Losing to win

There were times groaning up when I distinctly remember trying to make deals with God. You know, the ones that are if you please let us win this soccer game then I'll go to some far off place when I'm old. Wait, was I the only one that did that? No? Okay good at least we are all in the same boat. 

We didn't win that soccer game by the way, but looking back I think it would have been a bad deal for both of us. 

See, if we did, I would have had an obligation to serve, but instead now I have a passion and desire to do so. That is so much stronger than the weight of winning a soccer game. 

It's a choice to "wreck" my "perfect" little world with the opportunity to serve others. I've been called crazy, insane, unloving, a failure and even that I neglect my children all because I see music as a way to serve others. 

Music is more than just a series of notes on a page, or tones. It's a communication medium that speaks right to the soul. To keep that for ones own self and pleasure would be selfish. To spread it to the world is not this selfish desire that I get famous and become a rock n roll legend. It's how I want to serve you and I want to serve others. By creating art that makes you think, wonder, consider and maybe, just maybe believe. 

Believe that there is a purpose beyond ourselves. That we were designed for something greater than just making a paycheck to then spend away on temporal things. 

So am I crazy? Sure, I'll admit that. Making art doesn't pay every 2 weeks and give you a nice benefits package with dental included. But what it does give is far beyond what any regular 9-5 could give me. The fulfillment of purpose. 

Someday soon I hope to email you as a full-time artist. Till that time, I do have the 9-5 that feeds my family and allows me the opportunities to say yes to gigs that I probably wouldn't be able to if it had to pay my bills. But until that time my goal is to be faithful to continuing to "lose" or say no to things that keep me from serving you, in order that I might "win" in making art that impacts your life. 

Thanks for being on the journey with me friend!

- matt

Singing Together

I hope this past weekend was one of encouragement for you. Sundays for me have always been like an aircraft carrier for me. It's where for a few hours out of the week we set aside time to get together with follow believers and share life together. It's where we get refueled, reloaded and recharged to take-off again on Monday to go back into our sphere of influence and share hope and love with all we encounter.

This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of leading a small group of men as we lead our church in song for an acoustic time of singing. Typically on a Sunday my church has a full group of singers, an orchestra, rhythm section, and pianist, so this was quite the change of pace.

I sang and played my acoustic, Tyler sang harmonies, Andy played a cajon, that actually one of my other friends built himself and Mike played bass. It was simple and yet I was super encouraged by what it allowed us to experience. 

Singing has been going on in the church since she was started. It's a tradition, but one of the few that allows a mass of people to proclaim truth together outside of reading. I was so encouraged to hear our church. Many times I'll either have in ears in or the band will be loud enough to where the congregation can't be heard. When things are simplified you can hear. 

That brings me to my encouraging thought for this week. As we live let's be sure to listen. Sometimes the most encouraging thing you will hear is the truth you've heard for years being proclaimed again by those you love. To me it was a glimpse of Heaven. A foreshadowing of things to come that give us all the chance to sing at the top of our lungs the Truth we have lived. Don't be afraid to sing friends. And don't be afraid to listen to those singing beside you either. 

Life's a dance. Sometimes you lead and sometimes you follow. There was a popular country song that used that line. I like it as it puts into perspective the balance that we all get to walk. 

If you want some good songs to sing to, I specifically recorded an EP last year of Hymns that I grew up singing. I didn't toy with the melody or add an unnecessary chorus. I tried my best to keep the familiar the familiar but still musically be my thumb print. I hope it encourages you. You can listen to it for free on Spotify or iTunes

Let's sing together!

- Matt

Filled with what?

I was so excited as I was having my dad winning moment of the summer. My wife had purchased a new inflatable pool that was big enough that an adult could sit in it so we could play with our two young-ins durning the coming hot summer days. 

I got my shop vac out and blew it up in a total of 60 seconds. Took it around to the back yard and proceeded to fill that air stuffed plastic with cool H20. #winning

I went to finish mowing the lawn as Abby got the kids swimming suits on and I smiled inside as I daydreamed of taking my hot sweaty self and sitting down relaxing in that cold water after I finished.

Only to find out that there was a hole in the bottom ring of inflation that took our nice large tall pool and made it just as squatty as the last smaller pool we had just replaced.

Granted the kids still had fun and will continue to use it. The water stayed inside the pool as now the bottom portion is being held up more by the water than the air that was supposed to support the taller sides. 

It made me ponder what am I filled with? Does the pool still function? Yes. But does it live up to it's full potential? My answer is a resounding no. The life that once lived inside it's chambers has since left it's residence unoccupied and is not only being propped up by the pressures within and it's still failing at that. 

Typically the first thing that goes when life gets busy is my time in the Word. It's strange how the one thing that truly fills my soul and allows me to reach my fullest potential is the first thing I give up. Do I think I've lost my purpose as a believer, or my salvation? No, certainly not, but just like the pool, I'm not living to my fullest potential. There may be opportunities that I could miss or worse, fail at due to the pressures of life that make me want to hold myself up. 

For the pool, I'm going to try and find a patch. 

For my life, I'm going to take a breath, and fill the inside first before I allow the waters to apply pressure. 

Keep engaged and don't allow life to be your excuse for not filling your heart and mind with God's eternal Truth. 

- matt

Christ is the rescuer, not me

In a world where everyone has an opinion we all tend to add to the noise. My hope is that when I write as well as when I sing it never leaves the hearer the same as before the head or read it. Hopefully it's for the better, but there's no guarantee of that. 

A thought that came to mind recently amid all the anxiety and fear being spread around these days is that I don't think every one is wrong about everything. I do think that what we are seeing is a world full of people devoid of hope screaming out at the top of their lungs,

"I'm hurting! Can anyone else feel my hurt?"

We see this in facebook posts, blogs, tweets, snaps and grams. It even shows up on the evening news. The 5 minutes of fame is now about who has been cut the deepest. 

And it breaks my heart. 

To see the brokenness of the world on display each and everyday. And yet my initial reaction is typically wrong. I want to fix it. I want to make it alright. There's got to be something I can do, money I can give, time i can donate, resources I can lend that would make all the bad in the world wash into the ever after. 

But I can't. I was never designed to do that. It's not my job. What my job is consists of running. 

Running to, from and with. 

Running to the source of all Hope for my own needs as a broken human.

Running from the snares that so easily entangle me in my own selfish pride and focus.

Running with others who need a shoulder to lean on just as badly as I do. 

When a fire breaks out in a building everyone runs. Right? Except for the few selfless men and women that know how dangerous the fire is and have dedicated their lives to go right into the flames with the chance of knowing they have the opportunity to save a few in their weakest and most helpless position.

Do I go into the flames? Do I worry that I may burn up myself? What if my life is just used as an example of selfless love that failed?

On the contrary. Going into the flames for the sake of giving others hope is not a success based on ones return, but on the basis of the willingness to go at all. 

See my pride wants me to be the hero. The one who heroically marches forth from the flames in slow-motion carrying a frightened child holding her stuffed animal unicorn as the house falls down behind us. But that is not me. I am the child. Christ is the Hero. 

He did not call me to save. He called me to serve. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn - Romans 12:14

I'm called to go and cry with those who are asking if anyone can feel my hurt. I'm not called to fix their brokenness. When I become the hero, i rob the world of their true Hero. So as the world screams for someone to cry with, my prayers is that I will raise my hand and say, "I will" 

When they are looking for someone to dance with that I say "I will" So when the flames engulf our lives I can point and say, here is the Hero, the Rescuer, the one that can give you hope that will never die, that lasts forever. I can cry with you. I can laugh with you, but I cannot save you. Only He who saved me also can do that. Christ is the Rescuer.

- matt

Speak

I'm not the best when it comes to conversing with people. There are times that I can get, what many businesses in customer service call, "emotionally hi-jacked" The problem is that I take things personally. I end up being offended not always at what people say, but how they say it even.

James 1:19-22 says: 

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Before the most brilliant business manager said it, Scripture did. God wants us to relate with people in an understanding way. It doesn't mean we have to roll over and not hold fast to truth, but I should not be worried about winning the argument, but winning the soul. My being angry at someone doesn't win them to Christ. 

So the challenge I have for myself this week is to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. 

Will you take the challenge with me?

- matt

I lost my voice

Since Sunday evening I haven't been able to talk, well at least not much. Being a singer that is a little bit of a problem, being in phone sales (my day gig) is a huge problem. I've been drinking tea, putting honey in it, trying not to talk when I can help it and doing everything I know how to get it to come back. But you know what, even though I lost my voice, I have not lost my message. 

My voice isn't where my identity comes from. Yes, right now I miss singing. I have shows that are coming up and several tryouts for different things that I can wait to share with you, but it'll be hard to do that if I can't sing. 

Times like this help me put things back into perspective. 2 and a half years ago my daughter was born with a heart that was designed different. In fact you could say that the plumbing was hooked up the opposite way. Her heart was pumping blood from the lungs to through the heart and back out to the lungs whilst the other side was pumping un-oxygenated blood from the body through the heart and back to the body. 

I'm no doctor but that ain't how it's supposed to work. 

But GOD.

There's aways a but and this is a big one. He designed her heart and even put a huge whole in it so oxygen was still getting to the rest of her body. Enough at least to where we thought she was fine for the first 24 hours we had her. 

Long story short, 16 days after she was born, she was having open heart surgery. 8 days after that, we were at home. It was amazing to see God use her small little heart, the size of a strawberry, to bring glory to Himself. 

Yesterday, we went back for a yearly checkup and her Cardiologist said you couldn't pick her out of a crowd for being a heart baby. She's doing great. 

Worst case scenario he did say we might have to do another surgery down the road, but at this point that's unlikely. 

So what does this have to do with my voice?

I don't need a voice to speak. My daughter taught me more about faith, trust and love before she was even a month old. I believe with my whole heart that God uses all situations to glorify Himself and for the ultimate good of people, even when we don't understand it. 

It could be that I lost my voice just so you would get this email, read it and consider how to tell your story. It could be that I lost it just so I remember to always be thankful for the way God has allowed me to serve and to hold it with an open hand. It could be a lot of things, but this I do know, God is continually working to call people to Himself, and if it takes shutting me up to get that to happen, I'm all for it. 

- matt

Easter 2018

A day late and a dollar short I supposed, but in all reality Easter has more bearing on our everyday life than I sometimes admit through how I live it. Easter is the most crucial day for the entire Christian faith. Christmas seems to get the most pomp and circumstance, but with out the resurrection, Christmas would be just another day.

Only seeing the whole story gives these days meaning beyond just another day to celebrate. I hope yesterday was a stellar day for you and your family to celebrate, but even more so I hope that today and everyday forward we live in the reality of the empty tomb.

This video is one that is a must watch for every Easter and I thought I'd share it with you because of how impactful it has been for me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gGa1w_bnvM

We have a reason to celebrate each and everyday. We also have so much more so a reason to continue to empathize with and serve others because of the Hope that we have. Never stop serving others.

- Matt

The Message is free

Today I was pretty down about how things are going lately. No, the world isn't really falling to pieces, but to borrow some metaphors from Scripture, I'm tired of wondering around in the desert wondering when I can enter the promise land. 

I assume that I'm not the only one in this boat either. I watched a video of Tom Douglas giving his acceptance speech back in 2014 as he was being inducted into the Songwriter Hall of Fame. 

There are a lot of things about his speech that really resonate with me. The idea that God created and therefore we should create. The fact that there are hurting people that need a way to express what they are feeling when they don't have the words, or the older couple who want to dance in the kitchen at home. 

Deep I feel that I was created to write the soundtrack to your life.

The words I write I don't own. I didn't create the word, "bigger" or "traded" All I did was take those building blocks and use them to create a picture of a thought of feeling that I had a hard time expressing before. I did it for me, believing that I wasn't alone in my thoughts and feelings. I do it because the Message is free. 

It's true, I write some songs that I hope people feel free to sing in their Church. Not all of them should be, but of some of them definitely could be. 

That message, The Message, is free. The Gospel is for all people. 

That Jesus lived the life you and I never could so that He could take the punishment, God's wrath, which we fully deserved, and give us a future that we could never earn. Only faith in Christ alone guarantee's your eternal destiny in Heaven. That Message is free. It's a gift. 

My desire is that everything I do, every pore of my body points others to that Message. 

What I have to say is noise at best and a distraction at worst. My logo is a compass rose because that's how I see myself. I can tell people where north is, but I can't make them go that way. I can speak the Truth, but my success is not dependent on what they do with it. Our job was never to force belief on people, but to be sign posts and compass rose's that point back to the Message. Leading people home. 

The Message is free. The Message is for all. 

And in their own time I hope people see that if all my life was, was a door mat that welcomed them back home, it was worth it all. Every late night recording videos, long weekend drives, and countless hours editing and recording. My goal isn't to get rich, but to enrich others relationship with their Creator. 

That's why I create. Thats' why I will continue to create. 

And even if I have this tension of being in the desert waiting for the promise land, I pray that I suffer well. That my simple humble existence can point even just one wandering soul home,

- matt

Micro Midwest March Madness Tour Wrap Up

I hope you had an awesome weekend! Mine was fun and full of lots of driving and playing. It was a blast to have 3 different concerts all in one weekend. It makes me really want a bus driver though :)

There was one theme that seemed to keep popping up everywhere that I played. Hope. 

At Beans N Cream my family was there singing along and cheering me on. We have been through a lot in the past few months. I lost my Uncle a week before Christmas and my Grandmother on January 10th. I sang the song that I wrote for my Grandmothers funeral and shared about how she is more alive now than she's ever been. 

At the Alzheimer's Community, we sang hymns and songs about God using everything for His glory and our good. 

 At the Cupbearer we sang "When we all get to heaven"

Hope. 

Such a powerful word and one that gives us the ability to look at our present circumstances and still be able to say, God, You are worthy and I will still praise You. For our present sufferings in this world pale in comparison for the Joy that is set before us. 

Don't give up friends. Don't let this life get you down. We are all but passing thru. I may never get the chance to take another breath, and you know what, that's okay. I'll be with my Lord. 

My Grandmothers last encouragement to me was to follow the Lord all my days, for it is worth it. 

He is our Hope. Rejoice in knowing the worst that could happen today, is to be welcomed into His presence. 

- matt

What is to come

If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes and it'll change. I think they mislabeled winter in northern Indiana. It should be called the gray season. It's dark and cold and wet. Kind of like the caves we used to hide in back home when we were kids at the Clifton Gorge...

Anyway, when I woke up today bright and blurry, I was greeted by the beautiful sunshine. It was warming up and just had an extra ounce of happy as the sun crested the horizon. The end of the gray season is coming. 

I'm sure winter isn't fully over just yet, but the glimpse of hope that todays weather brings makes me think that I could survive another few weeks of gray before it's time to bust out the tank tops and flip flops. 

The taste of what is to come. 

Sneaking cookie dough before the cookies are made. One nibble of pizza before dinner. One sip of Dunkin' Donuts Hazelnut coffee black with no sugar before I get to sit down with my maple frosted donut at a writing session.... man, now I'm gonna have to stop at Dunkin today!

If you want a glimpse of what's going on on the music front, be sure to join me over on Patreon.com/mattfawcett 

I'm writing a brand new song every week for the entire year and at the end of the year everyone there will get a chance to voice which songs we flesh out and produce for the new record in 2019. It's just a taste for now, but I'm getting really excited to see what the rest of this year brings. :)

- matt

The power of influence

Since I was a kid, I remember being told that my life matters. That me being here on this earth would make a difference. I whole heartedly believe that, not just about myself but about all people. Every human being was created with the uniquely divinely implanted ability to make an impact on the world. 

I've noticed recently that the impact that people can have isn't always positive though. 

Life is very similar to an escalator. Well, one that works anyway, otherwise it would just be a set of stairs and that doesn't work well for this analogy. 

On an escalator you are either moving up or down, but you are never staying in the same spot. If you are using them correctly anyway. 

My life can be either a positive impact or a negative one. This can be on a whole, or even in minute by minute updates. One minute I could be the most helpful positive guy and the next be crushing someone else's soul for no better reason than I was just lazy and didn't want to help them. But either way, I am making an impact on their life. Very rarely, if ever at all will you ever leave someone the same way you met them. Even in momentary encounters at a stop light in the middle of rush hour traffic. 

I've been more aware of this recently mostly because of how people have been treating me. It's not so much my fans as it is people that I interact with on a regular basis in the business world. I've noticed an attitude that creeps into us all. That says I deserve to be heard. I deserve to be put to the front of the line and I'll raise my voice and my temper till I get my way. My two year old daughter does that too. 

And so do I if I'm honest. 

I came into this world with nothing. I deserve nothing. I shouldn't be looking at how others can serve me, but how I can serve others. 

It makes things difficult when you are trying to serve others and they would rather run you over in the process just to prove a point. Not to me but to themselves. I should know. I've done this. I've treated people like they were the next rung on my ladder of success and they deserve to be my footstool. 

I don't want to be that way. When people hear my name, see my number, or get a text I want an overwhelmingly positive excitement to come over whomever it's to. Not because I'm so great, but because I represent something far beyond myself. When I treat people poorly, it doesn't reflect badly on me as much as it does on Christ. 

Think about it, if I was an unbeliever and I yelled at the waitress for letting my coffee cup run dry, no one would think any different. But put a bible on the table next to that coffee cup and God gets blamed for my horrible action. 

...just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
— Matthew 20:28

We are here to serve. 

It's so much easier to say than to do, but I promise you, every moment counts. Apologizing isn't just for little kids trying to learn how to share. It's for adults too. When we mess up, when not if because we will, we should be ready to admit our faults and ask for forgiveness because it's Christ we represent. 

We might be the only representation that someone has of Christ and how you treat them will speak volumes of who He is. 

I say this not to point the finger as much as to remind me of what I hope I'll never forget. I am not more important than my Savior and if He can come to serve, I have no excuse. He has given me the power to influence the cashier at Wal-mart, the drive thru at Taco Bell, even that telemarketer person that calls me every 2 weeks.

What am I doing with those opportunities? Maybe getting "what I deserve" is far less important than giving people what they don't. What I didn't. 

Grace.

-matt

What if...

It's a question I feel like we are all prone to ask. What if I said yes, or what if she said no? What if I didn't go to college, or apply for this job or that one? It's intriguing to think about and daunting as well.

It can free your mind to wander, or lock in in a cage of doubt.

This weekend I was teaching through Philippians and was struck by something. Of all the things that Paul was telling the believers in Philippi, it was never, "come get me out of here!"

In fact, Paul is rejoicing in his chains knowing that God is using it for His own glory.

The what if's have plagued me. What if I started pursuing music earlier? What if I pushed a little harder, gave a little more, travelled further? What if I'm not meant to do this and I'm just wasting my time?

“There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety - let us pray that we may always know it!” - Corrie Ten Boom

 

What if's don't define our lives. We are exactly where we need to be. I don't have to be plagued by what could have been. I can rest knowing that God is using every and all situations in my life for His glory.

As I keep being pulled away from my computer by my curious 2 year old daughter grabbing my hand so she can take me for a walk, reminders like this ease my mind. Nothing is wasted in God's economy. The moments of "unproductiveness" aren't unproductive at all.

I didn't start late. I didn't choose to throw God's plan off the rails. I was made to do this and I'm not wasting time, I'm striving to redeem it.

Don't let "what if's" keep you paralyzed from realizing God is using you where you are.

- matt

Margin

My dad is pretty smart.

Okay, in all reality he's one of the smartest guys I know. We have had countless conversations over the years and one that I was reminded of this weekend had to do with margin. He's the Dean of the Business school at a prominent College so other than just eh credentials of being my dad, he's got a solid background in the subject.

I was teaching this weekend at church and we were finishing up a book called Habits of Grace and the last few chapters were basically the author cramming in as much information that he could about 3 final subjects.

They were Discipleship, Money and Time.

I know. That's a lot to talk about in 45 min and barely scratched the surface.

The piece that all 3 have in common is margin. This is true for a lot of things in life, but especially for these 3 as you cannot have the ability to serve others in these areas without margin.

"Without margin, there is no ministry"

Without time, you can't serve others. Without money you can't give financially, and without purpose, you can't Disciple others.

It's cool to see how God has given some of us margin in certain areas and different margin to others in completely different areas. I may not be financially well off but I can serve others. Others maybe financially well off where they can give to others that have more time but not the resources.

As part of a body we can work together to maximize the impact we have on others in the world by creating margin. By being good stewards of our time, money and resources, we can create margin to serve.

My dad also has this phrase of "Divine Down Time" meaning, time God has given you that wrecked your schedule to make you step back and realign with Him. I see this a lot when I get sick, or my car breaks down on a trip. I'm thankful for those times, but it helps me realize that I need them more than I thought because I was pushing way too hard and forgetting my purpose in life.

My purpose is not to make a paycheck. It's to Glorify God in all things. That can be done on the side of the road with a flat tire, or standing at my desk at work working just as much as making music for you all.

I would rather have the margin to just create music to share with you, but until God allows that to happen, He calls me to be a good steward of where I am and what I have. That's not an excuse to not create margin, but probably more so.

Where are areas of Margin that you can create? How can you serve someone else this week?

Keep the faith friends!

- matt

Closest to Heaven

Well, the start of week 4 at least. It's been a very productive year thus far. There are 3 new songs up on Patreon, one for each week. A cover of Chris Tomlin's new song Resurrection Power and a Lyric video for My God Is Bigger that I shot whilst visit the camp where I penned those very words quite a few years ago.

It's been busy, but it's been fruitful, or at least it feels that way.

After being at my Uncle, Abby's Aunt and my Grandmother's funeral's all within a month it helps re-calibrate one's perspective. I was able to talk with so many people who love my Grandmother that kept reminding me of how much she was a prayer warrior and loved the Lord. She really missed my grandfather who went home to be with the Lord about six years ago.

I reminded myself and others that they are all doing much better than we are here. For the believer this present life is the closest we will ever be to hell, and for the Unbeliever, it's the closest they will ever be to heaven. I'm so thankful that I'm the former and not the later. It makes todays' present sufferings completely bearable knowing that there is eternal rest.

I hope you'll join me as I continue to wrestle with these thoughts and others through song on my Patreon channel. It is a really avenue for me to be able to get songs directly to you, and allows you to support the music that you love. Looking forward to seeing that cool things we can create this year.

- Matt

Joy in sorrow

This past week on Wednesday, my Grandma Fawcett went home to be with the Lord. She was a beautiful woman who was always praying for others and serving any way that she could. She's the reason why I love Lucky Charms, have a hankering for dried Pineapple and don't mind hearing the same stories over and over again.

When I would mow the grass for my Grandpa, she always made sure that I stayed Hydrated with sweet tea. She was at my very first concert and always welcomed my short interruptions into her life as I drove through town for gigs.

If you ever left Grandma's place hungry, she must not have been there. You were always greeted with a smile, a plate of food and someone who would listen no matter who you were, even if she just met you.

My last conversation with her was the day before she left this world. Her concern was that I would continue to faithfully follow and serve Jesus with my life and that my wife and kids were okay. Her last day on earth she was asking for Ivy and Bubba (My kids. Which, Bubba's real name is Corin, but everyone just calls him bubba anyway.) We were able to see her just a few hours before she left.

There are people in your life that you will never forget because of how much of an impact they had on you. My Grandmother was one of them. Tuesday this week, we get to celebrate her life and the 87 years that God gave her to serve and love others.

I miss you Grandma, but I wouldn't wish you back. You are in a far better place and I can't wait to meet you there someday.
 

"In His Arms" 

Through the years of faithful service
She left a strong legacy
Always praying that we would follow
And serve God above all things

Chorus:
In the presence of the Savior
Fully clothed in righteousness
In the arms of her Creator
Where no pain or sorrow live

When time had come to say goodbye
Her concern was soft and sweet
Follow Jesus and never wander
For He is worth everything

Chorus

We will miss our dearest mother
But we know this was not the end
With her last breathe she did leave us
But she’s more alive than she’s ever been
Now She’s more alive than she’s ever been

Chorus

When we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory

I wrote this song as one of the 52 for the Year songs that I'm doing this year on Patreon, but I've placed it up on YouTube where you can listen to it in honor of my Grandma who is and forever will be In His Arms.

- matt

Inverted thinking

Every time I hear the word "inverted" I can't get the image of an F-14 Tomcat flying canopy to canopy over an F-5. (Top Gun reference for those that didn't figure that out already)

I was talking with a friend of mine today and he got the wheels a spinning about how he changed his perspective on life. I like to call it inverted thinking, or looking at things from a different angle. It produces a heart that is more thankful and gracious.

Instead of looking at my car parked next to the Porsche and thinking, "Man I wish I had a newer/better car" I just look at my car and be thankful for the ability to drive to work. Some people don't have that luxury. The rubber really hits the road when it comes to the harder parts of life. It's easy for blessings to become burdens if we don't keep a proper perspective.

My kids are beautiful and I love them so much, but I can easily fall but getting frustrated when they scream in my ear and won't stop crying. (Corin is 4 months and that's how he communicates, but for some reason my small brain thinks that he should be speaking perfect English by now to explain in detail what he wants) There are others who would trade anything to have their child scream at them right now because they are no longer here. Still others aren't able to have children. I can view my blessing of kids as a distraction to other things, or I can take each breath and moment God gives me with them as a chance to be thankful for the moment with them. No matter what that moment brings.

Trying to be thankful for all situations isn't easy. In fact there are some things that I am baffled as to why I should be thankful for them, but there is one thing that I hold so dearly true and I hope you do as well. God is both sovereign and good. Whatever He has allowed to come into my life is for His glory and my benefit. So I can be thankful for being late to work, a broken arm, a daughters heart that needed open heart surgery after she was born, at car accident, or even the death of a loved one.

It doesn't mean we will jump and prance in the streets when these things happen. A thankful heart can still be a sad heart, but in the sadness there is hope. Hope in knowing who holds the past, present and future. That nothing happens that was not beyond His control.

This holiday season, no matter what God has brought into or through your path, be thankful that He is still the one that is in control. I used to get super jealous at Christmas. There were always so many gifts to be given and I always was secretly hoping I'd get some million dollar toy. But to my disappointment I never did. Instead of being thankful for what I was given, I was frustrated by what I wasn't given. Don't focus on what you don't have. Focus on what you do. God has given us all exactly what we need to live a life that is pleasing and honoring to Him, and one that will bring Him glory.

As humans we like to compare things. Just be careful where the comparison takes you. Does it take you to a heart of thankfulness, or of jealousy?

We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. - 1 Thess. 5:14-18

It may not be easy, but we were never told live was supposed to be easy. Be enoucraged friend. We're all in this together.

 

-matt

Content during the Holidays

I know, I'm a few days early, but Tis the season and I don't think you can say it to many times for the next 25 days. (Yes, I think there is a buffer that you can say Merry Christmas to people even after the 25th)

The season full of rushing, buying, scrambling, worrying... wait a second. That sounds horrible.Why would anyone look forward to a time in their lives that causes so much stress?

I work in retail. (It's the way God has allowed me to support my family. I'd love to make music for y'all full time, but thus far God has allowed me to do it part time. If He wills it, one day I'll quit my "daytime gig" and be able to focus fully on music ministry)

Anyway, I work in retail, so this is the time of the year where everyone is trying to get deals, buy for other people, rush from store to store, or website to website to find the perfect gift. It all seems, to me at least, a season of almost controlled chaos. I say almost because there is a sense of just "buckle up and hold on" and sometime in January when everyone wakes up to their credit card bills, we all realize we are still alive and have to pay them.

God has been teaching me a lot recently about contentment. About stepping off the hamster wheel. Sure I still go to work and do my best as if I'm doing it unto Him, but I don't need more. I don't need more of anything, but Him.

If Christ truly is enough, why must I try to add onto Him to make it feel like He is?

The true meaning of Christmas is about God sending His Son, to live a life I could never attain. To live as a perfect lamb that would be sacrificed so that I could be called righteous. God doesn't need anything from me to make Christ's sacrifice more sufficient. If He did, then Christ wasn't enough.

He is far more than enough.

So while the rest of the world maybe going crazy, step back. Remember why you are here. Christmas doesn't have to be defined by crazy. On second thought, maybe it should. When the world sees Christ's followers living as they are called, Scripture says they will think we are nuts. Maybe, just maybe we should be more crazy about the reason, and not the activities that come along with this month on the calendar.

Be encouraged friend. We're all in this together and I'm not saying this from a point of perfection but a stance of imperfection. My goal is to be a compass that points to the Truth, not for me to be the Truth. The Truth already came and lived for me and you. I'm just a compass pointing to where North Truly is.

- matt

I've been thinking...

 

That's typically the way I start a conversation with my wife when I'm about to say something incredibly dumb, or profound. We shall see which it is. 

I was talking with a good friend recently about life, kids and the future and how I was planning on trying to make music full time. He, being the voice that many would call "reality" kept assuring me that the steady 9-5 job was the best way to take care of my family and to set my kids up for the future. You know, be able to pay for college, live in a comfortable home, have a white picket fence, etc. The list goes on.

I was driving back from southern Ohio after leaving Abby and the kids to spend time with her family while I was helping out her Alma Mater setup for their musical this weekend, which I'll be heading back down today to continue helping with. The thought crossed my mind. Am I more concerned with setting my kids up to succeed in this life, or the next?

I'm sure some of you saw me share that on twitter the other day. Now, I know that I'm a great lier, and I lie to myself all the time. I'm not trying to justify my kids having a hap-hazard upbringing, so dad can go and pursue the dream, but what I am considering is, if my primary goal is to raise kids that fear the Lord and seek to honor and serve Him with their lives then, I best be making sure that whatever vocation I have, it doesn't take away from that. 

I'll be honest, I'm not sure how to do that. At least, not step by step. But if there is one thing that I've learned over the past few years it's this. Sometimes you just go to swing. 

I have a lot of people tell me that they want to be a songwriter and my question for them is always, how many songs have you written. More times than not, the answer is less than 3. Now, those 3 might be good songs, but I'm positive if that same individual wrote 100 songs that at least 3 if not more would be far better than the only 3 they have written. You have to get up to the bat and swing. 

You won't get it right all the time. There are times when I'm a horrible father and I don't take the chance to teach my kids, or I lose my temper, but the more I interact with them, the more I try, the better at being a Dad I get. The more songs I write, the better writer I become. The more gigs I play the better entertainer I become. 

In order to become we have to take chances. If we all go it right on the first try, we are either living in hypotheticals or we're not doing anything. 

What are you wanting to get better at?

What chances do you have to take another swing?

I'm not perfect, but I believe that God has given us all we need to live in a way that pleases and honors Him. And through His grace, I will try.

- matt

Hymns!

 

Growing up we sang a lot of hymns in my church. At the time it wasn't something I was always pumped to hear played on Sunday mornings. I wanted to be cranking up Steven Curtis Chapman tunes, or the Newsboys (the Breakfast song anyone?) But as the years pressed on and I started leading more I noticed something. 

People knew the hymns. 

You could go to any church across the country and most everyone could be heard belting out Amazing Grace, Be Thou My Vision, It Is Well, etc. I would also look at the people singing the loudest and it was the people that I looked up to and saw as spiritual giants. The people that if you were going through something, you wanted to be praying on your behalf. 

That's why this project to me has been so special. 

This Thanksgiving I'm releasing my first Hymns EP project. It was done in collaboration with my good friend Joy Chadwell. She's an incredibly talented vocalist and songwriter herself and was ecstatic when I asked if she would be willing to lend her voice for this project. 

My goal is to give back to the church the songs they gave to me. To my grandparents both through blood and belief so that we can sing not just their songs, but our songs. The songs the Church has almost forgot. 

The hymns on this first EP are:
 

  1. Be Thou My Vision
  2. Come Thou Fount
  3. It Is Well
  4. Standing on the Promises
  5. There is a Fountain
  6. To God be the Glory

I'm so excited for you to hear it and can't wait to share it all with you. So keep your eyes peeled and your ears open. It's coming soon!

- matt

Who are you?

 

A few weekends ago my wife went on our churches women's retreat for the weekend (She took our son Corin, since he was only 6 weeks old at the time) which meant that it was just Ivy and I. The hard part about doing music as an independent artist is that there is always something that I could be doing. There's videos to make and edit, concerts to book and plan, songs to write and practice, social media accounts to maintain, etc. etc. etc. That's not a complaint, just the realities of life that I've chosen.

But for that weekend I made a different choice. I chose to be just Dad. 

If you've been with me for a while, I'm sure I've written several notes like this before to you. I find it harder to choose between what's good and what's best as opposed to what's good and bad. My career is meant to support my family, not replace it. 

Reality checks like this typically come right after a big musical win. This past one was after being out several weekends in a row for gigs. I start thinking "Maybe, just maybe if I push a little harder, do a little more then I can quit my day gig and do music full time. Wouldn't I be such a better tool in God's hand that way!?"

The short answer it no.

The longer I live the more I am constantly confronted in Scripture that God doesn't want our stuff, or what we can do for Him. He desires our obedience.

So the real question isn't what more can I do, but am I obedient where I am?

I started this off with a question of Who are you. When I started writing I was thinking that I would talk more about being a Dad, but I think it's more practical to talk about being a child. Ivy and Corin don't have to produce something for me to love them. I want what's best for them and even if they could mow the grass, fix the house and take out the trash, I wouldn't love them more because of it. But if they did those things and were disobedient in things that I had already told them to do that wouldn't make me appreciative of the extra stuff they were doing. 

We are God's children, not employees.  

So, who are you? You are a child first. 

Will making music ever be what sustains and provides for my family? Maybe. But it won't change how God thinks about me if I do. I'm still going to try and do my best, but I won't sacrifice obedience to do it. That would negate any message I could proclaim from the stage anyway. 

So today, today, I'm just a child. Not just a child, but God's kiddo. And for me, that's far more than enough.

- matt