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Monday, January 30, 2006

Real Ultimate Power gone amok

Oh dear. A classic internet joke in two particularly hilarious incarnations:


and (my favorite)

Derek Webb

(In case you're not familiar with it, here's the original that started it all.)

Don't worry, this blog won't devolve further.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

Monkey see, monkey do.

So, my friends Jeremy and Kierstin both did this on their blogs. I thought I'd give it a try.

my name: Matthew Smith

childhood ambition: To be a scientist. This idea was abandoned after I realized it wasn't all about cool experiments, and involved math.

fondest memory: Any day with my wife

soundtrack: U2

retreat: Immersing myself in a good novel, preferably a children's novel (like Narnia or Harry Potter)

wildest dream: To play music for a living, married to my wife-- I'm living the dream.

proudest moment: Getting an email from Kevin telling me that Matt Odmark had played guitar on the original recording of "Come Ye Sinners."

biggest challenge: Trusting Christ instead of my own schemes.

alarm clock: A Sony Dream Machine, given to me as a high school graduation gift from my aunt and uncle. I plan on using it for the rest of my life.

perfect day: Involves some combination of other things listed here.

first job: Selling photographs

indulgence: Sushi

last purchase: A very cheap digital camcorder

favorite movie: The Incredibles

inspiration: My friends

my life: Is more blessed than I could have imagined.

my card: Davidson County library

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Donald Miller speaks

Donald Miller has posted audio of him reading from his new book, To Own A Dragon, on his website. I listened a few mornings ago while making breakfast and laughed out loud.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Artist Retreat 2006 Part 2


I need proof.

Today was the second and final day of the retreat. There were three more sessions, with a break after the second for some incredible burritos from Nashville favorite Baja Burrito (not to be confused with the inferior Baja Fresh). Brennan told many stories of people, including himself, who had encountered the compassionate heart of Jesus. He reminded me that to affirm someone is to see the good in them that they can't see in themselves, and to continue despite the difficulties. A word, a look, a glance, a touch. This is so hard for me, and so important.

It was a restful time, a time to sit and listen. And though I rested, I couldn't quite connect with most of what Brennan said. I've thought about it quite a bit, and have realized that talking about how God loves me is just not enough for me to feel it.

I need proof.


All my life, I've heard that God loves me, that he's crazy about me, that he forgives me. I've always believed it. But there's always this nagging feeling; if he forgives me, why do I feel so guilty, like I need to be punished? If he loves me unconditionally, why do I feel like I need to work, not only to feel approval from him, but to feel like I'm worth something in my own eyes?

Brennan addressed these questions, but his answers left me cold. Repeating to myself over and over that God loves me just doesn't do it. Does it do it for anyone?

I need proof.


When I went to college, I started attending a Bible study called RUF. There, I learned through hymns and sermons that Jesus not only died for me, but that everything wrong I've ever done was done perfectly by him. Jesus freely gives me his record, his perfection is credited to me. God loves me because of what Jesus did. God's law demanded a punishment; justice cried out for both perfection and blood, and Jesus fulfilled that law. All of it. It is finished.

Let us wonder grace and justice join and point to mercy’s store
When through grace in Christ our trust is, justice smiles and asks no more
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
He Who washed us with His blood
Has secured our way to God


God hasn't arbitrarily decided to love me (though there is a deep mystery to his love). He doesn't see my sin as the actions of a victim (though I've been sinned against). He hasn't winked at my sin, pretending not to see it (though he no longer holds my sin against me).

Jesus' work is my proof. When I am anxious, insecure, self-righteous, angry, afraid-- mostly all at the same time-- I look to the work that Jesus did. What I do wrong, he did right. My wrong thinking is covered by his right thinking. My inability to even feel emotions correctly, to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, is substituted for his perfect emotional life.

To see the Law by Christ fulfilled, to hear His pardoning voice,
Changes a slave into a child and duty into choice.

I forget this every day, and need to remember it every minute.


I can't convince myself of God's love as just a spiritual concept. I need proof. And that proof is appearing before the throne on my behalf; a real, physical Jesus whose body still bears the marks of what he has done.

Arise, my soul, arise, shake off your guilty fears;

The bleeding sacrifice, in my behalf appears;
Before the throne my Surety stands, Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Artist Retreat 2006

Today was the beginning of a two-day artist retreat here in Nashville, sponsored by Porter's Call. Last year, the guest speaker was Don Miller; this year it's Brennan Manning. He spoke tonight about healing our image of God and ourselves-- God's love, the fear of the Lord, and how Jesus frees us of fear of the Father and dislike of ourselves.

He talked about how the Biblical meaning of the fear of the Lord is 1) silent wonder, 2) radical amazement, and 3) affectionate awe. He said that in parts of France, on Easter morning, people greet each other with the phrase "L'amour de Dieu est folie!" ("The love of God is folly!"). God's love makes no sense to us, it's foolishness, as Jesus explained in the parable of the crazy farmer.

More tomorrow...

Monday, January 16, 2006


I went with some folks from church to a MLK rally and march this morning. The rally was so full that we had to be in the overflow area outside, which was a little disappointing. I would have liked to hear the speaker who was inside, but we mostly heard a lot of music, saw some standup comedy, and witnessed more mime than I thought was possible.

Kids from our church


Wendy and John Davis marching with punk-rock fervor.

Recommended listening: "MLK" by U2 (iTunes)

"I Have A Dream" and "I've Been To The Mountaintop" by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Mea culpa.

OK, I'll admit it. I bit off more than I could chew. Trying to have a blog entry for every concert date on the fall tour just didn’t work, and put me in a downward blogging spiral where I felt like I couldn’t begin again until that task was completed. So I’ve swallowed my pride and am beginning anew here. I may have some future “On The Road Again” entries, and I may not. But I am determined to share my thoughts here more regularly. And I hope I can regain your trust—the trust that erodes when you visit every once in a while for months on end, coming up empty-handed each time. Please accept my apologies, and here’s to blogging in 2006.