Archive for August, 2007

I wish I could have done this.  I understand his sentiment…. and my second child has not arrived yet.  It ends on a good note…

… that was one of my mini-epiphanies while CavWife was at the Beth Moore Event.  My tendency is to focus on the disappointing/frustrating.  But there are so many great experiences with my daughter to focus on- much more important.  If we focus on the whining and disobedience, our hearts easily become embittered.  But… to show her the gospel in real life, I must forgive and forebear.  Even better, rejoice over those great moments that do occur each day.

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I was looking at my Roadrunner polls again.  The question was: What is the #1 priority in your life? (71,366 respondents thus far).

66%  Family & friends

12% Religion

8%  Money

6%  Other

5%  Fun

2%  Pets (I doubt they all live in Seattle)

For a culture that focuses on family and friends as the number 1 priority, how come we have so many fractured relationships?  Why is money the primary argument in marriage?  And probably between parents and teens. 

I guess these are more aspirations than lived out priorities.  The rather low % of people putting God in a nation where 80% claim to believe in God is shocking.  I guess they don’t grasp the fact that God is our highest good, the one who alone can claim the right to be our #1 priority.  This just shows that we truly are idol factories (Calvin).

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The 3rd chapter of Velvet Elvis is called True, and I think I know what Rob Bell is trying to say, and I estimate I agree with about 90-95% of it.  I only say I think I know because Rob is not writing to me, someone who prefers precision, but for a group of “spiritual” people who want to find a non-dogmatic religion.

What is Rob “trying” to say?  That there is such a thing as General Revelation, and that all truth (not just what you might think is true) has the triune God as its source.  It is his world, and not all truth is found in Scripture (though all Scripture is true).  So, other religions have fragments of truth.  His example is Muslims being debt adverse.  I’d tell Rob that this is actually a biblical idea they happen to share with us.  So, other religions have areas of overlap with Christianity.

But he doesn’t put it that way, which opens the door for pluralism (even if he didn’t intend it).  This is where Rob’s non-linear style, focused on tangentially related stories does him a disservice.

Rob makes a good point that many kids who grow up in fundamentalist homes think that the church as a market on truth.  So they go to college and some prof blows their mind and they leave their faith behind.  Yep, happens.  The problem is not Christianity but parents who don’t live in the real world, nor prepare their kids for the real world.

Where Rob really loses me is in talking about missionaries “transporting God” to other cultures.  He sees this as a basic misunderstanding some have about missionaries.  God is everywhere.  Yep- with you.  But I’ve never heard of any misguided person talk about “bringing God” to other people.  Bringing the gospel, yes.

And I guess this is what saddens me about sections of this book.  He does what John McArthur often does- take an extreme, often foolish example as though it were the norm for a particular group of people he doesn’t really like or agree with.  So, Rob pokes fun at Fundamentalists and how goofy they are (and they really can be).  But he never really says that is who they are- so your average conservative Christian whose not as hip as some, gets painted as guilty by association.  Don’t want to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints or you are a “wall builder”, and that is bad.  Don’t want to say “Scripture alone” because some dolt in Idaho uses that to defend his strange views.  Sola Scriptura becomes bad.

I guess I’d like it if Rob just said something like, “I grew up Fundamentalist” (I don’t know if that’s true), “and had a bad reaction.”  I prefer if he expressed his prejudices so people would know upfront instead of us having to read between the lines.  He’s not objective- but neither is he upfront about his true convictions.

(I am a Christian who finds his heritage in the conservative, evangelical, Reformed, Prebyterian, missional branch of the church.  I grew up Catholic, converted in college was a Conservative Baptist => Reformed Baptist => PCA/ARP.  Just to be fair, you know.)

Add-on:  I slept on the chapter and had some additional thoughts.  Rob is not really repainting the Christian view of faith here, just disagreeing with a fringe element.  But what is disappointing, is that Rob provides no real framework for people to separate the true from the fascinating.  His example of kids going to to college is important.  At college, some of what they hear will be true, but lots of it will be fascinating half-truths, false interpretations etc.  I don’t think that has changed much from when I went to college.  You have many different theories of economics, psychology, politics etc.  Many of these can seem fascinating, for they “ring true” to someone’s experience.  But interesting/fascinating does not truth make.  Non-Christians know lots of true things.  But, due to the noetic effect of the Fall, they have a tendency to mis-interpret reality by denying the Creator.  Becoming a Christian does not utterly remove that tendency.  But Rob opens the floodgates without providing any sort of way for a young person to discern what is true and what is false.  I guess he’s assuming someone else, an agenda-driven prof perhaps, will provide that.

Repainting truth from the reality of General Revelation => (what sounds like) Pluralism.

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It is time to renew my driver’s license, and this provides an opportunity to reconsider my political affiliation.  As a pastor, I decided to remain unaffiliated.  I’m now thinking this was a mistake- I am not involved in my civic duty during primaries.  That is an increasing problem for me. 

Which party is pretty much a no-brainer for me.  I know it isn’t for some other folks.  I don’t think either party is “Christian”, or that Christians only vote for people in one party.  But as I look at the big picture this is how I see it.

One party focuses on structural evil, virtually denies personal evil (except for hypocrisy), wants to expand government to deal with structural evil (since government is apparently free from structural evil), and its members tend to remain in office regardless of the scandals they face.

One party focuses on personal evil, recognizes that its own members can do evil, and usually has them step down, expects/demand personal initiative, and  expands government at a slightly slower pace.

I’m looking for the party (which does not exist) that recognizes both personal and structural evil, recognizes that government is not the solution but does have a responsibility to punish evil-doers, limits government programs to lower tax rates so citizens can have the resources to spend money in the economy (creating jobs) and save money (to create capital and prepare for retirement).

So, like the rest of you I must choose the lesser of two evils.  In a fallen world this is an all too common dilema.  But I now think I need to be involved in the process earlier (not just by watching lame debates either).

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Ted Haggard has apparently sent out a fundraising letter, verified by CT’s David Neff.  This is to support his wife while they both study psychology at the University of Phoenix the next 2 years.  His overseers were taken by surprise (shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been paying attention). 

The big issue raised is why he should need financial help.  According to newspaper reports:

“Haggard received a salary of $115,000 for the 10 months he worked in 2006 and an $85,000 anniversary bonus before the scandal broke, according to church officials. The church’s board of trustees gave him a severance package that included a year’s salary ($138,000). He also collects royalties on his many book titles.

“Haggard owns a home in Colorado Springs that has been for sale. It has a market value of $715,051, according to records from the El Paso County assessor.”

He should have enough money available to get through a 2 year program.  I did it (and after the 3 year MDIV).  I just didn’t expect to live at a upper class standard.  Ted… he does- and wants people like you to pay for it.

HT: Between Two Worlds

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Vacation, It Be Over

We left gorgeous upstate NY, clear skies and 70’s, this morning to arrive in the inferno we call home- Florida.  The last week of vacation was far more relaxing.  CavDaughter had a blast playing with her cousins, and roaming the many acres that make up the Farm.  There were lots of berry bushes to plunder, and fallen apples to gnaw on.  They could play outside all day.

CavWife was able to go to a Beth Moore event in Providence, RI with her mom, 2 of her sisters and a sister-in-law.  She had a great time- encouraged by both the teaching and worship in song.  The focus was on 2 Peter 1- that we have all we need to live godly lives in Christ, and how to grow in maturity.  I really wanted her to be able to go as we continue a time of transition.  Mission accomplished!

Sunday night the church her family attends had a cookout in the afternoon.  They were able to borrow some inflatables from Word of Life.  So CavDaughter enjoyed bouncing in the Moonwalk.  My nieces really wanted to get tickled.  Then my daughter and a few cousins derived great joy in climbing over my back.  Yeah, I don’t get it either. 

Monday night we had a big Mexican dinner to say goodbye- for now.  It is hard being so far away from so much of her family.  They are pretty close- closer than mine.  There were tears aplenty this morning as we packed up and left for the airport.

On a great side note, after 2 1/2 years of work, the APA (the environmental agency of the Adirondacks) approved the final subdivision of the property into 5 more lots.  Today her brother got a building permit for his lot.  They should break ground this week on their home.

Our daughter has flown roundtrip 6 times, and this was the first time she was scared.  She just freaked on take off.  She was able to calm down, but was anxious during the landing.  And now we are home… sweet, hot home.

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In the second chapter of Velvet Elvis called Yoke, Rob Bell tackles the issues of authority and interpretation.  He provides some interesting background information, showing that he is well-read.  He continues the practice of asking questions instead of answering questions.  In the process, as in the previous chapter, he unwittingly (?) seems to set people up to question themselves right out of orthodox Christianity.  Here are some examples.


“Notice this verse from 1 Corinthians: ‘To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)…’  Here we have Paul writing to a group of Christians, and he wants to make it clear that the next thing he is going to say comes from him, ‘not the Lord’.”

Rob does not discuss the context of this passage from 1 Corinthians 7.  Paul differentiates his counsel which is coming from the Old Testament, and that which is not found there.  Are we to take Paul to mean that we don’t need to heed this instruction because it’s from him and not God?  I don’t think so.  I’m not going to start chopping my Bible up into what God says and what the human author says.  But Rob’s statements undermine the authority of Paul’s instruction (unless I’m really missing something here).


In keeping with his anti-fundamentalist bent, he turns his gaze to the Southern Baptist Convention (without naming names).

“The reason their annual gathering was in the news was that they had voted to reaffirm their view of the importance of the verse that says a wife’s role is submit to her husband.  This is a big deal to them.  This is what made the news.  This is what they are known for.”


Last I checked the SBC didn’t control the news outlets.  I have some bones to pick with them too, but this is not one of them.  It made news because it is so counter-cultural.  I applaud them for not giving in to cultural pressure to somehow water down Scripture.

But Rob has a question or two.  First, “What about the verse before that verse?  “What about the verse after it?” The prior verse is a summary statement that we should submit to one another (a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit).  Paul then lays out some examples- wives to husbands, children to parents, employees to employers (yes, I made an epochal shift there out of slavery).  No one says that parents should submit to their children, or that employers should submit to their employees.  But somehow Paul is not to be taken to mean that wives should submit to their husbands.  He wants you to doubt that it really means this, and the SBC is foolish for believing it (Neanderthals!).  I guess Christ should submit to us.


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Considering Dave Abrami

I got bad news this morning.  It was a little late due to heartbroken friends, vacation and down internet providers.  It is shocking when serious evil hits so close.

I knew Dave Abrami, but not well.  We both attended Orangewood PCA Church at the same time.  We were in different Bible studies, but had lots of mutual friends and spent time talking on trips and at get togethers.  We had similar religious backgrounds.  Dave was a born lawyer.  You couldn’t spend much time with him and not know that was what he was born to do.  He had a sharp and quick mind.  I remember overhearing a phone conversation between him and a Papa John’s worker about whether a “pick-up discount” was a “delivery fee”.  Classic Dave.

At a wedding shower, Dave unveiled the classic poem “Ben doth Smell”.  He had a quick sense of humor as well.  Dave also loved the outdoors/rock climbing and would go on the Labor Day trips to TN led by guide extraordinaire Dan Velker (now in VA- on the left in the photo).  In the process, Dave would talk to you about any number of subjects.  He was a also a sharp-dressed man who enjoyed jazz, a good stiff drink and a good smoke.  At Dan’s bachelor party dinner, he wanted us to fill the room with so much cigar smoke that we would not be able to see each other.  Great times.

I lost track of Dave shortly after moving to Winter Haven.  Last I knew he was getting ready to graduate from Law School (Washington & Lee), and clerk for a judge in Alabama.  I’m not sure when he went back to Orlando.

Ralph Gonzalez was a long-time friend of Dave’s.  I remember meeting him once or twice.  He was a political strategist who was developing a reputation for some good work in campaigns.  And they died together at the hands of another.  Murder-suicide.  David Abrami’s death brought grief to many who had the privilege of knowing him.  But all is not lost, I think he has joined the great cloud of witnesses that await the arrival of rest of the saints (Hebrews 11-12).

You can now visit a site dedicated to David.  And Dan Velker sent me a link on Facebook with some pictures.  This photo is (l-r) me, the cigar-less David Castor, Abrami, Velker and Luke Butler @ Fiddler’s Green in Winter Park, FL.  Due to the absence of facial hair, it is 2001 or earlier.

Update:  I didn’t know this about Abrami, but it is classic Abrami.  From the Orlando Sentinel:

“Abrami, an attorney, drew Secret Service scrutiny in 1992 while still a student at the University of Central Florida.

“As vice president of the Central Florida Young Republican Club, the 22-year-old senior announced a Turkey Shoot fundraiser where members could pay $2 to fire a shotgun at enlarged photos of then-President Clinton.

“This will be fun for the entire family,” Abrami told the Orlando Sentinel before the Secret Service persuaded him to raise money some other way. “They came down hard on us, saying we threatened the president, things like that.”

Sadly, commenters on the Sentinel website have turned this into some weird “love triangle”.  Easy for people who never knew them to make these foolish accusations.  To the pure all things are pure, to the impure, all things are impure.

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Times have changed for Michael Vick.  And they should have since he’s about to plead guilty.  Before this, I think companies and organizations should have waited and reserved judgment.  We needed to see how this was going to end up.  He didn’t need to be tried and condemned by protesters (PETA) and the press.  Hey, did we learn anything from the Duke experience?

Now that his friends rolled on him, he’s pleading to some of the charges (not gambling or killing the dogs).  Now is the time for the NFL and sponsers to act.  And act they have!  The NFL suspended him indefinitely.  Nike dropped him.  Our choices have consequences, and Michael Vick is about to learn he had more to lose than he thought.  Dog fighting will cost him well over $100 million dollars.  I can’t even fathom that.  And, a number of people (right or wrong) were dependent on him.  They too will suffer financially, as well as other ways.

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On my earlier post about Paula White, Bill Reichart left a link about Randy and Paula getting a divorce.  In that post, based on the Tampa Tribune articles/expose on them, it seemed like this divorce was inevitable.

Such news is never good, and no cause for rejoicing.  It is quite disappointing that 2 ministers could not find the power in the gospel to forgive, reconcile and keep going.  No details were given in the article.  The WFLA video gives a hint: “the landscape of life changes” Paula said in an April interview.  In another interview around that time Randy got defensive when discussing his adult daughter who may die from a brain tumor if there is no miracle (‘it’s not supposed to be this way’).  This crisis seemed the tipping point in their marriage.  They found no comfort in the gospel.  This is a big crisis in a marriage, and all the more reason to rely upon God’s grace through the partner He gave you.  But … they think this gives them an out.

What next for the surgically modified former couple?  “I’m gonna pastor this church (Church Without Walls).”  said Randy.  “Paula’s gonna preach the gospel around the world.”  Huh?  Isn’t divorce without adultery a sin?  Don’t they think they should be subject to proper church discipline and restoration prior to continuing in ministry?  This is the problem of the independent megachurch.  They are autonomous, accountable to no one.  This is fraudulent and the 23,000 members need to leave, and TV viewers need to turn the channel, unless these 2 people repent of their sin.  As a result, this is a sad day in the evangelical church- for more reasons than we can think.  This action is a denial of the gospel they claim to preach.

Update for their defenders:  Consider 1 Timothy 5

19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

They publicly announced their divorce, so there are plenty of witnesses.  They need to be publicly rebuked, so others will take warning and stop treating marriage so lightly.

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“We have to test everything.”  That’s what it says on the back of Rob Bell’s book Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith.  That is completely consistent with 1 John (Test the spirits), and Isaiah (Unless they speak according to the Law and the Testimony they have not the light of day.).  I’ve heard a few Rob Bell sermons, and they were good.  I’ve enjoyed some of the Nooma videos.  Rob is great at asking questions.  My question is, what are his answers, if any?

Rob in fairly controversial, which in itself is not a problem.  Afterall, Jesus was controversial.  But is he controversial in the same way Jesus was?  Or is he departing from orthodox Christianity?  Or is he orthodox but leading others to ask questions without giving them biblical answers so they depart from orthodox Christianity?

Mark Driscoll pointed out some troubling statements in this book in his message at the Desiring God Conference (awesome message, which I listened to again yesterday during a walk).  My sister-in-law wasn’t too wild about some of Rob’s statements, so she gave me her copy.  Any quotes & notes will be from the paperback edition.

“As a part of this tradition (the Protestant Reformation), I embrace the need to keep painting, to keep reforming.  By this I don’t mean cosmetic, superficial changes… I mean theology… We must keep reforming the way the Christian faith is defined, lived and explained.”

Depends on what you mean by that.  If we are gaining a better understanding of biblical truth & contextualizing timeless truth, I can go there.  But to re-theologize, to invent a novelty (which Luther, Calvin et al did not do)… I cannot go there.

He sort of qualifies it on the next page (13): “It’s just that every generation has to ask the difficult questions of what it means to be a Christian here and now, in this place, at this time.”  Sounds like contexualizing, but he seems to bring us elsewhere at times.

On page 22 he talks about theology as the springs of a trampoline (hence the jumping man on the cover).  He talks about the trinity as a spring added later, that the church had existed for hundreds of years without.  Well, this would be a great time to talk about progressive revelation and how the church grew in its understanding of truth.  That is not the same as “adding it later”.  This makes it sound as if it was something men made up, rather than summarizing what the Bible says about God.  God is bigger than our words, but God uses words to tell us who He is.  As Calvin says, God lisps to us.  Language exists precisely so we can know God and how He saves people.

On page 26 he begins his section that drew Driscoll’s attention.  He relays a message he heard from a pastor who compared doctrines as bricks.  Perhaps this guy, not Bell, went with the metaphor of a wall.  I’m not wild about that metaphor, regardless.  Scripture uses the metaphor of a foundation.  If you start pulling bricks out of the foundation of your home, I’m thinking you’d be a little concerned.  Some bricks are more important than others.  Some bricks are essential to orthodox Christianity (God, Christology, doctrine of salvation etc.).  Some bricks are not essential (who should be baptized, or mode of baptism).  The brick he mentions is the virgin birth.  He affirms the virgin birth, but thinks that if we reexamine or redefine one brink/spring (page 27) it is not that big a deal.  Depends on the spring or brick.  If Jesus was not born of a virgin, we lose the God-man who was able to bear our sins on the cross.  Jesus becomes a great example, and that is it.  The virgin birth is very important!


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I found this in How People Change this morning, and it seems all too true.

“I had an epiphany one Wednesday evening in the middle of our small group meeting.  People were sharing prayer requests, but it was the same old grocery list of situational, self-protective prayer requests masquerading as openness and self-disclosure.  I found myself thinking, Why did we all feel the need to clean up our prayer requests before giving them?  Why were we all so skilled at editing ourselves out of our prayer requests?  Why were we so good at sharing the difficult circumstances we faced, yet so afraid of talking about our struggles in the middle of them?  Did we really care more about what the people thought than we did about getting help?  Did we really think that God would be repulsed by our sins and weakness?  I wondered who we thought we were fooling.  It was as if we had all agreed upon an unspoken set of rules, a conspiracy of silence.”

David Powlison talks about our tendency to focus on our circumstance in prayer in his book Speaking the Truth in Love.  We neglect prayers for spiritual growth (which requires sharing where we are tempted and tried), and prayers for kingdom expansion (which requires that we participate and sacrifice). 

Here, Lane and Tripp, point to this conspiracy of silence as one of the reasons people do not change.  Change happens when we break the conspiracy of silence (or Code of Silence in a bad Chuck Norris movie, which are at best guilty pleasures).  They don’t go there, but I am reminded of Jack Miller’s comments on the idol of reputation.  The fact is that our reputation is an illusion for it is based on only some of the data about us.  The fact that we refuse to acknowledge ourselves as the “biggest sinner we know” means that we pretend trials don’t tempt us with great sin.  We focus on the evil “out there” and avoid the evil within our own hearts (James 1).  This is stuff that stifles the spiritual life of churches, not just individuals.  It is time to break the conspiracy of silence if it exists in your small group, family or church. 

Contrast our churches with this experience of Anthony Bradley‘s.

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Vacation Videos

We have not watched many movies on this vacation.  CavWife and I have been enjoying season 1 of Everybody Loves Raymond on DVD.  But here are short reviews of what we have watched.

Catch and Release.  This was Jennifer Garner’s attempt at romantic comedy.  It is an off-beat comedy.  Her adventure-loving fiance dies during his bachelor party get away.  What unfolds is that she gets to learn things, often disturbing, that she never knew about him.  She moves in with his old roommates, and his out of town best friend she just doesn’t get (and we just didn’t like).  I think it is a sad day when the most likable character is played by Kevin Smith (Clerks & Dogma), and he’s a complete mess.  But so is everyone else in this movie.  Sin reigns in how these people do relationships.  The most redeeming character seems to be the dead guy.  I didn’t feel even remotely uplifted- just dirty from the messiness of their lives and “love” (see their catch line).  In other words, I didn’t find the few laughs worth it.

Catch a Fire was more redemptive, but it didn’t look like it for quite some time.  Ultra-liberal actor Tim Robbins plays a religious, right-wing leader of a terrorist hunting unit in South Africa during the dark days of apartheid.  He’s odd, refusing to interrogate on the Lord’s Day even bringing a suspect home for dinner.  But he’s cruel, torturing suspects and their family in what he knows is a losing effort.  So, he works to prolong evil instead of speeding up needed change.  Derek Luke is a non-political foreman who just wants to do his job, coach soccer and raise his kids.  That is, until, he is falsely accused, arrested and interrogate, for a terrorist attack at the mine where he works.  After they finally realize he’s hiding an affair, not terrorist ties, he is released but his family has been destroyed.  Now seeking to overthrow an unjust government, he joins the ANC as a terrorist.  Redemption, in the form of forgiving those who betrayed him as well as the man who tortured him, comes nearly out of the blue.  But it does show all it takes is one decision to turn the direction of your life, and it isn’t too late. 

Finding Neverland.  Johnny Depp does a great job playing a struggling Scottish playwright.  He is struggling in a very distant marriage- finding it impossible to connect with his wife.  He is struggling professionally- his last play bombed.  In his attempts to prime the pump he runs into a family in the park.  He is able to connect with the kids, and the single mom, through the use of imagination.  As his wife pulls farther away, and his benefactor doubts the new play will make money, he rediscovers himself and the capacity to love.

It is a morally ambiguous movie.  All of the characters have failings.  But some have noble traits.  But the movie seems to reserve all judgment on their actions.  It seems the only ones put in a bad light are those who question the motives of the hero.  Still, it was an interesting story trying to recapture story behind the author of Peter Pan (much like Shakespeare in Love and Becoming Jane do to William and Jane Austin).

A Prairie Home Companion.  This off-beat film has a great cast, and some great music.  I’m not a fan of the show.  The plot of the movie is that it captures the final performance of a radio show that is being shut down by the new company that bought the station.  It focuses on the relationships between the regular performers.  There is love secretly enjoyed, love never embraced, etc.  There was also a great disconnect between public faith and private life.  Moving in the midst of the characters is the angel coming to collect a few of the characters because it is their time.  In the midst of this, there is a celebration of life, but no repentance.  Evil is “out there” not within each person.  This makes for an entertaining yet unsatisfying movie.  They are not delivered from cancellation, nor their own failings.

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The infamous player to be named later has been named.  It is now time to take a look at the Wily Mo Pena deal. 

It was clear that Wily Mo was not going to get the ABs he needs to be a productive hitter as a member of the Red Sox.  The outfield was set, and this year there have been no injuries which permitted him extended time in the line up.  He was too much of a defensive liability in the field, if you ask me.  He’d make a great DH, but we already have one of the best.  I guess Papi could have had surgery earlier this season, allowing Pena to play and Papi to be well rest and healed for the stretch run and playoffs.

But the Red Sox got what they needed for Pena- Chris Carter.  Carter plays first base, and has some pop in his bat (.324, 18 hr 84 rbi in 126 games in AAA this season).  Defensively, he’s not as good as Kevin Youkilis but most assuredly better than Pena.  This way, after the September call-ups, Youk and Lowell can get some rest.  Youk really seems to need it as his hitting has really dropped off.  No such thing for Lowell, after a new conditioning program in the offseason is paying great dividends.  Should the Sox decide not to re-sign Lowell (depending on how ready Carter is for the bigs) Youk could move to 3rd (his original position) and Carter could take over first.  This would give the Sox more power, and run production from first, which is traditionally one of the power positions in the line up.

The Red Sox filled a need they had, and got rid of a growing problem.  Pena needed to play more, but that wasn’t, and should not have, going to happen in Boston.  They got something for him instead of letting him go as a free agent.  And they were able to get the type of bench player they really need in Kielty.  He is not a defensive liability in the outfield and hits well against lefties.  He can spot Drew as needed.  So, I think Theo has done some good work lately.  If only Eric Gagne can stop being Gag-me, and start throwing his change up for strikes, we’ll be in great shape for the stretch run.  Our lead on the Yankees should be at least 1 1/2 games bigger than it currently is thanks to blown saves in the last 2 weeks.

Update:  He may actually be just as much a defensive liability as Pena.  From Boston.com he “has major defensive shortcomings both at first base and in the outfield. “I watched him play first base, and popups gave him a lot of trouble,” said one big league scout. “I can’t imagine him playing the outfield.”

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I don’t have a Google or Blogger account so I can’t leave comments on Between Two Worlds. Justin has been blogging on baptism lately. He recently posted Lig Duncan’s thoughts on Acts 2 arguing for infant baptism. He, obviously, disagrees with Lig. The comments are interesting, to say the least. I’ve got a few thoughts on the matter (shocker).

Credo baptists seem to be building a chain of events. Peter told those adults wanting to know how to be saved to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off- for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Justin takes this to mean that repentance is necessary to baptism. In this is the case, would baptism be just as necessary to receive the Holy Spirit? Do you see the quagmire that begins. This is why some have ended up with baptism being necessary for salvation.

Peter tells those adults convicted to repent and be baptized. This is a missionary situation of sorts- he was addressing a large group of unbelievers. Those converting to Christianity from other religions need to be baptized. Both infant and believers baptism advocates agree there. Peter’s command is for people in a particular set of circumstances- which new converts to Christianity fit.  His words are appropriate for them.


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Fall has arrived early here in the Adirondacks.  Last week was jam packed.  Monday night 3 of the families camped off of Schroon River.  Tuesday, the rest of us joined them to float down the river and enjoy a cookout.  Being the wise man I am, I jumped on the one kyack pronto.  I figured the river would be chilly.  I was not mistaken.  I took to calling the group the Floatilla of Futility, as people’s rafts lost air.  In fact, CavWife ended up swimming most of the river (refusing to be towed by me just so you know).  I ended up taking on one of my nephews who was wet, shivering and crying.  Once he dried off, he was fine as we pulled into camp well ahead of the rest.  But all survived.

Thursday we headed farther north to what I now call The Enchanted Shiver.  Both years I’ve gone with them to the Enchanted Forest/Water Safari, the never-ceasing wind has made wet people seem very cold.  If you could just stay in the water.  This was the first time we took our daughter (she’s been to the one at Cypress Gardens with us).  She had a good time, but was a bit timid when it came to the dry rides.

Friday was the beginning of Farm Fest.  It is a weekend that is something of a family/friend reunion here at my in-laws farm (you all are welcome to come next year).  I had cook duty Friday night over the grill.  After dinner a cold front moved in bringing some rain.  Not exactly welcome for those in tents.  It made for a cool day, with blustering winds on Saturday.  But we enjoyed a good hike to Kibby Pond.  The way down was hard on my knees (man, I’m getting old).

This year we were able to borrow a sound system for the barn.  As a result, we spent about 90 minutes Saturday night singing worship songs.  Pat Walsh and I played guitar and he led singing.  I haven’t been playing regularly with the church transition taking place.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to be able to play that long, but maybe the cold made my fingers numb enough that I didn’t feel the pain due to my diminished callouses.

Sunday morning Pat led a few more songs, and I preached on the doctrine of Adoption from Ephesians.  It has settled down now as just about everyone has gone home but us.  This should make for a relaxing, peaceful week in the cool of the NY mountains.  Time to do some of that reading I really didn’t get to last week.

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The new book When Sinners Say “I Do”: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage is kickin’ my tail- in a good way.  Dave Harvey essentially takes up two of the verses that have been bouncing around my head for months- 1 Timothy 1:15 and James 4:1ff.  I can see why Paul Tripp has called this the best book he’s read about marriage.  Dave is getting to the heart of our struggles in marriage, stripping away the surface and pretence we put up to avoid the fact that most of our marriage problems trace back to the fact that each of us is the biggest sinner we know, and that we fight because we have these inordinate desires that aren’t fulfilled so we attack one another.

Dave writes as a fellow sinner and struggler.  The book is filled with his personal struggles and failures.  But he points us back to the power of the gospel to break our cycles of sin, blaming and distance.  He applies some simple biblical principles that we often neglect because we are trying to justify ourselves before our spouses instead of removing the log from our eyes so we can then gently help our spouses.

As I read the book, I find the conviction of the Spirit regarding the patterns of sin in my own life.  And my faulty methods of dealing with them.  This is the gospel applied to our problems in marriage (any relationship, really, for much of the book).  This is moving beyond being forgiven to see how the grace of God teaches us to say ‘no’ to our own ungodly desires.  It is about growing in forebearance, how to cultivate a proper attitude to talk with our spouse about their sin, when to just show mercy.

This is a book I will probably give to many people close to me, and recommend (require?) for marriage counseling.  I’m so glad WTS Bookstore gave me a copy.  I’m so glad God gave Dave Harvey wisdom from his failures, and especially connecting them with the gospel of grace in Christ.  We all need to learn how to do this more consistently.

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Considering the ELCA

Bradley Schmeling is a pastor in the ELCA.  He was recently defrocked for breaking the celibacy rule for homosexual pastors (whether male or female).  Well, the national assembly overturned the ruling, allowing the Atlanta pastor to return to his pulpit.  It is a sad day for Lutherans, as they chug further to the left, following the trail blazed by the PC(USA) and Episcopal Church. 

As much as denominations like the CRC don’t want to admit it, denominations that begin to ordain women as elders and pastors have ended up fighting over these issues within a generation or so.  Once the authority of Scripture is compromised in the issue of women’s ordination, it continues to be compromised in other areas regarding ordination.  It is not a matter of causation, but correlation.  The causation lies with the departure from Scripture in governing the church.  It just seems that women’s ordination is usually the first domino to fall.

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It was a busy weekend here at the Farm.  Nearly all of the family is here now.  On Saturday, some of us went to watch my brother-in-law do some kyaking on whitewater during a dam release.  The river is low otherwise due to a lack of rain.  To get to the put out point, we had to wade in waist deep water (chilly water).  We enjoyed lunch by the river.  The release was over when we left and the water was barely to our ankles.

Sunday night all the siblings and spouses in town went out to the same Mexican restaurant (Marty’s Chili Nights) we went to last year.  A great time was had by all.  We apologized for being so loud but the wait staff told us we were supposed to have fun, and that too many people eat in near silence. 

Today I helped out my sister-in-law who needed a bunch of wood split.  This was not like the days of my youth when I needed the axe.  They had a 27-ton splitter.  You still get a good workout lifting the logs, and tossing the split wood onto the pile.  I needed that since I’ve been reading quite abit (and smoking some Maria Mancini’s too).  Good to sweat, and get some sun.  Tomorrow we’ll be off to play in the river.

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Justin Taylor has Wayne Grudem’s response to his friend John Piper.  Funny that Grudem’s wife thought Piper made some very good points.

Grudem’s points are good, to a point.  Essential, paedobaptists would be treated like legal aliens in the States.  Able to enjoy some of the privileges of being involved in the church (the Table, small groups), and taking some responsibilities (tithing), but having no viable say in what happens in the congregation (no voting rights) and therefore the denomination, if it belongs to one.

Most Reformed paedobaptist groups (we baptize for very different reasons than say Roman Catholics or Lutherans) allow credo baptists into membership.  They do not violate the conscience of those credo baptists, and I’ve not heard of church discipline ever being exercised against any members who didn’t baptize their children (though I’m sure there have been some pastors & churches rigid enough to do so).  The only stipulation put on them may have been, like at the congregation Piper pastors, that they not be made elders.  So in this instance, most Reformed paedobaptist groups are acting more like the church than most credo baptist groups.  I’ve shared elsewhere that if you are in a small community with few church options, you may be ‘forced’ to violate your conscience and be baptized again if you want to have full membership rights (my mother-in-law was in just such a position).  This seems far from the loving position to take on a disagreement on who should be baptized (not that baptism is important and all members should be baptized).


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