Monday, April 28, 2014

Galaxy by Matt Dietz

Cover by artist Randy Friemel

Our oldest son, Matt, is releasing his newest CD in May.  I'm so excited about it!  You can go here and listen to a sneak peek! Just click on the little red arrow at the top left corner of the page to listen.  This Friday, May 2, he will release his title song.  For a $5 donation to ru4children, you'll be able to download the song, Galaxy.  You'll be able to do it here on this website.

Matt has written the songs and sings them.  He's always been a gifted song writer.  But I believe God has brought a new depth and strength to his songs.  I've asked Matt to tell us how this album came into being and why he chose to use the men he did on this album.  These are his words:

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

In 2004, I gave up on music and in doing so, I essentially gave up on me; my passion. Through a series of life events, I made a very conscious decision to run from God. 

In June of 2010, God began to make it very evident, that He was in pursuit of me. A month later, my life forever changed when I gave up running and allowed God to show me that He was not religion. His grace covered so much shame and regret, His mercies became very real and I fell in love with Him for it.  

 Shortly after God captured my heart, He began to redeem a gift I had thrown aside and counted lost, worthless and certainly disqualified. God began to speak in a tangible way. Within a period of two months, he prophetically released His vision for this gift. He spoke to me through faithful and random servants, who released 10 or more consistent prophetic words, making it absolutely undeniable that He was far from through with the passion He created me to pursue.  

 I began to write, and write, and write some more. A year later, I had more than 50 songs or parts of songs written. Again, God spoke saying, "Display this musical gift, Matt." This word came from an absolute stranger, who knew nothing about a gift, except that God had spoken.  

 In December of 2012, I began to round up the necessary equipment to create a modest record. My brother Zach, has been a part of this album every step of the way. I bounced every song idea off of him, determined the necessary equipment through him, he engineered the record, co-produced, created samples and sounds, mixed and mastered this album. His talent is immense and he is the biggest reason this album exists.  

 I began to pray, "God who would you have me involve in this project?" As I prayed, I looked for those whose gifts were greater than mine, and whose hearts were sewn to the Father. My brother David, is the best acoustic guitarist I know. Not only that, he has the character of an elder and I aspire to be more like him. I love that he is laced through this album.  

 Jay Wright, my brother by marriage to Amy, is my favorite pianist in the world. He loves my sister and their children in a way that makes me proud.  

 Marco Gonzalez is a guy who I've loved like a brother since he was 12 and began playing with me in college. God moved Marco back to Amarillo, and I knew he had to be a part.  

Clint McKinney, is a personal friend and brother, who has a special gift to not only play acoustic, but is a great song writer. I pulled him in to play on the record, and it turned into a songwriting session. Let It Rain was written in 30 minutes, and I knew it was essential to this project.  

 Steven Ronk is probably the best bassist I've personally had the privilege of watching. He has the heart of a servant and I'm proud to involve him.  

 Mark Morgan is a genius on the guitar, you'll see. Humility emanates from his core, and I love it!  

 Kuhrt Cowan walked into our makeshift studio, and in 8 hours, tracked and produced every single drum section of every song, with ZERO pre-production. He's also one of the kindest people I know.  

 I am so proud to show off the great talents of these special men! Their talents and especially their hearts are the absolute core of this record! 

This project, is more than just songs, or even just songs of worship. 

This project is birthed from ashes. It is the very heart of God, displaying His will for all of humanity. Restoring hope to the hopeless, raising the dead and giving us a reason to dance. He is forever Faithful. His mercies are new every single morning and are as long as the day. 
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

I hope you'll listen with an open, expectant heart to these songs.  Purchase them for friends who need to hear God.  Buy them for your children who are running from God.  I believe God has a much higher purpose for this album than we know--than even Matt knows.  You'll be blessed.   
Matt's proud mom.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis

The Last Bride by Beverly Lewis is #5 in the Home to Hickory Hollow series.  I didn't know that until I finished reading the book, but it explained a lot, in my opinion.

It's been a while since I've read a Beverly Lewis book--which I've always enjoyed.  I love her research, family history, and portrayal of the Amish lifestyle.  So I was eager to review this book.  Even though this book contained the usual great writing style of Beverly Lewis, I found it to be very predictable and "tired."  I didn't understand that until I found it was the last book of a series.  It felt hurried--like Mrs. Lewis was anxious to get to the end of the story.

The story is of Tessie, young girl who secretly marries Marcus, her beau who is subsequently killed in a building accident.  Tessie Ann doesn't realize that she's already pregnant at the time.  This brings about an inquisition by the Amish elders and Tessie Ann's family.  Sweet Levi quietly waits for the right time to declare his love and promise to help Tessie raise Marcus' child.

I won't stop reading Beverly Lewis' books!  I highly regard her as an author.  In fact, I'll probably read the earlier books of this series to give this book a fair shot.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to Bethany House for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Thursday, April 24, 2014

DIY Message

Zach preached this DIY message last night at New Life Church in Dalhart.  I thought you would like to listen to it!  Amazing!!

And this is the video Zach mentions in his message--you've GOT to watch it:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Disciples who DO!

Have you ever had those moments when God has just lifted a veil from your eyes and you see something in a totally different way?  It usually comes after I've been questioning or searching for truth.  I may have read that scripture dozens of times but suddenly, it comes alive!  I see from a completely new paradigm.

That happened to me this morning.  There are so many sick people around me.  People I desire to see healed--completely.  And I've been praying and asking.  And I began to wonder when we became learners instead of doers.  I mean...Jesus modeled healing others.  And then he called twelve disciples and sent them out with power and authority to cast out demons and heal the sick.  (Matthew 10:1)  What is a disciple anyway? says it's a personal follower of Christ...someone who is taught or trained.  And Jesus did both.  He taught His disciples as He was modeling what they were to do.

When did we just become learners--students who sit in Bible classes?  Did it start with Paul's letters?  But if you stop and think about it, Paul was writing letters to people who were doing.  They'd seen and learned how to be a disciple.  Paul was mainly correcting the way they were doing ministry.  In fact, in Acts 15:12, it says Paul & Barnabas rehearsed what signs and wonders God had performed through them among the Gentiles.  James 5:14-16 tells us how to anoint and pray for the sick.  I think the church has adopted the misguided notion that teaching the Word is all we need to be doing with our disciples.  But we never show them how to step into using what we've learned--except to perpetuate the teaching process.  Or we just believe those gifts stopped.

Before Jesus went to heaven, his last act with his 11 disciples was to tell them to go and make disciples of all the nations.  (Matthew 28:18-20)  WE are those disciples.  Have we become what Jesus intended?  Why are we content to sit and learn...over and over and over...and never DO?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Our Youth

 Last night, our church hosted the Top O' Texas Baptist Associational meeting.  People from about 17 different churches were here at First Baptist Church Groom for the Sunday evening meeting and meal.  Andy made an announcement this Sunday morning that he was hoping some of our people could come about 30 minutes early and be available to direct people to bathrooms, help them find seats, or just give them directions to the activity center for the meal after the meeting.  That was just in a little information blurb after the morning service.  We were overwhelmed by the response.  First of all, you have to understand that it's generally senior adults who attend these associational meetings.  But we had probably a dozen young people show up 30 minutes early and also many of our adults.  Andy quickly gave them instruction and they began handing out bulletins, greeting, giving instructions, giving up their seats for others (and sitting or standing at the back of the church), and just generally being helpful.

Youth intermingled with our adults at the back of the church.

Youth in leadership at our church.

I don't know if you've been around many young people lately, but it's so hard getting them to interact with adults.  Not these guys!!  I've never been so proud in all my life!!  Andy divided these guys up by twos and placed them all over the church after the service.  Two-by-two they were standing at various places in our church to give directions, welcome our guests, and just be helpful.  AND THEY DID!  These young people were looking senior adults in the eye, shaking their hands and welcoming them to FBC Groom.  I was amazed.  Not only did they greet others, but they stood back and waited to make sure we were going to have enough food and seats for our guests and were some of the last people served.  (We had more people come than expected!)  And because we knew during the service that we had more people than expected, some of our young men helped us set up more tables and ran with me to my house to get more chairs.  They stepped up to the plate.  I knew these guys were great, but I've never seen a group of youth shine like these did last night!  I was so proud.

And then last night and today, we've heard nothing but praises for their excellence in serving and greeting.  We've made a bunch of Baptists jealous over our youth group.  We didn't set out to do that, but we just can't help ourselves.  ;)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Satan loves secrets

Satan loves darkness, isolation, and secrets.  He knows that if he can isolate you and fill your mind with his dark thoughts and convince you to keep them secret, he can win the battle to destroy you. (John 10:10) That was the very first act we see of his in the Bible.  He got Eve alone.  He filled her mind with dark thoughts, "Can it really be that God has said you shall not eat from every tree of the garden?"  He inferred these things:  "God is holding out on you!  Does He really love you?  He doesn't want the best for your life.  I can offer you more." And then he makes it very enticing.  And once we bite, we enter into his destructive, dark snare of isolation.

But God has told us that there's nothing hidden that won't be brought to light.  (Mark 4:22)  God IS light.  And He exposes secrets for our own good.  He knows how destructive they are and how they don't end in just being a secret.  They will spiral us to a place of isolation, fear, lies, and death--and that mainly being separation from God. God came looking for Adam & Eve after they'd eaten the forbidden fruit.  He found them hiding in their nakedness.  They wanted to hide their sinful state from God.  They didn't want to be exposed...and neither do we.

If Satan comes whispering secrets in your ear, RUN!  Don't stop and listen.  Don't be enticed.  He has nothing good to offer and only wants to lure you into darkness away from the God of Light. His secrets will isolate you not only from God but from people who love you.  He will make you feel hopeless and feel there is no way out.

But there is a way out!!  Trust God when He gently urges you to Himself and into the light.  He wants to expose your secrets--not to harm you, but to heal you.  His full purpose is to restore fellowship with you.  He called out to Adam & Eve, "Where are you?"  He wanted them to admit their secret.  He wanted them to willingly come out so He could lead them home--to Himself.

And He only wants the same for you and me.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Andy was preaching on tithing Sunday and mentioned how Judas was the treasurer for the disciples.  Who gave him that position?  Jesus.  Did Jesus know Judas had the heart of a thief?  Yes.  Judas is the one who rebuked Mary for pouring perfume on Jesus.  He wanted to know why she wasted it instead of giving that money to the poor.  Was he really concerned about the poor?  No.  He was pilfering money from the money box and was concerned about what he was losing.

As I've thought on this, there have been so many applications for me.  First, I have to ask myself, "What am I hanging on to?  Do I have the heart of a thief?"  Those times when I don't want to tithe or give means I'm wanting it for myself.  Jesus told us we couldn't serve God and money.  It was either one or the other.  It really is all about our hearts.

The second application is this:  We don't have to worry about God's reputation.  If He's not concerned about a disciple--who is a thief--taking care of the money box, He's not worried about a preacher who is consumed with himself or a church treasurer who wants control or someone who doesn't want to tithe or a modern-day disciple who just doesn't want to walk in the truth!  

God is big enough to take care of His own reputation!  Too many times, I think we get concerned for God and want to fix things for Him.  We want to be the spiritual policemen instead of trusting the power of the Holy Spirit to bring His own conviction.   He's simply told us to love others.  When we do bring correction (which we are to do with a brother), we are to come in the spirit of meekness and to speak the truth in love.

Father, please purify us of the Judas spirit!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Here's My Weakness, God!

Has God spoken something into your life?  Have you then watched as Satan tried to destroy it?  Me, too.

That was my thought as Zach preached this sermon last week.  Joseph had a couple of dreams--ones where his family members bowed down to him.  Which meant he would some day have some kind of authority over his own family.  And Satan (using his jealous brothers and a spurned woman) did his dead-level-best to destroy that prophecy.  Joseph was sold into slavery and then ended up in prison.  But I believe God used those situations in his life to temper strengthen his integrity, determination and courage.  And God wasn't hampered by those details--He used them!  He took the dire circumstances of Joseph's life and lifted him to a place of where his family came and bowed before him.

This gives me so much encouragement!  I've been meditating on this all week.  And it goes hand-in-hand with II Corinthians 12:9-10, "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Whether God has spoken into our lives or we just have a weakness...we can know Satan wants to destroy us in that area.  But God wants to fulfill His good plan and turn our weakness into a strength.  The very thing Satan wants to destroy in us is the very thing God will use.  And he may use the dire circumstances of our lives to fulfill His promise.

This has caused me to come to God anew and offer Him my weak place.  Here's my weakness, God!  I want it to become strong through the power and workings of the Holy Spirit.  In fact...God said that's exactly what He would do!  And I believe Him.

"As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day."  
Genesis 50:20