October 31, 2021

Sermon Number 42 from Luke

 No. 42 from the Gospel According to Luke

Pastor Matt Harmless

October 31st, 2021

October 23, 2021

Parables Will Do A Thing More Bold

Here is a piece of poetry inspired by Luke 8:4-15. I wrote this as I was studying for my upcoming sermon that I will be preaching on Sunday, October 24th, 2021, on this passage. 
The stories that our Savior told,
unlike sweet scripts from modern fold
those pictures that our preachers mold,
parables will do a thing more bold.

Good preachers like to make it clear,
but Jesus would those secrets steer
only to hearts that have an ear:
parables are heard by those who hear.

Sown seed: God's Word, so rest assured
a heart that's hard is what's referred
when on trodden path lands the word,
parables are snatched up by a bird.

To stony ground some seed will fly
start quickly, growing toward the sky
no root is there so by and by
parables in shallow hearts will die.

On thorny ground with weeds in play
overgrown lusts put on display
with other loves fed day by day
parables will soon get choked away

But many seeds land in good soil
take root and grow without recoil
the sower cares not for wearied toil
parables will not always spoil.

Good dirt has room for seed's new shoot
tilled, watered, and manured suit
so in the heart God's Word takes root
parables produce abundant fruit.

Dual purpose: sown word to the field.
For many its truth has been concealed,
but those who have produced a yield
parables were God's word revealed.
I hope this is helpful and enlightening.

May 26, 2021

Human Love VS Spiritual Love

 In his chapter on "Community" in the book, "Life Together," Dietrich Bonhoeffer says the following on, what he calls "human love" vs. "spiritual love."

"... there is a human love of one's neighbor.  Such passion is capable of prodigious sacrifices. Often it far surpasses genuine Christian love in fervent devotion and visible results. It speaks the Christian language with overwhelming and stirring eloquence. But it is what Paul is speaking of when he says: 'And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned' -- in other words, though I combine the utmost deeds of love with the utmost of devotion -- 'and have not charity [that is, the love of Christ], it profiteth me nothing' (1 Corinthians 13:3). Human love is directed to the other person for his own sake, spiritual love loves him for Christ's sake. Therefore, human love seeks direct contact with the other person; it loves him not as a free person but as one whom it binds to itself. It wants to gain, to capture by every means; it uses force. It desires to be irresistible, to rule.

"Human love has little regard for truth. It makes the truth relative, since nothing, not even the truth, must come between it and the beloved person.  Human love desires the other person, his company, his answering love, but it does not serve him.  On the contrary, it continues to desire even when it seems to be serving. There are two marks, both of which are one and the same thing, that manifest the difference between spiritual and human love: Human love cannot tolerate the dissolution of a fellowship that has become false for the sake of genuine fellowship, and human love cannot love an enemy, that is, one who seriously and stubbornly resists it. Both spring from the same source: human love is by its very nature desire -- desire for human community. So long as it can satisfy this desire in some way, it will not give it up, even for the sake of truth, even for the sake of genuine love for others. But where it can no longer expect its desire to be fulfilled, there it stops short -- namely, in the face of an enemy. There it turns into hatred, contempt, and calumny. 

"Right here is the point where spiritual love begins. This is why human love becomes personal hatred when it encounters genuine spiritual love, which does not desire but serves. Human love makes itself an end in itself. It creates of itself an end, an idol which it worships, to which it must subject everything. It nurses and cultivates an ideal, it loves itself, and nothing else in the world. Spiritual love, however, comes from Jesus Christ, it serves him alone; it knows that it has no immediate access to other persons."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together, 1923; pg 33-35)

May 24, 2021

Vaccine Immunity VS Natural Immunity

As it stands right now, natural immunity through COVID infection is statistically higher than vaccinated immunity, by a significant margin. 

According to CNN Health (referring to the CDC), there were "...about 5,800 people who have been vaccinated against coronavirus have become infected anyway, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells CNN. Some became seriously ill and 74 people died, the CDC said. It said 396 -- 7% -- of those who got infected after they were vaccinated required hospitalization."

If you try to find numbers on reinfections, you will be a little more hard-pressed. Most articles simply say, they are rare

CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) through the University of Minnesota has conducted one of the only studies. Their summary states that "the findings of the authors suggest that infection and the development of an antibody response provides protection similar to or even better than currently used SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.”

Let’s follow the science and unmask the previously infected. 

A Harmless Guide to Being a Better Man

 This blog post will also serve as Episode 36 of my Podcast.

This Guide is Harmless

I would like to present to you, without any introductions or fanfare, the Harmless Guide to Being a Better Man.  This post is meant to be a companion to the upcoming book release and the made-for-TV movie.  Well, OK... that part is not true at all.

 The Harmless Guide to being a Better Man is, at its core, a two step process. Keep in mind, though, these two steps aren't like the two steps leading up to a comfy patio with a reclining lawn chair... they are more like the two types of steps that one will take to get anywhere: a step with the right foot and a step with the left foot. In other words, these two steps aren't a "1 and 2 and ... done!" They are ongoing, forever progressing, sometimes more difficult (like stairs), sometimes more cautious (like stepping stones across a creek), sometimes changing the rhythm or direction (like when playing a sport), and sometimes with greater effort (like when running).

In honor of my father-in-law, who by the way, actually is a great man, I will apply some of his advice in the typing of this post. He once told me, "K.I.S.S. -- Keep It Simple Stupid." ... and I wasn't even offended that he did it right before I started preaching!

May 20, 2021

A Condition of Low Visibility

 "Presenting an issue sharply is indeed by no means a popular business at the present time; there are many who prefer to fight their intellectual battles in what ... has [been] aptly called a 'condition of low visibility.'"

J. Gresham Machen (Christianity and Liberalism, 1923)

May 19, 2021

A Divine Reality vs. A Social Ideal

 I am currently reading "Life Together" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

In February of 1933, at the age of 27, Bonhoeffer was delivering a lecture via Berlin Radio. In this lecture, as he was attempting to call out the German public for their potential acceptance of Hitler, who was not a "leader" but a "misleader".  His radio broadcast was cut short. Once Hitler came to power, Bonhoeffer accepted a call to be the pastor of a couple of German-speaking churches in London and refused to have any part of the "German-Christian Compromise" with the Nazi Government.  He eventually accepted a call from the "Confessing Church" in German occupied territory, to lead an "illegal seminary." It was in this seminary, where he shared housing with 25 other vicars in emergency-built houses, that he wrote this book in 1938. 

If you can't tell from those ultra-brief comments that I pulled from the introduction to my copy of "Life Together," why I would be interested in reading books written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, then I don't think that you are paying attention to what is happening in many of our countries today. In Bonhoeffer we are presented with an opportunity to study and learn from an actual Christian who was facing unprecedented social changes... specifically ones that were finding a comfortable roost in his government, media, and schools. He also faced the reality of other churches that were following along into various degrees of compromise. Aligning themselves with these changes. We may as well find ourselves hurtling toward something like "government-approved" churches and religious organizations. 

May 18, 2021

Important Things

"In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding. The really important things are the things about which men must fight."

J. Gresham Machen (Christianity and Liberalism, 1923)

May 11, 2021

Joshua 3 and 4 for Sunday

 This coming Sunday, May 16th, 2021,  we will be covering Joshua 3 an 4 during the morning sermon. Paul Fuller will be continuing his series in Joshua, and he asked me to read these next two chapters as we are leading up to this Sunday. Please consider reading and/or listening. 

May 10, 2021

"I liked the white better."

 This blog post will also serve as Episode 35 of my podcast. Please feel free to listen to the podcast or read the original blog post below.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, there is a place where Gandalf the Grey goes to seek the aid of Saruman the White. In the story, there is a dark power rising, and all that are in alignment with the light are feeling the need for banding together. This is what has prompted Gandalf to seek out Saruman. The movies do an okay job of relaying this moment... specifically the portion where Gandalf questions when Saruman has "...abandoned reason for madness."  

I've felt those words boiling up in me over the last few days. It is bad enough when there is a complete collapse of a spiritual leader, but when the descent into madness comes from the mouths of potential allies... Anyway, I would like to share a portion from the book version though, because I believe that all those who are still in this with me will experience the prophetic feel of these couple of pages. (As you read... Gandalf is relaying the story of this encounter.)