Saturday, 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 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... :)

Monday, 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:

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:

Sunday, 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.

Saturday, 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.

Friday, 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:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I wish...

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

[HT: incompetech]


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