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Archive for April, 2006

Mr. Automatic


The Red Sox (temporarily?) broke out of their slump last night.  I was pretty disgusted up until then.  I don't want to waste the precious few games I get to see with miserable loses.  The wife was, "you're not enjoying this are you?".  But the boys, led by Manny (except for the long sequence in which he struck out with the bases loaded), came from behind to take the lead in the 9th.  In came Mr. Automatic- Jonathan Papelbon.  Now 10 saves in 10 opportunities.  They have returned to first, where we hope they will stay.

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Golden Gopher Laurence Maroney, a running back was picked by the Patriots in the first round.  With their backs getting older, they felt the need to grab only the 2nd back taken in the draft.  Belichek compared his style to the Edge.  If he's 2/3 the back of James, he should help the Patriots long-term.  Although they had tried him out, talked to him and given him the tour of Gillette, he was surprised to be picked by them.  So surprised, he was actually in the bathroom when they called, rather than waiting patiently as their turn drew neigh. 

In 3 years as a Gopher, he split time in the backfield the first 2.  Still, with only one season as a starter, he racked up over 3,900 yards.  He's had some long runs for TDs too.  In his 3rd season, he also caught 17 passes.

Florida Gator wide receiver Chad Johnson (the Jollyblogger should be smiling) was taking in the 2nd round.  The Patriots moved up to grab him by trading their 2nd and 3rd round picks.

The highlight reel showed some great catches.  The guy has good hands, and some speed.  He adapted well in the coaching change they had in Gainesville.

In the 3rd round the Patriots added (another) tight end, David Thomas from Texas.  A 3-year starter, he was captain last year.  He's used to winning, and was the most productive TE in their history.  He grabbed 10 catches for 88 yards in the Rose Bowl.  His nickname was DT (Deep Threat).  As a Senior, 10 of his 40 receptions were for more than 20 yards.

They also took Memphis kicker Steve Gostkowski in the 4th round.  He was 9-9 beyond 40 yards. 

Also taken in the 4th round was another tight end, Garrett Mills from Tulsa.  He could find himself lining up as an full or H-back and in motion.

It all looks good on paper  thus far.  But, the real deal won't be known until they take the field.

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O Sweet Mercy


I don't usually listen to Mercy Me, so I have nothing to say of much substance aside from this: where's the cross?  Of course, my knowledge of their songs is quite limited, so forgive me if this is inaccurate. 

I reviewed the Newsboys Love, Liberty, Disco for a magazine in the late 90's.  That was my complaint.  They apparently read it, and more of their songs address this very essential, and distinctive truth.

The NYT piece on Mercy Me points out what happens when you neglect this- love songs to Jesus that are no different from love songs to my wife/husband/lover etc.  Between Two Worlds has excerpts from the piece for those who don't subscribe (now if Justin can only open links in new windows).  Here is Dick Straub's take on all this cultural inferiority & the big business mind-set.

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Medical Practice


I had a mole removed this week.  I hadn't noticed the bumps on it before.  I actually don't mind, because I get to pick the brain of my doctor.  This will come to a sad end, since he will soon be moving to Wyoming to run clinics on the Reservation.  My family will miss him and his unique style of practicing medicine.

But we talked about why it is so difficult to practice medicine in Florida.  He said that for a family practice, malpractice was not too bad (unlike some of the specialties).  But he is weary of defensive medicine.  This is having to run lots of test to CYB so you won't get sued.  This drives up the cost of health insurance (as if the lawsuits didn't create enough problems and drive up the cost enough).

The point is, a good doctor, can accurately diagnose your problem without many tests much of the time.  Obviously, bad doctors still can't seem to diagnose you regardless.  But, to prevent a lawsuit in the event you weren't perfect, you now have to run lots of unnecessary tests.  This costs $ people, and it is passed on to all with health insurance.

I mentioned a possible ER-effect (much like how CSI has affected juries).  On ER they are ordering tests like they're going out of style- and free.  I suspect that people now think that's what doctors do- order tests.  Actually, younger doctors are becoming more dependent on the test rather than actually listening to their patients (novel concept).

The hypocondriachs don't help either.  They go from doctor to doctor racking up tests.  And health insurance fosters the test-taking mentality.  The doctor isn't paid for his diagnosis (based on lots of education and experience)- only for the tests he runs or procedures he performs.  This is a vicious cycle folks.

And don't get him started on universal health care.  "People don't need health insurance.  People need food.  Soon the government will start trying to provide filet mignon to everybody."  With health insurance, the many cover the few.  That's great if you choose to do that.  But, once again, the government wants to force you to (and that works so well with welfare).

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Sports Slump


Ho-hum.  For me the NBA is over until we gear up for the draft.  The Celtics didn't make the playoffs, so I'm not too interested right now (much to my wife's delight).  There are no teams that excite me.  About the most exciting part would be waiting for Rasheed or Artest to draw T's and Flagrant Fouls.

The Sox are slumping- which is unfortunate since I'm actually able to watch some of these games on ESPN or local TV when they play the Rays.  I will say the umps have not helped.  Horrible calls have plagued the last few games.  Most have gone against the Sox, but some have gone the other way.  But to hear the Rays announcers whine when one finally goes against them….. please.  Oh, and I'm really not liking the Bronson Arroyo-Wily Mo Pena trade right about now.  We could actually use another consistent pitcher (Clement gives me fits, I tell you).  That may change in the future- but so far the Reds got the better part of the deal.  Like the rest of us, Theo isn't perfect.

The Pats…… the NFL draft is a snoozer.  It is nearly impossible to keep track of college players.  I don't know who 97% of these guys are.  I trust Bill & Scott to bring in players who will thrive in New England.  Why should this year be any different?

Hockey……. maybe I should rent Slap Shot and listen to the commentary by the Hanson Brothers.  The Bruins… well… really stink.  The GM got canned (finally).  The Duke lacrosse scandal is more interesting at this point- and that is a pathetic state of affairs all around.

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Sorry, but I just can't seem to get into attending all the big conferences.  Part of it is personal.  Before being a pastor- they were GREAT!  As a pastor, I find my greatest need during study leave it to get away with a few books, some peace & quiet, and not increase the pace of life with another conference.

Part of it is financial.  As a small church pastor, there aren't the resources to fly hither and yon, and staying at hotels, meals etc.

This is not meant to be critical of conferences.  I just wish I could benefit from more of them than I currently do (and there are more of them all the time- Westminster Today, Twin Lakes, etc).

Adrian Warnock wants T4G to put out the messages on DVD.  I'd be all for that.  Spread the word, let Adrian, or T4G know, and maybe they will be overwhelmed with inquiries such that this good stuff will be available, particularly for those of us who can't get to these things.  I could view, and process, a few on study leave.

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I finally finished Vertigo: Live in Chicago the other morning while I made breakfast for the family.  My daughter & I were dancing to the last third of the concert.  They really picked it up for the encore.

The material from Achtung Baby seems less cynical, which is nice.  The performance was great.

Except for Bono’s extended speeches.  My thoughts on one of the earlier ones in in the archive.  Before One he got excited about ending world hunger- the task of this generation in his mind.  He compared it to putting a man on the moon.

It sure rallies some folks up- but there is no comparison here.  One has to do with conquering physical limitations and mastering scientific realities.  The other is mastering the human heart.

What Bono hasn’t figured out in the 20 years since Live Aid is that the main problem driving world hunger is not the leaders of the West.  It is largely the greed of the 3rd World leaders.

A friend returned from a trip to Africa recently.  One of the things she was going to do was help Samaritan’s Purse distribute packs of food to the poor.  Ah, guess again.  The local officials wanted many thousands of dollars in brides to allow this to take place.  So, the food and other items sat, and sat, and probably still sit.  Greed is the problem- and the only cure is Jesus.  Calling the White House on the cell (I remember he used to call Bush 41 on the Zooropa Tour) won’t end world hunger.  Unfortunately, because of greed, and the curse (Gen. 3) which makes our agricultural efforts more difficult, the poor will be with us until the end.

It doesn’t mean we should not have compassion.  But it does mean that we have to be realitic about the effect of our efforts, and wise in the efforts we make.  To paraphrase the late Frank Zappa, “Bono, shut up and sing!”  Really, that is what Bono does best.

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Mommy’s Little Helper


It is just amazing to watch my little girl grow up (a whole 16 months next week).  She'll pick up gardening tools and join my wife in the flower beds.  She was playing with the dustpan & brush the other day.  She's little miss domestic.

After practicing on the dog for awhile, she now has begun to kiss us.  Her vocabulary grows weekly.  The whole process is just astounding to this long-time bachelor.

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Manny's slump is OVER.

He's now up around .300 and starting to drive the ball.

 This bodes well for the Sox, who haven't really been lighting it up on offense thus far.  But they are still atop the AL East thanks to better pitching and defense.

Papi provides his usual power (9 homers thus far) and Lowell has been a big, pleasant surprise.  Word is, he adjusted his swing to be less of a pull hitter last year.  This year, he's back to pulling the ball.  GREAT!

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I was wonder what had happened to the Jollyblogger this week.  He's been MIA with a stomach bug.  Visit him and wish him a speedy recovery.

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From God is the Gospel:

“Answered prayer is based on Jesus’ priestly intercession for us, and that intercession is based on the blood he shed to remove our sins and release the flood of prayer-answering grace.”

This would be why God does not hear the prayers of non-Christians lest they be prayers of repentance.  Jesus’ blood is too precious for God to answer prayer of the merely sincere.  All answered prayer is owed to the gospel.

Piper spends some time in James 4, undressing our corrupt motives in prayer.  “It’s because we ask God for things to indulge our desires that are not desires for him.”

Often we want money so our lives can be easier and we can take great vacations.  I recently had a desire to make a bundle of cash, so I could own a big, home with a big yard so I could adopt children abandoned by their parents.  This would reveal the adoptive love of God (Ephesians 1).  God may not answer that prayer, because maybe I can’t really be trusted with all that money.  Maybe that is a fleeting desire soon to be replaced by big TVs, big cars, lush vacations and cosmetic surgery.

If the people James wrote to had corrupt motives in prayer, we probably do too.

“You would not be honored if I thanked you often for your gifts to me but had no deep and spontaneous regard for you as a person.”  That’s what they did, and this is what we do often enough.  Our joy is not in God, but in His gifts.

“If gratitude for the gospel is not rooted in the glory of God beneath the gift of God, it is disguised idolatry.”

This is why the Westminster Shorter Catechism, answer #1 reads “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  But every good gift also comes with a temptation to love it more than Him.  It is a struggle to keep our hearts from from idolatry.  It’s like trying to keep the weeds out of your lawn- seemingly inevitable.

He wraps up with Augustine (finally) “He loves Thee too little who loves anything together with Thee which he loves not for Thy sake.”

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Let's see, the only evidence these guys attacked her would appear to be her id from a photo array.

The evidence that one of the 2 men arrested for this crime did not commit it sounds very compelling to me (phone logs, ATM receipts, cabbie testimony, ID on the dorm security log).

I smell politics, and at least one of these two young men is being punished without cause (slandered, suspended, spending $ on a defense he shouldn't need).  How do you recover by being 'abused' by a corrupt, injust, system?  He can no more get his life back than can this woman.  He seems just as much a victim in the quest for immediate justice (which is often injustice).  But the very people who are supposed to be holding the DA accountable, are the ones driving him to act quickly, foolishly, recklessly and immorally.

For too many publicity hounds who have descended upon the Chapel Hill area, the goal is to get a guy, NOT the guys.  Odd, coming from African-Americans who should know the pain of false accusation, and being "a guy" instead of "the guy."  Some people seem bent on committing the same sin they despise in other races.  This story grows sadder by the day.

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“It’s the line between God-cherishing gratitude and gift-cherishing idolatry.”

Piper’s thinking in God is the Gospel is not novel, tracing back at least as far as Augustine.  But it is quite on target.  We tend to exalt the gift over the Giver (oh, what insane people we are).  We have a tendency to shrink God’s glory by making all His gifts about us.  We think of things in terms of how they benefit us.  That is okay, if we then use that to direct us back to God, the Giver.  What I mean is, we are far more concerned with ourselves than God is.  We worship ourselves, and so have a tendency to use God to get our way.  This is idolatry just as much as bowing down to Baal, Chemosh or Asherah.

“The ultimate aim of the incarnation was that through Christ people would see the Lordship of Christ and the glory of God.”

From Romans 5:10-11, Piper shows that the goal of reconciliation “is that we ‘rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’  God is the focus of the reconciliation.”

“It doesn’t take a new heart to want the psychological relief of forgiveness, or the removal of God’s wrath, or the inheritance of God’s world.”

This last one ought to rock our world.  It does, however, take a new heart to want God Himself, and to receive Him on God’s terms.  Evangelism often offers people things they may already want, but not God Himself, and offered on terms they can live with.

“So nothing can separate us from Christ’s love, not because Christ’s love protects us from harm, but because it protects us from the ultimate harm of unbelief and separation for the love of God.  The gospel gift of God’s love is better than life.”

Piper sums it up this way: “The aim of the gospel is not an easy life.  It is a deeper knowledge of God and deeper trust in God.”

God brings us through difficult straits, trials that deepen our knowledge and trust of God.  We need to go deeper, but we don’t unless pain goads on us.  As long as life is comfortable, we seek God at our convenience.  Suffering propels His children to seek Him intently and intensely.

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Vicente & Co. want us to be nice to their citizens who happen to enter this nation illegally.  I understand, they are concerned about their citizens.  Not concerned enough to improve their economy and reduce corruption, but they like the flow of money into Mexico.

The National Human Rights Commission has found that the Mexican government, and its officials, have far less compassion than we do- often utilizing extortion and sexually abusing women.  Read more.

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Curt Schilling is BACK!

 1.64 ERA

16 Ks to only 3 walks

 .64 WHIP

 And better than ever?!

 Josh Beckett is Pumped!

 3-0

1.29 ERA

 1.05 WHIP

Jonathan Papelbon Shuts the Door!

6 Saves in 6 opportunities

0.00 ERA

6 Ks and 0 walks

.29 WHIP

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Adrian Warnock makes note of the EA's concern over Chalke's denial of the substitutionary penal atonement (which is echoed by McLaren).  They (Chalke & McLaren) claim the penal (punishment) aspect to substitutionary atonement was added by the Reformers.  They claim it is not to be found in Anselm, for instance.  I will supply some choice selections from Anselm later (the book is at home).

But… in researching Arminianism for SS, I ran across this from the New Dictionary of Theology, under Arminianism.

(more…)

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I decided to put in a link to Samuel Storms' initial response to Colson's piece in CT.  These are pretty much the pieces that sparked the internet debate on many a blog.

As you look at the lyrics of the 'offending' song- Draw Me Close– one thing not mentioned by either party is that this is, in part, a song of repentance.  The singer realizes they have lost their way by cherishing someone/something other than God.  Such songs are to be heart-felt (and Storms uses some solid bibical and Edwardsian arguments for that), not theologically complex.  If I have one complaint, it would be: Where's the cross?  (Yet, as Dr. Pratt reminded us- you can't say everything anytime you say anything…)

But this leads me to one of my soapboxes shared by our worship planning team.  Where are the songs of repentance?  The Psalms are filled with them, but not our hymn or song books.  This is not a traditional/contemporary thing- both have a glaring lack.  How can we teach & foster repentant hearts if we don't put some words to it?  We need more repentance songs!

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Some quotes and thoughts from chapter 8 of Piper’s book God is the Gospel:

“the good news of forgiveness awakens the pain of remorse as well as the joy of release.”

True forgiveness has both experiences.  True repentance includes godly sorrow, for the evil of the act (not just the lousy consequences).  Unless we are captivated by God and His glory, we won’t experience godly sorrow.  But this sorrow is not the end of the story, we don’t stay there.

“To weep savingly over not possessing God as your treasure, he must have become precious to you.  The gospel awakens sorrow for sin by awakening a savor for God.”

Often we do not weep over our sin precisely because He is not precious to us.  But…

“God aims that his glory be seen and savored in the gospel so clearly that the power of Satan is broken, and it becomes plain to all that the sweetness of the crucified Christ is more powerful than the enticements of Satan.”

Lest we think this is some kind of easy ticket, Piper continues: “The path of love that leads from the cross of Christ to the glory of Christ is a road of sacrifice.”

We make these sacrifices because we have a better, everlasting treasure: Jesus.

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From God is the Gospel

“God’s glory consists much in the fact that he is happy beyond all our imagination. … No one would want to spend eternity with an unhappy God.  If God were unhappy, then the goal of gospel would not be a happy goal, and that means it would be no gospel at all.”

How often we do think of Him as happy as opposed to thinking of Him as angry?  It probably indicates much about the nature of our relationship with Him, or lack thereof.  This is a God we can delight in.

“Three things stand in the way of our complete satisfaction in this world.  One is that nothing here has a personal worth great enough to meet the deepest longings of our hearts.  Another is that we lack the strength to savor the best treasures to their maximum worth.  And the third obstacle to complete satisfaction is that our joys here come to an end.”

As the venerable Mick put it- “I can’t get no satisfaction, and I tried….”.  Yet, crazy fools are we, to continue to seek our satisfaction in the world and the things thereof.  No food, sex, sports, cars, house, entertainment, technological device etc. is sufficient to satisfy all our deepest longings.  As Augustine put it, “our hearts are restless”.  We are, as Calvin said, idol factories, exalting created things to the place only the Creator can fill.

“If God’s pleasure in the Son becomes our pleasure, then the object of our pleasure, Jesus, will be inexhaustible in personal worth.  He will never become boring or disappointing or frustrating.”

Additionally, He can give us the strength to more fully savor Him by faith.  And (!) He lives forever.  If we rest in Him (to complete Augustine’s statement) we will forever be satisfied in Him.  If we are bored, disappointed or frustrated, it is a pretty good sign that we are actually looking to someone/something else for our satisfaction than the glad God who gladly offers Himself to His people for their gladness.  A large part of ministry is declaring the latter and exposing the former that we might turn from our idols to worship the living God (1 Thes. 1).

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New Contracts


I was excited to see yesterday that:

1. Coco Crisp signed an extension w/the Red Sox. He still comes at less than half of what we would have had to pay Johnny Damon. These means we have money for depth, which as we see right now (with Coco on the DL w/a finger injury, and Trot out with a pulled groin) is important.

2. Richard Seymour remains a Patriot long-term. This is INCREDIBLE news. The defense really suffered while he was out last year. Now, if we can just get a receive to complement Branch…

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