Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. It is good to be part of a “me too” church culture. There, you can not only be honest, but you can know you do not repent, believe, or fight alone.

2. Reading a book about Mozart will make you hate the movie, Amadeus, in retrospect.

3. I have one week left at the Bank and my parting shot is only this:

Where angels might dance/there are an infinite number of directions/for the rest of us to fall.

4. Social media is destroying confidence in parenting. You only see the perfectly matching outfits on the beach because of the professional photographer. You do not see the abject fear. Or everyday frustrations. You do not see the kids fighting and complaining between shots.

5. When a friend tragically loses their only child, you look at your children differently. You can’t help it.

6. I think I expected Crime and Punishment to be a window. Instead, it was a mirror.

7. My middle son doesn’t like watching videos with animals killing other animals. It truly bothers him. After the boys went to bed and while Bethany was picking Emma up from band camp, I started to watch No Country for Old Men. Now as I rule, I am not one to just start a movie. But I loved the book and there it was on Netflix. But after the first scene ,I couldn’t handle it. I turned it off. I’m too much like my son.

8. There is a lot of “positive thinking” about vocation. Some of it is palatable. Most is unconscionable. You see, what so many of the punchy quotes miss is this: If it is true someone can find their groove in vocation – that sweet spot where desire and skill and training and experience come together for their good and other’s good – then is it not also possible the very opposite can happen with varying degrees between? It is possible.

9. I don’t think the technology of a book has been surpassed yet.

10. Did I mention I only have one more week at the bank?

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1.  One of the things studying the New Testament will do, is train you to not assume. For example, our culture – even Christians – assume we should honor God and fear what the president will do (or not do). But Peter turns that paradigm on its head and says fear God and honor the Emperor, who was not very honorable. To enter the NT is to enter another world altogether, where assumptions are daily challenged.

2.  I finished reading The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings while on vacation. And it reminded me of when I was young and being so moved by what I read (Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Canterbury Tales, The Odyssey) in my literature classes that I wanted to tell someone and not really knowing who. I often wonder if those who made all A’s in those classes care about those stories now. Do they still know those first few lines of the prologue of Canterbury Tales in Middle English and carry them around like hoarded treasure?

3. The grace and mercy given to me through the cross saves me from the wrath of God. Also, it saves me from my insecure need to be angry about everything there is to be angry about.

4. How Christians talk about those they disagree with is infinitely more important than what politicians talk about.

5. I have now seen two posts on social media conflating the liberty we have in Christ with our nation’s independence. They are nothing alike. And for those who follow Christ, one of those freedoms is so treasured, the other is but a wistful rumor.

6. The difference between a very crowded beach and one that is not, makes all the difference. The beauty is obscured by the amount of commotion. But first thing in the morning? When no one is out there? Magic.

7. I have this theory: If you talk about a relational problem between two people (or two groups of people) too much, you actually do more harm than good. I think it’s a fairly sound theory for a couple reasons. First, generally the talk involves and naturally tends toward offenses and hurts. And the law will eventually push one party away. And second, I believe there is grace in silence. This stands in opposition to modern thinking that does not believe you can talk about anything too much.

8. I miss sitting out on the balcony in the morning with Bethany, looking out over the Gulf, eating half a biscuit and sausage topped with pimento cheese and a fried egg.

9. There are many  moments in Dante’s Inferno where my breath is taken away. And then there are other times where I’m glad there are notes and commentary for my second reading.

10. There is always more grace and mercy enjoyed, than we can see.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend 


1. How do you raise a kid to live in a culture that is increasingly hostile to our faith? All cliches and trite answers are excluded from discussion.

2. It dawned on me that because of my familiarity with the Scriptures and theology, I need to read them more to keep me awake to their importance and to stay in fellowship with God. My temptation is to do the opposite. 
3. I don’t wanna brag but The Avett Brothers are coming to my hometown.
4. On Tuesday as I drove to work, I was thinking about the Isbell song, “Hope the High Road.” Its a great song with a true kindness behind it. However, it’s sad too. The line, “Last year was a son of a b____ for nearly everyone we know…” is a sad line. He has said this relates to the election of Trump. It’s not sad because I have a different political take on the event. I find it sad because of the misplaced hope people put in politics and politicians. But really if you have no meta narrative higher than that, it makes complete sense that an election would ruin your year. That fills the hole left when Christ is not supreme. I was thinking about all of this as I drove to work and for some reason I turned on NPR for the first time in years. An author was being interviewed about the rise of Isis and other extreme Muslim groups. He basically said in America it is becoming hard for us to understand because the gap created by secularism has placed politics at the center of our being and not religion. Whoa.
5. My wife recently took a test and the only person that knows her, who was worried if she would do well, was her.
6. It has always been a gracious fact that the depth of my sins are not all seen at once.
7. Really looking forward to going on vacation with the family. We’ll spend a lot of money, someone will probably get sunburned, and we’ll be living in a smaller space. Not sure where I was going with this…
8. One of the great scandals of the NT is Paul’s veritable silence about the injustice he was surrounded by and in fact suffered from. His outrage seems consistently reserved for his own sin and the Judaizers. This is not to suggest we should not care about it. But he literally was surrounded by injustice. Not just tweets about it. Why so silent?
9. I’ve been reading Knowing God by Packer again and remembering what it was like back in the mid ’90s for me to encounter depth of theological thought for the first time in a book.
10. Whoever invented the DVD player for the minivan so that my wife and I can talk for a couple hours on a trip, is a hero.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. With so many issues to distract the church, Paul’s resolve to know nothing but Christ and him crucified is a good “issue” to be distracted with.

2. The new poet laureate, Tracy K. Smith, is worth your attention.

3. How is that fight on social media working out for you?

4. Our kids had Papa John’s pizza for the first time last night and gushed like they were eating from the tree of life.

5. A bad meal with good friends is better than a feast with kings.

6. “Does anyone ever point out that you have same name as…”

“Eight times this week.”

7. Unless you care deeply about poetry, you cannot know the importance of spending time with someone who cares deeply about it.

8. The lack of time between reading and reaction that is felt is far too quick for true engagement with subject matter, these days.

9. The location is irrelevant as long as Bethany is there.

10. The new Jason Isbell album is so good I didn’t even ask for records for Father’s Day. I don’t want to listen to anything else.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. The gospel of grace will always refresh us the most when our souls are the most parched.

2. I don’t watch a whole lot of movies because none of them are like Paterson.

3. We should be heartened when politicians like Bernie Sanders think poorly of us who believe the gospel. For our Lord was also thought poorly of for the same reasons.

4. Many think the country is going down the tubes because of politicians. I think it’s because we advertise cheap divorce on billboards just like fast food. 

5. Hi, my name is Matt and I’m addicted to Palmetto Cheese from Costco.

6. I see a lot of arguments on Twitter among Pastors and church leaders and it’s rarely about the gospel. Even if it was, it would still be like watching a fight in a room full of people without much regard for each other or those watching.

7. I read an article about Paterson and the filmmaker decried how poetry has disappeared from public life. He’s right. And now it’s relegated to the back corners of all the bookstores and the libraries. That’s how you get Kenny Chesney and Joel Osteen, both.

8. What’s really amazing to me is Jason Isbell recorded the new album in a couple of weeks. And it’s a masterpiece. Why is it taking U2 so dadgum long?

9. The other day I told my middle son that in heaven every day will be like Saturday and I didn’t realize how much I needed to hear this myself till I choked it out.

10. The kindness of my wife is museum-quality rare. Rarely seen. Heard of, like news from distant lands. But everyday for me.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. The New Testament becomes what it was originally meant to be when we understand those letters were written to a people in “exile” needing to be reminded of the grace of God in Christ.

2. I don’t know if “beauty will save the world.” But I do feel the creeping ugliness in our culture. And in my own heart, often.

3. How about this? I’ll listen to the alarm about climate change when we can have a rational discussion acknowledging gender is not fluid. 

4. I don’t think I ever saw friendship rightly until my special needs kid starting making friends. And it happened at the beginning of her teenage years, which sweetened the deal.

5. I often hear something or read something about an artist – maybe an artist I’ve never heard of – that disappoints me so much, I end up reacting to it in a completely opposite way. Usually, it’s by reading or listening to something beautiful. Like Chopin. Or Monk.

6. Err on the side of being too gracious, I think. Still hold onto your convictions but let grace be the chief one.

7. Jason Isbell released a new song from his forthcoming album a couple of days ago. The song is titled “White Man’s World.” I assumed I would cringe a little about the lyrics but still enjoy the melody and sound. Actually, the reverse is true. It may be my least favorite track by him yet. I apppreciate what he’s saying, especially knowing what’s behind the words. But after listening to it a few times, I’m just not enjoying the song. Which is odd, if you me.

8. When asked about my favorite author, I’ve realized how untruthful I am sometimes. Not sure why. But I should always answer “C.S. Lewis” since I have more books by him and about him, than anyone else. It’s not even close. I also read him more often than anyone else.

9. “The thought occurred to me that the crisis for Christians is not that we are politically homeless, but that we ever thought we could be at home in politics at all.”

10. Last week I pointed out how incredulous I was at any Christian support of our President. One of those reasons is his objectification of women through strip clubs and pornography. I also pointed out in a later “random thought” that I enjoyed summer because I get to see my wife in a bathing suit. There were those who thought I was being inconsistent. Of course, the comment about my wife, while true, was a joke because I see her in far less every day. And in all seriousness, me enjoying seeing my wife in anything or nothing at all is a holy thing. If this is considered objectification of her or women, we have lost the ability to see other things clearly  in our sensitivity on a particular issue. The focus has rendered the context blurry and distorted.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. I think the power of the gospel lies in its power to change us in ways we can only see in hindsight. Superficial change can often be seen in a moment but true lasting change is a long work of the Holy Spirit as we continually walk through this world in faith.

2. I’ll be eating meat cooked over fire repeatedly this weekend. So I’ll be feeling kinda like you do when you go to Disney World.

3. We went from Austen and Dickens to Dirty Dancing in less than 200 years. I don’t think our politicians are the problem.

4. Have I mentioned how good the new Chris Stapleton record is?

5. (Riding in a car)

Parent: You should really look up from your phone and look at the world through your window.

Child: (looks up and and strains to read bumper sticker) I…love…my…ta-tas 

Parent: Look at your phone.

6. I know those memes and gifs of politicians, et al. are funny. But as believers, are we thinking deeply enough about the dignity of those made in the image of God? My incredulousness over Christians endorsing a man like our President stems from the same. A man who once owned strip clubs and sees women primarily as sexual objects is who so many Christians have endorsed and applauded. But making fun of him with clever insults drowns the depth of thought required to help others see how politics naturally degrades and defines others only as functional means to a powerful end. 

7. The Cardinals are playing uninspired baseball. Hard to watch, really.

8. The perpetual incessant outrage on my Twitter timeline makes the insipid memes on Facebook seem life-giving.

9. My spiritual gift may be breakfast.

10. Finally that time of year when I get to see Bethany in a bathing suit on a regular basis.

Random Thoughts in the Middle of the Week


1. There are times when you wake up in the early morning and the Gospel of grace is easily believed. There is no dust to be removed. It’s just right there. Those mornings are a gift. Those mornings are rare.

2. Reserve your outrage for yourself.

3.  As my fantasy team improves, the Cardinals struggle. Selah.

4. The new Chris Stapleton was made for vinyl.

5. Let me repeat – there are an infinite number of ways to fall off the head of a pin.

6. I’ve been listening to R.E.M. a lot lately. Actually it’s been about a year now that I’ve been revisiting their catalogue . Most of it is what I enjoyed in High School and college. A friend kindly leant me some DVDs of their live performances on MTV and while watching those it dawned on me why I’m still listening. There was a lot of comfort in those albums for a kid that didn’t feel like he fit the mold. Southern tones with abstract lyrics. Banjos and electric guitars. Intensity and weightlessness. I understood all that and in a very real way felt understood by these guys from just a state over.

7. My kids are almost done with school. Which is good, because I’m tired of doing homework…

8.  A kingdom for my commentaries.

9.  I’m pretty convinced the damage done to the one who only posts the happy moments repeatedly on social media and the damage done to the reader is incalculable.

10. It’s bittersweet when my wife finds a good book. Sweet because it makes her happy. Bitter because she disappears.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. The older I get the more I appreciate the hard passages in the Bible. Some are hard because they confront my failures. Some are hard because they challenge the culture I imbibe. And some are just hard plain to understand. All of those get more comforting as I grow older because they are reminders God is not only unlike me but unlike everybody else.

2. I wish I had included a chapter in my book on “Vocational Shame.” I talked about this phenomenon in Sunday School and maybe I shouldn’t have been shocked at how many people deal with this but I was. So if you do, you aren’t alone. If  Paul is right in Roman 6 and we are dead to sin because we are united to Jesus. Therefore death no longer has dominion over us because it has no dominion over him. Death is the ultimate effect of sin. And so if the ultimate effect of sin can no longer rule us then neither can all the effects such as “Vocational Shame.”

3. The other day I was thinking about why financially successful, famous people so often end up taking on a cause. You rarely hear about them giving themselves to a cause on the way to being famous and wealthy but once they are, then their fame becomes a platform. My guess? The thing they longed for wasn’t enough. Money, fame, respect, sex, drugs – none of it fit the bill. But doing something bigger than themselves gets them closer to filling the hole. I also assume, it’s the reason guys like Cobain and Cornell take their lives. This isn’t to say Christians can’t get there too. They can. And they fly into the arms of the One with 10,000 charms.

4. Chris Stapleron’s new album is wonderful if you’re looking for songs that sound like the waning summer heat and the moon punching through a hazy evening.

5. I look forward to pizza the same way you look forward to vacation.

6. The New Testament writers wrote and advised the church as if the most important stuff in their lives was happening in the churches and not in the halls of governmental powers.

7. Part of the glory of baseball is how it hums constantly in the background throughout most of the year.

8. You know, I’ve always thought it was weird when people were being applauded and they responded by saying it “humbled” them. I always thought it would conceit me. But I think I kinda get it now. Not because I get applauded a lot but because of my Sunday School class. Far from giving me a big head, it scares me a little nearly every week that all these people come to hear me teach. Okay, actually it freaks me out if I stop and think about it. The weight of that is humbling. Pastors know what I mean.

9. My front yard, which everyone sees, looks terrible. Dead grass. Dirt patches. Terrible. But my backyard? Lush green. This too is part of my sanctification.

10. I have a really good marriage. Songs like the one below are a good reminder of why.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. I’ve been studying Romans 6 for weeks now for the SS class I teach. One thing I realized about the power of grace is this – you can resist grace by sinning but you can also resist grace by not believing you are forgiven by God for that sin.

2. Last night I was talking with my friend David and we talked about how we expect the live experience of a band or singer to be better than the album. Maybe that’s why I often don’t listen to an artist’s studio albums as much after seeing them live. Because so often the studio album is so much less.

3. The steadfast love of the Lord is better than cars without the check engine light on all the time.

4. My son bought a fidget spinner this week with his own money and I’m wondering what your kids will next be obsessed with that my kids will have to have two weeks later.

5.  Have you ever booked your family vacation and then later on the same day gotten what I like to call “expensive news?”

6. Tacos.

7.  When you are going through a season of suffering but you know change is coming and it be will over, you can continually remind yourself, “Remember. Remember you are almost done with this. You will be free.” For the Christian, this is always true. When hardship comes, you can always say to yourself, “Remember. Remember you are almost done with this. You will be free.”

8. I never tire of gathering with friends.

9. One month till the new Jason Isbell album. Three months till the show in Huntsville. And five months till the Ryman show. Listen carefully to the the song at the 28:00 mark of this interview.

10. Last weekend was Bethany’s birthday and this weekend is Mother’s Day. A good season to be reminded of the tangible grace I’ve received in her.