What Is God's Will...  

Posted by Matt

...and how do I know it's Him talking and not just me?

Man, this is what's been chewing my brain up for weeks now. I mentioned a while back that I'd listened to a podcast by Andy Stanley of North Point Church and that I'd pass on to you what I found so moving and compelling about what I found God saying to me through him.

Warning: this is a longer blog post, but I really think it's worth it.

God's drop-kicking people's brains and hearts through speakers like Andy Stanley--and I think it's great that we can pass on and share God's Word and what He's laying on our hearts to others. We talked a bit about this material this past week at the high school small group at Avalon.

So...my notes based off of "Finding God's Will: Part 1" from Andy Stanley.


As Christians, we learn the language of Christians: "Blood of Jesus," "Dedicating my life to God," "Called to ministry or missions," etc.

One thing we often hear Christians say is that we just want to know "God's will." What does that mean, what does that look like, and how do we really find out what God's will is?

"Will" is essentially God's wishes or plans. What God wants. In the Bible, you can find three basic categories of God's "will."

1. God's Providential Will: this is what God wants and will do, regardless of your faith, your prayers, or your desires. For example, God's decided that, PROVIDENTIALLY, He was going to create the Heavens and the Earth. He didn't take a vote. He didn't need us to pray for it to happen. Some things, God simply says, "Hey. I'm going to make such-and-such a thing happen.

2. God's Moral Will: this is the general behavior and mentality God wants you to have as you live your life. Again, you don't really have to pray much about what God wants you to do here. He lays it out in the Bible, for the most part, and you don't really need to pray, "God, should I cheat on my test? I just want to know your will, God. Please tell me." You already know, or can easily find out what God's will is there.

3. God's Personal Will for Your Life: THIS is the one we're interested in because it's the plan for what we think will create some sort of magical Christian lifestyle of harmony, success, holiness, and zen-like Oneness with God. Let's break this one down:

a. This will look very different from person to person.
b. God probably won't reveal to you His Personal Will for Your Life without your being acquainted with His Providential and Moral Will. Chances are, if you don't know God and His character and His ideas on how a Christian should lead his life in a general way, you're unprepared and won't understand /accept God's Personal Way--it won't make sense to you.
c. God doesn't reveal His will for your life just so you can consider it. He's not offering you an OPTION--He's offering you His WILL. If you aren't broken or lost enough to commit to action on God's Personal Will, you're not ready to receive it, likely enough.
d. God probably won't (read "HIGHLY UNLIKELY") reveal His Personal Will regarding your question through an audible voice, lightning from the sky, or some cryptic vision given to you through some rearrangement of letters on a billboard. You'd probably pay more attention to the wonder of it, than the actual message--God wants to draw you close and get you to listen to Him--that's why the Holy Spirit is often described as a "still, small voice."
e. Hey, I'm not saying God won't or can't shout, but just like your own Earthly Father, He'd much rather get through to you without having to shout.

In working out what God's Personal Will for you, you need to pray, read your Bible, and go to church...become friends with and close to other Christians. God will reveal Himself to you through those channels.

What's most important to God, however, is not that you are doing a THING or executing a PLAN, even if it's in His name. God told David that he couldn't build the temple, even though David was ready, willing, and able. God's not interested in the things you can do for Him nearly as much as the relationship He has to offer you.

Essentially, God loves it when you are lost, broken, and in need of answers, because in that time of need, you pray more, listen more, spend more time in the word than you do when you're comfortable--and THAT'S when God really gets your undivided attention.

A friend of mine put it this way, "Love God more than anything else. Make Him your first priority. If you do that, you can probably do whatever you want, because by then, God will have aligned your desires with His."

Questions and Verses for Consideration:

1. What's an example of God's Providential Will (i.e. What has He promised to do, no matter what)?

2. What's an example of God's Moral Will (i.e. What are some of God's general thoughts on how Christians should behave and act)?

3. What is an area in your life where you know you need to seek God's Personal Will for you?

4. What steps do you need to take in order to be prepared for God to show you His will for your life?

The Most Aweseomest...  

Posted by Matt


This is the kind of movie I've always wanted to make at UGHS. Freaking terrific. Inspired. I especially love the guy bleeding styrofoam peanuts. And the sniper with the white-sheet ghilley suit.

Truly face-melting.

I'm Back...  

Posted by Matt

...and there's SO much to say!

I've just been relaxing the last two days of being home. Getting over jet lag, hugging-kissing-playing with my toddler, hugging-kissing-"playing" with my wife, and chilling out with my best friends.

I'll have some pics / videos from Ireland and England up here over the weekend, so keep an eye out.

The only real work I've done has been catching up on some podcasts and blog-reading, which leads to this prayer request:

Please pray for me. In fact, not just for me, but for two of my friends, as well. We are all three suddenly searching and praying for God to give us a vision for what our vocations should look like. We want to do something that resonates with more eternal and spiritual meaning than what we're doing now. None of us feel like we are employed to use our skillsets to God's greatest efficiency.

Pray that God prepares us for the vision and plan for our professional lives to make a difference in the lives of Christians and the unchurched.


Hey...is there anything I can talk to God about for you?

I'm Off...  

Posted by Matt

...to Dublin and London for about 9 days. I'll be back on the 24th.

I'll miss you--most of all my Shannon and Maggie. Please pray for our safety (both myself and my group traveling, and my wife and baby girl) and that we'll have the most excellent time we've been hoping for!

I'll try to get plenty of video clips off my new Flip-Camera! :)

Love you all, pray and read Jesus' book. I'll drink a pint for you!

A Few...  

Posted by Matt

...pics! Here's Charles Byrd (Kuh-KAWWW!!!) giving a nifty talk to the Avalon middle school group, The Resistance. The message was on bearing "fruit." You have NO idea how hard it was for me to keep from quoting the little ditty about beans being the musical fruit...

If you look closely to the right of Charles' feet, on the floor, you'll observe the evidence of one of our doodz who blew chunks during a Coca-cola-chugging game we played.


Did anyone puke for Jesus at your church today?

Happy Male Parental Unit's Day!  

Posted by Matt

The first gift my daughter was actually able to participate in creating--love it. Looking forward to next year's, too, since I could have sworn I saw a glass-blowing crafting set brochure in her nursery (Dad's got his fingers crossed for a set of totally funky lager glasses and frosty mugs).

Happy F-Day, you guys (which is my way of universally wishing everyone a good day, depending on what the "F" means to you.)!

Finally, happy Father's Day to my own Dad, who's taught me so much by his example--generosity, hard work, and honesty. I love you, Dad.

My Favorite Things...  

Posted by Matt

...well...at least a few of them.


Posted by Matt

...this guy needs to get his slow-moving arse in gear. If you haven't checked out the Fire and Ice series, it's the fantasy series for non-fantasy readers. Very historiographical (not a word) and he isn't afraid to kill of a beloved character. Oh, and not every character has gray eyes and lacks memory of his childhood and has been watched over for as long as he can remember by his strange uncle whose name is some derivation of Zeddicus.

...If you like metal and fantasy, try Blind Guardian, a fantasy-metal band. They melt my face.

...my latest work with Adobe After Effects. Based off the intro video and tutorial from Andrew Kramer's amazing, awesome, terrific, and inspiring site.

...I'll post sometime tonight about one of the most informative, thought and heart provoking messages I've heard in a long time. I confess, I'm a newb when it comes to my exposure to Christian speakers (also known as "pastors"). Until recently, Louie Giglio was The Man. Well, I think he still is, but no wonder people also respect and go nuts over what Andy Stanley has to say. Suffice it to say, I've been praying for direction from God lately, and I think He knew EXACTLY which podcast I needed to hear.

Training Them Young...  

Posted by Matt

...the next generation of couch potatoes.


Posted by Matt

...okay, so I won't get all political with this blog.

But, as a Christian, I have to look at the world around me and try to take stock of things. To say that things are looking up or that things are going to Hell in a hand basket, I need information.

This article, if the facts are true--or even close to true, and many of them, regarding America, appear rather self-evident from my own observation of our nation--we may be on the cusp of a world-wide upheaval.

In ancient times--hell, even up to as late as WWI--world-wide upheaval didn't really affect the entire actual world, only the known, influential world that went on to write history books. For example, when the Roman Empire finally died, Japanese, south African, and South American people didn't blink or even know.

But with such a shrunken, globally connected world, with sooooo much integration, commerce, and communication, the next World War will affect directly every nation on the planet.

I think a lot of what the provided article has to show us could be amazing and exciting--revolution of the youth in Georgia and the Ukraine toward a newer, more modern democratic republic or capitalistic society would be outstanding. If the average Joe in China (what's the Chinese equivalent of "average Joe?" The average Chin? Liu?) succeeds in expecting more his government than what Communism can offer, it may very well be painful, but in the long run, I hope and believe, better.

Regardless, I lack the information and clairvoyance to understand and predict where we're headed (sheesh, I have no idea what I'll be doing for a living in a year from now...for real). What I do know is that Christians need to pray. Not for any political or national victory. Not for victory in war. Not even for Christians to have more babies so we can outbreed our "enemies."

We need to pray that in our ever-more foggy future, that Jesus' name is brought renown. God's got a plan, God's got a church, and we want to be in it. In our own community, we need to be praying that Jesus gets a voice that becomes the voice of a community--not to further a political agenda, not to keep people from getting to gamble, not to close down stores that sell dildos, not to protest liquor stores and funerals for homosexuals. Jesus needs a louder, clearer voice to broadcast God's glory, God's message.

What's the word?

Love. Repent of being not Muslim or a pervert or a Republican or a drunk or an abuser or a liar or a Jew. Repent...just realize that your not perfect, no matter what you are.

Accept Jesus' love. Doesn't make you perfect on Earth, but it makes you perfect in God's eyes.

With Jesus' love, the Bible tells us all things are possible--that includes people loving each other, which seems so difficult to get to happen these days.


Posted by Matt

...where has the time gone? It's been a full week since I last posted!

Some cool things have been going on--it's a personal pride, I guess, which can be a bit dangerous, that I've been working, useful, and busy the last week or so, despite being on summer "vacation."

So, rather than focusing on what I've been doing, I'll tell you about what I've been involved in, since there are other people doing important, useful, cool things.

--we've been building a green screen video lab at Community Bible Church. My best friend Kenny (and my two other friends, Jordan and Matt) operate the computer/technology department for the church and Community Christian School and they offered to let me come help make the green screen room, an area of video tech that I'm really interested in. They've also been letting me fool around on the video editing computer because it has Adobe CS3, which is a terribly secksy program.

--Avalon youth ministry has had a really great week. We started our small groups for the high schoolers (The Uprising), and while small at the moment, I'm praying that God gives me a vision for what He wants the Uprising small groups to look like and accomplish.

--The Uprising outreach service had a lot of visitors and long-lost members show up last night--the energy was much higher last night. We had a totally sweet movie trivia game (hosted by yours truly) and a pretty funny skit by our skit team. Kirk's talk was right-on, as they usually are. He's got a talent for telling people what the Bible says without crapping on them. I've been around so many people who can take ANY verse in the Bible and translate it into the same message over and over: "You suck, God doesn't like you, neither do I, and we won't until you look and talk like me." Not so with my friend, Kirk. The dude doesn't hesitate to challenge, but there is always the underlying concept that, regardless of where you are or have been, Jesus loves you and wants you.

--The Resistance, our middle school ministry, is chugging right along. It looks like our small groups are getting more cohesive. Oh...and by the way, ask and ye shall receive. We've been praying for more small group leaders and have had five new adult faces show up in the last month, looking to plug in. Woot! They've been so positive and enthusiastic about helping, teaching, and loving our kids.

--idea for a tee-shirt: Black 100% cotton tee; simple block type font; "God Melts My Face."

--Maggie's been learning a lot--and apparently listening very closely to what Shannon says. She wouldn't let me lie down in her bed last night to read her a story until I took my socks off. "Why, Maggie? Why do I have to take my socks off?" My sweet little monkey child looks up at me, puts her finger on her chin, smiles impishly, and says, "'Cause they're dirty."

--my fetus (currently inhabiting my wife's womb) is apparently a little larger than a lemon. When I get home from England in two weeks, we'll go get an ultrasound and find out if we're having a Wyatt (cross your fingers) or a Molly (that'd be fine with me, too).

A few blog/random links:

Los' video today. If you haven't seen the Pausch video or read the book, I suggest you do. Excellent, thought-provoking stuff. Material like this always makes me feel like I when I watch a Rocky training montage.

My current project (just for fun). No one asked me to make this and I don't expect anyone to use it, but I'm really enjoying screwing around in After Effects. SUCH a powerful artistic tool. The actual Quicktime video is 42 mb, and has crisp resolution, but uploading to youtube drops the video quality. It could use some music / sound effects...and a longer logo at the end, with a fade-out. I'll keep working on it.

Kirk's brother, Chad, has a blog and I didn't know. I'll put it up on my links list to the right. He's very talented with AF and has made some totally sick graphics for Avalon. He's a snazzy guy, too.

I'm not a fast talker--no, I know anyone who knows me IRL (in real life) is shouting, "YOU LIE, MATT FORD!" but I'm not a fast-talker. I talk fast, sure, but I often have difficulty figuring out why I think what I do and expressing it immediately in succinct, clear, and persuasive terms. Which is why I wish more managers and bosses would read and understand this post.

LoL Bruce Campbell's Tomato Soup

ZOMG MacGuyver cures deafness!

Harry Potter opens the egg...

Marathon post, I know...but I had some free time. :)


Posted by Matt

...my spiritual gifts and skillset hint to me every day that I should be doing a job like the host of this show...more sadly, I'm not sure there is a job in ministry for someone whose main gift is biting sarcasm.

I'm afraid I'm too much like this guy, having fun with this poor lady. The post below this one makes me really sad about my face. /lol

...how is anyone friends with me?

*snagged from Los.

Speaking Of...  

Posted by Matt

...the members of our body that we'd rather not hear from...

...I'm working and praying and having faith that God will grow me into a man who can help Him undo some of the damage many Christians have done to the faith over the years.

It will happen one person at a time, but if we all work together, we can make a huge difference in the lives of people around us; we can get people to see that a church like the one in Acts 2--one filled with the Holy Spirit, sharing, helping, celebrating, and being excited about Jesus and love--is worth having around; that sort of church is worth investigating and learning about.

Weird. Acts 2 says that the first Christians "enjoyed the favor of all the people." I have to LoL at that. Not an incredulous LoL--a "I have to laugh, else I might cry" sort of LoL.

Enjoy the favor of the people? Not just the "people," but..."all" the people.

Look, we modern dudes can't get all the CHRISTIANS in one freaking building in favor with each other very often--and the people of the city in general favored these dudes.

I really doubt Christians back then had websites where they whigged out about how much God hates fags (He doesn't--He loves them); I don't think they had a horrendously large, politically active association of Christians spending millions of dollars and bickering over bi-laws and internal association-presidential elections (while people starved, froze in the cold, or had no Christmas presents...yes, I know they weren't celebrating Christmas back in Peter's time...work with my hyperbole); I totally don't think the Acts 2 church sent squads of followers out to the funerals of Roman soldiers to cheer on their death, chant, mock the mourners, and hold up placards with hateful, ignorant messages.

God's got a lifetime...check that...an eternity of growing me up to do; at the moment, I really believe that following Him means I'm helpful, friendly, fair, loving, and merciful--meek, even.

Rather than talking of God's anger (yeah, He gets angry, and I don't ignore that), I'll choose to bring the good news Jesus sent me out to provide. The good news is not "God hates idolators, teachers of evolution, liberals, and perverts."

It's more like, "God loves every single person, no matter how ugly and disgusting their lives have been--He wants your affection and praise, no matter what you've done or said. You can't ever go too far. When you walk up to God to ask Him yourself if He loves you, He'll never show you the face of a judgmental, angry, estranged God."

Actually, that last sentence can be untrue quite often...sadly enough. If Christians are the face of God on the Earth, too often non-Christians come asking us (in a variety of ways) if God really does love them--and all too often they are shown a judgmental, angry, estranged face.

We've got to fix our faces, dudes. I'm starting with mine...Psalm 34:5 says that if I look at God, my face will glow...er..."look radiant." How radiant do Christians look these days? How radiant do I look?

Don't answer. I already know. /le sigh

We can do better--check that--we can let Jesus do better through us. I want His name written on my face. On yours. On theirs. If we want these faces to shine for Jesus--to shine so the world may see--we're going to have to look at Him a LOT more than we have been.

I Roll My Eyes...  

Posted by Matt

...at my fellow Christians a LOT of the time.

Seriously, if the church is the body of Christ, I think the world hears from our butthole more often than from the encouraging mouth or the helping hands.

/sad panda

*ganked from Los' Blog

I Finally Have Permission...  

Posted by Matt

...to annoy people as my duty!

No less....from a feminist!



Posted by Matt

This may be the funniest dog in the world...ever.

Prepare yourself with a fresh diaper--you will wet yourself.

Random Thoughts On the First Day of Summer...  

Posted by Matt

...well, actually, it was the first day of summer on Saturday, but I spent it teaching band leadership stuff to some kids. Very fun--makes me think of the sort of thing I want to do for a living--talking about stuff that makes a difference in people's lives--that is, serving and helping and inspiring people to be their best.

...Iron Man melted my face. Excellent graphics. ILM did a better job for John Favreaueueueueueueueueueu than they did for George Lucas--it's very difficult to tell which shots are entirely computer generated and which are composite and which are "real." Robert Downey Jr: = teh awesome. Perfect roll for him, especially considering his real life past, personality, and reputation. Even more astounding was the human performance of Gwyneth Paltrow. I'm not a fan of her at all, but I loved her in this movie. Can't wait to see the sequel with Terrance Howard in the silver "unfinished" suit.

...I love my church, the youth, and the group leaders that volunteer for the kids.

...watched Pasion of the Christ last night; first time seeing it since the theaters. Gotta say that this was a well made, terribly difficult movie to watch. It allows me to realize, viscerally and literally, that Jesus was a man of flesh and blood, with fear, pain, desolate feelings, despair, and loneliness in his final hours. The fact that He paid that and loved even those who drove the spikes home--that He raised the traitorous Peter to be the leader of His church--wow! Doesn't matter what you do or say, Jesus wants you. He's already paid for you, bought you with His blood and His very life. To think...the only thing He wanted for this price was our recognition of His love.

...going to Ireland and England soon. I can't wait. Hope my passport gets here in time. I paid extra to have it expedited, but not sure of its current status. Might have to buy someone off or kill someone off.

...please pray for my wife. She's dealing with some really ratty managers and jerks at her job. It's been God's intervention that I haven't been there for some of these interactions. Not only would I be asking God and those folks for forgiveness, I'd have to call one of you for bail money. :(

...love you, guys. Thanks for reading. Maybe I'll get some interesting stuff up here soon, rather than just a semi-daily journal.


I'm just a suburban guy. I wish I were hardcore, I wish I were tougher, I wish I listened to cooler music, I wish I weren't a lush, I wish I had big muscles, cooler hair, and some rad tattoos, I wish I were smarter, cooler, and sexier, I wish I knew how to play guitar. Instead, I'm just a band geek, power-nerd wannabe, WoW gamer, 30 year-old dad and husband. I play french horn, I read the Vampire Chronicles as well as the Chronic-WHAT?!-les of Narnia, I like movies, but not all the snobby-artsy ones I'm "supposed" to see, and a good meal to me is Miller Lite with chicken patties topped in barbecue sauce. ...oh...and I have a big mouth.


My Inter-Web Small Group

I'm totally pumped you stopped by. Please, I urge you to comment on the blog postings here. Obviously, do what you can to be polite to your fellow inter-webbers, but also feel free to be as honest as you can.

Honestly--this is a true statement--I pray for you, my friends/readers. Whether I know your name or not, whether I know you actually read today or not, I talk to Jesus for you.

Subscribe to the "Intemperate RSS" so you can find out what we're talking about here, computer or not.

I'm sharing with you stuff that God's put on my heart and stuff that I know my mom and dad are probably embarrassed to see me write (trust me, they trained me to be farrrrrr better than this!).