Video Update from Matt Chandler

The Village played this update from Matt Chandler, taped this past weekend.  Continue in prayer for him and for the church.

via Message from Matt.

Published in: on December 21, 2009 at 9:59 am  Leave a Comment  

Praying for Matt Chandler

Matt Chandler

Matt Chandler is pastor of The Village, in Highland Village, TX, and is my brother’s family’s pastor.  At 35, he has been used by God to grow their church, largely through the conversion of young people in their 20s, from around 200 to over 6,000 attending on three campuses.  The numbers aren’t the impressive thing to me (OK, maybe a little impressive, even though they are not really a big thing in God’s eyes).  What is so amazing is Matt’s unique ability and gift of sharing Gospel truth and doctrinal teaching with incredible clarity and in a way that has led many to walk with Jesus.  I’ve been blessed by the messages I’ve heard, both at the church and as I listen to his podcast

On Thanksgiving Day, Matt suffered a seizure, and this led to the discovery of a mass on the right frontal lobe of the brain.  Surgery followed, and while they removed most of the tumor, it was discovered to be malignant.  Treatment options are available, and Matt’s therapy to recover from the surgery continues along.  However, this is a hard piece of news for Matt’s family and the church.  

As I’ve come to expect, Matt’s own reactions, as recorded on the church’s website and following him on Twitter, are filled with trust in God, and his words of encouragement to his congregation before his surgery were powerful (That video can be seen here).  I’m not close to Matt, but he is a dear brother nonetheless. 

How should we pray?  Well, we pray for our deepest longings, and that should begin with God’s glory being made known throughout the world by means of this moment.  But beyond this, my prayers are tempered, even as they are fervent. 

I go on by asking God for physical healing for Matt (knowing that sometimes the greatest healing may be to be set free from the body, but that physical healing would bring great glory to God).  I pray for God’s comfort, grace, and peace to be poured out on Matt, his wife Lauren, and their three young children.  I pray for great wisdom, strength, and encouragement for them all, and for those close to them who are helping them through this.  I pray for very smart doctors and very powerful medicines and treatments to be successful.  I am asking God to give Matt many more years of ministry and faithfulness (even as I am aware that Hezekiah’s lengthened life in answer to prayer did not translate into unmixed blessing for his people).  Matt has a unique gift that I would pray more could experience.  But Matt would be the last to want greater attention at the expense of God’s greater glory.  I pray for the church, that God will use this time in their fellowship to deepen their faith and walk, and expand the reach of His love through them. 

As God brings it to mind, pray for Matt Chandler.

Published in: on December 17, 2009 at 10:13 am  Leave a Comment  

A Theological Nit to Pick in our Advent Book

Whenever we use someone else’s writings or curriculum, we have to consider that everything may not be exactly the way we would want.  In pre-reading Bartholomew’s Passage, the staff and I all came across one particular place where we felt that the author was expressing a view that we do not endorse, even though many Christians do hold that view.  It is on page 44, where our author is discussing some of the bad circumstances that occur in Bartholomew’s life.  He writes,

We’ll never know how many times God has stepped in to protect us, or guide us, or prevent some evil.  But sometimes He can’t. It seems kind of strange, but it’s His great love for us that sometimes prevents Him from helping us. He has given us a free will, to do as we please. We are not slaves to Him, He doesn’t force us to follow His rules. He only offers us the joy of abundant life if we do, and then He allows us to make our own choice.

But the price of freedom is that He has no control over some of the storms and tragedies we face.

We respectfully disagree with this way of describing God’s actions.  God’s love does not “prevent” Him from doing anything, and while we are free to make choices that we are responsible for, that in no way diminishes God’s power or control of all events.   

We would encourage you to consider skipping this section, or better yet, speaking what we believe to be a better understanding of what to think when bad things happen to us.  We believe, and have consistently taught, that God is in control, even in the bad things that happen.  Sometimes he has decided that the only way we will learn the lessons we need or gain the maturity he desires for us is to experience something bad.  And sometimes God’s reasons for those bad things may never be known to us.  But God IS known to us, and we know that He is perfect, He is good, and He never does anything without purposes that bring Him glory and make His children more like Jesus.  Perhaps this would be better:

We’ll never know how many times God has stepped in to protect us, or guide us, or prevent some evil.  But sometimes His plan for us means not stopping evil from happening.  It seems kind of strange, but it’s His great love and wisdom for that knows that sometimes we must experience evil to grow to become stronger in our faith.  Sometimes that evil comes when choose to disobey, and we learn through painful consequences.  Other times, evil comes when we are obeying God–just like it came to Jesus on the earth.  In those times we may not know why it comes, but we know God, and because we know what He is like, we can trust Him and His reasons.

There may be a further point or two in the rest of the book where we might say things differently, but they are not significant enough to make me take time to offer a corrective.  This one instance, however, is that important.  I hope you will note this, but not let it interfere with your enjoyment of the rest of the book!

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 4:25 pm  Comments (2)  

$62,811.30

That is the total received so far for our Harvest Offering–exceeding our goal, with the excess going into our Benevolence Fund to help families in critical need.  All projects are funded, which means…

  • Children and families in Sichuan Province will receive materials and help in understanding the good news, brought through fellow Chinese believers using tools provided by us.
  • Students at Grace Bible College will continue to receive a Bible education in preparation for vocation ministry throughout that nation.
  • ABWE’s goal of completing all the artwork for “The Story of Hope” chronological story of redemption is much nearer to fulfillment.
  • Byron Shearer and others from Grace will assist in training pastors in Russia or Eurasia.
  • Our youth will have more resources to fund their summer trip in 2010 to Campbell River to serve the Wywickham people.
  • Families in need in Cedarville will be able to give gifts and have a special Christmas celebration.
  • Our Fire Department will be better equipped to help those facing emergency medical needs.
  • Our Library will be able to add books for children and families.

I give thanks to God for the generosity of the people of Grace in making this possible.  And I am blessed by all of you for your faithful response to these opportunities.

Published in: on December 2, 2009 at 2:35 pm  Leave a Comment