Random Thoughts for the Weekend

whisper tames

1. In this day and age of everyone taking aim at the government all the time, and taking sides, I keep thinking about Paul never even addressing the politics of the day. Not once. I wonder if part of that is a certain humility, because he knows what he would do with that kind of power. He knows what he did when he had that kind of power. “There but for the grace of God go I.” This is an edge of living out the gospel we do not address enough, “If I was the one in power, how would I behave?” What kind of person would I be if I had money? I know the latent unkindness in my own heart enough, that when in power, I just might not use it well either.

2. I’m reading the last Harry Potter again. And while I like all the books and think they are all good literature, that last book is something else. Rowling settled into a a far more literary, deep, and beautiful style. When Harry, Ron, Hermione are in Grimmauld Place that first night and she describes Harry seeing Ron and Hermione’s hands so close together and wondering if they fell asleep holding hands and how lonely that made him feel… that’s just great writing.

3. “How is your fantasy team doing?”

“Cards are playing great.”

“Yeah, but how is your fantasy team doing?”

“Cardinals are above .500 and playing good baseball.”

4. I am serious when I say this – when I go to estate sales and look records, it is depressing to see what most people from that generation were listening to. Most of it is saccharine and sentimental. It is rare to find great jazz or country records. Once I found a bunch of great jazz and Ray Charles records. But that is rare. And there is a difference between Ray Charles and Andy Williams.

5. The Scriptures are an endless of mine of treasures and an inexhaustible well of refreshment.

6. My daughter just called me from Orlando and said she cannot find her money. So this is how my parents felt when that happened?

7. Back before there was an “Americana” genre or Uncle Tupelo, there was Drivin’ N Cryin’. They were punk rock. “Wait, that’s a country song?” I can remember when my buddy Jeff gave made me a copy of copy of a friends copy of “Whisper Tames the Lion.” It went from alternative rock to country and back again and I was hooked. I saw them live so many times in those ensuing years I can’t even count. I’ve been listening to those first four albums over the past week and I gotta believe this was the formative band for my listening. I started listening to Dylan and all the Americana style bands in college because of DnC. I can remember seeing them on Letterman and thinking, “Well, they are no longer gonna just be big in the southeast.” Never happened. Below is a sample of what all you Yankees missed.

8. I don’t think I’ve eaten one thing that is good for me since my wife went out of town.

9. Update: She found her money!

10. I don’t sleep well, eat well, think well, or do anything well without Bethany around. I’m glad she is having fun at the beach but I know she is wearing a bathing suit all day and I don’t get to enjoy it.

Random Thoughts at the Beginning of the Week

nikki lane

1. The other day I posted, “Hope is exhausting.” Many agreed. Others did not understand. They took “exhausting” as a pure negative to the point that it bled over into hope having a negative edge. But that is not true. There are a lot of enjoyable things that are exhausting. Hiking and running, for instance. I was simply naming something I hadn’t heard anyone ever name. That hope is exhausting. It is true, some will forgo hope because they have been exhausted by it before, just as they will forgo the hike because they prefer the couch. But it needs to be said that hope is exhausting. Hope for the things in this world and our hope of heaven.  But I think sitting by those who are struggling with hope and acknowledging “hope is exhausting” is a kindness.

2. I feel like the storage shed of information I would like to tell my parents is filling up quickly and another will have to be constructed.

3. I know we still have a Jason Isbell record coming but it’s gonna have to be unbelievably good to beat out Nikki Lane’s Highway Queen, as my favorite record of 2017.

4. One of the strengths of Tim Keller’s ministry no one really talks about is the kindness with which he treats his listeners. He is never shrill or condescending. Always considerate towards his assumed listener. Belief and trust in the power of the message will do this.

5.  Last night we sat outside with our neighbors and ate Conecuh sausage, field peas, greens, cornbread and watermelon at dusk. It was a perfect evening.

6. I think the reason I always go back to Springsteen is even when I don’t like him, I believe him. Those songs remind me of the human condition and everyone has story lines stretching back further than I can see.

7. I suppose everyone in pastoral ministry has someone whose books have influenced them in a unique way. When I think about the writings of Eugene Peterson, I get more emotional than makes any sense to even myself. My pastoral nerves are sensitive at that point.

8. Even though the Cardinals look bad and my fantasy team lost week one, it is still better to have a week of baseball than a week without.

9. Reading poetry will keep you out of the tepid reservoir of cliches.

10. Driving to Pennsylvania this week to speak at a conference. Please pray that the van makes it there. Not too worried about getting back.