Sunday, January 31, 2010

Matt Chandler - Enduring faith

Enduring faith
The Associated Press

DALLAS -- Matt Chandler doesn't feel anything when the radiation penetrates his brain. It could start to burn later in treatment. But it hasn't been bad, this time lying on the slab. Not yet, anyway.

Chandler's lanky 6-foot-5-inch frame rests on a table at Baylor University Medical Center. He wears the same kind of jeans he wears preaching to 6,000 people at The Village Church in suburban Flower Mound, where the 35-year-old pastor is a rising star of evangelical Christianity.

Another cancer patient Chandler has gotten to know spends his time in radiation imagining that he's playing a round of golf at his favorite course. Chandler on this first Monday in January is reflecting on Colossians 1:15-23, about the pre-eminence of Christ and making peace through the blood of his cross.

Chandler's hands are crossed over his chest. He wears a mask with white webbing that keeps his head still when metal fingers slide into place on the radiation machine, delivering the highest possible dose to what is considered to be fatal and incurable brain cancer.

This is Matt Chandler's new normal. Each weekday, he spends two hours in the car -- driven from his suburban home to downtown Dallas -- for eight minutes of radiation and Scripture.

At the hospital, Chandler sees other patients in gowns who get chemotherapy through catheters in their chests and is thankful he gets his in pills before going to sleep at home next to his wife.

Chandler is trying to suffer well. He would never ask for such a trial, but in some ways he welcomes this cancer. He says he feels grateful that God has counted him worthy to endure it. He has always preached that God will bring both joy and suffering but is only recently learning to experience the latter.

Since all this began on Thanksgiving morning, Chandler says he has asked "why me?" just once, in a moment of weakness.

He is praying that God will heal him. He wants to grow old, to walk his two daughters down the aisle and see his son become a better athlete than he ever was.

Whatever happens, he says, is God's will, and God has his reasons. For Chandler, that does not mean waiting for his fate. It means fighting for his life.

The beginning
Thanksgiving morning, a normal morning at the Chandler home.

The coffee brews itself. Matt wakes up, pours himself a cup, black and strong like always, and sits on the couch. He feeds 6-month-old Norah from a bottle. Burps her. Puts her in her bouncy seat.

The next thing Chandler knows, he is lying in a hospital bed.

What Chandler does not remember is that he suffered a seizure and collapsed in front of the fireplace, rattling the pokers. He does not remember biting through his tongue.

He does not remember his wife, Lauren, shielding the kids as he shook on the floor. Or, later, ripping the IV out of his arm and punching a medic in the face.

During the ambulance ride, Lauren, 29, looks back from the passenger seat at her husband in restraints.

He is looking at her but through her.

She texts the women in her Bible study and asks them to pray.

At the hospital, Matt comes to.

"Honey, what happened?"

"You had a seizure."

He realizes that their two older children -- Audrey, 7, and Reid, 4 -- had seen it.

"Are the kids OK?"

Tears well up in his eyes.

"They're fine. They're fine."

He dozes off, wakes up and asks about the kids again. The same exchange repeats itself five times, always ending the same way, with Matt tearing up.

In short order, Chandler is wheeled back for a CT scan, followed by an MRI.

Not long afterward, the ER doctor walks in and sits next to him.

"You have a small mass on your frontal lobe. You need to see a specialist."

It was Thanksgiving. Chandler had not seen his kids for hours. He had collapsed in front of them. For whatever reason, those grim words from a doctor he'd never met did not cause his heart to drop. What Chandler thought was, "OK, we'll deal with that." Getting the news meant he could go home.

The man
Chandler can be sober and silly, charming and tough. He'll call men "bro" and women "mama." He drives a 2001 Chevy Impala with 144,000 miles and a broken radio. He calls it the "Gimpala"

One of Chandler's sayings is, "It's OK to not be OK -- just don't stay there." In other words, your doubts and questions are welcome at The Village Church, but eventually you need to pull it together.

He's also been known to begin sermons with the warning, "I'm going to yell at you from the Bible."

Chandler's long, meaty messages untangle large chunks of Scripture, a stark contrast to the "Eight Ways to Overcome Fear" sermons common to evangelical megachurches that took off in the 1980s. His approach appeals, he believes, to a generation looking for transcendence and power.

His theology teaches that all men are wicked, that human beings have offended a loving and sovereign God, and that God saves through Jesus' death, burial and resurrection -- not because people do good deeds. In short, Chandler is a Calvinist, holding to a belief system growing more popular with young evangelicals.

"Matt goes right at Bible Belt Christianity and exposes the problems with it," says Collin Hansen, author of "Young, Restless, Reformed: A Journalist's Journey with the New Calvinists." "He says, 'Enough of this playing around and trying to be relevant and using cultural touch points. Let's talk God's words.'"

Chandler's background does not suggest someone suited to the role. He grew up a military kid, drifting from Olympia, Wash., to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Alameda, Calif., and Galveston, Texas.

Chandler was taught that Christianity meant not listening to secular music or seeing R-rated movies. He developed what he calls a small and "man-centered" view of God -- that God will bless people who are good. That began to change when a high school football teammate started talking about the Gospel.

After graduating from a small Baptist college, Chandler became a fiery evangelist who led a popular college Bible study and traveled the Christian speaking circuit.

He was hired from another church in 2002 at age 28 to lead what is now The Village Church, a Southern Baptist congregation that claimed 160 members at the time.

The church now meets in a newly renovated former Albertson's grocery store with a 1,430-seat auditorium; two satellite campuses are flourishing in Denton and Dallas. Chandler has a podcast following in the thousands and speaks at large conferences.

"What Matt does works because it resonates with the deep longing of the soul the average person can't even identify," said Anne Lincoln Holibaugh, the church's children's ministry director.

The surgery

Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The Chandlers meet with Dr. David Barnett, chief of neurosurgery at Baylor University Medical Center.

The weekend had brought hope: A well-meaning church member who is a radiologist looked at Matt's MRI and concluded the mass was encapsulated, or contained to a specific area.

But Barnett delivers very different news. He saw what appeared to be a primary brain tumor -- meaning a tumor that had formed in the brain -- that was not contained. It had branches.

"Matt, I think you're dealing with something serious," Barnett says. "We need to do something about it quickly. Go home. Talk it over with your wife. Pray about it."

Chandler is facing brain surgery. He schedules it for that Friday, Dec. 4.

He is scared.

Questions start to haunt him. Am I going to wake up and be me? Am I going to wake up and remember Lauren?

The surgery begins around 2 p.m. A biopsy determines that it is, indeed, a primary brain tumor.

Additional Facts
On the Net:
Matt Chandler's blog

Lauren Chandler's blog

This was taken directly from here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Visualizing the Bible

The image above shows every cross-references in the Bible. Definitely more the eye candy variety of information visualization, but I thought it was interesting.

Chris Harrison, the creator, explains: "The bar graph that runs along the bottom represents all of the chapters in the Bible. Books alternate in color between white and light gray. The length of each bar denotes the number of verses in the chapter. Each of the 63,779 cross references found in the Bible is depicted by a single arc - the color corresponds to the distance between the two chapters, creating a rainbow-like effect."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Liberal and Conservative Worldviews

This week a post of mine garnered much attention on Facebook. While it was about Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts, it turned into more of a conversation (err… debate) on the role of the Bible in determining one’s worldview – specifically in regards to politics. It has been my observation that conservatives use the Bible to define their worldview, values, decision-making, etc.. Conversely, liberals use the Bible when it's not inconvenient to their own personal agenda, at which point they discard it as "out of date" or "culturally irrelevant".

As one might expect, my liberal friends do not agree with my observation. In fact, one of my friends went so far as to say, “conservatives use Scripture to support things that aren't in scripture at all (such as their arguments against abortion) and ignore it in terms of sex education (not just abstinence-only education, which has proven to be ineffectual in greatly reducing unwanted pregnancies).” It is obvious that what is being ignored is any and all teaching on the sanctity of life and the institution of marriage, and God’s provisions for sexual relations.

This leads to the question of how to interpret Scripture, of which there are 2: Exegesis and Eisegesis. Francis Chan explains the two:

Exegesis is an attempt to discover the meaning of the text objectively, starting with the text and moving out from there.
Eisegesis is to import a subjective, preconceived meaning into the text.

I was taught to interpret the Scripture through exegesis alone. Start with God’s Word; pray that the Spirit give you clarity; then study to see what the text actually says.

To me these two means of interpreting Scripture explain the difference between being conservative and liberal… in regards to how we live our lives and view the world.

Thus, for Christians, the Bible, properly interpreted through exegesis, should be the starting point and foundation for your political worldview, and not the other way around or cherry picked to support a particular political policy. Let me also add this is not just about politics, but for the Christian’s worldview in general.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Water or Coke?


1. 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. (Likely applies to half the world population)

2. In 37% of Americans, the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is mistaken for hunger.

3. Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as3%.

4. One glass of water will shut down midnight hunger pangs for almost 100% of the dieters studied in a University of Washington study.

5. Lack of water, the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue.

6. Preliminary research indicates that 8-10 glasses of water a day could significantly ease back and joint pain for up to 80% of sufferers.

7. A mere 2% drop in body water can trigger fuzzy short-term memory, trouble with basic math, and difficulty focusing on the computer screen or on a printed page.

8. Drinking 5 glasses of water daily decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, plus it can slash the risk of breast cancer by 79%., and one is 50% less likely to develop bladder cancer. Are you drinking the amount of water you should drink every day?


1. In many states the highway patrol carries two gallons of Coke in the trunk to remove blood from the highway after a car accident.

2. You can put a T-bone steak in a bowl of Coke and it will be gone in two days.

3. To clean a toilet: Pour a can of Coca-Cola into the toilet bowl and let the 'real thing' sit for one hour, then flush clean. The citric acid in Coke removes stains from vitreous china.

4. To remove rust spots from chrome car bumpers: Rub the bumper with a rumpled-up piece of Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil dipped in Coca-Cola.

5. To clean corrosion from car battery terminals: Pour a can of Coca-Cola over the terminals to bubble away the corrosion.

6. To loosen a rusted bolt: Apply a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes.

7. To bake a moist ham: Empty a can of Coca-Cola into the baking pan, wrap the ham in aluminum foil, and bake. Thirty minutes before ham is finished, remove the foil, allowing the drippings to mix with the Coke for a sumptuous brown gravy.

8. To remove grease from clothes: Empty a can of Coke into the load of greasy clothes, add detergent, and run through a regular cycle.. The Coca-Cola will help loosen grease stains. It will also clean road haze from your windshield.


1. The active ingredient in Coke is phosphoric acid. It will dissolve a nail in about four days. Phosphoric acid also leaches calcium from bones and is a major contributor to the rising increase of osteoporosis.

2. To carry Coca-Cola syrup! (the concentrate) the commercial trucks must use a hazardous Material place cards reserved for highly corrosive materials.

3. The distributors of Coke have been using it to clean engines of the trucks for about 20 years!

Now the question is, would you like a glass of water?

* This is from a forwarded email, I did no research, but found it interesting enough to post.

* I had a diet coke for lunch... then a bottle of water in the afternoon.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Pants on the Ground

I am not an American Idol fan, but when people started tweeting and putting status updates about “Pants on the Ground,” I became curious what the story was. Apparently, last night a 62 year old guy name "General" Larry Platt, sang his song, “Pants on the Ground.” Not only did he sing it, but the judges and other contestants were shown joining in with him. Now “General” Larry Platt can add pop culture icon to his veteran and civil rights activist titles. Here is the video if you have not seen it yet:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

3 Steps to Knowing and Doing God’s Will

From Art Rogers

Before I get to the steps, let me hasten to say that they are not original to me, but I heard them in a recorded sermon almost 20 years ago. You might note, then, they were quite memorable. Sadly, I can’t remember the pastor who preached the sermon, so as much credit as I can give, I have given…

1. Surrender to obedience. You might note that the title of this post is NOT 3 easy steps to knowing and doing God’s will. There are not many things more difficult that to surrender to obedience for the human will, but to know and do God’s will, it is essential that you agree to do whatever it is God tells you to do.

We can not expect that God is going to gently guide us through life if we are consistently rebellious to His direction.

2. Seek diligently. Frequently. Constantly. Ask God to reveal what He wants you to do. God is not capricious and does not hide from those who seek Him. If you tune your heart to Him, He will reveal Himself to you.

3. Relax. If you surrender to do what God asks you to do no matter what it is and you consistently pursue the leadership – He will get you where He wants you to go.

It’s not complex. It’s just not easy.

I Don’t Understand Parents Today

I don’t understand parents today, that’s right, I don’t understand parents today. Usually you hear stuff from my generation and beyond talking about how they don’t understand kids today. The age of entitlement has created kids who think the world owes them something, they live as though their parents are in debt to them for having them in the first place. That probably has not changed much in the past 20-30 years, what has changed is the parent’s response to their children.

If I would have entered into a conversation with my parents telling them how it was going to be, it would have ended with my loosing the usage of my (errr… their) car, a loss of extracurricular activities, and a solid grounding in particular. When it came to church events, I did not have much choice either. On the Sundays I wanted to skip church, I was met with a father “motivating” me to go or else, which was good for me. When it came to me wanting to skip a major event, my parents put their foot down and I went anyways. When it came to working on Sundays, it was not an option, neither was missing church for sporting events.

At the time I thought it was unfair and that my parents were out of touch. I thought I knew what was best for me and resented my parents for making me go to church, D-Now, camp, or whatever else. However, because of their insistence of my attendance, I understood that God was to take the primary place above all else. You could say they raised me in the way I should go, and as a result, today I have not departed from it.

Today, parents allow their children to dictate to them what they are going to do and my observation is that parents are okay with it. I have heard children tell their parents that they do not want to attend a church event because they would rather be at home, and the parents oblige their children’s desires, as if children know what is best for themselves. I see some of our students take weekend jobs and their parents are okay with it. I even hear parents make excuses for their children as to why they will forgo camp, D-Now, or church, that’s right the parents make excuses for their children to skip out on God’s church.

What I am really curious about is how these parents would respond if their children decided they did not want to go to school anymore. Would they say that their kids preferred to be at home so it was okay, or would they get their kids dressed and march them out the door? If a child said they did not think school was fun or beneficial, would the parents go along with that notion, or would they force them to go anyway? And the real kicker is this, why do Christian parents think educational development is more vital than spiritual development? Seriously, if it is okay to make your child go to school how is it any different to make them go to church?

What gets me is that the same parents wonder why their kids seem to leave God and the church when they leave home. Do the parents not think that their approval of their children skipping out when they were at home will lead to a greater rebellion when they are off on their own? Do parents not think that devaluing church and God as young people, will lead to an abandonment of God altogether when they become adults? Are they clueless, ignorant, or just out of touch?

Like I said, I just do not understand parents today!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Cole's Poll (Final Standings)

1. Alabama – They are happy to win… and that Colt didn’t play
2. Texas – Poor Colt.
3. Florida – Where was the effort against Bama; great bowl recovery.
4. Boise State – Trickery and shenanigans = another Fiesta win and no real respect.
5. Ohio State – Huge (BCS Bowl) win to finish their year.
6. Cincinnati – Reality sunk in at the Sugar bowl, and their future isn’t sweet!
7. Iowa – Magical season ended with oranges.
8. TCU – Do they qualify for “letdown syndrome” against Boise?
9. Nebraska – Suh you later!
10. Penn State – Good win over an overrated LSU to cap of their year.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 Sport Predictions

Tiger – He ended 2009 being dropped by AT&T; he will end 2010 on top of the competition with the ability to pick who he wants to sponsor him. My guess is all those who’ve questioned him will regret going with morals (public opinion) over reason (Tiger is the greatest golfer ever). Although I am not going to predict on his family life, I do hope he works the major issues out and stays married for his kid’s sake.

Tony Romo – He has been the best QB in the NFL the 2nd half of the season this year. Not only will he win a playoff game this year, he will bring legitimate hope of a Cowboys Super Bowl in their own Cowboy’s Stadium next season.

Texas Tech and Kansas – As a Sooner, it bothers me that 2 of Stoops’ most highly regarded former coaches have been fired due to mistreatment of players… their firings also make me feel like the Big 12 just got easier. For their fans who like winning, you’ll be sorry. For the Tech administration, you are pathetic!

Urban Meyer – Does anyone else remember the Billy Donovan/Orlando Magic saga of a few years ago? He was losing all of his star players, and then bolted for the Magic only to second guess himself and return… sound familiar? Well, it might be the sun, water, or lack of confidence to rebuild, but the Florida coaches are straight flakes! What really blows my mind is that the administration enables it. My guess is that U of F will suffer the loss of recruits and games because of Urban.

Kobe Bryant – People who never saw Jordan play will argue Kobe (who hit his 3rd game winner of the season yesterday) is the greatest ever, but he will not be the best player of this decade… neither will LeBron.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 Goals... or Goal

I only have one goal in 2010: Complete my Doctor of Ministry. Once the degree is obtained, I might set some new goals… and then again, I might go on vacation!