Some Blog Redesign

December 29th, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

Since my blog was being neglected for so long, I decided I might give it a face-lift to enter in the new year. Some previous themes I have spent many, many hours on and I really liked how they turned out. While I have put a decent amount of work into the new look, I didn’t want to have to edit and change as much code as I have done previously. This theme from NeoEase called iNove was just the thing I needed. I like the look and feel of it and the stuff I did want to change was fairly easy to do. I have also added in a few new plugins (including a Facebook “like” button and new photo gallery, ask me if you want to know about any of them) to add to some of the functionality.

I would love to get any feedback you might have to offer. Did it load in a reasonable amount of time? Do you like the look? Anything I should add? Take away? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, I can take the criticism.

Remember, feedback is about the design, not the content. I don’t expect people to like that anyway. ;)

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On the Meaning of Christmas

December 24th, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

I don’t actually know that I have anything new to say as I have said it in a number of other posts before. I just want to pause, take a breath and remind people why we celebrate Christmas. It is because you and I are broken people. Some might call us sinners. Regardless, we fall short of perfection. Usually by leaps and bounds. I know I do. In Old Testament days we would have had to offer a blood sacrifice for our transgressions. I think that would get a little old. And bloody. Back in the day they looked forward to the time when all that would go away and we would be redeemed and saved by a mighty king.

The way God brings things to fruition is often different than the way we imagine they will be. Instead of bringing a powerful political ruler who would protect us from our enemies, God did something much more meaningful and dramatic: He sent His own son to Earth to atone for our failures. To take our brokenness as his own even though he was perfect and blameless. Our crimes imputed to Jesus.

That is why we celebrate today. Christmas is a celebration because God became one of us so he could die for us. We celebrate Christmas because we need Easter. God with us, Immanuel (עִמָּנוּאֵל): a terrifying yet joyous event. In the words of one of Relient K’s songs: “And I, I celebrate the day / That You were born to die / So I could one day pray for You to save my life.”

So in the midst of all the chaos that the Christmas seasons brings, take a step back and ponder what it means. Christmas leads to Easter and the Cross. We are hugely and eternally blessed because of that.

I leave with some of the words of my favorite Christmas song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” written by Henry Longfellow because it is easy to let the other 364 days of the year get us down:

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Merry Christmas and God Bless everyone!

Some of my other Christmas posts:

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My sister got hitched!

December 23rd, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

My sister got hitched!It’s a done deal: my baby sister got married! I cannot believe it! I am so happy for her and she was radiant on her day. I took Friday off and enjoyed the beautiful Northwest day on the ferry headed toward the Olympic Mountains and Port Townsend where Erin and Darrin are living. It was a wonderful weekend of seeing family and celebrating Erin’s big day. We had a great time staying at Fort Worden in an old officer’s house. I am so blessed to be part of such a wonderful family! A few pictures from the weekend can be found over at Flickr.

Erin's Wedding Weekend!

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Darrin and Erin Fiskum!

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6 Month Update!

December 6th, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

Wow. It was recently pointed out the me that it has been 6 months since my last update. That is just pathetic. I thought I was going to post a lot during the summer and keep moving strong into the fall. And here we are at Winter’s doorstep.

Lots has happened in these 6 months! Most notable: my sister got engaged and will be married in 2 weeks! Pretty crazy and awesome! Congrats to Erin and Darrin! :)

School has also started back up and we are already a quarter and a half in! Wow, the year is going by fast! I have taken on an extra class so am teaching 6 instead of 5: 4 7th grade science and 2 8th grade physics classes. I am really enjoying having more 7th graders this year. They are a great group of kids and are a lot of fun. I have tried to start a webpage for my classes as an extra resource. It is in its early stages, but if you are interested, you can check it out at [no longer exists]. Our 8th grade physics classes have also been using our physics blog at [no longer exists] if you want to see what our students write about what they learn.

Anyway, there’s an update. I am hoping I will actually remember to blog more regularly… you know, when I’m not grading papers or playing Reach….

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6 Year Blogversary!

May 22nd, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

I just realized that last Wednesday, May 19th, was the 6th anniversary of starting my blog! Hard to believe it was that long ago that I started letting my thoughts explode into 1s and 0s on teh interwebs. For good or bad, you’ve got 6 years of my inane verbiage for you to ingest, I wonder how long I will keep this up. My first post, which is largely devoid of content: Why am I here? and another post because I was recently asked about my thoughts on the issue: Sex sex sex!

Related to that, does anyone have any thoughts or opinions about posts such as that one on such a public forum that anyone could see (like employers or even students!)? It is a fine line and it is always hard to know how much to share on the interwebs. I know some think things should be completely private, others think we should be completely free to share our voices. Comments? Thoughts?

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“Communities of Grace” - Hebrews 12:28-13:9

May 2nd, 2010 Matt Jones No comments

All Saints Church - Bill Berger
Hebrews 12:28-19:9
Message Notes

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” -C.S. Lewis

One of our church values: Authentic Community - Believe, doubt, seek. All on the journey together.

The importance of community: cf 12.28-29: the consuming fire of God’s presence in community with the Trinity. But we make ourselves the center. But all the things that give us joy will still be lacking, but point to the Ultimate.

To worship God acceptably… vs 13.1-4. Through the messiness of authentic community, no longer through ritual. We want to be a church about magnets. We are all nerdy, all of, but we come together on this journey and welcome anyone to join along. We should be a mission disguised as a church. Jesus built a community that was rich and deep. You don’t become part of a community by just showing up, you become part of community by becoming deeply involved.

The intensity of community: Love each other as family. Unconditional commitment to one another. There is a bond of obligation between family. In this radical understanding of community is a transparency and bond between family. Family is the single most shaping experience of your life. We are the product of the family we were raised in. We come from (who we are) the community we were raised in. In a family we are connecting at multiple points. Sharing teaching or coffee etc AT church doesn’t mean you have become part of a radical community, that takes effort. It is sharing life, more than just being part of a club. It is radical to live in this community, but it is hard: it takes accountability and openness. Wisdom and discernment is also a necessary part of it too.

The openness of community: Need both open and intense. Vs 1-2: commitment not just to family, but to strangers too. Welcome in people you would oterwise be suspicious of. Giving to those who cannot give anything back, to someone that we cannot get anything from. Vs 3-4: social justice and sexual purity - interesting combination. We live in a radically selfish society… willing to have sex with others outside of the community relationship, we are putting our selfishness above community. Same with money, radical transformation to become unselfish but to truly take part in community. Have to be willing to be marked as part of that radical community.

The power to create this community: vs 5: free from the love of money because God will not leave or forsake us. We are engaged in behaviors or desires that are unhealthy and painful for us… all those things will foresake us, but God will not. Even our closest relationships will break, people cannot handle the weight of our expectations or conditions, they will break. So our identity cannot be defined by those things. We need something more stable. How can we really know that we can have radical community? We go to the Cross, Jesus was foresaken so we don’t have to be any more. He is with us always because of His actions on the Cross. Authentic community is messy.

5 Radical Acts of Urban Hospality
1) open your home to people in your apt
2) Invite some to church and take them to lunch
3) Participate or lead a life group
4) volunteer
5) Care for the poor, the stranger

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