Monday, December 28, 2009

Matt Chandler Is In A Win/win Situation

I have been a pastor for 15 years and a hospice chaplain for seven years. I have seen many dying people. I am always grateful for those testimonies of believers who understand their mortality and boast in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Matt Chandler is one of those believers, who when diagnosed with cancer, glorifies God by his confidence in his savior no matter what the outcome.

Over my Christmas travels back home I downloaded some of Matt’s sermons on my Ipod. One was from November 4th, 2007 called, Departing In Peace, from the gospel of Luke. I recommend downloading this sermon.

It was very profound for me to listen to Matt preach a sermon from two years ago when he had no clue he would be diagnosed with cancer. It was not diagnosed until two years later when he had a seizure this past Thanksgiving (2009).

Here is part of the sermon that really caught my attention because of what he is dealing with at the present time:

In the sermon, Matt says:

Listen, there is an appointed time for man to live and a time for man to die, and we don't get to control that date. Even when we think we're controlling it, we're not. No, this is about living well and it's about dying well. Because death is this inescapable reality for all of us. It's coming, it's chasing us and it will eventually run us down. You're just not going to be fast enough. I think we joke all the time, I know we're learning all these new things, there's exercises and certain foods to eat and certain foods to not eat. You can go obey all those rules and still, I don't know how many of you looked at the news today, you can still be an elite marathon runner that drops dead at mile 5. So this is about living in peace and then dying there.

Further on he says:
Dell Steele, our chairman of elders, found out this past week that he has an inoperable, really aggressive cancer, and more than likely he's going to go home with the Lord sooner rather than later. He found that out on Tuesday, and on Tuesday night he's up here praying with his men. So on the day you find out you've got a year or two tops and those year or two are going to be difficult, you do what? “Alright. I've got to go pray with my boys.” Why? Because he knows. That's who I want to be when I grow up. And then here's the other fear that befalls us. I think we constantly have an elevated view of who we are and our importance in the great picture. Like, I love my daughter and I love my son very much, and I want to see my daughter grow up and turn down the proposal of a, I want to see her get married and love God deeply. And I want to see my boy turn into a godly man. I'm going to surround him with all the godly dudes I can, all kinds of different godly guys, godly guys that love sports, godly guys that love music, godly guys that love the arts. I just want him to see those different kind of things. I want to see those things. I want to sit with Lauren when we're really old and drink coffee...I want to be with her for 50 years. That would be awesome. And I think the thing we start doing when we start thinking of death is, we're like, “Oh man, what would happen to my family? What would happen to my children?” And listen, I know this might be difficult for us, but in the end God loves my wife monumentally more than I'll ever be able to love her. And my children? I'm a huge fan of strong male presence in the home, gentle, strong, loving male presence in the home. And I don't know how your children are, but if I'm gone for four or five days, my children start to want someone to beat them for some reason. Seriously, they just go to that one thing that they know they shouldn't do and are like, “Somebody's going to spank me up in here. Someone is going to show me they love me. I need boundaries.” And my kids will start doing that. But listen, Christ is a better father than I'll ever be able to be. It's just the truth. And then sometimes I'm like, “Oh, what would happen at the Village? What would happen...” and God's like, “Please. You might be thinking a little bit too much of yourself...EIGHT DAYS IN ASIA!!!!” And stuff like that happens. How’d you like to lose 20 pounds?  Excellent! And in the end here's the truth. My role is one of a pawn whether I like it or not. And if my young death furthers the kingdom and furthers the name and renown of the king, if that's what He so desires to do, to call me home early, then please don't cry for me.
I'm not going to be crying for you. I'm going to be home drinking the new wine, without the Baptists getting so angry at me. And so in the end, it's an understanding of the gospel that helps us live well, that helps us suffer well and in the end, helps us die well. And these are important things because let me assure you of some things. Your body's going to break down sooner or later. Very, very, very few people get out of this place without suffering physically, without the body reminding you that all of creation has been subjected to futility. But our boy here says, “With peace I go into the night. With peace I've lived; with peace I've died. Free me. Open my cage. Let me fly.”

The closing thoughts Matt says,

Maybe tonight we don't want the thought of death or dying to be anywhere near our minds and anywhere near our hearts because we live in such an unrest about who we are, about what's in our soul, about what we've been a part of, about what we've been capable of historically. Death is a horrifying idea for us because the thought of standing before God is just mortifying for us. And so maybe for the first time in our lives, we can be honest before a God who already knows. I mean, no shock, no awe, no shrug of disbelief, He knows. There's a freedom in you confessing that He knows. And then that next step is to confess to one another. Maybe we need more faith. We should ask for it. “Jesus, thank You for tonight, thank You for the gospel, thank You for Your voice, thank You for Your power and thank You for Your great glory loving us, hopelessly broken. I pray that by faith and grace we might live well at peace, that we might suffer well at peace and when it comes time, we might die well. It's for Your beautiful name. Amen.”

I thank God for the way he has worked in Matt’s life and I pray that God would heal him and give him many fruitful years in ministry; but Matt is in a win/win situation. If the Lord heals Matt then it will mean fruitful labor for him as he encourages others in their progress and joy in the faith (Phil. 1:25) and if he departs to be with Christ--that is far better; he is a winner as well (Phil 1:20-26). 

Here is an article I wrote on this topic:
Absent From The Body--Present With The Lord

Here is the latest update on Matt

Message from Matt on 12/20/09

John Piper preached a very encouraging sermon at The Village Church on December 27th. His text was Romans 8:18-25 titled, “Subjected in Hope.” You can find it here and here (check out the last few sermons preached at The Village Church)