The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Category: Ministry

A Prayer for Matt Pitt

1 Corinthians 12:26a, “If one member suffers, all suffer together…”

Today…my heart is broken. Today…I am hurting. Today…I hurt with my brother, Matt Pitt.

I pastor a church in Birmingham, Alabama…the place Matt Pitt calls home and in which he has ministered for many years. Matt was a young man with a troubled past who came to know Jesus in a manner that resembles the testimony of the apostle Paul. One moment Matt wanted nothing to do with Jesus, the next moment he couldn’t stop telling people about Jesus.

the-bHe began meeting with friends in his parent’s basement and over the course of a few years, this meeting grew to thousands of teens meeting in arena type venues. Many people have opposed Matt, criticized his ministry, and made shameless jokes about everything from his theology to his physique. I must ashamedly confess that I am not guiltless in this matter.

Last year, critics felt justified in all they had ever said as Matt was arrested for impersonating a peace officer. He plead guilty and there were minor penalties (primarily probation). Then, last night Matt was arrested for similar charges and apparently tried to evade the police in the process.

Today…my heart is broken, but probably not for the reasons you would think.

It is not broken because of what Matt may or may not be guilty of, but because I went to bed last night and awoke this morning to a social media explosion among Christians discussing the issue. The content and condemnation of these posts is what has broken my heart.

I am not writing this post to defend Matt’s innocence. Honestly, I feel that when it comes to the response of Christians to this incident, his guilt, or the lack thereof, is irrelevant.

Here is our brother in Christ amidst suffering. It doesn’t matter if people from the outside are inflecting it upon him or if it is self-inflected…it is suffering none the less. When one part of the body suffers…ALL suffer together.

Our task is not to add to Matt’s suffering through our words of condemnation…for his guilt or innocence is not ours to decide. Our task is not to add to his suffering through our shameless joking…for this is no joking matter. Our task is not to add to his suffering through feeling justified for our criticisms (past or current)…for he is our brother.

I will be the first to admit that I do not agree with everything Matt has done within his ministry. My own philosophy of ministry is very different from his. My teaching methods and thoughts on discipleship are nearly opposite of what I have been able to observe concerning the basement.

HOWEVER, no matter how much I may disagree or differ with Matt Pitt’s approach to ministry, I do not deny that he is my brother in Christ. We are a part of the same body, and when he suffers. I suffer!

prayer-meeting_wide_t_ntOur task is to suffer with Matt as we pray for his guilt or innocence to be rightly determined and that he be strengthened for the consequences. Our task is to suffer with him as we pray for his family and those to whom he has ministered. Our task is to suffer with him by encouraging him that the body loves him and there is grace greater than all our sin.

Please join with me brothers and sisters to suffer with our brother Matt Pitt. Please join with me to be the body of Christ. Please join with me to pray, love, and extend grace as it has been extended to us.

Sovereign Lord,

I pray for my brother Matt. I cannot imagine the feelings going through his heart and the thoughts going through his mind. I pray for peace. Grant him trust in you no matter what lies ahead.

If he is guilty, Lord I pray for a conviction in his heart to confess his sin and repent knowing that you give grace to the humble, but resist the proud. And, Lord if he is innocent, I pray for clear evidence and a quick release.

May he rely on you while he finds himself in such a place of suffering. May you surround him with brothers and sisters who will suffer with him. No matter what, I pray that through Matt’s words and actions you will ultimately be shown to be great, loving, and glorious above all!

In the name of Jesus…Amen.


Letter #13: Exegesis ≠ An Exit for Jesus

Dear Jonathan,

So you’ve finally made it far enough along in your language studies that you are getting to do some exegesis! I’ll be honest…the third and fourth semesters of Greek were among my favorite seminary courses. I loved digging into all the nuances of the original text and seeing the grammatical connections that really made the meaning leap right off the page!

Yet, I did notice that my dedication to exegesis began to cause a problem that you might encounter as well. I began to allow my obsession with Greek grammar to invade my teaching within the church more and more…to the point that the sharing of information became my end goal.

TBS-Koine-Greek-New-Testament-004My exegesis actually became an exit for Jesus.

Now before you get all up in arms and start defending your beloved language studies…hear me out. What I mean is this…I became so overly focused on exegesis that my teaching turned into technical lectures aimed primarily at educating my people.

I was filling heads with all sorts of knowledge, but I was not calling hearts toward a “knowing.”

The primary purpose of preaching is not education (though important), but encounter! We long for the Spirit to work through the Word and for people to encounter, see Jesus in all his glory and be drawn to him! We don’t want people to just walk out of a service knowing more about Jesus…we want them to know Jesus more!

The difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus is rather simple. The former involves the head only, while the latter involves the head and heart. Knowing about Jesus is the gaining of mere facts. Knowing Jesus means my heart is stirred with a  desire for him, a love for him, trust in him.

The aim of preaching is for people to come know Jesus more and more so that they may be equipped to make him known!

Now, does this lessen the importance of exegesis? May it never be! On the contrary it increases the importance of it! I need to be pointing people as accurately as I can to the one true God through Jesus. To do this, I must carefully study the meaning of his Word. But, the end goal of my study is not to simply transfer that meaning to my hearers, but for that meaning to transform my hearers.

My exegesis should not serve as an exit for Jesus, but as an escort to him!

I’m not telling you to never talk about Greek grammar from the pulpit or never to share technical information. What I am saying is always make sure that information is not your end goal!  Your end goal is that everything you share stir up people’s hearts to want to know Jesus!

Jonathan, be a good exegete! We desperately need good exegetes teaching in our churches! But, do not ultimately be an exegete, but a worshipper! Worship the God you see and come to know as you study the text and when you teach the text…help others toward worship as well.

Don’t let your exegesis serve as an exit for Jesus, but as an escort to him!

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.


Letter #8: You’re a Patient, Not a Physician

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you for not being too upset by my last letter. I do hope it didn’t sound like I was being “holier than thou” or “attacking” you. Honestly, if I was attacking anyone it was myself.

I so badly want to help you avoid many of the pitfalls I dove head-first into while in seminary…especially the endless void of pride. There is actually one simple truth that really helped me combat pride during my seminarian years…

skeptical-doctorYou’re a patient…not a physician.

Over time, I noticed that I could tell when pride was beginning to swell within my heart because I would put myself in the position of a physician. I would look at the world of Christendom, diagnosing all the ills I saw and proudly proclaiming my miracle prescriptions that I just knew would bring healing!

How pompous I could be?!?! I looked down my nose at local churches and at pastors in the trenches of ministry…and from the safe, lofty heights of academia I would point out their infected theology and diseased practices. All the while, I was so blind that I could not see I was only being part of the problem…not the solution.

I was acting like a physician…yet I was truly a patient.

In other words, I was not seeing myself as part of the body of Christ! I was separate somehow. The body was sick, but not me…I was God’s gift to “fix” the body! Ha!

We are not physicians, Jesus is! He is the great physician! We are part of the body in need of his healing.

The only way I was able to see this was to actually be a part of the body. The Lord convicted me of safely distancing myself from the local church, and I knew I had to plunge in and become a part of it.

Jonathan, I would highly encourage you to be an active member of a local congregation.

Serve within the body…teach within the body if you can! Teaching should humble you and drive you to your knees as you see your own feebleness/inability and your need for Christ’s sufficiency! Teaching should help you see yourself as a patient in need of Jesus’ miraculous healing work!

It becomes very difficult to criticize the church when you see that you are a part of its brokenness.

I’m not saying there is no room for critiquing the church (perhaps I’ll write about that later), but I am saying that the posture from which you critique it transforms when you are a member of the body instead of trying to be a master over and against it.

Don’t be an arrogant seminarian who thinks he is the “Doctor” the church needs. There are enough of those. Swallow that bitter pill of pride and remember you are a part of the church that needs healing…you are broken too.

You’re a patient…not a physician.

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.

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