Posts Tagged men’s ministry

Ain’t No Mojo

By Matt Greco

By the time this article is published, the 2015 Major League Baseball season will be underway.  It is also very likely that no matter how the Kansas City Royals start off the year, Kansas City baseball enthusiasts will be talking about last year’s wonderful season.  It was a wonderful, magical season!

The Royals had a pretty good season going into the last few weeks of the year.  There were some ups and downs, but they eventually found themselves in a one-game play “in” with a chance to go into the postseason.  The winner of this game would be the Wildcard. This is where the magic really started. To begin their record-setting postseason, the Royals played an astounding, come-from-4-runs-behind, 12-inning, nail-biter to defeat the Oakland A’s!  The Boys in Blue went on to set an MLB record of winning 8 straight postseason games and set another MLB record of winning 4 extra-inning postseason games.  Eventually, the Royals played and lost to the San Francisco Giants in a seven-game World Series, the Royals first World Series since 1985.  But they had plenty of help;   they had plenty of mojo that was happening all across Kansas City!

What do I mean mojo? After the Royals beat Oakland, I overheard some mojo recall that helped explain why the Royals won.  It went more or less like this:

—When the Royals got behind, I started studying my  Greek, and then we started coming back, so I studied my Greek until we won!

—After the Royals got behind, I went to bed.  When I woke up, I learned we had won!

—It looked like we were going to lose the game, and it put me in a bad mood, so I got snarky with my wife, and we started to argue. As we argued, the Royals came back, and we eventually won.

Now each of these comments is from someone who would be considered a maturing Christian man, who is biblically literate and theologically sound.  Yet, when it came to the Royals, they all had their mojo going! They all referred to the Royals as “we.”  In fact each of these gentlemen stated they would be doing the same thing next game (studying Greek, going to bed early, getting snarky with the wife) in order to help the Royals win. This fascinated me, so I asked a group of otherwise maturing Christian men, who are biblically literate and theologically sound if they ever had or did any mojo before they or their favorite team played a game.  Their answers astounded me!  The answers went something like this:

–If we were on a winning streak, I would wear the same socks until we lost.

–If my team was winning, I would watch the next game on the same TV I was watching when they won.

–I always went to bed at the same time before a game and always ate the same breakfast on game day.

–I never watched TV or read the paper on game day.

–I would go to mass on game day.  On the way out of the church, I would get an extra helping of holy water and then touch all my major joints with the holy water to keep from getting injured.

—I am not superstitious, so no mojo, but I always ate the same pregame meal at exactly the same time, and then I would warm up exactly the same way, but I am not superstitious. (yeah right)

So, what was your mojo to help the Royals?  Or what is your mojo to help your favorite team win?  Do you put on your favorite sweatshirt, have the same pregame ritual, eat the same snacks, use the same TV?  When the Royals lost their first postseason game, one of the aforementioned maturing Christian, biblically literate, and theologically sound men came into work and stated, “I know why the Royals lost.” We looked at him with collective hope in our eyes. “My buddy took his girlfriend to the game, it was her first game ever, and she doesn’t even like the Royals!!” The collective “NO” was deafening!  How could she?!  Worse yet, how could he??!!

I recently watched a commercial where a stranger, carrying his own chair,         showed up in a couple’s apartment.  He explained that last year this was his apartment, and he sat right there in that chair, and the team won the championship.  The couple looked at the stranger, looked at each other, and then shook their heads with approval and asked him if he would like a snack.  What is weird is that I didn’t think it was weird!  I got it.

Okay, time for a reality check.  The truth for me and you and for all those who have helped their teams keep a streak alive, come out of a slump, or win that championship game is that there ain’t no mojo!  That is correct; let me repeat, THERE AIN’T NO MOJO!

The only reason the Royals or the Chiefs or the Chicago Cubs ever won or lost a game or a  championship is because they had more or less runs or points than their opponents at the end of the playing time.  The exception may be the Cubs; they may indeed be cursed.

Why write about superstition and lucky sweatshirts and mojos in a church newsletter?  The reason is that sometimes Christians or would-be Christians approach life in Jesus Christ with their lucky socks on.  People use their “Christian Mojo” to try to get into a relationship with Jesus Christ or to get closer to Jesus Christ. Here are some examples:

—If I can just have my quiet time, then I will be set for the day.

—I know I’m not giving enough, but when I get over (fill in the blank), then I will start giving more.

—I may not be perfect, but I haven’t (fill in the blank) yet, so I am not so bad.

—If I could just do this or that, etc. / if I could just stop doing this or that, etc.

Now, here is the reality: THERE AIN’T NO MOJO  in the Christian life.  No amount of being good or giving of money or  serving on  committees or  not doing  this or doing that will bring you into a relationship with Jesus Christ. No amount of being good or giving money or wearing your John MacArthur hat will make Jesus love you more once you are in a relationship with Him. As Pastor Tim takes us through the book of Romans, he has taught us, and we have learned and are learning:

  • Rom. 3: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of  the glory of God
  • Rom. 5: 8 But God shows His love for us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us
  • Rom. 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord
  • Rom. 8: 1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Rom. 10: 9–10 because if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
  • Rom. 12: 1–2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

It is God’s glory, it is God’s mercy, it is God’s free gift, it is Jesus Christ declaring that we are not condemned, it is through God’s mercies, and it is God’s will.  If you are a part of God’s team (saved by grace through faith), then He has a part for you to play.  It is not about your lucky sweatshirt or your pregame routine; it is about God’s Holy Spirit working in us, and you and me working with Him.

In Philippians 2:12b–13, Paul writes, “… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  It is not working for our salvation, but working out (exercising) our salvation in Christ.

So join us here at Faith Community Church, knowing that God is working in and through us.  Exercise your spiritual worship here at FCC, and we will all win!  And, just in case, keep those lucky socks handy if the Cubs are close in September.

Sincerely and in Christ,

Matt Greco – Headmaster, Faith Christian Academy

Posted in: Christian Living

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Toxicodendron Radicans (Poison Ivy)

By Matt Greco

I can think of no earthly reason why God created Poison Ivy!  I am relatively sure that it was not in the Garden of Eden but came along after the ground was cursed, somewhere between the thorns and the thistles.  It has been a problem for me all my life and approximately 85% of all humans have allergic reactions to the oils from the plant.  When I was younger, I could get the rash if I went past the plant and a wind was blowing in my direction.  It is estimated that 2 people a year die from exposure to poison ivy, not many, but I bet that everyone who is allergic to it suffers from its effects.

I got it again this year.  Weed eating my neighbor’s back fence and not paying attention to what I was doing.  It was all up and down my arms and a little on my legs.  So I am lying in bed the other night trying not to scratch and praying to the Lord, no sorry…, complaining to the Lord about my plight and it hits me all of a sudden that in many ways poison ivy is like sin to the believer.  Let me explain.

Scripture teaches me that before I confessed and believed in Christ, that I was dead because of my sin.  (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2: 1 – 10)  But now, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, I have new life and sin no longer has the power to kill me spiritually. (Romans 8:  2; Corinthians 5: 17) But, sin is still around and as believers, we still battle against sin.  Enter my analogy about sin and poison ivy.

If we are careful, we can avoid stepping into or brushing up against it, however, if we are careless or overconfident, we can get into it. It is not usually fatal, but it can sure make our lives miserable for a while.  It is unsightly, it is annoying, it itches, and it can make it very difficult for us to participate in certain activities.  No one wants to hug who is covered in it, you are not supposed to go swimming if you have open sores from the rash, and if you have it and you sweat at all, it irritates the outbreak all the more.

Now I do not want to trivialize sin when I compare it to poison ivy!  Sin destroyed man’s relationship with God.  Sin separates us from God.  Sin causes judgment and death. Sin has had and is much more destructive and can have much more lasting consequences in your life.  However, sin is also unsightly, it is annoying, it itches, and it can make it difficult or impossible for us to participate in certain activities.  God’s answer to sin was and is Jesus Christ.  My life and your life can be transformed by Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I can say I am grateful to the Lord that I was lying awake at three o’clock in the morning because of the burning and itching of poison ivy because as I turned to Him, He met me in my situation and gave me comfort and instruction.  He is there for all of us who will turn to Him.  Don’t wait until you are drowning in your sin or suffering from the consequences of bad decisions or scratching from Toxicodendron radicans.  (Deuteronomy 4:28 – 30)

Matt Greco is a member of FCC and the Headmaster of Faith ChristianAcademyy.

Posted in: Christian Living, Men's Ministry

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From Dust to Dust

By Matt Greco

Genesis 2:7 – 9, “…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.  And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

I love this time of year!  During springtime it seems that everything has potential, everything gets a new start.  Cold and drab winter has no choice but to turn the season over to the warmth and freshness of spring.  What a blessing to live in a location where we can experience four different seasons!

I especially love that it is time to ready and plant the garden.  I feel a special connection to the soil (dust) that no doubt comes from my being raised on a farm in south central Kansas.  But Scripture tells us that Adam actually came from the soil and, since I am (we are) Adam’s descendant(s), we all have a connection.  I was sharing my love for the soil with one of our elders, Greg Dull, and he said that he has a couple of his children that really love the soil as well.  “They love it so much, they eat it!” he joked.

All joking aside, the soil / my garden has taught me many things and I wanted to share a couple of lessons I have learned through many years of gardening.

THE SOIL

I am not sure if the county was named after a person or after the soil, but there is plenty of clay in Clay County.  Where I grew up, the soil was red and had a lot of gypsum in it.  Where my wife Pam grew up, the soil was a dark, rich brown color.  Where we had our first garden, the soil was actually a river bottom.   And even though all these soils were different, things grew in them!  One soil might be better for growing beans, and another for growing tomatoes, but it is all useful for growing.

I did not make any of the dirt; it is a creation and miracle of God.  The ground always came with where I was living.  However, if I wanted to have a garden, I had to work with whatever kind of soil I had.  The garden would not just magically appear.  I have had to constantly weed, water, plant, fertilize, etc… to get the most out of my dirt.  In a similar way, I have to work with what God has given me to make the most out of my service to Him.

THE SEED

Along with the soil, there is another creation and miracle the seed. Here is a simple lesson that has a Biblical reference—what you plant is also what you will sow!  Galatians 6:7 teaches, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”  I have never planted tomatoes and from that same plant harvested watermelons.

So, what will your “garden” look like?  Have been working alongside the Lord to take care of the soil?  Have you been planting the types of seeds that you want to see come to a harvest?  If you are not sure what I am talking about and you want to know more, I would love to talk to you about the spiritual truths gardening can teach you.  Or I can have you come on over to my garden and give you some practical instruction as I introduce you to Mr. Garden Hoe and Mrs. Shovel!

Matt Greco is a member of FCC and the headmaster at FCA.

Posted in: Christian Living, Men's Ministry

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PUSHING AGAINST A ROCK

By Matt Greco

Some years ago I heard a story about a man who prayed and prayed as he asked God to show him what He wanted the man to do.  The man was very specific in his prayer and he asked the Lord to be very specific in His answer.  The man wanted to be sure that he was doing God’s will.

Lo and behold the Lord answered the man.  The Lord told the man in answer to his prayers to go to this certain cabin on this certain mountain and out back of the cabin the man would find a very, very large rock.  God told the man to go push against that rock.

The man could barely contain himself as he thought what this might mean.  Maybe the Lord wanted him to push this rock and find a treasure under the rock.  Maybe he would push this rock over and it would roll down the mountain and cause some great and wonderful chain of events to happen.  Maybe he would push this rock and it would stop on a road and would keep a bus full of children from driving over a dangerous bridge.  Maybe this rock was meant to cut an important path down the mountain, or to scare off a dangerous bear, or…, or…, it seemed that the possibilities were endless.

The climb up the mountain was not easy, but he found the cabin and out back he saw the very, very large rock and he decided to start right away.  He walked up to the rock, set his feet, bent his knees, squared his shoulders, rolled up his sleeves and he pushed…hard!  Nothing happened!  He tried again; his feet set a little farther apart, his knees bent a little lower, his shoulders extra square and PPUUSSHH!  Nothing!  He tried different angles, different techniques, pushing long and hard, pushing in short bursts, but the rock did not move.

“I must be tired from the climb”, the man told himself.  “I will start again in the morning”.  The next morning dawned bright and beautiful and the man, with renewed vigor, set out to push this rock wherever he wanted it to go.  Only one problem; the rock would not budge.  No matter how hard or what angel he tried, the rock was immovable.  He spent hours trying to move this rock, but nothing.  After several hours he questioned the Lord, “This is what you want me to do?  This rock is not moving Lord.”  The answer was quick and clear, “Keep pushing.”

That day turned into a week, that week into weeks, and weeks turned in months.  The rock would not budge.  Daily the man would read from the Word and ask the Lord for direction.  He kept getting the same message, keep pushing!  Every day he pushed, as soon as the sun came out he was pushing.  It seemed that his whole life he had done nothing but push against this rock.

Finally, the man had had enough.  He had pushed on this rock for months with no result and he was ready to have a serious meeting with the Lord.  “Lord, I am done.  I have pushed, and pushed, and pushed against this rock, with no result and I am done, finished!  It hasn’t moved a single inch and I am done pushing!  I wonder if this is really what You wanted me to do at all!  You need to get someone else to move the rook.”

The Lord answered, “I did not ask you to move the rock, I asked you to push against it.  Look at your hands; they were soft, and not used to hard work.  They are now calloused and useful for the difficult labor I have for you. Look at your arms; they are now muscled and tan and able to perform the difficult labor I have for you.  Look at your legs, now strong and flexible; feel your back, your neck.  They are all ready for the difficult labor I have for you.  But more important than all the physical benefits, is the fact that you have been obedient.  You have learned to listen to My Word and because of that obedience, you are ready for the difficult labor I have for you.”

“Forgive me Lord”, the man said.  “You are my Lord and my God and no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.  I am Your servant and I ask that You use me as You desire.”

Whenever I think about this story, I realize that I would have probably done a whole lot more complaining and a whole lot less pushing.  Sometimes it is hard for me to not be in control or at least feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the Lord’s will.  But, He is God, He is sovereign, and He does not require my approval of either His plans or His providence.

You may have found yourself pushing against a rock lately, or maybe you have been pushing against the rock for some time.  Perhaps the Lord is preparing you for something special.  Ask Him, read His Word, and in the meantime, keep on pushing!

Matt Greco is on the missions committee at FCC and serves as the headmaster of Fatih Christian Academy.

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MEN AND THE BOYS THEY TEACH

By Matt Greco

Article from the Jully 2012 FCC Newsletter

Rodney Dangerfield is credited with saying, “Last night I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.” You can almost see him pulling at his tie and swiveling his head as he makes that remark. I have never been to a professional fight nor have I ever been to a hockey game of any type, but I get the joke. There are a lot of fights in hockey games.

Well, I went to a basketball game the other night and a “life lesson” broke out! I was not expecting a life lesson to be taught during a basketball game. What happened during the game, what I have been learning from it, and how I am going to apply it to my life is what this article will address.

My 13-year-old son, Gabe, played with the FCA Knights summer league basketball team. The summer league is more relaxed, there is only one practice and one game per week, the coaches know that players have vacations and summer jobs that sometimes conflict, etc… Still, it is a way for him to remain active and improve at a sport he likes.

The teams in this summer league are made up of players that have not graduated from High School. The game we played the other night was against a team that had mostly 11th and 12th graders and our team was mostly 8th – 10th grades. And this other team was GOOD! They had six players over 6’2” and a couple of their guys were 6’6” or 6’7”. They had a couple of guys who dunked during the game!

Our boys stayed with them the first three minutes, and then it was pretty much over. The other team led at halftime by 30 some points and in the second half, it got worse.

But our team never stopped fighting. Shakur Campbell, another 8th grader from FCA had a great game, scoring points, making steals, battling for rebounds, and blocking shots. Gabe blocked a couple of shots and scored several times. But our team got very tired as we only had 7 players and they had 11 players.

But, this article is not about trying no matter what the score or triumphing through adversity or giving 100% as long as there is still time left on the clock, etc…. This is about my righteous attitude, my judgment of another, and how we as men (and women) teach our children whether or not we believe there is lesson in progress.

With four minutes left in the game and the score 84 to 30, the other team’s coach put the starting 5 back in the game. The only plausible reason to do that was so their team could score 100 points. 54 points ahead, but that wasn’t enough for this coach!

Man did I ever get a righteous anger about me! What does this coach think he is doing? These are “Christians” playing! How DARE they run up the score!! Really? This is summer league basketball, it is the 12th graders versus the 8th and 9th graders, and do you really need to rub our boys’ faces in it? I envisioned a scene where I would accomplish my full revenge. It would be in that coach’s office as I quoted Scripture and he received my wrath face to face. A couple of verses came to mind:

  • Proverbs 8: 13 – Pride and arrogance and the way of evil (running up the score) and perverted speech I hate.
  • Proverbs 16: 18 – Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

I slept on it, and for some reason prayed about it, and the more I thought about how I was going to give this errant coach a Scriptural piece of my mind, a couple of other verses came to me:

  • Luke 6: 42 – Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.
  • Romans 14: 4 –Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

In the end, the Lord used this game to teach me about my anger and His omnipotence.

I talked to Gabe about the kicking they received and I shared with him my anger and how the Lord was dealing with me and my anger. I talked with him about how he and Shakur and the rest of the guys never stopped battling and how that was a great lesson for me. We talked about how his coach, Steve Hendrick, kept his cool and kept encouraging the boys. If Steve was angry, he never showed it. I told Gabe that Coach Hendrick taught me something that evening.

So I guess, after all, the Lord is still working on me. He is in control even if the game you are playing in (I am playing in) is really lopsided. He is in control if other “Christians” act in an unchristian like manner. I am learning that very seldom is mine a righteous anger, but I can trust in the Lord no matter what the score of the game is.

So men, be ready to teach and to learn from your children, your wife, and your fellow believers. Some of life’s best lessons are taught and learned when you least expect it.

Sincerely and in Christ,

Matt Greco

Matt is the Headmaster at FCA and serves on the missions committee at FCC.

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Taking Time to Think Through Tim Tebow

1 Timothy 4: 12 – Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

In my 40 some years as a sports fan, I have never heard, seen, or read as much, in such a short amount of time, as I have about Tim Tebow.  For those of you who may not know, Tim Tebow is a 2nd year quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) with the Denver Broncos.  I have been thinking through all that I have heard, seen, and read about this young man and I wanted to share a few insights that seem appropriate in this venue.

LOVE TO HATE HIM – It seems to me that a majority of those who have the floor, so to speak, hate Tim Tebow.  I have never heard sportscasters spew such vitriol towards such a seemingly harmless guy.  They hate it when he wins, they hate it when he loses, they hate it that he gets publicity, they hate it that he makes a difference because, “he is not that good,” and they hate it that his teammates and coaches think he is great!big-game-party-church-website-banner

And it is not only the sportscasters.  I recently read an article about Tebow that had 155 readers’ comments.  Out of those 155 comments, 10 were neutral, 20 were positive, and 125 or 80% were negative.  Many of them mocked Tebow personally and many mocked his faith.  This is only one sampling, but it seems that 8 out of 10 are not in favor of Tim.

Tebow’s response to all this; he is humble and gracious win or lose, he says he has a lot to learn about playing in the pros, and he gives the credit to the Lord, his teammates, and his coaches.  SO, what is the big deal and why should I care?  Here are three things to think about.

  1. HE IS FAVORED BY GOD – What if God really favors Tim Tebow? It wouldn’t be the first time that God favored someone. We read in Scripture how God favored Noah, Moses, Joshua, Rahab, Jacob, Joseph, Ruth, David, Solomon, Mary, the apostles, etc…  Think about the battles won against overwhelming odds, the miracles performed for individuals and nations, and the blessings beyond belief or measure.  God definitely favors those He chooses to favor.

But, does God really favor anyone today?  Yes, look in the mirror!  If you were born and live in the USA you have been favored and blessed in many ways.  If you are a believer, you are favored by God in ways that are beyond belief, amazing, and are both present and future in nature.  From what I can tell, Tim Tebow has been favored by God, and I think that really, really irritates some people.

  1. HE SEEMS TO PRACTICE WHAT HE “PREACHES” – Some years back an NFL player was given publicity about his fine moral character, his Christianity, his example to his teammates and his city. The next week he was caught soliciting a prostitute while in a different city. His team lost the next game and he faded from the limelight.  For the past several years, Tebow has acted like he is Christian, both on and off the field.  He says he never asks God to win a game, only to do his best.

He does not use God as a “good luck charm” and would discourage anyone to do so.  Over and over again his life and what he says match up.  He is humble and gracious whether he wins or loses.  And he has had his share of winning.  While in college he quarterbacked two teams that won the national championships.  He won one Heisman award and came in second twice.  This year he took a team that was 1 – 4 and won 7 of the next 11 games on route to putting Denver in the playoffs.  They won their 1st playoff game in dramatic fashion and got crushed in the 2nd game.

When asked how he felt about the crushing loss to New England, he said that he likes to win more than lose, but that he learned a lot and he looked forward to getting better.  He thanked the Lord for the abilities he had, he talked about making the playoffs when no one thought they would, he said he would be working hard during the off-season, and he mentioned how happy he was to be on the team.

NO WONDER THEY HATE HIM, CAN HE REALLY BE THIS NICE???

Then he talked about how he visited a young football player who had been paralyzed and how they shared some time together before the game.  He shared how this young man told Tim that it the best day of his life because they shared time together!  Tebow then said that it was hard to be upset when you have made somebody’s best day of their life.

  1. WHAT WE CAN DO AS FELLOW BELIEVERS – I believe the Lord has each one of His children placed where He wants them. You and I have a responsibility as believers to glorify and honor God no matter what we do. (Colossian 3: 17, 23) God has a job for each of us to do and it just so happens that some jobs are higher profile than others.  Whether a doctor, lawyer, teacher, butcher, baker, or candle stick maker we all should do EVERYTHING to God’s glory!  Tim Tebow is an example for us to follow!

But beyond our personal responsibility to glorify God in everything we do, I believe we should pray for this young man of the Lord.  He is in a very, very high profile position and he has people attacking him, tempting him, and doing all they can to discredit him and Our Lord.  We should pray for him as he strives to be an example of what it is to be a child of God.  Praying for him does not take away from anyone else who is a true believer and it doesn’t mean that you are a Denver Broncos fan.  It is something small we can do as faithful servants to help another faithful servant.

Sincerely and in Christ,

Matt Greco

Posted in: Christian Living, Men's Ministry

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Man Must Endure His Going Hence

By Matt Greco

I have had the opportunity to attend a couple of funerals these past few months and I wanted to share with everyone some of my observations and thoughts concerning funerals in general and these two funerals specifically.lewis-on-funerals

I discovered that funerals are a product of a cultural and that funerals in the USA and Argentina are different.  In Argentina, most all funerals and burials happen within 24–36 hours after a person has died.  The main reason is that embalming is not practiced in Argentina.  When a person dies, you had better be prepared to go to the service.  If you are traveling or away on business, you might not be able to make it back for the ceremony.  In the USA it really doesn’t matter when a person dies because we will keep their bodies well preserved until a time that is convenient for most all of the family.

Of the funerals I attended in Argentina, it seemed that little attention was paid to what the deceased looked like.  Very little make-up was used, everyday clothes (not the “Sunday best”) were used for the burial, and in several of the funerals I attended in Argentina I saw that blood had settled in the lower legs and feet.  In the USA much care is taken as to what the deceased looks like in their casket.  The two biggest differences were the timing of the funeral and the appearance of the deceased. 

Of the two funerals I attended, both in the USA, I also saw two cultures emerge, the non–Christian culture and the Christian culture.  Several things were similar in both services. I did not know either of the deceased, but I did know a close family member.  The order of service was about the same, there was a time of visitation, a time of viewing, a message about the deceased, and several hymns.  Some kind of food followed the burial.

During the non-Christian service, several family members had heartfelt messages for the deceased that dealt with regrets, opportunities lost, and reconciliations missed.  Another thing was is how everyone talked about this individual as such a great person.  She was a member of this, she was a volunteer of that, she gave her efforts for others, etc.  Not one word about her relationship to Jesus Christ—only the remarks about how she is in a better place.

During the Christian service, there was a difference in the prevailing attitude, there was a sense of peace.  Now, it is not known for sure if the deceased was a believer, but the person I knew, who is the son of the deceased, is a believer.  He and his family mourned the loss, but in all the conversation and during the entire visitation I never once felt there was a sense of regret or opportunities lost or hopelessness.  And even though my friend expressed some surprise that his father had passed away because of recent health improvements, there was a solid trust in God being sovereign and His will being done.

For me, no matter what the culture, both timing and appearance play a part in death.  (Matthew 24:42,44) reads, “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” and “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”  Now I know this has to do with Jesus’ 2nd coming, but no one knows the timing of their death and I think it not heresy to apply these verses to say we should be ready at any moment to meet the Lord!

And how will we appear at this meeting?  Will we appear in the robes washed in the blood of Jesus (Revelation 22: 14) or will we be wearing the best clothing that we have available; our good works, our time, effort and money spent trying to do the best we can?  Our good works are no more than make–up and dress clothes on a dead body.  Only those who have “put on Christ” (Romans 13:14) are wearing appropriate funeral garments.

Matt Greco is the headmaster of Faith Christian Academy

Posted in: Christian Living

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COULD I WRITE ABOUT IT IN A COUNTRY AND WESTERN SONG?

By Matt Greco

Most of you know who Tim McGraw is but until I returned from Argentina, I was not sure who he was.  Tim McGraw is a MEGA SUPERSTAR in the entertainment world.  He dominates the Country & Western music scene (over 40,000,000 sold), has had several crossover musical successes, has had critical acclaim in the movies (he was the dad in both Friday Night Lights and The Blind Side), and has his star on the Hollywood walk of fame.  To use a sports example, he has hit over 500 home runs in pro baseball, he is a stand out for the special teams in pro football, and he has made the team in pro basketball!mcgraw

I had a chance to meet Mr. McGraw when he was in town giving a concert.  His tour manager is the sister of my wife’s best friend (no kidding), so we got backstage passes and free barbeque! My family and I had about three minutes with the guy.  I asked him how he managed to be a performer and a family man. He told me that he and his wife (superstar Faith Hill) never tour at the same time.  He said that way he can focus on work on the road and focus on the family at home.

Then he asks me what I did and I told him I worked for a Christian school and a church. For about 30 seconds he lost the aura of Country & Western / Hollywood superstar and he asks, “Do you have any advice for dealing with a 13-year-old daughter?”  I looked at him and said, “Prayer!” He smiled and nodded and it was about then he had to leave and go do his show.

In those moments I realized that Tim McGraw and I were exactly alike.  Well, he is younger, better looking, world famous, rich, can sing, and can act, but other than that we are alike.  He worries about things that money, fame, and a great singing voice can’t solve.  Both of us are concerned about how to raise our children, how to do our jobs, and how to lead our families.  If we had had more time we might have talked about other things.

Now I may never get another chance to talk to Tim McGraw or anybody else famous, but I will interact and talk to hundreds of people every year and so will you.  You can bet that they worry about their children, their marriages, their jobs, what happens when they die, etc…!  We can help them find the answer because we have a relationship with the answer and the answer is Jesus!

JOHN14: 6JESUS IS THE WAY, AND THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.   Jesus sets the standard when He said that He is the way, the truth, and the life.  There is no problem that Jesus cannot handle.  Whatever the circumstance, large or small, Jesus is the answer.  Do you know this?  Do you understand this?  Do you live this?  Could you explain it to someone who asked you?

1 PETER 3:15 – BE PREPARE TO GIVE AN ANSWER. As believers, we have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus and through that relationship we have hope.  Peter instructs us to be prepared to give an answer to those who ask about the hope we have, but to answer in a respectful and gentle way.  Whether we are talking to the famous or the infamous, the rich or the poor or anyone in between, we can and should share the wonderful answer that Jesus Christ is for all who believe.

Matt Greco is a member of FCC and the headmaster of Faith Christian Academy.

Posted in: Christian Living, Men's Ministry

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Jesus Gave His Two Cents About Money

By Matt Greco

Proverbs 23: 29 reminds us, “Do you see a man skilled in his work?  He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”  Scripture doesn’t qualify this statement and neither should we.  If you are skilled at whatever you do, you will stand, or you will have a place to stand, before kings.  We might not have the opportunity to actually stand in the presence of an earthly king, but someday we will all stand before THE KING. Scripture teaches us that the Lord is concerned with how well we do the work that He has given us to do.Jesus Gave His Two Cents

As I watch the World Cup, I’m impressed by the excellent condition of the pitches (the grass).  Pam and I visited South Africa in 2007 and saw the preparation the country was making to host the Cup in 2010. Those preparations are now stadiums with pitches that are among the most excellent in the entire world.  The best players from each country play on these fields and are watched by all manner of men and women, kings and queens included.

The guys that are responsible for the grass, whether it is the dirt man, the fertilizer man, the grass man, the mower man, etc… they are all standing in front of kings!  I am sure as they watch these matches they feel a pride in the job that they have done.  But, I believe, they were “skilled in their work” before they were called on to have a hand in making these fields so very beautiful.

A question I asked myself and will ask you is, “How well are you doing the job that the Lord has given you to do?”  No matter if you are a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker, etc… we are to work according to Colossians 3: 17, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”   As men, we were created to honor God in our work!

Matt Greco is the Headmaster of Faith Christian Academy.

Posted in: Christian Living, Men's Ministry

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THE RIGHTEOUS TRAFFIC JUDGE

By Matt Greco

Do you ever read something in Scripture that makes you shake your head and say, “Did the Lord really mean to say that?”  I love most of God’s Word and I am trying, with His help, to love all of His Word, but sometimes I am startled by what I read.  When Jesus instructs me to “Love your enemies” and “pray for those who persecute you,” I balk and think perhaps the Lord doesn’t know my enemies and persecutors!Righteous Judge

My friend Rob and I are working through a book together and through our study I have been confronted with my lingering, sinful attitudes of JUDGEMENT!  My lovely wife gave me the moniker of “Righteous Traffic Judge” while we lived in Argentina.  I guess I had made one too many comments about how the Argentines drove and she asked, quite seriously, who made me the “Righteous Traffic Judge”? I thought that after sitting under Pastor Jack’s teaching on how to handle conflict Biblically, my righteous and biblically defendable judgment had been sanctified!  No such sanctification. Recently I read, again, these startling words of our Savior (Matthew 5):

 22“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.  23“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,  24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

SO what you are saying, Lord, that even if I know my brother has something against me, it is up to me to make the first move toward reconciliation?  I have learned that this is impossible for me to do alone.  Even with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am and can be encouraged by other Christian men who will pray with me, encourage me, and who will hold me accountable.  That is part of what we want our Men’s Ministry to be about here at Faith Community Church.

What are your struggles?  Do you struggle with anger or with contentment or with consistency in your Christian walk or in your identity in Christ?  Come join us in the Men’s Ministry here at FCC and be a part of a group of men who will pray with you and encourage you and hold you accountable.

 

Posted in: Men's Ministry

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