Tuesday, October 29, 2013


This semester has been a hard semester. A semester of new and unknown things: From not being able to compete this year in cross country, to trying to navigate where my life is headed going into the last few years of college, there has definitely been some struggles.

This year the discipleship group I'm in is going through the book of Daniel. Its a story of young men from Israel who were at their prime, ready to take on the world, ready for success. But then God handed them over to the Babylonians, into exile, an unknown place. This is not where they had hoped to be…

I'm also reading a book called 7 Men And The Secret Of Their Greatness, by Eric Metexas. It goes through 7 highly influential men and what made them great. I've noticed a theme in each one of their stories: They all at one point in their lives were at places of exile, unfamiliar places they didn't want to be in. 

One of the men, George Washington, found himself with a choice to become America's first leader. It had never been done before.

Eric Liddell found himself in a predicament: He had to decide whether or not to drop out of the Olympics, a race he had been training for his whole life, because of his spiritual convictions. No one had ever dropped out of the Olympics due to faith.

William Wilberforce had a choice to stand up for his beliefs or not about slavery in England, but the decision came at a high price: if he stood up for his beliefs, he would have to sacrifice everything he knew and loved in life, and his reputation among the English elite.

This semester I feel like sometimes I am in exile, in Babylon, in an unknown place where dreams go to die, where there is no hope left.

While each of these men I have been studying have been in their Babylon, they all believed in one truth that would carry them through their struggles:
No matter the pain or strife, God's faithfulness would see them through to the end.

In Isaiah 43:1-7 God writes a love letter to us when he says,

"I am the God who made you in the first place, the one who got you started. 
Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name, you're mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. 
When your in rough waters, you will not go down. 
When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end-
Because I am God, your personal God, your Savior

It's comforting to know when life gets tough, when the waters just don't seem bearable, there is a God who cares. My time of "exile" has been difficult, but in the end I will trust a God who is sovereign.
Today, I am thankful for that truth, that the Lord will be faithful to deliver me in any situation I come across… just like He did for Daniel in Babylon!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Joy (Injury Part 3)

"God-Loyal people don't stay down long, soon they're up on their feet."  -Proverbs 24:16 (MSG)

This summer was one of the greatest roller-coasters of a lifetime. I got to go to Africa, lead a cross country camp, and go to Mammoth Lakes California, where I got to meet my hero, Ryan Hall!

I've also had a lot of ups & downs this summer. When I was in Africa, I was humbled to lead someone to Christ, which was incredible! I also had some great conversations with some high school athletes at the Baylor Cross Country Camp.

On the other hand, I didn't get to run a step this summer due to a stress fracture. I spent a lot of time alone for hours on end swimming and deep water running in the pool. While my teammates were out running, I was confined to the air bubble also known as the Alter G. It was frustrating, and I spent a lot of time asking God tough questions. (see part 2 Frustration)

But through all the ups and downs, the Lord has taught me a lot about His faithfulness, and the joy I have in Him.

My hero, Ryan Hall, who helped lead a bible study I was in this summer while I was in California, shared Proverbs 24:16 with us, which really encouraged me.

The verse in Proverbs 24 doesn't shy away from the fact that we will be down, in fact, it implies that at one point in our life we will be down. However, the cool part of the verse tells us that if we are loyal to Christ, we will be up on our feet! Coming from someone who has had a 3 month fracture in my foot, that verse is really encouraging to hear.

I asked God this summer question I didn't think He had an answer for. I asked Him, "God, how come I have this fracture, why would you give this pain to me, to someone who is seeking You?"

Looking back, I asked God the wrong question. I realized a critical mistake in my question… I attributed my pain to something that God had personally given to me, almost like he was purposefully giving me pain. But if we look in the Bible, we see that all good things come from God (James 1).

God didn't give me a stress fracture, but He has allowed me to have it, so that I may be more dependent on Him, rather than put my identity in running, something I do so often.

My pastor from the church I grew up in, Todd Wagner defined the words worry & joy in a clear way:

Worry: "God has it all wrong"
Joy: "Knowing God is good & sovereign"

I spent the majority of this summer, worrying whether or not I would be able to run, I didn't fully trust in God's faithfulness. I thought like in Todd's definition of worry, that God had it all wrong. It took a trip 7000 miles away to Africa to help me realize that I needed to have joy, and trust that the Lord is a God who is constantly faithful to me, a God who is not forgetful of the pains that we go through, but ever present in the hardships of life.

Although I am not back to running, and sometimes frustrated with the slow process of having to cross train, while with my teammates are out & about, I've got something thats worth more than health: Joy, or a trust in God's faithfulness to me each day that I wake up.

 I know that one day when running ends, I'm going to have something more permanent: A relationship with Christ filled with joy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


"How long O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God" -Psalms 13:1-3

I had the greatest summer planned, ever. I was going to go to Cameroon, train and share the Gospel with the Africans there, then come back to lead high school runners in their training at the Baylor Cross Country Camp, then head to Mammoth Lakes California- for two weeks of training bliss.

I thought everything was going to be perfect, but there was one problem, the stress fracture in my right foot hadn't gone away.

That wasn't a part of my grand plan, I had figured that the fracture would go away & I would be running by early June. But August is coming up, and I still haven't gotten cleared to run yet. I have been down on my knees asking God & praying for 3 months for healing. But it hasn't happened. It's frustrating. I've been restless for the last 4 weeks, ready to be back.

A good friend put it in this way: I would never say it, but the fracture has definitely been a disappointment in what was going to be one of the greatest running filled summers ever.

Where is God in the middle of all of this?

I like to put myself in the shoes of other men sometimes. Recently, I have been trying to put myself in the shoes of King David, through his frustrations. David had to live in the shadows of his brothers for many years, then was constantly on the run from a ruthless King Saul, even living in caves.

This is why I love the Psalms. They are real- they are deep cuts from David's heart documenting his joys and frustrations with life. In Psalm 13, David asks the Lord if he has forgotten him forever, how long will God forget him.

I think that Psalm 13 shows us that it is ok to be frustrated with God, even Jesus was frustrated and stressed even to the point of sweating blood (Luke 22.) It's good to know that there were men who went before me who also had frustrations with God, for this is where I am at.

I know that the Lord has got a plan for me through this race of life, but sometimes I don't know where this path is going.

A friend texted me this verse the other day that really encouraged me,

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps." -Proverbs 16:9

 Yes, life can be frustrating, and its ok to have questions and ask God where He is, but the truth lies in that sometimes we can't understand the situation, but God can.

So regardless of my frustration, I am going to live freely, because I live in the truth of knowing a God who goes before me, and loves me, no matter what shape I am in. God doesn't love me less or more with this fracture, because He loves me unconditionally, all the time!

Today, I am thankful that the God I serve is the God who will fight and run (maybe even walk) with me, every step of the way, even through my frustration!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Kingdom Living

Tomorrow I embark on a journey of a lifetime.

I am headed to Cameroon Africa with Athletes in Action, to train and build relationships with coaches and athletes from their national team. I am beyond PUMPED, excited for a new opportunity in a place that I have never been.

This year, I was praying how I could use running in a way that glorifies the Lord, and makes his Kingdom more known. This opportunity came up through some mutual connections in the running community, and I jumped on board! Extremely humbled and blessed to be a part of a group of athletes that not only care about physical training, but something greater: An eternal purpose, the purpose of making the Gospel of Jesus Christ more known to these runners and coaches we will build into, in Cameroon Africa. Lets goooooo!

As I am headed out, there is something on my heart that I wanted to share before I headed out.

I feel like their are two categories that Christians put their summer plans into-

The first category:

They are going on a big adventure to make Christ's name more known:  somewhere new and exciting, generally out of the country, or working at a summer camp: Trips that have a clear and obvious impact for the Kingdom.

The second category:

Working at home, doing summer school, or a summer job. Something that is generally career focused, or a means to earn money.

I am not saying these are EXACTLY what two categories your summer falls into, but it is a general idea.

Its easy for people like me, who are in the first category to say, "I have a clear purpose and set plan on how to make Christ more known, because I am doing _______"

But the people in the second category, its a little harder…. It's hard to look at a summer spent in the classroom or a job, or a home and say, "Man, I am going to make a huge impact this summer for Christ!"

I am here to tell you, whatever category you fall in, whatever you doing this summer, You CAN have an impact, you can be a light for Christ wherever you are!

John 15:5-8 says,

"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in Him, he is that who bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you will bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples."

I don't think its our job to go and try to use ourselves to do something incredible but rather, abide in Christ, because He will do something incredible!

What does it mean to abide in Christ?
-Obedience to Christ (John 15:10)
-Following Jesus' example (1 John 2:6)
-Living free from habitual sin (1 John 3:6)

Its incredible when awesome opportunities come to go on an adventure and share Christ with others. We are sometimes called to that. But my point is, instead of trying to do something with our own strength, we should rely on Christ, wherever we are, because he is the only one who can produce fruit, we cannot, for we are just the branches.

So for all you are in that second category of summers, here is my encouragement to you, when you think that your summer is not as exciting, or mission filled:

-Abide in Christ, and He will produce fruit, rather than us trying to do anything with our own strength!

I believe Christ can do anything, anywhere. He took fisherman, tax collectors, and men who were considered lowly in the eyes of men, and did incredible things.

He took a Shepard boy and defeated a giant with him, using only a stone.

These were the kind of guys who were not off on a huge adventure, or camp, but were just doing their jobs, and following Christ.

Whats holding you back? Lets live for the Kingdom today! Today is the day, no matter where you are!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Beautiful Feet

There are two words that all runners never want to hear: Stress Fracture.

Unfortunately, this happened to be the case for me.

I had just come off of a career best indoor season, primed for a great outdoor season- had a few good early tune-ups just in time before Texas Relays and Big XII's. Seemed like a new 5k PR was in my sights at last after a hard few months of training.

But the Lord had a different plan for me: a small little fracture in my right foot. 

Instead of the track or the open roads, my world consisted of doctors offices and swimming pools.

The last two months of my life have been definitely out of sync, no running, occasional cross training or pool workouts, but without running, things have seemed out of rhythm.

I've had a lot of free time while I've been out of commission, and it's been a time to reflect and ask God some tough questions. I was driving home a friend from school one day and she told me, "Matt, you have worked so hard to get where you are, I don't understand why God would allow you to get injured."

That was a question I struggled with a lot.

It's hard to watch on the sidelines, its hard going to rehabs and X-rays, when your teammates are out giving it their all on the track. You want to be with them, you want to have that feeling of satisfaction, the one you get when you have run your hardest, and know their is nothing you could have done to make your race any better. Every runner wants and strives for this feeling. And when that opportunity is stripped from you, its hard.

However, I have had an incredible peace about the whole process. The doctors said it was okay to be angry, it was ok to be frustrated. But I wasn't… at all.

I've realized something that has completely changed my perspective on injury:
If my goal is to glorify Christ with running, then why would I be discouraged with an injury? I can use an injury to glorify Christ with my attitude. I can use an injury to open up great conversations with people to tell them about the peace that the Lord has given me!

Romans 10:15 says, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!"

With this perspective, everything has changed. The glass is half full for me.
My "broken" foot, has now become a "beautiful foot," because I can use it to make Christ's name more known!

Life is hard, there is no doubt. Look around us- West Explosions, Boston Marathon Bombings… just 5 minutes of watching the news will clear any doubt that life is hard. But let me tell you, yes life is hard, but Christ is the only way we can get through our trials and struggles in life. And my words mean nothing, Christ is the only one who can truly change our hearts.

My prayer is that we all can find peace and satisfaction through Christ, no matter what comes our way.

my hero, Eric Liddell, in Chariots of Fire said it best,

"Who am I to say, "believe," "have faith," in the face of life's realities? I would like to give you something more permanent, but I can only point the way. I have no formula for winning the race. Everyone runs in his or her own way. And where does the power come from to see the race to its end? From within,

Jesus said, "Behold, the kingdom of God is within you. If with all your hearts you truly seek Me, then you shall ever surely find Me."  
If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, than THAT is how you run the straight race!