Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: August, 2007

Pregnant Chads (or Abdullahs?)

For those living in the West it is becoming increasingly important to understand non-Western cultures. Especially in a place like Canada when in some areas it’s hard to find a Caucasian. I actually like the ethnic mix we’ve got going on. It helps guard against cultural arrogance and it creates a worldview that’s a little more open and understanding of the world than most. I love immigrants.

And so I hear these days that in America and Canada there are politicians who don’t match the traditional picture of public figures. I saw on Canadian parliament a turbaned Sikh once. I hear that a Muslim man is running for president in America. Neat. I told a few people about this. I’ve always gotten the same response:

“What is the world coming to? We’re certainly in the last days now! I can’t believe they’d let a [Muslim, Sikh or any other non-white person] run for public office!”

I was surprised.

I have this question: what’s the difference? When it comes down to it what’s the difference between a Muslim and a ‘normal’ Canadian or American? What’s the difference between a Sikh and a politician who is Christian by name but atheist by conduct? What’s the difference between a religious man from far away and an irreligious man from next door?

When did we get this idea that immigrants were stupid or dangerous? Haven’t we had enough incompetent western leaders to realize that maybe an eastern one can’t be much worse? Personally, if I voted based on moral integrity, I’d vote for the Muslim before I voted for a Canadian. But, of course, I don’t vote based on moral integrity. I vote based on how I think a candidate would run the country. Certainly morality does play a part in it. But if a wonderfully godly Christian who had no clue what he was doing decided to run for office I don’t think he’d get my vote.

I guess I just don’t understand how we can possibly call a Muslim pagan or immoral while the average man walking down our streets and running our government has a moral system that would make a devil blush.

David’s Choice

In the Lord I take refuge;
how can you say to my soul,
“Flee like a bird to your mountain,
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroy,
what can the righteous do?”

David, it seems is being assaulted from two sources. His life seems to be full of problems. We probably can’t figure out which particular stress he’s dealing with now, but from the words here we can be sure that it’s pretty bad. Maybe even life threatening. The second stress seems to come from a friend. A friend, it seems, sees all the stuff David is needing to deal with and advises that he runs. Run away to the mountains! Look, your enemies are closing in on you. They’re coming and there’s nothing you can do about it! Pack up and get out of here. They’ve destroyed the foundations of the city and when the foundations go what can even a righteous man do? Run!

David seems to be a little offended by this. “How can you say this to me?” He asks. How can you even suggest something like this? Run? Are you crazy? Don’t you know that I take refuge in the Lord? Don’t you know that the Lord is in his holy temple? Don’t you know that his eyes see and test the children of men? Don’t you understand that the Lord is righteous and will always protect those who are his? How can you say all of this to me? How can you tell me to run and take refuge in mountains? Mountains are weak and flimsy. They’ll fall and melt at the breath of the one I take refuge in. I cannot take refuge in the mountains. I take refuge in he who made the mountains.

We feel we need to add a lot to our lives. We live in great fear, it seems. Over here in Pakistan it seems that people are more concerned with safety and security than they are with fulfilling their purpose in this land. Canada is exactly the same. We spend so much time and money worrying about insurance and savings and safe cars and safe foods and safe this and that and the other thing. We spend so much energy in the things we think will keep us safe that when it comes time to devote ourselves to the reason we were created we find that we’re out of time and energy. Our church planning meetings focus on offerings and insurance plans instead of prayer and the Spirit. Our missionary planning meetings focus on exit strategies and secure e-mail connections and other crap that won’t ever really keep us safe. Why are we counting on these plans and organizations to keep us safe? Why are we so scared?

“But Matthew, God gave us brains and we’re supposed to use them, not to just through caution into the wind.”

True, God gave us brains. And my brain reads the Bible and my brain tells me not to worry about what I will eat or drink or where I will live or whether I will die because if I seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness he’ll take care of the details.

Don’t ever be afraid to obey. Even if obedience means social stigma, physical pain or any other kind of suffering. If you really sit down and count the cost you’ll find it all worth it.

Good news!

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Sunday, August 19, my dear brother decided to make the step that many
men are deathly afraid of. That's right, Stephen Cook is now
officially engaged to Anne Fraser!

I just want to publicly say that I am so excited I wet myself a
little. I look at these two and I see them as a perfect match and I
KNOW that they'll be happy together. Steve, you da man. This is a
great step and although I can promise that you will not regret this
choice. You picked a fine girl.

Anne, you got yourself a great dude. I've known Steve for a while and
I'm sure that he'll protect you and care for you more than he'd take
care of himself.

Our prayers are with you both!

A difficult question

I was recently asked to fill one page with ‘The Essentials of my Christian Life’. That’s a tough question, eh? For a few days I just stared at a blank screen and couldn’t figure out what to write. I mean, the essentials of my Christian life? It reminds me of the philosophy paper back at KLBC that PK made us do. How do I write something like that? Eventually I did get it done. I reproduce it here for you all. Enjoy:

It is difficult to put down in words the essentials of my Christian life, but I suppose I could try by breaking it down into three categories of faith, hope and love.

I have confident faith that…

– there is one God, holy, infinite, just and loving. He is the source of all things good in the universe. He created man in a perfect environment, happy and holy and in perfect communion with Himself. Through Adam’s sin the perfect fellowship was broken, Adam and his offspring were corrupted in all their faculties and mankind was put under judgment. God sent His Son, who was true God Himself, to mankind in human form. He lived a perfect life and died a substitutionary death for the sin of the world. Those who believe in Him are justified, sanctified and, ultimately glorified. This salvation is by grace through faith alone.
– once a believer embraces Christ he is sealed by the Holy Spirit and kept from ultimately falling away. The Holy Spirit also enters his life and causes radical changes in all his faculties. He is a new creation. Though he still must struggle with sin his entire life the Spirit enables him to progress from faith to faith.
– those who die without embracing Christ and placing their faith in Him are eternally lost.
– all believers should be baptized.
– The Bible is the Word of God, given to man.
– Christ will return at any time to judge, reward and rule.
– it is every believer’s duty and privilege to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, making disciples of every nation.
– to live is Christ and to die is gain.

I have assured hope that…

– if I seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness my needs will always be met.
– there is no greater joy to be found this life or the next than communion with God, as He is the source of all happiness.
– a believer can seek the presence of God and his guidance through the means of grace which include prayer, the Bible, service, discipleship, fellowship with believers, the Lord’s Supper, etc. While these things are not meritorious, God has given us these conduits of grace as a means to draw closer to him.
– the Christian life is not meant to be a dry system, but an active relationship with the creator of the universe.
– one day I, and all others who are in Christ, will stand around the throne of God and of the Lamb and rejoice in His glory for days without end. At that point I know not what I will be but I know that I will be like Him for I shall see Him as He is.

Concerning love…

– The greatest charge to a Christian is to love God. This love is shown through desire for presence, pleasure, and glory and action leading to that end. A man who does not love God cannot possibly know Him as He is.
– The second greatest charge to a Christian is to love man. This love is shown through desire for man’s good and action leading to man’s good. This includes things like evangelism, humanitarian aid, kindness, gentleness, hospitality, patience, meekness, boldness, courage, etc.
– The love of God causes a believer to hate all sin.
– All ‘Christian’ virtues, practices and traditions are null and made useless if they are without love. Without love faith becomes opinion and hope becomes mere expectance.

Mubarak ho!

Pakistan Zindabad!

Tell me, tell me, who?

With Pakistan’s Independence Day just around the corner I find myself
thinking about this neat country I’m a part of and wondering which
thing about Pakistan I appreciate or enjoy the most. As I was walking
down the street to day I asked myself, “What is you favorite Pakistani
thing?” The answer came quick. My ghar-walli.

Love is a neat thing, eh? When I first got together with Ruth, maybe
about five years ago, I was sure that I loved her. Turns out I didn’t
know what love was back then. When we got married, three years ago, I
was sure that I loved her. Maybe I didn’t quite know what love was
then either. When we had a son and kicked it off to Pakistan I was
quite sure that I loved her. I don’t know if I was certain about love
at that time. Today as I type I’m sure I love Ruth. What’s love?
That’s a tough question.

Is it attraction? Maybe. But what kind? Any kind? I’m certainly
attracted to Ruth. The nice thing about Ruth is that I know that when
her physical beauty fades (because everybody’s physical beauty fades)
I won’t mind. You see, Ruth is by far the most beautiful person I’ve
ever met. And I would still say that even if her face and form were
totally disfigured. Ruth has a clean heart. She is focused on one
thing. She loves Jesus and she loves me. She is sensitive, caring
and happy. She relies on God and she helps me to do the same. She
follows me wherever I go and doesn’t resent it when I run us into a
wall. She is beautiful, even without the pretty face. I don’t think
I love her because of her beautiful appearance. There are many people
in the world who are beautiful on the outside and I couldn’t dream of
enduring a marriage with them. Ruth’s best selling point is her
<em>other</em> beauty. The beauty that all who have spent time with
her can attest to. The beauty that turns and ogre into an angel and
without which a princess is a witch. The beauty that makes everyone
want to be my wife’s friend. My wife is attractive.

But is love only attraction? Probably not. Love that only lies in
attraction would just be a sort of lust or pragmatism. It’s certainly
quite practical to have an inwardly beautiful spouse. I suppose
there’s something else that’s needed to make love complete. Perhaps
joy. When my beloved is happy I find that I also am happy. Part of
love is finding your joy in the joy of the beloved. And so I do nice
things for Ruth. I try to make her smile because her smiles make me
smile. Some people make fun of husbands who dote on their wives.
These people are either silly or they just don’t understand this part
of love. I don’t treat my wife well because it’s my duty. I do it
because the greatest sound this side of heaven is my wife’s laugh.
Sometimes this might mean doing things that my wife doesn’t like
because I believe it will make her happier in the long run. Paul
suggested this when he talked about a husband helping to sanctify his
wife. He who loves his wife will certainly do whatever he can to
increase her joy, both now and later. He won’t care so much about his
own preferences because his love for his wife and her joy will be
greater than his love for his own comfort. The people who call
husbands who do this sort of thing ‘whipped’ are idiots.

So attraction and joy in their joy. I don’t know if I know what love
is yet, but I think I’ll stick with this definition until a better one
presents itself.

So hear me, my fellow men! If you would be men indeed go and find
your wife (or significant other). Tell her, “Happy Pakistani
Independence Day!” and do whatever it takes to get a smile and a laugh
out of her. Take the kid for the evening. Grab her some chocolates.
Do whatever it takes. Real men love their wives.


I just got back from a trip to the NWFP of Pakistan. I went deep inside to the autonomous tribal areas where the Pakistani government has no authority and the tribal lords run the show. It was great. I went to the famous Khyber Pass, the gateway to Afghanistan. It was wonderful. The people there were just about the most friendly I’ve met in my life. Wonderful.
The mouth of the Khyber Pass

Here’s a photo of the tribal leader’s house in whose area we were in.

Okay, my son is breaking electronic things. Gotta go!