April 28, 2021

Psalm 16 for Wednesday Night

 Every Wednesday Night at Edgewood Church, just before our prayer time, we spend some time reading, studying, and considering a Psalm for the week. Tonight's Psalm is Psalm 16. 


April 27, 2021

Ep. 32 - Thoughts from a Black Truck

 Podcast Episode Number 32 - Thoughts from a Black Truck. 


This is one of my unscripted, from my phone podcasts. 

April 21, 2021

Waiting

 My wife and I are waiting. 

We don't like waiting. It isn't our favorite. But I noticed this morning, as we were discussing our waiting, that we are handling it in different ways: my wife an I. The one way of dealing with it was not better than the other way, it was just different. For me, even though I am an analytical person, I don't tend to analyze these sorts of things. I tend to bundle them up in a little cubby of my mind. The stressors and anxiety-producing realities find a quiet little home in a quiet little part of my mind. I wrap them up in my blankie in that cubby. I check in on them from time to time, but quickly divert my attention to my job-related "squirrels"... My Adult ADD finds this to be the easiest thing to do.  Squirrels naturally grab my attention fairly easily, so the squirrels of homeroom videos, discipline referrals, tech-help requests, lunch duty, and front door duty allure my focus without any hesitating. I'm not saying it is healthy or appropriate... It is just my go-to.  

My wife, on the other hand, tends to analyze the situation. She asks the hard questions of herself when dwelling in the waiting. Things like, Why is this difficult? What am I really wanting? What is God teaching me? etc. To be honest, my hunch is that her way of dealing with the waiting is better than mine. 

In each of our individual methods, neither of us was escaping a side affect of waiting: It was still leaving each of us with a drained feeling - A sense of having our strength sapped away. So while discussing this experience, over our coffee-drinking experience, a passage of scripture from Isaiah came to me - just a phrase really - but it had me scratching my head. The phrase ended up coming from Isaiah 40:31, which says, "but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength..." (Sung, of course... Petra style.) This phrase came to my mind because the "wait for the LORD" wasn't resulting in anything that even remotely looked like a renewal of strength. 

I shared this snippet of scripture with my wife, again Petra style, along with its head-scratching sentiment. She shared my sentiment, so we felt the need to dig into the context of Isaiah 40 to determine why our heads needed scratching and why our strength wasn't renewing but was being sapped. As a result of our digging, I would like to share with you the entirety of Isaiah 40, along with a few tidbits of commentary along the way. I would like to do this because the picture that is being painted, leading up to verse 31 (the final verse of that chapter with that phrase) explains why one would have renewed strength when waiting for the Lord. Not to give everything away, but it seems that the renewed strength isn't a result of the waiting, but of all that leads into the waiting, and the need for renewal may actually come from the waiting. 

Isaiah 40 opens with a word from God to the Prophet. The statement contains the words and the way the prophet should speak to God's people in God's city. In verses 3 through 5, there is a snippet of what is yet to come, captured in the prophecy of the forerunner to the Messiah. After that, the passage delves into some commentary on the nature and reality of Our God... accentuated by the reality of us - mankind. 

Psalm 15 for Wednesday Night

 At Edgewood Church we will be looking at Psalm 15 for tonight's Wednesday Night fellowship. If you would like to join us for this time of Bible Study and Prayer, we meet at 6:15pm at Edgewood Church in Danville, IL. 


Psalm 15 (ESV)

April 19, 2021

Educational Overhaul Part 1 - Introduction

Preface

I have thoughts on education. I have these thoughts because I have been in the educational world for a majority of my life. Besides going to school myself, I have been a math teacher for 19 years, being a math department head at two different schools for some of that time. After a short stint as an instructional coach, I have been a disciplinary dean for the last 2 and a half years. Across this educational career, I have taught in both public and private schools in three different states. I am not, by any means, saying that my time in education has made me an expert, but it has left me with some thoughts on the issues facing education, and possible solutions to those problems. 

Introduction

I have noticed, when reading old books, especially books on philosophy, thought processes, theology, educational theory, political ideologies, etc... I have noticed that many of these older authors don't attempt to proof text every little thing they say.  There aren't a ton of quotes from previous authors, there aren't numerous references to statistics, double-blind studies aren't being cited, and scientific research doesn't always lie at the heart of these books. Many are simply saying, 'this is what I think.' without saying those exact words. They relay their ideas in a matter-of-fact sort of way, leaving the reader to either take it or leave it. 

In recent years, it has seemed to me that every single work that I read will lean into an attempt to prove their point. This is often done through the use of all of those things I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The resulting books are filled with stats, graphs, illustrations, citations, footnotes, and a lengthy bibliography. When writing a scholarly work, this can be an essential element, and I don't have any problem with this at all, but I have found that it can be burdensome when seeking to relay a point myself. There are times when I would simply like to tell someone what I think... this is what I am going to attempt to do in this multi-post endeavor. 

With each post I will, as succinctly as possible, attempt to relay one particular point or thought concerning our crumbling educational situation in this country. Whether I am offering a solution to a problem or simply attempting to describe the real issue with a problem, I am in no way considering any of these posts to fall into the realm of a scholarly work. All I will do is tell you what I think. 

This does not mean that I don't have any reasons for what I will be telling you. Some of those reasons will naturally fall in place in the process of the explanations, but reasons that require extensive citations will only be referenced in passing, not explicitly. I will be doing this primarily to keep the flow of the posts somewhat consistent and to not burden myself with tons of cross-referenced footnotes. I may attempt to collect questions at different intervals and then compile some answers with any needed quotes and graphs and studies, as the need arises. 

One particular resource, that you will find interspersed throughout all of these posts will be the Bible. Whether it is directly quoted, referenced, or indirectly alluded to, the Word of God (the Bible) will play a key role in all of my educational thoughts. 

I am a Bible Believing Christian. For me, this is not a cultural element or a religious bias; it is a perspective of the world. The heavens (extended space) and the earth (our planet) were created by God. This is the one and only God, who has chosen to reveal himself, not just through nature, but through the Spirit-inspired text of the Holy Scriptures. These Scriptures have been preserved through God's providential grace and the Bible that I have before me is without error and without flaw, not only in its overall depiction of God, the world, mankind and history, but also in its detailed teachings on how we ought to live, what our roles are to be, what are our purposes, and where is our hope. 

Jesus Christ is that same God in flesh: 100% God and 100% Man. This Triune God (Father, Son, and Spirit) has worked a great salvation for fallen man, that ought not to be ignored. Understanding this salvation - mankind's absolute sinfulness, God's unconditional grace, Christ's effective sacrifice for sins, the Father's regenerative work in our hearts, and the Spirit's continued presence in those who have been recipients of God's grace - all play a key role in understanding how educating young humans ought to work and where it went wrong. 

Motivation

To wrap up my introduction, I would like to ever-so-briefly describe my motivation for writing on this topic. The roots of what I will share find their depths in a love for math - specifically Geometry. I know that some who will read this, will shut down at the very mention of Geometry, but please understand that Geometry is simply the backdrop for the issues that I am bringing up. (I promise, I won't make you answer any questions on postulates or theorems.)

I can still remember Geometry from when I was in high school. I would've taken it during the 1987-1988 school year as a sophomore. My teacher's name was Mrs. Howard and as a direct result of me not paying attention in class, being called out by Mrs. Howard, me blaming the "not paying attention" on not being able to see the board clearly... I ended up getting glasses, because, as it turned out, I actually couldn't see the board as clearly as I ought to. 


I remember the majority of topics that I studied in Geometry, partially because I still have a copy of that particular Geometry book. I have it sitting in my office. It is clear, succinct, accurate, and does something important - it outlines high school level Geometry... AND ... One of my favorite parts of Geometry was the proofs.

Stay with me now. 

I had a whole paragraph typed out on why I liked proofs, why I still like proofs, and why I think they are an important concept that any student leaning into any of the sciences - mathematical, medical, or even computer sciences - ought to study. I was prepared to wax eloquent on this topic... but that isn't really my point. 

My point is... they've vanished. 

Whether you liked proofs or not - Whether you thought they were important or not - And whether or not you even care about mathematics... Proofs were a key player in the mathematical lineup... and they are just gone. And proofs aren't the only casualty I've noticed. There are other key components that have gone missing. Are they showing up again in college math? I hope so, but if that is the case, what got bumped from those curriculums? 

You might be thinking, "Yeah, but Matt, things have replaced that." Like what? Transformations? (An entire topic that is currently being introduced to kindergarteners and is only challenging because it is so simple that high school student's minds can't compute that it is actually in a high school class.) And if you think that even for a moment... 

Ok. Pause. 

I'm derailing. 

My point is that - in my humble opinion - the amount of material being covered, the selection of topics still being covered, and the depth of the remaining coverage are inadequate, to say the least. To be more specific - Math has lost its guts, and not just math, but all of education. And the thing is, it may have lost its guts when it lost its author. (More on that later.)

Preview: In the next post I will be sharing my thoughts on some basics of education.

more atrocious

www.reftoons.com
www.reftoons.com

 

April 13, 2021

Psalm 14 for Wednesday Night

 Our Wednesday Night Prayer meeting has been featuring a Psalm each night. We are ready for Psalm 14 for Wednesday, April 14th, 2021. If you live in the Danville Illinois area, consider visiting Edgewood Church at 6:15 pm. 

Click to listen to Psalm 14: 


April 9, 2021

"...there is foul air down there, or I am no guide."

Click to listen to the audio of this post being read by the author: Me!


The Fellowship.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the Fellowship (the group that has been tasked with protecting the ring-bearer and escorting him to Mordor) find themselves traveling through a mountain via some ancient Dwarvish mines. Though always looking to Gandalf the Wizard as their guide, they find themselves more dependent on him in the Mines, seeing as he is the only one who has actually made this particular journey.  The movies portray this moment well, but I would like to share the book's version of this part of the story: 

It was after nightfall when they had entered the Mines. They had been going for several hours with only brief halts, when Gandalf came to his first serious check. Before him stood a wide dark arch opening into three passages: all led in the same general direction, eastwards; but the left-hand passage plunged down, while the right-hand passage climbed up, and the middle way seemed to run on, smooth and level but very narrow.

'I have no memory of this place at all!' said Gandalf, standing uncertainly under the arch. He held up his staff in the hope of finding some marks or inscription that might help his choice; but nothing of the kind was to be seen.

April 6, 2021

Psalm 13 for Wednesday

Click to Listen to Pastor Matt read Psalm 13

 

Psalm 13

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

[1] How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

[2] How long must I take counsel in my soul

and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

[3] Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;

light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

[4] lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”

lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

[5] But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

[6] I will sing to the LORD,

because he has dealt bountifully with me. (ESV)



April 5, 2021

25 Years

I am blessed.

Today marks the date of my 25th wedding anniversary. In this post, you will not see any jokes about how she stuck with me or vice versa. No comments about any drudgery in the process or how much time it actually felt like. There won't be any of that in this post. It isn't because neither one of us could or couldn't make those jokes (and laugh them off... trust me... we can laugh!), but that simply isn't what I'm thinking about. 

An Honor.

For me, I consider it a genuine honor that God has allowed me to spend my life with this person. My theology dictates my understanding of how this world works: and it is a world orchestrated by a good and sovereign God. And my God, in His Sovereign Goodness, gifted me with a life shared with this one particular person... my wife Charity.  That God would bless me in such a way, lies outside of my ability to either comprehend or explain in any reasonable terms, and over these last 25 years this life together has increasingly been experienced as a cherished honor. 

She is.

She is my best friend: the one that I share everything with. We've traveled together through work, life, family, and love. We relate every story, unfold every experience... sharing both joys and sorrows. She's my TV watching buddy, my coworker in the kitchen, my business partner and partner in crime... She's my traveling companion, my couch counter-part, and my forever date. 

After 25 years, I can barely remember life before marriage, nor do I care to. I sense genuine confusion within myself when I try to relate to people who love the single life. I just don't get it. That isn't what is good... Good is what I have with her. 

Babe.

Babe, my life with you has been amazingly profound. I wouldn't trade a minute of my life with you for anything else. Even the darkest minutes and the hardest days have simply served their ordained purpose to bring life and light to our shared weeks, months, and now - years. 

I love you.

April 3, 2021

Luke 5:1-11 for Sunday

The scripture that we (at Edgewood Church) will be covering on Sunday, April 4, 2021 will be Luke 5:1-11. Listen to me (Pastor Matt) read through this portion of scripture in preparation for church tomorrow.