Archive for May, 2006

Lest they pull away from the Yankees (who suffer from their own injury problems), the Red Sox have had a rash of injuries.

Wells is back on the DL after having a line drive bounce off his knee cap.  Timlin is there with a sore shoulder.  Wily Mo Pena will have surgery on his wrist and be out 4-6 weeks.  Thankfully, Coco Crisp is back.  Speaking of backs, Manny's back has been bothering him.  You couldn't tell from his last homestand though.  He hit monster numbers.  Clement probably should go on the DL- if just to get his head together, if not also for his ankle.  And let's not forget Mark Loretta's toe.  He was having an awesome May, so this is disappointing.

Alas, what would September be if these 2 titans weren't slugging it out for the division.  So they are also keeping pace in the injury department.  Hitting and defense will be fine.  It's the pitching I am worried about.  Although he would have been greatly overpriced, it would have been great to see Roger end his career where it began.

Not to be outdone, the Celtics have Perkins recuperating from surgery performed this week.  Wally World is recovering from knee surgery, and Dan Dickau is still recovering from a ruptured tendon.

Update: Not to be outdone- Mike Lowell came up with a pulled hammy during last nights game.  At least he earned it trying to score on a single.

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Alias Finale

It  was okay.  Not great, but okay.  I knew Tom (was that his name) was going to choose to be blown up.

I was yelling at Sydney, "who are you, Dr. Evil?  Kill Sloane for crying out loud!"  It wasn't until he filled his old friend full of lead that Sydney finally shot the evil snake.  Then she continued to refuse to kill her just as evil mother.  She's too soft, I tell you!  I'm surprised she hadn't been killed 20 times over the way she waffles on these things.

But Sloane's demise, so to speak, was appropriate.  Alive forever, but trapped in a dark, underground chamber.  Aw Yeah!

Like the symbolism at the end, as their daughter put the puzzle together (and why was that among Syd's stuff?) but knocked it down before anyone saw, 'rejecting' the life of an agent.  Or something like that.

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In MA, aka taxachusettes, they refuse to comply with a federal law allowing public housing to ask if someone is in the country illegally.  Once again the disingenuous cry of 'discrimination' is raised against such a supposedly heinious crime.

I'm sorry, but public housing should be for citizens and legal immigrants.  People like my grandmother, who lived in public housing for some time, in that illustrious state, should rightfully have first crack.  In no way should law breakers be allowed to suck up even more of the tax payers money. 

On a similar note- why do we need NEW immigration laws.  Isn't the problem merely that we have refused to enforce the laws that are already on the books.  Can't the executive branch (hey, Mr. President- I voted for you) say 'hey, we've been negligent for many years, and many presidencies.  But now we are going to enforce the laws of this land.'  End the charade, and bring common sense back to Washington.  PLEASE.

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After scanning my new copy of CT, I sense a big bruhaha coming in evangelical circles.  And the first rounds may have just been fired.  Intelligent Design is a scientific position that essentially says that natural processes alone cannot account for all that we observe today.  That is as far as it goes, for General Revelation (creation) does not itself reveal how the universe came to be, or that Jesus is the Creator, Ruler, Sustainer and Savior of Creation (of which humanity is a part).  As William Dembski recently said after the discovery of a 375 million year-old fossil believed by some to be the 'missing link':  "Intelligent Design does not so much challenge whether evolution occurred but how it occurred.  In particular, it questions whether purposeless material processes- as opposed to intelligence- can create biological complexity and diversity."

In essence, Dembski is advocating, it appears, a form of Creative Evolution.  This is not a new position, but has been around for over 100 years.  It seeks to honor both Scripture and scientific discoveries.  It seeks to harmonize General and Special Revelation.  As such, it seems to compromise truth in the eyes of many.

Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, criticized ID this way: "What good is it if people believe in intelligence?  That's no different than atheism in that if it's not the God of the Bible, it's not Jesus Christ, it's not salvation."

Oddly, among the Passages in CT one page prior to these quotes, I found "Selected- Kurt Wise, as director of the Center for Theology and Science at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.  Wise, a creationist, will replace William Dembski, a leading proponent of Intelligent Design.  Dembski resigned to teach closer to home at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas."


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With the holiday, I spent some time this morning catching up on Morning and Evening.  I'd fallen a bit behind in previous weekends.  And there was plenty there to chew on.

5/19 "Upstarts frequently usurp the highest places, while the truly great pine in obscurity.  This is a riddle in providence whose solution will one day gladden the hearts of the upright; … The world is upside down, and therefore, the first are last and the last first. … Patience, then, believer, eternity will right the wrongs of time."

I've really been struggling with this lately.  I pine away in obscurity, like most of humanity.  I doubt though that I am truly great.  But it can be trying to see people pursuing insignificant vocations prospering while you struggle.  Or those who are corrupt prospering.  I've been wrestling with my portion of fulitity, my experience of the curse.  Alas, one day all the wrongs shall be righted.


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Memorial Day Movies

In honor of our vets, and the sacrifices they made, I thought I'd do a list of my favorite war movies (not just military movies) that portray the bravery, and obstacles they overcame for freedom.

Movies of My Youth

The Sands of Iwo Jima– John Wayne was a walking propoganda film (which isn't necessarily bad).  This is one of my favorites, but I enjoyed many a John Wayne movie.

Midway– you had to have seen it in sensaround for the battle scenes.

A Bridge Too Far– all-star cast.  Just watched part of it the other day and realized that Anthony Hopkins was in it.

The Great Escape– another all-star cast and some great characters.  Watching Charles Bronson afraid and crying….. prototypical Steve McQueen stole the show, as usual.

The Big Red One– a gritty Lee Marvin and a young Mark Hamel from N. Africa to Europe.

The Adult Years

Saving Private Ryan– truly incredible film.  Hanks' portrayal of a man coming apart at the seams it great.  These men did not understand all they were to do, but still finished the mission at great personal cost.

We Were Soldiers– great the see the role of faith in the part of Mel Gibson's character.  He saw soldiering as his vocation (Gene Veith would be proud).

U-571– no, not because Jon Bon Jovi was in it.

The Patriot– a great, emotional film as a man comes to term with his past in the course of fighting for the life of his family.  He's torn because he hates who he becomes.  Another man of faith, struggling to make sense of his calling in a time of bloodshed he didn't ask for.

To End All Wars– a fascinating film.  Kiefer played an American, so it fits in this catagory.  It is about the power of sacrifice and forgiveness.

Glory– an inspiring movie about men fighting for their own freedom and the prejudices that still existed in the hearts of their fellow soldiers.  Even in their own hearts.  Great performance from Denzel Washington, a young Denzel.  He and Hanks are truly THE actors of our time.

Wartime Films Not About America

Schindler's List– if you don't weep, you may not be a real human.  The protrayal of loving sacrifice in the midst of such profound evil is beyond words.  Thankfully Jesus won't be lamenting like Oskar at the end of time.

Enemy at the Gates– very gritty, dark and bleak, but it was the battle for Stalingrad for cryin' out loud.

Braveheart– awesome movie about the longing for freedom and the courage to try even if you personally won't benefit.  Hey, the 3rd Mel Gibson film.  He has matured greatly in terms of the projects he takes.

Paradise Road– a story of woman POWs in China after the Japanese invaded.  It is about how they maintained their sanity and dignity.

Perhaps you have a favorite or two to share.

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Barry Finally Did It…

… and no one seems to care.  Yes, he passed the Mighty Babe.  But all of the controversy surrounding the suspected/alleged steroid use has stolen any and all joy from this celebration.  Well, that and ESPN showing EVERY at bat for the last 3 weeks (it seems like 3 years).

If I were Barry, I would retire.  I have passed the white guy (which seems to fuel Barry at times) and I can barely walk, much less swing the bat.

Really, he can barely reach outside pitches anymore.  I'm surprised every pitch isn't a breaking ball away.  How hard is that for pitchers to figure out?  It seems inconceiveable that he will reach Hammerin' Hank, so why not put himself, and us, out of our misery.

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Congratulations Curt

Curt Schilling picked up his 200th career win tonight at Fenway Park as the Sox beat the Devil Rays.  Being in central Florida, the guys calling the game are whining about a few calls.  It was not Curt's best performance, but the bats, minus Manny, provided enough punch to get the 3rd of 4 against Tampa Bay.

Once again, Mr. Automatic, Jonathan Papelbon, picked up the save.  He has a MLB Rookie record of 18 straight.  Now all we need is some more starting pitching, especially after Wells took a line drive off his knee last night.

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The mothers of NBA stars LeBron James and Amare Stoudemire have both gotten themselves into trouble.  King James' mom hit an unmarked police car with her SUV and kicked the window out of a patrol car.  Despite the furs LeBron buys mom, she's evidently one tough woman.  She pleaded no contest to speeding, reckless driving, disorderly conduct and a lesser version of DUI.  The penalty: 3 days in jail, completion of a drug/alcohol class, suspended license until 1/20 (whoa!), $400 in fines, $150 in damages and 100 hours of community service.  Apparently they must have confused her with her son, an athlete, with this light sentence.

Amare's mom was sentenced to 3 years in prison after driving into an interstate barricade under the influence.

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At the office we recently went to High Speed internet.  But I don't want to surf at the office too much.  Weary of waiting for Verizon to get DSL service out to the house, we got Road Runner, and it is wireless.

Now I am able to enter a brave new world.  With dial-up I didn't want to waste loads of time downloading MP3s of sermons.  Now, I'm ready beginning to stream shows and download sermons.

I'm a beginner, so feel free to leave other good sites to download sermons.  Here's what I've got so far.

The White Horse Inn archives.

Desiring God Radio

Preaching the Bible: John Piper

Mark Driscoll- Mars Hill  (hit downloads on the menu)

Tim Keller

HT to the Jollyblogger for Driscoll & Keller links

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I caught part of the show this morning and wondered "the lengths people go to in order to explain what happened because they ruled out the supernatural intervention of God."  Here's some of what the 'scholars' said:

1. The word 'laborers', not 'slaves', was used to describe the Israelites.

2. They were obviously great soldiers to defeat Pharaoh's army.  This spun into the theory that they were actually mercenaries, not shepherds, before conscripted into labor.  They also left Egypt in military formation.

3. The battle at the Red Sea was a result of Moses' superior military strategy (not God's mighty power).

4. Pharaoh was upset that they plundered his people, possibly killing many, and that is why he chased them.

The scholars used texts selectively, and didn't take other texts into account.  A few responses.

1. They were not slaves as we think of them.  They were not purchased, or even conquered.  But they were conscripted laborers, proven by the fact they couldn't just leave.  The 'state' owned them.

2. Moses was trained, as Pharaoh's grandson, in military strategy- hence the military formation when they departed Egypt.  But the army was not really formed until they spent 2 years at Sinai.  If you call Moses brilliant for the Red Sea, where did his brilliance go as they went in circles in the wilderness for 40 years?

3. The text says that Pharaoh did not want to lose his work force, not that he wanted revenge for the plundering.

So, it can be an interesting show, but they depend on scholars who seem to be very critical of the texts and rule out the reality it portrays focusing solely on the human element.

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In the Issues, Etc. interview he repeatedly says that ‘the righteousness of God’ from Romans refers to God’s own righteousness.  This is exactly what terrified Luther from Romans 1:17 before his Tower Discovery.  Sounds like Wright is actually unraveling the Reformation, despite his protests to the contrary.  He claims Paul is not arguing against works righteousness, but the exclusivity of salvation for Israel.  He claims that our understanding of Paul is inadequate.  Imputation, in his view, obscures what the ‘righteousness of God’ means.

In Rom 3:28.  The works of the Law refers to the way of life for God’s people, not the works for salvation.  These demonstrate we are in the covenant family.  We are no longer marked out by food laws, etc, but faith for Gentiles (which sounds remarkably like Neo-nomianism- which is that faith is our righteousness, not that Christ’s is imputed to those who believe).  But Rom. 9-11 talks about the Jews being cut off due to unbelief, and grafted back in if they believe.

In Galatians, he says the ‘other gospel’ is a gospel that divides the people of God between Jew and Gentile (like dispensationalism).  But why would such a view result in utter condemnation?  It does not make sense to me.  Are we to then argue that dispensationalists are condemned?  I can find no biblical basis for that!

Kim Riddlebarger in the follow-up, rightly I think, thinks that Wright has drunk too much of the critical scholars, particularly Stendahl (I hope I got that right) in which Luther projected his own struggles on the Scripture.

I know this all makes sense to N.T., but either I am a total dolt, or lack the indwelling Spirit, because I don’t see any of this.  I stand with Luther and Calvin’s understanding of Romans and Galatians, and therefore justification/righteousness.  Of course, I was trying to cook dinner for the family.

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I came across a site that features interviews and discussions on theology and practice.  For instance, they will be discussing the New Perspectives w/N.T. Wright Thurs. 5 pm eastern.  They have archives which you can play too.  Mostly, but not exclusively, Lutheran from the looks of it.

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Glenn Beck had Dr. Richard Lindzen on his show tonight.  Dr. Lindzen is a professor of meteorology and atmospheric and planetary sciences.  Teaching at MIT, one would think he would be a respected voice on the matter of global warming.  Guess again! He worked on the IPCC- a lead author by the way.  Yet, he disputes the Summary for Policymakers which was not put together by scientists.  It was literally Shanghai-ed.  It has been politicized and used by the fear mongers as their latest pet project to get people up in arms. In his interview he stated (best as I can remember) “In 1998 Newsweek was claiming scientists were all in agreement.  Agreed on what?  That the overall temperature had increased slightly, yes.  That Antartica was going to melt?  No.” He likens belief in Global Warming to religious belief.

“With respect to science, the assumption behind the [alarmist] consensus is science is the source of authority and that authority increases with the number of scientists [who agree]. But science is not primarily a source of authority. It is a particularly effective approach of inquiry and analysis. Skepticism is essential to science- consensus is foreign.”

That’s enough on global warming for awhile.

Update: Climate Scientist Roy Spencer has questions for Al Gore about his movie. Other scientists not part of the ‘consensus’ include: Dr. Timothy Ball, Dr. Robert C. Balling Jr., Dr. Robert E. Davis, Dr. David LeGates, and I could go on.  Apparently these gentlemen are too difficult to find.

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In Reformation 21, Philip Ryken relays a telling discussion between Tim Keller and a seminary student.

This great insight by Keller clarified things for a young man.  This is what makes me wish Keller would write some more.  To summarize: our sanctification is based on, or dependent upon, our justification.  The New Perspectives have  them as interdependent.

Keller clears the water for those of us in ministry.  I am accepted by God regardless of the ‘success’ of my ministry.  He has received me in Christ!  I don’t have to be Mark Driscoll (I use him only because he is younger than me), Tim Keller or Philip Ryken.

Many guys are like me- we look at our ministry and wonder, “Does God even like me?”  We feel so powerless, obscure and unimportant.  We can easily feel ‘unfulfilled’ by our meager ministries.

Yesterday I came across a quote from Harry Reeder, also talking to a seminary student.  “My response is that they should be more concerned with fulfilling their ministry than being fulfilled in their ministry.  The difference is crucial, because it is a difference between a focus on self and a focus on others.  It is a difference between being motivated by our own goals and being motivated by the purposes of God.”

When I focus on my goals, my self, I am often unfulfilled.  I am in essence involved in ministry for my self-worth.  My justification becomes based on my sanctification and I sink into the depths.

When I focus on fulfilling God’s purposes for ministry (rather than the fruit thereof), I am trusting Him to do what I cannot.  I will fail at times, or not be as effective as I want- but I am living for His honor instead of mine.  I am not counting on success to gain my acceptance with God, or anyone else for that matter.  My sanctification is once again based on my justification.

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24 Rocked

Okay, if you taped or Tivoed (for the more technologically advanced) but have not watched 24– GO NO FURTHER.  Or if you are like my friends in Britain, awaiting the DVD release, the same goes.

They had me man!  With 30 minutes to go I was completely bummed.  Jack's going to jail, Logan got off scott free.  I was not enthused, though I they had next season planned out- Jack escapes from Leavenworth to bring Logan to justice.  Sounded GREAT!

I caught Jack's move mere moments before they revealed it.  The wife and I did fist bumps (she refuses to do that little finger thing some of the baseball players do).  Logan went down (frickin' slimeball).  And we were breathing easy until Jack had a phone call.  Part of me was thinking, "Jack, don't go!"  Sure enough…. they set up what could potentially be the best season yet.  Now Jack must be saved or escape or something.  And I suspect that Logan gave him up- Jack was the loose end that had to be removed.

Now, on to Alias.

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I recently read 2 books on humility (something I need more of).  First I read Humility: the Forgotten Virtue by Wayne (and Joshua) Mack.  Then I read Humility: True Greatness by C.J. Mahaney.  The obvious question some may ask is, which book is better?

That would probably not be the question I would want to answer, or could answer.  These are both very good and profitable books.  But each will appeal to somewhat different audiences.

Mack’s book is for those with a great love for the Puritans (like me).  He credits Spurgeon, Watson, Edwards and Bunyan for shaping this thoughts on this topic.  It reads very much like a Puritan sermon, which also means it is drenched with Scripture.  Each chapter has exercises at the end which can be used for discussion, or to search your heart.  This book is possibly for the more introspective sort who wants to slowly plow through Scripture that his/her heart may be revealed.

Mahaney’s book is very good as well.  I don’t want to slight him or this book.  C.J. has also been schooled in the Puritans, and that influence should be obvious.  But it reads more like a contemporary sermon than a Puritan sermon.  He has a more whimsical touch.  Whereas Mack’s book ought to humble you as you see how much pride rules you, Mahaney’s is more like an invitation to discover this about yourself.  Where Mack, assuming rightly we are filled with pride, goes right for the jugular, Mahaney (also assuming we are filled with pride) tries to talk his way into your heart.  This book is for those who run from the straightforward approach.  They need to ease into it (like I usually ease into swimming pools).

Another way of looking at it would be Mack looks at the big picture- the course of life.  Mahaney wants you to look at each day, a smaller sample size.  Each approach is valid and useful, but appeals to different folks.  Or perhaps people at different stages.  Perhaps we all need to start with Wayne Mack’s book (like I did), and then follow-up with C.J.’s to continue the work of grace we all so desperately need.

Both books are great, and should find welcome audiences.  They may just have different audiences.

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Another way in which some give Mark Driscoll a hard time is his use of sarcasm.  As I’ve noted eariler, I think he and I would get along well.  We have very similar backgrounds, and seem to have very similar interests.  He’s just far more successful than me.  Like Mark, I have often been accused of using sarcasm.  Is this a bad thing?

Well, the Scriptures use sarcasm.  I won’t list the places, but I came across one of them in prep for my sermon on Hebrews 5:11-6:1.  Here’s a word from William Lane from his mighty fine commentary on Hebrews:

“The preacher resorted to biting irony.  He makes use of sarcasm to shame these men and women into recognizing that they cannot pretend that they have not had a rich exposure to the truth of God over the course of many years.”

Samuel’s response to Saul in 1 Samuel 15 would also fit :14 But Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of sheep in my ears? What is this lowing of cattle that I hear?” (NIV)

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I Finally Watched

Basketball, that is.  I heard rumors that I was missing some exciting playoff games.  No Celtics, too much Shaq… ho hum. But after a Session meeting I arrived home to watch the end of the Sox-Yankees game (which has priority over just about ANYTHING, not everything mind you).  Of course, I missed Schilling's dominance over the gutted Yankee line-up.  But it was still fun (aside from Foulke's futility). Since we were taping 24 (as a result, I could not read The Sport's Guy's column this afternoon) I turned on Game 7 of the Mavericks-Spurs series.  I long for Duncan to be in the green & white.  Should have been from day one, but I still cheer for him (despite the fact that he, like all other NBA players, whines about calls).  I thought I could go to sleep enjoying the frustrated look on uber-fan Mark Cuban's face.  But alas, it was not to be so- Dirk tied up the game sending it to OT. Though the Mavs won, it was an exciting game.  Their series against the Suns ought to be fun.  Detriot-Miami…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…. snoozeville.  Both teams play boringball- it's the worst of the 90s (give me 80's NBA action anyday). so tonight…. probably 24, or perhaps the finale for Alias.  Unlike CSI, where Det. Brass pulled through, I'm sure lots of people won't make it on these shows.

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Mark Driscoll’s in trouble again.  Some people have found some of the language in his book Confessions of a Reformissionary Rev to be offensive.  I have not read the book, but intend to.  I did read the section in the link above (and found it funny, but I’m weird).  The GospelDriven Life has some great points on those who are pointing to the splinter in Mark’s eye.

There is nothing like a cuss word or crude reference to a body part/sexual act to upset a fundamentalist.  Let me start by saying I grew up across the street from some of the most foul mouthed people around.  It was like living Good Will Hunting.  Now, I know this is hard for some of you to believe- but many people actually speak like that.

Joe Carter in the Evangelical Outpost has a great post on the subject of vulgarity.  A few things-

1. The language Mark used is PG compared to a number of places in Scripture where God is literally exposing the sins of Israel.  Try reading Whoredom: God’s Unfaithful Wife in Biblical Theology Ray Ortlund, Jr (now entitled God’s Unfaithful Wife).  God is not nearly as embarrassed by earthy language as we are.  Ever read Luther’s Tabletalk?  Lots of stories and words to upset the dainty-eared.

2. In Isaiah 6 we see that Isaiah repented of being a man of unclean lips from a people of unclean lips (check out my sermon on it).  Did he need to have his mouth washed out with soap like I did as a youngster?  In our culture we’d lean toward cussin’ & swearing.  But Isaiah was most likely confessing that he and his people had spoken the names of false gods to deliver them.  They were probably criticizing God because things weren’t going well.  They had forsaken the true and living God.  The use of slang terms is not the issue here.


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