Leaving Well

Our church just recently went through our pastor’s resignation to pastor a church in Virginia. This has been the smoothest pastoral transition I have ever seen. Our staff is phenomenal, the people continue to serve, and the congregation is looking forward to what God will do as He sends our next pastor.

Our previous pastor left very well. He prepared the staff, the board, and key leaders for the transition before it ever happened. He assisted the church in securing a great interim pastor and was very sensitive to the Holy Spirit through His final month and a half.

As I wrap up this season of blogging, I want to leave well. I want to thank each of you for four great years. I can honestly say I’m a better person than when I first started writing. I have encountered some remarkable people. Many of you have connected with me on social media, and I’m so glad. You will read thoughts similar to what I have shared before and see real-life updates.

As for now, I’m signing off. Thanks for letting me share these “honest thoughts” with you! Please connect with me at one of the sites below.

Facebook: mdwinters103 (personal) or Matthew Winters Ministries
Instagram: matthewwinters1980
Twitter: @matthewwinters6
LinkedIn: linked-in.com/matthewdwinters


Winding Down…Or Not

As I am in my last few days of this blog domain, I have been writing in preparation to cease from blogging and refuel. That is still the plan, but God shifted things just a little.

I received a call yesterday to fill an interim worship role beginning Sunday, November 3. We are potentially looking at two months, but this is subject to change due to some other transition. This is a great situation, and I am glad to help for these next few months.

Here is what I have learned. You and I can try to “help God out”, but God does a much better job opening and closing doors. While I have been good at giving you honest thoughts, I have been giving them to myself for the last few months. The truth has been setting me free.

In the writing sense, I’m winding down. In the church ministry sense, I getting rebooted for a time. Please join me in praying that God uses me during that time of transition and that Christ will be exalted.

God At Work in My Oldest Son

My oldest three kids have been in church all their lives. They were born into ministry because I was serving somewhere on church staff. They saw great times, but they also saw and heard some things I wish they never experienced. I have never pushed vocational ministry on them because God calls, I don’t.

My oldest son shared this on Facebook today, and I wanted to share it with you:

“Over the past few months, the Lord has been dealing on my heart about going into the ministry. The first time I felt a sense of a calling was a few months ago, and since then, I’ve prayed about it and studied about Biblical callings. I feel that the Lord is calling me into the ministry, but I’m not sure in what capacity of ministry.

“I ask that y’all who see this pray for God to reveal to me what capacity of ministry He wants me to serve in. Thanks!”

Please pray for my son, Micah. My greatest desire for him and all my children is that they glorify God in whatever vocation they may find themselves.

My Last Week of Blogging

This has been such an emotional journey as I say “See you later” to this blog that has been a part of my life for the last 4 years. I look back and see moments of growth, frustration, sadness, and joy. I remember times as I was trying to navigate through certain seasons, and you as a reader got to see the raw and honest thoughts of a guy in ministry who laid his struggles before you. An overwhelming majority of you welcomed the vulnerability as I walked on mountains high and valleys low. I am so grateful to you.

It is difficult to admit that your life is stagnant and that you need to refuel in several areas of your life. That is where I am. I need to be a better husband, parent, friend, and chaplain. I desperately need to restructure my life so that those in my life get my best. I also know that I need to feed my soul and spirit so that God’s truth and love flow from me. This vessel has been running dry for some time. This vessel is also being poorly managed physically. These will be areas of focus in this season of my life.

Will I ever blog again? More than likely. I share little nuggets throughout the day on Twitter. I utilize Facebook and Instagram in sharing longer thoughts. I’m finally learning who God created me to be, and I’m okay with that. I had GOOD dreams for myself, but they weren’t GOD dreams. We are so quick to admit the truth to others, but we are slow to tell ourselves the truth. In the day of the American dream, we get lost in grandiose yet unrealistic thoughts. I’m not saying that we should have low expectations and dreams, but we need to do an honest assessment.

I definitely want to stay in touch. I have met so many great people through this blog. Please connect with me at one of the places below if you have not done so already.

Facebook: mdwinters103 (personal) or Matthew Winters Ministries
Instagram: matthewwinters1980
Twitter: @matthewwinters6
LinkedIn: linked-in.com/matthewdwinters

Listening to the Wind

You may read the title “Listening to the Wind” and think I have officially lost it. In this season of my life, I see where I have neglected my overall health – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Today, God made me slow down. My day was going to be filled with leaving super early to take my mom to the doctor followed by an afternoon of patient visits. When nausea left me feeling like my world was spinning, I rescheduled things so my day could be spent in bed. I was able to sleep some, but I noticed things I would not normally notice.

It actually began last night. I noticed the wind chimes on our back porch. The wind was not blowing at the time, so I made them “sing”. This morning as I laid in bed, I was listening to the wind and rain through the window. It was wonderful. It was quiet. It was what I needed.

Over the last few days, I have been thinking about the power of God. He is the One who can tell the wind and waves, “Peace! Be still!” The winds and waves obey His voice. I love when God whispers His sweet peace to my weary soul.

All of these thoughts were made possible because I stopped to listen to the wind.

Lessons Learned This Year

As many of you know, my blogging journey is coming to an end as we know it. With that said, I do want to share the things I have learned this year. I know it’s only October, but my prayer is that these lessons will help you.

God does work things together for good. I knew this, but I was reminded. Some life circumstances looked bleak and unpromising, but God worked things out after a LONG period of waiting. Sometimes, life has to get the darkest before the light shines.

Surrender and contentment are beautiful things. I tried hard to make many things happen in my life, but nothing ever panned out. It seemed as if I encountered this at every turn. One day, I came to this beautiful place of contentment with my circumstances and the knowledge that God is in control. He will move me when He wants to move me.

Aspects of calling change as seasons change. I was in full-time church ministry until November 2013. When I stepped out, I was lost. It was all I knew. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get back in it. When opportunities began to open this year, I discovered I did not want to return. What happened? My heart for ministry did not go away. The way I desire to minister changed. Although I was taught that a specific calling remains for a lifetime, that is not the case. I am content to fill in for churches that need someone to preach or lead worship. I love doing that as well as encouraging pastors and ministry leaders. Does it make me less of a person because I no longer have a full-time position? Absolutely not! It means that I now have a broader reach than I did before. That’s what I get for praying the prayer of Jabez lol.

The church world has changed, but Christ has not. Because of this, my focus must be on Christ. I have no desire to impress or try to climb the ministry ladder anymore. It’s vain. The world does not have to know me in order for me to be successful. According to the world’s definition of success, Christ did not fit the bill. He was not a pompous, arrogant, wealthy “Gospel pimp” like many preachers of today. He was a humble servant who will return as Conquering King. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

I’m thankful for 2019. It has not been what some would call a glamorous year, but I will say it has been a sweet one. I believe my greatest days of ministry are ahead. Does that mean I will preach in megachurches around the world? No. I will probably continue to encourage the terminally ill, pastors and ministry leaders, and preach funerals for hospice patients with crowds of 50-100. That’s okay! I will do it joyfully and aim to please Christ in all things. I look forward to that day when I will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And that is enough!

My Last Two Weeks of WordPress Blogging

Since I have announced that my blog will come to an end on October 25, I have been blogging like a pastor who is transitioning out. I have posted a little here and there. I do, however, want to share my plan as I conclude this chapter of my life.

If I find any posts God leads me to share again from the archives, I will do so. I have been reading back over past posts and comments. This, in itself, has been a learning experience. I also plan to share what I have learned in the last four years of blogging. I think the lessons may be of help to you.

As I am transitioning out, I want to stay in touch with you guys. Please follow me at any of the links below.

Facebook: mdwinters103 (personal) or Matthew Winters Ministries
Instagram: matthewwinters1980
Twitter: @matthewwinters6
LinkedIn: linked-in.com/matthewdwinters

Bed-bound Shut-In Takes Legal Action Against Church Because Nominating Committee Did Not Select Her to Lead Dance Team

Bertha Riley, long-time member of Joyful Fellowship Church, is taking legal action against the church because the nominating committee did not choose her to fill the vacancy of Church Dance Team Leader. Ms. Riley, age 99, has been unable to attend the church for the last 15 years due to numerous health problems. Despite her inability to attend church, her longtime friend and charter member of the church, Ethel Mae Hill, age 97, visits daily, providing her with bulletins, printed materials, and other church news circulating through the Happy Hearts, the church’s senior adult ministry.

When Ms. Riley received the church’s nominating committee report, she immediately called her attorney to take legal action. Riley told news reporters, “I have been at Joyful Fellowship nearly all my life. I cannot believe the leadership of the church did not nominate me to lead the dance ministry of the church. I know I haven’t been able to get out of bed in fifteen years, but it was a slap in the face when the nominating committee picked some young whippersnapper to fill the position. This woman might be able to dance, but I guarantee she doesn’t give as much money to the church as I do. Now, I’m giving my money to the attorney in order to receive decades of tithe back in reparations for the emotional trauma the church leadership has caused me.”

Donald Jones, chairperson of the nominating committee, has not been available for comment. The jury trial is scheduled for January 25.

NOTE: The following is satire. I could not resist at least one more thing of this nature. The sad part is that things like this often happen in churches. Names have been changed to protect the guilty😂.

Appreciative Pastor Month

I recently saw where a church where I formerly served held “Church Appreciation Month” in September. The staff had special events for the church. It has really turned the tide for the church. So, I choose today to express my appreciation as someone who has pastored.

I want to begin by thanking the teachers at Portsmouth Christian School for playing a key role in my salvation and spiritual development. Your role laid the foundation for my Christian life.

I want to thank Asbury United Methodist Church, though no longer meeting, and its pastors for allowing me to serve at such a young age. You were extremely bold to hire me at age 15 to direct church music. That was risky, but you believed in me.

I want to thank Pastor John Pritchard and the people at Calvary Baptist for funding my first three college semesters while I served you. You guys poured into me during some very formative years.

I want to thank Pastor Jim Melton and Bethel Baptist for allowing me to serve as their interim music director while I was a college student. I learned a lot of hard lessons there, but you followed a very young guy’s leadership.

I want to thank Emmanuel Baptist and the pastors I served alongside for allowing a young boy with zeal and little knowledge to serve. The choir followed me joyfully, and I will cherish those 2 years forever.

I want to thank Southside Baptist for enduring me for 6 years. I look back at this first full-time ministry and wonder how you put up with me. I felt my way through the dark on so many occasions. Pastor Ben Glosson gave me nearly 75 preaching opportunities during that 6-year period. I will always cherish that.

I want to thank Pastor John McKnight and Hepsibah Baptist Church for over 3 great years. These were honestly the best years I experienced in music ministry. God exceeded my ability, and I give Him the glory. This church loved me, licensed and ordained me, and continues to encourage me as I get to see many from the church since I still live in the same area.

I want to thank Tar Heel Baptist for taking a chance on me, a guy who never served as a senior pastor. I couldn’t give you my absolute best because of my family issues, but I had a lot of fun preaching.

To Pastor James Gibson and the people of Maranatha Baptist, you took in this broken guy and gave him a second chance. You let me preach when I was ready to hang it up. You were small, but your love for me and my kids was big.

To Ebenezer Baptist and my dear friend, Pastor Jimmy Boggs, I never thought I would only serve you for 7 months, but God had other plans. I had tons of fun during that time and have some good memories.

To those who walked with me during the season of Overcomers Church, whether you attended, prayed, or whatever, that was also a special time. I’m thankful for you and your belief in a difficult vision for a rural, southern area.

There are so many I could thank who have invested in my life in some way. You may not have been a part of any of these churches, but you refreshed and help me grow. I thank God for you. Many of you on the blogging journey have been encouraging. I am grateful and blessed.

Many of you know I will close this blog in two weeks. I encourage you to stay connected through any of the following below:

Facebook: mdwinters103 (personal) or Matthew Winters Ministries
Instagram: matthewwinters1980
Twitter: @matthewwinters6
LinkedIn: linked-in.com/matthewdwinters

Why Is God So Slow?

This morning, our guest speaker at church asked the question, “Why is God so slow?” It grabbed my attention, and I began to ponder this on a few different levels. I am glad God is slow.

First, I am glad God is slow in answering my prayers. God has frequently delayed answering my prayers (seemingly), but I learned that God’s delay is not God’s denial. God knows what is best, and He answers differently so that He changes me rather than my situation with the quick fix I asked for.

Second, I am glad God is slow to anger. Think about that for a minute! God does not react quickly in giving us the wrath we deserve. He is gracious and merciful. When you look at the history of Israel, you will see how He gave them multiple chances to get right with Him. He did not say, “Strike one, you’re out!”

Third, I am glad God is slow in giving hardheaded, hard hearted people a chance to be saved. Second Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” I know many who fought the call to salvation but eventually quit running from God (like we can do that anyway).

We are people who hate waiting. We want God to do what we want, when we want, and how we want. When you step back and really think about it, you and I should be glad God is slow. He knows what is best.