What You Will Find Here

Inspired by a video on Donald Miller’s blog, I decided to write a mission statement and clarify what you will find when you visit here.  A speaker on his blog stated that churches need to remember every Sunday is someone’s first Sunday. This post is inspired by that idea and comes in preparation for the launch of my new book and author website coming soon.

Who I Am:

A husband and father of two amazing boys.  I am making my way on this journey of life riding the ups and downs while figuring out what it all means and finding joy in the process. I obtained a certification to teach English and, in 2014, completed my MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University in Connecticut. I’m learning to be a better husband and father every week and, I hope, take some steps forward as much as I stumble.

What I Do:

My writing covers a range of topics, from inspirational to parenting, sports, creativity, culture and media. I’ve written everything from screenplays to novellas, novels and devotionals.

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What I Believe:

I try my best to follow Jesus.  I believe that we are not perfect. We will all struggle in life and we will learn from our struggles.  I believe everyone deserves a second chance and that forgiveness can change the world.  I believe the church gets it wrong just as much as it gets it right.  I believe we are all searching to complete the sentences of our lives. We do this in different ways, from addictions to spending and chasing fleeting value.

I believe in the mystery of faith, that we may not ever have all the answers. I believe we all have the power to love and to hurt, even those behind the pulpit on Sundays. Our goals should be to make a difference, to know that Jesus sought out people like us and that the Holy Spirit gives us courage and power to face every new morning.

Mission Statement:

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with All your Heart and lean not on your own understanding.  Acknowledge him in all things and he will make your paths straight.”

In the summer of 2014, I was struck with a choice: chase a traditional career in writing or give back this gift to God and see how he unleashes it in my life.  In chose the second option and that led to my current project, an account of fighting poverty in the city of Reading, Pennsylvania.

I want all of you to be inspired, to find hope, to know they are not alone and that their voice matters. Everyone counts.  Jesus showed us that and, even though we bury it under politics and religion, the truth remains.  Everyone counts. Every life has the potential to make a difference.

Every story matters to God.

Where to Start:

To get a good sense of my writing, start with here with a digital copy of my book on writing called Lazarus Art. Starting March 5th it will be free on Amazon.  You’ll find additional work there also including a new devotional coming by the end of the month.  If you enjoy what you find here, feel free to share with friends and loved ones needing hope.

What is Coming:

A new author website and devotional.  The launch of Glass Jar City, a Year in the Fight to Save Reading, Pennsylvania, a nonprofit publication and a special chance to raise money for those in the daily battle to defeat poverty and start those struggling on a path of new life.  Personalized ministry materials for individual and group study.

More work, new worship, deep conversation and a dive into the search for truth.

Thank you for spending some time here and I hope you enjoy your weekend.

Worship Song Inspiration:

~Matt

A Beautiful Collision

“The numbers were bad.  Some were made up. They had pluses where there should have been minuses. It took time, but they’re back in shape.”

I was on the phone with Gordon Mann from Public Financial Management.  PFM is serving as the Act 47 coordinator for the city of Reading. Mann’s passion is for the numbers.  His voice is confident and my pen rushes to keep up with the accounting information we discuss.

Act 47 is a governmental designation here in Pennsylvania saying the city is in fiscal emergency. Mann’s company must guide it back from the steps of ruin. He breaks the image down into understandable chunks. The only solution is cutting wherever possible. Contraction, not expansion.

Not popular terms for politicians promising assertive action to make things right again, to get the homeless off the streets and into jobs.

Two opposing forces are here moving towards collision.

Promises versus reality. Action and reaction. Faith during another night in the cold, unemployed with no answer in sight.

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We live our years here as followers of Jesus, a Savior calling us to shed our old selves and pick up a new cross.  The Bible tells the story of more than once of the rich man asking about entrance to Heaven.  Jesus advises him to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor.

Not a story that makes us comfortable.

So where do we stand on the line?  Are we holding tightly to something we are called to release?

Both of my sons love their pillows.  They have favorite blankets that must be on the bed for any chance of sleep.

Where do we find peace?

I’m feeling the challenge this week to live in the midst of the conflict.  To lay down my insecurities, pick up my Cross and start walking. Cutting our comforts for an active faith is never easy.

This is why Monday is a huge day for P356. The next step of this outreach has arrived. I’ll have a post Monday morning with all the details.

For now, I’m standing at the starting line.

Will you join me?

~Matt

 

The House on Fire

Today I spent almost two hours at the Mercy Community Crisis Pregnancy Center in the city of Reading.  Mercy is located directly across from the main branch of the Reading library system.  I’ve been in the library many times and never noticed the buildings across the street. They are set of old row homes and one of them is the entrance of Mercy.  I met with Sherry, the executive director, and had an amazing experience.

The building was the former residence of a doctor and has a place on the registry of historic homes. She took me on a tour of the floors, meeting rooms, and supply areas.  Mercy handles 1200 client visits a year and takes in no outside funding. They provide classes on life skills and parenting, clothes, supplies, and pregnancy tests. All of this with two full-time employees, a staff of volunteers, and money from donors.

Their focus is on helping the entire person, whether a young lady expecting her first child or a single father not knowing what to do. They present the Gospel, and a listening ear and their referrals are all by word of mouth.  They have generations of family members using their services to help get a solid foundation.  Sherry and her staff care for their clients like family.

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As I was sitting in the waiting room speaking with her, I felt an impression clear as day.  This is what I am supposed to be doing. These are stories I need to tell. These are people I need to help.  I’m not overly sensitive to the Spirit but, it was a Field of Dreams moment, the voice saying “if you write it, they will come.”

“I tell my volunteers, we are all comfortable with the front door gospel,” Sherry said, “Here we are the house on fire. We need to be like firemen, able to go through the basement windows and claw through the smoke and help put out the flames.”

As you go through this week, try to find the fires around you. They can be friends or family, coworkers or neighbors. When you move to serve, great things can happen.

~Matt