Matthew R. Perry

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Will You Keep Short Accounts?

In Uncategorized on June 12, 2008 at 9:07 am

(This sermon, Could You Be Charged With First Degree Anger?, was preached at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY, on Sunday, June 8, 2008. To read through Part I, click here; Part 2 here. To listen to other audio sermons, click here.)

Jesus ties it all together in Matthew 5:25-26:

Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

So what is Jesus saying? Jesus is saying, “Dear disciples and all who would hear, you have a window of opportunity.” One day, you will have to give an account of your life before the Great Judge of the Universe, Jesus Christ. When that happens, it will be too late, for the Scripture does say, “It is destined for man to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

But until then, God in his great patience and care gives us an opportunity to take care of those issues. So this would be a great time to put this all together and go step-by-step through this.

First, remember that you and all other human beings are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

Secondly, admit that you do get angry at times—and don’t make excuses.

Thirdly, take steps to rectify the situation immediately. Even in times of worship, where one’s pride may take the fore because you are attending, now is the time to get up and go reconcile. Frederich Buechner once wrote, “Of the 7 deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back–in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.” So deal with it now!

Fourth, trust that God will administer justice, if need be.
Romans 12:19-21 says:

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” [20] To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” [21] Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

If your trust truly is in Christ alone, then that Gospel trust must bleed over into every area of life — especially this one.

Lastly, ask God to change your heart. In Ezekiel 36:25-26, God says, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” When God works this, we will become more sensitive to his working. True followers of Christ have this, but it takes a diligent pursuit. If you want a hardened heart, then do nothing — that heart will come and drag you right into hell. If you want to be right before him, ask him to change your heart.


Yesterday, I came across a documentary by NPR on the life of Gerry Mulligan. Mulligan was a premiere tenor sax player who was a very influential in the field of jazz in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and was even working on a project when he died in 1996. Mulligan was an innovator, but he was also a bit headstrong. He knew what he wanted his arrangements and his band to sound like — even if it meant going against what others in the field felt was un-doable. While he made a number of friends and gained a ton of admirers, he also had some on the other side of that fence.

In 1995, Mulligan found out he and another one of his former band members, found out they had cancer. These men shared great admiration for one another, but also some serious artistic differences that would often strain the relationship. In light of the cancer, made this very wise comment, he said “When Gerry and I found out we had cancer, all those disagreements were just taken off the table and we focus on the issues we agreed on. None of those things we disagreed on in the grand scheme didn’t matter.”

This is something to ponder, isn’t it? While there are certain this we can never compromise on (Christ, the Bible, the resurrection, the Trinity, the local church, etc.), there are issues that will plant the seeds of anger and contempt in our hearts. What will it take for us to repent of those issues? Let me ask it another way: what will God have to do in your life to help you see that nothing is worth destroying your relationship with God or with your neighbor? Will it have to be cancer? A church split? A catastrophe of some sort? Or have Jesus’ words penetrated to such a degree that his word is sufficient?

Should Christians Partake of the Mixed Martial Arts Phenomenon?

In Uncategorized on June 3, 2008 at 12:23 am

Whether it’s MMA, UFC 84, Elite X — by whatever name you call it, this  gruesome, blood-stained, body-maiming phenomenon started in the shadows but now has become mainstream.  Elite X had some matches debut on CBS this past Friday night (no, I didn’t watch it).

I foresee a debate arising: should Christians partake of the MMA Phenomenon?  Before I answer, I am reminded of one person’s observation of their reaction to the coliseum games in Roman times.  The lions would be turned loose on the Christians.  This man noted, “At first, I covered my eyes.  Before I knew it, I was watching through my fingers.  Then at last, I was cheering for blood with everyone else.”

My answer to this question is an undeniable “No!”  My simple answer is that all of us are image bearers of God (Genesis 1:26-31).  We have been created with the fingerprint of God.  Are we called to participate, watch, or approve of a sport whose total goal is to injure and do bodily harm to another?  And please, do not tell me that this is simply a sport like boxing (called the “sweet science”) only amplified.

We as Christians need to uplift and protect the idea of humanity being the image bearers of God.  We must never encourage anything in which the primary aim is to injure a fellow image bearer.

Our Hearts Are With You, SCC

In Uncategorized on May 22, 2008 at 5:05 pm

When I saw that Steven Curtis Chapman’s little daughter Maria was killed, my heart broke.  I mean, to pieces!!  And when I went to a tribute blog about her and saw the dates (2003-2008), my heart broke all over again because I have a daughter who, if she were to leave this earth, would have those same exact dates.  Once you have children, the pain of what SCC and his family are going through becomes so personal. 

Below is a video with SCC and Maria washing dishes.  In the midst of the crushing reality of her loss, there are memories like this that can uplift and crush all at once: uplift in that you praise God you had those memories to begin with, and crush because you will feel the great emptiness that that precious little girl leaves.

SCC and family, our hearts are with you. Please know that there is a pastor and a church in Lexington, Kentucky that cares deeply for you. I had a chance to meet you back in 2002 backstage after a concert which promoted the Wycliffe Bible Translators as well as presented Steve Saint, the son of one of the missionaries in Ecuador killed by the Auca Indians in 1955.  I pray that the hope in Christ that you have sung about over the years that has brought so much encouragement to so many will be yours during this time. 


How People Find a Church (Lifeway)

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2008 at 2:30 pm

(HT: Don Brown)

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2008 at 9:40 pm

logo creation

Switching Usernames For This Blog — Please Note and Change Your Bookmarks

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Dear friends:

Due to some rather unseemly sites inexplicably linking to my site and to the inordinate amount of spam over the past two weeks, I am changing my site from to The same content will be on this site. But this unseemly site linked to a particular post, and in order for me to delete the post, I would have to go on that site to find the actual link so I could delete the page. It wasn’t worth it, believe me.

So if you enjoy this blog, please change your bookmarks and your RSS feeds. The other blog will be gone within the next week.


Matthew Perry

Right Here Is My Problem With Oprah

In Uncategorized on April 10, 2008 at 11:21 am

Oprah Winfrey’s worldview has concerned me for years, but it was this exchange with an audience member in 1996 that ended it for me. She influences 40 million people every day with her detrimental and harmful philosophies. Let us be discerning!


When Seminary Makes You Forget Other Passions You Have

In Uncategorized on April 6, 2008 at 7:53 am

Seminary tends to be all consuming, and from 1995-1998, then from 2001 to 2003, I found myself focusing solely on my studies out of necessity. Whatever I try to do, I try to do to the glory of God and and to the best of the ability He has given me. In the process, I found myself letting slip something of particular interest — U.S. History.

Having grown up in Virginia, we were well aware of the role Virginia played in shaping our country’s history.  Eight presidents came from Virginia, especially early on.  Plus, Virginia played a key point in the Civil War as well, being one of the great states of the Confederacy and the birthplace of Robert E. Lee.  I remember in 2nd grade we took a field trip to Appomattox, the place where Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant of the Union Army to effectively end the brutal Civil War (or as the southerners call it, the War of Northern Aggression).  So the love of U.S. history runs deep — but lay dormant during my seminary years.

But no longer! That passion was rekindled this past week when I had an opportunity to visit Richmond, Virginia. We saw the Capital Square (right) which had statues of Stonewall Jackson, George Washington and a number of other Founding Fathers of our country. We went to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where many of the Confederate soldiers (including Robert E. Lee) worshiped.

Then we went to the Museum of the Confederacy. You may also see in the picture the gray building to the left — that’s one of the nine U.S. Court of Appeals. What really struck me in the Confederate museum was not only the fight that the “Rebs” had in the war, but also how they took for granted certain customs in their culture, not the least of which was slavery. One display showed an insurance advertisement from American Life advertizing how well they would help slave owners stay insured on slaves in case they died or escaped. They were treated as property — something rather detestable to me.

Matthew Perry and R.E. LeeBut the South produced one of my heroes, General Robert E. Lee. To the right, you see me posing next to a thumbnail picture of Robert E. Lee at the Museum. The Confederacy’s position on states’ rights showed in Lee’s conviction to stay true to his beloved Virginia rather than join the Union Army.

On Saturday, we went to Monticello (home of Thomas Jefferson, our country’s third president who served from 1801-1809) and Ash-Lawn Highland (home of James Monroe, our country’s fifth president who served from 1817-1825).  While Thomas Jefferson (1735-1826) was not what one would call an orthodox Christian since he rearranged his Bible to take away all of the supernatural elements, he did possess a keen mind and intellect as one of the main crafters of our country’s governmental structure.  He was a man of immense detail, writing down and blueprinting every aspect of Monticello — making it very easy on later curators of the home to recreate the layout right down to the cups on the dining room table.  The visitor’s guide (left) was filled with wonderful information that Cindy read through all the way home from Virginia.

Not many really know about James Monroe, our nation’s fifth president.  His home was much more modest that Jefferson’s, but his resume is quite impressive nonetheless.  He did not keep the records of his home like Jefferson did, but he contributed greatly in Jefferson’s administration to the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 which doubled the size of our country.  He also put forth his vision of Manifest Destiny in which he urged European nations to stay out of the Western Hemisphere while nations in North and South America began to blossom into full-fledged democracies.  Also, Manifest Destiny was America’s believe that we were destined to go from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  This would shape our foreign policy for the three or four administrations after his.

So there it is!  What passions do you have?  What has made them lay dormant?  Just curious.  This was just an incredible vacation.

Tim Keller Interview (

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2008 at 1:51 pm

A really good interview of Tim Keller by

Does Good Friday Celebrate Suffering?

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2008 at 9:57 am

Sadly, I am finding more and more college students and young adults influenced by secularism and humanitarian efforts who reject the God of the Bible because they cannot reconcile a loving God who allows suffering in the world. I did address this in a previous sermon which brought a great deal of help to many people who were struggling with various issues but could seemingly find no answers.

I always encourage people to look to the cross. While we do understand that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, to those who are being saved it is the power of God unto salvation (1 Corinthians 1:18). The majority of people in the world will see the cross as scandalous and a stumbling block on many levels:

  • Why couldn’t God just forgive? Why did He need to sacrifice His Son?
  • Some say, as Steven Chalke and Alan Mann did in a recent book, that the cross is simply “cosmic child abuse” of a Father to His Son;
  • How could one man take on the sin of everyone? Isn’t there something more that could be done?
  • How could the King of Kings and creator of the universe ever truly subject himself to death? That is beneath the dignity of a King.

It comes down to the penal substitution of Christ in placating the divine wrath of a holy God. This is not a “fly off the handle” type of wrath, but a wrath in which God is decidedly against the very thing that separates His beloved image-bearers from Himself — sin.

As God, Christ came to fulfill God’s Law (something we could not accomplish). As a man, He stood in our place as a substitute for our sin.

But to answer the question, I would like to echo Tim Keller’s comments from his most recent book, The Reason for God: to the human perspective, the cross seemed like the greatest injustice in history (which it was) but there was a tremendous cosmic purpose behind it. So when we look to the cross, we see that behind all the suffering (which came in due to the curse of sin) God is orchestrating a glorious plan to reconcile all things to Himself.

I have been reading through some really good books on the subject over the past few weeks:

  • The Truth of the Cross by R.C. Sproul
  • The Cross of Christ by John R.W. Stott
  • Pierced for our Transgressions by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach
  • Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy

Also, some good articles are posted on the subject of Good Friday: