Thursday, December 04, 2008

Catholic Musician, Matt Maher, on the Virtue of Humility

Catholic Musician, Matt Maher, on the Virtue of Humility
Catholic singer/songwriter Matt Maher discusses surrendering to the will of God, the greatest opportunity for joy.
Though Matt Maher was raised to believe in God while growing up in Newfoundland, Canada, he notes that music became his religion during his high school years. Matt eventually found his way back to the Catholic Church and now combines his love for God with a career as a singer/songwriter and worship leader. I recently spoke with Matt on “Christopher Closeup” ( full podcast here ) about his journey of faith and his Essential Records debut album “Empty and Beautiful.” Here are some excerpts:

TR: The song “Your Grace is Enough” – I know it was inspired by a challenging time in your life where you had to deal with loneliness…How did God help you deal with that?

Matt Maher: I think you deal with it by letting God into it. I think a lot of people in this day and age feel disconnected from each other. They feel lonely at the end of the day. And the only way to (overcome) that is to get re-connected, primarily through God. Only God can meet all your expectations. We all have a desire to be loved deeply and be treasured. Sometimes we end up throwing that on people, and they can’t match our expectations. So sometimes we end up trying to love people out of our need rather than just loving people as a gift which is really how we’re designed. We’re designed to be first loved by God, and then to turn around and give that love away. When we do that, we’re operating in the way that He made us. And when we don’t, that’s when we start to turn to other things. It’s really common for a lot of people in loneliness to get distracted and stay disconnected and never really get those areas of their heart filled.

TR: Can you get to grace being enough on your own or do you think you need some divine intervention to make that happen?

Matt Maher: I think the decision you make is quite simply to surrender. That’s all you can do. It’s in that humble ‘Yes’ to God, it’s in that humble ‘I need you.’ And He is immediately there. In fact so often, He (says), ‘I was already here; I was just waiting for you to say something.’

TR: I like that you use the word surrender because sometimes I read about people who describe those who accept the Christian life…(as) accepting a life that’s kind of boring – don’t do this, don’t do that. For you, the surrender seems to have led to a life of adventure. Is that how you see surrendering?

Matt Maher: Oh absolutely. People who say surrender is boring, I’m like ‘Then you’re obviously not surrendering.’ Surrendering is sometimes a violent process of wrestling and letting go and finding moments of respite. Christianity to me is not about following a set of rules. It is about a proposition so amazing and so outlandish that the world finds it completely unbelievable because it doesn’t make sense. It’s not a fair exchange, it’s not ‘you get what you pay for.’ It’s ‘Here’s the greatest gift you could possibly ever be given and it’s free. And you don’t need to earn it. And it’s freely given.’ That notion is so preposterous to people primarily because the church – we struggle so much with showing that, with living that. A lot of people end up growing up and you have memories of people in your life who are Christians and they seem miserable all the time. And (you think) ‘Why do I want to follow that?’ So for me, I feel a challenge and a call to be radical. But radical in humility and radical in meekness and radical in siding with the marginalized and the downtrodden in the world, people who feel isolated and feel alone – and trying to love them the way that God loves me.

TR: The title track of your album is “Empty and Beautiful” – those are two words you don’t usually see go together…Why do you see a connection between those two?

Matt Maher: The most beautiful act of love in the known universe is Christ giving himself on the cross. And here’s this incredibly violent moment in human history…Yet that act of Christ surrendering Himself on the cross is the greatest act of love displayed in the world. So somehow, this act of being emptied and surrendering everything, somehow God is able to turn it around and make something beautiful out of it. That’s why when you’re Christian, you look at a cross and you see life. It’s so interesting because we lose the shock of the cross in our society…In the early church people started displaying the cross and (the reaction was), ‘That’s a symbol of death and destruction, of emptiness and nothingness.’ But God’s actually taken it and made it a sign for hope…You can’t be filled with the presence of God if you’re full. That’s why if you have everything you need in your life, how could you possibly need God? So when you’re empty and you realize the futility of your emptiness, that becomes the greatest opportunity for joy in your life because you’re ready to be filled.

(To download the full Matt Maher interview on “Christopher Closeup,” visit .)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Planned Parenthood Sinks to New Lows

Now this is just sick. PP is now offering gift certificates for Christmas. Yes, Jesus has come to earth and he is bringing joy, peace, and...dead babies???!? This is an absolute travesty and mockery, for God Himself came to earth as a small baby, wrapping himself in flesh in one who was an unwed mother. With human eyes, this would be seen as a problem, but God always comes to us in ways that we don't expect.

The women who are in crisis pregnancy situations don't need the kind of "help" that PP is offering, but they need the true hope that Christ came to offer. That is, unless they want the life-time experience of pain and regret...for only a $25 gift certificate.

Planned Parenthood offers gift vouchers

Pro-lifers rap Indiana plan

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Indiana residents in need of a quick stocking stuffer this holiday season have an unusual option: Planned Parenthood gift certificates.

The group's Hoosier State chapter on Wednesday began selling gift certificates redeemable at any of its 35 facilities for any service provided -- from basic health screenings to birth control to abortions.

Betty Cockrum, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, said the program was initiated in response to the state's ailing economy.

"Our patients are principally low-income women, and so, needless to say, those patients are more challenged now than ever," Ms. Cockrum said. "We find that when women are [financially] strapped, they're more worried about putting food on the table and gas in their car, and their health care is often put by the wayside."

Almost 800,000 Indiana residents don't have health insurance, she said.

Ms. Cockrum said the gift-certificate program is the first of its kind by any of Planned Parenthood's 99 affiliates nationwide.

Pro-life groups -- longtime opponents of Planned Parenthood -- have denounced the voucher program, saying it will lead to more abortions in the state.

"It's very typical of Planned Parenthood to pervert the meaning of Christmas, which is a time of life and selflessness and love and giving," said Katie Walker, a spokeswomen with the American Life League, a Catholic pro-life activist group.

Ms. Walker added that the gift-certificate program is "another money-making opportunity to continue [Planned Parenthood] assaults on families through abortion and through artificial birth control, through the sexualization of our children with their obscene sex-ed programs."

She also accused Planned Parenthood of targeting minority populations, saying that offering money or gift certificates takes advantage of the high rates of poverty in those communities.

"Planned Parenthood makes itself out to be this benevolent organization, but the fact is, they're receiving money hand over fist," she said. "It's very much a business."

Ms. Cockrum said that while the certificates may be redeemed for abortions, "I can't imagine that could happen."

"An abortion is a tragic and urgent situation in a women's life, and gift certificates don't lend themselves to that," she said.

Ms. Cockrum added that the vast majority of services provided by Planned Parenthood are for basic health care, such as Pap tests, which cost $58 at the group's centers.

"Even a gift certificate for $25 goes a long way toward what's potentially a life-saving but certainly just essential, basic health care for a loved one," she said.

The program has been endorsed by Dr. Judy Monroe, Indiana health commissioner, who called it a "really a meaningful gift."

The certificates, which come in $25 increments, work like cash and come with no restrictions and no expiration date. They can be purchased at many of the group's Indiana clinics and online, and can be used for some insurance co-payments and medication.

No other state affiliate has yet said whether it would accept the Indiana chapter's vouchers.

Ms. Cockrum said that while it's too early to judge the program's success, she plans to offer the certificates year-round.

Planned Parenthood affiliates operate more than 880 centers nationwide.

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