Posted by: Ted Mattis | 17/07/2015

Last day at MDA

Hello to all of Sally’s friends, family and fanbase, this is her friend Sharon reporting from MD Anderson. Sally has had a very exhausting but informative and encouraging visit here. We met with the surgeon again yesterday and got the reports from the CT scan and MRI that were both done on Wednesday. Both of those tests show once again that the chemo is working marvelously!! Such answered prayers! She would tell you as much as she is dreading the next two chemo treatments that she is very glad it is doing what they had hoped and what all of you have prayed. I would tell you that our Sally is amazing! She has already made so many friends here and talks to everyone that we see. The night I was driving in I called her and she was in the restaurant visiting with her new cancer friends. She said “ I’ve got prostate on my left and colon on my right”!!
((((((((((((Sally’s Fan’s)))))))))))))))))))#mfsob Love, Sharon

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Posted by: Ted Mattis | 20/07/2010

THE GREATEST MAN I’VE EVER KNOWN

Well, what can I really say that truly conveys my heart right now nearly a week after my father and I said goodbye?  There was no other man I respected more, admired more, trusted more, loved more and … forgiven more.  We found together over the last few years a love that can only truly be explained spiritually.  It was the sheer grace of God that moved between us that enabled us to laugh and love together. We shared a common earthiness in our faith- we loved the same things (the country, country music, horses, music, stillness and action).  He was a man of great passion and was passionate for finding and stimulating greatness in others.  He never stopped in that quest. Before he was too sick to go any further, he spent his last days with my children sharing and teaching them of his last great love- diving- and experiencing the magnificence of creation below the surface of the water.  He was imputing greatness to them- moving them to seize the opportunity to be bigger than they are.  He expanded minds and mindsets.  He challenged convention and re-created a world around him bigger than convention.  He was his own man.

Many who only knew Dad in the last few years of his life  cannot appreciate the wonder of his whole life.  They simply enjoyed the fruits of his previous years.  He loved you dearly.  But at 68 years of age, the past 6 years were merely a tenth of his life- just one tenth- not the whole.  To assume that the last six to ten years defined him entirely would truly be to NOT know him, or simply put, to be ignorant and at worst dishonoring.  His last years indeed were extraordinary but no less so than the previous 62. His whole life is why he is and will always be my hero.

Born on a military base in 1941, he didn’t see his father until he was four years old who returned from WWII suffering from Tuberculosis.  He spent much of his young life in the place of his father’s convalescence- the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania where he absorbed a love for the mountains and the natural world.  Driven by his blessed but demanding mother, he entered college at 15 and a half, graduated with a Master’s Degree at 21 years of age and was immediately jettisoned into the world of international pharmaceuticals.   At 23, he married my mother, now Patsy Cuthbert and they took off to conquer the world. They did.  Australia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Paris, New York…they did it all.  Discovering the wonders of places like the Taj Mahal, Kabul, Afghanistan, the Great Barrier Reef, Ayer’s Rock – the center of Australia’s outback, deep into the heart of China and into the wilds of Africa. By the time he was 35 he spoke approximately 9 languages fluently.  He lived a big life.

Dad’s professional genius  shaped the current pharmaceutical industry as we know it today. Before building a horse ranch, he built an international culture.  In 1993 he was named the first “Pharmaceutical Executive of the Year” by Pharmaceutical Executive Magazine.  He was named  “Outstanding Alumnus” by The A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University.  He served as a director of Solomon Brothers Asset Management and on a number of corporate, association, non-profit and philanthropic boards including chairing The Advisory Board of the A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University; Governor of The Center For Creative Leadership; Honorary Chairman of the Special Olympics; Partner in the New York City Partnership; and member of The National Council for Health Education, The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association and The Non-Prescription Drug Manufacturers Association.  It is indeed quite a resume.  He was quite an exceptional leader in his field.

It did, however, come with a high price.  The struggles Dad experienced after his retirement were the building blocks of who he became in his last few years.  It was upon the backs of those closest to him, as well as his own, that he learned through suffering the greater value of relationship vs. recognition.  In his first 55 years he was driven by recognition.  He accomplished the extraordinary. But his last ten were no less extraordinary and perhaps more so.  Dad lived a quote that he had framed in his office from Khalil Gibran- a Lebanese-American philosophical essayist, novelist, mystical poet, and artist.  It went like this: “When you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb.”  The full quote is even more profound and reveals more of the man he became.

“Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.”

In his last ten years, his accomplishment was equally as significant.  He was driven by relationship- with God, Judy, me and my sister, his seven grandchildren and whatever lost or hurting soul God brought onto his path. But one thing never changed in my father whether it was in the corporate field or in the fields of Colorado, he sought after greatness in his own life and those around him…in fact, he did not accept anything less from himself or anyone else.  If there was anything that he desired for everyone he knew it was that we not be satisfied with where and who we are. For sure we are to embrace our lives, accept who we are, but seek to be more today than we were yesterday.  Love better.  Give more of yourself and take less. Give the best of yourself to those who matter and need it.  And as he said to me repeatedly- choose to be with people who strengthen you, who are willing to give and receive charity, give for the joy of giving and run like hell from those who only want to suck the life out of you. Life’s too short to fill your world with as……     well, I’ll leave it at that.

My sister (Debbie) and I truly grieve my father more deeply than I think each of us anticipated.  We have loved him, endured him,  forgiven him and then loved him again more deeply for 45 years.

The only thing I’d trade for those 45 years?  To have him back for just one more day.

Posted by: Ted Mattis | 03/07/2010

Circling the Wagons

I don’t think that anything captures the essence of our country and the American Spirit than images from the pioneering days. Images like the one here elicit imaginings of adventure, risk, commitment, perseverance, passion, determination and vision (among others). Our forefathers set out to make for themselves a life, to claim a patch of land and to build their lives out of it.  It was a time of dreams of new life and new beginnings- a new legacy.

After making the necessary preparations, husbands and wives set out on the journey of a lifetime, wagons packed full of supplies and hearts packed full with possibilities.  Not too long after departing, with their heads full of dreams, our forefathers began to experience the reality of the harsh journey. It was hard traveling. The journey was longer than they thought, but their shared dreams kept them focused.

After weeks of travel, however, they grew weary of the ride. They are tired.  Maybe a little ‘snippy.’  They are not ready for what lies ahead. Danger. Enemy territory.  Wearied from the sojourn and unsuspecting, out of nowhere comes a band of native american indians determined to protect their land (after all, this is their land and has been for quite some time and no one steps on their land without permission). With the precious cargo of their families at risk, they circle the wagons and prepare for war. Some wagon trains are decimated by the unsuspecting assault while others who have prepared themselves for enemy invasion and have rehearsed their own counter offensive, prepare for battle.  These vigilant ones keenly aware of the very real and present danger of enemy territory  find their way to their new life. The others, who chose to ignore reality and live in some postmodern dreamworld denying evil’s reality,  foolishly thinking to themselves that it could never happen to them, were not prepared and having ignored all warnings, are all, women and children as well, left dead, bleeding, broken and helpless on the blood-drenched battleground of their own ignorance.

You might think that I am recounting some nostalgic story about the wild west. I’m not. It’s a metaphor for the journey of marriage. It’s not hard to see it. We all start out with stars in our eyes and dreams in our hearts about the life ahead of us. We travel the road for a little while, reality begins to set in that the journey is not as smooth as you had anticipated, but you still share your dreams together and that’s what keeps you going. But time in the journey and all the distractions oftentimes take their toll on us and our dreams. We get tired and weary. We sometimes become disillusioned. Weak. It’s the perfect time for the enemies to ride in ready to destroy all you have and desire, enemies like doubt, entitlement, expectation, temptation, and so on.  Some, many in fact, choose the road of postmodern denial.  “That can’t happen to me,” they say.  Others have heeded the warnings of those who have gone before and have girded themselves for the impending battles. Without a vigilant awareness of the impending presence of the enemies all about us and a rehearsed battle plan, we are as good as gone.

When you spend your days as I do warning people, reminding people and yes, all too often, binding up their wounds from the awful assaults from the enemy, you do begin to ask questions about who or what has spent any effort preparing, warning and guiding the marriages of today. As much as they are needed, the plethora of Christian Marriage media sprouting forth the virtues of intimacy development and communication have, like Obama’s stimulus package, not delivered. Have they forgotten that the foundation and strength of intimacy is not bound up in ‘skills’ but a secure confidence in the concept of ‘safety’- in an unflinching confidence in solid and committed relational protection?  What is safety in a relationship other than in the very real recognition that the self-centered ‘spirit of this age’  is extremely hostile and unsafe, incessantly seeking to bring defeat and destruction to the things that are dearest to God, especially our marriages and, in light of that very real and present threat, because of His mercy and grace, I am, we are, protected.

What has happened to marriage in our day?  What has happened especially to the men of our day? If we were to transport ourselves back to the days of wagon trains and the wild west, we would learn one thing about living in the danger of the wilderness. Men, it is our job to protect the perimeter of our homes, our marriages and our own lives. It is our job to man up to the reality that we are to provide a place for our women and children to grow- to provide a place of protection and safety. We are the ones who need to be vigilant and educated about the enemies ways and intentions.  Women back then didn’t need some ‘girlie man’ at home ready and willing to ’emote’ at a moment’s notice.  They needed a warrior.  And it is no different today.  Can someone answer this question?  What the hell is a “metrosexual?”  And who in their right mind thinks it’s a title worthy of honor?  When did we get so soft?  Who has so seduced us to prostitute ourselves so egregiously?  When did we become so willing to tear out what spine we had in order to be ‘loved and accepted?’

How can we expect respect when we so willingly throw our own purposes aside in our quest for self-satisfaction?  How many times have I had a man in my office say, ‘she doesn’t respect me…..?’  Wah, wah, wah.  I have an idea- why don’t we  start acting in ways that deserve respect?  Spineless ‘girlie’ men don’t engender respect in our partners.   Nor is respect the deserved and contingent by-product of earning a living to provide material well-being in our homes. Long hours and a paycheck no matter how big or small do not entitle me to my family’s respect. Respect comes when we actually take responsibility for their well-being and are engaged in the active battle of defending the boundaries of our homes- when we stand up to the enemies that assault our marriages every day like lust, gluttony, greed, power and the culture of self. When we take responsibility for the crafting of our kid’s characters and stop leaving them to the world’s (and even the church’s) destructive hands, then we will know respect from our children. When we clothe our wives in the finest garments of praise and delight, as objects of our truest affection, instead of expecting them to bow at the altar of our own grandiosity, maybe then will we know respect and what it means to be masculine.

Men. it’s time to circle the wagons.  Stop listening to the garbage of this age that has rendered us spineless and start taking ownership for the lives that have been entrusted to us- to start getting real about our life’s effect on those closest to us.  The church won’t do it for you. She’s too self-consumed as it is anyway.  Stop living as though the enemy isn’t interested in destroying your marriage, leading your children into darkness and death.  Let’s get real here. He wants you too and he will throw the barn door and the kitchen sink at you as well- power, sex, self-pity, etc….    We need to circle the wagons and fight against even the present cultural agenda that wants to tell you that even your manhood can be replaced by lesbian love as long as it’s loving.  Are you freakin’ serious?  And you and I have the audacity to sit on our lame rears and not rage against the machine?  The fight is on.  We are in enemy territory and it’s time to circle the wagons if you dare.  You can, “do all things through Christ who strengthens you.”

Posted by: Ted Mattis | 22/06/2010

Well….I guess it has been awhile!

Yes. I know. It has been a while. There are seasons in life in which you just have to go deep, withdraw and find a new way. The past year,needless to say for me, has been a difficult one. The unrelenting pressure of opposition, my subsequent termination, the spiritual malaise and its consequential relational degradation have all combined into a unified voice and a hard, but gracious teacher. The world is not safe. Jesus is. The exercise of true love is only truly experienced when it is extended to those who have most wounded you. Maybe it is your spouse, a parent, a child, a friend, or an employer. Jesus was very clear when He asked His disciples,

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even‘sinners’ love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.

When you have been hurt deeply by someone you trusted, the hardest thing to comprehend is ever getting through it. How do you heal when the very thing, or one, you counted on for your life is the one who plunged the proverbial “knife” into your back? How do you find confidence in friendship when friendship has abandoned you on the shores of self justification? I realize that these are big questions that all have a context for me, but the questions remain. The answers lie only in the experience. Just as an outsider cannot understand truly the plight of the alcoholic and their recovery, or the trial of a pastor’s wife, nor can one truly comprehend what Jesus means when He says, “love your enemies” until they have felt the cruel lashing of their enemy. Just who can be included among our enemies?

Up until that point, for most of us, our enemies are only hypothetical- they are intellectualisms and intellectualisms rarely bare characterological fruit. Loving your enemies means first getting real and owning the experience of our enemy’s opposition and woundings (we must be aware also of our internal enemy – sin– and our external ones), secondly, identifying the true face of our enemy or enemies, and thirdly, absorbing the cost of the wounding (letting go of your right to vengeance). It is profound to me that Jesus had two enemies in His life: THE Enemy (Satan) and…..wait for it…… the church. The Enemy is obvious to us. And while our own self-centeredeness is often our cruelest enemy, not often enough do we dare to identify the church as such. By ‘the church’ I mean the institution rather than the living organism, what Paul called ‘the bride.’ Yet, our world is so full of men, women, boys and girls who have turned away from God Himself because of the church. They are convinced that ‘the church’ is more concerned with ‘her image’ and could not care or less about the shamed, the broken and the needy. And if the church doesn’t, that must mean that God doesn’t either in their minds. They have felt the lashing of the enemy. There are men and women who have suffered divorce in their lives, and yes, sometimes from their own hands, but regardless look to the bride for healing and help but find themselves put out as undesirable by ‘the church.’ They have felt the lashing of the enemy too. And then, there are those that are different because they have not been seduced by the lies of their culture, refusing to accept ‘the church’ as she is in all all of her prostituted shame, thinking more of the bride, these brave souls dare to challenge the prevailing and accepted rules or norms of their religious traditional culture (just like Jesus), regardless if it is wrapped in religious speak. They have felt the lashing of the enemy as well. See, the bride of Christ, the beautiful bride and ‘the church’ as we know it this side of glory are often not synonymous entities. I have learned that it is very possible to love the bride but not ‘the church,’ just like it is very possible to love the addict but hate the addiction.

The good news is…. “the church” is not our salvation, nor will it ever be. It is an institution, an organization. And yes, her mission is carrying the message that IS salvation. It is an agent employed by Jesus Himself, our only salvation, to bring healing to the broken and hurting, to the cast out and so on. Jesus is our salvation- our living water. But when the church ceases to accept and welcome the different, the broken, the ugly, the unacceptable in lieu of protecting their tradition and their culture, what then? Are we still too assume that they are agents of hope? No. I believe Jesus said quite clearly, ‘if you are not for me, then you are against me.’ ‘The church’ ceases being an agent of God when it abandons His purposes for her in lieu of protecting its own interests and thereby, however not intentionally, becoming an instrument of the enemy. That’s what was happening in Jesus’ day. The leaders of the church were more concerned with protecting their heritage than their message. They had become dead. Jesus calls them children of lies from the father of lies, white-washed tombs, etc… Sure, there are true members of the bride in every church and in every board of church leadership, but there are just as many ‘churchmen’ who only share an institutional affiliation but are far away from the family of God. It’s cruel but what we need more than anything today is for God not to redeem the world, politics, Washington and so on, but to redeem ‘the church,’ to restore her beautiful but grossly marred face.

The gift of Jesus is not simply new eyes to see our waywardness or the gift of personal forgiveness (hallelujah!), but having received it, we are then, with His supernatural power within us, to go beyond being receivers and offer it to those who have wounded us- the ones we least want to. That is the true test of the Christian life.

Remember, You have to know the enemy’s opposition and wounding, identify our enemy, and absorb (forgiving) the cost.

Love can never really happen without first passing through the difficult waters of another’s woundings and then, by God’s amazing grace, forgiveness… Until we see that as exactly the path that Jesus took we can never truly know love beyond emotional intellectualism. The ability to forgive only comes when you first experience it yourself having been the enemy of the very God who endured your scorn and shame (our opposition), that we (the church) hung Him on a tree to pay for our refusal to surrender, but God, who saw us rightly as children of the devil and yet, gave Himself willingly, absorbing the cost that we might become children of God- o my!

You can’t and don’t love unless you have first moved through the ugly pain of another’s woundings and forgiven. It’s that way for marriage. It’s that way for friendships. It’s just that way.

Posted by: Ted Mattis | 28/06/2009

Forgive me for being a little ‘slow’ (and long)!

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I am slow, but for those of you who ‘know’ me this is not news to you. But, for now, I am not thinking about ‘common sense’ but about the pace at which I process some of life’s bigger experiences. There are some folks who process experience very quickly, make up their minds, choose their appropriate response and get on with life. Me- I am that typical counselor type, who takes it all in and chews on it for days and days- sometimes even weeks, depending on the power or the weight of the experience. Two weeks ago was one of those experiences for me and, while I still feel somewhat premature in expressing the significant impact, I feel compelled to share.

Coming to terms with the truth is often times too real and brutally difficult. When an addict comes to terms with himself/ herself, ground zero for recovery and healing is only found in honesty- rigorous honesty. When Jesus said to His disciples, “the Truth will set you free,” He wasn’t speaking about simple, objective, doctrinal truth (there is such a thing, you know!). He was ultimately pointing to Himself- Living truth. It would only be a matter of time before He would say, “I am the way the Truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” He is the great and only spiritual liberator. But in order to truly grasp the truth of Jesus, we must come to terms with the truth about ourselves. It means being honest, rigorously honest, about the inconsistencies in our own lives, taking stock of the choices one has made in life. It means being honest about what has and still continues to direct our paths- what motivates us, and for whom we are really trying to make a name. Both of those issues came to a head in me a week ago in Orlando.

Two statements that won’t leave me alone: The first is this, “Would you rather be ‘liked’ or honest?”  It’s an interesting and convicting question. Will you be a slave to others’ perceptions of you, spending your life carefully crafting and feverishly protecting an image you think best represents what you think you should be, or an image that your culture continues to esteem, promote and value as most desirable that earn you entrance into the exclusive club of inclusion? Maybe it’s the big, self-sufficient, make-things-happen business person. Maybe it is the intellectual, professorial and all-wise persona you fancy. Maybe it is the self-effacing, poor-serving, Christian-proving identity that you hold as the peak of humanity and you assume that all humanity reveres. Whatever our treasure is, there will our heart be. Whatever it is, we put on the ‘suit’ and set out in pursuit of affirmation and inclusion.  And as it always goes with ideals, whatever ideal we aspire to, the reality is that we all never quite achieve it, else they would not be true ideals.  They are beyond our grasp and guarantee our shortcoming.

Herein lies the dilemma of the question: In order to maintain the illusion of ideal, we must ‘fudge’ the truth about us and, inevitably, chart an unintentional path that eventually becomes a full blown ‘double-life’. The sad part is most of us, including me, are often completely unaware of this seduction and refuse to acknowledge it. Some may call it denial while others call it arrogance. Either way it is the incongruence between who we are and who we think others expect us to be that begins to gnaw at us.

I have come to realize just how powerful a grip this has had on me, and how pervasive it is in the church, especially in the leadership.  Leaders are often expected to be and are often revered as ones who ‘have it’ as opposed to the ones that don’t.  Human culture/society demands it.  Society, and yes, the church as well, needs and sets up men to be ‘ideals’ for them to aspire to.  Leaders are those just neurotic enough to accept the offer. The temptation of the appointed ‘have’s’ is to drink the seductive wine of social elevation (money, prestige, etc…), and to adapt who they are to those expectations without ever stopping to assess what is real and true about themselves.  Inconsistent men trying to maintain something they are fundamentally incapable of doing.

I think the word I used to use was, “Poser.”  And posers are easy to spot.  I think the Bible calls them ‘adulterers.’ Prostituting one’s reality for another’s satisfaction. When social perception becomes our god, and God becomes a means to accomplish our narcissitic objective, we soon find ourselves so dis-integrated and deluded internally that we either slide into ‘self-protectionism’ (developing behaviors designed to protect the lie- addictions, blame and bitterness, etc…), shutting ourselves off from the truth or braving the cruel world of truth that so often feels like the far country, we make the long journey back home in humiliation seeking restoration down the road of repentance.

Indeed, for most the path of least resistance is more appealing.  ‘It is safer to be liked than truly known.’  That is until truth comes calling.  And truth always comes calling.  Always. Whatever is hidden will be revealed.  You cannot be full of Christ and full of self at the same time.

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