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So far Matthew Carver has created 4 blog entries.

Empty Yourself of All Independence

 

Phillipians 2:1-11

V2 …being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind…

Throughout my time in public school I was taught to think independently. Always non-conformity was the goal in the various different writing and reading assignments that we had. On the other hand uniformity of thinking was seen as bad, and if you were found simply thinking like somebody else thought you were considered just a sheep following the crowd. As I think back to this time, I reflect on how much of the motivation was an appeal to pride, to stand out, to stick out above the crowd, to have a novel idea. Of course there is a certain kind of conformity of thinking that we should avoid, namely that of thinking a certain way because another man thinks that way. And yet the push for independence of thinking seems like a clear over-compensation as well. Are we really to be forever thinking differently–kicking against all norms and never coming to any sort of a consensus or agreement upon which we can unify? Are we to be forever fragmented more and more until we live in a world in which we are the only ones with whom we can agree? Could it be true that the presupposition “always think independently” might actually be just as conforming of an idea as that of uniformity and leave us just as sheepish? It has been said of the hipster movement of the early 2000s that hipsters are a group of young people all screaming together with one voice “non-conformity!” Is that our only option?

In the passage above we are exhorted to have a unified mind or way of thinking. We are to have “the same mind” or “one mind” (2b).  Postmoderns kick against this idea due to a sense of its limitation. It would be easy for some to think God is stripping them of their independence by forcing them into a conformity of thinking, just simply making them a bunch of sheep again. The fact is, however, that we are sheep, we are not wise enough to pave our own way, and we were never created to. The sheep of the world can either follow other sheep into a pit (worldly uniformity), or scatter with the rest of the sheep that are scattering (another kind of worldly uniformity). Either way we conform and lose.

This passage gives us the answer to the conundrum of uniformity and independence by centering us on the only possible principle of uniformity–Christ. The condition of having one mind (V2) is this, that we have begun to experience the joys of Christ (V1). If we have begun to experience the joys of knowing Christ, then we are truly free to allow ourselves to be brought into a uniformity of thought with others. Why? Because of the false appeal to pride behind our desire to think independently is gone. We are no longer trying to stick out or be independent for the sake of the attention, because to think like Christ is to think completely un-ambitiously (V3). Independent thinking is no longer the goal, but rather Christ-like thinking (V5). Our concern is no longer our interest but that of others (V4). We are no longer trying to boast in that which is unique about ourselves, but rather we are emptying ourselves of all are so-called novelty and uniqueness (V7). This is called humility, and there is great freedom in humility.

One might respond, “if we allow ourselves to go down this road, then what happens to our freedom and independence?” The resistance to the idea of conforming to another’s way of thinking is that we feel we might lose our identity. The truth, however, is that our identity is established. As we follow the road that Christ took, we see that it was because of this very humility that God exalted him and gave him a NAME that is above every other name (V9). It was precisely because Jesus chose not to grasp at what was truly significant about himself in independence, his identity became established by God. How much more should we, who only have a perceived significance or independent way of thinking, release our grasp on it–relishing in the joys of knowing and bowing to Christ. Our identity too will be established in Him, even while our thinking is brought into conformity with that of our brothers.

By |2021-12-29T11:48:53-07:00December 29th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

I, even I, am He…

It is important, for the sake of our heart’s ability to respond, to know who it is who is speaking to us. We listen and believe differently when the weight of the person behind the voice bears down on our consciousness. I believe this is why, in the passages from Isaiah 40-55, the burden of communicating just who is speaking seems to be an incredible emphasis. Over and over again Isaiah breaks his flow of thought to over-emphasize just who this great God is who is speaking. Consider these verses just from Isaiah 43…

Isaiah 43:25

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake…Put Me in remembrance”

Who? “Even I!”

Isaiah 43:16-19

Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea And a path through the mighty waters, who brings forth the chariot and horse, the army and the power (they shall lie down together, they shall not rise; They are extinguished, they are quenched like a wick): “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing…

Who is speaking? “The one who makes a way…”

Isaiah 43:1-2 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”

Who is telling us we are His? “the one who created us…”

The question that arises from this way of communicating is this: What is so hard to believe about what is being said that God needs to support it with the full weight of who He is?

Consider the above promises that God makes, promises of forgiveness, hope, and a covenant love and identification—they are life giving promises full of goodness and grace to a lost and wayward people!

Are they so hard to believe? YES THEY ARE!!

Our hearts are jaded with the failure of others, the failures of the world, and above all our own personal failures. If it were anybody other than the Lord Himself who would make these promises to us, I would not believe them. Indeed I could not, what promise of hope could another failed human bring into my life? What possible promises of good could I possibly convince myself of on my own?

But now it is HE who has spoken. Is there anybody like Him? Is there anyone who has taught Him? Is there any who can decree the past and the future alike? Therefore if He is the one who has promised my covenant love, forgiveness, and hope, then I receive it, for His Word’s sake.

It would be too gracious a thing to receive unless He insisted on it.

But HE is the one who is insisting. How could I not believe and have life?

Hebrews 12:25 “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.”

By |2021-09-29T13:26:20-07:00September 29th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A cause of sadness. A way to healing.

By: Matt Carver

Our sins cause sadness–God does this with purpose.

For the majority of our sadness we have no further to look than ourselves.

These are two conclusions that I arrive at upon reading the verse below:

Jeremiah 30:15 “Why do you cry about your affliction? Your sorrow is incurable. Because of the multitude of your iniquities, Because your sins have increased, I have done these things to you.”

Many would object: “But my sadness is caused by something somebody did to me. I’m a victim!” Nevertheless it is still our sin that causes the majority of our sadness. We might be in an even more dangerous place in our heart crying “victimized!” if we use it as an excuse not to admit or recognize our sin.  We must never use another’s sin against us as a smokescreen of blame to cover our own sin.

You see it is in our sinful nature, when we sense that sorrow in our hearts due to affliction, to connect it mentally to “my rotten parents” or “that traitor who broke my heart” or “that dummy who hindered me from my success” or even “those ridiculous democrats.”  And since those thoughts are in the forefront, we never reach the right conclusion, namely that my “sorrow is incurable because of the multitude of [my] iniquities.”

God causes our pain as a megaphone to wake us up to the reality of what sin is. By nature we do not recognize sin to be ugly, disgusting, or offensive. AND YET IT IS! How would we ever see it if we did not go through the pain? If we do something contrary to nature, then we need to learn that nature wins. The old adage, “…hand in the fire…gonna get burned.” Getting burned might be the best lesson concerning the nature of sin we will ever receive.  We must learn at all costs not to fight against the true nature of things as God designed.

And yet God does not delight in burning us!  Even two verses down from this one, V17, we see God “healing our wounds” —that is His aim.  It is never simply for the end of causing sorrow that God causes sin to cause sorrow!  We will be people of festering wounds all over our body until we believe this.

Therefore what would he have us do? I think I see an implication in this verse, namely that God wants us to agree with him concerning what sin is. He would say, “no more crying about the pain until you admit it for what it is!” This is true confession, exposing ourselves to his light. Confessing the true nature of our sin, recognizing the cause of our pain, these things need to be daily events in our lives—that we may be healed.

“It’s me, I did that.”

Believe it or not, a daily lifestyle of that kind of confession, predicated upon the fact that God’s desire is to heal us, is the only and most direct route to the healing of our wounds.

By |2021-03-31T09:25:27-07:00March 31st, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Six steps toward a finding a podcast that results in the growth of your faith

Six steps toward a finding a podcast that results in the growth of your faith
(from 2 Corinthians 2:1-5)
by: Matt Carver
1) “And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom.”
Too many people have excellent speech and appear to have a lot of wisdom on podcasts of our day. It’s time to lose the educational posturing, lose the man created arguments that display evidence of prior agendas, lose the clever comebacks and intellectual trash talk. Instead we must look for prophets of God, hearing his voice and speaking his wisdom into our social situations.
2) “declaring to you the testimony of God.”
No more self-exaltation. No more testimonies of how great men are, whether themselves or others. No more flattery. God has a testimony and it needs to be heard, let’s tell his story and maybe it will apply to some of the stuff we’re going through today.
3) “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
People know too much, we lean too much on reasoning. Often podcaster’s attempt to know a lot leads them to know a lot of unimportant things. In God’s counsel there is actually only one important thing upon which every bit of truth finds its foundation. Know it. Talk about it. Apply it to everything.
4) “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.”
Make sure they don’t look confident, or you’ll put too much faith in them. They must have a trembling fearful look that says, “I could be wrong, I’m just seeking the truth to the best of my ability, we are pursuing and discovering of the mind of Christ together.” Humility is the key.
5) “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom…”
Make sure they’re unpersuasive as far as techniques go. Being able to use illustrations, eloquence, knowledge, examples, stats, facts, jokes, personality, etc. Lies are accompanied with extra fireworks because they are lies. People that tell the truth in love don’t need fireworks.
6) “…but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
They must do whatever they can to ensure that people see that they are speaking and acting and working in response to a power that it is supernatural, coming from outside of them, so that God gets all the credit.
You might be hard pressed to find a podcaster with all of these characteristics, but if you do, be assured that your faith will grow instead of become emptied by the podcasts you listen to.
By |2021-02-05T20:55:53-07:00January 26th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments
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