Author Archives: Matthew Wireman

First Sunday of Lent 2018

Walking in the woods one groggy and misty morning,
I happened upon a crossroad not seen before
I had walked this path before
Perhaps the ivy had covered the cross
Perhaps the mildewing leaves
Perhaps my preoccupied thoughts of grandeur and worry and pain and listlessness

Just the same—

It stared at me.

 

This cross
road

 

No, it beckoned me these two paths that split from my routine path
It called my name to travel to the left
The narrow path
But should I go to the right?
What should I do?
So I sat and thought and worried and reasoned.

I closed my eyes.
Held my breath.
And ran to the left.
I ran.
I sprinted.
I stumbled.
I fell.

Looking up I see a chasm.
A cave.
A dwelling in the side of the hill.
I descend to its darkness and gasp for fear

I descend. Into the darkness. Into the wonder. Into the pain. Into the mire. Into the pit.

There’s a strangeness here. A comforting strangeness.
As though this is my home and yet a place I have not visited before.
A place where no light was left on to lead me.
A place where my heart yearned to go.
Like the smell of hot chili on a cold night. Or baked apple pie on the window sill.
But I find dead men’s bones who have ventured here before.

Still.
In the stillness.
In the death.
I find a comfort.
I find the soil breaking forth with light and heat and life.
As a stalk of wheat pushing through the soil.

To this I was called.
This beckoning.
Like a Father soothing the fear and a mother wiping the tears.
I weep.
Not like an uncontrollable sobbing.
But definitely not contrived.
A deep hurt. A deep cut. To the bone.
Dividing marrow and sinew and ligament and soul.

Breaking.
In the breaking.
In the pain.
I find a healing.
I find the roots of joy spreading deep in the earth with grace and peace and resolve.

This chasm and pit and pain and remorse
For what I have done
For that I have left undone
This darkness.
This emptiness is where I find the filling.

The Spirit welling up from within and spilling without
—Without me
In spite of me

In my death, there is my life
In my pain, there is my solace
In my hurt. Darkness. Chasm.
Therein the deep wells of my Maker.

No amount of trite answers
Superficial balm
Earthly comforts
These cannot stave the pain of the hunger I have longed to fill

 

It is in the emptiness that I am full.

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Filed under Lent, Poetry

Jonathan Edwards on Creation and the Creator

The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. [These] are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the ocean.

“The Christian Pilgrim”

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Gospeling at Work (1 of 2)

Should you share the Gospel at work? The short answer: Yes. But before you answer that question we have to re-consider what we mean when we say “gospel” and “share.” So much of out evangelicalism has bought into the notion that the “gospel” consists of four points merely with a decision called for at the end. Sure, the backbone of the Good News is God, Man, Sin, Repentance, Forgiveness.

Throughout our lives, however, we are called to creatively interweave the gospel in our lives. In other words, we need to think of the gospel as integrally tied to our worldview. We cannot look at the customer buynig somethnig from us apart from seeing them as made in God’s image and in need of redemption. We cannot listen to the demands of our manager without considering that we are to revere him as we do the Lord. We cannot respond to a frustrated customer wihtout understanding that there are idols of the heart that must be demolished.

Some people have said that we should not “share the gospel” at work because we are not being paid to “share the gospel.” I think I know what they are getting at. Of course we shouldn’t set up a chair at the water cooler and field questions of faith while we should be making phno calls. Of course, we shouldn’t transition from selling a cell phone by saying, “You know how important communication with your loved ones is? Did you know that God wants to communicate with you too?” That would be awkard, it would burn a bridge rather than burn it since people can sniff the farce of the sale.

If, on the other hand, we begin to integrate our lives in such a way that the gospel becomes the thread by which we weave the fabric of our lives, we will not help but share the gospel in every conversation we have (all speech should be “seasoned with the salt of the gospel”). My job is pretty slow by way of customers coming in the doors, so I have the pleasure (sometimes it is a drudgery, honestly) of talking at length with a customer provided there is not someone waiting in line. There are a few folks I have seen once every couple weeks or so. I try to remember their names, their situations in life (college, loss of family member, broke up with girlfriend, etc…sometimes I feel like a bartender!). When they come in I ask them about their life and they do the same.If I am having a hard week, I share it, if a good week I share it. Today, I mentioned to a lady how I am thinking and praying through my life decisions that are coming down the pike. At times I get to ask them how they celebrated Easter, Christmas, etc.  I seek to be human and treat them as humans. When they are frustrated, I try to help them.

A couple came in a couple days ago and they were extremely perturbed, planning on canceling their service with us because they had been told one thing and something else had been done. I looked at them and had genuine compassion on them. I sought to max out their discounts on service and see what I could do to make their lives better. Instead of chaos in their lives, I sought to bring wholeness — shalom in the Hebrew which means a holistic restoration of the broken order. They had been deceived but I sought to bring truth and alleviate their suffering. In a way, this is like offering a cup of cold water to the parched soul.

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Filed under Christian Living, Evangelism

Your Child’s Humanity & Obedience — Four Questions

If we were spoken to by a superior–at work, church, public–in the way that many parents (superiors) speak to their children, we would decry justice. While it is true your child should obey your commands. Perhaps before you command anything you should ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is this command beneficial to the child?
  2. Is this command unnecessarily burdensome to the child?
  3. Is this command taking into account the child’s fatigue or emotions?
  4. Am I listening to my child’s cries, or am I speaking over them?

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Filed under Family | Parenting

Children Open Our Eyes

Children Playing Leapfrog What I discussed in my last post is really a call for perspective change on the personhood of your child. As I look around me, I see parents (Christian and non-Christian) treating their children like pets, accessories, and inconveniences.

Parents have forgotten that they are a gift that we unwrap more and more everyday. They are packages of grace we get to find out more about through time and effort. Sure, we may get a paper cut or have trouble untying a knot, but the gift remains a gift–of gracious sanctification. Have you ever thought about the kind of soul work God is doing in your life through the daily frustrations you have because of your kids?

Here’s a challenge: Perhaps the anger and frustration is not because of your kids. Rather it is a deep-seated way of life you have grown accustomed to that is contrary to the ways of God. God has given you your children (not your neighbors’ children, not your siblings’ children) in order to dig deep into your heart and extract that sin you did not know was there when you were single or married without children.

Not only this, but they are reminders of our need to pause and live as children in God’s wonder-filled house. When your children play in the dirt and you have to wash their clothes, be reminded of the wonder and excitement of mud. The way it gushes in between your toes. When they scream, be reminded of our need to kill our penchant to please man rather than God. To be so free in your life that you can express yourself without feeling burdened, because you always have Mommy and Daddy who love you. When they are enraptured in play, remember that God’s world is a playground. Don’t let the fallenness of our world harden you to the declarations the heavens make and handiwork that is his creation. Remember that children keep you young and free in the grace and mercy and kindness of God…if you let them.

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Filed under Christian Living, Culture, Parenting

Moving…

Friends. My friend Jason Vandorsten has done me the huge favor of re-designing my website. I will now be blogging at www.matthewwireman.com.

Redirect your RSS feeds to: http://www.matthewwireman.com/feed/

Thank you for following me as long as you have. I pray that I have encouraged and challenged you. I pray that this move and re-concerted effort to write will continue to help you.

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Book Review — Living Life in the Zone


Living Life in the Zone: A 40 Day Spiritual Game Plan for Men

Kyle Rote Jr and Joe Pettigrew

Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009 (329 pp–$14.99)

Former soccer legend, Kyle Rote Jr, and “America’s Leadership Doctor,” Joe Pettigrew, have teamed up to map out a 40-day experience–supposedly themed after the Experiencing God 40-day journey. The days are broken down into 6 groupings:

1. A broad vision for biblical manhood

2. Husbanding

3. Fathering

4. Male friendship

5. Vocation

6. Future planning

Why 40 days? The authors answer: “Throughout the Bible, God uses forty days as a significant period of time in which to accomplish His purposes” (xix). They then cite several biblical examples to make their case: the flood, Moses on Mt. Sinai, Wilderness Wanderings, Elijah on Mt. Horeb, Jesus’ fast and subsequent temptation.

Each day follows the same format (which is helpful; you know what you’re going to get each day–a help for early morning devotions until the morning fog dissipates). The devotion begins with the purpose of the day (called the “Thought of the Day”). This is followed by “The Coach’s Corner,” which gives a 1-2 page overview of why the issue for the day is important to your life as a man. “The Game Plan” gives biblical passages that illuminate the issue (the verses are quoted at length rather than merely cited). The “Playmakers” section gives an example from sports to make the day’s point. The “Time Out” asks three practical questions that help pinpoint how the issue applies to the man’s life. “Today’s Assignment” gives an action point that the reader is supposed to accomplish for the day–i.e. “Ask your wife, or your children’s mother, what she is most concerned about in regard to the current needs for protection for the family. Consider calling and talking with your children today and making sure that each one knows how much you love them” (116).

I found the practical bent to the book immensely helpful. From a man’s perspective, religion can seem very ephemeral and not practical. This book helps put flesh on the various characteristics to being a godly man. One of the pressing problems in the church today is getting men involved. With the feminization of our culture and the attacks on what it means to be a man–the majority of men do not want to dress in pastels and skinny jeans. This book is a good attempt to bridge that gap.

It is the kind of book that you would want to give to a man who wants to be faithful in his Christian devotion but does not know where to begin. It is written with the peripheral attender of church in mind–not something you want to give someone who is already leading in the church. HOWEVER, it could prove to be an invaluable resource for these men to lead a men’s group. Six weeks of meeting with men and working through the devotions together and hitting high points could help to bring men into the fold. With the audience in mind, this book would need to be given with the assumption he will be reading it with other men. Reason being that most men on the periphery will not finish a 40-day game plan. They need accountability and peer example to want to continue.

The bridge could have better been constructed with a shorter volume–329 pages is imposing on someone who prefers SportsCenter and highlight reels. If the book is meant for a man to read on his own, I would recommend shortening the book to 20 days. This is more easily managed and attainable.

Further, the sports examples make the book appetizing to the spiritual couch potato. Men like Staubach, Hershiser, Bird, Belichick, and Wooden all translate the purpose for the day. I would recommend putting these examples at the beginning of each day to give a big vision of what is to be accomplished–the “Coach’s Corner” could be done away with (thus shortening the book).

While this book is commendable, I think what is needed is a robust understanding of how the Bible fits together. This devotion is a great starting place for getting men involved in spiritual matters. But entertainment cannot be the fiber of healthy Christian diet. As a follow-up to this devotion there needs to be a laying out of the biblical narrative so that men can get a better understanding of the Bible. I believe part of the anemia found in the church lies in the perceived ineptitude of many men when it comes to what the Bible teaches.

I recommend this book for men who love sports and do not read their Bibles. But please have them read it in a small group; followed by a biblically rich devotion or book.

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Filed under Books & Media, Manhood

Abortion Has Got to Stop!

!!WARNING!! This video is explicit.

http://herestheblood.com/player-viral.swf

Does your stomach churn? Does your heart ache? Do something about it. Go to http://liveaction.org and http://abort73.com and get informed. I use to believe choice was more important than life. After seeing what that choice entailed, I began to realize that life is more important than convenience.

Do you want to help your friends see that life trumps choice? Bring the facts to the light. If they watch this video and go to the website, then they’ll be confronted with reality and scientific hypothesizing as to when a child *becomes* a human. A child always is a human.

Read this post which concludes:

In 2008, the latest year for which data are available, there were 89,469 abortions in New York City, while there were 127,680 live births. This means that 41 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion in New York, far beyond the national rate of about 23 percent. In the Bronx, a full 48 percent of pregnancies ended in abortion. With rates as high as these, any medical risks associated with abortion could amount to a public-health crisis, as the disturbing rise in the rate of pre-term birth may already indicate. Policymakers should be discussing what can possibly be done to lower the rate of abortion in New York. . . .

When the head of the city’s legislative body and local subsidiaries of some of the most powerful organizations in the country attack fewer than 20 shoestring operations in New York City that offer free abortion alternatives, while nearly 90,000 women procure an abortion every year in the city, it is clear that it’s not about choice. It’s about abortion.

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Filed under Abortion, Books & Media, Culture

Fresh Approach to Witness-Evangelism

A helpful 17 minute talk by Becky Pippert on evangelism in our current context.

http://conversation.lausanne.org/uploads/networks/images/2/player.swf

1. We lack MOTIVATION
a. We have focused on techniques to the detriment of actually evagelizing.
b. Theology impacts our methodology
c. THEREFORE: We must begin with God
i. He is loving
ii. He is powerful
d. This is the deepest motivation
2. Do we have a MODEL?
a. We do: The doctrine of the Incarnation
b. Reflection on the Incarnation will motivate
c. “As the Father sent the Son, so he has sent us”
i. Birth
ii. Life & Ministry
1. The Kingdom of God is relational
2. Love God and Neighbor
a. The foundation of evangelism needs to be relationship because we reflect the Trinity to our world.
b. How do I maintain my identity and walk alongside unbelievers
3. Jesus was radically identified in:
a. Love
b. Holiness
c. Authenticity, credibility, and spiritual power
4. So much of or evangelism is “hit and run” rather than getting in the mix with people
a. We are surrounded (and pursue) Christian relationships, but do not get out of our salt shaker
iii. Death
iv. Resurrection
v. Ascension
3. We do need METHODS
a. This must reflect the theology we believe
b. How do you go from a natural conversation to a spiritual one?
i. By teaching people how to ASK QUESTIONS
ii. What is the passion of the person to whom you are speaking
iii. Ask them about general interests
iv. Then you move into specifics
v. Then the belief question

An EXAMPLE
c. Pippert went to an agrarian community and asked these questions:
i. How are your crops?
ii. How are you dealing with the stress?
iii. Have you found a way of dealing with the stress that doesn’t make you worse, but better?
iv. Do you think there is a God who can help you deal with the stress?
d. We Need to STATE THE GOSPEL
i. Sin
ii. Redemption
iii. Transformation
e. We need to be relevant and speak about things that are eternal
f. We need to rediscover the irresistible Jesus?
i. The world hasn’t a clue what Jesus is like.
ii. We need to stun people with the fact that the religious hated Jesus and the outcasts loved him
iii. The chief complaint about the God-Man was that he wasn’t religious enough.
iv. Too many times people think our devotion to Christ means that he helps us with our devotions and keeps us from cussing.
v. We need to show them that Jesus never walks away from people who struggle with eating disorders, violence, brokenness. He wades into the mess.
g. We can do this through small group evangelism.
i. A Bible Study for non-Christians–seeker Bible studies

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Filed under Culture, Evangelism

Strength in Weakness

From Seth Godin’s blog, entitled “Demonstrating Strength“:

Apologize

Defer to others

Avoid shortcuts

Tell the truth

Offer kindness

Seek alliances

Volunteer to take the short straw

Choose the long-term, sacrificing the short

Demonstrate respect to all, not just the obviously strong

Share credit and be public in your gratitude

Risking the appearance of weakness takes strength. And the market knows it.

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Filed under Christian Living, Pastoral

The Pendulum’s Tether

This is not a pendulum swing back to child-centered parenting. Rather, it is a reorientation of the very tether of the pendulum.

I am untying it from man and moving the center to God. We need to do our parenting with reference to God. Remember, Mom and Dad, you lead as one under authority. You tell this child come and he comes. You tell that one goes and he goes. And yet, you are not worthy to have the Lord come under your roof. These children are gifts to you. Take your eyes off the temporal problem found in the horizontal and lift your eyes up to be reminded of your leadership and authority under the gaze of God.

There will be times that our commands need to be obeyed merely because we are telling our child to do them. I got caught up in the need to explain “why” every time I asked my daughter to do something. When your child asks “Why?” you are not obligated to give a detailed answer. Sometimes the answer “Mommy said so” is sufficient. This response, however, must always be set in the context of your love and care for your child. In other words, the child needs to hear you say: “God is good and in control of everything. He has given you Mommy and Daddy in order to protect you and provide for you. We want you to obey us because it is good for you. You may not understand now, but please know that we love you and everything will not always make sense right now–and maybe not even later.” You don’t have to say the extended version every time, but your children need to know that the shorthand form–”Mommy said so”–summarizes the longer form.

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Filed under Family | Parenting

The Art of Marriage

I am so excited about this project Family Life has been laboring toward for a couple years now. This is something that will bless the church tremendously and deepen couples’ walks with Christ in ways we can only dream of!

A wonderful snip on anger in marriage below:

http://mediasuite.multicastmedia.com/player.php?v=f33lpem8

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Filed under Books & Media, Family | Parenting

Parent-Centered Parenting: Reflections from a Park

A corrective to some parenting perspectives. Some of us have been taught that our worlds are not meant to revolve around our children. While this is true, oftentimes the pendulum is swung in the wrong direction.

It is detrimental to the growth of our children to let our worlds revolve around them–thus creating self-worshipers. It is, HOWEVER, also wrong for us to demand our children revolve around our worlds.

I was sitting on a bench in a park while I heard a distressed mother scream to her two-year-old, “Eat!” A few minutes passed by: “Sit down and eat your food!” The father steps in out of guilt and stands over his child and says, “Eat!” By the sound of it, you would think they were trying to get him to eat some poison or gruel that would kill him. They were demanding that he eat his pb & j. He didn’t want to. It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon. This child should probably be napping somewhere. Not eating lunch! The parents are right: that the child should eat his lunch. BUT they have failed to care for their child. They are not listening to the child.They are demanding with little or no reference to the child’s needs. As a relatively new parent myself (I have a four year-old), this has been a rough learning curve for me. How much do I demand? Is it wrong to demand obedience? I know that it is right for my children to obey me. But I take issue with parents who give little or no thought to the humanity of their children. Their children are often talked to like animals–as though a one word command is all that is required on their part as a parent.

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Filed under Family | Parenting

Arguing of No Consequence

Most things we argue about with our children are of little to no consequence. Typically, they are our attempt to commandeer worship from our children, rather than obedience to us as an expression of worship to God.

Is it really necessary that your child finish all her broccoli? Is it necessary that your child obey in the split second you have uttered your command? Delayed obedience is not always disobedience. It can be. That takes a few moments on your part to pay attention to your child and see why they are delaying response. This requires that you know your child better than a parenting method or book. My eldest daughter is a very intense little girl. When she wakes up before the sun rises to when she struggles with going to bed, she is constantly moving. She is running. She is jabbering. She is observing. She is playing hard. When she plays with her dollies, she does not pay attention to things around her. She doesn’t hear the television. She doesn’t smell the aroma of bacon and eggs. Her surroundings are non-existent while she is playing in her little world of dolls. For me to yell from another room, “Dinner’s ready.” I should not expect her to drop her dolls and run to the table every time. She is a human being. I should treat her with respect and love. That may mean I walk into her room (ten feet away from where I am standing), get on the ground at eye level, pick up a doll, and play. Taking her face in my hands, I then say, “Darling, supper is ready.” Let’s go set the table.

Sure this take A LOT more time. But is it not a little more respectful. Perhaps we can train our children, like in days gone by, that when the supper bell is rung you have five minutes to get to the table. This would help you in your time management as well. This is merely, home management. Every system and organization requires truncated ways of leading. But it requires consistency and explanation. It’s not yelling one minute and dolly playing the next.

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Filed under Parenting, Theology

Two Conferences of Interest

One on John Bunyan in Whitlinsville, MA:

“A John Bunyan Feast”

October 22-23. Joel Beeke and Derek Thomas are the speakers.

Friday, October 22, 2010
12:30 PM Book Table Opens
1:30 PM Registration Opens
3:00 PM First Session: Pilgrim’s Progress: from the City of Destruction to the Cross Mr. Thomas
4:15 PM Dinner Break (at local restaurants)
6:00 PM Second Session: Bunyan’s Preaching to the Heart Mr. Beeke
7:20 PM Third Session: Pilgrim’s Progress: from the Cross to Vanity Fair Mr. Thomas
Saturday, October 23, 2010
8:00 AM Registration and Book Table Opens
9:15 AM Fourth Session: Bunyan on Justification Mr. Beeke
10:15 AM Coffee break and fellowship
10:45 AM Fifth Session: Pilgrim’s Progress: from Vanity Fair to the Celestial City Mr. Thomas
11:45 AM Questions and Answers
12:15 PM Lunch Break (at local restaurants)
1:30 PM Closing Session: A Bunyanesque Sermon on the Holy War Within Mr. Beeke

The other at Princeton Theological Seminary:

“These Speak of Me: The Glory of Christ in All of Scripture”

November 5-6. David Helm and Kent Hughes will be the speakers at this second conference.

PrCRT 2010

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Current Events, History, Interpretation, Theology