Confessions: Fall 2006

Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench;

so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
Ecclesiastes 10:1

I am not sure about the cultural context of flies in perfume. I would only guess that whether these dead flies were in a barrel of perfume waiting to be bottled, or already bottled themselves, you would not smell the stench at first. All you would smell would be the lovely fragrance of perfume, only to inevitably end of up smelling like ass. This verse then, is quite a fitting analogy for Vicky and I moving back to Las Vegas.

Is it honorable to want to reach a city for Christ? Is it wise to move you and your wife to that city when you want to start your family, and the grandparents would be right there? Is it honorable to take a job serving someone else’s vision while allowing God to prepare you to be a church planter? Is it wise to rent a house with a large living room to facilitate hospitality, and allow for small group meetings? Yes. This is precisely how my wife and I oriented our life when we moved back to Vegas (er, North Las Vegas). I have no doubt that this was both a wise and honorable way to orient our lives. Only there were flies at the bottom of the bottle. We’ll call these flies hubris and arrogance.

While we never would have admitted it, we thought we were God’s gift to Las Vegas. We though that God and Las Vegas were both lucky that God called us down here to clean-up the church culture and really reach the city. Most churches in Vegas were either too “seeker”, or just completely out of touch with the culture. We hardly knew of any that preached Jesus clearly and exclusively for getting right with God. Good thing we had it all figured out and had come. All we had to do was spend some time in a local body, which was lucky enough to have us mind you, and then we were ready to be the heroes of Las Vegas.

Mind you, that these thoughts were at the bottom of the bottle, and if we saw them, or were even aware of them, they would have been dealt with and removed. Only, like most of our sin, they were flies at the bottom of the perfume bottle. And while I smelled like a good pastor to the church I was going to at first, it would not be long until I smelled a bit funny, and not much longer until I didn’t smell good at all.

This, however, is all retrospection. In September 2006 we were struggling to keep our financial support, and both find jobs. Myself and part-time, and Vicky a full-time. Only Vicky was so burned out by our previous ministry endeavor that she needed about 2 months to recoup. Vicky became increasingly isolated, becuase, try as she may she could not connect well with the women at the new church, and even though she was in the same city as her family but at least an hour drive away. Plus, she was a type A personally that needed to rest. That’s never a good combination. At this time I was struggling to understand the philosophy of the church we were at. And with neither of us able to connect well outside of our home, we became isolated to ourselves, our thoughts of what church should look like, and an ever increases “us. v. them mentality”.

Did anything good happen in this season? Well, UNLV beat Reno in Basketball.

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8 Responses

  1. This post is touching and brutally honest. Hopefully, cathartic.

    You may have done so with someone else, but in the future, let some of us help you look for those flies, OK?

  2. ditto what Adam said. Thanks for the honesty here, a sign that God is maturing you beyond most guys I know that are our age.

  3. Matt,

    This is a great self-examination of what you went through, the honesty reminds me of “Confessions” by Augustine. I pray that as you continue to self-reflect, pray, read Scripture and seek God in this that He will make His path for your life even more clear.

  4. Wow. Sounds like something that a guy who’s about to get married in two weeks, and then move to Vegas shortly after that to be a part of “transforming the city”, should read….wait a minute…sounds like ME. Man i will cherish and re-read these blog posts for months to come, as they speak of the time i will soon be entering. Thank you for bearing your soul as a testimony to others…to me. I look forward to being alongside you as we both begin a new journey.

  5. Matt, I thank you for your honesty and self reflection, it will definitely help you and those around you to grow closer to God. I sympathize with having left a ministry that did not fit well, and the PAIN and anger that left. And we do miss the concept of what doxa was dreaming of becoming. I am not sure where God is taking us but I am thankful for him opening the opportunity for us to serve in some leadership role again. The day that you feel an irresistible calling is going to come again, just take some time to let the healing / humbleness do its work. Keep us updated.

  6. hey Tom what in the world happened to your blog? I have clicked on it a few times recently and it is nothing but Viagra ads!

  7. yeah I ended it awhile ago and I canceled my account, it’s weird that it’s still up with my name and the blog titles and now viagra ads. I’m going to look into it to see if I can get it completely removed.

    I do blog occasionally on myspace and facebook and may start up another blog, but just don’t feel like blogging these days.

  8. you respond to a calling…have a passion bubble up in your spirit…and then fight for the vision
    so cool to hear your vulnerability in sharing how calling, passion, and vision can be tainted by pride. It is a persistent and subtle drift toward an arrogance that deceives us into thinking we are the ones making anything happen. That ‘I’ have such intelligence, creativity, and perspective that no one else has. I believe wholeheartedly that your antidote of humility is the spring that we drink from or the ocean we could drown in.

    God has a way of leading us to that spring and if we refuse to drink, he will dump us in the ocean until we get the point. The fresh spring of humility tastes a lot better than the salt water of brutal reality. But we all need a good dose of reality at times.

    By the way, isn’t ‘retrospection’, if honest, the key to learning and growing?

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