The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Month: November, 2016

#GreatSongs: “Wessex Boy” by Frank Turner

Music has the ability to capture unique emotions and feelings which are not always easy to translate into words. There is something about the combination of lyrics and melody that breaks through the simple word-expression barrier. The song “Wessex Boy” by Frank Turner is one of those songs for me.

I am not a Brit; this statement is probably no shock to anyone reading this. But, although this song is about Frank’s hometown in England, there is something about it that reminds me of Mulberry. I was walking one of my dogs while back home for the Thanksgiving holiday -another piece of evidence that I am not British- and this song came up on my iPod. I ended up putting it on repeat as I walked the streets, finding myself stuck in a reminiscent mindset. Listen and enjoy.

Let me tell you all a little story of the things I’ve found
Hanging out and drinking with my friends in the cathedral grounds
And later dodging drunks as we dance along Jewry Street
As we wander up town to the railway our friends to meet

There’s something about coming back to your hometown again
The place where you grew up and where you found your firmest friends
And though none of them still live here, I’ve got nowhere to go
I’m a Wessex Boy and when I’m here I’m home

Let me tell you all a little story of the things I’ve lost
Huddling for warmth on the top step of the Buttercross
Sitting on the benches by the bridges at the riverside
Of counting down the hours for the buses cause I missed my ride

There’s something about coming back to your hometown again
The place where you grew up and where you found your firmest friends
And though none of them still live here, I’ve got nowhere to go
I’m a Wessex Boy, a Wessex boy and when I’m here I’m home

And one day I will hear this song anonymous and sweet
Ringing out from a busker’s guitar on the ancient city streets
I’ll stand along while and smile before I continue on the road
And somebody else will sing the words and I’ll feel like I’m home

There’s something about hometowns you never can escape
The triumphs and the tragedies and those of little faith
The welling of nostalgia and feeling kind of strange,
Cause despite the little changes yeah this place still feels the same

There’s something about coming back to your hometown again
The place where you grew up and where you found your firmest friends
And though none of them still live here, I’ve got nowhere to go
I’m a Wessex Boy
I’m a Wessex boy and when I’m here I’m home

I wish Benjamin Franklin was my neighbor.

If you clicked on my post to see why I wish Benny Franklin was my neighbor, I’m sorry. This post has nothing to do with him other than me name dropping him. I am reading Poor Richard’s Almanack, couldn’t think of a title for this post, and it happened to be sitting right by my computer desk. Sorry for the letdown- it is a really good book and worth spending a weekend with if you have never read it though.

So far, 2016 has been a crazy year filled with…well…stuff. And it can be hard to find bright spots in light of lamentable events like: the election, the Cubs winning the World Series, and the tragic death of Harambe. Clearly I am picking the REAL tragic events from this year. 

And in light of all of this, we are still expected to find something to be thankful for this week. If we look hard though, I believe we can find them.

  1. All the public unrest and fighting about differences over gender, race, orientation, etc. show me that I should be thankful that there is a whole world that needs me to show love every chance I can.
  2. All the fallout from the election demonstrates to me that I can be thankful that for my country to be great, it requires my active involvement in making a difference.
  3. The foster kids who come to our church are a perfect reminder that as a man I should be thankful that I have a call to be a father figure and role model to all young people I encounter because they need me.
  4. The death of Harambe makes me…well, let’s leave that one alone. America still needs time to heal.

This Thanksgiving season, may you find and be perpetually reminded about everything there really is to be thankful for.

Review: “Chase the Lion” by Mark Batterson

This is a review of the book Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson


If the perspective reader has not read In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day, I would recommend starting there. Regardless, if the reader has not read In a Pit, he or she will still be able to pick this book Chase the Lion and plenty out of it.

Before even getting to the content, attention should be paid to the cover of this book. It is infrequently, if ever, that I point out the quality of a book’s cover. But look at it! Black/gray scale of a lion you don’t want to mess with combined with yellow eyes… Mark Ford’s jacket design work is ace on this. But now on to the content…

In a Pit focused on taking the first steps in a journey of tackling a large fear or obstacle because of the greatness in simply going through the task alone. Batterson’s anchor to his thesis is the story of Benaiah in the Old Testament. Chase the Lion, the second part, picks up where In a Pit leaves off. But it is not necessarily a sequel. If anything, it is a repackaging of the core concepts in the first book with more and better elaboration.

Batterson’s writing does something unique in that he can take a point and find multiple real-world examples to support the idea. While from the motivational aspect, Chase the Lion does a great job of further emphasizing things to consider when we choose to chase our lions, the really impactful piece to this book is the copious amounts of real-world anecdotes that Batterson uses which really do the talking. This book is worth reading just for the stories of others who may have been in similar situations and come out on top.

Chase the Lion is a solid book choice. Whether read for personal improvement, team/small-group study, or just as a leisure read, the perspective reader will not be wasting his or her time reading this book.

I received my copy of this book for free through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for writing a review on it. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

#GreatSongs: “Break My Heart Sweetly” by John Moreland

In the past I have done the random post here and there about a song that is currently rocking my world, but as we look towards the last month and a half of the year I have decided to formalize it. This is the first entry in a series referred to as #GreatSongs.

I wish I could sing like this guy. I wish I could finger-pick with the subtlety and nuance this guy does. I wish I could write chilling lyrics like this guy.

“Break My Heart Sweetly” is one of those songs that the first time it started playing, I literally stopped every activity I was doing and sat and listened. I encourage you to push play, turn the volume up, and do nothing for the next 4:33. You can email me a thank-you when you’re done.

Break My Heart Sweetly
I swore the days were over, courting empty dreams
I worshiped at the altar of losing everything
And the guard I held together is losing all its shape
And in my head you look so gorgeous, it’s keeping me awake

There’s a scar on my soul, so let me down easy
Break my heart sweetly, like you always do
I guess I can’t let go til you wreck me completely
Break my heart sweetly, drape me in blue

I was never scared of nothing, I thought I had a home
Life went and broke me open, cause I carried it alone
I’m finding all this well worn sadness I never knew I kept
And I still chase you into heartache every time you take a step

I swore the days were over, courting empty dreams
I worshiped at the altar of losing everything
And you had a halo made of diamonds, resting on your head
I should be dealing with my demons, but I’m dodging them instead

What if it is all an act?

I had a crazy thought earlier this week. I actually had it while I was listening to a rebroadcasting of Mr. Trump’s victory speech- rebroadcasting because I am a teacher and I go to bed on my couch at 8 P.M. before going to bed for real around 10 P.M. Here was my thought:

Donald Trump is a showman who knows how to captivate an audience. What if everything he has said that is inflammatory, offensive, etc. is really just the front the “showman” put on in order drastically to separate himself from Clinton?

It’s something to think about.

In the days since the election, Trump has been dialed back, reserved, even going as far as to talk about unity in the Country and that we need to work together. His tone was reserved and almost dignified during the press conference after his meeting with President Obama. Paul Ryan, a man who has clashed extensively with Trump, has been seen in public with Trump after the election. Trump has acted close to presidential.

If this is all a showman’s act, which community of sheep did this Wolf do a better job of fooling? Did he better fool the ones who elected him into Office hoping that his caustic rhetoric would be toned down and that he would govern effectively, or the ones who voted against him who have no gone to the point of rioting?

Of course, if Trump is really a wolf in wolf’s clothing, then this whole meditation is for naught and I am just a fool.

Review: NKJV Study Bible

This is a review of The Study Bible: NKJV from Thomas Nelson Publishers.

I have read through many Bible translations: ESV, NIV, The Message, NLT, New Jerusalem Bible, and NRSV to name a few. Another translation on my “have read” list is the New King James Version. Of the translations I have read, I find the NKJV to be a more scholarly translation in that it preserves the general flow and some of the more challenging higher-level wording of the King James Version, while overall bringing the text into a readability for the modern individual.

For the individual who is interested in studying the Bible, whether for academics, exploration of an unfamiliar set of texts, personal devotions, or a combination of the three, a study Bible is the way to go, and after having gone through the Study Bible: NKJV second edition from Thomas Nelson, I highly recommend it as one to consider using.

The resources in this book are invaluable, from the verse commentaries which run throughout each chapter at the bottom of the pages, to parallel verse notes in the middle margins, to Hebrew and Greek word study notes with corresponding Strong’s numbers. The articles written by contributing editors are a good resource on their own and could be collected as a separate book and be useful on their own. I found the notes and articles in the Minor Prophets to be especially helpful.

The topical, annotation, and subject concordances make finding specific things in this edition of the Bible faster. Going back to talk about the verse commentaries, the editors do a good job of balancing academic commentary with personal engagement commentary; I appreciated reading the notes and feeling like I was actually looking at the personal study notebook of a Biblical scholar.

For all the information packed into this book, its size is deceptively small and I expected quite a bit of eyestrain trying to read which I did not get. This study Bible is a solid choice for both a Bible newbie or a seasoned veteran. I cannot recommend this one enough.

I received my copy of the Bible for free through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for writing a review on it. I was not obligated to post a positive review; the views expressed are my own. And I would contend anyone who reads through this Bible and its materials will most likely agree with the contents of this review.

Carrying the fire.

Ever since it came out in 2006, I have been in love with the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Since I first bought my own copy in 2007, I have owned three copies and have given them away. FULL DISCLOSURE: Until this book came out, I was not familiar with McCarthy or any of his previous work, though after reading The Road I remedied that quickly. A mentor of mine, Craig Overman, told me to read it. So I did. In one sitting. I sat down at 8:30 on a Friday night and put it down at 4:00 on Saturday morning.

The writing is bleak and in the style of William Faulkner is short on punctuation, such as quotation marks. But there is plenty of dialogue. The story revolves around a man and his son who are traveling through the United States after what is most likely a nuclear disaster has struck the country. They are trying to find a warmer climate in the South and while migrating that direction are scavenging and trying to avoid marauders and cannibalistic, post-apocalyptic gangs of violent murderers. The man in the story becomes sick and is trying to do all he can to ensure the boy does not become sick.

I love the writing, but there is something beyond that in the book that I love. Brett McKay from the Art of Manliness does a beautiful job of articulating it in a blog post recently titled “Carry the Fire.” At the time the book came out, I had just turned 21 and was learning what it really means to be a man. There is a phrase the man and the boy refer to repeatedly called, “carrying the fire.” It is the perfect metaphor for being a beacon of all that integrity, honesty, and goodness in this world stands for. It is a message just as relevant today as ever.

If the reader of this blog has never read The Road, make it a priority before whoever wins the election on Tuesday takes Office; because no matter who wins, this country is going to need its citizens to stand up and carry the fire to make this country fulfill the greatness it has always been destined to have.