Who Does God Include?

Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” (Mark 16:7 NLT)

I have heard this text preached or taught for years. I too have broached this subject from time to time. However, upon reading it again, I noticed something different. Often we have phrased this text as though God was remembering Peter and showing him love by having the angel include Peter in the announcement that Jesus had been resurrected. 

Put yourself in the disciples shoes for just a moment. They all knew that Jesus had foretold Peter’s denial. Word get’s around quickly, even to those who may not have been present when Peter began to curse and swear that he did not know nor follow Jesus.

For the other disciples, their mindset could have been, “Well, at least we did not deny him.” Sure they fled in fear. Who doest from time to time? I would suspect that there was some tension whenever Peter’s name was mentioned. What if the gossip was thick amongst the other disciples? What if they all decided that Peter had gone too far and walked away? 

In reality, the disciples had probably written Peter off as a lost cause. They had probably said amongst themselves, “Can you believe that he publicly denied Jesus. He said he would rather die than deny him.” 

If you and I are honest, I don't think we are much different from these disciples. Who in your family have you written off as a lost cause? Who have you written off because of their denial or their struggle with Jesus? Who seems to be the worst of the worst in your mind? 

Remember, the angel gave instruction to include Peter. We can look at the passage above and think to ourselves that God was teaching Peter about His love by having him accepted as one of Jesus' disciples. This is probably true as well. But God was also teaching the disciples something. He was teaching them that He accepts Peter, even in his denial. He loves Peter and so should they. 

No matter what Peter had done to Christ just a couple of days ago, he was still considered one of His disciples. Peter had excluded himself, and so did the others. But God included Him in front of the others!

Be careful who you exclude, that’s probably the very person God includes.

 

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Posted on March 18, 2014 and filed under Grace, Church, Musings, Pastor, Theology.

10 Way's I Have Treated My Wife Like A Dog

Photo taken by: Brian Faye

Photo taken by: Brian Faye

Sometimes I get asked, "Matt, why do you write about things like this?" My response is generally the same each time. I want to help prevent other leaders from doing the same things in their life and ministry as I have done. So, below is a bit of our story.

In 2003, I somehow convinced Amber to marry me. I guess it was my humor -  cause I had no money nor looks. And to top it off, I am a preacher. 

Either way she married me and I am glad.

During our first 4 years of marriage, there were ten awful actions that I did that could have ruined my wife forever as well as our marriage. I want to share them with you now.

Here are the 10 Ways I Treated My Wife Like A Dog

  1. I tried to force her into the model pastor's wife. I expected her to dress and act or present herself in a certain way. When she did not, I reminded her of her place. 
  2. I treated my church members better than I treated her. I gave them my time, money, and heart. She got the left overs.
  3. After we left the pastorate, I pressured her to attend a church in which she did not want to be a part. 
  4. I pressured her to speak publicly. She would get nauseated and sweat. I didn't care, it made me look good.
  5. I brought home the issues, sin, struggles, and bad decisions I made as a leader and dumped it on her and never took responsibility for my own actions.
  6. I constantly criticized her for not "supporting me" in the ministry.
  7. I lashed out at her for questioning my judgement on ministry and money matters. We got into debt and shut down a church. 
  8. I abused her paycheck and work ethic while I loved "on faith." 
  9. I caused her to be bitter toward the ministry and the church. It has taken 10 years for her to heal. 
  10. I moved her 5 times in the first 5 years of marriage. I'm just glad one of those moves was not her moving out permanently. 

Before you send a lynch mob to Nashville, know this: I am a totally different man. That old guy does not even exist. I promise that he is dead and we are glad. 

I have made the following decisions in my life for the sake of Jesus and marriage: (These correlate to the ten things above)

  1. She is not a preachers wife. She is an individual with hopes, dreams, and life of her own. She is my best friend and lover. She is also an incredible nurse and a rock star mom. 
  2. I will never give the church a place higher that I place my wife. The church has survived 2000 years without me and will do just fine with or without me. But, I must be a husband committed to serving my wife, son, and daughter first.
  3. If she chooses to never go to church again - I will love her and probably stay home with her from time to time. Thankfully, she loves to attend Cross Point, Dickson. 
  4. She will never be asked to even answer my phone if she doest want to speak. 
  5. My past sin, struggles, and bad decisions as an individual and leader are between me and Jesus. She is not my dumping ground. The Cross is the place for those things.
  6. She was then and still is today the greatest support system a human could need or want in life and ministry. I would not be in the ministry today if it were not for my godly wife. She rescued me from religion, legalism, and self-destruction.
  7. I go to her now for discernment on most matters. Teamwork is feels better than failure. 
  8. I respect and adhere to our budget and we work as a team to make this happen. 
  9. Through much forgiveness, prayer, and attending and working at an incredible church - we are both in the healthiest place of our lives. I do not want the greatest entity that has hit planet earth (THE CHURCH) to be the one thing that breaks my wife's heart ever again.
  10. We are in Nashville and we are staying here. The only way we move is if we are both in agreement to do this for the sake of our livelihood or our children. 

Leaders, don't treat your spouse like a dog you can kick around. They are your partner for life. They are yours forever; a gift from the Lord Jesus.

If I  were to write a letter to Amber and allow you read it this is what it would say:

Dear Mamber,

You have healed me from religion and legalism. You have rescued my life from destructive and ridiculous thought patterns. You have been the only steady thing in my life. You should have left -  I am so glad you didn't. I am forever indebted and committed to you. 

I am wildly in love with you and I thank you for sticking around. Thanks for your unreal patience with my process of change and repentance. Thank you for not withholding forgiveness when I ask for it. Thanks for always making me feel special even when I fail. I fail more that not. You are always there to help me keep going.

A wife is supposed to be a helper. You are so much more. You are a sustainer. You are still my girlfriend, pal, and hot date.

Also, thanks for our red-headed son and gorgeous little girl. They are perfect - just like you.

Your mess of a husband,
Matt

Two things you should know: I tell her these things all the time, not just on a blog. And, Mamber is her nickname.  It's a combination of Matt & Amber  -  Mamber

 

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