What is this blog?
A collection, of thoughts about church, life, music, poems, and prayers. A Mary Oliver poem captures my intent:
The man who has many answers
is often found
in the theaters of information
where he offers, graciously
his deep findings.
While the man who has only questions
to comfort himself, makes music. (Mary Oliver, A Thousand Mornings: Poems, 2012, p. 69)
I’d like to think that I have a few answers and helpful thoughts. But more than anything I want these musings to sing.
Who am I?
James Matichuk: a husband, father-of-four, minister, writer, preacher, child of God, draftsman fiddling with Revit. I’ve blogged here for several years, sharing my thoughts on ministry, pop-culture, Christian spirituality and my life. I review lots of books and occasionally other stuff. If you are curious about what box to put me in: I am an ENFP, an Enneagram type Seven, and a connected-strategist according to Strengthfinders. If you don’t know what any of these are, don’t worry about it.
As a pastor, I got excited seeing people’s lives transformed by Jesus. I am passionate about seeing others grow into compelling followers of Him. I’ve experienced and long for deep, intentional Christian community and I am motivated by the call to see God’s kingdom manifest in neighborhoods through missional partnerships and endeavors. God has gifted and called me to preach, to teach, to make disciples, to listen well and to cast a vision for God’s people. I have a deep, abiding interest in theology, the Bible, mission, discipleship, and social justice.
I enjoy making music with guitar and bass, creating art, reading good poetry, writing and drinking good coffee. I love good conversation. Creativity is a big part of my self-identity (and one of the ways us humans image God). I am a runner. Less disciplined than I’d like but I get out there.
Geography is another window into who I am. Several places have shaped my becoming: I was born in Edmonton, Alberta,spent my formative years in Honolulu, Hawaii (the place that feels most like home to me), became passionate about justice while living in community in southwest Atlanta and working with homeless in downtown Miami, my faith sought understanding at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada and I raged against the serene in Birch Bay, Washington before accepting a pastoral call in Safety Harbor, Florida. I now reside in the Rogue Valley in beautiful Medford, Oregon.
34 thoughts on “About”
Please, if you will, may I speak with you about Frolic for a few minutes?
I would appreciate it immensely. May I contact you by email?
Hi James, thanks for the visit from a fellow Edmontonian who went to Regent! Here’s to more doxology! James Houston has had and continues to have a huge influence on my journey: https://rhfoerger.wordpress.com/about/
Thanks Rusty. I’ve been looking at your blogs. Great stuff!
Nice site. I wonder what you are like in real life.
Me too Pete, me too.
I really appreciate your subtitle, “from self-absorption to doxology”. Thank you for sharing your journey and encouragement!
(From one who has often been bogged down by too much self-absorption, a different kind of “clutter”! Perhaps someone could write a Konmari method for the soul… 🙂
I hope you’re doing well. I wanted to see if you would be interested in writing a review of the recent film-based small group resource we produced at Regent called ReFrame. If so, let me know and we can discuss things further via email.
Hey James, I appreciate your heart for God in your obvious obedience to ‘feed my sheep’. Good grasp of today’s world view with a seeker’s tenacity to abide in Christ, you leave a good witness and a strong voice for Him. Blessings !
Thanks Marv, or Deb, or Marv n’ Deb!
Paul made tents for a living, and did the apostle thing on the side. His tents are long gone, but he remains one of the most influential and effective persons who ever lived. Funny how God works. Thanks for sharing–you have quite a voice (really!).
Would like to consider printing and using your Mother’s Day prayer in worship. Is that OK with you?
Sure Layne. Use it with my blessing!
How do I submit a book for your review?
Email me and we can chat about it. James1.firstname.lastname@example.org
Sorry for being a bit behind in responding to you. I will email you in just a minute. Thank you.
Ah, my wife and I try to get to Maui once a year. It’s funny to find yourself at home in far away places. There’s a wonderful peace about the place and the people. We’ve made some fine friends there.
Hi James, Just accidently (God-incidently) came across your blog and I am very impressed with the depth and compassion in your writing. I’m an Aussie journalist who wrote a column about faith in News Ltd newspapers for 18 years. Two weeks ago I was made redundant and so I have started my own blog.. I feel liberated to be in the real blog world although I’m a bit of a novice. You set a very good example and I will look forward to reading more of your inspirational words Cheers from all us in Oz.
I just looked through your blog as well and am excited to add you to my blogroll! Thanks for your encouragement, never know who reads these!
Thank you James.
It’s great to find mates of common mind on the other side of the planet. The nearest I get to your home lately is Maui. But look forward to communicating with you via this blog. Cheers and thanks again.
I lived half my life on Oahu. Honeymooned on Maui so I love it well!
Hey, James, I’m interested to know your influences. What writers have most influenced your thinking in the areas of theology, eschatology, ethics and apologetics?
Huge question. I would say NT Wright has been hugely influential. I also am a Dallas Willard fan. But I will try and stay with your categories:
Theology–John Calvin ( I am not a total ‘Calvinist’ but the Institutes and especially book one, give me a picture of God which fills me with awe and makes me want to worship. I have read some Barth, and while I am no Barth scholar and would demur from him in a number or respects, I appreciate his sense of wonder, Christocentricity, and his exegesis. People fault Barth for having too low a view of scripture, but few of his critics can match his ability to read attentively and reverently. I also try to read historical theology and love dipping back into patristic sources. My current great theological love is the Pietists (Spener, Francke and the like). Spener was not anti-intellectual or unconcerned about proper doctrine, but aware that Creedalism, Protestant Scholasticalism and a state church produced doctrinally orthodox people with a un-transformed heart. The Pietist corrective is a n important one, especially for those of us who are passionate about ideas, doctrines, and right teaching.
Eschatology– Perhaps Wright? Certainly he got me to question the dispensationalism I grew up with. Gordon Ladd? The Kingdom is already but not yet. I don’t have any firm convictions about the particulars of Revelations (although occasional confusion).. Jesus is coming, creation will be restored, God wins. The way I see it, the Pharisees got it wrong when Jesus came the first time, so I try to hold my eschatology loosely. I’m a pan-millinialist (it all pans out in the end). I am not a huge fan of John Hagee.
Ethics– Hauerwas, Yoder and that whole anabaptist stream is influential on my ethics. I tend to side with the Christian Idealists over the Christian realists because I think Christian Realism gives too much ground away. Christendom makes me nervous about political engagement and the way the gospel is sometimes co-opted. However, I wouldn’t say I follow through on Christian Idealism either but that is where I lean. Ultimately I root my ethics in who God is, what the Bible reveals of his character and his purposes. My Pastoral Ethics professor argued for what he called ‘Trinitarian Ethics’–that is the Triune God is the normative ground for our ethical life and not virtue ethics, consequentialist or moral law in and of themselves. I find his approach offers a strong critique but I still wrestle with what makes an ethic ‘Trinitarian.’
Apologetics– Randall Rauser’s The Swedish Atheist, The Scuba Diver and Other Theological Rabbit Trails is the best single volume on apologetics I’ve read in some time. Rauser considers himself a mild foundationalist and is committed to Christian truth. But he sees the ‘apologetic’ conversation with an unbeliever as a mutual inquiry into truth. Therefore he isn’t ‘waging war’ and often his best move is to call atheists to follow through the implications of their stated beliefs. The book presents a fictional conversation between Rauser and an Atheist (not a strawman, he doesn’t convert).
i like apologetics but my problem with a lot of apologetic works is that they focus on the atheism/theism debate and not the God of the Bible revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If you follow the arguments through, they spend a lot of energy trying to convince of the reasonableness of a prime mover, or of the inference of a creator from design. These are important arguments but they take you a little a field from Biblical revelation. that being said, I have read and appreciate Alvin Plantinga, Ravi Zacharias, Mitch Stokes, Peter Kreeft, J.P. Moreland, William Lain Craig and others. The apologetics book I am currently engrossed in is Jeffrey Burton Russell’s ‘Exposing Myths About Christianity.” Russell is a Medieval historian and does a good job of addressing some of the shallow assertions about Christianity that get passed off as fact. That being said it addresses 145 myths so doesn’t delve deeply into any one topic.
I hope that places me for you. I sort of gave you my first thoughts, What about you?
Thanks for the fulsome response! I’ve been working through Wright’s NT and the People of God with benefit. I’ll be brief in my influences, but you’ll get the idea.
Theology: Calvin – beyond my parents and pastors, Calvin’s been the greatest influence on my views of most things, especially theology proper. Augustine’s de Trinitate and Aquinas have also left deep marks. RC Sproul and John Gerstner have also been very influential for me.
Eschatology: Kenneth Gentry’s He Shall Have Dominion rocked my entire world and brought many of the loose ends together. J. Marcellus Kik’s An Eschatology of Victory was a big one (on Mt 24 and Rev 20). Greg Bahnsen’s Victory in Jesus and the preaching of Douglas Wilson helped me out, too. I didn’t know much about eschatology until I went to seminary. My seminary profs were historic premil, my pastor was amil, but I went postmil! Preterism is very important (see Kik’s work for this) to fit the pieces together.
Ethics: The Westminster Standards (esp. the Larger Catechism) were very influential. The whole Reformed tradition is very heavy into God’s Law – and that’s the heart of ethics, the details are in application. The Reconstructionists (R.J. Rushdoony, Gary North, et al) helped me see the enduring validity of God’s Law. Greg Bahnsen’s Theonomy in Christian Ethics cemented that the details of divine law are both important and still applicable.
Apologetics: In college, I flirted with both Classical Apologetics and Evidentialism (think Josh McDowell). In seminary, however, I found that Cornelius Van Til gave me a thoroughly biblical and Christian context into which both the Classical arguments and all the evidences fit. Greg Bahnsen and John Frame have both helped me sharpen my understanding.
Nice list! I think you’re right about Preterism, I consider myself a mild Preterist (I want to hear what it meant in the original context but I think biblical prophecy can be multivalent (at least it was the first time around with Jesus). I may lean post mil myself I just don’t get worked up about it.
When you talk about ethics, I’ve read a lot of Theonomy in seminary (My M.Div emphasis is old testament) and while I remain unconvinced of some of Bahnsen’s arguments I certainly appreciate the seriousness by which they approach the Old Testament. I am an outsider (ish) to the reformed tradition so I appreciate the Westminster Standards (and creedalism in general) but I have no direct link there. I often refer to Augustine, Aquinas, Anselm and Athanasius as the A-Team. Good stuff.
The A-Team… nice! I (currently) have three boys (and two girls!): Calvin, Anselm, and Ambrose. You might need to add one to your Team!
Perhaps, I haven’t read much Ambrose though. I respect him through Augustine (like how I respect Albert through Aquinas).
Do you accept books for review? I have a Christain pro-life story I published recently and could use some reviews by people that are Christian. The meat of the book involves bible stories put into modern context (in the story) where young people should be able to relate to it. I wrote this for my daughter, to be specific.It’s called Our Choice! A Journey of Life and Faith. If you would like a free eBook copy, just let me know.
I really appreciate your post about the phrase “love on you.” I have never seen someone articulate what I’ve been feeling, so thank you! I look forward to reading more of your thoughts.
nice to read your thoughts. good blog )
Thanks for your reply. My church certainly respects & appreciates commitment, so you honoring your commitment to yours is commendable. As I told my husband, I didn’t really expect you to drop everything & relocate; on the other hand, one never knows when something might be providential & that is why I threw it out to you. I hope we’re not still without a pastor in 6 months, but if we are, I’ll probably let you know:) Meanwhile, God bless you and your family.
James, We are sheep without a pastor, but we are in North Carolina. Care to relocate? Our beloved pastor abruptly announced his retirement last July due to medical issues. He had a solid vision, but he was unable to bring us through to fruition. He came out of a Southern Baptist tradition and was introducing us to liturgy, Holy Communion weekly, Celtic psalms, ancient fathers, etc. I am not on the pastor search committee, but thought I’d still throw this out to you. No matter, Godspeed.
Thanks for the note. For the moment I am tethered to place because of my wife’s position at our church (for at least the next 6 months). Sounds like your church has some interesting things happening!