Joy vs. Temptation

For Christmas, Val got me an album from one of my favorite bands, Tenth Avenue North (yes I still listen to CD’s in my car, scary, I know). The title track is called Cathedrals. The message of the lyrics hits home to me on many levels.  Check out the lyric video.

One of the lines from the chorus tells us:

Let Joy Take Temptation’s Place

On Sunday, our church started a series on quieting the noise in our lives.  I don’t know about you, but temptation creeps up on me in the midst of the noise.  It is just too easy to be on the phone and ignoring Val and the kids. Thoughts scatter all different directions.  Stress presses down with a weight that can make us shut down and lose our temper.

What if we prayed to replace it with Joy? What if, in your darkest moments, you found happiness? What if the voice of temptation could quiet and be replaced with worship? With realization of your divine dream and calling?

As we look at a new year, let’s pray for more joy in our lives. I know I could use it. Our marriages and families could use it.  Let’s take 2015 and invest in the joy the comes from knowing our Creator.

Open up our souls
To feel your glory
Lord, we are a desperate people
Your cathedrals
Come fill this space
Let joy take temptation’s place
We will taste and see you as you are

~Matt

Giving Thanks For Ignition Moments

My dad spent twenty years working at Limerick Nuclear Generating Station.  Limerick is a town about an hour north of Philadelphia. The power plant was built the year I was born.  You could say that I grew up in the shadows of the twin cooling towers that constantly sent steam into the sky.

His job as an operator led to some great conversations as a kid and he has a number of great stories.  He worked twelve-hour shifts on day and night rotations.  One night, around three in the morning, he was monitoring a diesel engine that helped to operate one of the plant’s functions. He was in the room with the engine when a voice came over his radio.

It said that a large flame had shot from the exhaust on the roof of the building.  He had started to leave, stopped, and turned back to check it out.  Before he could clear the corner of a concrete wall just inside the entrance, the engine exploded.

The wall saved him from severe harm.  He was able to go home that night without any adverse effects.

Ignition moments are powerful.

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I’ll never forget my college adviser telling me I wouldn’t be successful as a writer.  Deep down, the fire started.  I knew I would prove him wrong, even if it took a lifetime.

Tomorrow, as we give thanks with our families and friends, recognize and grasp your ignition moments.

Was it a conversation? A prayer? A story or an image?

What moment started you on your path today?  Every success has a beginning. Every great story has a first word. Every goal was an impression spoken into your soul from the outer reaches of Heaven.

As you think about these moments, share them with someone else.  Shared stories create movement.  You never know who needs to hear what you have to say.  Take a chance and see what happens.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration:

Just Say No

I love freelance writing.  It has provided some side income and offered a chance to work with people around the world.  I’ve participated in a few different side projects and genres. You get the chance to test your limits as a writer and see just how far you can go.

You also learn to say no.

As an entrepreneur, I’m still learning my limits, learning when the balance of work and compensation leans too far one direction. I’ve learned that my time is valuable and there are moments when you need to walk away, to pivot a different direction and keep moving.

We are raised to accommodate, to listen to every authority figure and follow our marching orders. We are told to submit to the status quot. Our fear keeps us from setting boundaries. If we say yes, everything will be okay. If we don’t make waves, we can go with the flow.

Then life happens.

Jobs are lost. Family members get sick. The car dies. Our kids get in trouble at school. Favor seems to pass for someone else. We read the Bible and are told, more than once:

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What if God is calling us to something greater? What if we need to step out on the water? Peter had to and this man, first person contact with Jesus, caught sight of the waves and starting sinking. His fear pulled him down.

That dream, that passion that sets your heart on fire, is not just a passing moment.  That desire you see staring at the ceiling at night, it is a hand reaching out from the divine, pulling you towards a future more than you could imagine.

This journey starts with saying no.

No to the old ways, the old life, the old body. You turn away from the chains of the past, from destructive people and relationships.  Weigh everything and, if you find it lacking, have the courage to set it aside.

The apostles, after the Great Commission, went out into the world.  They faced harsh opposition and every single one died for their faith. They set the world on fire.  They stood up to the established world and changed it forever.

Do not fear. Do not lose hope. Don’t be afraid to say no.

It can be the start of something big.

~Matt

Soundtrack Inspiration: Tenth Avenue North, a great band with powerful music. Check it out!