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When I was younger, I use to be huge into magic!  Loved it!  I loved that feeling of watching someone do a trick and being totally blown away and feeling stumped trying to figure out what the heck just happened.  I wanted to be that guy.  So I got magic kits, books and would ask too many annoying questions at magic stores.  I learned one that quickly became my favorite trick. It was called, “The Disappearing Handkerchief”

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The Klutz Book of Magic

It was simple to do and you only needed a fake thumb that matched your skin tone to hide the handkerchief.  So…you know, fairly common.  I got pretty good at it, but then when it came time to actually perform, I had this inner-battle that it wasn’t good.  The fun with magic is being tricked.  And when I was doing a magic trick, I wasn’t being tricked.  So I felt like it wasn’t good.  I would ruin the trick by saying, “Aw never mind, just forget you saw anything.”  I felt like, because it wasn’t impressive to me anymore, it won’t be impressive to anyone else.  I also felt like a fake.  Even if I did the trick well, I was scared that I was going to be found out.  Like I needed to be a professional magician in order to perform anything.  I didn’t feel like I knew enough and my audience is going to figure out that I’m not good at this.  So I stopped doing magic tricks.

If you do video or design or create something that has a message behind it, it can feel like this.  You pour so much into your work and look at for so long that what you’re creating becomes dull to you.  Or you’re frustrated with your project because you don’t feel like it’s any good, or you don’t feel like your any good.  You feel like your audience is going to figure out that you don’t actually know what you’re doing.

It’s important to push these thoughts aside.  From one creative to another, let me tell you that  THIS IS NORMAL.  You can’t grow if you don’t push past this.  Honestly, you might actually suck.  I look back at old stuff I’ve created all the time, and wonder, what the heck was I thinking!?  But I’ve gotten better because of it.  Everybody starts something not being perfect at it.  It takes work and practice.  So don’t stifle your story or hoard it from the world because you don’t think it’s good enough.  People still deserve to see the trick.

Ta Da!  (Sorry, I couldn’t help it)

When I was a freshman in High School I was tricked by my history teacher.  Here’s what happened…I came into class with the rest of the students and before I sat down and settled in, the teacher handed me a book and asked me to drop it off to the principal.  Not thinking anything of it, I took the book to the school’s Main Office.  When I came back to the classroom, the teacher was in the middle of a question.  He was pointing at a couple lines he drew on the chalk board that looked a little like this:


He asked, “Which of you think this line is the same length as this line?”


Only a couple people raised their hands.  I was confused.  The lines looked to be identical.  I came back to the classroom in the middle of the question and it seemed the majority knew something I didn’t.

Then, pointing to two different lines, the teacher asked, “Who thinks these lines are the same length?”


The majority of the class raised their hands.  So… I did too.  Immediately the teacher called me out.  “Matt, why did you raise your hand?  Do you honestly believe these two lines are the same length?”

“Well, no… I-I don’t know.” I stammered.

“Why did you raise your hand?” He asked again.

I was caught.  Embarrassed, I tried to explain that I didn’t know what was happening.  I came back from the principal’s office in the middle of the question and the majority answered the question so… I just followed suit.  I didn’t want to stand out and be wrong.

My history teacher was illustrating a point about how people can be influenced to follow the majority and paralleled that to Nazi Germany.  It was a good lesson for the class, but a life changing lesson for me.  For years after that, it bothered me that he chose me.  Why did he choose me?  Did he know that I would follow the crowd?  It irritated me that I didn’t answer what I thought was true.

I still think of that lesson from time to time.  It still bothers me to this day, but I’m so glad that he chose me.  It built something new in me.  Conviction.  At least, an awareness of opportunity to stick with conviction.  By not following the crowd mindlessly from the start, I can decide where I stand in any given situation.  It’s important to question things.  It’s important to not assume the crowd is always right.  You can’t develop any kind of true conviction without questioning the status quo.  And the point is not to question just for the sake to question.  It can’t come from a rebellious place.  If you question things with the right heart, not out of anger or frustration but with the constraints of what’s right or wrong, then the question will position yourself to discover who you actually are and what direction you need to go.

In September 2015, I had the amazing opportunity to work on a creative film project for Rockford Fist Church that took climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.  I’ve climbed a few larger mountains in Colorado that were “Fourteeners” (mountains with a summit elevation of 14,000 feet or greater) but Kilimanjaro was a different beast!  This was bucket-list material!  Mt. Kilimanjaro is the worlds tallest free standing mountain, towering at 19,341 feet above sea level, and I was stoked for it!  Should be a walk in the park, right?  You know… with all the practice we get climbing mountains in the Midwest.

There were four of us on the team that would ultimately be trying to make it to the top.  Jeremy DeWeerdt, the lead pastor at Rockford First.  Taka Iguchi, who helped organize a lot of the trip details, and then Matt Sandberg and myself as the cameramen for the trip.

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Rockford First annually creates two creative teaching series for the small groups that we have in our church that are called “life group series”.  I have been blessed to be a part of every teaching series that Rockford First has created since the beginning dating back to 2007.  For this series, we decided to do it a little differently and film it like a documentary.  We didn’t want to force anything, we wanted to see what we, as the crew, would experience personally on the mountain and bring those lessons to the life groups at Rockford First.  This meant we had to film almost everything.  Which was much more work than past series, however, what we were able to capture was totally worth it.

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Each team member had our “big thing” that we learned on the mountain and those lessons are illustrated in the four week series starting this February 28th.  I’ve always felt closest to God when I’m in the element of His creation.  There’s just something about being in the Mountains.  Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Way harder than I would like to admit.  I just couldn’t get use to the thin mountain air.  There where times when I was leaning against my trekking poles swaying back and forth trying not to pass out.  In those moments one thing kept coming to mind, “I am bigger than this mountain.”  I was determined to get to the top.  I had a job to do, but at the same time, I was also on a very personal journey.  Part of that journey was coming to the realization that “I am more capable than I know.”   If I could conquer this physical mountain how much easier mentally for me it is to conquer the smaller “mountains” in my life.  Everyone has mountains in there life and climbing Kili inspired me to conquer mine back home.

For those who don’t know my wife and I’s story, starting a family has been difficult for us.  We have had three miscarriages and that had led us down this path to adopt.  A little over a month before our trip , we had been selected by a birth mother for an adoption placement, needless to say we were thrilled (aka freaking out excited!!) … the nursery was ready, the house was baby proofed and we were ready for our son to come home.  We finally received the call that she was going into labor and we made our way to the hospital with the anticipation of leaving with the child we had been waiting and praying for in our arms… We left that night instead with empty arms and a heavy heart.   The journey has been a roller coaster to say the least, and honestly, at that point we had wanted to throw in the towel and quit. So climbing Kilimanjaro had taken on a much more personal journey for me in regards to struggle. It was hard, but the biggest lesson I had taken away from our filming adventure is that we are bigger than the struggles we have in our life and we are more capable than we know, because God is with us.   So we’ve decided to stay the course and are excited about it!  In fact you can even check out our adoption profile HERE.

The point is this… You’re more capable than you know.  What are the mountains in your life that  you think are too big for you?  What is something you need to step into that feels uncomfortable, scary or too hard?  It’s easier to just leave sleeping dogs lay, but there’s something powerful with moving past struggle.  In order to grow in anything that’s worth while you have to go through some conflict.

This was the biggest lesson I learned on the mountain, and everyone had a different moment or lesson that they learned.   I’m excited to bring that experience to the life groups at Rockford First through this series.   This video series is going to be unlike any we’ve done so far. The footage is amazing, the lessons are life changing and the scenery on the side of that mountain was unlike any I’ve ever seen.  The four part series, “Above the Clouds” premieres February 28 at Rockford First.  And if you’re in the Rockford, IL area, you’re not gonna wanna miss getting involved!  If you’re unable to make it, check out the series online at

Stay tuned for more posts about the trip.  I’ll dive in more after the series as started.

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Photo Cred: Matt Sandberg
Check out more of his awesome pics from the trip HERE.

The world needs another blog, so… YOU’RE WELCOME WORLD.  This is going to be the best blog you’ll ever read.










Well… probably not.  Truth is, I’ve been putting this off for a few years.  I’ve never been good at keeping a journal or writing consistently in any way.  I need to get better at that, hence, the blog.  The idea of writing for the world to see, wasn’t necessarily scary, but just didn’t make sense to me.  I mean, what do I have to offer?  Right?  What could the world benefit from what I have to say?  So why blog?  I guess, what could the world benefit if I don’t?  Besides, possibly more time in the day, not that much.

With my job, I spend a lot of time behind the scenes.  Usually at a computer.  And for me, it’s easy to stay there.  Pretty comfortable.  And that, I’ve learned, can be a dangerous place to stay.  You get where I’m going with that right?  So I guess you could say this blog might be more for me than the world.  If the world benefits, great, but with this, I’m stepping into something that feels uncomfortable to me in hopes to get better.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

So question is, what do you need to step into to get better in?  Something you’ve been putting off?  Something beyond your comfort zone?