CTI 14:21 2014-2015
CTI 14:21 2015-2016
Birthday: January 25th, 1987
Hometown: Newtown, PA
Favorite Bible Passage: John 19:25-27
Favorite Music: “All I listen to is rep.”
Favorite Book: My Utmost for His Highest
Favorite Hobby/Pastime: Mostly just dancing.
Favorite Movie: Friday Night Lights
Over the course of his first year with CTI, Matt became addicted to bubble tea. “Please kids, stay off tapioca pearls.” He was the bassist for 14:21 last year and this year as the guitarist, he’ll still be lobbying for electric guitar (or at the very least acoustic) to be included in the rhythm section. “Six strings need cool friends too,” he says. He stands behind baseball being the greatest sport on earth and if you agree, he’d love to be friends with you. If you disagree, he’ll probably still like you anyway.
Matt’s Blog Posts
Disclaimer: I am setting out to write about something that I am wholly unqualified to write about, that is, the limited viewpoint of humans. The thing is, I myself, am a human. I am just like you. Therefore, what right do I have to point out a universal human problem? None. But I’m going to do it anyway.
One of the easiest things for a Christian to do is to think he or she has the right point of view. Whether it is about theology, politics, culture, or any other number of things.That is, if it makes sense and is logical to me, then it must be correct. Of course, this problem extends to all of humanity, but I am more disturbed by the Christians who think this way (i.e. most of us including myself). Somehow, because we have the ability to hold a Bible, have read some of it, even all of it, we think that gives us the right to think we are always correct all of the time.
I have no idea how you hear the Holy Spirit speak. But trusting your inner monologue, or trusting what makes logical sense to you without questioning these things, is a path to destruction. Yet we do it constantly, probably without considering our own heart’s intention very often. Christians should be confident thinkers, but besides Jesus Christ Himself, no man or woman who has ever walked this earth has ever had a completely true line of thought and vision. Our scope is just too limited.
And that’s ok, because we were created to be that way. We were never meant to know all things, we were not created to be islands. The truth is that we are much stronger together than separate; we really need each other! That is why we were given to each other. But we often convince ourselves that we are more correct than the next person and subsequently judge them for being somehow less correct than ourselves. And we are prolific at it.
Jesus summarizes the law like this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
With this one action in our hearts, we are breaking both.
It all comes down to pride, our very first sin and the one that still seems to get us every corner today. God’s ways and thoughts are so much higher than ours, but thinking we know what is better, either for our lives, or for others, is exactly what happened in the story of the garden of Eden. And it is deadly. So often we look within ourselves for the truth, but there is absolutely nowhere to look for truth except in Christ. He is truth, and this truth has not and will not let us down.
Do you want things to change? Fix your eyes on Jesus. Do you want Christians to actually bear the image of God? Fix your eyes on Jesus. Are you ready to actually know the truth? Fix your eyes on Jesus Christ alone.
The author of Hebrews stated it best in the beginning of chapter 12.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Those are words to live every day by.
As an aside, I’ve always hoped the author was a woman. Just to stop some of us in our tracks so that we might look up out of our selves in awe of our incredible God once more.
Generally, when I am tasked to write a blog, I try to at least make people think that I am somewhat mature. This works out well for me, of course, but also most likely bodes well for CTI, as anyone who really knows me understands that I am actually twelve. I can’t go on this way, however, the pressure of appearing mature has just been too much for me. I’m about to admit to you how much of a child I really am.
But before I do, here’s some back story. For the past few days, we have been staying in beautiful Fulton, Missouri, where we have all been housed together as a team. Is isn’t the normal housing situation, usually the guys and girls are split at the very least, but it is a welcoming opportunity to come closer together as a family. What’s even more out of the ordinary is that we’re not housed with a family, but we’re staying in a wonderful old baptist church, complete with a library, all the wild turkeys you can shoot (but we can’t, because we don’t have guns), and a scenic graveyard. I think graveyards are scenic, anyway. On top of all of that, the venues here have been amazing, but I’ll let someone else with more sense than me blog about that. I’d like to talk about that library.
If I’m honest, I was in there looking for a book to read in the restroom. I stood in the dimly lit room, working against the clock, scanning the shelves for something that might peak my interest. Yet, being twelve, I didn’t see very much about trucks or dinosaurs. But then, seemingly popping out of nowhere (there must have been some sort of space-time continuum in there… I also like outer space), I saw it. A treasure to behold and, well… Treasure.
A Veggie Tales DVD entitled Gideon: Tuba Warrior.
My heart leaped for joy! But, being aware of what the rest of my body was feeling, I hastily grabbed a Max Lucado book, which, in the first chapter, made me both laugh and cry.
Later that night I gathered as many of my teammates who shared my passion for vegetables, Bible stories and early 90’s computer animation (which, it turns out, is most of them). As we sat around the warm, digital glow of the TV screen, I’m not sure what I expected to happen. Perhaps a few laughs, maybe a handful of heartwarming moments as I recalled watching these stories on VHS while eating pizza with my sister when we were kids, but I got something much more out of it. I was downright convicted.
This particular episode was all about trusting God. As the stories played out, one about George Muller, and one about Gideon himself, I started to think to myself “yeah, but…” Let me just say something here, now that I hopefully have your attention. If, in your life, God is telling you to trust him (and he is), and your answer is “yeah, but…”, you’re toast! He is God (thanks be to Him!) and you are, well, you. Do you really trust yourself more than the Ruler and Creator of all things?
I learned something valuable that night. It doesn’t matter how many books I’ve read, how much theology I know, not even how much Ccripture I can recite, if I can’t trust God with everything. Perhaps you might reject this notion, but don’t you try to “yeah, but…” me, I’m busy watching Veggie Tales with my friends.
In my last blog post I wrote about host families, so it’s only natural that in this post, being my next post after my last post, I write about… Host families. Honestly though, meeting all sorts of different people who are all willing to take you into their homes is one of my favorite aspects of a CTI year. For the past few days, however, we’ve been staying with some old friends in Wilmington, Delaware; the Kelley family. Yes, that Kelley family, of Matthew Kelley fame.
As I relaxed downstairs in the basement, reflecting on two days of really fantastic food that our wonderful hosts had provided us, and most likely simultaneously growing eager with anticipation about what was yet to come later that night, Elisa popped my culinary bliss thought bubble by gently (see: with an iron fist) reminding me that I had a blog post due tonight. This sort of thing seems to happen fairly frequently when it comes to me.
Immediately, I drew a blank. But lo! suddenly, as if emerging out of a food coma, my brain sprang into action.
I started thinking about the Kelleys, how they had been so willing to serve us and so gracious in their provision of something even as simple as space to us. And I began thinking about other host families we have stayed with over the year. And how all these host families were able to host us, because they weren’t traveling. They lived in one place. And these host families most often had neighbors who also lived in one place and did not move one day after the other. And how all of these people, living in the same place, next to each other, not moving one day after another like nomads (or CTI members) formed communities. Intentional or not, they are there.
Ok, so I used the “i” word. Walk into any church or spend time in a small group or be a fly on the wall of some Christian relationship counseling session, and you are bound to hear it. But maybe it’s because it’s a good thing to be intentional in our relationships and interactions with each other! And I think we can safely remove the word maybe from that last sentence if we, for a moment, look to God and see how absolutely intentional God is in his relationships with all of us (it doesn’t get much more intentional than how this is described in Isaiah 53).
So to prevent this post from going on for ages, I’ll just pose this question: how are we supposed to love our neighbors, even in the most basic, literal, you’re-missing-the-point sense, if we don’t actually know them?
For all of you Midwesterners, maybe this is old hat, but from where I come from… Well, let’s just say that I learned to wave and smile at people in Minnesota, not Pennsylvania. (Love you east coast!) But I’m not talking about waving and smiling, I’m talking about knowing people.
The vast majority of us are living in communities, where, outside of choosing our actual place of residence, we did not actually choose the people who compose the communities in which we live. Sort of sounds like a large scale CTI full time van, if we take the time to be intentional about it. If I know anything about being in one of those vans, and I might not, I know that it’s totally worth it to be intentional about it (cue my teammates calling me out on this after they read it).
I’ve been traveling the country for the last year and a half or so, and I know there are super solid people and families everywhere, and I know this because I’ve met them. So here’s a thought for Midwesterners, too; don’t be afraid of (actually) getting to know the people God has placed you in a community with (did I mention that He is intentional… About everything?) you might be challenged, it might be difficult, and it might even hurt, but it will be worth it when you are given the chance to love and show the love that God shows us. In this, we are all blessed.
But anyway, this is just a thought, borne out of good food and fine people.
Hello from ICOM!
Yes, it’s that time of year again when you can only find your lovely CTI 14:21 team at ICOM, or International Conference on Missions. This year the conference is held in Richmond, VA, which is nice because we have some friends here (heeeeyyy, Hannah). So if you find yourself in the greater Richmond area (I’m guessing that’s a thing), you should come say hi, or better yet, audition with us!
Ok, now that I’ve mentioned that PSA, let’s talk about something else entirely. You might think, as a team of (music) missionaries, we are a group of people who are constantly going around to people and just blessing them in some way without ever receiving anything in return. I’m here to tell you that this just isn’t true. It’s plain to see that all good things and blessings flow from The Lord, and he chooses to work through whomever he sees fit. So really, as we travel around, we are constantly being blessed by him through all sorts of people.
A consistent source of this type of blessing is from host families. Not only are they always willing to take us in and feed us all sorts of delicious food, but it’s obvious that their hearts are led to serve The Lord just as much if not more than ours. It’s a pretty incredible thing to witness.
Now, all of the host families I have stayed with this year (and most likely last year, if I could possibly think back that far) have been great. But there was one recently that just seemed to come along at the right time, and I’m so thankful for them. Marysville, Ohio has always been memorable to me. Probably because there is a Honda plant there. Mostly because we get to play at a sweet Lutheran church when we visit. This particular trip was even more memorable because of our host family… Let’s call them George and Betsy. A sweet old Lutheran couple from the “Sticks” (their words!)
Here’s another myth I’d like to dispel, that (music) missionaries always have it all together. If they are anything like me, they might very rarely have it all together, in fact.
When we arrived to George and Betsy’s wonderful home, I was in the deepest of deep valleys. The kind where it’s hard to even lift your hands to heaven and lay it all down. Or speak the name of God. Or pray. I’m sure you get the picture, but along came God in the form of a few loving 80 something year olds.
I’ll spare you the details, because this post is already plenty long, but the night before we left, we all fell into one of the most incredible, inspiring conversations I’ve been a part of, even in my far reaching memory.
God shook me with all the gentleness of someone’s grandparents whom I had only met less than a day before. Not because I’m anything special, and even though they are special to me, not because they are either. But because God loves his children. Because he will never let go of them, of us.
So look, I know what it is to feel far off. I know it far too well, in fact. But if you’re feeling that, or the next time you find yourself shrouded in the darkness that comes, please, don’t ever count our mighty and gracious God out. There is nowhere we could ever go where he could not reach us. And it’s more than that, even, because he is absolutely always willing to reach us. Trust that he is good, and you will see his goodness.
I’m writing this post mainly because this is something I need to hear and remember about life, but also in hopes that this may be an encouragement to those who need to be encouraged.
It was early, but my portion of driving was already done for the day. As I sat there enjoying the spoils of my labor, that is, a belly full of McDonalds breakfast and a seat in the back of the van, someone from towards the front momentarily disturbed
my state of near bliss (I really enjoy egg McMuffins). They were asking me, in an entirely polite and appropriate fashion, if I had finished preparing for the Bible study I was leading the next day.
In fact, I had forgotten that I had such a responsibility at all, and for the sake of seeming like a total delinquent to you, I’ll now blame such forgetfulness on the previously mentioned McDonalds. Although, just between friends, I’m just plain forgetful.
I grumbled, maybe a little bit louder than under my breath. The morning started just a tad too early for my tastes, and running on just a few hours of sleep, it seemed like a nap was in order. But, mostly for fear of having my team think I’m the absolute worst, I decided that opening up my Bible was the best course of action.
Every once in a while, I make good decisions.
And as I read, cross referenced, researched and reread, I started to realize how much I was enjoying this thing (in reality, this privilege) that just mere minutes ago felt like work separating me from the nap I thought I deserved. And it was more than just enjoyment, it was rest. When I had finished studying, though my body might still have been tired, I, as a person, felt wholly rejuvenated. And this wasn’t a first time experience for me, it wasn’t surprising, but I forget. And even though I might be more forgetful than the average human, I think when it comes down to the good things God has in store for us, we are all prone to forget.
Bottom line is, (because if I don’t get to the point soon, I’ll forget to make one at all) always make time for the Word of God in your life (whose life is it again?). Make time for Jesus, every single day. If we are intentionally seeking wisdom from the
Word, it is never something we will ever regret, and there is nothing more important in life. This is no great revelation, just a simple reminder to myself at the very least.
But we are not islands, we are one body in Christ. Never stop the work of encouraging and challenging one another to seek discernment through the Word of God, so that when we speak of fixing our eyes on Jesus, our vision is clear, distinct
John 15:7-8, Matthew 11:27-30.