At the start of my twenties I decided I would commit this decade to learning everything I could. These ten years are to be learning, in the hopes I will become a life long learner. With the move back to Illinois barreling at us and this chapter of my life closing I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned in the past four years in fortune cookie length. Fifty insights won’t even begin to cover all I’ve learned but it’s a start.
1. God’s sovereignty is Cosmic Ease. Picture it: He makes his enemies his footstool. God lounges on His enemies. Certainly This is not beyond His purview.
2. Taste is subjective. Like whatever you like. Of course, that doesn’t make what you like good. It just means you like it and nobody can shame you for that. It actually might suck but get on with your bad self that Big Mac won’t eat itself.
3. My taste is not necessarily good.
4. Comic Sans and Papyrus are awful fonts. Bold text is meant to emphasize something not to make something more readable; so a Title should be bolded but not a Sub-Title and never the bulk text. Bright Red against a Bright Blue is garish and hard to read. A line of text, graphically speaking, should never have just one word on it or else it’s an Orphan or Widow. We read in chunks so it is better for text on a screen to be presented in a chunk. Everything should be in service to the “audience.”
5. People are trying, give ‘em grace.
6. No one is exclusively their political issue.
7. There is no true Scotsman.
8. Reading a novel is never a waste of time. Watching a TV show might be, but damn, if it isn’t nice to crack open a beer and turn your brain off for an hour or ten.
9. It doesn’t necessarily have to be written and shared. It should probably be written though.
10. The Devil is in the details. Execute everything with precision. But if you flub a line or miss a note take heart because chances are the only people who noticed are You and you’re too hard on yourself, your wife who’s seen you naked and still loves you, God who loves sinners like you, and the Devil who’s a pissant anyways.
11. It was not necessarily better back in the day. Nostalgia for something that only existed on television or in your foggy memory is a poor substitute for hope.
12. Click tracks are for rehearsal. Turn the metronome off when live.
13. You are what you eat. If you want to play sick guitar solos: listen to and study sick guitar solos. If you want to write good poems: read and study good poems. If you want to be a Big Mac…
14. Words have meanings we didn’t decide. Use them well, use them carefully. We cannot arbitrarily say that when X has meant X for a millennium it now means Y. We’ve not been given the authority.
15. Don’t be too impressed with yourself, the joke’s not as funny as you think.
16. The Bible is a fascinating and weird book. Much like its Subject it won’t do what we want it to do. It’s best to just go with the flow and trust the text. There’s no need to force it to be something it’s not, like Safe-For-the-Whole-Family.
17. The medium is the message.
18. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Less is always more. Just because you can play all the notes doesn’t mean you should. One perfect note in the Courts of the Lord is better than a thousand flashy notes elsewhere.
19. Drummers are not wild animals, they don’t belong in cages. If you love them set them free.
20. Everything a human can feel is found in the Psalms. There our humanity is validated and our broken bones get set by a loving Healer.
21. Delete every “that”, it’s unnecessary.
22. Go slow. Giving things time and space to simmer usually reduces the superfluous details and makes the tasty bits tastier. This is true in music, writing, leadership. This is not true in relationships. I could respond to phone calls, texts, tweets, Facebook messages, emails a bit quicker. So I’ve heard. But everywhere else slower is better. Why do today what could be put off to tomorrow*?
* Provided you actually do it tomorrow, of course.
23. It’s okay to be in a dark place, it’s not okay to be a jerk.
24. Nothing quite like getting in the pocket and grooving hard.
25. The three extra characters in “thanks” doesn’t save enough time to ever make “thx” appropriate when writing to a colleague nor does it justify the gradual detriment and erosion that kind of short hand has on the English language.
26. We need both the Law and the Gospel. If the Law never wounds us then how could the Gospel ever heal us? And if we don’t know where we erred how do we ever do better next time?
27. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you’re not a jerk. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. It’s better to be kind and Something than right but Nothing.
28. Kiss Alyssa then kiss Atticus then kiss Alyssa again. Rinse and repeat. Be late to work.
29. People don’t do what they’re told. They do what they love. If you want to change someone’s behavior you’re better off not changing what they do but changing their heart. And only God can do that. So how about you do you and let God do God?
30. Fewer people are out to get you than you’d like to believe.
31. “God helps those who help themselves” is a contemporary form of Semi-Pelagianism. Pelagius was a British monk who denied the doctrine of original sin. Pelagius affirmed that humans can be righteous by the exercising of their free will. Full Pelagianism is the belief that we choose God instead of God choosing us. Semi-Pelagianism is letting “God be our co-pilot” which the Roman Catholic Church condemned in 418 AD, a millennium and a half before it was a popular bumper sticker.
32. Brussel sprouts taste fine.
33. Genre only exists to make you spend your hard earned money. Don’t buy something simply because some white guy in a suit in a cubicle has decided it’s Christian. God’s Not Dead is hardly Christian. It’s hardly film. And don’t ignore something simply because some white guy in a suit in a cubicle has decided it isn’t for you. Grey’s Anatomy is great.
34. There’s no point in our going if God doesn’t go with us. Why even get out of bed? “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Exodus 33.15
35. Taylor Swift writes a fine song.
36. Just because you don’t think X means X doesn’t mean that X means Y. It most definitely means X.
37. Incurvatus in Se: “Scripture describes man as so curved in upon himself [Incurvatus in Se] that he uses not only physical but even spiritual goods for his own purposes and in all things seeks only himself” (Luther’s Works, vol. 25, p.345, see also pp. 291-92)
38. Trust your mom.
39. Jack Daniels is not for sipping. How’d it take me that long to figure this out? If it’s the only alcohol available and you absolutely need to have a drink (you don’t) put some Dr. Pepper in it and be about your business. Do not sip. Better yet just drink water or milk.
40. The Pantoum is a form of poetry made up of quatrains where the second and fourth lines of each stanza become the first and third line of the next. And it’s the best.
41. God knows the answer already and asks the question anyways. “But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3.9
42. A Straw Man argument is an informal logical fallacy where someone gives the impression of refuting an opponents argument, when in fact they argument refuted was never advanced by said opponenet. First, Person One asserts X. Then Person Two argues against a superficially similar argument Y, falsely, as if an argument against Y was an argument against X.
43. Social Media is the damp and moist environment where Straw Men, Ad Hominen, and other illogical fungi grows. Consider most posts about Millennials and President Obama.
44. A bad system is better than no system.
45. Everything can be better than it currently is.
46. Saying your sorry is not enough. Mean it. Make up for it. Set things right. Or, as my boy Daniel Tiger says… no, sings it: Saying I’m sorry is the first step, then how can I help?
47. Most people mean well.
48. Someone disagreeing with you doesn’t mean they’re wrong and you’re right.
49. An average musician with a great character is better than a great musician with an average character.
50. The enemy of faith is not doubt but certainty.