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Archive for July, 2007


The Celtics have trumped the Red Sox today.  It is something they want to do on a regular basis.  Great to have dreams, but I’m not sure how often this will happen.

We all know the trade by now.  One guy, KG, for 5 guys and 2 picks (one of which came from Minny in the deal for Blount-Davis).  Al Jefferson was the main player leaving the Celtics.  The big dollar contract was Theo Ratliff who can’t be found on the NBA’s website.  The big uncertainty will be Gerald Green.  Will he put it together and become a star (he’s got the skills), or remain an entertaining sub?  The second big uncertainty will be if Telfair can put it together after some legal troubles?  Ryan Gomes is a good, solid player but not someone to build around.  He’s a build with kind of guy.

I’m still not sold on this trade.  I’ve forgiven Danny though.  I think our window of opportunity to win is 2-3 years at the most, and 0 if we don’t get some other guys who can play to fill out the roster that includes only Pierce, KG, Ray Allen, Tony Allen (whose recovering from knee surgery), Perkins (who had foot issues last year), Leon Powe, token white guy Scals, Rondo, undrafted rookie Brandon Wallace and the unsigned draft picks Big Baby Davis and Pruitt.  That’s 11 guys.  We need another guy to play Center and one to play PG.

Definitely the Big Splash.  Now we see if all Danny’s work pays off in a few strong playoff runs.  Honestly, we wouldn’t have any of those for 2-3 years with the group we had.  This fits in Danny’s plan- I just thought the big money guys would be…. younger.

The Red Sox did make 2 trades.  First, the inestimable Joel Piniero was traded to the Cards for the ever-popular “player to be named later”, which means we didn’t get much for Joel.  He has returned to starting, which is good for the Cards whose rotation has been depleted by injuries.  This move all but guarantees they are done for the season.

Then the Sox picked up former uber-closer Eric Gagne (no, not the wrestler of old).  I’m sure they got his goggles in the deal too.  He nearly gave the Sox the finger, but decided winning was a good thing.  He’ll move to right-handed set up man, made even more vital with Timlin’s shoulder acting up and Donnelly undergoing Tommy John surgery any day now.  Sadly, he didn’t get 5 players in return, only 3.  So KG still rules the day.  But the Sox sent their own KG, Kason Gabbard, to the Rangers.  Kason has pitched well, but is not projected to be more than a 4-5 starter.  Solid, not spectacular, guy.  We have some hot guys coming up soon so he’s a trading chip now that Schill is ready to start August 5th.  This means Jon Lester is in the Big Leagues to stay.  The Sox also sent outfielders David Murphy (who was a September call-up last year, but who lacks the power of Brandon Moss) and Engel Beltre who is playing the Gulf Coast League in this first season of pro ball.  He projects to have some power.

The distressing thing was that a guys like Gagne and Dye had Boston on their no-trade lists.  Why?  I just don’t get it.  If I’m a pro baseball player, one of the places I’d want to play is Boston (also the Bronx, St. Louis and a few other tradition rich cities).

So, a busy day in Boston sports.  But will these moves pay off?  I suspect the Red Sox moves have a higher probability in resulting in a good playoff run.  If only the Patriots could trump them both by signing Asante Samuel long term.  Now I’d be excited about THAT.

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A recent comment made me think I had better toss some of these links up.  These are short articles that get to the heart of the issue.  I hope all the links still work.  I had them on the church’s website, but…. that will disappear come December.  So….  here we go.

Bryan Chapell on An Explanation of the New Perspective on Paul

Ligon Dunan on The New Perspective on Paul

Reggie Kidd on Getting Perspective on Justification

Richard Phillips on The New Perspective of Justification

And for fun….

Ligon Duncan on The Openness of God Controversy

John Frame on The Problem of Evil

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Here is the next stanza of Psalm 119 for consideration:

25 I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word.  26 I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees.  27 Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders.  28 My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word.  29 Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law.  30 I have chosen the way of truth;  I have set my heart on your laws.  31 I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame.  32 I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

Sin is the major threat to existence in this stanza of the Psalm.  Personal evil, disobedience, threatens to completely undo the Psalmist.  He is aware of this, are we?

Though he seems himself as laid low in the dust (to be humbled), he has hope.  This hope has a source far beyond a gut feeling.  He asks God to preserve his life according to his word- he looks to God’s promises of salvation to those who trust in him.  When you suffer the consequences of your disobedience, where do you turn?  We should turn, again, to the promises of salvation in Christ.  We ask God to keep his word (as found in places like 1 John 1:9) and to preserve us.

Though he recounted his ways, I suspect the Psalmist was not impressed by his faithfulness and obedience.  I don’t want to separate this from the verse before it, or the request in the second part of this.  He wants God to teach him His decrees.  He has recounted his sins, and God has answered by forgiving him (1 John 1:9 again).  But he thirsts for more than forgiveness (do we?), he wants God to teach him.  That was essentially my prayer at conversion (forgive me and teach me how to live ‘cos I’ve really messed this up so far).  In his humility, he sees he has not got it all together but rather has seriously fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).

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The Herald’s Steve Bulpett reports the following:

“Sources this morning are confirming that the Celtics’ deal for Kevin Garnett is essentially completed.

“One involved source said the final package will have the Celts sending Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff and a No. 1 pick to Minnesota to acquire Garnett.

“Further word is that the Celts and Garnett have reached an agreement in principle on a contract extension. You may recall a report here that Danny Ainge would not do the deal without such a guarantee of Garnett’s presence, and it appears now that the perennial All-Star is willing to forego the opt-out in his current deal for next summer and cast his lot with Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and the Celtics.”

Yikes, so for PF and Center, we will have KG, Perkins, Scals and Big Baby.  That means we only have one true center.  Of course, unless someone comes back with KG, that opens up 4 roster spots.  We also only have Rondo and Pruitt at the PG position, and Pruitt is really a combo guard. 

I do like the fact that it thins things out at the swing positions, essentially leaving just Tony Allen and Brandon Wallace as back-ups.  But that is about it for me.

Update: Oh… Shira reports the Celtics also send 2 first round picks to the Wolves.  This deal keeps getting worse.  At what point does Danny realize he’s just giving the farm away.

(HT:Celtics Blog)

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I was perusing my latest copy of Christianity Today and happened upon this quick review of John Piper’s book What Jesus Demands from the World by Mark A. Kellner.

“Piper’s Jesus has marching orders for his soldiers.  There’s work to be done for the kingdom and each other.  We should honor our commitments- in marriage, business, and society.  Good preacher that he is, Piper’s exposition is piercing and solid.  This book offers conviction in just about every passage.  But while the word ‘grace’ may slip into one or more of the 50 demands that Piper lists, you won’t find it in the meticulously prepared index.  Its absence there is noticeable.”

Hmmmm.  Perhaps I’m reading a different book than Mr. Kellner.  Piper talks quite a bit about grace without using the word itself.  In most the chapters he points us back to grace as the power that enables us to fulfill those demands (recognizing that our obedience is less than perfect).  I don’t know Mr. Kellner and therefore his understanding of grace.  But, our understanding of grace must include Titus 2: 11ff: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present aged, while we wait for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

What Piper is talking about is grace, which is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, enabling us to become godly people in this present age.  This is possible because he gave himself for us, to purify us.  To make us eager to do what is good.  What Piper is doing is bringing us to Jesus’ own words to show us what is good. 

To use Mr. Kellner’s criteria, Jesus himself should be guilty of lacking grace since he did not often use the word.  Actually, he is not recorded using that word.  The 4 times it is found in the gospels, the word is used by Luke and John to describe Jesus.

Piper is talking about grace the same way Jesus did.  Is this a perfect book?  No.  Is it a graceless book?  NO!  I’m only about 2/3 of the way through the book but I found it convicting and encouraging so far.  Dr. Piper repeatedly points me to the Life-giving Fountain that can delight my soul that I might walk in his ways.  We should not think of ‘grace’ as something that alleviates God demands, but rather transforms us into the likeness of Christ.  And this is a grace-filled book which should be read by all who long to follow Jesus.

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I want to go back to bed.  Instead I may have to apply the lesson on the Veggie Tales CavDaught is currently watching.  I may have to forgive Danny Ainge for pulling off one of the worst, most painful trades I can think of the Celtics ever doing.

The internet is full of the trade rumors, from numerous sources, that the Garnett to Boston deal is all but done.  The price of getting another star on the decline is Al Jefferson.  We didn’t have to give up a guy who could possibly be a long-time All-Star in the East, and much loved by local fans, to get Ray Allen.  We did give up Delonte West, who was much appreciated, but not anything close to an All-Star.

The other pieces of the puzzle will include Theo Ratliff and some combination of Gerald Green, Scalabrine, Rajon Rondo, Sebastian Telfair and possibly pieces of the old parquet floor.

Reportedly, KG is asking for a 5-year $125 million dollar extension to agree to the trade.  Hey, I guess the problem isn’t that Boston is a ‘racist’ town.  It was $$$$$$$$$.

Here’s why Danny should not do this trade.

1. His 3 cornerstones will be over 31.  That’s young in my vocation- but the beginning of the decline in the NBA.  They will be sinking tons of money into these guys (especially Pierce and Garnett for the next 5 years…. 5 years!), nearly coming to the cap.

2. Yeah, the money.  Who will be in the rotation after them?  I guess I come cheap, but many a high school kid could school me at this point.  They cannot afford to surround these guys with the talent necessary to actually complete a season, much less compete for a title.

3. It is cruel to Al, who would be reunited with Mark (Bad Attitude) Blount on a team that will have NO stars and will assuredly be at the bottom of the Western Conference next season.

Theo needs to take a time out from deadline deal discussions to remind Danny how to build a winner- don’t give up the best prospects for a short-term solution or overly constricting contract.  Yeah, last season was a bummer for the Sox w/out the Abreu/Lidle trade but they maintained greater flexibility.  Theo refuses to trade Buckholz, Ellsbury and a few other top prospects.  Al is the “top prospect” for the Celtics.  You don’t do that if you want to build a consistent winning team.  This is something the Bruins would do, not the Sox or Patriots.  Okay, the Sox used to do this kind of thing but the new ownership has a clue.

Danny, deliver me from a month of migraines and 5 years of frustration…. go on TV and let us all know it isn’t happening.

Update: Shira Springer is reporting that the deal is Al, Ratliff, Telfair and Green.  The Celtics are apparently in discussions with KG’s agent.  This does not look good, in my book.  The trade could be completed by this afternoon.  I still have time to pray!

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Let’s pick up with the 3rd stanza of Psalm 119.

Gimel

17 Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word.  18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.  19 I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me.   20 My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.   21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are cursed and who stray from your commands.   22 Remove from me scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes.   23 Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees. 24 Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

The Psalmist draws some distinctions between the righteous (by faith) and the wicked.  The first depends upon God for all things necessary for spiritual life.  The second depends on himself or someone/something other than God.

Why might I live?  If God has done good to me.  I cannot earn life.  God must do good to me (which He has in Christ).  Being alive, I will (begin to) obey God’s law.  My obedience is grounded in God’s goodness to me in Christ.  There is no other foundation for obedience.  I need Him to open my eyes that I can see.  This corresponds to 2 Corinthians 4, from which the ARP gets their slogan:

6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Unless God shines His light in our hearts we will not see the wonderful things that God has done for us in Christ- fulfilling the Law on our behalf.  I do not depend upon my own understanding (Proverbs 3) because I can’t understand everything- or much in my current circumstances.  I must trust in God to reveal what I need to know to me (in His Word, by the illumination of the Spirit).

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