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Raising The Banner

Raising The Banner

In the past few months of wrestling with the specific callings that God has given me, I came to realize that I was approaching my writing the wrong way. After some prayer and introspection, I came to the conclusion that I had to change some things if I was to get off the ground. Most obviously, I changed the name. But there is a new spirit and purpose here, too.

The name “Raising The Banner” comes directly from an Audio Adrenaline song, which in turn comes from a story in 2 Chronicles 20. The story isn’t just about God’s providence. It’s also about the abundance of faith that the people expressed in response to His promises. I love the response of God’s people in this story, and I want this place to embody the same spirit.

When Judah raised the banner

In 2 Chronicles 20:17, the nation of Judah (the southern half of Israel) was under attack from foreign invaders. The nation turned to God for guidance and cried out for deliverance. God gave the people of Judah the following command in reply to their petitions:

“You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.”

Upon close inspection, there’s a bit of ambiguity in there. “You will not have to fight this battle” and “Go out and face them” seem like contradictory statements to me. Sometimes, I spend so much time trying to understand the specifics of God’s promises that I forget to live according to the parts I do understand. Fortunately, the nation of Judah didn’t have the same problem on this occasion. They saw the prophecy not as a problem to be rectified, but as a challenge to be met. If God was going to fight for them, then why bother bringing their swords and shields into battle?

The army set out to face their enemies, armed with trumpets and banners, and praising the name of their God at the top of their voices. Long story short, the invading armies (who had previously split up) heard the commotion and assumed they were late to the battle. The armies met and bulldozed each other in a panic. By the time Judah arrived, there was nothing left but the plunder.

My call and God’s glory

Last year, I received a unique call to start a blog. I named it EverythingStoering, and I assumed that I would be teaching the world about Christ (out of my vast wisdom, of course…). After a year of struggling off and on, I realized I had missed the point entirely. No one has ever become great in the Kingdom of God by trying to be important here on Earth. I’m not a teacher, scholar, or theologian. If I’m going to follow this call God has given me, I should start by following the example of Judah in this story.

My goal here is not primarily to teach. It seems foolish of me to think that my words can have any real strength of their own. They are only powerful insofar as they are steeped in the person and power of Jesus Christ. I’ll be spending a lot of time (at least at first) preaching to my own heart and reminding my spirit of the joy set before me. It might look a little like the reflective writing in the Psalms. When it comes down to it, I just want to lift the beauty of the Gospel up for the world to see.

The greatest story ever told

This Gospel of Jesus Christ in itself is beautiful, multifaceted, and infinite. It’s the easiest thing to write about because it presents itself uniquely to every single person alive. I’m convinced that every man, woman, and child could spend every minute of their lives talking about what Christ has done without ceasing to find new things to say. John said as much in his gospel:

“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21:25)

This can’t of course mean that Jesus did an inordinate number of things in His three year ministry. A careful observer could have made a timeline. Rather, I think it means that any book which is focused on the Gospel of Jesus Christ will be infinitesimal compared to the whole of the Gospel, and therefore will be infinitely unique. I’ve read an entire book on the interpretation of a single parable before (and more than once, too)!

C.S. Lewis once tried to boil all of Christianity down into a single book titled Mere Christianity. But Paul, the great evangelist and writer of half the New Testament was able to reduce it further: “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2). When you boil it all down, you always get the same thing. Christ Crucified, the core message of our faith, must be at the core of any endeavor I chose to take on if I hope to succeed in anything I do here.

In Conclusion

So I’m starting a new blog, with a better name and a fresh focus. I have no idea where this is going. I don’t know how good my writing abilities are. Frankly, it doesn’t matter much. I believe that God has called me, and I know that I am writing about the only subject that matters (and will continue to matter) for all of eternity. I’m simply going to raise the banner and pray that God wins the battles.

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Missions Update: We are launching in one week!

Missions Update: We are launching in one week!

Hello, friends!

I am excited to announce that I am officially launching my Worldview website one week from today. If you haven’t heard about this before, here is a quick rundown of what I am trying to accomplish.

Update on the past four months:

In late December 2016, I was praying over the new year. Now that I am out of college, I am regularly encountering people and situations that break my heart. I am still struggling to relate to non-believers at work and around the city, but I want God to use me to further His kingdom in the Twin Cites and in America as a whole. In the first week of 2017, I felt God calling me to build a website. I had no idea what I would talk about, but I thought I would give it a shot. After a few weeks, I had a coherent vision. I am beginning to understand the power and truth of the Gospel as well as the deceptive philosophies of this world. What’s even more exciting: I think that I know how how God is calling me to bring the Gospel to lost millennials.

My mission:

The primary defense that the Western World has against the Gospel is the idea that all beliefs are personal. It is considered rude to discuss religion in public. This makes it very difficult to share what we know in a way that leads others to Christ. I will make every effort to make Christ known in my personal relationships, but I want His name to be great to more people than the handful of souls I will personally touch in my lifetime. This is why I am starting an online ministry. I am embracing the assumptions of postmodernism in order to win the hearts of postmodernists for Christ. It’s not a novel idea, I am just following the example that Paul set in 1 Corinthians.

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)

What is postmodernism and why am I happy about it?

I personally think that we are living in a very exciting time in the history of our nation and the world. For the past 150+ years, naturalism and “science” have been the primary adversaries of the Gospel. Americans couldn’t believe in miracles or a God that created the world in 7 days because science seemed to say otherwise. In the past 20 or so years, Atheism has been losing its grip on the West. Advances in subatomic theory and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle have begun to open the door once again to the supernatural. If we don’t know how electrons (one of the most fundamental building blocks of matter) work, then maybe science alone is not enough to explain our world to us.

Not only is the notion of the spiritual beginning to return to the postmodern generation, but the appeal of religion is returning again. Of course, I do not mean organized religion. There is a strong distrust of all institutions. Yet, we are searching. Every child today is told that he is nothing more than a complex machine. We know better in our hearts. We long for the voice of God to whisper over us: It is very good. That is why we stopped searching for mere truth. If the truth tells me that I am worthless, then I might as well believe a lie. We are searching far and wide for someone to affirm us. The Gospel can meet this need like no religion can.

The heart of my ministry

At its core, the Gospel is not about Heaven. It’s not about being a good person. It’s not about going to church or tithing or charity. It is about Jesus! God loved us so much that He died for us! There is power in this story. The Gospel does not need to be sugar-coated, it is sweeter than any story we can try to tell. I don’t want to re-spin or rephrase it, I just want to share it with those who need it most.

The things I am writing are addressed to the heart, not the mind. I will share a philosophical proof for the Gospel here, but I only expect it to matter to those who want it to be true. This is where God is leading me. I am stepping into the land of relative truth in order to share the love of Christ with those I find there. I want to build a stage and gather an audience so that God can speak. My prayer is that many who read this will realize that they want the Gospel to be true. Once hope has taken root, then truth can begin to tell its story.

I say all of this because my website does not look explicitly Christian. When Christ rose from the dead, He appeared to two disciples as an ignorant outsider. I love the part of the story when He breaks bread and the disciples realize what just happened. “Did not our hearts burn within us?” I am going behind enemy lines, so to speak. I am letting religions speak for themselves because I know just how different Christianity is. If an agnostic person reads through every post I write on the Tales of the Poet, then they will know that God loves them. They will know that Jesus died for them. They will know that good will win, death will die, and evil will be punished. Moreover, they will know that there is no hope in naturalism and no security in religion. Those truths are powerful enough to make a difference without the help of my commentary.

Please help me with this ministry

Ever since 11th grade, I felt called to missions in America. I know that there is a lot more ahead of me, but I am being faithful to this small call now. If it makes no difference in the long run, I will thank God for the experience anyways. However, I do want this to make a difference if it can. There are a few things I need from each one of you.

  1. Please pray for me and this effort. I can work my life away on ministry assignments, but only God can make it fruitful. I need your prayers more than anything else.
  2. Please be prepared to share and promote this. On Easter Sunday, I will officially launch the ministry. I know that the website is still in its infancy, but I want to start strong. I plan on adding a post to either Tales of the Poet or Tales of the Sage every week or two from here on out.
  3. Please take a look at what I have so far and provide feedback. If you are willing to keep up with me during this endeavor, please hit the subscribe button in the footer. I don’t have it set up quite yet, but I will at least get your e-mail so I can manually put it in the system when I get that working in the next week.

Please follow the link below to the main page. There isn’t too much material yet. Thank you for your support. May all of the glory and honor and power be to Christ alone.

 

~Matthew

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Why a website: From entitlement to empowerment

Why a website: From entitlement to empowerment

Many of us have been told that we’re special so often that we forget what it truly means. It doesn’t mean entitlement, the belief that we deserve more from the world. It means empowerment, the belief that we have more to give to the world.

Why a website: From entitlement to empowerment

Many would say that the defining characteristic of a Millennial is entitlement. When I searched Google for “millennial birth years” to check if I technically qualify or not, the first line of the first search result read “We can all agree that Millennials are the worst. But what is a Millennial?” I was honestly a little taken aback. Growing up, I remember my class was always told that we “not going to make it once we got to the ‘real world,’” the real world being defined as middle school, then high school, then college, then the workplace. I never understood how I managed to be a part of the worst class ever no matter how many times I moved. Now, I know I was not in a classroom of disrespectful kids, I was in a generation of one. It was a rough ride, and I never liked school much until college, but I made it through thanks to my faith, family, and friends. Now that I am living a full life of meaning and purpose, I want to turn back and light the path for others.

There are a great many blogs, websites, collections, books, and essays in the world. Why then, you might ask, would I decide to start writing down my thoughts on anything? There are a great many published works out there, and a great many more still unpublished. One could spend a lifetime reading and never come close to hearing it all. One voice seems so small when put against this backdrop.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been called “a special snowflake” more than once in your life. We all know what is really being said. You are special and unique in the way everyone else is special and unique. In the words of Syndrome from the Incredibles, “When everyone’s super, no one is.” This seems to be the mantra of my generation.

Amidst the despair, there is one truth that I am finding more and more. Life is a series of investments. If you want to retire, you put money in an account. If you want a good job, you spend time getting an education. The list goes on and on. With so many investing so much into their own gain, I can see another void needing to be filled. Like the voice crying out in the wilderness, I hear, even today, the gentle whisper of my God calling “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” I doubt whether I will ever make it to the top of the body-pile to become the #1 richest man in the world, no matter how hard I try. There are just too many investing in the same goal for me to reach the top. But I don’t have to reach the top of that list to be successful.

I recently stumbled across http://www.globalrichlist.com, a website that ranks individuals based on their salary. We hear the phrase “one percent” tossed around here and there, but I never really thought much about it before. When I entered my salary in there, I found that I was not only in the 1%, but I was nearing the 0.1%! In laymen’s terms, it means for every person like me, there are 700 people who have less, some much less. Take a look and see where you lie. Odds are, if you are reading this on an electronic device, you are in the 1% too.

In all of this, I found a delicate truth. I am special, not in the “special snowflake manner,” but in a real, tangible, and meaningful way. I am already richer than most of the world will ever be. I have a great education, and despite the generation I come from, I have a desire to invest in the kingdom of Heaven instead of the kingdom of men. Many of us have been told that we’re special so often that we forget what it truly means. It doesn’t mean entitlement, the belief that we deserve more from the world. It means empowerment, the belief that we have more to give to the world.

All of this brings me back to the original question: Why would I start a website when there are thousands of voices out there already? As I said, I believe that I am empowered. I am sitting on the top of the investment of a great many men and women, and I now have the opportunity to pay it forward. I have already found purpose in two ministries, two Bible studies, and a handful of charities. But it is not enough. I want to give more.

There is a danger in every part of this world. If you seek fulfillment, you may come up dry. If you seek love, you may find loss. If you wade into a river, you may drown. If you seek a life of meaning and purpose, beware. One day, God may find you comfortable in the life He gave you and ask for more. In part, I am writing this because I can’t do otherwise. I don’t know where it will take me, but I can’t help but live a grander, more generous, and more empowered life. I don’t know where I will end up, but it’s no matter. No great victory comes without significant investment. This website is a stepping stone for me. It is a source of wonder as well as accountability.

What you can expect from me:

I have recently finished reading Love Does by Bob Goff and Miracles by C.S. Lewis, two wildly different books about one grand subject: a life devoted to Jesus Christ. I hope to distill some of that here, as well as other works.

I plan to begin with a dissection of my own worldview. I expect to learn a lot in the process, and I hope that I can teach a little too.

If I can present the wisdom of some of the great men I have read in a way which can inspire and propel even one of my peers, then this little experiment of mine will be a success. Thank you for reading. I pray that grace and truth will light your path in your own quest for meaning and fulfillment.