Random Thoughts for the Weekend

  
1. There are life-saving wellsprings of the gospel I would have never tasted if I had not left vocational ministry and entered the business world.

2. Roger Angell says that baseball is sport about losing. The best hitters only get a hit 1/3 of the time. Most teams are happy to win just above half their games in a season. You lose? There’s always tomorrow. Maybe that’s why it mirrors life so well. Dealing with loss over a long season.

3. “Ham is the taste of life.” – 6 yr old

4. Mississippi John Hurt

5. The lens through which we see the world wil color the world we are trying to make our way through. Sounds obvious till you realize what lens you are wearing.

6. Our shepherds are more vital than our politicians.

7. There is a second lawsuit coming against SGM and its leaders. When it comes there will be no statute of limitations. There will be sworn testimony. This is being called the largest child sex abuse scandal in evangelicalism and the evangelical elite remain silent except for their support of CJ Mahaney.

8. I now understand how my Dad felt when he would watch me play baseball, having played and loved the game himself.

9. Your arguing about politicians and who is better is like arguing about which poison to ingest.

10. It dawned on me that I’ve not a whole lot of vocational ambition. My ambition? To spend as many moments with Bethany as I can before one of us goes on ahead. And then pick it up again later…

Random Thoughts for Thursday

  
1. The grace of God for us covers the gracelessness we show toward others.

2. Needing to have the best is a terrible slavery.

3. The myth of America as a Christian nation is revealed in our collective hope in politicians and our hatred towards those we disagree with.

4. Ray LaMontagne

5. In all seriousness, how insecure do you have to be to make fun of someone who likes cheap beer? Related, don’t complain about your student debt if you’re drinking the expensive beer.

6. The most engaging political act is praying “Thy kingdom come.”

7. The older I get the less I need to be entertained. I can’t tell if it’s contentment or resignation.

8. I’ve been reading through Keller’s Counterfeit Gods and it’s killing me. In a very painful way.

9. The writer of The God of the Mundane struggles in his cubicle.

10. Last night we watched the scene where Jesus raises Lazarus in The Gospel of John movie. I imagine that Jesus had no doubt that His friend would walk out of the tomb by his command. As God’s Son, his soul swirled with assurance. I want that kind of assurance of God’s love and in the hope of my own resurrection.

Talking About Football on a Podcast

I made an appearance on the Calvin’s Corner podcast, in which I answered as to why I don’t watch football anymore. Before you get defensive and assume I am asking you to do the same, I would ask you to listen first.

I am working on a post where I flesh this out a little more and answer some objections others have made. Enjoy the show…
http://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/53960/42483115?el=0&refid=stpr

Random Thoughts After a Hard Thursday

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1.  I am at home today because my stomach is in revolt against me. Either the stress of yesterday or the “Moolatte” from Dairy Queen has taken my lactose intolerant self on an all night ride through the land of misery. I barely slept. So I’m home from work and don’t even get to enjoy it.

2. For years we have struggled to understand our daughter. When she was younger she was diagnosed with the severest form of ADHD the experts had ever seen. For a few years we have suspected something more. Yesterday we received a firm diagnosis of what we had suspected. High-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder with learning disabilities in a couple specific ares.

That was harder to type that I imagined it would be.

Our emotions are mixed, to say the least. On one hand the diagnosis names the struggle and gives us an idea of the road we need to travel. (And we know we will not be traveling that road alone.) But naming it makes all the more real.

Nothing about Emma changes. Our love for her and commitment to help her is only strengthened. In the midst of all our frustration and fear, we love the Emma God has given to us. We may never know, “Why?” And yes, we’ve asked that question into what seemed like a silent sky. I suppose it would be enough to encourage another parent in a similar situation.

We are so thankful for the love and encouragement of our friends and family. Thank you for loving Emma and loving us so well. And the kindness and help we have received from Mitchell’s Place is breathtaking. Those people are heroes. I am in awe of them.

If you’re the praying kind, pray for Emma. And for us too.

3. Last night we found out our city’s school board has rezoned our street and the street behind us. This would send our boys to a school outside of our close-knit neighborhood. The Elementary School is the hub around which the community we live in spins. Geographically and historically where we live has been part of this community, we are now made to be separate. Six months ago my sons would not have been eligible to take the bus because they were said to live too close to their school. Now they are deemed too far away to continue attending. More than angry, we are sad to be on the losing end of a decision devoid of logic, which betrays a staggering lack of care for our family and the families we are surrounded by.

4. Yesterday was a hard day. The kind of day we will not forget. The kind of day that wounds and then leaves a scar. But the gospel is still true. The good news of the kingdom established by the King is all the more true today.

My friend Russ sent me a text yesterday as we were walking out the door to get the results. I told him what I was doing and he asked me, “How about a new heaven and a new earth?”

I told him, “Make that a double.”

Random Thoughts for the Weekend

  
1. One of the benefits of re-reading books is seeing different things. I’ve always attributed that to missing something in the earlier readings. But I think it’s more likely that I’m reading through a lens of my experiences and as those experiences and circumstances grow and change, what I see changes. What I’ve been  going through colors the reading.

2. Morrison’s Astral Weeks has the greatest intro of all the music ever recorded. It sounds like all the beauty ever looked for.

3. One of the things I miss about being a pastor is being able to sit and talk with people without being on a clock. 

4. I’m now at the point where I’d rather eat at home than eat out. Is that part of growing old?

5. The greatest hindrance to my growth in grace/following Jesus is my fear of tomorrow.

6. Do you not know the politicians are telling you what you want to hear until they don’t have to?

7. Prayer, the one thing I need to be doing, I find the hardest to do.

8. Though surrounded by violence, the early church stood apart without killing their enemies.

9. Seamus Heaney is worth the digging it takes to get down into his poems. There’s good soil. Much grows there.

10. The other night I sat and watched my sons play and we listened to an old Van Morrison record. It was one of those moments when everything stood still, though the record spun and the toys clinked. Are these not holy moments, when we see the beauty of what God has given?

Random Thoughts for Thursday

  
1. Close enough to opening day of baseball to plan the day’s menu.

2. While we were sinners – in other words, not measuring up – Christ died us. The powers and systems of this world are constantly checking to see if we measure up.

3.  I drove by the house I grew up in yesterday, it looked like a foreclosure. There was no sign of the love and happiness and wonder I knew there. All that had gone. My sons were with me and I’m sure they could no more imagine beauty among the near ruin as they could a trip to the moon.

4. The scriptures value music and song deeply. But it is never merely entertainment. It is always help along “the way.”

5. Eugene Peterson has ruined me. Him and Calvin. 

6. My wife cooks all things well.

7. Listening to Van Morrison on vinyl.

8. There is a huge difference between those who see the gospel as merely the message we take to others and those who see the gospel as the daily reality by which all reality is understood.

9. I have been thinking a lot about writing lately. And “Publishing.” And wondering if the church is doing it right. How are we different outside of our message? Are we supposed to be charging people for books that are to give them life and hope? Charging the same? Marketing the same? All our books we charge so much for spring from writings that were freely distributed because they were giving life and hope to people.

10. One of the values of Paul saying he resolved to know nothing but Christ and him crucified is that we are prone to veer into issues being the one thing we are tempted to make the main thing.

Random Thoughts at the Beginning of the Week

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1. Having loads of people in your home to listen to live music is the way to do things. Especially if the music reaches the dark beauty of the night sky.

2. A consumeristic culture’s grief will manifest itself most fully in buying up the goods of a particular celebrity. It’s shallowness will only ask, “Is this wrong?” Never asking, “Why are we doing this?”

3. The life of Jesus is a bottomless well of life-giving wisdom.

4. This is when baseball season feels as if it will never come.

5. Vivaldi (Perlman) in the quiet of the morning. With day breaking. Everyone asleep. Still. Only violins. The sound of the heater sometimes. Maybe a car passing. But still. A lone bird.

6. I am reading a book about the Acoma Tribe in New Mexico and there is a section describing how the Spanish gave many of the tribes the options of conversion or be conquered. Sounds familiar.

7. I preached for the first time in a long time this past weekend. And I really enjoyed doing so. I don’t know what to do with that.

8. When I make the effort to step outside of pop culture, I can get fresh air.

9. When I was a kid I really, really wanted Prince’s album 1999. I loved the song “Little Red Corvette” having no idea what it was about. In the liner notes, Prince thanks God. Or maybe he did in an interview or something like that and I remember trying to convince my parents this was a good reason for me to listen to buy the album. All to no avail. I think about this story and how I used Jesus, every time Christians post a “spiritual” quote or observation in the wake of a celebrity dying.

10. This song has been playing in my head for almost a year now. I’m not complaining.

 

Random Thoughts for the Weekend

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1. Last night, I looked over at my wife and she had just made this incredible meal and we were sitting there talking with friends and I thought, “all this and Jesus too?”

2. Have you ever stopped to think about how amazing food is? How it just grows and walks around for us to make into pizza and tacos?

3. There is very little value placed in thinking long and hard about our opinions and convictions in the church. And by long and hard I don’t mean hours. I mean seasons and years.

4. We are now at the time of year when the joy of watching a ballgame seems like an unimaginable pleasure.

5. I ordered a CD a couple days ago and it didn’t come with an instant download and I feel like I’m ten and I’ve just sent in 30 box tops from Count Chocula and I’m waiting for the pack of three baseball cards which will come in 4-6 weeks.

6. I’d be okay with someone stealing our televisions.

7. We’ve been visiting a church lately in which we are surrounded by heads of gray hair. It’s actually one of things I love about it. More than one of those older saints needs a wheelchair or walker. No one advertises their church with this. But they should.

8. The other night we were watching the The Gospel of John as a family and it was the scene with the woman at the well and it was really beautiful and came alive. We were trying to explain to our kids how Jesus drew in the outsiders. And then I thought about how poorly I have done that. I’m worried about property values.

9. Cool, exciting, relevant, engaging, and dynamic are not fruits of the Spirit.

10. Normally, these thoughts are mine. But I want to offer you something from someone else. Most of you know I just discovered the music of Sara Groves. This week I read a great article/interview about her struggles with depression and how it shaped her newest album. And her new album is wonderful. Below are the lyrics to the title track with a video of the song also. Enjoy.

Some hearts are built on a floodplain
Keeping one eye on the sky for rain
You work for the ground that gets washed away
When you live closer

Closer to the life and the ebb and flow
Closer to the edge of “I don’t know”
Closer to “that’s the way it goes”
Some hearts are built on a floodplain

And it’s easy to sigh on a high bluff
Look down and ask when you’ve had enough
Will you have the sense to come on up
Or will you stay closer

Closer to the danger and the rolling deep
Closer to the run and the losing streak
And what brings us to our knees
Some hearts live here

Oh the river it rushes to madness
And the water it spreads like sadness
And there’s no high ground
And there’s no high ground
Closer to the danger and the rolling deep
Closer to the run and the losing streak
And what brings us to our knees

Closer to the life and the ebb and flow
Closer to the edge of I don’t know
Closer to “Lord, please send a boat.”
Some hearts are built here

Thursday’s Random Thoughts

  
1. We started watching The Gospel of John last night. We will watch about 5 mins every night for a couple months. After we’ve discussed the scene, we’ll then pray together. Our hope is to have conversations about Jesus with our kids. I also hope for at least 10 mins every night when I won’t have to hear my boys talk about Pokemon.

2.  The NT is silent on the pursuit of our dreams.

3. Sara Groves’ new album Floodplain is a breathtaking piece of atmospheric americana. The subdued drama reminds me of Emmylou’s Wrecking Ball. And every perfect summer night on an open road. She’s also a fellow traveler through the dark night of the soul. You can hear it soft and clear.

4. The work of the cross is staggering because Jesus died for his enemies. Though he deserved to live and defend his righteousness, he died for his enemies. He died for us. The incongruity my desire to kill my enemies is also staggering.

5. For the last couple of nights, Bethany and I have sat in the den with a fire listening to music. No TV. The kind of nights you never regret.

6. I never understood how much the joy of the holidays was connected to my parents till they were gone.

7. I’ve already broken my New Year’s resolution of eating wings and pizza everyday in 2016.

8. I may be going through a midlife crisis of faith. Where my faith is steady confidence in the love of God for me despite what happens. I hope it lasts.

9. I would think a pastor who refused to kill his enemies because he loved them would be a force to reckon with.

10. I’m pretty convinced the greatest obstacle in the Christian life is fear. And that the remedy is love.

Random Thoughts at the Beginning of the Year

1. I think Jesus was saying a lot of things when he told Satan, “man doesn’t live on bread (an “essential”) alone but on every word from God’s mouth.” One thing he was certainly saying is that Matt can do without his beloved record player console because he has the Scriptures.

2. Someone mentioned the “circle of life” the other day and I assumed they were talking about pizza.

3. There were parts I liked about the new Star Wars, but there was something about it leaving me empty, with a need to fill up that space. I don’t know how else to explain it.

4. I wish I could hear Rich Mullins’ “Jesus Demos” on vinyl.

5. Our culture is infatuated with all that is gross and disturbing. Our commercials, conversations and entertainment. I have two boys I would like to go the the Philippians 4:8 direction. But that feels impossible.

6.  Thad Cockrell singing “To Be Loved”

7. I hate the snobbery rising up in me when I go to Wal-Mart. I have a “People of Wal-Mart” heart that looks nothing like Jesus’ heart for the least of these.

8. Last night we ate turnip green soup and cornbread and it was great because I’m old.

9. You know that quick moment as a parent when you have to decide whether to laugh or scold and you choose to laugh and your child’s face lights up in joy? That’s probably an echo of the grace of God we enjoy.

10. I think that as we grow in our faith, the good things we love about life change how we look at life after death. The temptation is to enjoy the things of now so much we can hardly bear the thought of losing them in death. Usually, times have to be hard for us to look forward to what is coming. But as we grow in faith and hope, all we enjoy now slowly, quietly, makes us long for the making of all things new.

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