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.


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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This is about the (in)famous AFC Championship Game which the Pats barely lost.  From the Boston Herald:

Ellis Hobbs [stats] has insisted since the AFC title game loss to the Colts that he was improperly flagged for pass interference in the end zone.

  ”  The league not only agrees with him, it let him know it.

”    Hobbs received a letter during the offseason apologizing for the blown call, which led to the touchdown that tied the game at 21 in the third quarter.

”    “It’s a little late for that now,” Hobbs said with a sigh.

 ”   The penalty came on second-and-7 from the Patriots [team stats] 19. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning targeted a streaking Reggie Wayne down the sideline, but Hobbs stayed with him stride for stride, cutting short his pursuit to avoid the contact that would have resulted in a penalty. He watched Wayne’s eyes, slightly turned his head and leaped while the ball descended. It hit him in the left arm and Hobbs was immediately flagged by referee Bill Carollo.

    “TV analyst Phil Simms labeled it face-guarding – the act of not turning to look for the ball – which is no longer illegal. The play is only a penalty if Hobbs makes contact with the receiver, which he was careful not to do.

    “Manning then hit former Patriots defensive lineman Dan Klecko with a 1-yard score, and the two-point conversion tied the game. ”

So, we can sit and ponder what could have happened.  We could have been the ones pummelling the Bears (sweet vindication) instead of the Colts doing it.  That would have been Super Bowl #4 for the Patriots.  I’m sure there is a little incentive for the re-vamped and reloaded Patriots.

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We’ve looked at Aleph, now it is time for Beth, or verses 9-16.  Here they are in the NIV:

“How can a young man keep his way pure?  By living according to your word.  I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.  Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.  With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.  I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.  I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.  I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”

Away with dry, lifeless religion!  This is a lively faith, and a humble faith.  Let’s start with the lively faith.  “I seek, recount, rejoice, mediatate, consider, and delight.”  He is not passive in his relationship with God.  Grace creates active people- active in knowing and delighting in God.  We know God only through His Word.  Away with mysticism.  Even meditation has on object- God’s precepts.  He rejoices and delights in God’s decrees only because He delights in God.  He sees them as a reflection of His glory, and designed to remake Him in God’s image (under the powerful work of the Spirit in applying our salvation in Christ).  The Psalmist is so excited about God’s Word because he is excited about God.

Herein lies our problem.  We are not much excited about God Himself.  We want His blessings and gifts.  But we are not astounded by God in His glory.  We have not yet been humbled.  We may be active, but often our faith is not lively.


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PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals) doesn’t seem to be concerned about the ethical treatment of people.  Michael Vick has been indicted of very serious charges.  The key word there is indicted, not convicted.  If he’s guilty, he’ll have bigger problems than being suspended.  But in their court he is guilty, without due process.  I think their treatment of him (and trust me, I’m NO fan of Michael Vick) is unethical.  They are all about the ’cause’ and this is a great PR event that they want to milk.  I guess they didn’t get the memo that people are more important than animals.  This in no way means we should mistreat animals.  But I don’t find eating them to be mistreatment (that Genesis 9 thing).  If it is, then animals aren’t treating each other ethically, and PETA doesn’t seem at all concerned about that.  God gave Adam and Eve fur clothing, so I think it is okay to wear fur and leather.  So, on all counts PETA is just plain wrong.

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I’ve begun reading Speaking the Truth in Love by David Powlison.  In the first chapter he works with Psalm 119 with an eye on suffering.  Sadly, Psalm 119 has never been one of my favorites, but I decided to spend some time with it one section at a time.  Here is the NIV text for verses 1-8:

“Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.  Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek after him with all their heart.  They do no wrong; they walk in his ways.  You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.  Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!  Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.  I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.  I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.”

The psalmist begins with the idea of blessing.  We should want to know who are blessed by God (receive his favor).  He says those who are blameless (it doesn’t mean perfect), walking according to YHWH’s law.  I don’t have my Hebrew tools with me, but the tense is not future implying “do this and be blessed.”  Rather, you recognize the person who is blessed because they walk in God’s ways.  The blessing precedes the blamelessness and fidelity.  Religious people flip it upside down- obey and be blessed.  But the Psalmist believes in grace, not works righteousness.  One who has been changed by grace “says ‘no’ to ungodliness and begins to live an upright and godly life in this present evil age (Titus).”

Apart from God’s grace, I won’t seek him at all, much less with all my heart.  Like most people I struggle with a divided heart.  I often seek my own agenda, rather than the fountain of life that is God Himself.


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This week WTS’s book sale (thru 8/14/07) is all about Biblical Theology.  If I still had book allowance money, I’d pick up the books by Graeme Goldsworthy, particularly According to Plan.  I’ve been wanting to spend some time with his books.

I strongly recommend Mark Strom’s Symphony of Scripture.  It is a great book that traces some of the major themes of Scripture to their fulfillment in Christ.

There are other notable books there including: As Far As the Curse is Found, Poythress’ The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses, and Vos’ Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation.  This is a great time to stockpile books to better understand Biblical Theology.

 Among the new books available is one that is instantly on my Wish List.  I may have to break down and buy it out of my personal funds.  That book is the latest collaboration by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III- Breaking the Idols of Your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life.  I have found all of their previous books together to be immensely helpful in understanding my heart and God’s gospel.  Being an idol factory (Calvin), I could really use all the help the gospel offers in repenting of my idols, and the creation of them.  I’m trusting you know something about that.  If not- probably all the more reason to read this book.

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What, you may ask, are standards and practices?  Well, those are the TV execs whose job it is to try and understand and apply the FCC rules in a very liquid environment so they can avoid hefty fines when they goof.  Entertainment Weekly had a very interesting Q&A with some of those execs.

They are frustrated with the new environment.  They point the finger at the FCC.  “”The arbitrariness, the lack of clarity is creating a chilling effect,” says one.”  But the real culprit here is cultural change.  Culture has expanded the range of meaning for many words, making the job of a S&P exec difficult.  Some people think in black & white terms about some words (suck for instance- I’ve had a few conversations about that one), and have trouble recognizing the expanded use for that word or term because of what it meant years ago.  So, a show uses it one way, but you know someone will call regardless.  Will enough call to get fined?  Depends on who you offend.  And another cultural change is e-mail, where you can now alert thousands or more people about something you heard or saw on TV that offended you.


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I just finished Arnold Dallimore’s George Whitefield: God’s Anointed Servant in the Great Revival of the Eighteenth Century.  This is the shorter one volume version of his 2 volume work (which Justin Childers is reading and quoting). 

This is a great, readable book to begin the process of knowing the great evangelist George Whitefield.  I have visted the Old South Presbyterian Church in Newburyport, MA where his body is lain, awaiting the resurrection.  I think he is a fascinating person for a number of reasons.

– He was heard and understood by coal miners and American slaves.

– He was heard and understood by British aristocracy.  One such person was Lord Dartmouth who would later found Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.  Sad how far it has departed from Lord Dartmouth’s Calvinistic convictions.

– He was heard and understood, and acclaimed, by godly men like Jonathan Edwards, the Wesleys, the Tennants and more.

– He was heard and understood, and acclaimed by important thinkers of the day like David Hume and Ben Franklin.  He had a 30-year friendship with Franklin, though Ben never repented.

So, Whitefield as able to communicate the gospel in the simplest and most profound ways.


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The second part of Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now is called Develop a Healthy Self-Image.  It is chock full of pop psychology to help you feel better about yourself, and stop comparing yourself to others.  Not a bad thing, but certainly not the same, or as great, as the gospel.

Martin Luther used a phrase to capture how we should view ourselves, because this is how the Bible views Christians: at the same time just and sinner.  In an of ourselves we are sinners.  We are made in God’s image, but sin has corrupted it.  In redemption, we are being remade in that image.  We also have a new set of identities- sons of God, kingdom of priests, a holy nation etc.  What the Bible does with our new identity is uses it to reframe our morality.  We forsake the morality and behavior patterns of our old life, and put on the new.  What Osteen does is use the biblical notion of identity (self-image) to foster earthly success instead.  This is a dramatic and dangerous shift, once again moving away from character development (becoming like Jesus) in the name of living the good life (storing up treasures on earth- hey, didn’t Jesus say not to do that?).  I guess if I just thought a bit more of myself I’d pastor a 3,000 member church.  Man, I’m holding myself back.  “God wants us to feel good about ourselves.”  Yet, Paul called himself the biggest sinner he knew (1 Timothy 1:15), a sentiment he expected all of us to have about ourselves.  God wants us to delight in and treasure Jesus our Savior, not ourselves!



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How many guys have to get injured before the Red Sox players stop sliding head first?  I can’t remember if it was 2002 or 2003, but Manny did it, and lost signifcant time with what I believe was a broken finger.

Last season, Coco Crisp got off to a hot start, then slide head first and broke a finger.  It took him until mid-June this season to get back to normal at the plate.  He’s finally the player we saw in the first couple of weeks of 2006.

Last night… Papi did it trying to stretch a single into a double.  And strained his shoulder.  Fortunately it was not injured as badly as Jeter’s when he slid, head first, into 3rd base a few years back.

The body is better suited to slide feet first.  You miss less time with a sprained ankle than a broken finger (the ankle is better suited to absorb the punishment than a finger).

I would hate see a good season, with the opportunity to make a good playoff run, derailed by a needless injury.

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During my sabbatical, one of the books I wanted to read was When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch.  It is subtitled Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency and the Fear of Man.  Why, you might ask, would a pastor need to read such a book?  Well, why wouldn’t any of us want to read such a book?

Pastoral ministry is a delicate balancing act.  On the one hand you want to glorify God and do that which pleases Him.  But, you also want to do it in a way that is winesome and doesn’t just tick everyone off.  Throw into the picture any number of people who think you should do things their way and are quite ready to vote with their feet or checkbooks.  The lines can quickly become blurred between necessary compromise to see the kingdom go forward (afterall, Jesus considered the needs of others and I should too) and when you are just trying to hang on to your job.


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I’m a bit behind on my magazines, so I read CT’s review of The Secret today.  I hadn’t heard of this book, and haven’t read this book.  But the description was shockingly similar to Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now.  I suspect they just completely removed anything having to do with God, or at least the Christian God since one of the contributors is “a non-aligned, trans-religious progressive.”  Here is what the review says is the secret purported by the book and promoted by Oprah:

“The secret is simply the ‘law of attraction.’  Think about wealth, and you will become wealthy.  Think about that new car, and it will come.  Think about getting a good parking spot, and one will open up.  Think about your ideal weight (really, dwell on that number, write it on your scale), and you will attract that reality.”

How does this work (where they differ from Joel Osteen)?  “Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency.  As you think, those thoughts are sent out into the universe and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency.  Everything sent out returns to the source.  And that source is you.”

Therefore, we bring our bad circumstances on us.  I should have meditated on my congregation growing to 500, 500, 500…….. and it would have happened.  Who needs to worry about evangelism, discipleship programming, planning good worship services.  Just think it into being!  Yeah, that is essentially what Joel Osteen is saying, but throws in “the favor of God.”

Since they are “trans-religious”, they use the Bible, but the book often misquotes or misinterprets it (hmmm, sound familiar?).  Like Osteen, this is a book that attracts people obsessed with themselves (according to the Bible this is pretty much all of us, but it is considered sin not virtue).  Such a view, self-obsession, is the polar opposite of the “righteous man” we find in Scripture.  There we see a person who sacrifices greatly on the behalf of those in need.  But, “What (the popularity of) The Secret reveals is that many people are desperately unhappy.”  Sadly, they are not finding their joy and delight in the glory of God in the face of Jesus.  Instead, they are seeking it in earthly treasures that rot, decay and dwindle in value.  We are a people going far astray, falling for the Big Lie.

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I think it would be interesting to interact about preaching.  If you are a pastor, you could briefly discuss what you do.  If you are a listener, what most benefits you regarding preaching.

Style: I am an expositional preacher.  Whether I am going through a book, or handling a topic, I stick with one main text to explain and apply it.  I will often use supporting texts, but I don’t turn it into a “Bible drill” with people flipping here and there trying to keep up.

Emphasis: I try to preach with a redemptive historical mindset.  Meaning: I want to keep the text in its place in the history of redemption.  I want to connect that text with “Christ and him crucified.”  My goal is to preach the gospel, not morality, for both justificaton and sanctification.  It is really hard to keep from moralism, seeing as how we all have a little religious fanatic in us that wants to earn part or all of our salvation (Luther).  Listening to Tim Keller has really helped me to make those Gospel-connections better and to preach less moralistically.

Form: I am fairly flexible about my form.  At times I’ll use the old 3-point sermon.  At times I’ll preach more like a Puritan, or John Piper, laying out some explanations/doctrine and then some application.  I try to use what works best with the text- though I’m sure I err often enough.  What remains constant is that I give them the Big Idea at the beginning so they have some idea where I’m heading and think is most important.

Illustrations: I can often fall into ruts, so I have to be careful.  The last few years have been frustrating because I’ve had to shy away from sports and movies because I didn’t have many people who watched lots of sports and movies.  Getting married and having a child was the best thing that every happened to me as a pastor.  It opened up a whole new world of personal stories to illustrate things.  I use some current events- but those can lead people to think I’m taking a side on politics so I try to use discretion.  I’m currently in the wrong environment for the great works of literature illustrations.  Sometimes it is good just to pull a Spurgeon and use a biblical illustration.  Who could argue?  My personality is to try and push the envelop a bit, being a bit edgy (at least in my circles).  Evidence some of my sermon titles.  I’m trying not to be too provocative.  Key word is trying.


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This is Brett Butterfly for the VBS Network, your sports broadcaster for the Great Race!

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