We had 28 men present at Ox Strong on 2-13-21 (eight new attendees…we’re three new visitors shy of having 200 guests walk through our Ox Strong doors), and many others viewing on YouTube / live-stream as well. Below is a summarization of Pastor Matt Oleson’s challenge to us men. I inserted my notes from that day in the bullet points of his outline. You can also view it at this link if you haven’t seen it yet https://www.oxstrongmen.org/men.html.
Some of you know that I often refer to the hymn Blessed Assurance and the line in it…This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long. I don’t know about you, but I have come to really enjoy and appreciate the stories we’ve been hearing at Ox Strong. Stories of where God’s brought individuals from and to. That’s the gospel.
I’ve recently just started reading Through My Eyes. It is a book about Tim Tebow’s life. On pages X and XI Tebow says, “Here’s something…that I haven’t always grasped but which in the last few years I have come to understand in my own life, and which now burns in my heart for others to also recognize and realize: we all have stories to share. We all have life experiences that can bless the lives of others. Whoever we are. Where we find ourselves. Whatever we are involved in, no matter our age or station in life. Stories that, when shared with others, can make a positive difference in the world…God challenges us to change the world. And to accomplish this, He asks us to change it one life at a time…I also pray that in this journey you and I may discover that not only our lives but the lives of others are better because they were touched by something we have shared together.” Please know that this is the type of atmosphere Skip and I are attempting to develop at Ox Strong. I pray and trust that you will enjoy Matt’s story below…God has been writing something beautiful in his life, and I’d hate for anyone to miss out on reading about it.
Practicing His Presence,
OX STRONG 2/13/21
Pastor Matt Oleson's TESTIMONY
1. Unchurched home
- Yet raised in a good home.
2. Air Force Brat (8 moves by age of 10)
- Frequently moving made for a lot of inconsistencies and unknowns in his life.
3. Loved Football (avg player on below avg team)
- Didn’t matter…football became his passion and release.
4. Did not know what I was good at after football.
- Matt found out that he wasn’t as good at football as he thought he was. This discovery raised a lot of questions for him…what am I good at? If not football, then what will define me now?
5. Found I could drink and I was GOOD at it.
- Alcohol became his new passion and release.
6. 1990 moved to Iowa, got a job at Budweiser Distributor.
- His dad got a job at CertainTeed which brought his family to Grinnell.
- At this time Matt got a job at Budweiser. Budweiser was a difficult place for Matt to work, considering his draw to drinking alcohol.
7. Swore I would never stay in Iowa after my first winter.
- Flunking out of college his Freshman year didn’t help.
8. Met my wife and was married in 1993.
- This is the time in his life where he can pinpoint and recognize God’s intervention. Some friends invited him to a party and that’s where he met Carla Cowger (believes God brought them together for a very good reason). He could tell right away that there was something different about her…in a really good way. He wanted what she had. If he wanted to date her, then Carla made him go to church with her. He agreed, but church was a place that made him angry. He didn’t want to hear what the pastor had to say. He didn’t want to hear what God had to say…he wanted to live his life his own way. Matt became good at hiding his anger, and always knew the right thing to say to those within their Christian circle.
- Matt and Carla were married in 1993, but Matt still wasn’t a Christian at this point. What he can appreciate about the church they were going to at that time is that NO ONE was judging him, rather they continued to love on him and Carla. He used Leroy and Doris Calvin as someone who exemplified that to them in their life.
9. March 1994 - Diagnosed with testicular cancer. STORY
- This news came to them six months into their marriage.
- Matt feared death. He had an empty feeling…something wasn’t quite right. He prayed and said, God, if You’re real, then bring the bible study group here to pray for me.
- Be careful what you wish for…God brought them. They showed him the love of God…Walked him through the The Romans Road to Salvation…and he received Christ in 1994. A gentleman who was present laid hands on him…praying that God would remove this cancer from him…using Mark 5 and the lady with the issue of bleeding as an example story for him. Matt came to the point where he admitted he couldn’t do this on his own anymore, and surrendered his life to the Lord. As the gentleman had his hands on Matt, Matt saw a bright light and felt an immediate inner change. A few days later he went back to the doctor for surgery and found out he was cancer-free. The doctors were stunned. Just a few days ago his tumor markers were off the charts…they didn’t have an answer, but Matt knew what’d happened.
- This life-changing experience was short-lived. Not too long after this news and discovery Matt returned to drinking and treating his wife terribly.
10. New Years Eve 1995 - Committed my life to working in ministry.
- On their way to a New Year’s Eve service, Matt and Carla fought the whole way. While at the service he felt the Holy Spirit nudging him. Matt tried so hard to remain angry. The pastor stated from the pulpit that someone present needed to get right with God. Matt knew that the pastor was talking directly to him. Matt got up and ran to the altar. He was crying while the pastor said something to Matt that NO ONE ever knew about him. In all of his moves as a child he would go to the nearest park and sit under a tree. The pastor said that God wanted him to know that all of those years you went and sat under those trees…you were looking for Me. Right then and there Matt gave/dedicated his life to ministry. In 2001 he received his preaching license the same day his daughter was born.
11. Friday March 7th 2002 - Diagnosed with an inoperable brain
Tumor. Found out I was CLAUSTROPHOBIC!!!
- While at a break during parent teacher conferences his wife encouraged him to go get his glasses fixed. The eye dr. ended up giving him an eye exam while he was there. This Dr. saw something that was troubling and sent him immediately to the ER at Mercy Hospital. He found out he had fluid on the brain (papilledema…through the eye). Again, Matt thought he was going to die. His mind resorted to bitterness and anger towards God. The MRI (this is where he was claustrophobic) revealed that he had a tumor at the base of his brain stem. At Church that Sunday he sat there scared…balling…wondering who would care for his family when he was gone? Prayed…God please heal me.
12. Tuesday March 11th 2002 - Brain Surgery
- Matt questioned God…why wasn’t I healed this time? Just like the lady in Mark 5, Matt came to realize that God will heal him in His way and in His time. God can either heal His creation supernaturally, through Doctors, or decide to take them home to glory. He found out that God was his last and ONLY hope. No longer can I do life on my own.
- It’s been 19 years since this surgery. He still has tubes running inside his body because of it, and a scar on his head as a constant reminder.
13. TODAY: Married 27 years, have 7 beautiful children. Classroom
teacher in Newton and Pastor at NCC (Newburg Chester Church).
- Matt loves ministering to those God’s entrusted him with…at home and at Church. NCC is a small church with a big heart. Life is all about Jesus…takes faith.
- Have you reached that place where you can press everything aside, and focus in on Jesus? Remember, life is not about what you’re running through, but Who you’re running to. Have you lost your focus/purpose? God’s given you a path to walk…He’ll never leave your side, even if you attempt to leave his at some point.
- Matt’s past became a testimony…used to help others so they don’t make his past their future.
- Be real dudes. Be the leader God’s called you to be.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17…new creation (see full verse below).
- Never give up on someone…just when you think that such and such will never accept Christ, just think back on Matt’s story. We need more Carla Cowger’s and Leroy and Doris Calvin’s in this world. We need more understanding of how God works perfectly in His way…in His time.
- Are you living a life that’s bitter and angry towards God? Are you attempting to live life your own way? Where’s that getting you? Are you just getting by in the spiritual world? You might know the right words to say and the right way to act, but be soooooo far from the Lord. Enough with the act. Let me encourage you to go back and click on the link about the Romans Road to Salvation that I presented above. Have you personally ever received Christ as Savior?
- What and or who defines you? Are you willing to be “someone different”? Are you desiring to be someone who causes the world to want what you have IN-CHRIST? Are you being a living testimony for His glory?
- How is the Holy Spirit nudging you? How is God intervening in your life?
- Have you reached out and surrendered your life to the Lord? What’s holding you back? Doesn’t have to be in full-time ministry…just letting God know that He can do whatever He’d like with your time and talents.
- Take time to thank those who have influenced your coming to and growing in Christ.
READ MARK 5:25-34
1. This woman was physically weak and anemic, pale, with no energy at all. She is lonely, isolated and desperate! She “spent all she had”. The doctors had not helped her.
She knows she will not get better, she will die from this disease. She has just about given up!
How many people can identify with this woman?
She heard about Jesus, that there was power in His touch. She wanted to touch Him.
She knew Jesus was her only hope! She was determined. She was taking a great risk. It was a risk worth taking. She believed that Jesus was the answer!
It would have taken all the energy she had to drag herself out of her bed to struggle through that crowd to get to Jesus. She was desperate!
She was focused on one thing, JESUS. The others were unable to see all that Jesus was really doing that day.
Have you reached that place in your life yet? Jesus is the only hope you have? You need to touch Him by faith!
Jesus is the only person Who can help you, HE is calling to people today: Don’t carry that burden one more step! Stop fighting your battles on your own! Don’t live a defeated life for one more day!
The word “touched” means “to cling to or to adhere to”. She held onto Him until she got what she came after! She received what none of the doctors could give her; She felt the change in her body. She knew she was a different woman! We must “HOLD ON” to Jesus. The trials and pains of today will become your testimony of Triumph!!
Her touch was different, it was a touch accompanied by faith. Many touched Him, but only one touched Him with the fingers of faith!
She came before Him, and bowed at His feet and confessed everything to Him. She was different and she wasn’t ashamed to tell others about it!
Jesus came so that we could touch Him! When you touch Him in faith, you will get the help you need! HE healed me Spiritually and Physically. The physical touch was different, but God still heals.
Faith is ACTION!! Faith is not the belief that God can. It’s the belief that GOD WILL!! Be it by HIS HAND, the doctors, or when HE takes me home to be with HIM in GLORY!!
It wasn’t His garment. It was the very hand of God that healed her!
When you come to Jesus you are: A child of GOD 1 John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
You are a NEW creation:
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. You are fully forgiven, with a promised home in heaven
Maybe you are saved, but your life is anything but whole today. If you will come to Him by faith, He will help you with the trials you are facing today.
Conclusion: Do you need to touch Him today? Have you come to understand that whether you are lost in sin, or whether you are battling trials, Jesus is your answer? If you have reached the place where everything else has failed, and you need help right now, Come to Jesus!
There were dozens of people in the crowd with physical, spiritual, and emotional needs.
But, only one lady got any help.
Dozens touched Jesus, but only one was transformed.
Why? Because only one saw Him as her only source! She believed He could help her and she did whatever she had to do to touch Him. When she touched Him, she was made whole!
It’s not what you’re going through, but WHO you’re running to.
Don’t be one of those people who brush up against Jesus and leave unchanged.
You may have lost focus on your purpose, but you have a divine purpose under heaven assigned by the Creator, NEVER GIVE UP!!
If you need help, LOOK to Him, GET to Him and TOUCH Him by faith!
Brother Gene Gessner would like to add the following…
As Matt said, Jesus is the answer for whatever we are dealing with. Everyone believes they understand how life works, a relationship with Jesus Christ gives you the rare privilege of understanding the truth. He will reveal what life is all about to you, He being the word that became flesh and dwelt among us, who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person. My prayer for all of us is: (Ephesians 1:17-23) 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
At the 4:16 mark in the VLOG The Rudest Heckler Ever, Comedian, Michael Jr. answers the question, “What is a heckler?...A heckler is someone who is trying to shake things up in a way so you can’t handle it. A Comedian, like myself, or a performer is basically you, and you have something that you’re supposed to perform for an audience. Not just to entertain, but actually to help them get somewhere. So you are on your platform, whether you be a stay-at-home mom, a doctor – you’re on your platform presenting what you have to present to your audience. And a heckler will come along – trying to deter you from what it is you’re called to do – you’re going to have them [(hecklers)]. In fact, if you don’t have any hecklers at all, you probably doing something wrong. So a heckler is actually confirmation that you’re moving in the right direction. But you can’t listen to the heckler. You have to be aware of your situation…Sometimes that heckler is actually you. So what you have to do to knock that heckler out of the way is you got to be steadfast and know who you really are. You got to address the heckler, shut him down, and then push on.” Finished at the 5:30 mark. https://michaeljr.com/
Potential Hecklers: Pandemic; Co-worker; Employee; Employer; Fans; Family member; or maybe even yourself. As Skip often reminds me…you only have room for you up there (in my head…continue trying to influence other for the Lord, be know when and how to block out the noise around you). Can you identify your hecklers? Is it you? Maybe you’re the one heckling others…what needs to change?
How will you choose to respond to the hecklers in your life?
John 18:10 (NIV) Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)
Matthew 26:73-75 (NLT) A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly.
Matthew 4:10 (NLT) “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”
1 Thessalonians 5:11a (NIV) Therefore encourage one another and build each other up
This song has been constant on my mind and on my lips lately...I can't help but want to share it with each of you as well. Enjoy!
Practicing His Presence,
Song: I Got Saved by Selah (I've Got Jesus, How Could I Want More?)
Many of you have seen the Progressive Insurance commercials with Dr. Rick. In these commercials Dr. Rick is attempting to provide all that is necessary to un-become your parents.
When an individual chooses to step over the faith line, or what is known as becoming “born again” / “saved”, then they are declaring that they are putting off their old nature/creation/self, and putting on their new nature/creation/self. In a sense, they are un-becoming their old self.
What does that look like…how does an individual put on and put off? How does one un-become his/her old self while here on this earth? Below is not an exhaustive list of verses or steps…just enough to whet your appetite and get you to want to know what more God has in His word for you.
First, Receive Christ as Savior (this, to the left, is a link for you to show you how you can become saved).
Proverbs 22:16 (NLT)
16 A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor
or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty.
The social barriers that I’m referring to in today’s lesson title are the rich and the poor…the lower, middle and upper classes…the blue collar and the white collar. Once again I’m reminded by the following passages that as someone who is made in the image of God, that I too need to not act partially/showing favoritism towards anyone. I pray that the Lord will give me His eyes to look through each day, in order to align my vision with His…
John 3:16 (NIV) For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Even the cross pictured for us the removal of social barriers. He died for the world. Not just the Jew, or the Gentile, or the rich, or the poor, or the one’s He could benefit from the most, but rather, THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE!
Today’s Proverb describes for us a lose-lose situation. Oppress the poor – lose. Choose to spoil only the rich while ignoring the poor – then lose as well. Consider what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:17-22 (NLT) concerning how believers were acting at the Lord’s Supper,
“17 But in the following instructions, I cannot praise you. For it sounds as if more harm than good is done when you meet together. 18 First, I hear that there are divisions among you when you meet as a church, and to some extent I believe it. 19 But, of course, there must be divisions among you so that you who have God’s approval will be recognized! 20 When you meet together, you are not really interested in the Lord’s Supper. 21 For some of you hurry to eat your own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some go hungry while others get drunk. 22 What? Don’t you have your own homes for eating and drinking? Or do you really want to disgrace God’s church and shame the poor? What am I supposed to say? Do you want me to praise you? Well, I certainly will not praise you for this!
In Mark 12:30-31, Jesus shares with us what the greatest commandment is – it is to
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Also, if you have time, take a look at the three different responses in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). This Luke passage answers the question, “Who is my neighbor?” (question…verse 29, and the answer…verse 37).
Sometimes we get such tunnel vision and only care for those within our own little circle. What about the other families that God causes to cross your eyes in your community…at the grocery store, game, restaurant, etc.? Are you looking to be Jesus-with-skin-on to the rich and poor? Or only to the rich? What about the “poor”?
What is awesome, is when you know that the Holy Spirit is guiding you to act, regardless of what social class someone belongs to. So let me encourage you to open your eyes, be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit’s guiding, obediently act, and expect nothing in return (no strings attached to your expressed generosity…all Glory to Him!). One of my favorite Hymns that comes to mind quite often is entitled Make Me a Blessing. Enjoy!
Make Me a Blessing
1 Out in the highways and byways of life,
many are weary and sad;
are weary and sad
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife
making the sorrowing glad.
Make me a blessing,
Make me a blessing,
Out of my life
out of my life
May Jesus shine;
Make me a blessing, O savior, I pray,
I pray Thee, my Savior,
Make me a blessing to someone today.
2 Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love;
Tell of His pow'r to forgive;
His pow'r to forgive.
Others will trust Him if only you prove
true ev'ry moment you live.
3 Give as 'twas given to you in your need;
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed;
Unto your mission be true.
Nate Smith is a college baseball and football coach, a husband, a father of 6 girls, grandpa to 3 granddaughters, a police chaplain, and has a passion to see men grow in Christ.
#girldad including granddaughter