Random Thoughts


1. I really do no think we can think about heaven too much. Maybe I’m speaking for myself alone here, but I tend to forget the hope of heaven when the pains of this world are few. When sorrows are kept at bay. When the engine lights are off and ease is the order of the day. Heaven is not then on my mind ’cause I’m tasting it here. Maybe I’m alone in this but I’m guessing I’m not.

2.  I’ve been listening to Bill Mallonee (formerly of Vigilantes of Love) this past week and it hurts to know that many of the instruments he’s used in the songs I’m listening to are now gone, just so he can pay the bills. Maybe that’s why his songs are so good. He has some blood in the game. I mean how people are we listening to struggle to keep the lights on?

3. I had pizza last night and all was well.

4. Last night I went to a Samford University Women’s Volleyball game. The brains and athleticism are an impressive display. The joy and smiles on their faces are inspiring. And it was fun for everyone. Even the losing team looked like they were having fun. It seems to me this is what college sports should be about. 

5. It is hard to read of Mother Teresa’s own medical care at first world hospitals and the testimonies of those who worked with her talk about the disparity of the care they provided to the poor.

6. An entertainment obsessed culture will care little that those making the money on the entertainment knew the entertainment was irrevocably harming the entertainers, but kept the hurting in the dark. Entertainment rules.

7. The church must be able to love while not flinching in her convictions.

8. My kids ask me 457 questions a day and I know the answer to maybe three.

9. We live in a culture where if you are rich and famous you are more likely to receive free meals and gifts than if you are poor.

10. I love my early mornings alone. More than that, I love Bethany interrupting them.

Random Thoughts


1. Mike Campbell may be the most underrated guitarist.

2. My pastor’s sermon from this past week has affected me more than any other that I can remember.

3. I used to eat pizza every day. Okay, not *every* day. But I thought about pizza every day. Now I never eat pizza. Pizza calls though. Well, not calls, but texts. It’s actually the local pizza place. I forgot where I was going with this.

4. Don’t change anything based on a news story. Nothing. Okay, maybe the weather is an exception.

5. Tom Petty said “Mudcrutch” was the worst name his first band could have come up with. Their newest album is fantastic, though. Really, really fantastic.

6. Dusting off my Romans commentaries and using them weekly is the best thing.

7. Most Christian writers today are emulating one of three writers. Either John Piper, Ann Vos Kamp, or Jen Hatmaker. They need to be following Buechner and Hemingway. 

8. My 2nd grader hasn’t had any homework yet and I truly have no idea if this is good or bad.

9. Christianity is a fight to love the resurrection more than this beautiful world.

10. Coming home to Bethany is better than money. Or records. Or even pizza.

Random Thoughts


1. One of the harder lessons to learn as a Christian is the value of the thing hoped for is not measured by “feels.”

2. I’m on my second book about Tom Petty now. And it’s rare for me to like a guy as famous as he is more after the reading. But I do like him more. He is a truly nice guy, who is always free with kind things to say about others. He effuses them. Plus he’s a great songwriter.

3. I should hit my goal of losing 20 pounds in a few days. I’ll weigh pretty close to what I did when I got married. And I’m eating a ton of what I can eat.

4. We went to the Samford University’s women’s volleyball game last night and it was awesome. I understood very little but it was a lot of fun. Seriously, I understood nothing.

5. I realized yesterday as I was studying Romans how much of my understanding I take for granted. So much has been shaped by Cranfield and Luther that I’ll read a verse in Greek and already have in my head an idea of what I think Paul is saying. Then I’ll go to Cranfield and realize I have that idea because I’ve used those commentaries so much over the years. It’s humbling and it makes me glad I spent the money for them.

6. I never get tired of “Insider” from the album Hard Promises. It’s a lesser known duet Petty does with Stevie Nicks. The more popular bring “Stop Dragging My Heart Around” that’s on Nicks’ Bella Donna. But “Insider” surpasses it and is simply one of the best melodies I’ve ever heard. 

7. It’s like my kids sit around and try to make up jokes. Not a day goes by that they are not trying out a joke or riddle on us. All three of them do it. You think it sounds sweet? When they are funny, sure. But then there’s those times when they are terrible and you have to walk that too thin line of truth and kind encouragement. 

8. I do love getting a new record in the mail from Amazon in 2 days but I’m waiting on a Petty record to come from an independent seller and it’s taking forever. Just like when I was a kid. It’s kinda nice actually.

9. Three day weekends are about three days too short.

10. I still look at Bethany and say, “wow.” Someone is going to think that’s shallow. I just think it’s awesome.

Random Thoughts


1. There’s needs to be some blood in the game. In today’s world, the message will be far more easily drowned out by all the props and other “gospels.” They need to know you have and do lean hard into it. It has to have at the very least been the only good news you had at one time. And then? You came out on the other side trusting more. There has to be blood in the game.

2. I can’t tell the difference anymore between normal programming and Olympic coverage.

3. I’m not very handy around the house. I wish I was better with power tools than I am. At 44 years old I’ve learned it’s better for me to just be on friendly terms with a guy who repairs them cheap and quick.

4. I started teaching Romans last week in my Sunday School class. The night before I woke in a cold sweat because I was afraid no one would come. About a hundred showed up which would’ve caused the same if I’d known.

5. I’m at that point of the year where Fall feels close. But it’s a false feeling because I live in Alabama and it won’t really feel like Fall till Late October.

6. You weren’t created to take in all the tragedy, causes, and concerns that are constantly hitting you up for emotional responses on social media. 

7. I’m not good with simple tools either.

8. I rooted against Usain Bolt because I never want my kids to think loving the spotlight like that is okay.

9. I love being at home.

10. Laughing with Bethany is my favorite.

Random Thoughts


1. The television and it’s images, caring nothing for you, asks nothing of you except your devotion and your money.

2. On Sunday mornings I will begin teaching through the book of Romans. Stronger than armies, Paul’s letter always leaves hearts and minds changed in its wake. Some for faith. Some hearts are hardened. But always changed. 

3. Who told you numbers were the final measurement?

4. For the first time in a long while we took a family vacation and came out on the other side, rested. I woke up early each morning. Made coffee. Sat on our deck overlooking the Gulf. Drank said coffee. Enjoyed the sea air. Listened to the waves. Read the Count of Monte Cristo. Listened to Springsteen or Radiohead. Waited for Bethany to join me. 

5. The best part of the Olympics is the unexpected win of someone who has never won before.

6. It’s true there is a lot of food I once enjoyed I no longer can eat. But I can eat as much as I want of everything else. And still lose weight.

7. Social media is a cheap mob’s weapon.

8. I take it back, the best part of the Olympics is watching Bethany enjoy them every night.

9. My rights are never defended in the NT.

10. The week Radiohead released A Moon Shaped Pool, I listened to it three times. It took my breath away. But I stopped listening because I knew I would eventually buy the LP version. This week I received it in the mail and it is one of the most beautiful and captivating pieces of music I’ve ever heard. Each listen takes you further in. More symphonic than anything else. It forces you to think differently about music, much like Kid A. I imagine people will be listening to this in 50 years.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. I have this picture in my head of being part of a village, once an enemy of the King. But the King conquered us and we knew he now controlled our fate. Fear overwhelmed us. But then a messenger brought news of the King. And the message was good news. He not only forgave us but promised us he would fight for us now and give us all we needed. We knew we deserved punishment but instead we receive grace and mercy. I keep that picture in my head all the time.

2. Coffee and country blues records early in the morning while everyone sleeps. 

3. It dawned on me this week that the common denominator of the music I enjoy is the lack of irony. Even when Dylan isn’t taking himself too seriously, the music is taken seriously.

4. I had pizza last night and I didn’t enjoy it like I thought I would. I wish I’d eaten something else. Yeah, I know. Weird.

5. I’m getting close to finishing Wonder. Last night I read the part where August’s family invites Miranda to go to dinner with them. Sometimes kindness is so beautiful you have to close your eyes after you see it.

6. It’s going to be hard sitting on the 8th row for the Jason Isbell show on September 28th after sitting on the 6th row for the show on the 23rd.

7. I would love to see my mom roll her eyes and smile when she asks what Bethany and I are going to do while she watches the kids and I respond, “oh we’ll probably go parking.”

8. The modern world is a hard place to not have answers to a problem. It is a hard world in which to trust the unseen God.

9. I can understand people wrestling with the absolute sovereignty of God over everything. I can be patient with that. But not mocking it. That’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.

10. So I’ve watched the Jason Isbell Boston concert on YouTube a few times now and I wonder what all those Yankees think of him when he talks. Enjoy.

Thursday’s Random Thoughts


1. I rarely go to the NT and fail to find encouragement for the day.

2. I have no affection for either presidential candidate. But I have a theory about Trump and the charge of racism against him. First, hasn’t every Republican candidate been accused of this for the past 20 years? Second, it may be true that he is. But I don’t think his supporters care anymore. And why should they care? The suspicion of racism now equals the charge. And the charges are constant. While I do not think these are good excuses, I think they may be reasons. “You think I’m a racist because I support Trump? Who cares? You probably thought I was one before anyway.”

3. I am about to finish a 6 month reading of the NT and what I find completely missing is the demand for rights and freedom.

4. How is it only Thursday?

5. Listening to my wife sing along with a new record is the best.

6. Still amazed at how many people I know that are experts in foreign policy and European economics.

7. Wonder is a painful read because of memories held tightly on a string to the past and experiences anchored in the present.

8. The only thing worse than vapid, intellectually-void expressions of faith on social media is elitist snobbery refusing to see the best in those, who are just as much part of Christ’s body, the Church.

9. I need a vacation like a fat kid needs cake.

10. I’m looking forward to the 4th so I can eat hamburgers wrapped in lettuce. Yep, I said it.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend


1. The Bible is completely foreign to modern culture for two reasons – it portrays our rebellion against God as our biggest problem and it was written to people in the context of suffering.

2. The evidence that our culture values the lives of famous entertainers more than the commoners? Whenever someone famous dies this year, watch. You will see posts on social media about how 2016 keeps taking people away. What an upside down world we live in. We should grieve more over the plumbers and nurses. Teachers and preachers. 

3. The other night Bethany made Brussel Sprouts with bacon and it blew me away. I don’t even know me anymore.

4. By definition, repentance can never be self-congratulatory. 

5. I ate pizza a few days ago, after going more than 30 days without. Like lovers once separated by an ocean, we were reunited.

6. I am amazed at how many people in my social media feeds cared nothing about #Brexit until after it was decided. Then everyone had strong opinions. Now Orlando is a thing of the past. What will you become so intensely passionate about tomorrow that will help line the pockets of the news organizations?

7. Two years ago this week my mom swung from star to star into eternity. I miss talking to her and her joy with my kids. I miss her easy tears and seeing how she missed my dad, even. There is a grief you can read of in a thousand novels and never know until you feel the need to call them but there is nowhere to call.

8. I am not a gun owner. I have no desire to own a gun. But I do not think gun control will solve the problems of violence that ravage our nation. 

9. I am thankful for the grammar police. They push me to be more rebellious in sentence structure. And they make want to bust the bonds of punctuation rules. Often.

10. Jason Isbell’s songs reminds me of home. Alabama. He’s from a far more rural part of the state, but the language and view of the world is the same. Even the music sounds like this part of country. You can feel the heat and humidity. Hear the cicada bugs and train whistles in the valley. You can smell the pine trees and the dewy morning air. Getting to see him at the Alabama Theatre in September will be hard to beat. Below is a taste. Turn of the television and watch this:

Random Thoughts for Thursday


1. One of the most profound joys (if not the most) of the Christian life is when, by God’s grace, you are able to take him at his word and believe you are not condemned because of the cross. 

2. My newest vinyl is The Bridge by Sonny Rollins. Straight from 1962. I have a number of jazz records but this is my first brand new one. And I cannot get over the sound. His tenor sax sounds like a voice. And Jim Hall’s guitar is one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard. I can’t get over it. 

3. Since we started this diet, I’ve read three books. Before, I couldn’t stay up night and read. Two pages and I was out. But since we started this diet, I’ve been able to read like I used to, at least a book a week.

4. I believe the sum total of the Christian life is summed up in, “Don’t be afraid. Believe the gospel.” The fight against fear is not tertiary but central.

5. Everyone believes in the complete sovereignty of God over all things. You can deride Calvinism all day long. But as soon as you ask God to save someone from their sin, you believe he can change their will for their good. And as soon as you ask God to heal a person from cancer, you have acknowledged he can and had the power to stop them from getting it, but didn’t. 

6. I have in the past made fun of people who worried about all the ingredients in food. That ends now. A couple of weeks ago our youngest son’s stuttering problem got to where he couldn’t hardly talk. We were frustrated. He was frustrated. We started trying to figure out what had changed. We noticed it coincided with some chocolate milk and Popsicles we had bought the kids. Bethany researched a common ingredient and learned enough for us to not let the kids have anymore. Within a few days, his stuttering improved. Two weeks later? We cannot believe the dramatic difference. He will deal with stuttering like me for the rest of his life but we will avoid that ingredient like the plague.

7. There is nothing our governing authorities can do to stop God’s sovereign plan for his people. 

8. I do miss pizza so very much.

9. Fantasy team is terrible. Cardinals are struggling. Long season.

10. If I do not keep the hope of heaven in front of me, the thought of my death and the death of those I love and the fact that it will happen for all of us, overwhelms me with fear and despair. But when I remember Jesus is making all things and there is no end to that hope, I can stagger out of that despair.

Random Thoughts for the Weekend

porgy and bess

1. Paul tells Timothy  that prayers are to be made for all people,  even for kings and everyone who is in a high position, “that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” I keep reading these words and walking away with the idea that we should shut up about our leaders unless we are praying for them, so we can lead dignified lives.

2. I don’t want to finish the Wendell Berry novel I’m reading.

3. When grace overtakes, we look for reasons to love and admire others, even when their sins are glaring and offensive. One, because we know our own sin. And two, because we were and are loved despite our sins against God.

4. I think Paul made a mistake when he said, “But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” He forgot “records.”

5. It is no irony that I will start a study about “fear and worry”with the Sunday School class I teach and I find myself having to deal with fears about the study and the class itself.

6. The humidity has been so thick the last couple of days you could cut it with a knife, which is good because because I can have a slice of humidity on this diet.

7. A Christianity without a God who is angry at sin and sending people to hell, is of no use at all. It empties churches. It hollows out souls. And is easily replaced by temporary cares.

8. Miles Davis’ Porgy and Bess on a Saturday Morning.

9. I’ve been wondering if sin can be loved. Not it’s benefits or the pleasure it brings but the sin itself. Is our or anyone’s affection for sin ever “love?” I cannot help but think it cannot be loved. Sin can be pursued with great passion, but true love is reserved for whatever conforms to the glory of God, himself. So, even when those who do not believe in God, when they love they are living out the reality of their being created in his image. And I assume this, even when they are sinning.

10. I have begun to have weird dreams while on this diet. And the other night I had a powerful dream about reaching our for beauty. Beauty, not as the world sees it in photoshopped, liposuctioned, starving models on the cover of magazines, but beauty like Wendell Berry’s descriptions of the woods and Paul Desmond’s alto sax. Billie Holiday’s aching voice. Seamus Heaney’s lines. I couldn’t get over it in the dream. It has held over in my waking hours.