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Month: June, 2014

Imbued Worth

All too often, we find excuses to be ineffective, impotent and lethargic. We doubt our own abilities and in turn doubt God’s call in our lives. Were we not given the Great Commission alongside the disciples? Was not Christ looking directly at me when he said those words? So why do I balk? What holds me back? I am foolish. I am a sinner. I am not worthy of His work. I sing too off-key. I am too young. But what did God say in response to Jeremiah when he claimed to be too young? In Chapter 1 of that book, God responded almost angrily with “Don’t say that, when I have told you to go!” We are afraid of failure. We fall to our knees, shaking and stammering, “but I might fail, Lord!?” and He responds with “so..?” We were not called to success, but to obedience and the prophet Isaiah is a good example of that.
Our doubt can bring about self-loathing and an inability to believe that we are worthy of His work. We are given worth, though. We are imbued with Christ’s worth and in that must find our courage to face our doubt and do what is requested of us. Though pride may have fallen and led us into insecurity, we can have that insecurity reversed and find, instead, courage and encouragement.
Hold fast, believer, and know that is not your success that will win the day but rather God’s will that will be done. Do what you are asked because it is He that asks, not because you might be successful at it.


One More Year

It’s my birthday today, and today I turn Thirty two.

Now that I am an adult and responsible and such, I feel it might be important for me to spend some time in memory. Here are some interesting facts about this thirty-two year old:

-I have lived in 2 countries, 3 states, 6 cities, and 9 houses
-I have been to 9 countries
-I have had 7 different real jobs
-I have been married twice
-I have 3 kids, all boys
-I own 5 swords, 1 glaive, and one battle-axe
-I have been a Christian for 27 years
-I have owned 6 computers
-I graduated when I was 16
-I have preached from a pulpit 3 times
-I have brewed beer for 3 years
-I have owned 6 cars

I am sure there is more there but that’s all I have for now. Happy Birthday, me. I promise my next post will be less me-centric! Here’s to another year!

Hope in What?

You hear some news that frustrates and disappoints you. You are let down and you don’t know how to process it. Expectations and assumptions held for so long are dashed, and depending on what you are experiencing, the repercussions can be quite strong. So many have abandoned their faith because of problems in their church or moral failings in the church leadership. A theological difference handled badly, an affair come to light, conflict unresolved, all of these can lead to disenchantment with the church or faith. They really should not but they do for the simple reason that the hope has been misplaced.

You see, in an age where the Church doesn’t seem much different from the world, and our divorce rate is about the same, we need to remember we were never really promised a better or more moral life. A Helper was promised, yes, and in that a possibility for temporal victory over sin, but the promise wasn’t “repent and be better!” but rather “repent and be saved!” We were not promised a better life. We were promised a Hope. That is what makes us different, Hope. Yet so many of use foolishly take that hope and place it in the tangible parts of our faith structure. Our church body, our pastor, our parents, we build these things up and when they inevitably let us down and fail us, we despair and lose hope. Our minds fill with disillusionment and the black, as we seek solace from these disappointments. We leave a church, we break ties, we abandon our faith, all in response to having our hope in the wrong place.

Because, our hope should be in Christ, who is one with the Immutable God. He is mighty to save, and faithful to His promises. He created this world and its many wonders. He made us and provided a way for us to him. He shed His blood to pay our cost and welcomes us home. That is where our hope should be, and it is truly there that we can weather the disappointments and let-downs we are given, without pause or falter. Praise be to Him in who our Hope is found.

RETRO POST: Torn Between the Two

November 2006

Everyone says it. I hear it all around me. I am inundated with the same self-help message time and again. Psychology informs me that I cannot be fulfilled anywhere if I am not fulfilled inside. It is often preached from the pulpit and from the street curb. God helps those who help themselves. Be a good steward of the body, mind and heart that God gave you. Protect yourself so you can protect others. These are statements I am given. I am surrounded by books written by famous authors and even theologians that plead with me to focus on myself so I can one day become a whole being, who can then nobly be strong for others. Such are the rationalizations for self-focus.

Enter stage left: a young couple, new joined, and forging ahead in matrimony. He brings with him a deadened past and a starved heart, while she struggles with ugly ghosts of a broken history. They love each other and they love God, and all they want is health for their fragile marriage. They see a counselor, they read books, they focus on themselves and sorting out their own pasts, convinced that they need to reach some level of mental health for their marriage to be acceptable. And yet the more they focus on themselves and the more they struggle the further they get from each other…and worse, from God. Now he is gone, and she is left destitute lying on the ground.

How does that even happen, when all their desires and strivings were only to make it better? Shouldn’t it have worked? Shouldn’t this have done the trick…?

I am torn between two. Do I focus on self-healing…or do I focus on God. Are they mutually exclusive, or can I do one, as well as the other? Sunday school told me to only focus on God, and life told me to focus on myself. Logic tells me to find a happy medium. Scripture is clear that a tree by the water will flourish, and otherwise will dry up and wither. The story of the Israelites is rife with examples of their failings when they allowed themselves to focus on something other than Jehovah. Peter started to sink the moment he took is eyes of the Messiah. So, with that in mind, how connected is spirituality to mental health? Can one be close to God and pursuing His unwavering heart, while being a mental basket-case…Can I be borderline disorder, and yet live each day by faith? Can God still use and touch me even though my tortured past haunts me every dark night?

The clock is slowly ticking its way closer to midnight, and my souls quavers at the darkness that is sure to come…the darkness that is not always washed away by the sun. I yearn for closeness to Him, and I know that He can bring miraculous healing, but that is not the norm, is it? Perhaps that is sometimes why He permits mental anguish. Perhaps that is why depression is so prevalent. Perhaps He wants to teach us something. Perhaps, it is because as soon as I feel strong I run out on my own. Perhaps that is why He allows this cripple to stay this way. Perhaps, some of us might need that. Perhaps

But pondering that only brings frustration. Regardless, I cannot be far from God. I know that. He is my Sustainer, my Water, my Bread. He is the Sun that can wash away that darkness…He can do that, and until He does, I know I need to stay close to Him.

So how much do I focus on God, and how much do I allow myself my selfish pleasures of self-examination and focus? I know now that I cannot ignore the former, and I also know the danger of too much of the latter. Unfortunately, as the clock ticks, and the gloom settles, I find myself sitting here in front of this keyboard, still undecided. I don’t have that answer, yet.



As I dug in my garden, hand tilling it yet again for another year. I relished the wind and and the cool temperature. I felt exhilarated to be doing physical labor after a long day behind a computer. I pushed the shovel in, twisted it and turned the dirt over, breaking up the clumps. I found a disproportionate amount of satisfaction in watching the clumps break apart. I would pause briefly to look around, take a gleeful note on the absence of mosquitoes and breathe in the cool breeze. Back to shoveling, up and down, in and out. Down the rows I worked my way. Blisters formed on my office soft hands, and I loved it. I would reach down to pull out a weed periodically, my hands getting coated in soil, and llama dung.

I finished the tilling, and took a rake to it. Smoothing over further breaking apart clumps, forming my growing mounds, and preparing the soil for its seed. My blisters grew, and with them my sense of accomplished pride. I knew this was making something, accomplishing something. I was preparing for the winter, and would see great return for my labor. I paused to glance over at my hops already a couple of feet tall, and thought of the bounty they might bring this fall. I thought of the fresh hopped brew I could make with them and my mouth waters. Back to work. I transplanted some tomatoes, and willed my old herb plants to bring forth life. I furrowed the dirt with my hands and prepared to put the seeds in the ground.

That was when I heard it. My blood froze in my veins, the sounds chilling me. A wild beast, growling then roaring, somewhere near me. My head snapped up as I frantically searched near by to see where the danger would come from. Again the wild roar sounded out and I near jumped, shaking with fear. I gripped my rake, and prepared for the charge, eyes still searching the horizon to see where this beast would appear. I gulped down bile, and shame at how shaken I could be. Then I spotted him. about 3 feet tall, with dark brown hair. I could only see the very top of his head and his bright blue eyes peeking over the edge of the porch. I had given him those eyes, you know. They were mine, and I saw my doom in them now. I straightened up and waved to him, and a giggle escaped the jaws of that wild beast.

Perhaps I would survive one more day. Perhaps.





Stephen Mattson

Inspiration. Faith. Christian Culture. Writing.

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