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A few weeks ago I wrote this post about my six-hundred and sixty-sixth comment. I asked if anyone freaks out about that number or not. The three of you that commented didn’t freak about it, it was just a number.

I could care less about the number, but I think we need to be careful not to be too quick to dismiss supernatural things. If we give something enough focus and attention, it can become powerful. Just ask the media.

BTW – I believe the data is skewed, since the 663 people who are freaked out by the number-which-shall-not-be-spoken wouldn’t dare comment on a post about 25.806975 squared.

(Did you see what I did there with the numbers? 3 comments, 663 didn’t? 25.806975×25.806975? Clever.)

These words have been around for ages. We like it when people use these words. I teach my children to say these words. Better yet, I expect it from them.

Do you know how often I use these words with my spouse? Hardly ever. And I didn’t even notice until we had a conversation with Emily about her and Mike starting to use them and how it positively affected their relationship.

So we started saying “Please” and “Thank You” to each other. (Ginny more than me, if we’re being honest.) The result: I am more willing to accommodate my wife’s request when one word is added. And, I am more willing to continue that behavior unprovoked when “Thank You” is tagged onto the end.

Could it be that three forgotten words can change the world? I know this: It has made a difference in my marriage, which affects my children, who affect the future of everything. You tell me.

Thank you for your time. Please come again.

While I was thinking of something brilliant or spontaneous to write about, I ran across this post by Melissa.

Go there and check it out. It’s pretty powerful, and better than anything I could come up with.

<cue ominous spooky-music>

I visited my friendly neighborhood dentist today. Actually, the dentist wasn’t there, but the hygienist was. She’s a nice lady. She cleaned Kristin’s teeth just the other day. And she said that Travis only comes when he has major teeth issues.

The Good News: I have clean teeth and a new toothbrush. It’s black w/ green bristles.

The Bad News: I have a cavity in the exact tooth they have been “watching.” Whatever that means. It’s the same tooth I had a cavity in last year and had fixed. I asked if they could just pull that tooth out, since it keeps getting cavities and all. Apparently that’s not an option. 

Here’s a strange thought: Why are the people who fix your teeth the same ones responsible for keeping them clean? Is it just me, or does that seem like a conflict of interest? Shouldn’t I get a discount or money back for my teeth not being in the shape they are supposed to be in? I’m just saying.

This morning I read Matthew Chapter 10. It’s a great chapter about Jesus empowering and sending out the 12 disciples. It even includes the verse that people use to guilt you into forwarding religious e-mails or Myspace bulletins. You know, the one about “Whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

Those are not the reasons for this post. The purpose lies in verses 29-31. Paraphrased, they say: Can’t you buy two sparrows pretty cheap? Yet not one falls to the ground outside of God’s will. He has gone so far as to count and number every hair on our head. Don’t worry, you’re worth more to God than many sparrows.

 I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel worthless. Useless. Purposeless. Unappreciated. Misunderstood. Then I read these verses and I see that I am valued by God. I am important enough that he has cataloged every hair on my head. Not only am I important, but every part of me is important. If God cares enough about the life of a sparrow, how much more does he care for me?

So the next time you feel worthless, remember: You are worth more than many sparrows.

As many of you know, Ginny and I went to a wedding a week or so ago. Apparently, a new trend is to give away felt-looking hearts that contain flower seeds. The idea is to take them home, plant them, and share the couple’s magical day every day in your flower bed. I don’t get it, but it seems like a cool idea. I grabbed some to take home for the kids, thinking it will be a great lesson on nature for them. (Plus they were free)

A week or so later, I finally bought potting soil and was ready to expose my kids to nature. We put the soil in pots, sprinkled some plant food in, placed the heart on the soil, added more soil and let Josh handle the watering duties. After placing the pots in just the right location, I went in the back yard to put up the tools. I returned to see Josh staring intently at the two pots of soil. He looked at me and said, “Daddy, there are no flowers yet.”

It was then that I was reminded of what an instantaneous culture we live in. Everything is “On Demand” or at our fingertips. We really don’t have to wait for anything. Even Disney has FastPass to avoid the lines. We run along at 100 miles an hour, never taking time to appreciate time.

So what was intended to be a lesson on nature and God’s beauty has also become a teaching opportunity on patience and perspective.

What have you come to realize lately?

As I posted, some of us went to Church at the Springs where Timm was speaking this past weekend. We wanted to support Timm, and I wanted to see the facility. A couple of things occurred to me while we were gone.

1) Timm is the real deal. He was invited to speak for a 3500 person church. That’s 10x what we have at RPC. And he killed it.

2) Our band is insanely talented. Their band was good, but they have nothing on ours.

3) There are few differences between our church and theirs. Aside from the fact that they have 10x the people and nicer facilities, we are remarkably similar. Our speaking is as good (probably better), and our band IS better. They have 10 more years under their belt, and they appear to be a little more intentional in what they do. Also, it would appear their leadership is better developed than ours. But again, we are relatively young at this. Interestingly, they had a VERY friendly congregation. I felt immediately welcome. It was as if I was still at RPC. AND, Josh had a great time in Springsville, their children’s church.

4) We don’t realize how great we have it at RPC. Seriously. One Sunday, you should come to the 9:30 service and then go to another church. Any church. It will give you a new perspective. I dare say we are spoiled and don’t realize it.

All in all, they have a great church with nice facilities, great volunteers, and a friendly congregation. The main difference between the 2 churches is facilities. The moral: we are on the verge of something big, and I am honored to be a part of what God is doing in Polk County.

Great things are on the horizon, and we can either wait and see or we can paddle out to meet it. I’m ready to grab a paddle!

I was out and about in the big city of Winter Haven today doing some honey-dos. It appears that Mario Andretti comes over while I’m at work and drives my family around, burning up my brakes in the process. So I drop the van off and walk over to Wal-Mart to drop off a prescription, then head to the Christian bookstore where I got Velvet Elvis on sale for $9.99. What a bargain! It was near lunchtime as I walked back to Wal-Mart, so I stopped at a cuban bistro for lunch.

As I dipped my half-cuban in my garbanzo bean soup and read my book, I heard a voice. The man had looked slightly familiar, but his voice was unmistakable. Time had weathered his appearance, but not his voice. I immediately remembered who he was when I heard him speak.

Then something prophetic hit me. People say I have a memorable voice. If that’s true, then shouldn’t I be careful to make what I say count? If people are prone to remember what I sound like, shouldn’t my words be even more memorable? And if my words are to be memorable, then what about my actions?

Then I went twenty times deeper and started thinking about God’s voice. That still small voice I had heard as a child, and tried to ignore as a teenager. The one that finally wore me down as a young adult. That voice that I strain to hear through the static that is my life. What about that voice? What if I didn’t hear that voice as a child? Would I have been able to recognize it in my twenties? What about those in their twenties and thirties who don’t know God’s voice? Then God took me back to my voice and my actions.

I finished my cuban, then went over to say hello to the man. He remembered me, as well.

I am legally Reverend Michael D. Mathews.

That is probably the first and last time I will write that. Not that I am ashamed or irreverent, but because that is a churchy title. I am Michael. Always was, and always will be. Nothing will change that.

My ordination was last night at RPC. Wow! What an awesome time. I had no idea what to expect. I had never been to an ordination before. A couple of notes about last night:

My dad was there.  This was as big for me as the ordination. I love my dad. I know he loves me. He’s uncomfortable with church. This was like the tenth time total I know of him being in a church. Seven were weddings and funerals. It took a lot for him to come and I appreciate that.

I was blown away by the people who showed up. There were easily 75 people there last night. We don’t have Wednesday night service, so this was all for me. I was humbled at the turnout. And to hear the ways I have touched peoples lives was unbelievable. What they don’t know is that they impact me every day in much greater ways.

Granny cried. This is only the second time I have ever seen her cry. Granny has always expected big things from me. She’s one of my biggest supporters. I think part of it was that she knew Granddaddy would have been proud.

 My youth kids were there. Current and prior. I’m glad. They are the reason I’m doing what I am doing. Society tells them they aren’t special, and without money or talent they are nothing. That’s crap! These kids are special. Every one of them. God loves them and I love them, and that’s enough to make them special.

Justin did a great job. He always does. And he said some really great things about me. I love Justin. Always have. You always know where he stands. We’re very similar. He’s been around for almost all of my time in the ministry. We’ve both grown and matured together. I’m glad he was a part of the service. Thanks.

Timm and Charles knew just what to say.I love Timm like a brother. I have always supported him. I count it a privilege to work with him. He has always trusted my judgement and never micro-managed me. That’s HUGE for a pastor-youth pastor relationship. And to have Charles take time to come and speak was an honor. It’s very humbling to know that many people care about you and hold you in high regard.

Ginny was right beside me. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for her. I thank God every day for the gift he gave me. She’s the reason I’m back in church. She makes me a better man. I married WELL over my head. I don’t deserve her, and I am no where near the husband she deserves. But she loves me any way. And she supports me. I wouldn’t think of any one else I would want right beside me than her.

God showed up. OK, so he’s everywhere, but he definitely orchestrated this event. I wouldn’t be here without him, in SOOO many ways. He deserves all the credit for last night. And I’ll need him more than ever from this point on.

Those are the high points that I remember. The night was a blur of emotion, so I’m sure I missed a great deal. Tell me what you thought.

I’ve been nice lately. If you know me, you know this is not like me.

1) I’ve been saying Thank You.I wrote a thank you e-mail to the Jays first-baseman who tossed Josh a game ball. I also sent a hand-written thank you note to Josh’s pre-school teacher. #1- Both of these gentlemen did something great for my son. #2- Teachers don’t get near the appreciation they deserve. Especially good teachers. #3- Being in the ministry, I understand what it’s like to be in a thankless position, AND I understand the power of a thank you note. If someone’s done something great for you, let them know.

2) I’ve been generous lately.I bought lunch for the office. I took lunch to Josh’s teachers. Twice. I had the opportunity to help someone greatly and anonymously.  Greatnonymously. This isn’t like me. I’m selfish. I have a plan for my money. And it normally doesn’t include giving it away.

So why, you ask, the sudden change in personality? I don’t know. Perhaps it is our current series at RidgePoint Church, In the Zone. Maybe I’ve decided that God has blessed me so greatly that I want to bless others. Or I’ve decided to become a better steward of the things in which God has entrusted to me.

Whatever it is, it’s contagious. And I like it. You should try it. Sometimes it is only when you have given your life away that you truly live.