Archive for September, 2007

Like it or not, fathers have lots of power in a person’s life.  A father is supposed to reveal the character and nature of God to his children (mothers are too).  As a father lives as a reflection of God’s character, he speaks the truth about who God is to his children.  When he departs from God’s character, he tells lies about God.  And this curses his children.

I’ve known people, and you probably do too, that are driven by a need for their father’s approval.  They never seemed to get it as a child, and now they are consumed with earning it.  So, they pursue success hoping that will gain dad’s attention, and finally make him proud.

Others are just the opposite.  They are driven to surpass their fathers because they are driven by bitterness.  One such person is NL homerun leader and MVP candidate Prince Fielder.  He is the son of Detroit Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder.  Like most fathers, Cecil wants to think he had something with his son’s success (and he did have something to do with it).  But seems to exaggerate that contribution, which endlessly annoys Prince. 

Prince is now the youngest player in Major League history to hit 50 homeruns.  Younger than all-time greats and Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Jimmie “the Beast” Foxx, Ralph Kiner, Mickey Mantle and the Babe.  What does he want to do?  Hit 52.  Why?

“My dad had 51,” Fielder said. “Then, he can’t say anything.”

Asked about the possibility of winning an MVP award, he said this: “It would be a cool award to get but that’s not something I think about,” he said, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, “besides the fact my dad never did it. If I do get it, that shuts him up again.”

Sadly he doesn’t really see how much this animosity toward his father controls him.  It is the last thing he’d want.  But it drives him.  Bitterness is a powerful motivator, until it finally destroys you.  The fact that he wouldn’t want to celebrate either accomplishment with his father shows it is destroying him.  Apart from forgiveness (being forgiven and then forgiving others- only the gospel can break the cycle) it will succeed.  He may win the battle at the plate, but he’s losing the battle in his heart.  And his earthly father refuses to come to his rescue.

15 See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.  Hebrews 12 (NIV)

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If the atonement is the heart of gospel, as J.I. Packer says, then adoption is the height of the gospel.  We have been lifted from the plight of condemned rebels and raise to the heights of being children of the living God.  Packer also notes that we don’t understand Christianity unless we understand the biblical doctrine of adoption.  Many other doctrines intersect with it (incarnation, atonement, justification, sanctification for instance), and it has many implications (prayer, unity, love, forgiving others and more).

I’ve been thinking about that quite abit lately.  I’ve preached on it a few times in various settings.  At Covenant PCA in Winter Haven, we encountered 2 problems.  I was taking my sweet time, and the sound guy didn’t flip the tape.  So, the end is missing.  But I hope people are encouraged and edified anyway.  If I preach this again, I’ll try to change it to the full length version.

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Due to a number of distractions, it took me quite some time to read the second half of Simple Church by Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger.  The first section of the book is focused on helping you to understand the need to be simple, based on their research, and what it means to be a simple church.

The second section is more the how-to.  It describes the process of identifying a focus, a process and how to stay focused.  They don’t claim this is easy.  They recognize that there will be resistence from all corners.  Here was some disheartening honesty: “Ninety percent of heart (bypass) patients do not change.  They remain the same, living the status quo.  Study after study indicates that two years after heart surgery, the patients have not altered their behavior.  Instead of making changes for life, they choose death.”

Their point is that many churches do the very same thing.  On one level they want to live.  But they resist doing the very things necessary to live.  In talking about the dissolution of our congregation, one member remarked “Why didn’t we listen?”  She, properly, viewed this as a group endeavor.  As church leadership tries to transition to a simple, focused church people will have a difficult time leaving the familiar.  It goes beyond preferences.  We have a sinful default to resist the will of God.  Change takes so much energy.  Without more completely grasping the gospel, we won’t change.  The “engine that drives” the process of change must be the gospel of grace.  Only thru Him do we have the desire and ability to significantly, deeply change.  It is not about changing worship styles, or shuffling programs.  It is about embracing the cross, the death of self-denial, and following Jesus who alone can save us.  It is about walking the road of discipleship as justified sinners.  Unfortunately we are prone to wait for the ‘magic bullet’ (pastor, program etc) that will make our church grow.  Church grow as people grow in their faith, and live it out in real life.  It’s simple, but not easy.

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Actually, we’ll be considering the CT Article on Mark Driscoll.  I read my copy a few weeks ago, and have meant to get to this.  But… I’ve been busy.  The author, Collin Hansen, tries to paint a picture of Driscoll that is honest, balancing his strengths and the criticisms laid against him.  I found the balance a bit off.  It seemed more negative than positive- typified by the reference to Driscoll’s appearance at the 2006 Desiring God Conference, placed under the heading Throwing Rocks: “John Piper says no other speaker at his Desiring God conference has caused such a stir.”  This, in my opinion, sets Mark in an unnecessarily negative light.  His message there was powerful and truthful.  I suspect Piper will have him back again- because John Piper loves the truth and Mark Driscoll does too.  Piper often speaks at Acts 29 and Resurgence conferences.  But this statement can be read to imply that Piper regrets inviting Driscoll.

All of us have blind spots.  Unfortunately for Mark, the whole evangelical world seems to know some of his need for growth.  Mark recognizes many of these sins and weaknesses in his character.  A pastor receives few commendations greater than this: “He asks forgiveness more than any pastor I have ever seen,” she said. “He publicly confesses sin. He’s such a great example to young, idealistic, confident, inexperienced, immature pastors that you have to say you’re wrong when you’re wrong. And he does it to women. I know. He has apologized in times when he has gotten things wrong, and I’m thankful he doesn’t apologize for the things he hasn’t said wrong.”


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My Night at the Trop

Saturday night the Great Morgano and I went to see the Red Sox play the Rays at Tropicana Field over in St. Pete.  We went a little early so we could visit the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame.  I’ve been meaning to go there for years, and they moved it to the Trop last year.  I’ve heard Larry Lucchiano talk about trying to get some of the collection up to Boston (long overdue).  There was tons of Ted Williams memorabilia.  And it was a very interesting museum focused on hitters, and a few pitchers.  There are some guys there that need to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame, like Luis Tiant and Jim Rice for starters.

Friday night I was talking with a guy from church about baseball.  He mentioned that he learned to swing a bat from Bernie Carbo at a camp.  When he told Bernie the new way he was holding the bat didn’t feel right, Bernie replied “That’s what I told Ted Williams when he showed me this.”  For those who don’t know who Bernie Carbo is…. he was a power hitter in the 70’s, who may still hold the record for most pinch hit homeruns in the World Series.  I remember him from his days with the Red Sox, particularly a game winning homerun which my father and I heard as we were heading to the car, thinking the game was over (lesson learned).

What’s the point of that?  Well, who was there signing autographs but Bernie Carbo along with other Red Sox players George “Boomer” Scott and Rich Gedman.  At Tropicana no less.  Go figure.

We sat near the foul pole in right field.  Great seats!  Facing homeplate (no neck twisting) and nearly ground level.  Only problem was a bunch of Rays fans with cow bells and horns.  The place was filled with Red Sox fans though.

Dice-K pitched and did well until the 7th inning with the Sox ahead 5-3 thanks to 3 rbi’s and a homerun by the oft-maligned J.D. Drew.  He got 2 quick outs when the wheels fell off.  Soon there were 2 men on and Dice-K was heading to the bench.  Up next, Carlos Pena, who already had a homerun.  Javier Lopez came in, and gave up another.  Rays fans were in a great mood.  I thought, “here we go again- they can’t seem to win when I’m here.”  Mike Timlin got the 3rd out, and it was 6-5 Rays.

In the eighth, the heart of the Red Sox line-up did nothing against Wheeler and his 5+ ERA.  Gagne came in to pitch the 8th for the Sox.  Which Gagne would show up- Eric Gagne, or his evil twin who goes by the name of Gag-me?  He got the first 2 outs, but this is how Gag-me likes to taunt us.  The Sox finished the 8th unscathed.

Here is where it gets surreal.  Sometime in the 8th, security descended on a section near ours.  A rowdy fan had to be cuffed and escorted out.  Two other fans soon followed, sans cuffs.

In comes the Rays closer, Reyes.  The screen is flashing his nickname- El Asisente- The Assassin.  I look at his ERA… over 4.70.  Not quite impressive if you ask me.  Or Jason Varitek who promptly deposited one of the Assassin’s pitches in the seats to tie the game.  Guess all he killed was that save opportunity.  But Hinske was up, and he last got a hit about 3 months ago.  Too much to ask, I think.  But, he drives one past Pena and into the right field corner to get a double.  The Assassin actually gets Coco Crisp out.  And here is Julio Lugo- much hated by the Rays fans because he was trade to the Dodgers last year.  Yeah, makes no sense, but they booed him lustily.  And he deposited an offering from The Assassin into the seats to make it 8-6 Red Sox.  The place is electric as the Red Sox fans go wild in Fenway Further South (Fenway South is Baltimore).  Ellsbury gets a double.  After Pedroia makes the 2nd out, they intentionally walk Ortiz.  But Lowell makes the third out (and was visibly disgusted with himself- he wants to win something fierce).

In comes Papelbon.  He quickly closes the book on the Devil Rays, who are once again done in by their bullpen.  The Sox pile onto the field to celebrate clinching a playoff spot.  They also maintained their 2 1/2 game lead over the Yankees, and gained ground on the Angels and Indians who both lost.  All in all, a great night.  The Magic number is now 6, and I can barely talk because of the ninth inning.  Hey, what happened to the horns and cow bell?

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David Fairchild (along with Drew Goodmanson) has been thinking about Frame’s triperspectivalism as it impacts ministry.  The diagram is his, from his post on the Transformissional Church.

If you take this from a Simple Church perspective, you see a great picture of what a church is supposed to do.  This also fits with what I wrote in my post on How Churches Change.  The means of all ministry is the Gospel.  All church problems are, somehow and someway, gospel problems.  There has been a breakdown of the gospel.  The norm for all church ministry is to be the gospel.

In the life of the believer, it is to continually produce grace renewal.  Existentially, we change and continue to change as by faith be believe and apply the gospel to our lives.

Another product in our lives is to change our circumstances from in-grown church life to missional church life (meaning we begin to live as missionaries to those around us).  We don’t keep the gospel to ourselves, but communicate it incarnationally and verbally in ways people might understand.


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The lawsuit against the Knicks is revealing the seedy underbelly of sports and subcultures in an interesting way.  It has, as others have noted, been buried under the Patriots cheating controversy.

But we find that an even bigger double standard exists regarding language used to describe people- at least in the mind of Isiah Thomas.  He explains his sad double standard here.  Where is the outrage that destroyed Imus (trust me, I’m no fan of his)? 

That African-American women should take abuse from African-American men, but not caucasian men, is quite ridiculous.  Where are the feminists???? 

HT: CelticsBlog

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