April 29, 2005

umm... tagged?

Jim tagged me. (I will have to get him back somehow...)

I haven't participated in a meme since the friday five and blogger idol, but since I have been involuntarily tagged, then I guess that I will participate.

The idea behind this one is that, when tagged, you choose 5 occupations (or more) from the list below and complete the sentence with it describing what you would do as a member of that profession. If you have more occupations to add, you add them at the bottom following the "If I could be..." format.

After your done, you get to go and tag 3 other people. Add a trackback to the one that tagged you as well as a trackback to Ogre's origional post.

If I could be a scientist...
If I could be a farmer...
If I could be a musician...
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be a painter...
If I could be a gardener...
If I could be a missionary...
If I could be a chef...
If I could be an architect...
If I could be a linguist...
If I could be a psychologist...
If I could be a librarian...
If I could be an athlete...
If I could be a lawyer...
If I could be an innkeeper...
If I could be a professor...
If I could be a writer...
If I could be a llama-rider...
If I could be a bonnie pirate...
If I could be a service member...
If I could be a photographer...
If I could be a philanthropist...
If I could be a rap artist...
If I could be a child actor...
If I could be a secret agent...
If I could be a comedian/comedienne...
If I could be a priest...
If I could be a radio announcer...
If I could be a phlebotomist...
If I could be a pet store owner...
If I could be a computer programmer...
If I could be a police officer...

And now for my choices...
If I could be a pirate, I could say, "argh!" and not have to feel odd about it.
If I could be a writer, I could start a blog that people would actually go to daily and read and be interested, and leave 100 comments a day!
If I could be a computer programmer, I would work for Google. Cause, they da coolest!
If I could be a police officer, I would always try to be there when you wanted me around. You know how it goes. Haven't you ever said, "where's a police officer when you need him?!?"
If I could be a llama rider, I would most defintely ride llamas.

Now it's MY turn to tag. Let's tag some of my students...
Amanda @ Amanda's Annotations.
Emily @ Audience of One.
Stephanie @ Random Jokes.

April 26, 2005

a good article

Right in line with what I posted yesterday, here is a great article called The Gospel vs. Religion.

It is worth a read, go and check it out.

April 25, 2005

that's debatable!

I normally don't get involved in internet debates, but the last couple of weeks I have been participating in a couple of debates. One of them started on a Post by Tim Samoff. It is an interesting topic, and one that I think is of great importance. I would like to encourage you to read there and see what you think.

From that post, I was inspired to get involved in a forum. On this forum, I started a new topic called, Weak Theology. You will have to read it in order to understand what it is about. There have been several good responses to the initial topic.

I haven't started debating these things to try to earn enemies. In fact, most of these blogs I read on a daily basis, and have been reading for over a year now. I enjoy hearing what these people have to say.

Here is another example of a blog that I have been reading for over a year now. The blog is called Living Room. To my understanding, Living Room is an emerging church in Australia. This post was written after a Muslim came and spoke at their gathering. I don't have any problem with that, but I was curious about the purpose of the visit. And more importantly, I was curious about whether or not they believed that the Muslim faith was just another path to God. He wraps up his response by saying,

"Now the question still remains 'is Jesus the only way this process can be
completed?' - again I'm not completely sure of the answer to that question but
I'm becoming more comfortable to allow others to be on the journey that they are
on and to trust that God is big enough to answer those questions."

Yes! God is big enough to answer these questions! But He DID answer them. We call it the Bible.

I am all for questioning things. In fact, I have lost a couple of friendships because I have been willing to listen and interact with people who believe differently than I do. I even had one guy decide that he couldn't fellowship with me anymore because I was so liberal. But I can look back, and in every case, whether it was the conservative calling me a liberal or the liberal calling me a conservative, it was always because I was standing on the side of scripture. And that is right where I want to be.

More on this later.

[topics: theology random ]

The Bible

Here are some words used throughout the books of Psalms and Proverbs referring to the Bible, the Word of God. As you read through these books, consider these definitions*.

Testimonies - those things to which God witnesses

Law - that which points the way

Precepts - mandates handed down to be observed

Statutes - something that is engraved, cut; it is a definitive standard, set forth in a manner that is intended to last

Commandments - those thing God requires, enjoins with authority

Judgements - a legal term meaning, "decisions handed down"; court verdicts (case law) divinely given


An excellent example can be found in Psalm 19:7-11

The law of the LORD is perfect,
converting the soul;
The testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;

The statutes of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;

The fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring forever;
The judgments of the LORD are true
and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward
.
(NKJV)


The word of God is an amazing thing. Something that I hope I will never cease to be amazed with.

Open my eyes that I may behold
Wonderful things out of Your Law.

Psalm 119:18 (Translation by Jay E. Adams)



*(All definitions from Jay E. Adams book, Counsel from Psalm 119)

April 20, 2005

You Are Here -->

I am at school right now. I am sitting at my desk while my students are taking a standardized test.

Here is the satellite image of my school, thanks to Google Maps.

I don't know why I am putting this on here, except that a satellite image of anything is a little cool.

YaGoohoo!gle

Well, if you can't decide where your loyalties are with search engines, then just try...



When you search for something, it gives both Yahoo!'s results and Google's results.

April 19, 2005

Blog Tools

Here are a couple of blog tools.

Character Converter - This site will help you be able to type all of those really interesting symbols and such on your blog. There are 252 different symbols available on this particular site. Here are some examples: © ® ™ ∞ Æ ¤ ¥ µ Ñ Ω ♥ ♣ ♠ € ¢ ¼ ½ é è ê ë æ and so on... and so on...

Simple Code - If you want to enter an example of code into your blog post, but everytime you try, it ends up looking like what the code would do... Then try this site. I used this tool a few post ago, look at it here.

Blogger Hacks - This is on the Blogger site. If you are using Blogger for your blog, you might find one of your questions answered here.

SKYPERS!

Thanks to Rodney Olsen's Skype™ posts, here and here, I have been using Skype™. I even had the opportunity to talk to Rodney using Skype™. (It isn't everyday that I get to talk to a real live Australian!) But I will say that there was some controversy over who had the accent. He even mentioned my name during his radio broadcast, on 98.5 Sonshine FM (an Australian radio station!) That is right, ladies and gents -- Matt Harmless' name has been mentioned on the other side of the globe!

Here are some other features that I have found for Skype™:

SAM: The Skype™ Answering Machine I have installed this, but I have not had a chance to see how it works yet. (Nobody has called.)

HotRecorder™ is a new program that you can use to record Skype™ conversations. I have even seen some articles about how it can be use to create something called a podcast. But because of Skype™ some people are calling them Skypecasts.

There is only one problem that I face while using Skype™... Nobody I know is using it!

So go download it and

Perspective

Life happens, doesn't it? It doesn't matter what you do or who you are, life just keeps rolling. Whether you respond well to life, or if every little bump in the road throws you into a series of convulsions -- life just keeps happening.

And the situations that we find ourselves in can be very difficult. We are surrounded by these... these... People! They are everywhere, and none of them treat us the exact way that we want to be treated, and most of them are just plain old selfish! Whether they are bosses, co-workers, family members, students, teachers, or neighbors... even when there are a few good ones, there are plenty of them that are treating us wrong.

But as I look to the Word of God, I find great hope in these circumstances.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)


All things! That pretty much covers it. Whether it be a broken down car, a sick loved one, or a math teacher that you don't like so much, All of these Things God is working for good!

This truth transforms the perspective. No longer are these things in our lives random misfortunes, they are tools that the Master is going to use for our own good. And who knows what is best that is good besides the creator of the universe? Trust Him, He knows what He is doing!

"If we could only look upon a difficult crisis as an occasion of bringing out, on our behalf, the sufficiency of divine grace, it would enable us to preserve the balance of our souls and to glorify God, even in the deepest waters."

-- C. H. Mackintosh


And what is this good that God is working on? It is to conform you to the image of Christ himself. He is working to make you more like Jesus.

Some people would call Christ above the normal. In our state of mind, it might be easy to think that. But while Christ was on this earth, he lived what man should have been (Romans 5:12-21). He defined normal. The rest of us have fallen below the norm -- far below!

But God was not content to leave it like that. First He sent His son to pay the penalty of our sin, but then He raised Him up so that we might be like Him!(Romans 6:1-14)

Some people water down Romans 8:28-29 so much that they would have it to mean that God is going to fix everything that we mess up. Or that everything is going to "work out." But it is so much more than that.

I would like to encourage you to alter your perspective today. Have an eternal mindset today. When these things happen, remember that God is working! And His work is to make you more like what you were meant to be -- a child of God!

April 16, 2005

the south

Since I moved to the South last summer, I have grown to love it more and more. The mild winter, the early spring, the sweet tea, the sweet southern accent... But today I found something that in my 31 years of living up north, I have never found.

It was crawling in one of my son's toys, in the toy box. I caught it in a little tupperware container, just so I could study the markings. The picture you see to the right isn't the actual spider I saw, but the one I have looks exactly like this one.

Now, there aren't many things that freak me out. I don't mind heights. Big dogs are only a little scary. Roller coasters, no problem. But I can't stand little things that bite.

And to think that there was one in my children's sand box!

They say that the bite of a black widow spider won't actually kill you, but how is that any consolation?!? The fact that they have to say that it won't kill you is enough to freak me out!

Well the southern living... I love it, I just hope that it doesn't come back to bite me.

April 15, 2005

April 15th

Today is Friday, April 15th, 2005... Do you know where your taxes are?

self-deception

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.

Do what it says.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does.

-James 1:22-25 (NIV)

Imagine a guy getting up in the morning and going to the mirror, and spotting this huge, swollen, ripe blemish on his forehead. Right away, he knows that something needs to be done with this thing. It is so big that while he is looking in the mirror, it is the only thing that he notices about himself. He can't take his eyes off of it.

It is so bad that he ponders canceling all of his appointments until it had been dealt with. He begins thinking of different surgeries that he could perform on himself to get rid of it. He'll do anything! He thinks to himself, "how in the world could I ever face another human being while this thing is on my face?!? I'll be nicknamed the unicorn!"

Then he walks away from the mirror, gets dressed and goes to work.

How can this be, you wonder? Well, how can it be that we do the exact same thing?

We go to church or we are hanging out with one of our Christian friends and they start talking about spiritual stuff or maybe, we have even sat down to read our Bible and then it happens. We get a glimpse of ourselves. The word of God, with its soul-piercing ability has cut down deep and we have seen ourselves, the same way a person might look into a mirror.

We don't like what is there. It isn't good. There are some things that need to change, and they are far worse than any blemish that you might have found growing on your face during those awkward years. But instead of dealing with the problem, we walk away and forget all about it.

The really scary thing that is found in this passage is the warning. If you merely listen to the word, and don't do what it says, you will deceive yourself. I don't think that there is anything that I have found to be more alarming than the possibility of self-deception.

The extreme of self-deception is found in Matthew 7, when there are people who get to the judgment, and are genuinely surprised at where they are heading.

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'

"Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"

-Matthew 7:21-23 (NIV)

Notice the surprise of these people. Notice the word, many. Also notice the emphasis on doing, "...only he who does the will of my Father..." Of all of the shocks to receive in your existence, this is the one not to get!

This is why every time we go to the scripture, we need to seek how we can apply it... right now! Don't wait, don't hesitate! As it says in Hebrews 3:7 and 3:15, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts..."

If you are hearing and not doing, you will be deceived. And according to I Timothy 4:2, eventually you will stop feeling so bad about those things that need to change. Your conscience will become seared, and you will no longer feel those pricks.

Eventually you will start to feel pretty good about yourself (to a degree). But in reality you will be so far from the Savior whose image you were meant to conform to.

"When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right."
-- C.S. Lewis

If you have read these words and they hit a little too close to home, then start today.

Don't harden your heart.

April 11, 2005

All Things New

you spoke and made the sunrise to light up the very day
you breathed across the water that started the very first wave
it was you
you intoduced your glory to ever living creature on earth
and they started singing the very first ever to be heard
they sang for you

you make all thigns new
you make all things new
then the world was broken fallen battered and scarred
you took the hopless life wasted ruin in my heart and made it new

you make all things new
you make all things new
you redeem and you transform
you renew and you restore
you make all things new
you make all things new
and forever we will watch and worship you
you make all thigns new

you turn winter into spring
you take every living thing
and breathe your breath of life into it over and over again
you mkae the sunrise day after day after
but theres a mornin' comin' when things will all pass away
and everyone will see

you make all things new
you make all things new
come redeem and come transform
come renew and come restore
you make all things new
you make all things new
and forever we will watch and worship you
now and forever you are making all things new

-Steven Curtis Chapman, All Things New

a little promotion

No... I didn't get promoted. At least not yet!

I would like you to promote me though. Add a Daily Bible Reading button to your blog!

Copy and paste the following code into your blog.


<a href="http://letmenotwander.blogspot.com"><img height="19" alt="Daily Bible Reading" src="http://photos4.flickr.com/9103684_886a0938c7_o.gif" width="175" border="0" /></a>


And it will look like this: Daily Bible Reading


Read about the Let Me Not Wander blog here.

April 9, 2005

Change - resources of change #2

Read the old stuff first:
~Change - resources of change #1
~Change - not by osmosis

Last year I was teaching a Bible class at a highschool. The class was composed of sophmores and juniors, and we were discussing the importance of being in the word on a daily basis. If you are ever going to hope to change, one of the main ingredients is to be in the word.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
by living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
-Psalm 119:9-11


After spending some time talking about this great importance, one of my students approached me and said, "I really want to read my Bible everyday, and I always start with such excitement and energy, but no matter how hard I try, I always fail. I will read the Bible for about a week, and then it just fizzles out."

I think that alot of us have dealed with the exact same thing. We know what the right thing to do is, but when things get busy, Bible reading is usually the first thing to go.

Well, after talking to this student for awhile, and several others with the same problem, I came up with a plan. It isn't a permanent plan, but a plan to get started. A method to get yourself reading some of the Bible everyday. In that Bible class I told them to print off a passage of scripture, tape it up in their locker, and read a new verse every day. I know that it isn't much, but it is better than nothing. And hopefully it will help build a habit, a habit that will grow.

From that idea, I came up with an extension of that. I started a blog called, Let Me Not Wander. In this blog, I will simply post a new verse each day. I will try to keep my comments on that verse to a minimum, because I want this to be a place that students or others could go to on a daily basis and get a snippet of the word of God.

I was thinking that there are several students that I know that are never in the word, but they are on the internet every day. So why not create a resource for them?

Please visit this new blog, and add some commentary of your own.

Let Me Not Wander

April 7, 2005

re-direction

I would like to direct you to a few blogs that I have found in the last month or so, that I think make some really good reading.

Sharper Iron

Evangelical Underground

Pensees

Proverbs Daily

Apelles

April 6, 2005

SKYPE

Alright, I did it. I joined the sypers of the world.










I have tried it, and it really does work. All you need is an internet connection, speakers and a microphone.

If you download it and install it, just add me as a contact... (mattharmless)

April 5, 2005

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

by William Butler Yeats

busy busy busy

The last few months have been very busy months.

In February, I went to the Biblical Counseling Training Conference. It was really awesome. The conference starts on Saturday night, and ends the next Friday. Monday through Thursday you are in sessions from 8am until about 9pm. (they let you leave the building for supper, but you are there the rest of the time.) Here are some of the main speakers: James MacDonald, Jay Adams, Wayne Mack, Paul Tripp, Charles Ware, Randy Patten, Steve Viars, and many others. By the end of the week I felt like I had been drinking from a fire hydrant. (An expression that Steve Viars uses every year to describe the experience.)

Later in February, I went to Charleston for a math competition. Charleston is a beautiful city, I had a good time there and was able to get to know a couple of the students a little bit better. I also spent half a day sitting in a Starbucks...

In March I went to Washington DC. Another great experience, and one I was able to share with my wife. But these trips were beginning to wear on me.

Right after the Washington trip, spring break came along. Normally Spring Break is a break... But with family visiting, I don't think that I actually spent much time sitting and lounging. And I definitely did not spend any time getting caught up.

And then on April 1st, we went to Carowinds. Both my wife and my oldest son went with me on this trip. It was for the 8th graders, and I was the bus driver (I know, I know, riding in the bus with me is scarier than any roller coaster you could get on). I was just so happy that my son is a roller coaster fanatic. He loved them. He went on every coaster that he could go on. With his height, there were only the three largest ones that he couldn't ride.

I have learned a lot, and I have had a lot of fun, but these busy times can be rather stressful and trying on life. I know that I always struggle in these busy times because the first daily task that gets bumped off of my schedule is my Bible reading. I would like to view my Bible reading as essential as eating or drinking, but so many times I just don't. The cares of this present day world spring up and choke it so easily.

Well, I am getting back on track this week, and hopefully this will also help the blog to get back on track.

Talk to you all later. Thanks for reading.

April 4, 2005

NOOMA

There is a pastor in Michigan who has put out a series of 10 to 15 minute videos. Each one has a one-word title and an excellent message.

Check them out at nooma.com

I already own the first 7, thanks to a former student... But there are three new ones out! (Just in case anyone was wondering what to get me for my birthday...)