Sep 25 2014

Grieving from Abroad

Hello everyone,

It has been quite some time since I have updated my blog. About a week and a half ago, I heard the news that my grandfather had passed away. I made the decision not to attend the funeral, but instead wrote a letter to my grandpa. It has been a bit difficult at times, and have been spending a lot of time praying, and learning how to grieve while overseas. It has been a challenge, but I know that God is with me here in Austria. I am also very thankful that I was able to enjoy so many years with my grandpa.

Here is the letter that I wrote for the funeral.

Dear Grandpa Giles,

I never have been very good at saying goodbye. It’s hard to believe that the next time I come to the US you won’t be there. I know that now you are in a better place and are spending time with Jesus, please tell Him hello for me.

I will always remember how as a boy I always looked forward to going to Grandpa’s house, knowing that we would be playing games, and going for long walks together. I always enjoyed your sense of curiosity. Mom often says that I am just like you finding random facts and sharing them with everyone. I still remember when you bought a belt buckle with a large “G” printed on it. We would always play with the buckle turning the “G” sideways or upside down, but then one summer you came and told us, “Well now I’ve fixed my buckle so you won’t be able to play with it anymore.” I know you always secretly enjoyed how we would tease you and laugh with you about your goofy ties.

Thank you for teaching us important things, like how to flatten pennies on the train tracks, and how to make interesting meals like milk toast and crackers and milk, and of course your personal favorite Oyster Stew.

Grandpa, I hope you know how much I loved you. Like you I have often struggled with being able to forgive myself, but I know that God forgives me, even when I can’t forgive myself.

But my favorite memory of all, was to hear how proud you were when you heard I would be working with TWR in Austria. It really moved me to tears when I heard that you and grandma were always asking everyone to pray for me, and telling everyone how your grandson was working as a missionary oversees.

I am so thankful to God for letting me get to spend so much time with you. It seems like we never really know how blessed we are, until God takes it away.

With all of that said, it is time to say goodbye for now. Make sure you get some games ready for us to play when we join you again, and try and find some good hiking trails too. In this case I prefer the German version of goodbye, Auf Wiedersehen, or until I see you again.

Thank you again for all of your prayers. Your prayers and support are very much appreciated.

James 1:2-4

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”


May 6 2014

God has not given us a spirit of fear

Hello again,

I would like to share with you something that God has really been working on with me, over the past couple of weeks.

So often, one of the last words that I would use to describe myself is courageous. Often, I view myself as cowardly, and afraid to step out in faith. However today, I found a paper that someone had given me a while back, with a list of verses describing our identity in Christ.

The verse that really stuck out to me is 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” The following verse says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.”

Now if I am honest, this is something that I really struggle to truly believe. So often, I am easily intimidated by others, and do not see myself as a bold person. But yet, Paul is telling Timothy, God gives us a spirit of power, and not of fear.

The scripture is full of examples of God giving courage to those who are willing to follow Him. Here are a couple of examples.

2 Chronicles 15:7-8
“But you, take courage! Do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded.”
As soon as Asa heard these words, the prophecy of Azariah the son of Oded, he took courage and put away the detestable idols from all the land of Judah and Benjamin and from the cities that he had taken in the hill country of Ephraim, and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was in front of the vestibule of the house of the Lord.”

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!”

Daniel 10:19 “And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.””

Philippians 1:20 “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Now, I know, in my head, that God has given me courage, and that He has promised to never leave me. But often there is a disconnect between what I know in my head, and what I feel in my heart. I want to know in both my head and heart that God has made me to be courageous, and to take steps of faith following the example of Christ.

I would appreciate your prayers, that God would transform me, so that I would not believe the lie, that I am a coward.

Thank you,
Matt


Apr 29 2014

What a Privilege and a Blessing

Hello again,

 

Today as I was walking outside, I just felt a sense of peace about where God has placed me at this time. Yes, at times I have really missed my family and friends, and I do miss green chili and good Mexican food, and the amazing view of the Organs. But I am so blessed to be in Vienna Austria.

I never could have imagined the opportunity that I have right now, to learn German, a language, that I have wanted to learn since I was a kid, and I get to do a job, working with computers that I really enjoy. And if that isn’t enough, I get to be a part in helping to spread the gospel through technology.

I also had the privilege of traveling to Central Asia to help with getting one of our new transmitters up and running. That still has to be one of the coolest experiences yet. I really learned a lot about trusting in God, and having faith that God will provide. I really was humbled by the amount of faith some of my coworkers have had about this entire project. Every time something bad would happen, they saw it as an opportunity to trust God to provide, and were confident that He would do so. I on the other hand was very pessimistic and doubted that God could really do it. (Looking back now, this seems so silly, God is so much bigger than all of our problems.)

Thank you again to all of you for all of your prayers, and encouragement. It really means a lot to me. Please pray that I would learn to grow in my faith, and that instead of seeing problems that are too impossible for God to solve, would go to my knees instead.

Thank you,

Matt

 

 


Apr 11 2014

Taking Time to Be Still

Hello again,

This week as I was reading through a short devotional, I came across the following passage:

1 Kings 19:11 – 13 ”
And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?””

For some reason, this story has always been encouraging to me. We see Elijah who has just come from a great victory against the prophets of Baal. He has just shown to all of Israel, that Jahweh alone is the one true God. But, Elijah receives a letter from Jezebel, king Ahab’s wife, that she wants to kill him. This causes Elijah to fall into a state of depression. Even this great prophet, has a bout of depression. What comes next, is very comforting.

God sends Elijah an angel to comfort, and encourage Elijah, and to allow him to rest. It is here that we find Elijah in a cave. Discouraged and feeling very alone. Here in this cave God comes to him, and tells him to go out and He will appear to him. Now what comes next is worth noting. Elijah hears a great wind, so great that the rocks are broken to pieces, but God is not in the wind. An earthquake comes, but God is not in the earthquake. A fire comes next, but God is not in the fire. Finally a sound like a low wisper comes. At this sound, we are told Elijah recognizes that this is the Lord, and exits the cave.

I really like this picture, because I often expect God to come in a mighty and powerful way, but often God comes quietly. It is only when I allow myself to be still, and listen that I can hear His voice. So often, I get distracted by noise, both audibly, but also with things, that I don’t hear God’s voice, and then I wonder where He is. It is only when I am still and calm that I then hear his voice.

This week, it has been a struggle for me to remain still, and to trust God. Often when I am seeking to spend time with Him, my mind wanders away. I also often allow fear and doubt to creep in, and I find myself struggling to rest in His presence. This week in particular, I have really struggled to give up my worries, and doubts to God, and to allow Him to take care of them. I am comforted to know however, that God is still there, and He is patiently waiting for me to rest in Him, and to listen to His voice.

I would really appreciate your prayers this week, that I would just rest in God. That I would cast my worries, and fears onto Him, and trust that He will take care of me.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support. It means a lot to know that so many of you are praying for me.
Matt


Apr 8 2014

A Long Overdue Update

 

It has been quite some time since my last update here. I have been quite busy over the past couple of months.

The end of February I was privileged to travel to Barcelona Spain to attend the Mobile World Congress. There I was able to see a lot of the latest technology gadgets having to do with cell phones, and other forms of mobile technology. It also provided me with the chance to “translate” technical terms into language that someone who is not technical would be able to understand.

After returning from Barcelona, I was able to take a week off of work, and travel to Switzerland and Germany for my birthday. I really enjoyed seeing all of the mountains along the way to Switzerland. The first night of my journey, I had the opportunity to stay with a German family in a little village just over the border from Switzerland. It was quite an interesting experience. For my birthday I spent the day exploring the city of Zürich. Unfortunately I was sick for a good portion of my vacation, but I still was able to enjoy it.

At work, I have been spending quite a bit of time learning different types of programming techniques, and how to better analyze and design software. Often, I have to remind myself that I am still new at this, and should not expect myself to be perfect at this… (Hopefully one day I will learn this lesson)

Recently I volunteered to help with leading a Bible study in one of the Starbucks locations in Vienna. I am excited, but also a bit nervous, as I have not really done something like this before.

Well, I hope to update my blog more often again, to keep you up to date with what is happening here in Vienna.

Thank you again for all of your prayers!

Matt

 


Feb 15 2014

Some Quick Thoughts

Hello again,

This morning as I was reading through the book of Exodus, I noticed something that caught my attention. In describing the clothing that the priests were required to wear I cam across this verse, Exodus 39:30, “They made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription, like the engraving of a signet, “Holy to the LORD.” This got me thinking. We as believers may not be wearing a crown of gold on our heads that says Holy to the Lord, but because of the sacrifice of Christ we are declared Holy to the Lord.

I know for myself, one of the last things that I would describe myself as is holy. There are so many times that I stumble and fall and realize how much I need a savior. I looked at the definition of the word holy in Websters dictionary: “devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity.” Now is this not true, that as believers our lives should be lived in a way that meets this definition.

I encourage you, and myself to remember this thought, that we are set apart by God to work for Him. I have to constantly remind myself that my boss is not a man, but is God. I continue to pray that God would work in me, that when I have to give an account to Him that I will hear, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant.’

I would appreciate your prayers that God would continue to work in my life and clean out the rotten fruit from within my life, and that I would not get distracted from the true goal of serving Him.

Thank you,

Matt


Feb 1 2014

My Captain

Hello again,

This morning I was listening to a sermon on choosing Jesus as our Lord. During the sermon the pastor gave a good example of the two vastly different choices that we can make. He used the example of the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley, and a response to this poem My Captain by Dorthea Day.

Here are the two poems so you can see how different they are in who is in charge of their life.

 

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.

My Captain

Out of the night that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be
For Christ the conqueror of my soul.

Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under that rule which men call chance
My head with joy is humbly bowed.

Beyond this place of sin and tears
That life with Him! And His the aid,
Despite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid.

I have no fear, though strait the gate,
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate,
Christ is the Captain of my soul.

 

We have two choices that we can make in this life, will we allow God to be the master of our lives, or will we choose to be the master of our own lives.

Thank you again for all of your prayers and support.
Matt

Here is a video a coworker shared this week. It is a good reminder of how we can completely trust in God as our provider.


Jan 17 2014

The Problem of Complaining

Hello again,

This week a coworker recommended the book Lord, Change My Attitude: Before It’s Too Late by James McDonald. God has been challenging me lately about my negative attitude and complaining, and had expressed my desire to change this attitude. So this morning I began reading the first Chapter Replace a Complaining Attitude. Some key scriptures were pointed out about how God view complaining. It really only took one passage to convince me that complaining is not a good thing.

Numbers 11:1-3

“And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.  Then the people cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire died down.  So the name of that place was called Taberah,[a] because the fire of the Lord burned among them.”

A good quote from this chapter is the following, “Complaining is an attitude choice that if left unchecked will wither my capacity to experience joy and genuine thankfulness.” Another convicting quote was, “If your friends and family hear you complaining all the time, you are bringing them down.”

So now I am fully convinced that I want to change my attitude to that of a thankful attitude. I look forward to continuing through this book and applying practical steps to change my attitude.

I would appreciate your prayers through this process, as attitude change is not easy. I look forward to providing more updates along the way.

Thanks again for all of your prayers!

Matt


Jan 9 2014

Count it all Joy

Hello again, and Happy New Year!

It has been a long time since I last updated my blog. God has been teaching me a lot of things during my time here in Vienna.

Last night I was thinking about these verses James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

The month of December was a difficult month for me, for various reasons. I was convicted by this verse because, most times when I am going through a rough time, I complain about my situation. A few years ago my pastor preached over this passage, and he reminded us as a congregation not to waste our trials. God uses the tough times is life to help us grow. On one hand I ask God to help me to grow closer to Him, and to put more of my dependence on Him, but when He allows me to go through a difficult time to bring this growth, I often waste it.

This year I have two main resolutions. The first is to learn German at such a level that I can converse well, and understand most daily conversations. The second resolution is to be more thankful for everything that God has given to me. I want to stop complaining and take my eyes off of myself, and focus on the good things. I would appreciate your prayers for these two things.

Thank you again for all of your prayers and support,
Matt


Oct 30 2013

The Love of God

Hello again,

For the past two months or so, I have been wrestling over the concept of God’s love. It is a concept that I know in my head, but do not know it in my heart. It is quite easy for me to say, God loves me, but it is quite another thing for me to truly believe it. The past couple of weeks, I have been struggling to believe that God does actually love me, and not because of anything that I have, could, or would do, but because of what Christ has done for me.

Many times, I am very hard on myself. If I am not able to meet my own expectations, then I assume that God is disappointed with me, and doesn’t love me as much. The past few months, I have been learning more and more to place all of my trust in Christ, and to lean on Him.

I am still learning that my identity is in Christ, not in how well I perform at work. I am so thankful that God has been patient with me, and continually reminding me of this.

I would appreciate your prayers this week. I knew that it would be difficult moving to a new place, leaving behind all of my friends and family, and go to a place where people speak a different language from me. Sometimes it seems even more difficult than I had imagined, and this week in particular, I have found myself really missing my family and friends back in Las Cruces.

Thank you for all of your prayers.
Matt


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