May 8, 2021

Trigger Warning

Luke 5 for Edgewood

 Luke 5 for Edgewood: Read by Pastor Matt


Luke 5

[1] On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, [2] and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. [3] Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. [4] And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” [5] And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” [6] And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. [7] They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. [8] But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” [9] For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, [10] and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” [11] And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

[12] While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” [13] And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. [14] And he charged him to tell no one, but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” [15] But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. [16] But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.

[17] On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. [18] And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, [19] but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. [20] And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” [21] And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” [22] When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? [23] Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? [24] But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” [25] And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. [26] And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

[27] After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” [28] And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

[29] And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. [30] And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” [31] And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. [32] I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

[33] And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours eat and drink.” [34] And Jesus said to them, “Can you make wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? [35] The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.” [36] He also told them a parable: “No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it on an old garment. If he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. [37] And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. [38] But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. [39] And no one after drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” (ESV)

Masking Tape is not Binding

 This blog post will also serve as Episode 34 of my podcast. You can listen here: 


Ok. I know that might be a strange title for a blog post. Here is what I am talking about: On Wednesday night, I attended an event in my city where there were several pastors, with one in particular, that bound... in Jesus' name... all violence, violent crimes, sexual immorality, etc. This binding of these sins occurred at approximately 6:45 pm on Wednesday, May 5th, 2021. These pastors didn't ask that these sins be bound, they declared them bound. And they declared them bound throughout the city. 

Before the next twenty four hours had passed, there had already been a few more violent crimes committed in Danville. I am also fairly certain that sexual immorality, in all of its various forms, was still running rampant. Now, I will freely admit that I have done nothing to verify this second claim, and though I am not in doubt of its truth, I will set it off to the side and focus on the one that I have verified. There were documented cases of violence and violent crime that still happened. 

May 4, 2021

Don't be salty, be salted.

 All speech... verbal, written, texted, off the cuff, in passing, in frustration, in anger, early in the morning, late at night... happy speech, sad speech, angry speech, agreement speech, disagreement speech, direct, indirect, and anonymous ... All speech: Let it always be gracious, seasoned with salt. 


(By the way, I know the blog title doesn't actually make any real sense.)

May 3, 2021

LIBERTY +

This blog post will also serve as Episode 33 of my Podcast.


Preface

I would like to speak on a topic that I have been fairly silent on. Well, silent in this realm, in the actual real world, I have not been silent on this topic, but lately I have felt the need to speak up in this format. I hope to do so in a way that displays the love of Christ as revealed through the Spirit inspired text of our Holy Scriptures. If you don't agree with that, then most likely you will not agree with anything else I have to say. If you believe in the inspired Word of God as collected in the Holy Bible, but you don't hold to its infallibility and inerrancy, then we are still going to be working off of different platforms and you will, again, most likely disagree with what I have to say.  

To illustrate, I will be working from (what I could figuratively describe as) a boat dock that, in its completed form, is almost 2,000 years old, while you will be balancing on a progressive boat that is headed somewhere. And the truth is, you may genuinely believe that the progressive boat is the place we all ought to be, and immovable docks all ought to be abandoned... and I'm fine with your assessment of the situation, as long as you and I agree that you are progressing and I am not moving. 

Finally, this is a blog post, not a book. It will be abundantly obvious that this post is not perfected in its points or extensive in its explanations. If you come reading with an anti-Matt bias or an anti-boat dock bias, then we will again, most likely disagree. But if you are reading this, then it might be possible that you are open to a conversation, and conversations are things that I love. 

April 28, 2021

Psalm 16 for Wednesday Night

 Every Wednesday Night at Edgewood Church, just before our prayer time, we spend some time reading, studying, and considering a Psalm for the week. Tonight's Psalm is Psalm 16. 


April 27, 2021

Ep. 32 - Thoughts from a Black Truck

 Podcast Episode Number 32 - Thoughts from a Black Truck. 


This is one of my unscripted, from my phone podcasts. 

April 21, 2021

Waiting

 My wife and I are waiting. 

We don't like waiting. It isn't our favorite. But I noticed this morning, as we were discussing our waiting, that we are handling it in different ways: my wife an I. The one way of dealing with it was not better than the other way, it was just different. For me, even though I am an analytical person, I don't tend to analyze these sorts of things. I tend to bundle them up in a little cubby of my mind. The stressors and anxiety-producing realities find a quiet little home in a quiet little part of my mind. I wrap them up in my blankie in that cubby. I check in on them from time to time, but quickly divert my attention to my job-related "squirrels"... My Adult ADD finds this to be the easiest thing to do.  Squirrels naturally grab my attention fairly easily, so the squirrels of homeroom videos, discipline referrals, tech-help requests, lunch duty, and front door duty allure my focus without any hesitating. I'm not saying it is healthy or appropriate... It is just my go-to.  

My wife, on the other hand, tends to analyze the situation. She asks the hard questions of herself when dwelling in the waiting. Things like, Why is this difficult? What am I really wanting? What is God teaching me? etc. To be honest, my hunch is that her way of dealing with the waiting is better than mine. 

In each of our individual methods, neither of us was escaping a side affect of waiting: It was still leaving each of us with a drained feeling - A sense of having our strength sapped away. So while discussing this experience, over our coffee-drinking experience, a passage of scripture from Isaiah came to me - just a phrase really - but it had me scratching my head. The phrase ended up coming from Isaiah 40:31, which says, "but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength..." (Sung, of course... Petra style.) This phrase came to my mind because the "wait for the LORD" wasn't resulting in anything that even remotely looked like a renewal of strength. 

I shared this snippet of scripture with my wife, again Petra style, along with its head-scratching sentiment. She shared my sentiment, so we felt the need to dig into the context of Isaiah 40 to determine why our heads needed scratching and why our strength wasn't renewing but was being sapped. As a result of our digging, I would like to share with you the entirety of Isaiah 40, along with a few tidbits of commentary along the way. I would like to do this because the picture that is being painted, leading up to verse 31 (the final verse of that chapter with that phrase) explains why one would have renewed strength when waiting for the Lord. Not to give everything away, but it seems that the renewed strength isn't a result of the waiting, but of all that leads into the waiting, and the need for renewal may actually come from the waiting. 

Isaiah 40 opens with a word from God to the Prophet. The statement contains the words and the way the prophet should speak to God's people in God's city. In verses 3 through 5, there is a snippet of what is yet to come, captured in the prophecy of the forerunner to the Messiah. After that, the passage delves into some commentary on the nature and reality of Our God... accentuated by the reality of us - mankind. 

Psalm 15 for Wednesday Night

 At Edgewood Church we will be looking at Psalm 15 for tonight's Wednesday Night fellowship. If you would like to join us for this time of Bible Study and Prayer, we meet at 6:15pm at Edgewood Church in Danville, IL. 


Psalm 15 (ESV)

April 19, 2021

Educational Overhaul Part 1 - Introduction

Preface

I have thoughts on education. I have these thoughts because I have been in the educational world for a majority of my life. Besides going to school myself, I have been a math teacher for 19 years, being a math department head at two different schools for some of that time. After a short stint as an instructional coach, I have been a disciplinary dean for the last 2 and a half years. Across this educational career, I have taught in both public and private schools in three different states. I am not, by any means, saying that my time in education has made me an expert, but it has left me with some thoughts on the issues facing education, and possible solutions to those problems. 

Introduction

I have noticed, when reading old books, especially books on philosophy, thought processes, theology, educational theory, political ideologies, etc... I have noticed that many of these older authors don't attempt to proof text every little thing they say.  There aren't a ton of quotes from previous authors, there aren't numerous references to statistics, double-blind studies aren't being cited, and scientific research doesn't always lie at the heart of these books. Many are simply saying, 'this is what I think.' without saying those exact words. They relay their ideas in a matter-of-fact sort of way, leaving the reader to either take it or leave it. 

In recent years, it has seemed to me that every single work that I read will lean into an attempt to prove their point. This is often done through the use of all of those things I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The resulting books are filled with stats, graphs, illustrations, citations, footnotes, and a lengthy bibliography. When writing a scholarly work, this can be an essential element, and I don't have any problem with this at all, but I have found that it can be burdensome when seeking to relay a point myself. There are times when I would simply like to tell someone what I think... this is what I am going to attempt to do in this multi-post endeavor. 

With each post I will, as succinctly as possible, attempt to relay one particular point or thought concerning our crumbling educational situation in this country. Whether I am offering a solution to a problem or simply attempting to describe the real issue with a problem, I am in no way considering any of these posts to fall into the realm of a scholarly work. All I will do is tell you what I think. 

This does not mean that I don't have any reasons for what I will be telling you. Some of those reasons will naturally fall in place in the process of the explanations, but reasons that require extensive citations will only be referenced in passing, not explicitly. I will be doing this primarily to keep the flow of the posts somewhat consistent and to not burden myself with tons of cross-referenced footnotes. I may attempt to collect questions at different intervals and then compile some answers with any needed quotes and graphs and studies, as the need arises. 

One particular resource, that you will find interspersed throughout all of these posts will be the Bible. Whether it is directly quoted, referenced, or indirectly alluded to, the Word of God (the Bible) will play a key role in all of my educational thoughts. 

I am a Bible Believing Christian. For me, this is not a cultural element or a religious bias; it is a perspective of the world. The heavens (extended space) and the earth (our planet) were created by God. This is the one and only God, who has chosen to reveal himself, not just through nature, but through the Spirit-inspired text of the Holy Scriptures. These Scriptures have been preserved through God's providential grace and the Bible that I have before me is without error and without flaw, not only in its overall depiction of God, the world, mankind and history, but also in its detailed teachings on how we ought to live, what our roles are to be, what are our purposes, and where is our hope. 

Jesus Christ is that same God in flesh: 100% God and 100% Man. This Triune God (Father, Son, and Spirit) has worked a great salvation for fallen man, that ought not to be ignored. Understanding this salvation - mankind's absolute sinfulness, God's unconditional grace, Christ's effective sacrifice for sins, the Father's regenerative work in our hearts, and the Spirit's continued presence in those who have been recipients of God's grace - all play a key role in understanding how educating young humans ought to work and where it went wrong. 

Motivation

To wrap up my introduction, I would like to ever-so-briefly describe my motivation for writing on this topic. The roots of what I will share find their depths in a love for math - specifically Geometry. I know that some who will read this, will shut down at the very mention of Geometry, but please understand that Geometry is simply the backdrop for the issues that I am bringing up. (I promise, I won't make you answer any questions on postulates or theorems.)

I can still remember Geometry from when I was in high school. I would've taken it during the 1987-1988 school year as a sophomore. My teacher's name was Mrs. Howard and as a direct result of me not paying attention in class, being called out by Mrs. Howard, me blaming the "not paying attention" on not being able to see the board clearly... I ended up getting glasses, because, as it turned out, I actually couldn't see the board as clearly as I ought to. 


I remember the majority of topics that I studied in Geometry, partially because I still have a copy of that particular Geometry book. I have it sitting in my office. It is clear, succinct, accurate, and does something important - it outlines high school level Geometry... AND ... One of my favorite parts of Geometry was the proofs.

Stay with me now. 

I had a whole paragraph typed out on why I liked proofs, why I still like proofs, and why I think they are an important concept that any student leaning into any of the sciences - mathematical, medical, or even computer sciences - ought to study. I was prepared to wax eloquent on this topic... but that isn't really my point. 

My point is... they've vanished. 

Whether you liked proofs or not - Whether you thought they were important or not - And whether or not you even care about mathematics... Proofs were a key player in the mathematical lineup... and they are just gone. And proofs aren't the only casualty I've noticed. There are other key components that have gone missing. Are they showing up again in college math? I hope so, but if that is the case, what got bumped from those curriculums? 

You might be thinking, "Yeah, but Matt, things have replaced that." Like what? Transformations? (An entire topic that is currently being introduced to kindergarteners and is only challenging because it is so simple that high school student's minds can't compute that it is actually in a high school class.) And if you think that even for a moment... 

Ok. Pause. 

I'm derailing. 

My point is that - in my humble opinion - the amount of material being covered, the selection of topics still being covered, and the depth of the remaining coverage are inadequate, to say the least. To be more specific - Math has lost its guts, and not just math, but all of education. And the thing is, it may have lost its guts when it lost its author. (More on that later.)

Preview: In the next post I will be sharing my thoughts on some basics of education.