Posted by: Matt Rice | 05/26/2010

The Purpose of the Church

This past week at The Creek, we explored many passages about the purpose of the church. The Big idea is simply put: The Church exists to bring glory to God. You might ask, “What is GLORY?” I found this definition on my mac that said: high renown or praise won by honorable achievements.

Honorable achievements – let me see –  Make the lame to walk, the blind to see, heal the sick, created the world, provide a savior, and LOVE EVERYONE. I believe that is a noble list of achievements. God deserves the glory ascribed to him from HIS people and HIS church. We are created for this. To remind you of the universal purpose of the church, I have recorded them below.

1.    Transformation not conversion is the goal of the church.

2.    Fellowship among believers is a lived out discipline.

3.    The Lord’s Supper is administered as a symbol.

4.    Love God – Love All.

5.    Making disciples is a priority of the church.

6.    Prayer – the umbrella of power God gives to accomplish such a huge task.

In a day where the success of the church is determined by the number of classes, the square footage of the building, and the number of people who attend, the bible suggests a radically different picture. The success of the church is dependent on their faithfulness to the message, not the number of people who come or don’t come. The church is unique because of her message – not because of the smoke machine or lighting bar they use.

The purpose of the church is to glorify God. The method (contemporary, traditional, blended, drums or piano, postmodern, college, or family oriented) of the church should arrive from her theology not from the latest fad.

Posted by: Matt Rice | 05/22/2010

Coaching and Pastoring

I am the proud coach of the Mite Division Dodgers Baseball Team. My 7-year-old son Andrew is a member of this team. In the mite division the coach pitches the ball to you. No more tee hitting. Andrew is a lot like me. Athletically he gets it, but has a hard time putting it into practice. We have played 4 games this year. Andrew has struggled with hitting the ball. His stance looks good, his uniform fits well, and his bat is in the right place. However, he WAS(notice the tense – past) having problems hitting the ball.

He was one of the few guys on the team who was not hitting the ball. In the first two games I gave him 15 pitches to hit and he did not hit one. In the third game he did not hit the first two times up, but got his first hit on the 3rd try. I was proud and he was beaming.

I realized something rather convicting. I was coaching my team but not my son. I was not practicing with him. We would practice only as a team where I had 14 other kids I was responsible for. He just needed some swings. May 15 was the baseball blast where we played at 6:45 pm. So, I made a plan and this is how is all unfolded:

1.    Thursday Night, May 13 – Took him to the batting cages where I pitched to him. I threw him 70 plus pitches and he hit just a few.

2.    Saturday afternoon, May 15 – Took him to Papaw’s house and threw him over 100 pitches. He KILLED the ball. He hit everything I threw him.

3.    Saturday Night, May 15 – The Dodgers vs. The Phillies. Andrew Rice goes 3 -3 with two runs scored. He hits three singles.

Here are the lessons I learned:

1.    Encourage often. Many times you focus on what they are not doing rather than what they are doing. Watch your tone and encourage.

2.    Don’t push too hard. After a time of hitting he said he was done and I did not fight it on the Saturday at Papaw’s house.

3.    Spend time with them. I was not helping my son hit the ball. I was helping the whole team but not giving him the help he needed. It was amazing what a few days of hitting did for him.

4.    Don’t give up. Andrew was discouraged about not hitting. He told me through tears before one game he was scared of the ball.  At Papaw’s house he fouled a ball into his mouth and he bled – badly. We cleaned it up and he got right back out there.

As a pastor or church leader, parent or friend, I want you to encourage your friends/congregation, don’t push too hard, spend time with them and don’t give up or let them give in.

Andrew said to me the other day, “Dad, do you know the best part about baseball is? You are MY COACH. “

Hey do you know what the best part of the Gospel is? JESUS.

Posted by: Matt Rice | 05/13/2010

Sustained Victory

I would bet Lebron James is not looking to win the next game. I believe he would love to have a victory, but I am guessing he would love for his team to have SUSTAINED VICTORY and win the NBA World Championship. I would also bet that you (along with me) desire to have sustained victory in certain areas of life. I am sensing that there are areas where we struggle with that we do get to celebrate victory in. This is great. Praise God. However, the problem is when we celebrate…….prematurely.

I am all for the victories. However, I am not for short-term victory. This type of victory has you celebrating a weeks worth of quiet times, a great three-day stretch in your marriage, and a “full” 20 days free of looking at something in appropriate.  Sustained victory gives you victory for an infinite period of time.

I believe that God died on the Christ to give us victory for the future and SUSTAINED VICTORY presently. I know you don’t want to have a few good days at work but a great career. Passing the math test is good, but doing well in school is the bigger picture. Not arguing with your spouse for a week is great, but having a sustained marriage is God’s idea for you.

In Haggai 2:1-9 he got in the faces of the people because they celebrated prematurely and therefore became disillusioned about the look of the Temple. They were comparing it to Solomon’s Temple and all its beauty. The victory they experienced by getting back to work was short lived. It was a short-term victory.

My encouragement to you is to enjoy those victories that God gives, but don’t let the short-term distract you from sustained victory. Sustained Victory is needed in your devotional life, your marriage, your job, and what you watch and look at to bring fame to His Name.

Posted by: Matt Rice | 05/01/2010


As I stated in my last post, I have had a personal awakening to my priorities. This awakening has me “waking” early for some bible study time AND RUNNING. I have added the running aspect to a couple of mornings a week. This morning (4-29-10) I was coming around the lake where I live (actually a large pond) and the sun was coming up. The neat aspect is that I was listening to some music on my iphone. The song that was on as I was coming around the first curve as the sun was shinning on the lake/pond was called Beautiful by Phil Wickham. Read the lyrics below  while looking at this picture. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of Him and His creation this morning. “Your beautiful Lord!”

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who you are
You’re beautiful

I see you there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you     rose again for me

Now you are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful

I see Your face, I see Your face, I see Your face
You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful, You’re beautiful

Posted by: Matt Rice | 04/26/2010


Does your priority list look like this?:

1.    God

2.    Spouse

3.    Kids

4.    Job

5.    Church

Let me rephrase the question – Do you want your priority list to look like this? Most believers say this order is what it should look like ,only to have the real list – a second list – in the front pocket of denial.

Haggai was used of God to get in the face of the Jews who had lost their way. Their agenda was priority number 1, and as a result, they were working harder and had little to show for it. Have you ever felt this way?

I will say this week was one of the hardest messages I have had to prepare in a long time. My priority has been for some time to prepare and pray, for me as the pastor and the church – for it (and me) to do well. I certainly don’t see the problem with praying these prayers. However, my priority in approaching the text was not with what God was telling me, but where I could use this message? To put it bluntly – I was prostituting the text. There have been leaks in my devotional life for this sin. I have found that God wants to fill me up with all of him and not just so that I can give it back to my peeps……. But that I might be stirred up to “glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.”

What a week. I pray that you will be brutally honest with yourself about your priorities. Here are some ways to know if your priorities are out of order (Thanks Chip Ingram):

1.    Busyness. You are always late, rushed and never have enough “time” in the day.

2.    Leaking Devotional Life. You have adopted some shortcuts to spending time with the Lord. Whereas you once blocked off time with the Lord you now pray and read (if you do) as you are driving.

3.    Troubled Finances. The greatest way to tell what is important to you.

4.    Emotional Stress. You are tired, not relaxed, and have a sense of being overwhelmed.

5.    Escapism Behavior. You are so overwhelmed you just escape to a mindless and thoughtless activity like TV or the computer.

I close with a warning. If you are a believer and have your priorities out of order, I challenge you to CONSIDER YOUR WAYS. God will not tolerate us living by the second list and promoting the first. Let’s live and promote King Jesus.

Posted by: Matt Rice | 04/19/2010


Is there one (maybe 2) areas of your life you have grown apathetic about? Have you given up on doing devotions with your kids because they won’t sit still? (Reminder – they are kids). Have you grown apathetic about your work because your boss doesn’t get it? (Remind me what “it “ is)

In the book of Haggai, the people of God had gotten apathetic over their responsibility to rebuild the temple. They became disinterested, passive and even forgot about rebuilding the temple that lay in ruin for over 70 years. The people did not have a public place to worship and they didn’t care.

Apathy is rampant today. The “burbs” give us a plethora of eating places, gas stations, and grocery stores to satisfy the immediate gratification we have become so used to. Consumerism has found its way into some churches so we fail to travel the road of investing, because the immediate want is so great and waiting means we move on to something else. God has created the waiting “game” (not a game but a sovereign tool) to refine our motives and us. We cannot rush this process.

Haggai was used to awaken the people to their purpose. The Jews were so wrapped up in their stuff;  coupled with the misinformed belief that building the temple of God did not matter. King Cyrus let them free from Babylonian captivity to move back into Jerusalem. This should have been a sign in and of itself.

There is no problem in taking care of your family, having nice stuff and going out to eat. However, when the people of God grow apathetic to the cause of God, there needs to be an awakening. Matthew 5:15-17 says believers are the “light of the world.” We are here to shine brightly the light of Jesus. Having a home is necessary. Having a car is necessary. Going out to eat is a great privilege.  There is nothing wrong with being a provider for our families. Being a light of the world means we shine so that people can see the greatness of our God not the good deeds of our lives. We want our light to shine so that they may see what God is up to.

However, the problem exits when the stuff we posses and seek after, causes a swell of apathy for the cause of Christ. We exist to bring fame to His name. I want to encourage you to allow Jesus to reign completely in your life. I want to conclude with some questions for you this week:

1.    Consider your ways this week. What are you putting your effort in the most?

2.    What have you grown apathetic about? Your job, marriage, your church, or relationship with Christ?

3.    Are you awakened and aware of your responsibility to shine brightly the light of Jesus?

Haggai 1:7-8: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord.”

Posted by: Matt Rice | 04/08/2010

Easter Egg Hunt

Two weeks ago The Creek Church hosted its Second Annual Community Easter Egg Hunt. There were inflatable bounce houses, hundreds of hot dogs served and thousands of eggs hidden. One of the best things about the day was being able to tell all of our guests that this was a free event. Here are some pics from the Egg Hunt.

Posted by: Matt Rice | 03/26/2010

The Bible in DVR

I love DVR…. Skipping the commercials, pausing for a snack or to quiet the kids, and watching shows when you want to watch them are all the benefits of having DVR. I had lunch recently with a friend, and he helped me see something profound about the Bible and DVR.

Just imagine for a moment that you did not watch your favorite basketball team play their rival game. You have the game on DVR. You have not looked at the score, heard the score, and do not know who won the game. After a tired Sunday night, you decide to go to bed and watch the game the next morning. You wake up and accidentally see the score on the news before watching the RECORDED game and see your teams wins by 5.

How does this change the outcome of you watching the game? It would be less stressful. You are probably more pleasant and there is less yelling at the TV or refs. Even if your team is down during the game, you know they win and it settles you down. Being down by 15 doesn’t matter when the victory is assured. I would like you to see the bible this way, and the assured victory to all followers of Christ.

I wonder if you stress over issues like I do at times? Could it be the constant ear aches of the kids is driving you crazy? Could it be the trials at work that distract you? Could it be the rising cost of healthcare? Could it be the diagnosis of a serious illness? I want you fast forward to the end of the bible and see who wins. Those who follow Christ are assured victory.

So, stop living like you don’t know the outcome. Live in the reality of Jesus – who is not in the grave.

Posted by: Matt Rice | 03/18/2010


Church planting is tough. It is equally tough on the core families down to the lead pastor. The struggles from casting vision, to endless and mindless set up can cause people to check out after 18 months. They abandon what God has “called” them to because he is “moving” them on. I really enjoyed this article by Perry Noble of NewSpring Church in SC. Hope you enjoy it too.

Posted by: Matt Rice | 03/02/2010

American Idol

I love American Idol. I DVR the show and have watched it faithfully every year. Don’t get me wrong. Simon is no Jack Bauer and does not come close. However, I love seeing the average Joe or Susie make it big time. I love the first couple of weeks. I love to see the ones who can’t sing. I probably need to repent of this, but I love it.

I love the analogy Matt Chandler gave about those who try out for American Idol before the top 24 are named. He said, “It is evident that those who try out for American Idol and really can’t sing, are not involved in biblical community. If they were involved in biblical community (a small group) they would know they can’t sing. “

My point – have a group of people who will tell you the truth that is based on the WORD of God. If you are not in a Huddle Group (this is what we call small groups at The Creek) find one through your church. You are in desperate need of God’s Word. In this setting you will be told honestly that Jesus loves and has a plan for your life even if you can’t sing.

If you don’t get into biblical community you will be humiliated and frustrated and might just have your “pants on the ground.”

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