Matt Miller

How I came into relationship with Jesus Christ:

I came to relationship with Christ because He draws me near in spite of myself.  I grew up in a home with parents that loved God and earnestly lived to be obedient to His calling on their lives.  They modeled marriage and life well for me.  I can recall a moment when I was quite young (probably too young to actually remember much else) that I loved Jesus.  My brother told me about Him and I wanted that too.  I know that was a simple faith but I'm certain that it was just that... the beginnings of my faith in Christ.

I grew up in Christian school and was blessed to have many great teachers and friends pour into my life as I matured.  However, even in "all the right places", you can find yourself "thinking all the wrong things".  I struggled through phases of serious doubts of the reality of God and selfishness.  After being rejected for entry into my profession and university of choice (for architecture?!) I put my identity in myself and fostered desires in my heart to prove to people that I could be more than they thought I could be.  I really didn't desire to follow God as much as I wanted to succeed.

After college and a series of good jobs as a software developer (WAY before it was cool!), I started a tech company with a few friends.  When times were good, they were very good and it fed my carefully crafted ego.  However, things got very, very bad.  Without the details, there was immense physical and mental pressure on me and my family.  About the same time, I was pulled into a morning coffee group by a man I greatly respected... let's call him "Steve", because that is his actual name.  He was faithful in obedience to simply "be" with us in prayer, study, and encouraging us in our roles as men and fathers in Christ.

So when my self-made, professional world collapsed, I was broken and in massive debt but I didn't have nothing.  God is good... I was "In Christ"! I had the grace of God's words on mouths of faithful friends. I had my amazing family. I had a clear release from all the weight of my own ego.  I was free!  We moved to Michigan on a whim to start new.  God had an amazing plan for us here at HBCSL that we never imagined!  God loved me before I knew I needed Him.

 

How I came to Harvest:

See above!  God brought my family to HBCSL mostly based on series of wrong turns.  Some of these were figurative but the last few were quite literal.
After my business collapsed in 2011 and God had been moving in my heart, Rachel and I found ourselves at a crossroads.  We could continue in the lives we had been in for the past 15 years and I believe God would have blessed that decision.  However, after a world where crazy risk and unknown had ruled the day, adventure did not seem scary or strange as it would have before.  I found a job I wasn't looking for when a recruiter pulled me into West Michigan.  We loved the area and free beaches... so to Grand Haven we came knowing nobody and nothing about it other than that.
We set out looking at various churches and we were invited to Harvest.  Yep... we had seen that "warehouse looking place" on the side of the road.  We didn't know anything about Harvest, didn't realize it was "a thing", and certainly didn't think that there would be more than one.  So, we went to a different church than we were invited to!  We showed up in a little warehouse in an industrial park and we were immediately blown away by the loud music, messy God at Work video of some couple's marriage gone wrong and then right, and then a pastor offering us kool-aid after locking the doors! Somehow, we realized we were home.
The ministry of corporate worship, unashamed and joyful, has softened my heart.  The God at Work couple is now on HBCSL staff (Dan and Kristie Cook) pouring into people that are hurting.  That Kool-Aid pastor (Dave Wisen) has built a team of pastors that are faithful to deliver the word of God without apology and are also some of my closest friends.  The church God is building at HBCSL has gone beyond our wildest expectations... maybe messy at times but full of joy and beautiful to glory of God.


What I do at Harvest:

I serve the church as an Elder and Small Group Leader.  I also play "utility infielder" as needs arise.
 

Why I do what I do:

It was impressed upon me by a Christian mentor in my life of the beauty of Philippians 3:12:
"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own."
Serving God is both a privilege and a pursuit.  None of us are perfect in this life but I press on because Christ pulled me close before I knew I needed Him.  I press on because I can find greater joy in being part of His plan than I can anywhere else.  I press on so that I do not put His great name to shame as I wear the dog tag of "Christian".  I want to be focused and clear on the goal of pushing to the finish line of a life well-lived for Him.  Some of us picture a sprinter leaning through the tape at the finish line.  By the grace of God... maybe!  I also need to prepare like I'm the wobbly-legged Iron Man dude crawling to the painted line on the pavement after most of the crowd has already gone home, utterly spent for the race that I was given to run.  
 

At Harvest since:

Kool-Aid Sunday, November 2011
 

Elder since:

April 2016
 

Education

B.S. Electrical Engineering, Purdue University
 

Occupation

Software Development Leadership
 

Favorite verse

1 Peter 1:6-9
 

Family:

Yes.  Lots of this!
Rachel
Rachel and I were married in 1996 and things were going "as planned".  However, we struggled to have children.  We went years without and it hurt Rachel more than I ever realized.  After much struggle and planning for an international adoption for which we had to wait until she hit age 30, she had let go of the situation and was looking forward to our "new plan".  So at 29 years and 11 months, Rachel became pregnant with Olivia (ok, still brings tears).  God is good and has plans of His own!
Rachel is my rock and is generally amazing.  Let's pause to consider how I really don't deserve her
 
Olivia is our oldest.  A gift from God when we thought we couldn't have children.  She is known as quiet and giving.  She loves riding bikes (like clip-in pedal serious), cello, and is also really funny!
So apparently, we can have children.  Let the games begin!
Caleb is thoughtful and kind.  He is quick to consider advice and is growing in being a servant to his family.  He's also growing physically, which has me reconsidering those tae-kwon-do classes!  He loves retro video games.
Emma is determined and quick-witted.  She is almost always the first kid to get my sense of humor.  Of course, this must mean she is very smart as well!  She likes art and books and has a gift for loving on special needs children.
Ian is somehow a mix of goofy and sensitive.  He was born with magical hair that defies gravity and infectious laughter.  He has been such a fun and easy little dude from day 1, which was a solid reason for kid #5... 
Joshua is, well, "Joshie".  Josh really pegs the limits of human emotion.  Nothing is greater than things he loves and nothing is sadder than those things that break his heart.  Full of life and vigor, this kid can sing/dance out a song and there always seems to be one in his heart.  He is also just as likely to tackle you from behind when you aren't looking.

 

What I Do For Fun:

I love time with my family and friends doing whatever it is that they love doing.  That's it.  I don't really care what we do but when you have 5 kids, free stuff is super awesome! I enjoy being outdoors hiking, biking, and generally exploring new things.