Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Final Post of 2011- Review and Preview

I want to thank everyone who has read and responded to my blog. This is the last post of 2011 and I am looking forward to a productive 2012. By the way- don't buy into the Mayan calendar, when Jesus says 'no one knows' it includes the Mayans.

Could the world end in 2012?... yes... We need to prepare for it today, but there is nothing especially cataclysmic about 2012- but as I always say- the signs are clearly in place, there is NO EXCUSE to not be ready for the King's return. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

Re-cap of 2011 on Jayopsis "Jay's View":

As of today- I have had 12,549 page views which I think dates back to mid 2009.

I had 1,417 visits in December.

The most viewed blog of 2011 was "Either Way You're in a Fight" on 4/24/11- 672 views!

The series on Proverbs was the most read series with over 1200 visits in April 2010.

The most commented and linked posts were about my diet (Jan 2011)- my rough count was that it was re-posted or linked to 20 different sites on the WWW.

My most controversial blog was the one about Osama Bin Laden on 5/6/11- one of the problems is that in my first draft I mis-spelled OSAMA by typing it as OBAMA and I got lit up over the title.

As far as e-mails- I still get a lot of theological critiques: some say I am too reformed, some say I am not reformed enough. Some want to debate Calvinism. I usually don't get into theological debates on the internet- it is too hard a forum to get in long debates.

My audience*.......

United States
United Kingdom
 *according to google

Those of you who comment or e-mail me- THANK YOU- it makes me feel good that I can encourage anyone in their walk with Christ!

What I will be doing in 2012? I am going to be spending Bible Study time in all the chapter 12's in the Bible. I don't know how many will result in blog posts, but I plan to read, study, and meditate on the passages below:

Genesis 12- The Call of Abram- 20 vs
Exodus 12- The Passover-51 vs
Lev 12- Purification rites after childbirth- 8 vs
Numbers 12: Mirium and Aaaron oppose Moses-16 vs
Deut 12- worship and idolatry- 32 vs
Joshua 12- list of Kings Defeated- 24 vs
Judges 12 -Jephthah's Conflict with Ephraim
I Samuel 12- Samuel's Farewell Address
2 Samuel 12- Nathan confronts David31 vs
I Kings 12: Rehoboam's Folly-Divided Kingdom 33 vs
II Kings 12: Jehoash repairs temple 21 verses
I Chron 12: Mighty Men vs 40
II Chron 12: Egypt Plunder Jersusalem 16 vs
Nehemiah 12:Dedication of Wall 47 verses
Job 12: Sovereign God 25 vs
Ps 12: The Godly are Gone- 8 vs
Proverbs 12:Lists 28
Eccle 12: Ending remember God- 14 vs
Is 12: The Lord is My Song 6 vs
Jer 12:Jere Complains- God Answers 17 vs
Ez 12: Judah's captivity 28 vs
Dan 12: The End 13 vs
Hoseas 12:The Lord Indicts both Kingdoms 14 vs
Zechariah 12:The Lord will give salvation and the one pierced 14 vs

Matt 12: Lord of Sabbath-50 vs
Mark 12- Parable of Tenants- Down to Tithing- vs 44
Luke 12- Be Ready vs 59
John 12- Triumphal Entry- 50 vs
Acts 12- James Killed Peter Imprisoned vs 25
Romans 12: Living Sacrifice- 21 vs
I Corinthians 12- Spiritual Gifts
II Corinthians 12: Paul's Thorn 21 vs
Hebrews 12- Do Not Grow Weary-29 vs
Rev 12- Woman and Dragon- 17 verses

As always my goal is to present the truth of the gospel and a transparent walk with Jesus Christ. I am NOTHING special..just a sinner saved by grace- my heart breaks for those who have never yielded to this free gift by simple trust- stop trying to earn your way to heaven, trust today in what Jesus has done- experience HIS love today!

 I have been faithfully writing this blog since late 2004 and I see no reason to stop now....

Grace and Peace in 2012!

Jay Mathews

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Peter's Powerful Testimony - Final

I Peter 5 So I exhort the elders among you, mas a fellow elder and na witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: oshepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,1 pnot under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;2 qnot for shameful gain, but eagerly; not rdomineering over those in your charge, but sbeing examples to the flock. And when tthe chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the uunfading vcrown of glory.Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. wClothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, forx“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
xHumble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, ycasting all your anxieties on him, because zhe cares for you. aBe sober-minded; bbe watchful. Your cadversary the devil dprowls around elike a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. fResist him, gfirm in your faith, knowing that hthe same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And iafter you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, jwho has called you to his keternal glory in Christ, will himself lrestore, mconfirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 nTo him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

12 By oSilvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, pI have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is qthe true grace of God. rStand firm in it. 13 She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does sMark, my son.14 tGreet one another with the kiss of love.
uPeace to all of you who are in Christ.

 I have really enjoyed this walk through I Peter. I found myself mulling over the book throughout the day and as I pondered the words on my pillow at night. It is a great balance between exhortation and encouragement.

Pretty neat that he closes with the imagery of a shepherd. Again, Jesus restored Peter with that idea of 'feed my sheep".

My take on this is that Peter is anticipating the end of his ministry- not just the end of a letter. We get a fuller sense of this at the intro of II Peter:

2 Peter 1:12 Therefore I intend talways to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in uthe truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this vbody,8 wto stir you up by way of reminder, 14 xsince I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, yas our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
So, as a faithful disciple, he has been a disciple maker and exhorts those who will be leading after he has departed. This is the most crucial aspect for the future of the church- not what are we leaving behind... but WHO?

Billy Graham......

John Frame....

John Mc Arthur.....

R.C. Sproul.....

Ravi Zacharius.....

Who is going to fill their shoes?

Now, let me point out the wisest advice that I have found in the whole letter....


See, this piece is directed toward spiritual leaders- and most leaders are always looking to lead bigger and better. This urge to move forward can create a general discontentment. Musicians want to be discovered, young pastors want to land the big congregation, assistant coaches want that head coaching position- but I love what Peter says- learn how to oversee the group you have been honored to lead. Don't look ahead- be found faithful where you are.

To me it starts in my home- I need to be found as a good shepherd to my little flock of Mathews.
How am I to do it? Accept the rule of oversight- diligently be involved in their lives. I don't need to be KING of my castle, I need to set an example in service and humility. I need to trust God and allow him to develop in me a godly contentment.

Next, I have a group of students- same deal.

When I originally left Briarwood in 2003, I had become very discontented and overly ambitious. I wanted to lead my own program and was just cocky enough to push hard to find that opportunity.

Four times previously, I had finished as a runner-up for a head coaching position and each time grew more frustrated. The offer to move from Nashville actually came from them. I twice said NO and then went to interview. And we went for it.

Looking back, it was God's will for me to go. But it seems like (as far as how it applies to me), it was God using circumstances similar to Jacob working for Leah (7 years) when he thought he was getting Rachel.

When it looked like it was God's plan for me to return to Briarwood, you can imagine how it hit me. At first I thought - I'm like a whipped puppy- coming home with his tail tucked between his legs. I imagined the reception being something like- Couldn't cut it huh? Was I a complete failure?

And, here was the most interesting part- not only was I no longer a head coach, I wasn't even going to be the coordinator. I was going to just be a position coach.

But the Holy Spirit did something rather remarkable- He granted me a sincere 'God sent' contentment. And the day before I accepted the job, I felt my spirit and God's spirit come to a point of unity- Lord, I know You are in control- I willingly lay all of this down at the foot of the cross- and won't worry about 'being in charge' or 'calling the shots'- I'm going to love the players I have and 'shepherd my flock' with passion and energy.

The result? This year was the greatest professional; year of my life! The people at Briarwood only expressed love and excitement at my return. They made me feel special again after my last few years where my leadership beat me up pretty good.

My wide receivers were amazing to work with- we texted- went out to eat- laughed- worked hard- improved- it was incredible!

I never felt frustrated- I was part of a great team of men- who didn't care who got the credit and we respected one another and shared the workload.

I have now for a long time  misunderstood the verse, humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you- this doesn't necessarily mean he takes a pauper and makes a king- it most likely means He sustains you in the task He has called you and will reward you at the day of glorification.

So as a spiritual leader (in my home, as a coach, as a dean of discipline, as a small group leader, as a Sunday school teacher)- what does this passage say to me?

  1. Lead by example- not in a domineering way
  2. Be diligent to initiate oversight- active, sober-minded-... not passive
  3. Respect all lines of authority with great, godly contentment
  4. Use all the means of grace to combat pride
  5. Pray at all times and trust in God's goodness
  6. Understand the nature of the battle- this is no day on the beach
  7. If circumstances call for suffering- then bear it in all endurance
And what does Christ promise here?

He will RESTORE me
He will CONFIRM me
He will ESTABLISH me

Peter's powerful testimony was proof of the truth of all these things.

In a much smaller way- this blogger can give the same testimony.

Like Peter , I can proclaim... "I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. (Let us ALL) Stand firm in it"

When the Good Shepherd appears, I hope He finds me faithful- no matter the task......

Have a blessed rest of 2011- 2012 should be a wild ride!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Peter's Powerful Testimony Pt. 9

Another Great 'Oun"

οὖν,c  \{oon}
1) then, therefore, accordingly, consequently, these things being so

I Peter 4 Since therefore zChrist suffered in the flesh,1 aarm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for bwhoever has suffered in the flesh chas ceased from sin, dso as to live for ethe rest of the time in the flesh fno longer for human passions but gfor the will of God. For the time that is past hsuffices ifor doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of jdebauchery, and kthey malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready lto judge the living and the dead. For this is why mthe gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.
nThe end of all things is at hand; therefore obe self-controlled and sober-minded pfor the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since qlove covers a multitude of sins. rShow hospitality to one another without grumbling.10 sAs each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, tas good stewards of God's varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks uoracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves vby the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything wGod may be glorified through Jesus Christ. xTo him belong glory and ydominion forever and ever. Amen.
Anytime you see the word 'therefore' in the New Testament, it should really perk up your attention. The greek word is 'Oun' is just full of meaning. The flow of most NT letters is doctrine that results in powerful transformation and action.

Because this and this and this is true...THEREFORE... do-be-act like this.

If you just packaged all the 'Therefore' verses in the NT- you would have some powerful statements.
And most of these are admonitions toward Holy living.

These words are like computer ICONS on a screen- you double click on the word and it opens many ideas and 'folders' of information.

For several verses, Peter has been highlighting the suffering Christ.

He saw it.

If you want to see just a shadow of what he saw- take your Bible and read Isaiah 53. Watch 'The Passion of the Christ'- read the gospel accounts.

But don't miss the idea here- Christ suffered for us, but we don't suffer for HIM! Any inclination to live a godly life does require some restraint and discipline- and this is quite opposite of where we live.

I am a creature of comfort and leisure. If I am tired... I sleep. If I am hungry... I eat. If I want something... I am accustomed to getting it. And if I don't get what I want... I get grumpy.

But walking with Christ is OFTEN counter to our natural desires. Peter says...Because Christ suffered, we need to 'suffer' as well- fighting against sensuality, drunkenness, sexual immorality, and no boundaries idolatry (which I take as consumerism, get what you want and never say NO).


Of course. Some early church fathers practiced 'mortification' - a strict asceticism where they would put the body in extreme conditions to 'prove' devotion and a passion for holiness. They would whip themselves to the point of bloodshed- pierce themselves, extreme fasting, all kind of vows. But the monastic movement did prove one thing... sin still resides in the ones that want to do good.

John Calvin commented on this practice of mortification:

There are some good and holy men who when they saw constant overindulgence wanted to curb and correct it, but thought there was no other way than to allow men only the bare necessities. This is godly advice but unnecessarily severe, because it binds our consciences in closer fetters than they are bound by God’s Word. Necessity, according to them, meant abstinence from anything desirable, so that bread and water was the rule.

The NT seems to indicate a balance- yes, we are to be disciplined and 'put to death' the deeds of the old man- but the key is 're-dedication' more than 'mortification'.

I wrote about this in a commentary on Romans 6 in May, 2009 (click here to review)

but the idea is found specifically in Romans 6:20-23

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 12:3-4 supports this idea:

dConsider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or efainthearted.In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.


Look again at what Peter is saying:

We should be willing to think (arm ourselves)  about pursuing holiness- Christ suffered... and we can suffer:

1) By discipling our lives to live more holy
2) Which will bring mockery and ridicule and pressure to give in
3) But self control and 'living on purpose' produces great fruit and glory to God


Some disciplined people get real cold. Sometimes it is a hidden pride where we look down on people who don't get it or don't seem to be able to do what we do.

Peter says the opposite- let your increased success produce love and hospitality. Be positive and hopeful- don't be 'MR Perfection who stays grouchy at all of the imperfection around him'.

Humility and love still trump morality. When Peter says 'love covers a multitude of sin' it is almost like he says- Go read Paul's letter to Corinthians Ch 13- a tender heart of love can do more than good than 10,000 days of disciplined living.

And the final beautiful image: A GOOD STEWARD OF GOD'S VARIED GRACE.

As I have received God's grace, I continue to realize that any good I do is from Him. Even if I did become very moral, I'm still a desperate sinner at the cross. I see Christ's love and suffering and realize that I am nothing compared to Him. So I am free to love and serve and free to pursue a more Holy lifestyle in response to all He has done for me.

So read it again:

Therefore...... are you willing to push a little harder, dig a little deeper, practice more self control, resist a little more as a result of the gospel?

And can you do that while maintaining a beautiful spirit of love and grace?
It allows me to make great decisions- moment by moment- and fast and feast with prudence.

Let's keep inspiring one another to do it better even today!