Find Faith, Stand Tall and Fix Your Eyes

Fight for the weak ones

Speak out for freedom

Find faith in the battle

Stand tall but above it all

Fix my eyes on you.

~Fix My Eyes by For King and Country

I was going to lunch late one night in the emergency room. My registration desk looked out at the waiting area.  A couple sat across from me with their child.  I watched the child, pale as a ghost, keep trying to stand and speak in jumbled words.  They were waiting for a room when I left for lunch.

When I returned, they were still there and, deep inside, I knew something was wrong. I went to get a nurse. They quickly opened a treatment room and ushered the family to the back.

In a few minutes, the alarm sounded for a code. The child’s breathing had stopped.  We could hear the screams of the parents from our desks.

A few days later, the newspapers ran the story.  After transfer to a higher level hospital and ICU, the child died from meningitis.

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Where is faith in that battle?  How do we stand in the midst of tragedy and fix our eyes on the author of our faith? How do you tell those parents that it will all work out in time, that their child is now in a much better place without pain, sickness, or suffering?

That face will stick with me for the rest of my life. Those words, the questions, asking and asking and asking. I can still hear it some nights in the silence.

Maybe it is not about justification. Maybe it is about honesty. Faith is telling God exactly how you feel.  It is questioning motives and results.  It is living with expectations and hanging on in the darkness, even if it is by a thread.

You can only stand in the battle through faith.

You can only fix your eyes with purpose. Every race is run with an endpoint in mind and every struggle will end.  It may be in joy and transition or tragedy and sadness. The trick is fixing your eyes no matter the circumstances.  It is praying through your tears and going on another day when you don’t have energy.

The series of posts this week is challenging.  I’ve felt the conviction of every writer, for words are really mirrors.  That is why we do it together, as a community and family. We move forward.  Today can be your day one. Start now.

Love without fear. Give whenever possible.

Life new life. Take time for another.

Speak out. Fight for freedom.

Find faith. Stand tall and

Fix

Your

Eyes.

~Matt

This is the last day you can find my novel, The City for FREE download on Amazon.com. Click here to download and check it out.

Living Life and Taking Time- Fix My Eyes Week: Day 2

I’d love like I’m not scared

Give when it’s not fair

Live life for another

Take time for a brother

~Fix My Eyes by For King and Country

Creflo Dollar wants a plane.  If you don’t know his name, do a quick search and you’ll find it.  Dollar runs a church in the south with eight thousand or so members.  He recently made headlines by asking donors to chip in for a $65 million jet that he could use to spread the gospel.

The backlash was quick and, with it, you’d think he learned his lesson.  His church even pulled the funding request down from the website.

Then he delivered a message saying his doubters were evil and that, if God wanted him to have the plane, it would be and should be his.

When did we go so wrong?

Faith is not safe.  Faith is not money. It is not calling on the giant slot machine in the sky and pulling the lever to get our payout.  It is not a God filling your bank account fresh every morning.

Faith is dirty.  It is living life for another, sacrificing yourself and your desires.  It is taking time for the ones in need. It is helping the family who does not have enough to feed their children breakfast in the morning.  Faith is giving of our time and efforts.

What if we aren’t called to be free and rich?  What if we are called to pick up our cross and take a dangerous walk, one with potential to change the world down the block and around the corner.

You know how many families could have their lives changed with $65 million in donations?

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One of my favorite speakers is Reggie Dabbs.  I’ve had the honor to hear his story multiple times at our church and events like Promise Keepers. Dabbs was conceived by a young woman having sex with a man for $20.00 to get groceries.

He is now the #1 public speaker to school students in the country.  No one speaks to more kids in a year than Reggie.  He spreads a promise of hope, grace, and love. He tells every audience that he loves every kid in the audience, that his heart is big enough for all of them no matter what their situation. He breaks chains of anger, hatred, bullying, and discrimination.

He is living life and taking time for another.

Who are you speaking into this week? Who will you live for and give your time for?

Who will you love with a full and radical heart?

~Matt

For the next three days you can find my novel, The City for FREE on Amazon.com. Click here to download and check it out.

Fix My Eyes Week Day 1- Fearless Love and Unfair Giving

My new favorite album is RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG by For King and Country. The third track on the disc is titled Fix My Eyes and the chorus is serving as inspiration for this week of posts. It is a section of statements that serve as a reminder of the destinations we should be chasing as believers and humans wanting to improve this world.  A lyric video is below.  Check it out and pay attention to the chorus as we’ll be taking it apart a few lines at a time.

Love Like I’m Not Scared

Love scares us.  It means opening up when our instinct is to protect ourselves.  It means acknowledging someone is important and searching for acceptance. A friend of mine recently completed her divorce.  She was talking to me about the prospect of dating again, telling me how she never though she’d be in that position.

We don’t take our marriage vows to break them.

Love scares us on a faith level. Jesus provided the example of perfect and selfless love. The church as political unit gets hung up on the idea of a closed fist and pointed finger, not open hands with nail scars. We invite people in and, as long as they know their place, we are comfortable to have them around. We’ve convinced ourselves that revolutionary love is a thing of the past, confined to Jerusalem a few thousand years ago.

We can be the reps of Jesus, as long as the audience is Republican, moderately wealthy, white, and willing to not discuss their struggles at the dinner table after the small group meeting.

Give When it’s Not Fair

I love these five words and they are worth a book of writing. In the Bible, we read Jesus meeting a wealthy man in the streets.  He’s asked, as the guy looks up from checking his portfolio on his IPhone 6, how do I get into heaven?

The reply is simple and, as he did often, Jesus cuts to the core of the issue.

Sell everything.

He doesn’t say, sell some stuff, set up shop in the market and get rid of your antiques.  He doesn’t say to keep the receipts for a tax write off. He doesn’t say, make sure you give me ten percent and we’re all good, or go to the temple on Mission’s Sunday and put some extra in the pot.

He says, sell it all.

Not an easy statement.

The central idea here is a selfless life. Loving and giving, taking a risk to be there for someone else, taking your time to serve a family, charity, or group in need. 

It is pushing the capital ME (sell it all) down for the capital US (love without fear). It is a concept that can change the world when we embrace it fully and go forward.

~Matt

Also, for the next four days, my novel The City is available FOR FREE on Amazon.com

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If you enjoy some action and post-apocalyptic sci-fi, check it out.  You can download it by clicking here.

The Compass

I was sitting in an office at Hope Rescue Mission interviewing a resident.  He had lived years of his young life dealing with addiction and crime, illness and death. After listening to his story, he mentioned that he was enrolled in the local community college.

I asked what he was taking.

“Addiction counseling and social work” he said, “I just thought I could give back, you know?”

His life had shifted.

life is a

In the midst of suffering, we feel thrown off the path. The way becomes blurry. Questions that were easy now present problems. Cooking dinner, at the end of the day, looks like a doctoral thesis.

Our pain points are our compass. They are construction signs better than any orange cones on the highway.

They are God’s arrows showing us the way to go.

The trick is to keep moving. How could you give back? What fires have you braved that you could help others put out? How can you turn the emotions into life for someone else who may be in the midst of the same?

We have a choice.  No matter how deep in the darkness, we always have a choice.

Your first step towards reclaiming faith and life in action is seeing a new target and new purpose. It can be the light you need for the next chapter of the journey.

~Matt

Flat-lined Faith

You know what I’m talking about.  Maybe you’re there right now.

You’ve defined yourself as a “believer,” grown up in church and played the role.  Tragedy strikes, life steps in and suddenly you are lost and drifting on a stormy ocean. You feel disconnected to those around you.

There’s a void getting way too comfortable as it hangs over your shoulders.

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I spent two years working in an emergency room doing insurance stuff and dealing with patients. It was a chance to see both sides of life.  People would arrive ready to give birth and leave a few days later as new parents. Others would arrive and never leave.

Word spread whenever a “code” came in. These individuals were either dead or dying.  I watched the families arrive and it killed me inside.

It also made me thankful.

Our zero moments give us clarity, understanding for what he have, had, and may get in the future. They push us to pivot in a new direction.

This week you’ll find some guest posts focusing on Faith and Life in Action from people who have made the journey and experienced all sides of it. They’ve had their zero moments and found ways to recover.

The temptation is to stay lonely.  Know that it is not an option. Find connection, community, and family. We are not created to live in a void.

We are created for life. We are created to regain strength and live electric moments of dangerous faith and love. We are created to serve.

My prayer from day one is that these words would make a difference. If they hit home for you or someone you love, feel free to share them and keep checking in as the story only grows from here.

~Matt

Your First Step

How many moments have you found yourself back at zero?

All thoughts disappear. Sounds stop. The air in the room is frozen and, if you reach out your hand, you can catch the dust particles in the sunbeams. If you are lucky, these happen in positive times on your path of life.

If you are like the rest of us, you’ve been blindsided by forces outside of your control.

The secret is: the moment will pass.

You’ll need to make a first step.

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Our days are often spent building bridges.  We find friends and family members and set up transactions that can turn into dependency. We’re mired in people and places that are not helpful.  From every direction you hear:

What can you do for me?

When you make your first step, you must evaluate the bridges.  Consider the people in your life. Take inventory.

Decide what can be left behind as one thing is clear:

You can’t stay the way you are. The critical moments create dividing lines in your life. It is impossible to go back.

The hope is looking forward.  It is looking for new bridges to cross and build.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be telling more of our personal story.  You’ll find some guest posts here from people writing about their own first steps, faith, and lives in action. You’ll find new materials and fresh community.

I invite you to be a part of it, join the story and see what it means to find yourself again. Wherever you are on the journey, feel free to contribute and make your voice heard.

~Matt