Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Open Letters to a Son: Letter 1 - The Bible Part 1

 Open Letters to a Son 1: The Bible Part 1

‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall run from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.’ (Amos 8:11f.)

To my Son:

If you were to ask me, my son, what is one of the most deceptive, destructive, dangerous ideas that has ever intruded upon mankind, I would have to say it was an idea that was encapsulated in a question. It is the first recorded question asked right at the dawn of humanity. You can find the first words of this question in Genesis 3:1, where we read of the Serpent, who had entered the Garden and all that was good and all that was of God, and simply began by saying, “Did God actually say…?”

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Watch Your Mouth

Episode 99 - Watch Your Mouth

I know a few people who claim Christianity but don't seem to have any problem using profanity or making an inappropriate joke from time to time. I don't often confront those who aren't as careful with their mouths and I've often had to explain why I don't use bad words. I'm not standing in any sort of judgment here: I've had a strong personal stance on profanity my whole life (even before I was dedicated to following Jesus, I believed it was wrong), but forsaking slightly off-color or inappropriate jokes has been a much slower process. All I want to do here is offer a Biblical perspective on this area of the Christian life. I would like to do that with four points, all from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. 

Saturday, July 29, 2023

Cheap grace is...

[Cheap grace is] the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

as quoted in Kevin DeYoung's book: What does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?

Thursday, July 27, 2023

To those who have cracked the problem of unity in the church.

Listen: 

Unity in the church, amongst believers, was an essential thing for Paul the Apostle. On multiple occasions, he either wrote about the need for unity directly or it was implied through one of the many "one another" passages. Many a church leader has pondered this need for unity, have taught extensively on its practicalities, and worked tirelessly with members of their churches to promote it -- all to be met with tension in the church, relational strains with their members, and sometimes disunity that leads to division. 

Well, I want to offer some hope to church leaders everywhere.  Right in the middle of my own unity prepping, studying, teaching, and training, I accidentally found that there are some people who have already solved the unity problem. They were right around us and were probably there all along but went unnoticed by us pastors and teachers. There are at least five types of unity I've discovered with these unity triumphant people who have made themselves manifest to their own unity. Here are those five types, in no particular order. 

Disclaimer: any resemblance to actual people is mostly coincidental. This is meant to represent conglomerations of people, not any one person in particular. I've met multiple people in each of these categories... and most likely, so have you - that is what makes it funny. 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Not now...

 I feel I should write this book: 



Ep. 93 - Saturday Unscripted No. 3

 In this episode: 

  • This week: life with the ADD mind!
  • Thoughts on Tomorrow's Sermon.
  • Book Thoughts / Book Quote: This week from George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

At The Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

 I've started reading my next public domain book. This time it is a children's book. It is called At The Back of the North Wind and it is written by George MacDonald. You can listen to the first chapter here: 



Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Ep. 88 Reading with Pastor Matt The Mortification of Sin by John Owen Chapter 13 Part 1

 Episode 88



Reading with Pastor Matt

On The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

Chapter 13 Part 1

Entertainers of Goats

While others shelve the Scriptures to become entertainers of goats rather than feeders of sheep, we must declare with William Still, "Let goats entertain goats, and let them do it out in goat-land"! A pastor must feed his flock with "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) as one who knows that the Bible, as is the Christ it reveals, is true food and drink (cf. John 6:55), both for his people and also for himself. Show me a pastor for whom the Bible is the song of his heart and the source of his deepest convictions, and I will show you a pastor who speaks with the power of heave behind his words, yet who walks in a spirit of humility and in utter dependence on God.

William R. Edwards, Theology for Ministry: How Doctrine Affects Pastoral Life and Practice

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Pride Month Resources for the Church

 7 Pride Month Resources for the Christian Community 

The Gospel Coalition (Canada) recently published an article sharing resources for Pride Month. (You can read that article by clicking here.) This, along with the onslaught of pride-related images, posts, updates, and shares, got me to thinking that I ought to put some resources out there for my Edgewood Church family as they navigate pride month, pride fests, and pride coalitions, along with the proud people promoting these things. It has become increasingly important for me, as a pastor, to consider what I can do to shepherd the flock of God in all faithfulness so that when the Chief Shepherd appears, I might receive the crown of glory (see 1 Peter 5:1-4).  

This shepherding duty is not one that I take lightly. And now with people professing to know the truth and desiring to be teachers, but not having "...understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions." (See 1 Timothy 1:7), the job of defending the faith is one that requires two voices... as John Calvin says, "The Pastor ought to have two voices, one, for gathering the sheep, and another, for driving away wolves."

image via https://www.reftoons.com/ 

Being a bi-vocational pastor, I don't always have the time or the energy to deploy both voices as often as they are needed. This means that sometimes my best option is to point the sheep to the best watering holes and the richest pastures. Specifically, places where other shepherds have taken their flocks or where I've seen other sheep come away stuffed with a marvelous feast. So, here are a few of those bountiful places to graze, especially if you are famished or starving for some genuine food.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Reading Books

 I know that if you've followed this blog for any amount of time, especially in the last few years, you know I also have a podcast. What you may not know is that I have another podcast... 

To be honest, I forgot I had the other podcast. 

My other podcast is called Public Domain Books that are Harmless. I initially created that podcast during the "lockdowns" of 2020. I created it because I had been tasked with making "homeroom" videos for my school, where I was a disciplinary dean. (As you can imagine, there weren't a whole lot of disciplinary issues that we were dealing with.) Since I had a little more time on my hands, I decided to do some reading and making it available to the students.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Come to the Quiet (Psalm 131) by John Michael Talbot


 
Come to the Quiet (Psalm 131)
by John Michael Talbot

Lyrics: 
Lord, my heart is not proud
Nor are my eyes fixed on things beyond me
In the quiet, I have stilled my soul
Like a child at rest on its mother’s knee
I have stilled my soul within me


Israel, come and hope in your Lord
Do not set your eyes on things far beyond you
Just come to the quiet
Come and still your soul
Like a child at rest on its Daddy’s knee
Come and still your soul completely


Thursday, June 1, 2023

Reading Revelation Number 1 - Revelation 1:1-3


The Revelation of Jesus Christ 

[1] The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, [2] who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. [3] Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. 

(Revelation 1:1–3 ESV)

I've been avoiding you, you Book of Revelation. Not all revelation, just the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Wow, that sounds terrible. More clarity is needed... I've been avoiding the actual Book of the Bible that we call "The Revelation to John." 

Ep. 82 Reading with Pastor Matt The Mortification of Sin Chapter 11 Part 3

 Episode 82



Reading with Pastor Matt

On The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

Chapter 11 Part 3

Monday, May 29, 2023

My precious tomato.

You cute little precious baby tomato... I'll nourishes you and cares for you. And then one day, when you are grown, I'll slice you up and eat you raw.



 

Ep. 79 - Reading with Pastor Matt On The Mortification of Sin by John Owen Chapter 10 Part 3

 Episode 79



Reading with Pastor Matt

On The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

Chapter 10 Part 3

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Ep. 77 Reading with Pastor Matt On The Mortification of Sin by John Owen Chapter 10 Part 1

 Episode 77



Reading with Pastor Matt

On the Mortification of Sin by John Owen

Chapter 10 Part 1

The Prodigal Son Suite

 Tomorrow's sermon is from Luke 15:11-32. I cannot help but have this song in my head during my preparation: 

Keith Green - The Prodigal Son Suite


Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Podcast Perfomance

 

Last month my podcast reached a new all-time record for the number of plays. I hit 201 plays in the last 30 days!

If you have not already subscribed to my podcast, please consider doing that now: 

Here are the apps where my podcast is available: 

You can also support my podcast or send me a voice message by going here:


"... the delight is incomplete till it is expressed."

 “I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . . The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

― C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Don't Be A Lone Ranger Christian

Episode 71 - Don't be a Lone Ranger Christian

(Any resemblance to actual people that might occur in this post is purely coincidental and speaks more to the prevalence of this issue and not to my desire to point anyone out.)

There is something new that is plaguing Christian communities. Ok, well... maybe it isn't new, I don't really know, but it is new to me. Actually, now that I think about it, it might not even be new to me, but it is definitely something that is now demonstrating itself in a newly exaggerated state. It is sort of like when an artist draws a caricature of a person: The artist will exaggerate any feature that is slightly noticeable in order to create the caricature. This is what is happening in our Christian Communities - we always had lone-ranger Christians, but it has never been as apparent or as grotesque as it is today. 

Before I proceed, allow me to outline the format of this post. I'll begin by defining the title I've created: The Lone Ranger Christian. After that, I would like to describe the three contributing factors that I believe have exaggerated the noticeable characteristics of The Lone Ranger Christian, creating its current caricature. Finally, I will attempt to, in as brief a way as possible, share a couple of Biblical insights that I hope will battle this issue and strengthen the Church. 

Ep. 70 - Reading with Pastor Matt The Mortification of Sin by John Owen Chapter 7 Part 3


 Episode 70

Reading with Pastor Matt 

On The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

Chapter 7 Part 3

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Ep. 68 - Navigating Two Aspects of my Job (As a Pastor)

Episode 68 - Listen Here: 

For those that do not know: 

My name is Matt Harmless. I am in my 23rd year as a math teacher. All but one of my first nine years of teaching were in the private Christian School setting. The rest of my career has been in public education (with the last seven years at Danville High School in Danville, IL). I have also been a pastor at Edgewood Church in Danville since the summer of 2009. I share this information for those that might be new here, but also as an introduction to today's post. 

I am going to discuss two aspects of my job, but not my teaching job... my pastoral job. I may take some time to talk about aspects of being a teacher in another post, but I wanted to make some specific points about my job as a pastor. More specifically, I wanted to discuss two things that Paul the Apostle mentions in his letter to Titus. 

Ep. 67 Reading with Pastor Matt The Mortification of Sin by John Owen Chapter 7 Part 1

Episode 67 

Reading with Pastor Matt 

The Mortification of Sin by John Owen 

Chapter 7 Part 1 

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Ep. 63 - Wheat and Tares

Image via Google Search
Listen Here: 

In Matthew 13:24–30, Jesus tells us this parable:

[24] He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, [25] but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. [26] So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. [27] And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ [28] He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ [29] But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. [30] Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” (Matthew 13:24–30 ESV)

Thursday, May 4, 2023

May the 4th (Reftoons)

 

Image Via Reftoons

Abortion Update in Danville Illinois

I would like to begin this post by sharing some information. If you haven't already heard, the City of Danville voted an ordinance into place that could potentially affect an abortion clinic from relocating to Danville from Indiana. Here are a few of the news articles:

Image Via WAND TV

Ep. 61 - Reading with Pastor Matt The Mortification of Sin by John Owen Chapter 5 Part 2

Episode 61

Reading with Pastor Matt

The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

Chapter 5 Part 2

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Ep. 60 - Open Letter to the City Council of Danville

Listen to this letter with the actual audio clips from the April 25th meeting.


 Here is the statement that I planned on reading tonight at the city council meeting: 

Ep. 59 Reading with Pastor Matt The Mortification of Sin by John Owen Chapter 5 Part 1

Episode 59 

Reading with Pastor Matt 

The Mortification of Sin by John Owen 

Chapter 5 Part 1

Friday, April 28, 2023

God Hates Abortion

 "As a theologian, I am firmly convinced that God hates abortion and will judge it thoroughly."

-R.C. Sproul



Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Thank You, ACLU...

 The ACLU has sent a letter to the City of Danville Illinois, warning them ... hmm... how do I say this? It is warning Danville that they can't stop the legal murder of babies. 

Read the Article from the Commercial News here

Read the Letter from the ACLU here

All of the unborn / unwanted of Danville would thank you... but they won't have the opportunity. 

For the record. If you are out there and you read this and you are considering an abortion: if you will carry that baby to term, my wife and I would gladly adopt that child. You can read my other thoughts on abortion here


Monday, April 24, 2023

Ep. 55 - Some Thoughts About Right, Wrong, Doctrine, Law, and Handing People over to Satan

This post will also serve as Episode 55 of my Podcast. You can listen to it here: 

I'm going to warn you in advance. This is going to be a long post.  It is going to be long, not because I have a lot to say, but because the little I have to say will require a thick scriptural delivery system. It will also require a few additional words, because the world we live in has no mercy for succinct statements, unless they are in agreement with the world. I will then pepper in some additional words, in an attempt of honesty and transparency, to show that my motivation is love -- love for people, love for God, love for his word, and a love for the Church. I will attempt all of these words while offering a semi-exposition of 1 Timothy 1:3–20, with a practical emphasis on an event that happened at a church in my community. 

Ep. 54 Reading with Pastor Matt the Mortification of Sin by John Owen Chapter 4 Part 1

Episode 54

Reading with Pastor Matt

The Mortification of Sin by John Owen

Chapter 4 Part 1

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Not to be considered casually...

Darrel Bock on Luke 14:26 - 

"Jesus spares no one who claims to have a disciples commitment. The desire to come to Jesus is a good one, but it is not to be considered casually."

Commentary on Luke Volume 2, Baker Exegetical Commentary by Darrell Bock

Saturday, April 15, 2023

Ep. 50 - Preparing For What Is To Come

Listen Here:


I know a few people who are preppers. (I'm assuming that you know what this word means.)

I am not allowed to mention their names (the preppers) or to even allude to where they might live. I have been extensively warned by my prepper friends that this information should not be shared even under the pain of death because when the apocalypse hits, they don't want anyone to know that they have prepared. If the preppers I know were the sort that spent time on the internet looking at things other than survival gear and food buckets, they would probably be annoyed that I have even mentioned that I know preppers. I want to take a moment to assure my prepper friends that I will stand firm when I am being interrogated. I will not give away the location of their prep work. I promise you that nobody will know where you keep your chickens.