Sunday, September 25, 2011

Look what I made Father!


I love making pizza, almost as much as I enjoy eating it! However, most of my times goes into making that foundation, the dough. I not only have to take the time to knead it properly, but I also have to take the time to let it rise. Finally, once that is done, I can begin to stretch it to let it take shape.

Did you ever try to stretch pizza dough that wasn't ready to be stretched? At times I try to shortcut the process if I'm running late; however it's never an easy task. It's sort of like trying to stretch a rubber band and make it keep its shape! No easy feat, and one that often leaves me frustrated.

A friend and I were talking yesterday and he reflected that in order to grow, we need to stretch. I shared how I've grown in my faith, outreach, and have done more things to challenge that. It's been fruitful, but it's been a stretch; a challenge. Much like that dough, we need to stretch to begin to take the shape of the cross. Much like that dough it takes time, and multiple pulls, tugs, and spins in various directions, as our natural reaction is to retract into that rubbery ball of self. Eventually though, even our retractions begin to show signs of growth.

At times, like the dough, we need to just sit and wait on God. Let His Word and Spirit leaven us so that we are ready to be stretched some more. Much like dough began as a grain of wheat, we too began with just a seed. Though through refinement, and His love and care, we can begin to make something out of that seed.

Though like all good pizza, the fun and flavor comes in those toppings! Once stretched, He begins to grow His fruit on us. This pliable foundation that has been shaped is now a medium for many different and wonderful things. Each pizza is different, but delicious in their own right. Likewise, we have different spiritual gifts that we are used to reach others. Not every pizza is the same, and not every brother or sister is the same.

Yet without stretching and yielding to the Holy Spirit's call on our life, we become a rubbery ball that is left with only potential. He still loves us; but oh how much more glorious it will be to see Christ on that day hold us up to the Father and say, "Look what I made Father!"

Stretching,
~Matthew

"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Family is More ...


A man was stranded on a deserted Pacific island for years. Finally one day a boat comes sailing into view, and the man frantically waves and draws the skipper’s attention. The boat comes near the island and the sailor gets out and greets the stranded man.  After a while the sailor asks, “What are those three huts you have here?” “Well, that’s my house there.” “What’s that next hut?” asks the sailor. “I built that hut to be my church.” “What about the other hut?” “Oh, that’s where I used to go to church.”

Laugh if you want, I did the first time I heard it, but isn't that the sad truth?

The reason I bring this up is that I find it interesting the responses that I am getting from others regarding my upcoming move. Some have simply asked if I plan to continue coming to Grace Community Church, some have suggested local churches in the area I will be moving to, and some have just assumed I'm leaving Grace regardless. Don't get me wrong, with a larger family the thought has crossed my mind when it comes to being able to stay involved, yet it never crossed my mind without pain. If God decides He wants my family elsewhere I'll let Him direct that, much like He orchestrated this opportunity. However until then, I'm staying put.

I reflect back on when we walked into our current church for the first time; feeling Him calling us there. Since that time He has helped me forge friendships, brought me opportunities for spiritual and relational growth, honed my leadership skills, and created a passion for what Grace is doing on the very unique corner of Detroit, Grosse Pointe, and Harper Woods (as well as globally). Most importantly though, along with quenching the thirst of my Soul, He has begun to give me new eyes, ears, mind, and a heart. Rather than never seeing opportunities to act on, I now feel His pain when I fail to act and miss those precious opportunities.

Relationally it's been incredible. As an example, the last three times I walked into my church in the past week, I shook hands and gave hugs to at least 15-20 different people that I could comfortably pull aside and share my personal issues with. In return, I know I would have a confidential ear, heart, and advice if wanted. While a vast majority of those individuals I don't see much outside church or meetings, through the years we have still forged trusting relationships.

There is no way, unless I am called, that I want to leave that behind.

My prayer is for you; for the 3 or 300 that read this post. I pray you begin to or continue to see your church as your family as well. Invest in it, serve in it, give to it, pray for it, and love it. If your church doesn't have that culture, then maybe He placed you there to start that culture. Don't let the distractions from a human run institution disenchant you; you will never agree with everything or everyone that attends your church. However if my guess is correct, I'm not the only imperfect one out there. Make your local church part of your immediate family; and never leave it unless prayerfully released.

God loves you, and so do I
~Matthew

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cravings and Vulnerability ...

Make sure to check me out on my YouTube channel. These next few months are going to be real busy and I may not be able to capture everything in writing all the time; thus I may do some vlogging when I can.


Cravings and Vulnerability @ http://www.youtube.com/user/mgasperoni

His,
~Matthew

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When I Say Jump ...

I'm guessing most of us have heard the boot-camp-like phrase: When I say jump, you say how high! This reminded me of something that I read today; but first I was curious as to the origin of the phrase. My search ended quickly when I came across an answer (on the meaning of the phrase, not the origin) that caught my eye. This is simply a person who happened to answer the question for someone on a message board, but this is what they wrote:
It's just an old, old, expression, meaning someone has another person wrapped around their finger: You say "jump" and they are so eager to please you, they say, "how high?" It's just an old saying.
Interesting; I would say that is pretty accurate.

It reminded me of Levi (Matthew's) eagerness when he was called. I just kept reading these two verses over and over and just had to smile. It's a 2-verse call; how beautiful and simple. I hardly think the good doctor and fellow brother Luke (the author of this Gospel) was trying to keep it simple. So many other times we see records of conversation, resistance, banter, frustration, etc. But here? No. It's a 2-verse call.
After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. (Luke 5:27-28 ESV)
There was something about His presence that was so obvious, so compelling, so magnetic, that just drew people in; immediately. I love how earlier in this chapter we hear the call of Peter. Here is this guy fishing, probably hearing Jesus teach on the beach, and when finding out that they caught nothing, Jesus offers them an end of the day tip. Willing (sort of), but expecting nothing, they listen to His tip that ends up paying off big. The people were "astonished" says the Text, as would I be. However Peter's response to this highlights that compelling nature that I spoke of earlier. Many seemed to respond in words unwritten "Wow, how did he do that?"; Peter responds quite differently.

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" ... and Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” (Luke 5:8,10b ESV)
He calls Him Lord; moments earlier he saw Him as a master, a teacher. Now he is falling at His knees calling Him Lord.


Levi, sitting at his desk, sees Jesus walking by calling him, and he leaves his post, and everything behind, to follow; immediately.

2000 years later and He is still drawing people to Him. I pray that you don't keep your head down, and that you and Jesus meet eye to eye. If you do, and just lower the gates of your heart for a minute to take one honest look at Him, you will be penetrated with a love beyond description. This journey isn't easy, it's far from easy actually. Yet you will discover a lasting joy and peace that this world and all its stuff simply can't offer. I enjoy my TV, camera, music, food and games, but I crave Him!

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - GK Chesterton

Praying we all make each of His commands a 2-verse call.

~Matthew
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