flowers and make them look like they were dying.
 
Why? Because I neglected to water them!
I think that this can be said about  our lives as well!  There are times in our lives that we seem spiritually dry and maybe even feel lifeless!  Is that how you are feeling today?  Most likely there have been times in your life that you have been at a spiritual high point but now you feel the opposite!  In fact, you might feel like the dying flowers at our house…lifeless and headed downward.  If that is the case, what is it that we need?  
 
We need to turn on the water of the Word so that we can be refreshed and start growing again!  
Isaiah 55:10-13 says this about the Word of God being refreshing to us…”For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.  For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” 
 
Once I realized my mistake in not watering the flowers,  I quickly started the watering process! Of course, I knew that if I didn’t do something fast, Bekah was not going to be happy…which meant that I wasn’t going to be happy!   I was amazed (and thankful) what some water did for those dying flowers!  It helped bring them to life again!  Within a couple of days those flowers looked healthy again!  Their colors were bright, the vines were green, and they were standing tall. 
If you want to be refreshed by God on a daily basis,  then you need to be in God’s Word on a daily basis! I believe that you will be amazed at how much you will feel new life and how much you will grow by doing so!
P.S. 
Many of you are aware of the brain surgery that Evangelist Randy Hogue underwent a few weeks ago.  Thankfully his recovery is heading in the right direction but is now in need of some financial assistance.  This Sunday,  we are going to take a special love offering for Randy so please come ready to give to this worthwhile cause.