I will never forget him preaching at Jubilee Church still with a closely cropped head of hair because of chemotherapy.
He explained to us then that he will never be free of what is effectively a sword hanging over his head. He lives each day as a man who may die tomorrow. Yet with a steely gaze, staring down the congregation as though we were one man he implored us, “the only difference between you and me is that I realize it.”
The power of comprehending or own mortality makes us realize just how valuable life is, and determined to live a good life rather than throw away the years God graciously gives us. And far from being morbid, this is the route to true joy.
No wonder then then in his latest book, which he wrote with Jared Wilson, Chandler turns to the biblical book of Philippians. In it you find the source of real joy and great tips about how to battle in our minds. If you are looking for a guide to Philippians you could do a lot worse than choosing a man who has looked death in the eye and emerged as one determined to live every day for Jesus with joy.
I very much enjoyed meeting Matt when he was with us, and you can see one of the highlights of a video interview we filmed then where he boldly explains why he is a reformed charismatic.
“Let me give you an example of dwelling on what’s honorable. I don’t know God’s plan for my life in regards to the number of days He’s given me. Since my cancer diagnosis, I have lived with a more ready awareness that my life is a vapor. But it doesn’t have to be cancer that takes me out. I could die tomorrow in a car crash or freak accident or a variety of other ways. I have no idea what God has in store for me, but here’s a little thing I have in my mind. Should He grant me longevity, I want to, when I am seventy or eighty years old, still get up in the morning, drink a cup of coffee with Lauren, hear about the crazy dreams she had the night before, and enjoy the morning with her and the Word of God. We’re just a couple of old lovers who’ve put a lot of time in. And we’re drinking coffee and talking about our grandbabies who have come to know the Lord.
That’s a fantasy of mine, and this is what I do with it: when in the normal flow of life I see an attractive woman, and that attractive woman is flirtatious; when I am tempted to be lazy when it comes to going after my children’s hearts—because it’s one thing to be a present father and another thing to go after your children’s hearts; when I am tempted to dwell on all kinds of dishonorable things, I go back to that fantasy: me at eighty, drinking a strong cup of coffee on the back porch, talking with my wife about the salvation of our grandchildren. That’s something honorable worth dwelling on. And when we dwell on thoughts like that, peace begins to fill our minds. And our hearts.
Sometimes in the life of the mind, you battle image with image. To get one dishonorable image out of your head, you have to replace it with an honorable one. You can’t battle it with nothing, right?”
Excerpt From: Matt Chandler and Jared C. Wilson. “To Live Is Christ, to Die Is Gain.” David C Cook, 2013-07-09.
This post is part of the sponsored Patheos Book Club where you can read more about Chandler and Wilson’s book.