December 23, 2009

The World is Just Awesome



...which could only mean a MORE awesome Creator!

[HT: Dan Bereens]

Dockers Store Man-Ifesto

Just found the Docker's Store Man-Ifesto through Randy Alcorn's blog.

Check it out: Dockers Store Online - Live Khaki



December 17, 2009

What You Are

"What you are speaks so loudly, I can't hear what you are saying."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I saw this quote the other day, and there were so many different images that popped into my mind. Faces of different people I know, politicians that I read about or hear about on the radio, etc. But then I began to wonder about myself. Does my life speak in such a way that it mirrors my words and my speeches? When I preach? When I lecture a student? When I talk with my kids? Is there a strong enough correlation between life and speech that the message is amplified or muted?

December 15, 2009

Mini Mass Destruction!

I just wanted to say that I would like to have this book.

I am not necessarily asking for this for Christmas or anything... I'm just saying... Interesting Book!

I saw it at the book store the other day, and flipped through the pages. I am just glad that there wasn't a book like this when I was in school. I would have been in so much trouble!

Maybe I shouldn't advertise this. The first time I get hit by a spitball fired from a trebuchet...

November 25, 2009

Contract for a Curve

I don't know about other teachers, but I don't like to curve my test grades.

I especially don't like to curve the grades when there are still a handful of students who did well. Even more so I don't like to curve test grades when every question on the test came from the homework... and I told them that they were coming from the homework!

If I just automatically curve a set of poor test grades, that is teaching them that you can't really ever fail, and if you do, it won't be that bad. I know that we live in an age of bailouts and other economic assistance when you fail, but that still doesn't mean that it will always happen.

And even if it does... Is that really what you want? Do you want to be bailed out when the reason for your failure is you?

I know that the answer to that question is, more and more, becoming a resounding, "yes!" Our classrooms are filled with people who would genuinely take a passing grade even though they know they don't deserve it. Even though the standard to pass has been lowered to a 60%! That's right, you only need to demonstrate a knowledge of 60% of what you have learned to pass.

Well, I could rant on this for a while, but school is getting ready to start so I must end this post. I did want to show you the Contract for a Curve that I made up last night. I just figured, if they want me to curve their grade, then they are going to need to do something for it.



November 21, 2009

The Pharisees' Guide


Just started a new book called The Pharisees' Guide to Total Holiness by William L. Coleman.  I found the book on a book shelf in the closet at church.  I was clearing the shelf off to take into my office for all of my books.  This is one book that came with me into the office.

I have never heard of this author, so I hesitate recommending this book, but so far it has been pretty good.  I just finished chapter 5 and I am plowing ahead into chapter 6.

It is keeping my attention (which means something for a guy with such extreme ADD).  It isn't a perfect book: there have been a couple of things that I don't quite agree with how they were phrased, but overall I think this guy is onto something.  It might be a tad bit outdated, but it really does offer a good synopsis of who these Pharisees were and what they were all about.

STOP and watch...

I have been preaching through the Sermon on the Mount at church.  It has been a great experience so far, and I have learned bucket loads of great gospel truth.  The big blaring truth is that God is infinite in His wisdom.

I just watched a short video that really falls in line with that I have been seeing as I study.  It is worth a watch:





[ht: 4tunate]

By the way, I haven't read Crazy Love yet, but it is on my list. If you've read it, let me know what you think.

Lock Safe Search

Another reason to like Google.


Chrome

Chrome OS?

I would describe this, but I think this video does a much better job of that... And if I tried to describe it, I would most likely be quoting bits of the video, and then my message would feel very disjointed because I wasn't quoting the whole video, and then you might be confused and not want to watch the video.  In fact, if I type any more than what I have already typed, you won't even bother to watch the video, because most of you (and me) don't read blogs that are more that 140 characters, thanks to Twitter.

Anyway, here is a video.



I feel giddy.

November 17, 2009

Surgery!?!

My youngest is having SURGERY... TOMORROW!

Ok.  I'm calm.

BUT HE'S HAVING SURGERY!

No really.  I am calm, but I am realizing that this is going to be an agonizing event.  It is a relatively simple surgery.  He has a gastric hernia... a small place where the muscles along his stomach wall never joined.  This is something that he was born with, and we thought he was going to grow out of it.  He didn't, and this last year it started to increase in size.  A doctor and a second opinion later and now he is having surgery.

I am always seeking to place my sons in God's hands: Relinquishing my rights over them and their futures and entrusting them to God.  I know that God always has control, but in the spirit of Hannah (Samuel's Mother) I want to give them to God's service as Has entrusted them with me.  These children are His.

As much as I know that... It doesn't always feel that way.

Right now he feels like mine and I am not looking forward to handing him over to these doctors and nurses tomorrow.  Even though I know he is really in God's hands.

If you are of the praying sort... He is having this surgery tomorrow afternoon.  We would appreciate your prayers.

November 16, 2009

I won!

Over at Challies.com, you can always find Free Stuff Fridays... At least you can on Fridays...

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start dropping my name in the hat to see if I could win something.  This last time I won a year's subscription of Table Talk.

Tim Challies describes Table Talk:
Tabletalk is a tool that helps you grow in your knowledge of God and in your love for His Son and His people. Each month is packed with more than 60 pages of focused, practical Bible study and insightful commentary by today’s top Christian thinkers. Over the years, Tabletalk has been recognized for its excellence through several awards. Today, people all over the world read Tabletalk on a daily basis. The magazine is regularly found in seminary libraries and churches throughout the country. Many credit Tabletalk with helping them maintain a solid life of study and prayer.
Here is a sample issue.

I used the Church's address when I filled out the form, so our church is now getting a year's subscription.

Just thought I would let you know.

I won.

November 9, 2009

Raising the Bar




I saw this comic in the teacher's lounge.

Even though I don't think that this at all represents all parents... I do believe that this accurately depicts the situation.

I would write more about this, but I have to start preparing for my day!

October 30, 2009

Twitter Scam!

I just heard about a Twitter Scam.  I guess it comes via e-mail and sends you to a site that looks like Twitter... but it isn't.  You are asked to sign in, so when you do, this site obtains your username and password!

I took a screen shot of what it looks like. (Notice the URL.)


(click the image to see larger version)

If you didn't know this already, this is an example of phishing.  Here is a video on phishing from the site called Common Craft: (It is worth a watch!)



This is another reason why I am glad that I use Google Chrome.  When I tried to go to the site so I could get the screen shot, Chrome stopped me.  This is what i saw:




I learned about this particular scam through Free Technology for Teachers.

Photo Friday: Well Groomed

(This week's challenge:  Well Groomed)


Don't ask which one is well groomed!

October 29, 2009

Every Love Song

20 years ago, this Halloween, I went on a date with a beautiful girl.  If that girl's name wasn't Charity, I could get into trouble for this post... but it is, and I can honestly say that I love her more today than I have at any other time. It just continues to grow and develop in ways I couldn't have imagined.

I was driving home a couple of months ago and I was listening to the song, Hey there Delilah, thinking about my wife.  I don't know why.  My wife wasn't in New York... I wasn't a thousand miles away... And I most definitely couldn't pay the bills with my guitar!  But there was just something about it that reminded me of her.

Maybe it was when he said, "Times Square never shined as bright as you." or "I'd walk to you if I had no other way." (the 1000 miles in mind)

I think it is those little things.  They remind me of her in small ways.  From the greatest epic love story to those little crushes, they have all become focused on her.  For me, the epitome of one to be in love with is packaged in one special person...

So... I wrote a poem.  (In my head there is also a tune... something with a country twang... but I promise I won't record myself singing it.)


Every Love Song Reminds Me of You

We've been together for so long
Another decade of love songs
But that's alright, that's fine by me
Cause I see you in every melody

When they sing it fast or sing it slow
When they sing it high or sing it low
Rock ballads, country or the blues
Every love song reminds me of you

Regardless of the melody
Whether passionate love or tragedy
I guess that's cause we've been there too
and some sweet part reminds me of you

So sing it fast and sing it slow
Sing it high and sing it low
Singing the rock, rhythm and the blues
Every love song reminds me of you

Some of those songs I never want to end
When I'm thinking about you my soul mate and friend
Through verse, chorus and instrumentals too
Every beautiful note reminds me of you

So I'm singing it fast and singing it slow
I'm cranking it up on the radio
New songs, old songs and classical too
Cause every love song reminds me of you

Do You Pray?

In our Adult Sunday School Class we are going through R.A. Torrey's book on prayer.  It has been OK, but not my favorite old book.  The concept of prayer, and our discussions on prayer have been really good though.  I have thought more about my prayer life in the last few months than I have at any other time in my life.  I have been convicted at my lack of prayer and motivated to question what it is that I am really praying for.

For example, when I pray for the church, and I pray that God will bring visitors:  The reality is that I am praying for some change within myself and those around me.  I am praying that God will make me the sort of person who is sharing the truth of the Gospel... unashamedly.  Just like when Jesus encourages his disciples to pray for workers in the harvest, and then turns around and sends those same disciples out to work (Matthew 9:35-10:10).  Even though God can use a phone book to bring people to church (which happened... another story for another blog), I believe that he delights in using us.  It is only when we don't bring Him glory that the stones begin to cry out!

I am also praying, when I pray for church growth, that this church will be God's kind of church.  I mean, if you are asking God to bring people to your church, there is the assumption that God would want people to be at that church.  Are we really God's kind of Church?  Is His truth being taught?  Do we emphasize the things that He emphasizes?  Do we respond to sin the way He responded to sin?  Do we forgive the way He forgives?  Do we Love the way He loves and has loved us?

If we want people to come to our church, it should be because we believe that when they come... That they will really see God!

So, do you pray?  Do you really pray that sort of prayer that willingly and with great desire, seeks the Holy Spirit to intervene in such a way that we will be praying God's will and His work.

The Shepherd's Fellowship shared an article by J.C. Ryle titled, "Do You Pray?"  I would like to encourage you to visit, give it a read, and ask yourself the question, Do You Pray?

GOP Healt Plan

From the Chicago Tribune:
Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate have spent the spring, summer and fall grappling with how to fix the health care system. They're still trying to craft a bill they can sell to Americans -- or even explain in plain English.

And the Republicans? Well, as the minority party, they're mainly on the sidelines. They've become the party of "no," sniping at every Democratic health care reform idea without promoting any of their own. Right?

Not entirely.

Over the summer and fall, Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced six -- yes, six -- health care reform proposals. You didn't hear? Well, those plans didn't produce much of a ripple because Democrats dominate the Congress.
(Read the Rest)

Six Health Care Reform Proposals from the Republican party. I haven't heard about any of them! Have you? It is amazing to me how one sided the media is!

Jim DeMint's blog has the same article.

October 28, 2009

5 truths that can't be proven by science:

  • Logic and Mathematics
  • Metaphysical truths
  • Ethical beliefs
  • Aesthetic judgments
  • Science itself




[HT: 22 Words]

October 27, 2009

Google Voicemail

I have a Google Voice Number.

Wow, I feel like I am at a Google-holics anonymous meeting!

It is true though.  I love Google stuff:  Gmail, Calendar, Documents, Reader, Wave, Search, Blogger, Voice, and Google Apps!  (There are actually more, but I don't want to lose you right away.

Google Voice just made it possible to have all of your voice mail from your cell phone go to the Google Voice Voice mail.  Now I will get all of my voice mails in one place!  I would bore you with the details, but instead I will steer you to this little movie:




So, there you go.  Now when you call me... no matter which number you call you will be getting your voice transcribed!

[HT: Google Blog]

October 24, 2009

The Next Prospect

Here is the next house that we are looking at.

View Larger Map

That last one just wasn't going to work.  There were too many unworkable variables involved with the last one. I was almost ready to make an offer, but I just didn't feel right about it.

This new one actually has more square footage than the last one.  I has a two car garage.  It is a lower price, but a nicer neighborhood.  We made an offer on Friday, so now I am simply waiting to hear what the owners are going to do.

Google Wave


I just received my invitation to preview Google Wave.

I jumped on it... like I do with most Google stuff... but now I don't know what to do.  I clicked everything that I can click and moved everything I could move... but I wasn't all that excited.  I think that wave is geared toward the "community" experience.  So...

If you would like an invitation to Google Wave, let me know.  I have 18 invites remaining.  I don't think they send you something right away, but according to them, "Google Wave is more fun when you have others to wave with..."

Leave your e-mail in the comments or e-mail me.

If you are already using Google Wave, wave me something or add me to your contacts!

October 18, 2009

A Minister's Strength...

Every Saturday I start thinking to myself... "What have I gotten myself into?" Then I get to Sunday morning and I really start thinking that, but saying... "Well, I am here, and Lord... If something good is going to come of this... It is going to have to be YOU."

I have that mental awareness of my need to depend fully on God, but the recognition of my own shortcomings, which will sometimes increase my dependence on God, will at other times bring doubt.

After the service today, I was left wondering... I sat down at the computer to start browsing some of my favorite blogs through Google Reader. The very first one I ran across was Challies.com who had just done a post titled "A Minister's Strength". In that post he quoted a prayer from The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, which you may know, if you frequent this blog, is one of my favorite books. The prayer which he quoted is one that I hadn't noticed before, but was perfect for the moment. Here is that prayer:

Unchangeable Jehovah,
When I am discouraged in my ministry and full of doubts of my self,
fasten me upon the rock of thy eternal election,
then my hands will not hang down,
and I shall have hope for myself and others.
Thou dost know thy people by name,
and wilt at the appointed season lead them out of a natural to a gracious state by thy effectual calling.
This is the ground of my salvation,
the object of my desire,
the motive of my ministry.
Keep me from high thoughts of myself or my work,
for I am nothing but sin and weakness;
in me no good dwells,
and my best works are but sin.
Humble me to the dust before thee.
Root and tear out the poisonous weed of self-righteousness,
and show me my utter nothingness;
Keep me sensible of my sinnership;
Sink me deeper into penitence and self-abhorence;
Break the Dagon of pride in pieces before the ark of thy presence;
Demolish the Babel of self-opinion, and scatter it to the wind;
Level to the ground my Jericho walls of a rebel heart;
Then grace, grace, will be my experience and cry.
I am a poor, feeble creature when faith is not in exercise,
like an eagle with pinioned wings;
Grant me to rest on thy power and faithfulness,
and to know that there are two things worth living for:
to further thy cause in the world,
and to do good to the souls and bodies of men;
This is my ministry, my life, my prayer, my end.
Grant me grace that I shall not fail.

Very fitting and a good reminder.

October 12, 2009

Class of 1990!

First Baptist Christian School Class of 1990 | Promote Your Page Too

Not One Iota

Yesterday's sermon came from Matthew 5:17-20. I have been impressed so much with the truth of the Gospel as I have gone through the Sermon on the Mount and this week hasn't been any different.  I did feel that this week's could have been a little controversial, but I haven't heard any negative reports yet.

If you would like to take a listen, you can find the audio of all of the Sermon on the Mount sermons by clicking here.  Feel free to give me your thoughts or opinions in the comments section.


If you would like to subscribe to all of the sermons from Edgewood, then visit this blog: http://audio.edgewood-danville.org.

Another cool Street View

Just because I found out that you could embed street views...



View Larger Map

A potential buy...

Here is the house that we are looking at:


View Larger Map

We are still doing a little research before we make an offer, but we are leaning in this direction. I am going to find out about the power bills today, and we are doing a little background research on the neighborhood.

It is a really cool house. There is one full bath and two half baths, three bedrooms, living room, dining room, sun room, attached garage, plus... the basement is basically like a one bedroom apartment, complete with kitchen... Then there is a finished attic with a spiral staircase in one of the bedrooms going up to the top. It is also a quirky, odd house. My wife, of course, loves it. I just struggle with the other stuff: What direction is the neighborhood going? Is it going to be a money pit? Can my wife take a walk and feel safe? etc.


Here is the listing.

October 10, 2009

It Burns Us...

I have been preaching through the Sermon on the Mount at Church.  It has been really good so far... not necessarily the preaching... but what it is doing in me.  I have been learning so much about the truth of the Gospel that is wrapped up in every little spot of the Sermon on the Mount.

Every time I study the next passage I feel like another little light bulb has been turned on in this big room.  It is similar to the experience of turning lights on in a gym.  Especially one of those old gymnasiums where the lights come on a little at a time.  As each one flickers into its own brilliance, the features of the room become more clear.

I just saw this quote over at the blog titled Tolle Lege (which is one of my favorite blogs to read and you should really add it to your list of must reads). The quote is by D.A. Carson, it says,

"The more I read these three chapters– Matthew 5,6, and 7– the more I am both drawn to them and shamed by them. Their brilliant light draws me like a moth to a spotlight; but the light is so bright it sears and burns. No room is left for forms of piety which are nothing more than veneer and sham."

That quote summed up so much of what I am experiencing as I read and study this sermon, so I thought I would share it with you.

What have you been reading lately?  How has God's word been "burning" itself in and upon you?

October 6, 2009

Sermon Audio Feed

If you use Google Reader, or some other sort of feed reader, you can now get the Edgewood Sermon Audio as a feed.  Just go and subscribe to this blog:

http://audio.edgewood-danville.org

The ESV

Just recently, I made the switch to the ESV.  I think that I did a post on it a few weeks ago, but I wanted to mention some more about it.  For those of you who don't already know, the ESV is the English Standard Version of the Bible.

If you are a reader of this blog and you fall into the KJV Only camp... I hate to disappoint, but I am most definitely not in that camp.  In fact, I don't really even visit that camp anymore and I may have even moved myself to the KJV Hardly Ever camp.

I don't mean any offense to the King James Translators.  I really admire what they did and would uphold their translation philosophy.  I would even go as far as to say that by switching to the ESV I am more in line with what the King James translators were trying to do than those people who cling to the King James Version.

From the ESV website I am borrowing this quote which really summarizes what I am trying to say, way better than I am saying it:

"The true heirs of the King James translators are those who continue their task today, not those who declare it to have been definitively concluded in 1611."
—Alister McGrath, In the Beginning

In fact, I would suggest going on to their website and reading their stuff instead of listening to anything else that I have to say.  Here are a couple of links to different pages on their website that I found especially interesting.

Translation Philosophy
How is the ESV different from other Bible translations?
and
From KJV to ESV: A Historical Legacy

September 28, 2009

Wonderful Song

My wife just introduced me to this new song by Steven Curtis Chapman. I thought it was wonderful and wanted to share it with you.



(...and I thought that "wonderful" was just the right word to describe it.)

Here are some of Steven Curtis Chapman's thoughts about this song.

September 22, 2009

See You At The Pole?

Every year at many different schools they have a time of prayer at the flagpole. This has become a national thing. Here is the website to read more about it.

I went to add this event onto my Google Calendar, and I typed in "See You At The Pole". I then went in to add the website, when I noticed that Google had automatically added a Where category because I had typed the word "at".

Notice the map that they put on there because it was "... at the pole".


I wonder if they pray around the pole in Poland?

At least you have goals...

If you were a fly on the wall in my classroom yesterday, this is what you would have heard:


Me: "So, what happened to (student's name)?"

Student 1: "Oh, he dropped out."

Me: "Oh really, how do you know that, did he tell you?"

Student 2: "No. I saw him in the office filling out his paper work."

Me: "Paperwork?" *intrigued look on my face* "You mean there is paperwork for dropping out? I thought it was just 'dropping out.'"

Student 2: "No. There is this paperwork you need to fill out... your parents just sign it and you can drop out. You have to be 17."

Me: "Hmmm. Did not know that."

Student 2: "Oh yeah. I am planning on dropping out as soon as I turn 17. I am going to be emancipated and then drop out."

silence

Me: "So, how many of you are planning on dropping out?"

More than half of the hands go up.

Student 1: (Who didn't have their hand raised.) "Well, at least you have goals."

September 21, 2009

Disciples... Results of the Gospel

At church I am preaching through the Sermon on the Mount.

(For you North Hills people: I know that it was just a few years ago that North Hills preached through the Sermon on the Mount, but honestly, I don't remember any of the specifics. I am not stealing any sermons... at least not purposefully. If anything slips into something that I am saying, it really isn't intentional.)

Anyway, I am trying to write a blog post about my preaching, but there is so much that I could say that I am not sure where to start. I just typed and deleted more than a few sentences trying to figure out how to start.

I suppose that what I am wanting to say is that I am loving what I am doing, and I am learning so much while I am doing it. I don't know if anyone else is getting anything out of these sermons, but it is totally worth it for me.

If anyone is interested, here is a link to the Sermon Audio. (Yes, I am just geeky enough to put my own sermon audio up online!)

September 20, 2009

Pastor

I am a Pastor.

I am not exactly sure what I want to blog about this, but I felt that I needed to mention it. So, I am mentioning it.

Edgewood Baptist Church unanimously voted me in as the Pastor. I had applied to be the interim Pastor as they were looking for someone permanent, but immediately before the vote someone made a motion to simply vote me in as the permanent Pastor. Someone else seconded it, and before I knew it, I was the Pastor.

It is a small church that isn't currently in a position to hire someone full-time, so they really needed a person to come in and work another job and do this on the side. I saw the need and wanted to fill it if I could.

The truth is that I have been wanting to be the Pastor of Edgewood since 1992... and now I am.

Since I started, my hope has been simple - That I would be God's mouthpiece. Like John the Baptist I am saying, "He must increase, but I must decrease!" I am hoping that my sermons will be full of Jesus and empty of me! In the book of I Samuel, it says that when the prophet Samuel began to speak that God did not let any of his words fall to the ground. That is my hope, that none of my words would fall to the ground.

It has been really good these last few weeks, and we have seen God answer some prayers and move in the lives of some people. Whether or not He is going to do something big, I don't know, but I do believe that He is going to do something.

If you are the praying sort, I would appreciate a prayer or two for the little church in Danville, IL

September 19, 2009

The New Calvinism

Time magazine (at least the online version) did an article about the top 10 ideas that are changing the world. Residing at number 3 is The New Calvinism.

Here is the first paragraph:
If you really want to follow the development of conservative Christianity, track its musical hits. In the early 1900s you might have heard "The Old Rugged Cross," a celebration of the atonement. By the 1980s you could have shared the Jesus-is-my-buddy intimacy of "Shine, Jesus, Shine." And today, more and more top songs feature a God who is very big, while we are...well, hark the David Crowder Band: "I am full of earth/ You are heaven's worth/ I am stained with dirt/ Prone to depravity."
Read the rest here.

[ht: Desiring God Blog]

September 13, 2009

September 9, 2009

Pots and Pans

"Lord of all pots and pans and things...
Make me a saint by getting meals
And washing up the plates!

~Brother Lawrence

September 6, 2009

The gospel bad news...

“When the apostles preached, they could assume even in their Pagan hearers a real consciousness of deserving the Divine anger. The Pagan mysteries existed to allay this consciousness, and the Epicurean philosophy claimed to deliver men from the fear of eternal punishment.

It was against this background that the Gospel appeared as good news. It brought good news of possible healing to men who knew that they were mortally ill. But all this has changed. Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis– in itself very bad news– before it can win a hearing for the cure.”

–C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (New York: HarperCollins, 1940/1996), 48.

[HT: Tolle Lege]

ESV Study Bible

I remember when I switched from my King James Version Bible to my New International Version Study Bible. It was probably one of the most influential decisions that I have ever made. There is a quote in the front of the NIV Bible that comes from the book of Nehemiah. It says,

"The Levites... instructed the people in the Law while the people were standing there. They read from the Book of the Law of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read... Then all the people went away... to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them."
~Nehemiah 8:7-8,12


I love that quote because it states so well my thoughts on what transpired for me when I first read from the NIV Bible.

Because of its impact, I have loved my NIV Bible, but I had been pondering for quite some time switching to the ESV (English Standard Version). I had heard some good things about that translation and had read some great reviews from several different sources. I had made up my mind, but was waiting for that extra little bit of cash to make the purchase. (I really wanted the ESV Study Bible... I just loved the study notes in my other Bible, so I wanted something similar.)

Well, my mom beat me to the punch and picked one up for me for my birthday. She was going to wait until Christmas to give it to me, but I am so glad that she didn't. I absolutely love it, and have made the decision to use this version to preach from on Sundays. She got me the hardback because she knows that I am opposed to leather bound Bibles. My Bible has been for me a working book. It has never been for show, so it has always seemed wrong in my mind to wrap it up in leather. I keep it in a fake leather case, but that is for sentimental value (a former student gave it to me).

Well, anyway, I didn't really have any good reason for this post other than to brag on my new Bible.

On the Georgetown Website



They have my picture up on the Georgetown High School Website. The sun was in my eyes, but they really wanted the picture...

August 20, 2009

The Mercy of God

This week I will be preaching at Edgewood Baptist Church. I have been going through the Sermon on the Mount and I am currently studying Matthew 5:7, the next in the line of Beatitudes at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, which states, "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy."

In my studies I always find that I am afforded opportunities during the week to experience, in some way, exactly what I will be teaching. This week has not been any different. I had an opportunity this week to show mercy, but I flopped. Miserably. I am so thankful for a merciful God. I always pray that God will help to understand what I will be talking about, and then He gives me these real-life experiences to do some real learning.

I am saying all of that because I want to share a mercy quote with you. This one is from A.W. Tozer in his book "The Knowledge of the Holy":

"When through the blood of the everlasting covenant we children of the shadows reach at last our home in the light, we shall have a thousand strings to our harps, but the sweetest may well be the one tuned to sound forth most perfectly the mercy of God. "For what right will we have to be there? Did we not by our sins take part in that unholy rebellion which rashly sought to dethrone the glorious King of creation? And did we not in times past walk according to the course of this world, according to the evil prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience? And did we not all at once live in the lusts of our flesh? And were we not by nature the children of wrath, even as others? But we who were one time enemies and alienated in our minds through wicked works shall then see God face to face and His name shall be on our foreheads. We who earned banishment shall enjoy communion; we who deserve the pains of hell shall know the bliss of heaven. And all through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us.

"Mercy is an attribute of God, an infinite and inexhaustible energy within the divine nature which disposes God to be actively compassionate... If we could remember that the divine mercy is not a temporary mood but an attribute of God's eternal being, we would no longer fear that it will someday cease to be. Mercy never began to be, but from eternity was; so it will never cease to be. It will never be more since it is itself infinite; and it will never be less because the infinite cannot suffer diminution. Nothing that has occurred or will occur in heaven or earth or hell can change the tender mercies of our God. Forever His mercy stands, a boundless, overwhelming, immensity of divine pity and compassion."

August 19, 2009

Getting Back

I am probably not as good as most teachers when it comes to "getting back into the teaching spirit." I do love to teach... just in-general... I love teaching things. I don't love some of the aspects of being a teacher: Paper work, motivating students, dealing with parents, dealing with discipline in the classroom, grading, more grading, confronting students on poor grades, etc. I don't hate these things, I just don't love them. In fact, I down-right dread some of them.

For example, I would love to be able to start the year by saying, "If you want to learn, or if you know that you need to learn this and have become resigned to doing it... then stay here. If you don't want to learn and are going to fight it every step of the way, I wish you weren't here. I would love it if you would change your mind, but if you won't, then I wish you would go." Of course, I can't do this, but I wish I could.

I admire those teachers that really get into it and passionately look for ways to motivate their students and find creative new ways to present the materials, but philosophically I don't believe that the biggest problems in education are the means or the methods, I believe that the biggest problems lie with the students. Not that the teacher or how the teacher teaches doesn't play a role, but there are students that will learn despite the teacher and there are students that will not learn in spite of the what that teacher does.

Does any of this make sense?

How does this play out? Well, I believe that one of the best things that you can do for a student is give clear instruction, have clear expectations, determine clear consequences, and clearly follow through. If they want to pass, whether it be for good reasons or bad, they will do what they need to do.

Does this work? I say yes! On one condition... Everything must be tempered with compassion. If you do these things with compassion, they fit and work in that everyday classroom situation. Then you don't get angry at the disruptive student, you simply say, "Well, you just earned yourself a detention... would you like another, or would you like to sit down and be quiet?"

This is a rash sort of post, but I just had a couple of things bouncing around in my head as I am trying to get back into the right frame of mind and I thought I would spew them out onto this blog.

August 1, 2009

Family Vacations and book reading.

I am currently on my family vacation.

Every year my wife's side of the family takes a little vacation. They always get some sort of cabin or vacation home... something big enough for all of us... and we get together for a few days.

I usually spend the spare moments of this vacation catching up on my reading.

I just finished the book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer. It was a really good book. The first few chapters were the best chapters that I have ever read on the sovereignty of God. At least they were the best that I can remember reading. Maybe I will write an official "review" of this book in a few days.

Since I finished that book, I started reading The Sovereignty of God by A.W. Pink. (Why is it that so many of my favorite authors go by their initials and their last name? C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, J.C. Ryle, A.W. Pink, J.I. Packer, R.A. Torrey, etc. Hey, I should start doing that!) I just read the first chapter and thought that it was pretty good. He makes a point right at the beginning of the book that I thought was really relevant:
Almost all doctrinal error is, really, Truth perverted, Truth wrongly divided, Truth disproportionately held and taught. The fairest face on earth, with the most comely features, would soon become ugly and unsightly, if one member continued growing while the others remained undeveloped. Beauty is, primarily, a matter of proportion. This it is with the Word of God: its beauty and blessedness are best perceived when its manifold wisdom is exhibited in its true proportions. Here is where so many have failed in the past.

Those words struck a sure chord in my mind. I believe that the issues that I have run into, both with other people and within my own mind, have been issues of disproportion. Specifically when tackling the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. I think that is why I love to read books from both perspectives. I love to be convicted and driven on by those books which lay out my responsibility to obey God's commands, but I also love the reassurance that comes from reading about the sovereignty of God.

I have been thinking about starting a book group (for lack of a better title) that is devoted to reading through the great books of the faith... Books that have been around for a while... That have stood the test of time... That have authors who only use their first and middle initial and then tack on their last name. Those kind of books. I might start it with my church or my family and see where it goes from there. I would especially like to get some men involved, men who want to think deep and tackle tough thoughts...

Anyway, back to the vacation and away from deep thoughts for a moment... For a little leisure reading I just finished reading Peter and the Starcatchers. I know, this sounds a little juvenile, but it was a really good book. I guess that there are a few more in the series, so I am looking forward to picking those up from the library. My mom got me started with these books and now that I am finished with the first one, I can understand why. I think that these might be a good series to read with my boys.

Well, I need to get up from the computer and enjoy a little family time. More later.

M.C. Harmless

July 25, 2009

Nominate "favorite" teacher...

I received an e-mail the other day that referred me to a website where you could nominate your "favorite" teacher. Here is a part of that e-mail:

"You can nominate an extraordinary educator by visiting www.expoeducator.com and submitting a brief essay about the teacher you feel deserves a little more recognition. 12 semi-finalists and one-grand prize winner (known as the “EXPO Extraordinary Educator”) will be given a financial break – prizes include cash, free EXPO school supplies and more."

I wanted to pass this along to all of my teachery friends, and maybe a few of my former students might feel motivated to nominate me... :)

July 20, 2009

Website Created!

I absolutely love Google Apps. I used it to create my main Harmless Online page a couple of years ago. It originally started as a tool that I could use with students in a technology class, but it grew from there. It is so easy to use and there are so many different options that come with it that the more I use it, the more I love it.

I have often thought that, because of its ease of use and its unique flexibility and stability as a set of web applications, that small businesses and small ministries could really benefit in our increasingly technologically integrated world that we live in. I created a space on my site to try to draw in potential "clients". It isn't like I have advertised myself or tried to get my name out there in any way, and I will be the first to admit that I feel a little goofy even mentioning it. But I mention it now because I have my very first "customer". :)

The site that I have developed (with a little help from my sister) is for the church that I am now attending. Here is the website if you would like to go check it out: www.edgewood-danville.org

It is still a work in progress, but I think that it is a fairly nice site... especially when you consider how much money has gone into it... ($10 for the domain name registration and that's it.)




Please let me know what you think of the site:


July 19, 2009

Six Dollars and Eighty-Three Cents

During the weeks leading up to the closing on my house, I felt like I was getting slammed left and right by different... somewhat significant... expenses. I wasn't too worried about it because I had done some figuring with my realtor and we had estimated that I was going to get about $1400. I was fine with this amount because the market was down and also because we hadn't owned the house for very long. To walk away with something when I was hearing all sorts of horror stories about people losing thousands... well, my little bit of something didn't sound too bad.

Before I even started fixing my house the fuel pump went out on the van. You can read a little about that by clicking here. After the first few trips to Advanced Auto Parts I was starting to feel the pinch. I told myself, "...God, this is your money. I am trying to be a good steward of this money, but it is yours. If you want me to spend it on a fuel pump, that's OK with me."

Then I broke a shock on the truck so I had to replace that. It was God's money though, I was just the steward.

Then I started on the house: Vents needed installing, there was electrical work that needed to be done, and a cracked window replaced. I tackled the vents and the cracked window myself, but I needed a licensed electrician for the rest. God was so good to me and allowed me to get the work done quickly and efficiently. There was even a guy at the church that did the electrical work for free! (I am seriously endebted to that guy!) But even with the graciousness of friends I still had to shell out a little cash. Each time that I had to make another trip to Lowes, I kept saying, "That's OK... It's God's money." But the total was getting higher and higher and somewhere in the back of my head I kept thinking about how that $1400 was quickly dwindling away to nothing.

I drove the van home... money required. I then flew back... money required. I rented a Penske truck for the actual move... money required. This wasn't looking good.

Then came the day before closing...

I was loading my moving truck and it wasn't looking like it was all going to fit. I was giving things away left and right: frozen food, dry goods, canned goods, old baby stuff... I sold an old jogging stroller for $6. This mom came up and asked how much I wanted.

"How much do you have?" I say.

"I only have six bucks, but I can get more if you need it!"

"Don't worry about it," I tell her, "it pulls a little to the right anyway." So I pocket the $6.

Just moments later the realtor shows up. It was bad news. Our estimates were wrong and it was looking like we were going to have to pay. The first tally sheet came back with me owing $1,993! Whoa! But she tells me that was wrong and the new numbers were being worked by the attorney. It looked like it was going to be around $6 that I owed.

Talk about discouragement. I thought that it was interesting that I had just received $6, but I was still discouraged. As the night progressed, it just got worse. The truck was almost full, and it wasn't going to all fit. I started putting things in the back of my pickup and trying to decide what I could leave behind... the extra mower, the swingset... then my wife reminded me of my little shed that I hadn't emptied yet. I almost cried.

My friend Lee showed up and helped me throw the final items into the pickup truck and tie down a tarp over the top. Since I had to be out the next day, I drove that truck over to his house to park it until I could come back and get it. His family then graciously listened to my bad news and my discouragement, then they prayed for me and... against my wishes... booked us a hotel room and bought us supper. I didn't have the strength to fight it, so I accepted.

Once we were at the hotel and our bellies were filled with Outback Steakhouse Chicken Quesadillas I began to empty my pockets. I dug deep into the one pocket and pulled out the six dollars from the stroller and some change that I had picked up while moving the furniture into the truck. (Every time some little bit of coinage had rolled out, I simply pocketed it.) I counted it out, and left it there on the hotel room table: six dollars and eighty-three cents.

I turned to my wife and said, "Well, I hope that I don't have to owe more than $6.83. That's all I have." We laughed (a little) then silently I prayed to myself, "Well Lord, I really do hope it isn't more than $6.83."

The next morning I drove up to the attorney's office for the closing. I arrived a little early because I wanted to make sure that there wasn't some other mistake and I was actually going to get more money. They worked over the numbers again and it was still not in my favor, but then I looked down at the bottom of the sheet and saw the actual amount that I was going to have to pay.

Six Dollars and Eighty-Three Cents.

I couldn't believe it. I told my wife immediately, but I couldn't stop there. I ended up sharing this with the attorney, both realtors, and the lady buying my house. They were all Christians, so we rejoiced together over the goodness of God! When we got to the end of the closing where I had to pay, I said, "Here you go. This is the money that God gave to me, now I am giving it to you. It's His."

I have to be honest... I needed that $6.83. I was feeling so discouraged, but it was almost like God said, "Matt, I am going to give you everything you need. Not a penny more, but not a penny less. It is your daily bread that I will supply."

In my heart, I would still like to have the $1400, but I wouldn't take it if I had to trade in my six dollars and eighty-three cents story.

July 18, 2009

Kids are growing up too fast these days...



[HT: Randy Alcorn]

Mortifying the Flesh

This came in the weekly update from my previous church down in South Carolina. I am still receiving their weekly e-mails:

Mortifying the Flesh with Fullness
(from Milton Vincent's A Gospel Primer)

Though saved, I am daily beset by a sinful flesh that always craves those things that are contrary to the Spirit. These fleshly lusts are vicious enemies, constantly waging war against the good of my soul. Yet they promise me fullness, and their promises are so deliciously sweet that I often find myself giving into them as if they were friends that have my best interests at heart.

On the most basic of levels, I desire fullness, and fleshly lusts seduce me by attaching themselves to this basic desire. They exploit the empty spaces in me, and they promise that fullness will be mine if I give in to their demands. When my soul sits empty and is aching for something to fill it, such deceptive promises are extremely difficult to resist.

Consequently, the key to mortifying fleshly lusts is to eliminate the emptiness within me and replace it with fullness; and I accomplish this by feasting on the gospel. Indeed, it is in the gospel that I experience a God who glorifies Himself by filling me with His fullness. He is the One, Paul says, "who fills all in all." He is the One who "fills all things" with the gifts He gives. And He lavishes gospel blessings upon me with the goal that I "be filled up to all the fullness of God." This is the God of the gospel, a God who is satisfied with nothing less than my experience of fullness in Him! The first command God spoke in the Garden was, "eat freely." And with similar insistence He says to me now, "be filled."

What happens to my appetites for sin when I am filled with the fullness of God in Christ? Jesus provides this answer: "He who continually comes to Me will never hunger or thirst again." Indeed, as I perpetually feast on Christ and all of His blessings found in the gospel, I find that my hunger for sin diminishes and the lies of lust simply lose their appeal. Hence, to the degree that I am full, I am free. Eyes do not rove, nor do fleshly lusts rule, when the heart is fat with the love of Jesus!

Preaching the gospel to myself each day keeps before me the startling advocacy of God for my fullness, and it also serves as a means by which I feast anew on the fullness of provision that God has given to me in Christ. "Eating freely" of such provision keeps me occupied with God's blessings and also leaves me with a profoundly enjoyable sense of satisfaction in Jesus. And nothing so mortifies fleshly lusts like satisfaction in Him.

July 17, 2009

Audio Books

I like audio books. I got started on them when I was driving a truck all over the east coast by myself. Audio books really helped pass the time. I mostly listened to stories, but recently I have listened to a couple of other books.

I just got word that Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
by Francis Chan was the free audio book download of the month over at Christian Audio. I knew that they had a free download every month because I have downloaded a few of them in the past. Just a few months back I downloaded Fox's Book of Martyrs.

I hadn't checked for awhile, but I just noticed on The Rebelution's blog they mentioned that July's free download was this book by Francis Chan. I have heard lots about it, and had read a couple of reviews, so I was excited to see this. Maybe after I listen to it I will give you my thoughts. Or you could just download it yourself and come up with your own thoughts. To get your free audiobook, follow this link and use the code JUL2009 when checking out.

Here is a video introduction to the book:

July 16, 2009

I wish...

If only I could respond this way in my classroom...



[HT: incompetech]

1003

This is post number 1003. I guess that passing 1000 is a little bit of an achievement.

June 11, 2009

Umm ... Who needs video games?


Who needs video games?!? I have a fuel system to play with!


I had to replace the corroded parts. This just didn't look safe to me.



Looks good to me. Now it is time to stick it in the tank. I hope this part goes well!

June 9, 2009

It's out!

It's out!

Big Red (Day 2)

I could summarize the entire day in one sentence:

"I spent 2 hours and 15 minutes trying to loosen 2 bolts."

Yeah, that about says it all, but here are a few pictures of the first day. I am currently waiting for the dew on the ground to be sufficiently dried up before I go out there. I will try to post some more pictures later.

I have a fear of the vehicle falling on me, so I make sure that it is securely jacked up.



Taking off the clamp on the big hose where you fill the tank.



This is at the beginning of the 2hr.15minute brawl that ensued between me and the tag-team bolts!



Say hello to my little friend!



Lowering the tank down with a jack.



The tank is now lowered, but now I have to disconnect everything from the top of the tank.


In case anyone might want to search this out,I will put in a few key words:
this fuel pump replacement is for a 1995 Chevy Astro Van.

June 8, 2009

Big red

Big RedMy first official day that I am not in school.

Normally this would result in heading off to work... my other work. In the summer I am a mover. (If you didn't already know this... they you haven't really been reading my blog.) And usually the very first day after school I am headed off to my summer job.

This year is different though. This year I have a ton of work to do right away, because I am getting ready to move. It looks like everything is going well on the house selling, so I need to get to work fixing the things that I agreed to fix.

I need to replace a glass window pane. I need to put in soffit vents. And there is some electrical work to be done. (I can't do that last one myself.

So, here I am, all ready to get to work on this lovely Monday morning, and guess what... Big Red won't start.

My wife's parents were here, so they took her to work on their way out of town, but that still leaves me with a big red, big pain! I think that it is the fuel pump. This has happened before. (Read about it here and here.)

God has used vehicle repairs in my life on many occasions. While I am replacing alternators, God is replacing attitudes. While I am putting in a new fuel pump, God is putting in new trust. While I am swapping out belts and pulleys and fluids, God is swapping out faulty beliefs about Him. I am not joking with you. Broken down vehicles have resulted in more change in my heart than almost any other thing.

So, pray for me today. Pray that as I tackle this fuel pump... which is located inside of the fuel tank... (equals giant pain!), that I will also be receptive to what God has to teach me today.

Without any further ado, I am off to get the parts that I will need. Big red, here I come!

June 7, 2009

Stay at home Dads?

My view of Mark Driscoll just jumped up about 100 notches. It is his response to a question about stay-at-home dads.



[HT: fingertoe.com]

June 4, 2009

Evangelize Them!

Ok. I saw this a week or so ago, but I was re-visiting it in my mind today, and just had to share it with all of you.

The post is titled, Soul-Winning Made Easy. It is from Challies.com, one of my new favorite blogs.

It is completely worth a few moments of your time.

don't call me, I'll call you...

This is why I don't normally give students my phone number. When I do, I usually get some weird, random voice mails, like this one.

Goodbye, old friend.

In just a few days I am going to be computerless. The laptop that I have been using for the last two years belongs to the school. I lugged that thing home every single school day. I have accomplished alot of work on it: tests have been typed, curriculum overviews have been written, grades have been entered, rubrics created, school calendars, teacher web pages, on and on...

In my spare time I have done a little blogging, twittering, and have even made my own website. But now it is all coming to an end. The computer must be returned to the school permanently and I must move on. It will be an emotional day for me.

Oh sure, I have an old-cracked-screen laptop and I have a couple of outdated computer towers that take 10 minutes to load the operating system, but I am going to miss this particular laptop. It has been good to me.

I would love to be able to go out and purchase a replacement, but lets face it... I am a school teacher. If you don't know anything else about school teachers, then know this: we don't make the big bucks! Sure, maybe after 30 years and 20 degrees and 200 workshops... maybe, but for now I am scraping by. (and I am OK with that.) Tack onto my occupation the fact that I am moving and trying to make some basic repairs on my house... yeah.

So, here is the question, is there anyone out there that would like to support a teacher by gifting them with a laptop? I want to start a "laptop for every teacher" program! Starting with me!

Ok. I am (mostly) joking. I just wanted to let you know why you might not hear from me as much this summer. But if you really did want to donate towards a laptop... Feel free to use that little paypal button on the left side of this blog!

Just kidding. Sorta. :)

June 3, 2009

One more picture

One more picture

One thing I love about summer

Here is a poem from Garrison Keillor's: The Writer's Almanac that is a nice little reminder of one thing I love about Summer

The Ordinary


by Kirsten Dierking
(from Northern Oracle)

It's summer, so
the pink gingham shorts,
the red mower, the neat rows
of clean smelling grass
unspooling behind
the sweeping blades.

A dragonfly, black body
big as a finger, will not leave
the mower alone,
loving the sparkle
of scarlet metal,
seeing in even a rusting paint
the shade of a flower.

But I wave him off,
conscious he is
wasting his time,
conscious I am
filling my time
with such small details,
distracting colors,

like pink checks,
like this, then that,
like a dragonfly wing
in the sun reflecting
the color of opals,
like all the hours
we leave behind,
so ordinary,
but not unloved.

"The Ordinary" by Kirsten Dierking, from Northern Oracle. © Spout Press, 2007.

June 2, 2009

The Killing of George Tiller

Here are a few links from this recent news story. I just think that it is so cool that we can hop on the internet and hear the thoughts from the "Preachers of our age". When current issues come up, we can get current Biblical thoughts to go along with those issues.

To Kill and Abortionist
by James MacDonald
I like this one. James MacDonald's blog is called Straight Up, which is a fitting name. He always seems to get right to the point. He really nails this one quite well. I appreciated his words.

A Wicked Deed in Wichita -- A Test for the Pro-Life Movement
by Albert Mohler
This one is worth a read. He brings in the similar case of John Brown from American History.

Some thoughts on the Killing of Abortionist George Tiller
by Randy Alcorn
Randy Alcorn always has a great eternal perspective. His blog post includes some other links that you might find interesting, including a "horribly misguided" one from Frank Schaeffer (Francis Schaeffer's son).

To give my opinion, I am going to quote Al Mohler. He states at the end of his post:
Murder is murder. The law rightly affirms that the killing of Dr. George Tiller is murder. In this we must agree. We cannot rest until the law also recognizes the killing of the unborn as murder. The killing of Dr. George Tiller makes that challenge all the more difficult.


If I find anymore good links out there, I will pop them onto this same blog post. Also feel free to contribute other links or your own thoughts in the comments section.

Young Pastors make mistakes?!?

Here is an interesting little video from James MacDonald. It is about the common mistakes made by young pastors.


(original post)
As many of you know, I am planning on moving back to my homeland. In the years I have been away from home, I have filled pulpit, taught youth groups, and taught an introductory Biblical Counseling class. So, even though I am not a pastor, I am hoping to be in a leadership-type role at the church in my hometown. They do not have a pastor right now, and because of the size of the church, it may be some time before they get one. Therefore, I am hoping to have some opportunities to fill pulpit (when needed) and to teach the adult School class. (I would like to share more of my heart on this opportunity in the coming days...)

I really appreciated the points that he was making in the video. I have often noticed that there are good speakers and... well... not-so-good speakers. We all know it, and we don't want to be overly critical or judgmental, but its true. I just don't want to be classified as "not-so-good".

Please understand though, it isn't because of an inflated ego or a enjoyment of praise. It is because I truly believe in this Gospel message. I believe that it is true. I believe that it is valid. And I truly want to share this message in an understandable way to as many people as God would allow. So, to be a better speaker is simply a desire to be able to more effectively relay the good news. We trust in God as the God of the harvest, but we want to be the best laborers that we can be.

As a teacher of 9 years, I have learned some of these lessons the hard way. The first one that he mentioned as a mistake of young pastors is a mistake that I have made more often that I want to admit. I only have one other thing to add to that conversation: Be aware of the people that are listening. I know that he alludes to this in the video, but I have known too many teachers that have no idea that their students aren't engaged in the lesson.

So, Thanks James MacDonald for sharing these common mistakes.

[HT: Challies.com]