Sitting On The Porch w/ My Head Between My Knees

I heard recently about a young man who wanted to be trained in CPR and First Aid. He attended the classes, read the books and was learning a lot about providing medical aid to those in need. One evening, he told his class he actually had the opportunity to use his first aid training that week.

He said, “I heard a terrible crash in my front yard, and when I walked out on my front porch I saw that a car had run into a large tree. I could tell the driver was hurt–it wasn’t pretty. But because of my training, I knew exactly what to do. I sat down on the front steps and put my head between my knees so I wouldn’t faint.”

Today, I have been convicted by the fact that I have been trained.  I have attended seminar after seminar.  I have been through F.A.I.T.H. Training, Every Believer A Witness, Tract Training and have been down the Roman Road too many times to count.  I have taught the EvangeCube, RED Dot Witnessing, and F.A.I.T.H myself!  But sometimes, I find myself sitting on the front steps with my head between my knees.

You see, a lot of times, we are so focused on what we want and how we think everything ought to be, that we miss the very reason Christ has us here on earth!  Today, as I prepare for a very special day in our church on October 19th, God has convicted me to put my training to use!

Yesterday, I saw a young lady wrestling w/ the Holy Spirit and she repented and trusted Christ as her Savior!  It was a beautiful sight.  But that would have never happened if her parents and leaders had been sitting on the porch w/ their head between their knees!

Folks, people need the Gospel!  So, pick your head up, stand up, and put all your knowledge and training to use!  Trust the Lord to change lives!

No Longer on the Porch,

Matt

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“FUSION”

According to Webster Dictionary, the word Fusion means “a merging of diverse, distinct and/or separate elements into a unified whole.”

Yesterday, Hope Church of Madison and Summit Church of Madison made a “Fusion” proposal to their congregations. This Proposal shared the idea of our church families coming together for the expressed purpose of doing more for the Kingdom of God locally, nationally and internationally.

What does that mean? Well, I’m glad you ask! Here are a few answers to the questions that many people may have.

1. Where did this idea originate? Back in March, the Leadership Team of Summit Church had a meeting to discuss this possibility and prayed through the Fusion idea. After that meeting Pastor Jeff Rogers called me. That meeting began a very intensive process that has brought us to the point of making this proposal to our churches.

2. Who has been involved in this process? Summit’s Lead Team: Jeff Rogers, Kevin Ramsey, Tim Carter, Charlie Brown. Hope’s Lead Team: Matt Alexander, Michael Hughes, Greg Carter, Mark Smith, David Kelley.

3. Has anyone from our state convention, association, and/or North America Mission Board offered any counsel and insight? Yes! Larry Wynn and Harris Malcom from our state convention has offered great counsel and helped us with a systematic process to walk through. Neal Hughes from NAMB offered great insight early on in this process and challenged us to answer the hard questions. Larry Cheek w/ the Stone Mountain Baptist Association has been instrumental in guiding us too. NAMB also provided us a valuable resource from Matt Rogers. Matt wrote a book that explained the process that his church went through to merge with another church in 2013. This resource helped us walk through this entire process and it has been priceless.

4. Is either church in trouble? NO. Both churches are stable and God is blessing their ministries. There are no financial problems and/or church disputes that has brought about this proposal. Both churches recognize the fact that they have the potential to be stronger together than apart and feel that a Merger will help grow the Kingdom at a more rapid pace.

5. What is the proposed name of the Church? Great question. We were challenged to leverage the names of both congregations to communicate unity and vision in Madison. It’s important to us that our city understands that no church is closing but that both churches are coming together for some very specific reasons. Also, as we prayed through a new name, we wanted to have a name that would be simple and something that would be foundational in the area of church planting for the future. So, the proposed name will allow us to plant more churches with identifying names for each campus. The proposed name is “Hope Church at the Summit”. The leadership of both congregations see the tremendous value in keeping the name Summit and Hope in the name of the new ministry.

6. What will be my role and Jeff’s role? Jeff will serve as Executive Pastor of the new work. Jeff will be responsible for Assimilation, Evangelism, Discipleship, Outreach and Missions. I will serve as Lead Pastor and will be responsible for the overall direction of the church. Jeff and I have spent countless hours together since March and I can say that we have never been more excited about where God is leading us both!

These are exciting days and we look forward to seeing how God will lead us in the days to come.

Here is a link to the video we shared yesterday with our churches.

Whatever It Takes,
Matt

Coffee House Meditation

Run, Run- Fast as you can! This morning I had a meeting with one my friends and Missions Partners in Covington, Georgia at 10:30 am. I decided to skip going to the office in Madison before my meeting because of gas prices and timing. So, I made the trip to Covington way ahead of schedule to get in some reading, focus, and meditation. I just needed to clear my head.

I arrived at “the coffee house” and sat down alone and ordered a cup of “joe”. I sat for what seems like an hour, just asking God to clear my mind and settle my heart. After about 15 minutes, I pulled out my journal and began to make a list of things that I needed to do by Friday. After 5 minutes…. I had a comprehensive list and felt relieved. I then began going through the list: sending emails, making calls, putting dates on the calendar and making notes to help remind me to do other things.

I opened up my Bible and read the text for our theme for 2014 and God spoke directly to my heart and gave me not 1 but 2 messages for a series that will begin in February. If you are a pastor, you know that when read the Word and our Lord gives you 2 messages while you are just reading scripture and not preparing or even looking for a sermon, you’re overwhelmed! Folks, that’s how it’s supposed to be! But let me be real for a minute: that doesn’t happen in my life as often as it should because of the “busyness and noise” of life.

I guess what I’m saying is this: let’s slow down and focus our lives and be intentional in the areas of life that are most important in the context of eternity. What really matters most to you? Christ, Faith, Family, Job, Recreation, Friends, Pleasing People?

I’m thankful for the time I slowed down this morning at the “coffee house”. When is the last time you experienced some “coffee house meditation”?

He’s “Special”

On this day 16 years ago, my life was changed forever. No, I didn’t have a terrible accident or hear some troubling news from a Doctor. I found myself at the side of a hospital bed at Rockdale Medical Hospital and witnessed the most remarkable thing! On that day, my wife gave birth to Elijah Craig Alexander.

Like all of all our children, Elijah is “Special”! He’s special because our Lord has uniquely gifted him with some gifts that make him standout in our home. I remember how when he was 2 1/2 years old that he could back his John Deere Petal Tractor around our island in our kitchen with a trailer hitched to the rear without ever having to pull forward to realign himself! Folks- that’s Special. I’ll have to remind him of that gift as he prepares to get his license this week. He’s sweating a load!

Elijah is “Special” because he is a very hard worker. When I’m scared to try to tear something a part, he dives right in! He loves to get dirty and do whatever it takes to accomplish the task at hand. In fact, I’ve never seen a kid or 16 year young man with the work ethic he has. He can do anything he wants to do. At times I get perplexed when he accomplishes something I would have never tried and I ask myself, “Self, where does he get that”? Well, he gets that from his Mom and Papa.

Elijah is “Special” because he has a heart to be a behind the scenes-impact player for the cause of Christ. When God called our family to plant Hope Church of Madison, I had no idea what kind of task He was calling us to. There are days that all of our children are with me, serving food, washing coolers, setting up tables, sweeping floors, praying with families or visiting hospitals. Elijah has been with me every step of the way. He serves at Hope church in our Audio Visual Ministry and our Lord has used him in a tremendous way over the past 3 years. He works so hard. He’s “Special”!

Next, I’m sure Elijah will not like the phrase “He’s Special”, but I have a reason. When I was a kid, my mom always told me that I was “Special” & it made a great impact on my life. In fact, I heard it so much I began to believe it. I’m not sure I was “Special” but I’m confident that Elijah is! I’m so proud of the young man that he has grown to be and I’m not looking forward to letting him go in the days to come, but he has a calling! So, I will release him to join our Lord in making a difference for His Kingdom!

Elijah, You are one of greatest blessings our Lord has given to us. We love you and we are so proud and honored to call you son! When I look at you I see myself and it fills me with fear. But I also see your mom and how she has greatly influenced your life. It doesn’t stop there, I see your Papaw, who you never met. He marked you and you don’t even realize it! I see Grammaw in you by how you care so deeply for others & this is a trait that’s at the top of my list of things I admire about you. Finally, when I look at you, I see your Papa & Nana. Our Lord used them in a Real Unique Way to help mold & shape you into the man you have become. I’m overwhelmed today as I think about who you have become because of these special people.

You know, Elijah is “Special” because God used “Special” people to invest in him. May we all see that we are “Special” & let that truth motivate us to invest in the next generation.

I’m Committed,

Dad

Licking Your Lips/Blowing Your Horn

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During the month of August, our entire family participated in a “Social Media Fast”.  This came out of our sabbatical time in July.  We saw that our family had become disconnected from each other and we were obsessed….  Most evenings consisted of our entire family sitting around on a device “blowing our horn”.  We realized that this was not healthy.

One thing that I realized while off of social media this past month was how many people, including pastors, use social media to publicize what “God is doing” in their life and ministry in reality it is simply a “Self Promotion” strategy.  Let me give you an example:

This past Sunday was Labor Day Weekend and it is typically a very low Sunday at most churches due to travel and family outings.  Our church plant is about 2 years old and our attendance was way off.  In fact, we had 81 people.  I actually felt pretty good when I was told what our attendance was because I had prepared myself for 40 people…  I began to read twitter on the way home from church while my 15 year old son was driving.  I read where pastor after pastor talked about how their churches were full and people received Christ, people where baptized, overflow rooms where full, altars were full, people were getting happy… and babies were being tossed out of the balconies!!  No, not really but the comments were pretty extreme.

Now, I know as a pastor that we get excited when our attendance is good and people’s lives are changed by the Gospel, but I believe a lot of people and pastors are just “blowing their own horn” instead of giving God glory!  Social Media has given an outlet for pastors to lick their prideful lips and begin to toot their horns as loud and as much as they want.

As a pastor of a small church plant with very few people, sometimes I feel like a failure when I read comments on Social Media from other pastors. When I think back over my week last week, I worked very hard at fulfilling my goals and calling.  At times, I find myself licking my lips to blow my horn when God quickly challenges my motives when I start to post a tweet or post an update on social media.

What would happen if we would stop using social media as a place to “Blow our Horns” and start using it to encourage others and Exalt the Savior?  Social Media can be a good thing but we must use it responsibly.  

Finally, this morning I was sharing with my wife that I had heard that a pastor friend of mine was considering resigning his church.  She said, “Wow… On Facebook, you would think the church was doing great and they are “Happy, Happy, Happy”.  Her comment blew me away!  Folks, lets don’t use social media to paint a picture that is not reality! 

Trying Not to Lick My Prideful Lips,

Matt

Pray Big…

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There have been seasons of my life where I was led to Pray Big.  Each time I sought God in a Big way, He seemed to always do Big things…  Over the past month or so, I have been challenged by Scripture to pray Big Prayers.  It also seems that everywhere I turn, God is saying, “Trust Me, I Am your source, I can handle it, I will provide.”  

I have been re-reading “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire” by Jim Cymbala.  This book challenged me many years ago to be God Dependent and as I have been reading it again, I have a new, fresh dependency upon God.  It seems that through the busyness of life, I had began to pray those normal, sissy prayers…  You know, “Lord, keep us safe, provide for us, speak to my heart, show me the way, God bless the USA….”  I have found that these things do not normally bring a lot of Glory to our Lord because it’s the Big prayers that He answers that He gets the most glory for!

My last post was on August 9th, where I discussed getting “Back to the Basics”.  God has reminded me that if I am going to be a 1st Century Christian in the 21st Century, I must get back to the basics in my prayer life.  In Acts, the 1st Century Believers where faced with all kinds of opposition and persecution.  But they did not pray the normal prayers…  They prayed Big Prayers to a Big God because they were on a Big Mission!

In fact, in Acts 4:29-30, they prayed, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.  Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  I love it, they didn’t pray for safety and strength.  They prayed for BOLDNESS!  Boldness had gotten them into the mess they were in, but they prayed for more BOLDNESS and as God would stretch out His hand to work in the lives of those around them, they wanted to be able to speak the Gospel w/ Boldness!

That’s a Big Prayer!  I have been praying this prayer and a few other Big Prayers for about 47 days now and I have seen God do some Big Things!  What are you praying for? Are you praying for Boldness?  Are you praying Big prayers?  We serve a Big God and we are on a Big Mission, why not Pray Big?

I’m Committed,

Matt

Back To The Basics

When I was playing High School Baseball, it seemed that each year we would start off good and then have a few terrible games. Each year at this point our coach (Allen Crowley) would say these words at practice, “Boys, it’s time to get Back To The Basics”! Those words meant something to us. In fact, we knew exactly what he was talking about.

“Back To The Basics” meant that we would be running the bases and finish our practice each day “on the fence”… Oh the dreaded fence! “Back To The Basics” meant that we would be focusing on conditioning, hitting, and catching. He would tell us that if we could not run, hit and catch, we were toast! In fact, he would spend time reviewing the rules of baseball. I remember one game in particular that we had lost because one of our players had run out of the base line and interfered with a play.

Last month as I was on my sabbatical, I kept hearing Coach Crowley in my ear, “Boy, it’s time to get “Back To The Basics”! As I contemplated those words, I realized that several things needed to happen.

1. I had to “get on the fence”. That meant that I had to work on conditioning. I had to put into practice the spiritual disciplines that would condition me for the ministry God had called me to.

2. I had to work on catch and hitting. If I could not “Catch the Word of God” (hear from Heaven), I was in trouble! If I could not “Hit the Curve” Satan threw me, I would be sitting on the bench.

3. I had to review what my mentors had taught me about the rules of ministry. You see, I realized that I could not run out of the base line and expect to win. I had to put some guardrails in place to keep me where I needed to be.

Do you feel that your loosing? Do you need to “get on the fence”? Are you “catching the Word”? Are you “hitting the curve”? Do you need to put guardrails in your life to keep you on track?

In the words of Coach Crowley, “Boys, it’s time to get Back To The Basics”!

I’m Committed,

Matt