Archive for January, 2007

Thomas Boston continues his discussion of affliction (the crook in one’s lot) by defending the idea that it is a function of God’s providence.  He works all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11).  The biblical evidence for this idea of God’s sovereignty revealed in providence is overwhelming and I won’t dump all that on you.

Boston provides additional distinctions.  Some afflictions are “pure and sinless”.  Though painful, they do not defile you.  Such things would be poverty, infertility, disability and so forth.  Such things are not necessarily one’s fault (some causes of all mentioned could be someone’s sin however- in that case they would be “impure sinful crooks”).  The storm that killed Job’s children was pure & sinless.  The theft of his livestock by the Chaldeans was impure and sinful.

Sadly, sometimes we bring them upon ourselves.  Romans 1:19ff talks about how God hands people over to sin, and their desires become progressively dark and destructive.  “He justly withholds His grace, which the sinner does not desire, takes off the restraint under which he is uneasy, and, since the sinner will be gone, lays the reins on his neck and leaves him to the swing of his lust.”  This sounds like what Mark Driscoll calls “Cruel Calvinism” in his sermon on Ruth 1.  But Genesis 50 reminds us “20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  Driscoll has forgotten the aspect of concurrence in the doctrine of providence.  Joseph’s brothers intended evil- the destruction of Joseph.  Satan intended the evil of destroying the promise of Genesis 3.  God intended the preservation of Joseph, his family and therefore the promise as channeled through Abraham and his descendants.  So, I’m sticking with the Westminster instead of Driscoll’s “softer” view of providence with God granting ‘permission’.

But why such trials?


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The big rumored trade discussions involving the Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies are interesting for a number of reasons.  Some of them involve negotiation tactics as well as roster philosophy.

Much is being made of Todd Helton’s drop off in production.  Some of that surely has to do with his back injury and intestinal infection last year.  Hard to swing a bat for power when your back hurts or you’ve lost some muscle mass due to illness.  My back is finally recuperated from a fall in 2002 because I go to the gym and utilize machines that work those muscle groups.  So the back issue might be resolvable, and the effects of the infection should be gone by now.

Another issue is that the Rockies have just plain stunk the past few years, and Helton rarely sees a pitch worth hitting.  That would change immediately in Boston.  He also has great plate discipline, which fits the Red Sox hitting philosophy of wearing down pitchers and putting men on base to put more pressure on the pitching and defense.


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I’ve been listening to a message from the Acts 29 Bootcamp by Daniel Montgomery.  This is the 3rd time I’ve listened to the Gospel-Centered Mess.  There is some really good stuff in here to think about regarding the need for the leadership to live the gospel at home and church.  I wish we were able to interview candidates with their wives more regularly to learn about their relational dynamic.  He gives some good advice about being straightforward about the ways they deal with their sin apart from the gospel (Genesis 3).  His influences include D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, Richard Baxter and Billy Graham.

He also talks about some of the tough choices planters may have to make (my freedom to have a beer vs. the need for health insurance).  He’s about keeping the main thing the main thing.  At times it sounds “ungracious”, but so did Paul when he came across those who preached false gospels. 

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The movie is “inspired” by a true story.  How close it comes to the true story is something we aren’t sure about.

The story was well-done, and entertaining, though no time is left for the resolution.  The story takes place in 1981.  There was a great clip of Reagan in the film with him shooting straight about the economic conditions as he began his presidency.  I wish we had someone like him around instead of political hacks.

Chris Gardner is a man watching his life get flushed.  He made a business mistake that is costing his family lots of money, and he doesn’t seem to have many options.  As a result, his marriage is crumbling.

Chris has baggage- he didn’t meet his father until he was 28, and wants some thing more for his son.  So, he takes a chance.  This opportunity will be costly, but he believes this is the only chance he has.


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In the 3rd quarter Ellis Hobbs was flagged for a pass interference call.  Yet, he did not touch the Colt’s receiver, Wayne, on the play.  So, instead of it being 3rd & 7 on the 19 yard line, it was 1st and goal on the 1.  The Colts got a TD and 2-point conversion.   Analyst Phil Simms said it was face guarding, but the ref said pass interference.

Mike Reiss of the Globe reports: “There is no such thing as face-guarding,” Greg Aiello, the NFL’s vice president of communications e-mailed yesterday. “There must be contact to have a foul.”

There was no contact, and should have been no foul.  It’s just a bummer when bad calls affect the outcome of any game as important as the AFC Championship game.  We don’t know what may have happened.  But it probably would have taken more time, or possibly only resulted in a field goal which is 5 points less than the actual outcome, resulting in a Patriots win (unless the Colts got a 2 point conversion on the final touchdown).

Human error is a reality, sometimes it is more significant than others.  But we don’t know what would have happened without the error.  Were it not for the God of providence, we would drive ourselves batty second guessing all of life.  And that is just what many people do… sadly.

UpdateThe NFL is basically saying there must have been contact, since there was a flag.  Does the video show any contact?  Doubt it- I thought it was a bad call then, and still do unless we see an angle that shows contact.  I’m sure NESN would love to show the film of the contact.

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Today at 2 pm the Red Sox FINALLY had the press conference announcing the signing of the contract with J.D. Drew.  It took over 6 weeks from the initial announcement of the deal by uber-agent Scott Boras to get the contractual language worked out.  The Red Sox wanted some protection just in case his surgically repaired shoulder became an issue.  Theo refused to address the language or specifics of the contract.

The report is that if he loses enough time on the DL for injuries related to the shoulder in the 3rd or 4th year, the remainder of the contract is voided.  That is similar to deals the Detriot Tigers worked out the Ivan Rodriguez (there is only 1 Pudge as far as I’m concerned- Fisk) and Magglio Ordonez (back and knee respectively).

Drew’s issues are well documented.  He refused to sign with the Phillies after being drafted by them.  He finally signed with the Cards, spent time in Atlanta and last played for the Dodgers.  He’s been hurt quite abit, but when healthy is a consistently good producers.  He’s a very good outfielder.  He is the anti-Trot, who was a fiery competitor.  He wore his heart on his sleeve.  Drew does not… and so people think he doesn’t care.

He talks alot about wanting to play for a passionate community and win a championship.  He cited Atlanta’s lack of interest in the Braves while he was there.  Playoff games wouldn’t always sell out.  In Boston… EVERY game is sold out.  And with stronger starting pitching they have a shot to get back to the Series.  With a consistently solid #5 hitter (which they lacked last year) they are that much better.  Drew will not be expected to be the #1 or 2 guy, the focus on the offense.  That is left in the more than capable hands of Big Papi and Manny, for whom part of Being Manny is driving in tons of runs.

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A Family Moment

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I finally got my copy of Jars of Clay’s Good Monsters earlier this month.  I have been enjoying it since then just about every day.  If you take Redemption Songs out of the picture (as more of a worship album), this is their best since If I Left the Zoo…

They seem to have regained some focus.  They alternate between the fairly vague lyrics and some that are crystal clear.  You can see what Dan Haseltine was talking about in interviews in terms of reckoning with the evil in our own hearts by the gospel of grace.  Musically, it is more aggressive than they have been in some time.

My favorite songs are Dead Man (Carry Me), There is a River and the duet with Leigh Nash, Mirrors & Smoke.  This last one sounds like it came off of the Walk the Line soundtrack.  The title track seems to have been influenced by the quote from Edmund Burke noted in the liner notes and some of Larry Crabb’s work.  Not my favorite song, but it is growing on me.

Oh My God begins as a great lament, but it seems to bog down into more of a litany.  But you can hear a Johnny Cash influence here (or perhaps I’m just imagining it).

Overall this is an excellent album with excellent songs.  It has enough musical variety to keep things interesting.  This is definitely worth picking up.

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We started working with the Natural Church Development program.  In many ways, it makes sense on the surface.  But we began to see things that eroded our confidence in NCD, particularly things that Christian Schwarz has written.

1. NCD claims to essentially be theologically-neutral.  It seeks to help you be a healthy church within your theological tradition.  But would Paul agree?  Based on his letters to Timothy, I’d say healthy/sound doctrine is essential to a healthy/sound church.  Theology does matter.  A church can have great systems and growing out the wazoo, but if they teach error having to do with the gospel, they are leading all their people astray and possibly to destruction.

2. The questions asked in the NCD survey were largely subjective, and therefore the answers are largely subjective (which is why I wish From Embers to a Flame didn’t use them).  People aren’t asked about the role & use of Scripture, fidelity to biblical doctrine, how much prayer takes place etc.  The few objective questions had to do with the number of friendships you had inside and outside of the church- not how those relationships related to discipleship and evangelism (it takes more than relationships with non-Christians to make you an evangelist).


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Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis has the sermons from their Christian Life Conferences available.  The 2007 conference featured Tim Keller and Dan Doriani speaking on how the Cross transforms us.  The 2006 conference featured D.A. Carson and Walter Kaiser.  I’m sure I’ll be challenged and encouraged by these messages for quite some time.  If you haven’t found these yet, you may want to check them out.


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I’m in Jeremiah these days.  A tough book to read at times because it seems so applicable (making epochal adjustments) to today’s church.

Judah was filled with false prophets proclaiming peace and blessing though the people had been chasing other gods and not listening to God.  The American Church is largely occupied with thoughts of political power, material prosperity and avoiding suffering.  We don’t want to listen when God tells us that the Gospel changes people so they care about personal holiness and social justice (they are not at odds with one another in the Bible).

Here was Jeremiah, proclaiming that God was weary with his adulterous people who spread ’em (and worse) before every Tom, Dick & Harry (yes, God uses graphic language to describe their actions- read Ray Ortland Jr.’s Whoredom: God’s Unfaithful Wife in Biblical Theology if you can find it- excellent book).

Then we find these words:  11 Then the LORD said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. 12 Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”  (Jeremiah 14- NIV)

God told his prophet to stop praying for them.  That is scary!  God is telling Jeremiah, it is a done deal.  Though some people may repent, Jerusalem will be flattened like a pancake.


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While pumping that iron yesterday I was listening to Carson’s lecture on the emerging church.  I think I downloaded that from  Southern Seminary’s website, but I can’t remember.  But it was very good anyway.

Sounds like his book had already been released, and was being blasted by some folks.  My opinion is that they accuse him of things he didn’t do.  He was not being reductionistic, as if all emerging pastors and authors were the same.

In the lecture he affirmed some of the things that the emerging church is saying.  He does remind us that they are not the only ones saying them.  He finds decidedly non-emerging church like Capital Hill Baptist, Camelback Bible Church in AZ (I nearly took a position there upon graduation from seminary… one of those times you go “what was I thinking?”) among others.


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Columnist Michael Smith, who sadly jumped from Boston to ESPN, has a great article on why Dungy and Lovie stand apart, and it isn’t their color. 

“It distracts us from what’s really important: what’s inside these men. And, trust me, it would do people good to see more of that.

“Dungy and Smith are role models, not just for coaches who look like them or men who look like them, but for all coaches and all men. They live their lives the right way, and as a result they do their jobs the same way. Their priorities are, in order: faith, their families and football. The outcome of the Super Bowl or any game does not define them. They personify words such as class, grace, dignity, honor and integrity.”

These are men who want to excel, but without selling their souls in the process.  They have lives outside of football and spend time with their families.  The Dungy family’s tragedy last year illustrates that even when you stand apart, it doesn’t mean that all works out like you want it too.

But I saw the difference in Dungy when he took over for foul-mouthed Sam Wyche in Tampa.  A completely different atmosphere took over the Bucs.  If Dungy hadn’t been there, there is no way Gruden is winning that SuperBowl.  He instilled character in his players- demanded character in his players (a lesson that Marvin Lewis hasn’t learned yet, and even Parcells struggled to apply).

“Dungy and Smith are Christian men who serve the Lord first and spend nearly as much time serving their communities. Doesn’t prevent them from winning. And often. In just three seasons Smith, last season’s Coach of the Year, has helped build the Bears into a league power. Dungy has won more regular season games than any coach since 1999. Where does color factor into that?”  Great to hear Michael Smith say that without some kind of distasteful look on his face!  I knew there was a reason I liked Michael Smith.

This is what we need to hear more of in sports (and business).  I grow weary of the arrests, divorces, affairs etc.  Those are flashy… but we need to be reminded there is plenty of substance- character, faithfulness, perseverence etc. – at work in culture too.  Thanks Michael, for a timely reminder.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)

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One is Not Enough

Barack Obama is the subject to not one, but 2 biographies.  This is amazing for a guy who is a Junior Senator who has essentially done nothing.  The guy is a charismatic, engaging speaker.  Oh, I forgot about the cookbook. 

And what’s with all the “rock star” hype?  It seems as if every news outlet is using the term to describe his appearances.  Didn’t we get enough of that with Bill Clinton?  I started to read Daniel Boorsteen’s The Image but got distracted.  But this is another living example about how style takes precedence over substance when it comes to politics in the age of TV sound bites (Neil Postman was right).  I believe it was NWA who sang “Don’t believe the hype!”  Let’s hear how his talk of hope (stealing from Reagan) is flesh out in policy recommendations (forgot to steal that from Reagan, but there is time).

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I was thinking that perhaps the reason the Red Sox were delaying the press conference introducing J.D. Drew was to steal the thunder from the Patriots should they win the SuperBowl (that would now have to wait until next year).  I was wrong.

24 days until pitchers and catcher report!

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I finished the book some time back, and never quite got around to one of the most important chapters in my rush to get out of here for vacation.  That chapter is The Purpose of Limping Leadership: Forming Character, Not Running an Organization.

Here is where most books on leadership go decidedly astray.  They are about expanding, growing & multiplying the organization.  Sadly, many a church has bought into this lie that separates the kingly gifts from the priestly and prophetic gifts.  Here is what Paul had to say:  28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.  (Colossians 1- NIV).

“Leadership is all about character.”  What Dan Allender means is that “everything we do has the potential of giving glory or shame to God.”  Character will bring glory to God.  The leader is called to be allowing/asking Jesus, through the Spirit, to be forming his character (Romans 8:28-9).  The leader demonstrates character (or the lack thereof) as he leads.  The goals & means of the leaders reveal their character.  Leaders are also called to shape the character of those under their care.


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Despite a migraine, I watched the big game at my neighbor’s.  He’s got a HD TV, and there is no toddler to a) distract me during the first half, and b) wake up during the second half.  Nor was there a dog to sit at my feet with “that look” that something’s wrong with me because I’m stressed out.  My pacing may have worn out my welcome next door…. oh, well.

I was greatly hoping for a Patriots-Bears rematch to try and even the score after they utterly destroyed us in our first ever Super Bowl experience.  That year, in preseason, I’d pegged the Bears as the eventual champion and was thoroughly shocked to see them play my team.

The Patriots-Colts game was a great game, though I obviously wasn’t hip on the outcome.  I knew the game was not in the bag when we were up 21-3.  I have too much respect for the Colts offense.  What went wrong?

1. The Colts got into a very good rhythm offensively.

2. The heat in the building overcame the Patriots defense.  It was like the 1984 7th game when the Celtics outran the Lakers in the sweatbox that was the Garden.  Our power D had trouble keeping up as the game progressed.

3. Lapses in concentration, particularly by Reche Caldwell who dropped 2 good passes when he was WIDE open.

4. A missed pass interference in the end zone creating a 4th & 5 instead of a 1st & Goal on the one.  The FG created the point differential.  Other than that, the officials did a good job.


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It’s been awhile since I talked about this one.  Can across an interesting bit by conservative Canadian columnist Klaus Rohrich on the politics of global warming.

“What do you get when you combine leftist politics with science? Man-made global warming. … While there is no doubt that the earth is currently in a warming trend, the junk scientists would have you believe it’s all because of so-called ‘greenhouse’ gases produced by humanity. And they are not just referring to humanity in general, but Western nations that are enjoying a higher standard of living than the rest in particular. ”  He’s hit the nail on the head there.  Remember (!) the question is about the cause, effect and possible solutions to the climate change that may be happening.  This is where the disagreement lies, and where there is NO concensus (MSM be condemned).

“The best thing anyone could do to maintain his or her sanity in this age of global warming hysteria is to remember that the entire global warming scare is driven by an agenda. One has only to examine the Kyoto Treaty to know that it isn’t about decreasing greenhouse gases. It’s about the redistribution of the world’s wealth.”

The Kyoto Protocol certainly seems more concerned with redistribution of wealth and solving any supposed environmental crisis since it punishes the West and not the other-world nations that are among the biggest polluters (I can think of 2 huge economies now).

I love this tidbit: “Neither Time, nor ABC, nor any of the other former mainstream news outlets will deign to provide evidence that belies the current global warming hysteria. Swiss and German scientists found an alternative explanation for global warming in 2004, with a study that suggests an increase in the sun’s radiation isn’t only affecting earth’s climate, but also that of our neighboring planets. NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Extended Mission has documented significant shrinking in the Martian ice caps at a rate of approximately 10 feet per year.

“‘A study of the ice caps on Mars may show that the red planet is experiencing a warming trend. If both Mars and Earth are experiencing global warming, then perhaps there is a larger phenomenon going on in the Solar System that is causing their global climates to change.’–Current Science and Technology Centre Satellite measurements of the Greenland ice shield as well as the arctic and arctic icecaps show that they are actually thickening to the extent of approximately 5.4 cm (2 inches) per year between 1992 and 2003. ”

Oh, here is a review of Gore’s Inconvenient Truth by Dr. Bob Carter, a researcher at the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University (Australia).

Meteorologist James Spann exposes the global warming politics driving the Weather Channel.  Sounds like the UN: We will tolerate all things except intolerance.

Okay… I’ve had my global warming fix for the quarter.

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After a hiatus of distraction, I have returned to reading Thomas Boston’s book, The Crook in the Lot.  Thomas Boston, a Scottish pastor/theologian/Puritan, is one of my favorite dead guys.  He had a way with words and illustrations that I find helpful.  I have a VERY old, hardcover copy from a retired pastor.  I decided I needed to write in it, so I bought the ‘new’ Soli Deo Gloria version at a deep discount from the RTS bookstore in Orlando.  That this should be deep discounted because no one is reading it is, quite frankly, a big indictment on the contemporary church (though this too is from the hand of the Lord).

The crook in the lot is his phrase for affliction- an unexpected & unpleasant turn in the road.  He understands these, biblically, as from the God of providence- not mere accident.  Where he begins is our need to be humble and patient in these afflictions.  The flesh tends to be proud and impatient (think of the last time you experienced even mild delay in accomplishing your task).  Patience is required, for God has made it and it won’t be done until God has accomplished His purpose in the crook.

Everyone has some crooks in their lot.  No one is exempt.  Some are minor, and some are huge.  “But here it always holds good that ‘it is of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed’ (Lamentations 3:22).”


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Nixon: It is Official

Hall of Fame writer Peter Gammons reports that Dirt Dog Trot Nixon has signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Indians.  I guess I may get the chance to say ‘hi’ at Spring Training.  Sad to see Trot go, but there was no way the Sox would offer arbitration since 1. they’d overpay and 2. they have too many outfielders at this point.  He played hard whenever he was out there, which wasn’t as much as the Sox needed the last few years.  But he loved Boston, and Boston loved him.  I hope he does well for Cleveland!

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