Monday, April 30, 2012

Brazil Day 4

Days like this in ministry and life make it all worth it. I could not have been more pleased with the men on this trip including our pastor. The church we are here serving has their services at night so yesterday we planned a BBQ for men of the church and the community. Bubba Crosby shared his story and he killed it! It was incredibly awesome to hear how God took Bubba on this incredible journey through a career in major league baseball and how God used it so powerfully in the lives of these men and young boys. Following his story we ate plates full of Brazilian BBQ and had great conversations with these men even with some coming to know Christ or hearing about Him for the first time. One of the best times of the morning BBQ was the baseball demonstration that Bubba lead all these men and boys through. To see these men learning a sport for the very first time was quite enjoyable but greater was the love that we all demonstrated one to another.

After a short nap and shower we jumped back in the bus and headed to the church. A few of us did some pre worship service seminars on Marriage, Administrators in Education & the student ministry. Then we took a short break, snacked on some food, Skyped in our wives to let them see our faces and the church. As the worship service as soon to begin to people were pouring in...probably 250++ were crammed in the worship center and it was rocking! A few people started their relationship with Christ, many were encouraged in their walks with the Lord and we as the team were blessed. After multiple pictures and a long dinner we all crawled in bed sometime after midnight. Our hearts were full and our bodies exhausted but we believe that God has been glorified and the hearts of the Brazilians encouraged.

This day will be a great marker in many of our lives.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Brazil Day 3 (Saturday)

Brazil Day 3.

This day we have been anticipating for a long time. Months ago when we spoke with Patti LaCarter in Brazil about bringing a team down we discussed the potential of @greggmatte leading a pastors seminar. Well today this is all coming to fruition. The hours and hours of work by Patti and her team is coming to light today. The organization, prayer, invites, recruiting, communication, etc.. that was poured into this time together today is amazing. I am sitting in a packed church (250 seats) with Brazilian pastors. This place is full of life, energy, expectation.

Today Pastor Gregg crushed it. His message was duly translated into Portuguese & sign language. This is the results of the hard work and dedication to Patti LaCarter and 16 years of ministry here in Brazil. The relationships she has sustained and the prayers that she has prayed are evident. I can't get over what we experienced today. It was powerful and encouraging.


To end the day we sat around a Brazilian Steakhouse and had the sweetest time of encouraging Patti & was powerful.

You can tell we I am a bit tired in recording the details...but just want you to know that today (Sunday) will be a full day...pray for us...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Brazil Day 2 (Friday)

Brazil Day 2:

We were all up early this morning considering many of us had been up 36 hours or so straight (minus a few cat naps on the plane). Breakfast at 7:00 am. Devotional at 7:25 a.m. and a departure sometime after 8 to go work in the slums with one of CBO (Comunidade Batista Oceanica) newest church members. She has recently be apart of the church...she has three kids and we are praying for her husband to start following Jesus. We thought we were going into do a few small projects but it turned into a little bit more...I'll save the details.

One of the best intros of creating community and seeing fellowship grow is generated the fastest when the group is tested with what we call "liminality." Pushing a group to the limit in which it appears what is put before them cannot be accomplished or achieved within themselves. As we loved on this family and worked on their home our hearts united as one. We laughed, worked, and saw our own hearts change for this half day project.

We then took some showers to remove the paint, mortar, and dirt before we headed out to see more of the city. We spent 30 minutes at one of the highest points in the city across the bay from Rio...we overlooked the bay, the buildings, the beaches, the boats, and the beauty of God's creation. All of us truly could had sat up there for awhile reflecting, praying and taking in God's fame & beauty.

We then made our way to downtown Niteroi to visit a Catholic church and some black magic stores. Black magic/spiritism is strong in this country. It's totally dark and demonic. There truly is a strong spiritual attack waging all around us. Walking the streets packed with street vendors, street food, one of stores and packed streets truly does allow you to see the diversity and lostness of a city.

Two of our prayers have been: 1. Instead of touched emotions we will have changed values. 2. Our goal is to move missions from an event to a lifestyle. Join us as we serve others and grow in Christ today.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Brazil Day 1

Upon landing in Brazil, we skated through immigration and customs without a hitch. We actually got through customs so fast we had extra time to wait upon our hosts arriving to the airport. We then traveled an 1:30 through Rio traffic heading into Niteroi seeing the sights, sounds and smells of a beautiful country. Let me touch on few insights from today...

Food: We definitely will not starve in this country...our first restaurant for lunch (which for some was breakfast since our "snack" on the airport was almost non existent.) and our dinner restaurant are large buffets in which you weight your plate at the end of the line. One fun piece is the ability to pile on meat at the end of the line. These opportunities serve as key times of face to face fellowship and interaction with one another as well as our local Brazilian friends. With piles of food and a bit tired you can only imagine how much we need a 2 hour break after lunch to rest and shower.

Church: Wow! What Jesus has done here with Patti LaCarter & Georgia Costa is amazing...I am still blown away by the work of the Lord through them...The pictures and stories we have are so inspiring and we have only been here 1/2 day. More on this to come...

Ministry: Last night the men killed it! Truly...Travis Herzog & Russell Johnson did an amazing job working with the preteens/children. Even seeing a child commit their life and loyalty to King Jesus. Anthony Brown & Tom Tyrell were the perfect two to share with the Celebrate Recovery men and women...their personal stories weaved perfectly into loving on these amazing people here in Brazil. Then I got to be with the teenagers/college students at a nearby home. Wow! What a great job James Mayes did in telling his story. You could have heard a pin drop. The hope of the church in Brazil has a lot of potential with who we met with last night.

As we wrapped up the day...which felt like 3 days...we sat on the hotel porch above the swimming pool and reflected moments/stories/pictures of how Jesus was revealing himself already.

All are healthy but exhausted. Let's see what tomorrow holds..

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Almost...we are almost on the ground here in Rio. The ladies are doing their walk through the cabin area picking up trash, old newspapers, and any left over food or beverage items. The plane is beginning to bounce because of turbulence as we lower towards the ground. It is almost game time. It's almost time for me to shut down this computer. It's almost time for the entire plane to start talking since all devices must be properly stowed. Almost...

Almost is such an powerful word. It carries the idea of "close." You remember as a child when you were trying to tag someone or "get 'em" and you would respond with "close." Then they would follow up with "close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades." Then you also might hand "and nuclear war." (By the way today April, 26, 1986 Chernobyl exploded in slide up a prayer today for people in the Ukraine still living in the after math of that tragedy).

Close...Almost...when those words are used in response to danger or miscue it's one thing but when it comes to our faith journey, our walk with Jesus, or love towards others may we not live a life of "almost."

No...let's live fully, all out, completely abandoned for Jesus. So as eleven men with six days of work ahead of us let's see what happens here in Brazil. I am praying that we leave here fully exhausted but fully engaged and used by Jesus for His kingdom.

Not our name Jesus, not our renown...we have nothing. You Lord are all we have. So please Jesus move among us.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Tomorrow I get on a plane to fly 10.5 hours to Brazil. It's a direct flight (a privilege of flying from Houston). We will be connecting with one of our workers who has been there 16 years serving, leading, discipling, and pressing into the darkness. She has worked hours upon hours in developing, praying and loving the Brazilians to follow Jesus. I will be on the field with 10 other men on being Pastor Gregg. Men is the sweet spot these days. Ladies much love to you but if we move men we move families faster, deeper and longer. We will be speaking in a variety of venues, working in the slums one day, a men's bbq, church services, and much more. I am sure we will also squeeze in a Brazilian Steakhouse.

If you wouldn't mind join us in prayer for this 6 day journey. Go here and sign up.

Let's see what Jesus might do on this journey. Excited.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Meet Jim..

I must tell this story. On Sunday I was standing in the door way of the Connection Center (where people come for prayer, ask questions, join the church, talk about following Jesus, baptism, pretty much any issue...). Jim walked in fumbling his Bible in his hands with a deep concern on his face. Jim mustered up the words "I need to pray with someone." I gently lead him to the back of the connection center. We sat down and we began to talk. Here is how the conversation followed:

Me: What's going on?
Jim: My wife is an alcoholic, she wants to separate from me. This is awful.
Me: Jim I am so sorry. Let's keep talking.
Jim: She committed to rehab. At the same time I knew she was getting out I cleaning up my act as well. Leaving friends, etc..
Me: Ok.
Jim: She got out and the first thing she told me was that she wanted to leave me and now she is back drinking.
Me: I'm sorry. How long have you all been married?
Jim: Twenty years.
Me: How long has their been a drinking issue with your wife.
Jim: Well we always thought she was just a heavy drinker. It's crazy I should have realized that there was a drinking problem. Probably 8-9 years now.
Me: What happened 8-9 years ago to fire up the need to over consume.
Jim: Our infant died...a month old and passed away. It wasn't good.
Me: Wow! I am sorry. Jim how long you had that Bible?
Jim: That's my dad's bible. He was a baptist preacher.
Me: Really (I picked up the Bible and began to thumb through it...It was full of sermons, outlines, notes, references, dates, etc.). Tell me about your dad.
Jim: My dad died when I was 16.
Me: Really, I am sorry.
Jim: Yeah I was a hell raiser. The typically baptist preachers kid. Running wild.
Me: How did he die?
Jim: A car accident. Wasn't his fault. Our relationship wasn't right. I believe it would have gotten right but he passed away.
Me: Jim, how old are you?
Jim: 52.
Me: So 36 years ago your father passed away. I bet when you were born that your father committed you to Jesus and prayed over you asking God to do something amazing in your life. Jim I believe right now those prayers your father and mother prayed are coming to fruition. You are here, broken over your own sin and lack of following Jesus with your life. I want you to know that your story isn't over. How long you been coming to First Baptist?
Jim: This is my 3rd week. Three weeks ago she got out and told me what she wanted. I cleaned up my act left my drinking and smoking friends. I want something different.
Me: I am proud that you came not only once, but three times and now you came in here for us to meet and me to pray for you.
Jim: I am working through the 12 steps. Step 3 is giving it up...and I have been fighting giving it up but I am here laying it down before Jesus. I have also been going to Al-Anon and a Christian therapist. But I know Jesus is going to get me through.
Me: Jim I know you want your marriage to survive but Jesus is after your heart first. Even if your wife came back you wouldn't be in the place to lead her and love her.
Jim: Your right. I am going to follow Jesus. Be the person I know Jesus told me to be years ago and pray for her.
Me: Jim I want you to pray then I am going to pray over you.
Jim: I don't think I can make it through but I will try.
Me: If you don't I will pick right up and finish it out.

We transitioned to prayer and he crushed it. He prayed a strong, heartfelt inspiring prayer of repentance and confession. I then prayed over him and blessed him.

It was a beautiful day of God's redemption work in many...that was just one story to inspire your week.

Pray for my new friend Jim please. Pray for others trapped in sin. If you are trapped you can get out. Jesus will meet you.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Day 8: Let's Make Some Noise

Day 8: Let's Make Some Noise

Who are you kidding!! If you don't have a party planned you have missed it! Straight up no qualms about it. If you only did a few Easter eggs and a candy basket you missed it. This should be the one day of the year (that far exceeds Christmas for sure) that you throw a party. Today in our house (after 3 morning services and in between a night service) we will have a party. Lamb, Beef, All kinds of fun sides, a sick arrangement of desserts, fun drinks (I am staying in line with my local congregations staff position--no worries), blessings upon each other, celebrating one another and the greatest story ever! We will have family and friends piled in our condo with jubilee in the air. This is the day that we are to "make some noise" no doubt about it...Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed! Our King Jesus is on the throne, always has been, always will be. The invitation is not about us accepting him merely in our is about a total abandonment to follow him...with extreme loyalty. He is not your butler, nor your maid. He is not your wall art He is our center piece. He isn't to be managed or mastered he is be followed and adored. Let's explain and exclaim his love, power and glory today. We worship and follow Him today. Don't play today. Make the songs you sing come alive even if they people leading you don't. Make a feast happen if you are poor. He will bless your cup of soup or single cracker. Let's "make some noise." His name, His renown.

We have a motto in our house for our boys to follow: Let's follow the Lord "All the way, right away, With the right heart." Today let's go all the way, right away, with the right heart. Don't be late today to church, be first, be ready, celebrate your face off! Let' the nations be glad! We join the choir of all peoples on heaven and earth.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Day 4: Awkward Silence

Day 3: Awkward  Silence

These day always gets me! The day when everything appears to be going smoothly and then life comes to a stop and your whole life starts flashing before your eyes. It happened for me in 6th grade. My buddies and I were involved in an incredibly intense spitball fight. One friend had loaded an entire sheet of paper in his mouth for a good while and at the exact moment when the teacher turns his back I got pelted on the left cheek...then another friend thought it necessary to place one upon the chalkboard (those are now extinct) right next to the teacher.  As soon as we got busted my mom knocked on the door. That is the moment in which I stood about 3 inches tall and knew I would surely die upon the wrath of my dad. Every dream I had was gone...I knew life was going to end in a few hours. 

This same energy of laughter and pleasure must have been present at the Last Supper. Jesus knew how to party and celebrate. Then the atmosphere turns while Jesus starts in a dialogue that one among them was going to sell him out...STOP RIGHT HERE...everyone at that table must have had that awkward silence...their lives flashing all around can see the puzzles looks on faces, the jocking of position, the heavy breathing, sweaty palms, watery eyes, cotton mouth, and creative word articulation of why it would "never be me."

Think what happened for a moment when Judas leaned toward and dipped his hand in the bowl just at the same time Jesus about getting caught with your hand in the cookie jar. 

False loyalty was revealed. You see my friend loyalty is about complete follow ship...not seasonal recognition or occasional interest in Jesus. It's about loyalty...

Think of those moments when we temporarily abandon Jesus. Are you broken hearted or has this become a pattern in your life. You know you can honor him some but not all the time. And you know enough that he will surely forgive you. 

If you have become indifferent about forgiveness take a breather today. Take a good look. My mom busted me. Jesus outed Judas. The Holy Spirit is aware of where you are prone to wonder. 

Let not the of silence of abandonment create in you a lazy repentance. Let's let those moment of awkward silence not become normal noise but times of great loyalty renewal. 

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Day 3: Antonym of Noise

Day 3: Antonym of Noise

Jerrell just shut up! I am totally into self talk. Jerrell just chill! I am in to wife talk as well. Babe you can't say that here or ever.
For those of you who know me I have a very high willingness to open my mouth and speak regardless of the situation or setting most of the time. I did say "most of the time." My body language, seat movement, hand ringing, cracking of knuckles, heavy breathing, foot tapping, note taking, eye contact or lack of is extremely easy to read. If I am tracking with what you are saying or presenting I am all in...if for some reason I can't stand what you are saying or am quite unsure of your position, stance or statement I will either not move (I don't want to dare give you a reason to believe I am with you.) or my brow will become narrow, my chin will duck, and I will begin to wipe my eyes or chin. Yes I do know my quirks. When pressure is on for me or it's game time you can usually find my yawning or doing something completely unrelated to the sermon I am about to preach or meeting I am about to attend. Let's think of Jesus for a moment standing trail. These men were condemning him to death. The scriptures says, "Then Pilate questioned Him again, Are you not answering anything? Look how many things they are accusing You of!" But Jesus still did not answer anything so Pilate was amazed."

Jesus was hearing these men "talk noise." For those of you familiar with sports analogies "talking noise" happens quite often. The term is generally related to members on one team taunting, challenging or harassing the other team to invoke a response from them. You would want to "get in their head" or cause them to loose concentration.

So Jesus in the face of these men "talking noise" he remains focused, resilient and silent. Today let's make it our prayer to shut our mouths and let God have his way. The accusations by these men stood no chance of causing Jesus to react or recount his path to the cross. He cried out in prayer and left the results to God. So today cry out to Jesus, make your position know (even if you are mad or don't understand) but once you do cry out to him get up and walk in the results of God. Cry out in private remain calm in public. Remain steadfast to the noise around you to live at peace and have a quite heart towards the anxiety of the world. Let your light of peace shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. So in the face of "noise" remain silent today.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Day 2: The Problem of Noise

Day 2: The Problem of Noise

Clatter, Blare, Uproar, Tumult, Clamor, Hubbub, Racket...

These synonyms of noise capture the ruckus of the streets of Jerusalem, the valley, the place of the skull, the cross, the vail being torn, the stone being rolled away, the 500 witnesses that Jesus appeared to after the resurrection, the ascension...but I can't get out of my mind the smaller sounds...the smaller sounds that linger in my mind, my heart, my soul, my body...I am caught up with the scuttlebutt that transpired multiple times through the Holy Week with these men trying to find Jesus guilty. Before I lose you let me define scuttlebutt. (Scuttlebutt is a water cask kept on a ship's deck. Meaning "rumor, gossip" first recorded around 1901, originally nautical slang, traditionally said to be from sailors' custom of gathering around the scuttlebutt.)

However as I think of the meddling, rumors, lies, and scuttlebutt that these men were using to scandalously go after Jesus I am immediately flooded about how I let the same small noises consume my own heart. Go with me hear for a second. Think about the how the smallest of lies, stories, rumors, or even conspiracies derail you. Yes Jesus was in complete control of the Holy Week no doubt at all but Satan was having his sweet jolly time that week. The week that looked so miserable for Jesus was looking so tremendous for Satan. Think about the glory, boasting, power, and praise Satan must of thought he was gaining this last week...Judas joined his team to sell Jesus out, Peter acting like a fool in the moment and denying Jesus, the trails of lies, the beatings, and the final breath. Satan must of thought he had won...

Now think about our own lives...the lies, stories, rumors, doubts that we allow the enemy to plant in the beautiful soil of our lives. God is doing so much and birthing new life yet we allow the enemy to plant a thistle or thorn bush. We listen to his rumors, lies and distractions. Then as we listen we begin to believe and act out in response to his crazy voice...the small voice of confusion...

The problem with noise in our day may not be the large sounds and big crashes but the small sounds, rumors, and lies from the voice of the enemy...rather than the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. And the greatest problem of noise is the lingering effect...we often fall in love with the noise...the lies...and we allow the identity of the lie to define us, consume us, and drive us. So today think with me about the small noises around the Holy Week..the foot steps of Judas leading to sell out Jesus, the sliding of sword across the ear of one of the evil men wit Judas, the snoring of the disciples in the garden while Jesus sweats blood. Small sounds make a big difference...let the small noise of Satan's voice flee and the powerful noise of Jesus reign strong.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Day 1: The Power of Noise

Power of Noise:

Startled! Concerned! Mad! Scared! Laughing! These words are just a few reactions you may have expressed upon a sudden burst of noise around you. Screeching tires, doors slammed, a startled baby crying, an abandoned animal. When you hear these sounds emotions run a muck in our lives. Very very few people handle noise well. The power of a song in a store or restaurant or the a bad stereo system at a stoplight can pull your attention away. The sound of a "tweet" "text" or "message" often releases a rush of dopamine to inspire your reactionary emotions to give a response or "reply all."

Many people I know are on sensory overload and have extremely low awareness to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in their lives. If you aren't a follower of Jesus Christ you have zero comprehension of what I am referring to in regards to experiencing the Holy Spirit leading, guiding, and speaking to you. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ you understand exactly what I am communicating. Our theology is sharper than it's ever been. Our definitions, goals, strategies, and organization structure are tight. However it seems the power of the Holy Spirit and his movement in and through our lives is getting less and less attention. One reason we are still living in the shallow waters of hearing and responding to the Holy Spirit in our lives is the simple realization is that the Spirit doesn't put Band-Aids on anything--he goes to the core of your problems to provide change and help.

So as we journey this week towards the Last Supper, Crucifixion, that dreaded Saturday, and the most amazing Resurrection Sunday let's take a look at the noise...the noise of the streets, the last supper, the trail, the scourging, the nails, the men fighting over Jesus clothes, the drops of blood, the thorns, the spear, the mourning, the startled soldiers, the loud mouth yet stunned Peter....shall we look at the noise in our lives. The noise we use to "Band-Aid" the real issues of our life and see Jesus do something greater in our lives.

Sunday, April 01, 2012



That's the journey I want you to join me on for the next 8 days. Sound, volume, disruption, confusion, distraction, silence, anxiety. Let's ponder this Holy Week as we journey towards the cross. Jesus enters today for the week that changed everything.

Come back tomorrow and let's journey.