January 29, 2004

The wooing and the woeing of God

He is wooing you from the jaws of distress to a spacious place free from restriction, to the comfort of your table laden with choice food.
-- Job 36:16

There is not a command in the Bible that is not for our own good. How many people throughout time have accused God of trying to burden them down with difficult living, when in reality He is trying to free us to live an abundant life. You would think that our creator would simply lay it all out and if we make the wrong choice, and take the wrong path, that he would simply say, "oh well, I have plenty more where that one came from." But He doesn't do that. When we are in distress, even from our own wrong choices, our God attempts to pleasantly coerce us back. But don't mistake his kindness for something else.

Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes, to those who say, "Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come, so we may know it."
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.
Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel.

--Isaiah 5:18-21, 24

January 27, 2004

Snow!

As a school teacher, snow is a bitter-sweet experience.

On the one hand, if it snows enough, there will be the potential snow-day, or at least the two-hour delay. But on the other hand, there is still the shoveling of the drive and the sidewalk and the shoveling at the school and the shoveling and the shoveling and the shoveling... If there is the two-hour delay, then I do have more time to shovel.

School never goes as well when there is the two-hour delay. The kids are always restless, the classes are shortened, I am tired from shoveling, lesson plans need to be rewritten, etc. But I do have more time to work on the lesson plans with the two-hour delay...

The snow also creates other problems that I hate. Like the snow being tracked into the vehicles, the snow being tracked into the house, the snow being tracked in because of shoveling, and so on... And there is also the dirty cars from all of the salt on the roads. I guess I will have more time to clean all of this mess with the two-hour delay...

I suppose there will be opportunities to go out in the snow with my kids. They always enjoy that. I can't wait until Son 1 is old enough to shovel. I mean really shovel. Right now he just makes more of a mess for me to shovel than anything. I am looking forward to when I can say, "Son 1 -- Son 2 -- get out there and get the drive shoveled." Oooh! I can't wait!

Well, I gotta go. There is some shoveling that needs to be done, and I only have two hours left to do all of this stuff!

January 21, 2004

My Heart Returns To You, O Lord!

My heart returns to you, O Lord,
When those fail who are around me.
I learn that you were always there
with a love that will astound me.

When trials seem to flow my way,
in waves that seem scattered, random.
I always close my eyes and drown,
and ignore your power in them.

Sinking souls with eternal needs
remain unfilled with mortal love.
Instead of God, I seek for friends,
while looking down and not above.

A heart with clouds of circumstance,
will never learn to be set free.
In truth I cling to heavy weights,
while my soul's washed out to sea.

Then in the ocean, I forget,
the earth, the sky, the warmth of land.
And sinking down, currents embrace,
passed down to weed's entangled hands.

There I dwell,
wanting death,
loneliness,
steals my breath.

Perish there,
sinful stench,
snuffed right out,
love's strong clench.

Then all the things that seemed as pain
are then revealed as chastening.
I rush to sky, to sun, to air,
lungs bursting, always hastening.

Swirling up through the murky depths,
stronger now for what'ere he brings.
Purified by almighty hands,
and bursting forth, my soul now sings,

"My heart returns to you, O Lord,
When those fail who are around me.
I learn that you were always there
with a love that will astound me."

January 19, 2004

hairless thoughts

I am the proud owner of a hairless cat.

My brother-in-law gave us this cat, with the understanding that we would pay him for it eventually. My wife wanted to name the cat, Willow. I wanted to name it Naked. My son, Samuel, named it Willow Naked Harmless.

Many people think that they look ugly, but over time the cat has grown on me, and now I don't even think about it. And when I talk about cats with other people, Sam usually asks whether or not they have hair. To him it isn't unusual at all.

These cats are officially called Sphynx Cats. They are a fairly rare breed. This means that they are worth some money. Which in turn means that we invited Houston over to visit with Willow.

Now, we are the proud owners of one hairless mommy cat, and 5 hairless kittens. Willow has turned out to be a good mommy. She is really taking care of those kittens. The runt of the group is not doing well though. I don't think it is eating enough. And besides being soft toward a baby animal, and not wanting it to die, I also want to protect my investment. (which means that I will be going to get some "cat formula" tonight after school -- how weird is that?)

When they are old enough I will be trying to sell them. I am going to try to post a few pics of them eventually. If you are in the market for a beautiful hairless cat, then contact me at mattharmless@gmail.com.

January 13, 2004

Just a stanza

My heart returns to you, O Lord,
when those fail who are around me.
I learn that you were always there,
with a love that will astound me.


Just something that popped out of my head and fell onto my journal. I cleaned it up a little, and then decided to keep it. Now I am sharing it with you for no apparent reason. (Probably because I didn't have anything else to write about at the moment.)

January 12, 2004

If I stand

Every once in a while there will be a song that you have listened to several times, and then one day it all becomes clear. It is almost like you are hearing it for the first time. The song has a new meaning for you. Usually it is because there is something that is going on in your life that causes you to connect with these words. And then there you are, driving in your car, finding yourself listening to the same song like 20 times in a row. Each time you listen it gets a little louder. That happened to me two days ago with this song by Rich Mullins and Steve Cudworth.

There's more that rises in the morning
Than the sun
And more that shines in the night
Than just the moon
It's more than just this fire here
That keeps me warm
In a shelter that is larger
Than this room

And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegiance
I owe only to the Giver
Of all good things

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't, let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

There's more that dances on the prairies
Than the wind
More that pulses in the ocean
Than the tide
There's a love that is fiercer
Than the love between friends
More gentle than a mother's
When her baby's at her side

And there's a loyalty that's deeper
Than mere sentiments
And a music higher than the songs
That I can sing
The stuff of Earth competes
For the allegence
I owe only to the Giver
Of all good things

So if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

And if I stand let me stand on the promise
That you will pull me through
And if I can't let me fall on the grace
That first brought me to You
And if I sing let me sing for the joy
That has born in me these songs
And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home

And if I weep let it be as a man
Who is longing for his home


A great song is one that you can echo from the heart.

January 9, 2004

an e-mail from my mom

Here is a copy of an e-mail that I received from my mom. It was encouraging and profound, so I thought that I would share it with you:

I hope you realize how important you are to God. Afterall, think about it, Jesus died for you and that in itself proves how important you are. We all need to hear that at least sometime in our life.

I have been reading in the OT and I am right now in I Samuel. David lived through many trials, but you know they didn't seem like our type of trials at all. I mean he had King Saul trying to kill him and he was surrounded by rough and tough men who were used to killing people. Think about it, doesn't our life seem simple? And yet, I think our life is even more complex because the "enemies" that surround us are not just people.....they are things, or events, or circumstances, and sometimes people. So does that make it harder for us to trust God? Of course not....God is still God no matter what happens in our life, or no matter what the circumstances are. God is greater than any enemy and God is always the victor...praise Him.

Here is a great verse....."The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them. His work is honorable and glorious and His righteousness endures forever." Psalm 111:2-3. Study the works of the Lord and I pray God will give you peace and pleasure in trusting Him. All things written about God continue on through time no matter what your circumstances. Nothing has taken Him by surprise and nothing is too great for Him. Keep the faith!!

Love, Mom


I hope that you are as encouraged by this as I was.

January 8, 2004

Coffee! Coffee! Coffee!

(CBS) "Coffee has a complicated reputation, reports CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin. It's popular worldwide, but over the years, caffeine -- its main ingredient -- has been linked to some cancers, jitteriness, insomnia and -- since many of us can't live without it -- addiction.

But there's new research about our favorite pick-me-up that may "perk" up its image: a study that finds drinking coffee cuts the risk of a disease now plaguing adult Americans: Type 2 diabetes.

"We found that heavy coffee consumption substantially reduced the risk of Type 2 diabetes in both men and women," said Dr. Frank Hu of the Harvard School of Public Health.

By "heavy" coffee consumption -- researchers mean 6 or more cups a day -- but what they found was startling. Among the thousands of men and women followed for the study, male coffee drinkers had a 50 percent reduction in diabetes risk. The risk for women was reduced by 30 percent.

Even those who drank decaf saw some benefit.

"Contrary to what was initially thought, coffee is not bad for you. In fact, it may be good for you," said Dr. Peter Martin.

The reason, according to Dr. Martin, who heads up the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University, is that coffee is not just about caffeine.

It's a complex brew of many compounds, among them something called chlorogenic acid, that may ward off Type 2 diabetes

"It increases the body's capacity to dispose of glucose, which is sugar in the blood," Martin said.

The study results are not an invitation to start drinking six cups of coffee a day if you don't already -- it will still keep you up at night. But at least now you won't be kept awake worrying that the coffee you're drinking is only doing you harm. "


©MMIV, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

January 6, 2004

Untitled


He took his heart out,
his soul.
He looked at it, examined it,
it wasn't much to look at.
And there wasn't much there;
just a little bit,
barely enough.
But he thought in his mind,
"It will do.
"It is bendable and moldable
ready to conform."
So he gave it to her.
---
In her hands it took another form,
adjusted to fit her shape,
her syle.
It fluidly flowed and morphed;
like a dance...
never stopping.
---
It's absence left a void
meant to be filled.
The hole ached and yearned; wanting
something of her.
---
She loved her gift.
Like a child with a new toy,
a treasure.
The heart-dance went on,
but was different now.
It was more solid, more firm;
and even growing some,
to meet the needs.
---
Some slipped through her fingers.
Did she see it?
She's stretching it now.
Is it too thin?
Will it break?
Will it snap?
She's only holding on with one hand.
What else is she holding on to?
---
It is on the floor.
Shattered
Broken
---
It wasn't much anyway;
just a little bit,
barely enough.
---
She offered to let him take it back.
He picked up the pieces.
She helped.
As he examined the pieces,
he knew his answer.
---
He stood there again,
as he had once before.
His heart in his hands,
his soul.
He looked at it, examined it;
it wasn't much to look at.
And there wasn't much there;
some was missing,
parts were broken,
there was
just a little bit,
barely enough.
But he thought in his mind,
"It will do."
---
So he gave it to her again.

(Just a little poem about love.)

January 3, 2004

Today

In case you had forgotten...

God is still good.

It is easy to lose sight of that.
I know that I do, more than I would care to publicly admit.

But even when you don't want to believe it,

God is still good.