Deuteronomy 30:19-20

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Give It All Away

So I do not know about you, but I tend to be very "controlling." And I do not mean that I try to control other people and their lives. I mean that I like to be in control of everything in my life. I get in my own little created world and know exactly how everything is supposed to work. I want to have a schedule, stay on track, and do not want anything to get in the way and mess it up. This is the way that I tend to get things accomplished, and it works.

The problem: Who am I depending on?
The answer: Myself!

Where is God in this controlling world of mine? That is a very good question. When I get in that mode, even quiet time and prayer time is scheduled in. I have to remember that those should be the first things I think of doing, and I should never limit my time with God. But it is so easy to get in this mode, especially at this time of the year when there is so much to do before finals.

And you can imagine that when my schedule was literally blown away by the tornado that it did not settle well with me. Those first few days when I had none of my personal belongings (not knowing what had survived), when I was just sitting at home doing nothing was hard. I watched TV, would think about the tornado constantly, or sleep. My control was stripped away from me. This allowed me to spend time with God more.

Now I had not really gotten into a "routine" about doing my quiet time, and I was not limiting my time with God, but I was still controlling it. So I feel like one of the lessons God was trying to teach me through the tornado was that I am not in control! He is! So the answer to the question I posed earlier should have been God, but I can honestly say that before the tornado He was not the top priority (in some aspects). Although I did depend on Him for many aspects of my life, I do not think that I depended on Him in all aspects. God does not want to be Lord of part of our lives. He wants to be the Lord of our entire life.

So I encourage you to daily give it all to Him. If it seems like you have too much to do or you are tired and stressed. Go to Him. Do not try to figure it out for yourself. Do not depend on your own strength. He wants to help you, so go to Him.

This is just something I have learned this semester. It is something God has reminded me of time and time again throughout my life. I am not in charge. I am not in control. God is, only God.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

God in the Whirlwind

Well this is not exactly what I had intended to write about this week. I had a few books in mind for my next review, but I was on our university website yesterday and noticed the newest news article. So I am going to write about a book that I have not read, and one that has not even hit the bookstores yet.

As you all know, a tornado hit our campus on February 5, 2008. That happened 12 weeks ago today. This book will be released on June 1, 2008, and it is a compilation of stories from those of us who survived the tornado (I am not one of the ones in this book... sorry).

Students and faculty who experienced this terrifying night have submitted their stories and 20 of the stories will be included in this book. I have been told what some of them probably, and so I know some of those who will be featured in this book. Each story points to God's providential care over every single one of us that night. Although 51 students were injured and the last student was released from the hospital about 2 weeks ago, God spared everyone of us from death. These stories will point to the care that He showed us that night.

So I cannot really right a "review" of this book at the present moment, only a "preview" for what will be included. But I encourage everyone to purchase a copy of this book. It will be available at LifeWay on June 1 and all proceeds for the book will go to the Union University Disaster Relief Fund, a.k.a. to help rebuild our really expensive dorms.

Once again I would just like to praise God for His unbelievable protection that night. His presence was felt in the bathroom that I took cover in, and the memories and emotions that still come back to me from that night continue to remind me that the only reason I am alive today is because of what He did that night. Every single student could have died, and by looking at the destruction, some should have. There was no logical way that anyone could have been pulled out of some of those buildings. But God worked past all logic and protected His children.

So please purchase the book and read about one example of God's amazing love!


Sunday, April 27, 2008


I promise that more is coming to this blog soon, including a new book review within the week. But today I just want to ask a quick question. I am curious as to who my audience is. So if you have been reading this blog, please let me know. I want to write directly to my audience, and I feel like I can focus in more if I know exactly who that is.

  • So if you do not mind, please leave a comment letting me know that you are a reader.
  • Or if you would like, you can send me an e-mail at
  • Also, if you would prefer me to continue to e-mail you rather than reading these general updates, please let me know that as well. I know that I struggle with remembering to e-mail people, but I will try to do better.
  • And if there is anything that you would like to see in the blog, or if you have any questions, just contact me in some way.

Again, this is more of an informational post today because I just want to get to know my audience. I hope you are all having a great day.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

3 Weeks and... It's Finally Over

In less than 3 weeks, this long (very long) semester will finally be coming to an end. With tests, papers, and projects still to complete, it will be a long 3 weeks. I am ready for an end to this semester, as are so many others that I talk to at school. Although I don't think anyone would trade off what we have learned and experienced this semester, there is more excitement than normal on campus about the end. But with the excitement of another completed semester and summer around the corner comes stress. For those of you not at Union, take a normal semester, think about the end (all the big things due) and multiply it by about 5. That is what is going on down here. But despite all the hectic schedules, we are still pressing on to the end, and in 3 weeks we will be able to close this crazy chapter of our lives.

Personally, I still have 2 papers, 2 essays, 3 projects, and 4 finals to go. And sadly that does not include the normal reading assignments that we get daily. So I am going to be busy from here on out. In fact, after I finish with this post I am going to get started (hoping to get a lot done) on one of my papers. Life is definitely crazy right now.

Yesterday, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary was on campus helping with the rebuilding project. They were replanting trees along with other landscaping work to help Union look like it used to. I know that the time is coming for me to start looking into the next step of life, seminary. And I had already planned on looking around this summer to see where it is God wants me. Yesterday was a prime opportunity for that, and I was able to speak with a guy from Southeastern during a free lunch. Who can pass up a free lunch? So I am beginning the search, and yesterday was only the beginning.

Well campus is looking even better. From Monday to Friday we saw 1 dorm go from nothing but safe rooms to a two story building with walls. Another dorm went from one story to a two story building with a roof, shingles, and preparations for bricks. A third dorm went from almost nothing to a two story building with a roof. We now have 1 building pretty much covered with bricks, and a 2nd building is now being bricked. There are 4 buildings I can no longer see, so there could be bricks back there as well. All in all, 10 of the 14 buildings are up. 1 of the remaining 4 have safe rooms, so I am assuming it is the next one to go up. Praise God that 81 days after the storm we have a huge chunk of the rebuilding finished.

I guess this was another long post. But a lot has been going on down here. Have a great weekend, and I will be coming with another book review soon (I think - I have to figure out what to talk about).


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Casting Crowns

Last Saturday, I attended the Casting Crowns concert in Nashville. John Waller and Leeland were with them. What an amazing Worship Service. That was unlike any concert I have ever been to. Yes, there were people up on the stage singing, but they were not singing for themselves, and it was obvious. All 3 groups sang to God and lead the thousands attending in worship. Here are some of the amazing songs I heard:

John Waller, The Blessing - What a powerful song! We have a choice as to whether we are going to follow God or walk away from Him. He gives us that choice, by setting "life and death before us." The newly added Scripture verse at the top of this blog is where this song comes from. We need to live life in such a way that we are choosing to follow Him daily. We can get up each day and choose to allow God to work in us, or we can choose to go out on our own. He gives us that choice and tells us the consequences, "blessings or curses."

Casting Crowns, East to West - If you have not heard this new song from them, please go to youtube or godtube and listen to it. The song itself is pretty self explanatory but one phrase sticks out to me. "You know just how far the east is from the west, from one scarred hand to the other." Those are two truths in Scripture that I have heard a lot in my life. But until I heard this song last summer, I had never heard them put together. Jesus died for our sins, and our sins are as far away from Him as is the east from the west. But putting this together, our sins are forgotten because of Jesus stretching out His hands on the cross! WOW! This is a very powerful truth that I think we overlook at times.

I may later add more songs that have really impacted my life, maybe even more from this concert. But for now, think about those truths. First, it is our choice as to whether we are going to follow God in our daily lives. Second, remember that we are saved from our sins, and rest in that fact. As a result, we can now live for Him daily knowing that He loves us and will guide us.

Also, the picture above is what was drawn during the concert with the songs "Voice of Truth" and "The Word is Alive." May the Word continue to be a part of your daily lives.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Prayer for the Government

Last night was yet another primary for the 2008 Presidential Election. As McCain carried Pennsylvania for the Republicans, Hillary Clinton beat out Barak Obama for the Democrats. But how does this effect us? Most every other state has voted, and now we are all just waiting to see who we have to pick from in November. And who should we vote for? This year's election is a pivotal point for our nation, and we need to prayerfully consider who will choose to be our next president.
So let us look carefully at what we know: As Christians, we hold certain convictions that need to be a part of our decision. We also need to be sure that we are voting as we feel God is directing us. But this is not always the easiest thing to do. With a shaky economy and a war, many feel like they should vote primarily for those reasons. I feel that those 2 hot topics are major decisions that should be considered when we vote. But we must also include God, knowing that He can resolve those problems with any of the candidates.
I am not going to say who a "Christian" should vote for because I do not feel that there is a clear cut answer. If we decide to vote on morals, then it is going to be hard to distinguish between these 3 candidates. But what I encourage everyone to do is pray. Prayer is one of the most important aspects of our walk with God. We should be in constant prayer as it, and with such an important decision in our future, we should be praying now for who God wants as president.
Please join me in praying for our nation under the leadership of George W. Bush. Pray for the war that it will come to a good resolution in the days ahead. Pray that our economy will ease up and not hurt the middle/working class. And pray that America will make the right decision come November. As a nation, we need to turn to God and let Him have control.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I just finished reading the third book in Ted Dekker's Lost Books Series. First let me explain what the Circle trilogy is and how these books relate. It all started in 2004 with "the year of the trilogy" which included Black, Red, and White. This series occurred in two different realities with one central character. The following year, Dekker released Showdown which had some interesting connections back to the Circle Trilogy (no one was expecting these connections, and it was pretty exciting). Next, Dekker co-authored with Frank Peretti and wrote House. This ended up having minor connections that were revealed in the sequel to Showdown, which was Saint. Again, some amazing connections were revealed. More recently, Skin was published, and like House only had some minor connections. But another new connection was made in the Lost Books Series, which includes Renegade. Currently Chosen, Infidel, Renegade, and Chaos are out. Lunatic and Enigma will be released next year. Sinner (conclusion of Showdown and Saint will be released in September). And the final book of this amazing series may come out in 2009. It will be entitled Green, and Dekker says that it will bring everything "full circle."
I would encourage you to read all of these books. They are a wonderful work of fantasy and adventure. There are always new twists and turns coming that you do not expect. It is hard to figure Dekker out, and you may never put your finger on the whole "truth." Amazingly, the order does not really matter when reading these books, but you need to read each series in order. So that means you probably should not read Renegade unless you have read Chosen and Infidel. So without giving anything away from this new book, I just encourage to read this series. It is a fun and quick read that requires a lot of thinking and connecting. Your mind will stay busy throughout the entire novel. The pace will never slow down, and quite honestly, things may just become more confusing. But believe me, the more you read, more answers will come. So just "dive deep" into one of these novels and get busy. You will not be disappointed.
Suggested reading order:
Sinner (not out)
Lunatic...Enigma (not out)
Green (not out)
Again, the order does not necessarily matter. Just read each series in order. The reason I suggest this is because it is the order I am reading them in. I have read them each as they were published, so there has been no choice for me than to read them this way. But I just encourage everyone to get involved and have fun! For more information, go to
So there is my latest book review (although it is more of a series review because I do not want to spoil anything for you). Just be careful, and do not let the books consume you.
Wanna trip baby, wanna, wanna trip? (Read the books and you will understand this quote).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Building on the Cornerstone

Today I am going to give you a quick update on what is going on with our construction, and what is going on in my life.

Well as of 3:00 this afternoon when I left campus there were at least 8 two-story dorms on campus. 1 or 2 others have the first floor up (out of 14 total). Also, it has been said this week that sheetrock and bricks will also be going up within the week, and I think I saw some of those bricks today. I cannot wait to see how it looks in the morning when I return to campus. But as of Tuesday, they stated that 20-25% of construction is now complete. Just to give you a time frame, that is 10 weeks after the tornado. They still have 3.5 months to work. They are right on schedule. And along with construction, the rest of campus is great as well. Everyone is in a mad rush as we head to the end of this long semester! And preparations are being made for next semester (schedules, housing assignments, etc.).

So what about me? Well this has been the longest and hardest week of the semester for me, and sadly I do not see things slowing down until the end. I have had projects, tests, and reading assignments all at once this week, and there are many more to come soon. But I am still finding rest and trying to persevere to the end. I was talking to someone today about the long semester, and they were struggling getting to the end. But we decided that since God had gotten us 10 weeks through, He would get us through these last 4. But there is saddness coming. May 15 will be the end of my best semester here at Union. Despite all that has happened, I have enjoyed this semester more than the other 3. Also, May 15 marks the half-way point for my college career. I will be 2 years in to college, and will be heading down hill starting in the fall.

But with the end of the semester comes summer, which I bet everyone is looking forward to. I was offered a job at FBC Martin this summer to work in the Christian Wee Learn Daycare Center. So the week after I finish school, I will be heading there to work with the K-5th Grade school group that is on summer break. They are incorporating a new "Bible Drill-like" curriculum into this summer, and along with Jessica Breeden, we will be helping out with that age group. Also, I have been asked to "co-pastor" Kids Kamp with Tobey Taylor. So I cannot wait for summer, it is going to be fun.

Well that is about all that is going on down here. Just school, work, and looking forward to a break. I hope you all have a great week. And for all you college students, try not to stress out too much.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Memorizing the Word

Let me start off today by saying that I am not trying to be egotistical here. My intentions are not to have everyone looking at me and saying that I am "such a great person." My intentions are far from that. Instead, I want to bring to your attention something God has been teaching me over the past few months: the topic of memorizing His Word.

For those of you who are students at Union, you may well remember the chapel series we had last semester with David Platt. His last sermon especially was very challenging to me. For those of you who do not know what I am referring too, let me catch you up. David Platt went up to preach during his final chapel that week and told us of how the Chinese Christians he met with one time were so hungry for the Word. He then told us to turn to Romans 1. I was sitting in my seat following along when I realized that David was not reading to us. He was quoting Scripture. I thought that he was just reading a small passage to preach from, but soon he was well into chapter 2. He did not stop until he had finished chapter 7 or 8.

That made me realize the importance of memorizing Scripture more than ever before. Sure I had participated in Bible Drill for 9 years, but I had never considered memorizing longer passages. After his chapel, I was determined that I was going to begin storing God's Word in my heart. So I began memorizing 2 Timothy, probably my favorite book of the Bible. By the end of 2007 I had finished. That experience allowed me to grow in God in ways I never thought possible. His Word became so real to me in those 2 months. So I began thinking of another book to begin memorizing. But then Christmas break came and I neglected to memorize. After that the tornado hit, and I no longer had a copy of an ESV Bible (which is what I used when memorizing 2 Timothy). I began drifting further and further away from the memorization of Scripture, a discipline I feel is needed in all of our lives.

But then, I listened to this personal testimony by Darlene Rose (you can find a link on the homepage). It was really about how she triumphed through suffering. But near the end of her testimony she mentioned how she had God's Word in her heart. They had taken away her Bible, but she was still able to recall various passages because of the studying she had done. That encouraged me to get back into what I had started last fall. So I reviewed 2 Timothy and began Philippians (which I am currently working on).

So why am I sharing this with you? Because I want you to understand the importance of "hiding His Word in your heart." It is amazing when you are in the middle of some of life's hardest situations, but Scripture comes and gives you peace. The night that I was sitting in the bathroom waiting for the tornado to pass, I could hear God through His Word. He provided a peace that I cannot explain, and it came through His Word. We do not just have the Bible to read each day and put it away. You do not know when your Bible will be blown away by a tornado or taken from you by the government. You do not where you will go in life or if the Bible will always be a legal document that you can have. That is why it needs to be more than just a book you have in your library. It needs to be more than just something you read. It should be something you treasure, something you know, and something you can use 24/7.

So as I was saying, I do not want you to think that I am trying to put myself up on a pedestal. I am actually ashamed that I only know 1 book of Scripture along with some other verses. I want to know Scripture better. I want it in my heart.

I encourage you to find a passage of Scripture, whether a verse, a chapter, or a book, and just start. Memorize 1 verse, study that verse, see how it applies to Scripture and your life. Then move on to the next one. Study and memorize His Word, apply it to your life. You will be amazed at what you can learn from God.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dead Heat

As promised, here is the first of the book reviews. I will do my best to not spoil anything about the novel in these weekly reviews (which will not always be on the same day). But I will tell you why I recommend these different books.
This is Dead Heat, the 5th and final book in the Last Jihad Series. So obviously, there are 4 other books in this series (The Last Jihad, The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, and The Copper Scroll), and I would highly recommend all of these.
Briefly, this series begins with the presidency of the president following George W. Bush, his name is James MacPherson, and ends during the last year of his 2nd term. The main characters are Jon Bennet and Erin McCoy. If you like political fiction, then you definitely need to pick up this series. I had never been into reading about politics, but The Last Jihad caught my eye. The first 2 novels did not deal with any Christian themes, but they introduced the White House staff, the president, and Jon and Erin. As the series continued, Rosenberg included prophecies from the book of Ezekiel, leading up to the last days. All in all, he incorporated international politics with prophecy.
Dead Heat begins only months before the end of MacPherson's 2nd term. The country is in a "dead heat" as the two presidential candidates are battling it out to the end. But what America does not realize is that someone is trying to assassinate some high ranking political leader. Is it the president, a member of his staff, or one of the candidates? And who is attempting to assassinate them? China, Iraq, North Korea, the Kurds, South Korea, Japan, and many other countries are all unstable. The world appears to be preparing for multiple wars (even though they are still recovering from one). And furthermore, Israel is building the 3rd temple. Join James MacPherson and Jon Bennet as they attempt to bring peace to a world that is spinning out of control.
Many of you know that I have both read and enjoyed Left Behind (every single one of them). But after finishing this series, I must say that Rosenberg's novels are much better. He wraps you into his non-stop action from page 1 of The Last Jihad (with a terrorist attack on America), and the action does not stop until the last page of Dead Heat. If you want a good book (or books) to read as the semester is coming to an end, pick up these books. But do not start with Dead Heat. Although it can be read by itself, you will miss out on a lot of character development. So start with book 1 and read through this series.
I am placing a link for Joel Rosenberg's website on this page if you are interested.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Union University Update

As promised, here is my first update from campus. It has been a long 2 months around campus, and we are all looking forward to the end of this semester. It has turned out to be one of the best semesters yet, and in some ways many of us hate to see it coming to an end so soon. But we know that God has big things in store for us as we enter into summer and the fall semester.
Well immediately after the tornado, Union's leaders went right to work. Our schedule was revised to 75 minute classes every day, which is not that much fun. But as a result, we are going to get out on May 15th, the same date we were orignally going to get out. Furthermore, a group went hard to work on our old student lounge. Without our commons, we had nowhere to hang out in the middle of the day. I am staying at the Jett (Old English Inn), and when I go to campus, I never leave. So we needed a place to go besides the library. This group transformed our student lounge into what is now known as Barefoot's Joe, our own coffee shop. It is a great place to go hang out, study, or just rest in the middle of the day. Also, plans were being made to rebuild campus.
We broke ground on the new dorms February 22, 2008 (17 days after the tornado). Since then, 6 of the 14 have 2 stories already built, many with a roof. 2 or 3 more are 1 story buildings right now, and the remainder have the concrete slab and many of the new safe rooms. All in all, there will be 14 dorms, and they are all started in some shape or form. Over the next few weeks, we could see more progress on all 14 dorms, including bricks! By Fall 2008, all 14 will be built, and our 2 commons will be ready Spring 2009. We will start classes about a week later next semester to give the contractors more time to work. God has blessed us with people to rebuild our campus in a timely fashion.
Other than that, campus is running just like always. We go to class and eat in Coburn. Everyone is preparing for signing up for room assignments next semester, and we will soon be signing up for classes.
So there is the latest update from Union. It has been a great semester! God has blessed us and helped us through all of this rebuilding. He has watched over us, and I know that it is going to be a great end to this semester.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Welcome to My Blog

I have either sent you a message through facebook, or you have received an e-mail from me recently. Now you are probably wondering, why does Matt have a blog and why did he let me know? Well the reason I am starting this blog is to keep people up-to-date with what is going on in my life. Since the tornado, I have felt bad that I have not stayed in touch with many different people. I did reply to everyone who either text me, called me, facebooked me, or e-mailed me. But I wish that I had more time so that I could have let you know what is going on now. So if I have not gotten in touch with you anymore, I am truly sorry. However, I really do want you to know how much I am thankful for all of your prayers during these last 2 months.

So why start a blog? Well other than what I stated above, there are a few more reasons:

1) I want to have a place where I can weekly update people on what is going on in my life. This will be a place where I can let you know how life is going and also what God is doing.

2) Also about once a week, I want to review books. I find myself always recommending books to people. So this will be a place where I can review a book I have either recently read, or one that is one of my favorites. I will be posting one soon about Dead Heat.

3) My final reason is so that I can share my thoughts on sometimes random, and sometimes pressing topics or issues I am facing. If there is something in the news or from class that interests me, I may post about it on here.

I will do my best to keep this updated. Like I said, I find that I am bad about not e-mailing people. So hopefully through this, I can keep it updated, and you will know what is going on. Now I will continue to try to e-mail people (if I have promised to do so), but I will probably be just as bad at it as I have been. But if you ever need anything you can always text, e-mail, facebook, or call me.

Well I guess that about wraps it up for my first post. I know that I did not let you know much about what is going on, but that would make this post really long. So within the week, I will give you an update from Union University and my life. I will also be telling you what I think of Joel Rosenberg's latest novel, Dead Heat.

Until then, I hope everything goes well with everyone,