Bios: Matthew Miklasz is a pastor and author of the book, A Normal Guy. He studied theology through
Bible, and was ordained with the EFCA in 2003. He served on the District Board
of Ministerial Standing, and coached other pastors through the Trinity College in Congregational Leadership.
His wife of 27 years, Cyndy, has devoted her
time and energy to raising their four children on their hobby farm in Center of Excellence . Visit www.mattnormalguy.com for more
Welcome, Matt and Cyndy. What motivated you to write the new book?
Matt — There were two main motivations for writing this book. One was a conviction God has been giving me in my times of reflection. This conviction is my need to steward the challenges I have faced and this next season of my life well. I believe deeply God does not waste anything. The second motivation came when I spoke at a men's conference in a vulnerable and authentic way on my journey with cancer. I gave five talks over the weekend and several men encouraged me to speak more on this and perhaps write a book on it.
Cyndy — Matt asked me to write a timeline of our experiences as a context for the lessons we have learned. I don’t think he expected as much as I wrote, but once I started it just kept coming. It was enriching to work on the book together.
What are some of the difficult moments that your family has endured?
Matt— When our son Ben was born, he had a heart condition that required surgery just a few days after he was born. His condition was difficult for many months. For me, my journey has included Leukemia, Colorectal cancer and metastasis to lung, and the risky surgeries and treatments that have accompanied the cancers. Plus, the challenges of pastoral ministry and moving many times has always been a challenge.
As a pastor, is it difficult to share your doubts and fears in public?
Matt — It can be difficult at times. I often fear getting in the way of the message. I am, however, pretty transparent and authentic in the way I choose to minister. I believe God's grace is clearly seen in weakness.
What have you learned about God that you didn't know before your battle with cancer began?
Matt - meet our fears and desperation. I am finding more and more, this type of honest prayer is the avenue to real change. This is true in my life. It’s not that anything necessarily changes in regard to my circumstances. I still have leukemia. I still lost most of a lung and still face colon challenges. The oncologist still expects cancer to pop up again somewhere. So my circumstances haven’t changed. But I have. And I am. What I am discovering, in increasing measure, is that what actually changes in my life is out of my control. Though I long for good health, the only certainty God promises is peace. Peace in my heart and mind. When everything around me is uncertain, fearful, painful and confusing, there is God’s peace that passes all understanding. (Philippians 4:6-7) His peace comes in ways that exceed human understanding. God’s peace brings a supernatural calm. It is perhaps the greatest miracle we can experience in our journey. This miraculous peace can settle over you when the bank account is empty, when the child walks away from God, when the doctor’s report is bad or when your marriage is in the balance, when a drug addiction overwhelms a loved one. It is the incredible, miraculous peace of God that calms any storm.
How does having an illness change your perspective on life?
Matt — I put more value on individual moments with people, most especially with Cyndy and my children. My main daily goal in life is to lay my head on the pillow at night and be able to say I loved God and I loved people well that day. I have found my journey with cancer has allowed me to answer this in an affirmative way more often. I believe it has helped our marriage in some ways. The things we used to find irritating have faded, and been replaced with growing appreciation for each other.
Cyndy —“I laughed, I cried, it moved me, Bob.” The kids and I still pull out this Larry the Cucumber quote, which pertains here. But seriously, while I began thinking back to what I was feeling during some of worst moments, sometimes it was overwhelming. It was also good to be able to look back and realize all that God has brought us through.
Talk about your A Normal Guy book and why you wrote it.
Matt — My first book came about when my oldest daughter, Angela, encouraged me to write a book a couple of years ago. Then, on my birthday, she sent me a card and shared in it that it was still her dream for me to write a book. So I sat down and just started writing about my life, convictions, family, core values and passions. While ministering at the church, I was meeting many new people and one man I had spent some time with made a statement, “You know you’re just a normal guy.” That conversation helped me realize the confidence and freedom I have found over the years in just being me. My normal. There is freedom I have found in not performing or pretending in the way I live my life. I believe authenticity provides confidence. In my personal journals, I record Scripture, circumstances and events that God has spoken to me through. As I wrote A Normal Guy, it was wonderful to see the hand of God in my life, and realize when some of my convictions were birthed. I am passionate about living authentically as I believe it provides the avenue to leaving a godly legacy.
How can people find joy in the midst of bad circumstances?
Matt — James 1: 2-4 tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” “Consider” means to reflect on something. This is the word James uses in reference to how to view trials. God has not called us to just survive the storms and surprises in life. He calls us to endure them with joy and passion. God wants us to embrace the purposes of our trials as we journey. This requires us to build a deep, abiding sense that God is in the storms; in control of the storms, purposeful in the storms, and good in all He does and allows. All through the Bible, God has a call for His people. It is call to journey well. Over and over, we see examples of people who walked in faith and journeyed with an enduring joy. Hebrews 11 speaks to this. We are not called to simply survive the trials and surprises in life. Instead, we are to rise up and live out God’s call on our lives in the midst of the trials. This call is not to be comfortable, but to grow in Christlikeness. It’s not to hide and run from every trial, but to be an authentic light in the midst of the trials. We are called to journey on the path set before us, including the trials, joyfully. To some, this sounds like a contradiction. Our lives are filled with surprises, and to journey well through them we need to face the questions we ask and the fears and doubts that linger. God wants us to be honest about our lives.
Thank you, Matt and Cyndy, for sharing Joy for the Journey with my blog readers and me.
Readers, here are links to the book.
Joy for the Journey - Paperback
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