Have you ever lost contact with a precious friend that you long to reconnect with? Over the years I had tried to track down Matt Park to no avail—yet I persisted because the memories of our past fellowship and budding friendship compelled me to press on. Matt and I met in 1999 while I was living in Harrisonburg—technically we met at the church we attended, Grace Covenant; and we immediately found common ground. We were both campus pastors of our respective ministries. Matt is of Korean descent and was the campus pastor of Agape Christian Fellowship (primarily consisted of Asian students) at James Madison University. Later we ended up working together at a Christian bookstore so we spent considerable time talking, laughing and praying. Matt was a great guy who was devout in his walk with the Lord and possessed a hunger to grow in all that the Lord had called him to pursue.
In June of 2000 I left Harrisonburg to attend Christ For the Nations Institute in Dallas, Texas. Somehow in the shuffle I carelessly lost both his phone number and email. After moving back to Virginia in 2003 I tried to track him down, but was unsuccessful. Yet over the years I would feel this deep longing within to reconnect with my brother. Looking back on this I believe it was the Lord who put this ache within my heart to keep looking.
On Monday, January 14 I decided to Google him even though I had done it before with no success—remember, it had been over seven and a half years since I had any contact with him. However, this time I came across a website of an Asian ministry in northern Virginia that had promoted a guest speaker by the name of Pastor Matt Park. Hmmmmm…that could be the guy! Immediately I sent my information to the person in charge of the website, explaining who I was and why I was looking for Matt Park. I included my contact information.
The following day as I was checking my voice mail after work, I instantly recognized Matt’s voice as he expressed excitement and shock that I had somehow managed to track him down. It wasn’t until Wednesday that he and I were able to converse together on the phone, which was a wonderful reunion of sorts. Now we have communicated a number of time via phone, email and Facebook.
I was so excited to learn that he is married to an amazing woman-of-God from Toronto—and that they are expecting twins! Matt was working as a mortgage loan officer during the housing boom, but is now pursuing new opportunities in the northern Virginia area. Over the years he has maintained a busy schedule of ministering up and down the east coast.
I've pulled up a few stories from his website in order to “introduce” him to you. As you read through his blog, it is very clear that he has quite a quirky sense of humor—my wife and I were rolling a few times. Remember Proverbs 17:22—A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. First I’ll start off with something more heart warming before rolling out the funny stuff!
One of My Fondest Childhood Memories: i moved into a new neighborhood when i was 5 1/2. the kid next door came out w/ a Star Wars card that came in Wonder Bread. i asked him what that was and he said it was a movie. my dad then took me and my neighbor to watch it. i felt so cool.
Awww…what a nice story! The next story demonstrates the integrity that is consistent in his life; and his commitment to be a witness for Christ.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
i was coming out of starbuck's in centreville after picking up my weekly copy of the real estate section of the post and i saw a girly-looking wallet on the ground. it was one of those big bi-folds w/ weird design on the outside. it was all wet cuz of the snow. i couldn't find a phone number in the wallet. the guy had a miami license and wisconsin and conn. IDs. there wasn't any cash, but there were a lot of credit cards and some bank stubs and a bank's letter w/ a PIN number. the balance was in 6 figures. i was like, 'hmmm', not the avg. person. dude, i looked at the driver's license and it said James C. Butler. there was a wizard's schedule in the wallet too. i looked at the license and the guy was listed at 6' 7". lo and behold, on one of his credit cards was written 'caron butler'.
i called one of the credit cards alerting them of the find. the rep calls him and gets his wife on the line for a 3-way call. i give her my number and we decide to meet back at the starbuck's. on my way a dude calls me telling me he's supposed to meet me to get caron's wallet back. i pull up and there is a black, pimped-out escalade and a dude standing out there. i call the number from my caller ID to make sure it's the right dude and i give him the wallet. i was sure to tell him that there was no cash in it. i also gave him a copy of 'More than a Carpenter' w/ my contact info. i wrote 'God bless you and your family and John 3:16' in the book. i told the dude that i was a christian pastor. he hands me a hundred bucks and i told him not to worry about it, but he insists that i take it. it would be crazy if he wasn't a believer and actually reads the book. who knows? maybe he'll call me. we could talk about the Lord, i could spank him in one on one and then he can take me to Il Mee buffet. maybe i should've told his wife that i won't give it back unless the wizards make the playoffs this year.
What a story! For those of you that don’t know anything about basketball, Caron Butler is an All Star forward on the Washington Wizards and he is one intense dude on the court! Are you ready for a funny story? This one is probably my favorite!
SNAKE ROAD KILL-i was just driving home from the grocery store at around 10:30 at night. i made a left and a snake slithered in front of my car. that jonk was about my arm and a half! in a split second i had to decide whether i wanted to hit it or swerve. so i hit it. i looked back and it was convulsing. i hate snakes and i thought, 'cool. i'm just gonna let it die in pain' and i was gonna keep going. dag, but i felt like i had to take care of business. i ended up u-turning at a light and then u-turning at another light to put the thing out of its misery. thud. thud. i got it w/ both passenger side wheels. i looked back and now it was coiled up in attack position! oh, my goodness. how many times am i gonna have to hit this thing? i turned around and came back. i was debating whether to go real fast and then try to skid on it or go ultra-slow. either way, i was afraid it would get stuck in my tread and then cause my garage to stink. i opted to go medium speed over it w/ the front tire. i sped up and then i slammed on my brakes to skid on it w/ the rear. that combo did the trick. some birds and squirrels owe me for hooking them up w/ tasty meal. i then drove off road and drove over dirt, skidding a few times to get the meat out of my tread.
Did you like it? I cried when I first read it. I can't wait to use it when I am preaching! *smile*
Here is one that reveals Matt’s ideal retreat. You might want to put on your coat before reading it.
My Ideal Retreat-being in the Arctic tundra (minus wind) on a personal glacier in a jumbo, pimped-out igloo w/ an outdoor hot tub, bbq grill, unlimited supply of diet coke and bb-gun w/ a scope. being able to chill in the presence of God praying, reading the Bible, reading books, listening to messages and watching cool Christian DVDs w/ matt redman and darlene in separate igloos to lead worship
Matt is notoriously known for wearing shorts and sandals without socks in sub-freezing weather. Here is an excerpt from another posting that amplify this odd trait:
hope you are keeping warm. for me, I LOVE IT!!! i'm not even wearing socks w/ my slippers. it feels great lettin' the dawgs out to breathe. i love the looks and comments i get from people when they see me in my shorts and bare feet when it is like 25 degrees. a little girl said to her mom, "mommy, what's wrong w/ that man?" in my head i was like, uh, more than you know. one little girl said in a really little girl voice, "he's wearing slippers!" i was like, no fake, smarty. Back to some serious stuff. Here is some good advice he gives to his readers:
Father's heart for his precious children, no next-door neighbor's kid's here. some crucial factors in your growth- find the right church while your there, find the right church where you go next/ the Word & prayer- no shortcuts, no substitutes/ solid friendships in Christ, discipleship, mentoring/ serve.
some random authors off the top of my head-Jerry Bridges, Brennan Manning, Che Ahn (Into the Fire), John Wimber (Power Evangelism, Power Healing), Mahesh Chavda, Keith Green, Neil Anderson, John Bevere, J.I. Packer's Knowing God; Jack Hayford.
some random worship resources-Passion; Hillsongs/United Live; Vineyard; Sovereign Grace; Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Charlie Hall; Jason Upton; Watermark; Starfield; Third Day; Mercy Me
Well I should probably end with a special story about Matt. Actually I think I am going to conclude this with Matt’s greatest accomplishment:
40 day fast. Followed by Greatest Mistake. Eating pho and spring rolls right away instead of slowly re-introducing solid food into my system.
You gotta love this guy! Thank you Lord for reconnecting me with this precious man-of-God!
Jaeson Ma wrote a great blog posting today on the significance of reading biographies and autobiographies of great men and women of God whose lives made a difference in their generation. Although I have not yet met Jaeson, we have communicated a few times through Facebook. I believe God is raising him up in this hour. On his blog Jaeson shares how he has been inspired as he engages the biography of Watchmen Nee. It is worth reading: Watchmen Nee-Spiritual Discipline.
It reminded me of a posting that I wrote last year with a few recommended biographies that I had read up to that time. Check it out here: The Dead Still Speak. I had quoted Winkie Pratney concerning the need to read biographies:
"Read biographies of God’s great men. Try to read at least one book a month. These dead still speak. Time proves a man’s work. Dwell on the lives of those who had power with God and prevailed. Look for secrets of their Christian walk. What did these men have that you can develop?"
For Christmas I received a number of books including two biographies: Out of the Depths of Sexual Sin by Steve Gallagher; and the fascinating account of a former slave trader turned preacher, John Newton by Jonathan Aitken. I finished Gallagher's book within two days—now I am slowly devouring the story of John Newton whose life had such a tremendous influence during his era. It is a book that I've enjoyed immensely.
Many of you may recall his brief appearance in the movie Amazing Grace, which examines the life of William Wilberforce, a Christian abolitionist who brought the slave trade industry to its knees during a life-long battle. Interestingly it was John Newton who penned the famous hymn that we have all heard, Amazing Grace. Larry Kreider, president of The Gathering, wrote, "Not long ago I watched the movie Amazing Grace and was deeply moved by Albert Finney's portrayal of Newton, the repentant ex-slave trader. Today I have read John Newton: From Disgrace to Amaing Grace and found it to be the most engaging and edifying biography of my spiritual journey."
I will do a write up on each of these books in the coming days.
Also please share any recommended biographies or autobiographies that you have read. I'm always searching for new biographies to read!
Here is something that I had saved on March 28, 2007 that caught my eye today. It is titled "Unashamed" and it was written by an anonymous author. Enjoy!
I'm part of the fellowship of the unashamed. I have Holy Spirit power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I'm finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals. I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the adversary, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won't give up, shut up, let up, until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ. I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, and work till He stops me. And when He comes for His own, He will have no problem recognizing me – my banner will be clear.
In the last posting I recommended my readers to prayerfully consider looking back over 2007 as articulated by Doug Phillips on his blog. The goal was to record the highlights of the past year and more specifically, to be able to discern the hand of God in our lives.
My wife and I have taken this challenge head-on and so far we’ve gone through our calendar that Aneta utilizes to record events of our lives, which includes dates, getaways, important meetings, get togethers with friends, etc. Also I have gone through the first two month of my journal for 2007, recording the highlights—these would include key Scripture verses, new people that I met, prophetic dreams, significant messages, musings, outstanding books that I read, meaningful conversations that I had with people—among other things.
I have also encouraged the young adults that attend our TNT community group to do likewise as we spent our last meeting going over possible themes to examine for 2007. They also came up with some additional ideas and thoughts that I will share as we go through this process. I am hoping to have a framework in place once I complete this assignment in the coming weeks. As my beautiful wife wisely noted, having a framework in place will also allow us to be more intentional in 2008 as to what we should be mindful of and record.
The next few days I am going to put “unedited” portions of my journal that I’ve come across that reflect some musings that may be of insight to you. The first is recorded from Saturday, February 24:
What does it take to be great?
What does it mean to be great?
Perceived greatness is not the same as actual greatness—meaning, we may perceive one to be great based on our perception of them. However, this perception may possibly be based upon faulty assumptions that define greatness within the framework of externalities; failing to take into account the intrinsic fabric of greatness. True greatness emanates from an inward core that represents the fusion of integral components: humility, love, persistence, commitment, and a servant-orientation. Actual greatness consists of outward behavior and actions that are aligned with the internal core values of that person—that is, values that are biblical. Are all called to greatness? The answer is found in another question: Are all called to Christlikeness? Yes, of course; therein is the secret of greatness: It is the byproduct of a life consumed by the quest for the Reality of Christlikeness to be evident/demonstrated in all aspects of our lives.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Journal entry ends
In closing, it isn't greatness that we seek in of itself, but rather it is Christ unveiled through us as He really is. As the Scripture indicates, the man Christ Jesus was a servant. Greatness emanated from him because serving the Father's mission was his ultimate motivation. As Christ served the Father's purposes, he met the needs of mankind, thus serving their needs in the process.
I better end it here, I could write all night! Check back daily for I will try to post something each day as I progress through this assignment. Once I complete this, I will start a series on "The Crux of Biblical Leadership."