If

I hope you enjoyed your past five days.

For us it was a time of running around, visiting family, opening presents and thinking about the past year. We attended a Christmas Eve service on a warm night and rejoiced as our pastor walked out on stage with his new prosthetic left leg. Carter and Aiden loved every gift they received. We somehow managed to make it relatively smooth and are still in the process of getting the house in order.

The insurance money for home repairs will be available to us on 12/30, starting the ball rolling towards repairs and the house returning to form.  On Christmas I experienced my own little miracle, something I will post about this week, as this was the first year without both of my grandparents.

I am excited for what is coming.  The final few days of 2015 will put a cap on a stressful time in our lives.  We are finally moving towards some good news on multiple fronts.  I know that everyone believes 2016 will be their year. It is a common refrain for the end of December.

We have a concrete reason why.

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Last night I started reading Pastor Mark Batterson’s new book.  The title is If and it is based on Romans 8:31.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

I’ll be writing two posts for our church’s official blog about this book and I’m excited to dive into it. He makes a point in the first chapter that will change lives:

If we really believed that verse, an alternative reality awaits.

If God is for us, who can be against us? It removes any space for doubts or fears.  How different would our year look if we walked forward believing that God is for us?

There are times I fight hard against cynicism. I mean, okay I get it. Faith is faith. Yet, when I read those sentences I felt a spark of something inside. Facing this book launch in 2016, the official initiation of P356 to the publishing world and fully giving my writing over to God’s purpose, I still get pangs of fear.

I look in the mirror and can hear the voices.

Why me? I was never anybody special.

If God is for us, who can be against us?

What happens if I fail?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

Do you know the odds against success? How many people actually launch their business online and survive?

If God is for us, who can be against us?

The bottom line is faith. Silence the voices.  Grab hold of the promise, the importance of If, and use it to change your life.  Looking forward to what is coming, to building this book and making real change in our lives.

It all starts with one concept-

If.

~Matt

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Break Every Chain

This is a post about freedom.

Not a belated July 4th celebration.  A different kind of freedom.

We all have ways we define our lives. We claim things for our own. We fill in our incomplete sentences and pick identities from the moments of life God had placed in our past. Make your way around a party and talk to people.  You’ll find the spoiled one, the beaten down and abused, the rich and privileged.

I remember playing on the golf team in high school.  One of the guys was the son of a family that owned a pair of furniture stores in town.  He wore the best clothes and had the most expensive golf clubs.  His name was his identity.

There is a danger here.

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The crucifixion scene in the Bible always fascinated me.  The imagery was harsh and dramatic. I could picture the wind and rain-swept hillside, the trio of crosses with thunder crashing in the background.  I could see the guards and the brave few supporters of Jesus gathering at his feet.  The part that fascinated me was his words:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

There are volumes of debate and analysis on the meaning of this question.  We understand that, in the moment, Jesus had taken on all sin to be the living sacrifice for our salvation.  God, in perfection, could not assist.  His Will be done.

The Son had to move on without the Father to complete his ultimate journey.

I believe we are all called out on the water.  To realize our destiny, we throw off the chains of our past and step forward.

We are shaped by our past, defined by our future, and driven by our dreams.

Tonight I pray you know freedom from the things holding you back. I pray you find new life and look in the mirror and know you are okay. You are strong. You are able.

You will make it.

~Matt

The Push

If you are bored, try this.

Do an informal survey.  Ask you family, coworkers, and friends a simple question:

Are you happy?

Wait and listen to their responses.  I promise you will learn something.

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You’ll have conversations about missed dreams, tossed away passions, and regret for the passing of time. You’ll hear people who settled into a career and, rather than knowing it theirs they settled and spent their years clocking in and out, going on summer vacations, and slowly climbing the corporate ladder.

In each talk, in the spaces of unspoken words and covered emotions you’ll find The Push.

The Push is the moment God revealed a divine calling, a passion that affirms life. You’ll hear it in the language.

“I wish I could do that again. If I just had the chance, I would…, At this point, I only have a few years and I’ll retire!”

I don’t know about you but I think it is time to end the talk and start the action. Too many people are missing out on life, on their calling and their passion.  Too many people have settled for the safe route. There’s a reason that creatives celebrate the road not taken.

It is the fire that can light us to burn for an eternity.

Our job is two-fold: to answer the call and help others do the same.

~Matt

Why We Write: To Answer a Calling

Great writers are born, not made. This cliché is all over the world of writing, as if it is some exclusive club.  I’m here to tell you this is not true.

If you’re like me, you probably have looked in the mirror once or twice and asked what you were meant to do. In my application essay for Fairfield University, I wrote that we are all incomplete sentences. We spend our lives looking for the ending.  We try relationships, work, substances both good and bad.  We throw ourselves into things to find meaning.

I am a writer. There was never a different option.

The trick is giving yourself permission to claim your ending.

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Photo Credit: pasotraspaso via Compfight cc

The trick is understanding why.

There are a handful of “overnight” success stories. Stroll through your local bookstore and you’ll see shelves full of people who have gained contracts and released something for the world to consume. The mistake is measuring yourself against these other writers.  They have their stories.

You have yours.

We aren’t called to write for the shelves or Kindles. We write to make a difference.  You are called to make a difference.  The payoff is when one person, someone you’ve never met, posts a comment, sends an email, or tells you they were impacted by your work.  When they tell you that you’ve changed their life, gave them hope, and let them know it will be okay.

We write to serve, not to sell.  When you answer the call and put your thoughts on paper, you’ll be amazed at what can happen.

~Matt