Archive for December, 2007

In chapter 3 of The Future of Justification, John Piper pretty much dismantles N.T. Wright’s views concerning law-court dynamics and the meaning of God’s righteousness.

Wright tends to prefer  that justification, and the law-court imagery, refer primarily, though not exclusively, to the final law-court.  He does tie this to what has happened in Christ.  The issue revolves around his distinction between the righteousness of a judge and that of the defender.  Wright points to 4 senses in which the Judge is righteous: “his faithfulness to his covenant promises to Abraham, his impartiality, his proper dealing with sin and his helping of the helpless.”  So, for the Judge it refers to His actions.  Wright does not go deeper into His character that produces those actions.

With regard to the defendant, righteousness is a status- that one is a part of God’s family.  It is not status in terms that one is righteous (in the greek, righteousness and justice are the same word group, and context determines the meaning).  So, Wright writes “it makes no sense whatsoever to say that the judge imputes, imparts, bequeaths, conveys or otherwise transfers his righteousness to either the plaintiff or the defendent.  Righteousness is not an object, a substance or a gas which can be passed across the courtroom. … To imagine the defendent somehow receiving the judge’s righteousness is simply a category mistake.”

I would agree, to a point.  The defendent is receiving the righteousness of the Substitute, the Representative.  His righteous actions, according to all Paul belabors in Romans 3-5, are imputed to all who believe, or trust in, that Representative.  The Judge declares us righteous because we are united to the Righteous One.  It is Wright who makes a profound “category mistake”.  He misleads through his use of the law-court imagery, not the imagery itself.

Piper focuses on the issue of God’s righteousness, asserting that Wright’s understanding is too superficial as I noted above.  He summarizes his argument from his book The Justification of God (very good, but very technical book).  “The simple way is to say that God’s righteousness consists in his unswerving commitment to do what is right.”  What is right?  “‘Right’ actions are those that flow from a proper esteem for God’s glory and that uphold his glory as the most valuable reality there is.”  Piper then goes on to show how this fits Paul’s argument from Romans 1-3, showing Paul had this view in mind.  As a result, we find that this view of righteousness creates a problem for covenant faithfulness, in that we have become idolators, and God should bring covenant curses on our heads.  While sins went unpunished, it seemed like God didn’t value His glory.  “When he justifies the ‘ungodly’ (who have treated his glory with contempt, Rom. 1:18, 23; 4:5), he is not unrighteous, because the death of Christ exhibits God’s wrath against God-belittling sin.”  Sin has a big part Paul’s notion of justification.

In the basis of Romans 3:5 & 7 (parallels) Piper shows that it is righteous for God to show wrath for his own glory.  This is something Chalke wants to deny, which is why Wright’s endorsement of his book is problematic.

As Piper works through Romans, he asks that we do that same thing with his definition of righteousness that he did with Wright’s: does it work in the whole text?  Remember, Wright’s didn’t make sense in many parts of Paul’s argument (part of the same context, so we’d expect it to have a similar if not identical meaning).  Piper’s makes much more sense.  The implications of this will be explored more fully in his fourth chapter.

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We are currently on vacation here in the Adirondacks.  Another snowy day, but I can’t enjoy it out there.  I’m stuck inside with an injured knee.  I wish I had a great story- snowboarding, wrestling with a wild animal, something, anything other than merely shoveling snow and trying to turn while knee deep in a snow bank.  The x-ray didn’t show any breaks.  The PA thinks it is strained ligaments or a torn menuscis.  I’ll need an MRI to sort it out, but that can wait until we get home.  Until then, I am hobbled.

The timing really stinks since we just got our travel approval.  The travel dates are not set yet.  One of the 2 options is 4 days after we return from NY.  The other option is a week later.  We forgot to take care on one piece of important paperwork.  Well, I goofed thinking it just needed to be notarized but it also has to be certified.  Not an easy thing to do from 1,000 miles away.  A minor scramble.

In the midst of all that, do we try to have a birthday party for our about to turn 3 year-old?  We will have one here with family, but should we have one for friends in FL?  Tough call.

Despite my pain, I enjoyed watching the Patriots have the first perfect regular season since the NFL season went to 16 games.  This game exhibited some of the worst 4th quarter clock management since the Eagles lost to the Patriots in the SuperBowl.  Truly pathetic that the Giants’ final drive took so long with no one seemingly able to find the sideline.  The season was no cakewalk, as the Patriots beat most of the best teams this year (Colts, Cowboys, Steelers).  It is great, and amazing- but not the goal.  The goal is the SuperBowl.  It won’t be easy- the Colts, Chargers and Jags are all excellent teams and the Patriots could face 2 of them.

The Celtics continue to remind everyone of 1985-86.  Last night they denied Phil Jackson’s bid for the best coaching record, held by Red.  Fitting!  They are now 26-3, and could have won all 3 of those games (or lost a few other games that were close- but that is what great teams do).  The 3 major Boston teams, since Sox were down 3-1 in the ALCS have just been astounding (43-3).  Those 3 Celtic losses are the only 3.

CavWife and I celebrated our 6th year of wedded (mostly) bliss.  We were able to escape to Glens Falls to buy some new boots for me (my Timberlands lasted 20+ years but died last winter).  I got some new Timberlands- Eurohikers.  I enjoyed them for less than 24 hours before my accident.  I haven’t checked the lighting on my photos of the snow from that one excursion.  Then we had lunch at a Thai restaurant.  I tried the Drunken Noodles- way hotter than I thought they would be.  Good, but I paid for it.

Time to rest my knee… read some (getting ready for the release of Prince Caspian) and get more much needed rest (it is hard to sleep with a messed up knee).

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Chapter 2 of Piper’s The Future of Justification is on The Relationship Between Covenant and Law-Court Imagery for Justification.  Here Piper begins to address Wright’s definition of justification and his use of law-court imagery.  In the process we find places where N.T. Wright is right, and places where he is not so right.

N.T. Wright says that “‘belonging to the covenant’ means, among other things, ‘forgiven sinner.'” (from Paul in Fresh Perspective)  He rightly connects justification with the doctrine of election.  But here he makes an unusual definition of justification- “declared by God to be His people” (also from Paul in Fresh Perspective).

Piper does not go there, but Wright is conflating justification and adoption.  See, sometimes those systematic categories are helpful.  Justification and adoption are connected- you cannot have one without the other (like justification and sanctification) but they must be distinguished or you lapse into similar errors.  This leads Wright to at the least neglect, if not reject, our imputed righteousness in his understanding of justification.

In Piper’s footnote #7 on page 40, he quotes a letter from Andrew Cowan who rightly states that “Covenant membership was never a guarantee that one would participate in the covenent’s blessings.  ‘In the covenant’ as a salvific category is inadequate.”  This is something that I think those who hold to believer’s baptism don’t understand when they criticize the Reformed view of infant baptism.  Scripture consistently reminds us that there are covenant breakers- beginning with Ishmael, then Esau and more.  Those who are truly saved are part of the covenant community, but being in the covenant community (church membership) does not mean one is truly saved.  So, defining justification as “covenant membership” is at best superficial and at worst misleading and disasterous.


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Chapter One of The Future of Justification by John Piper is called Caution: Not All Biblical Theological Methods and Categories are Illuminating.  He notes how we often hear warnings about reading our systematic theology into a text.  I was talking about that with some family members last night as we discussed, among other things, Covenant & Dispensational Theologies, and millenial views.  John Piper wants us to remember that the same thing can happen with biblical theology too.  “But common sense tells us that first-century ideas can be used (inadvertently) to distort and silence what the New Testament writers intended to say.”  Piper continues to give 3 reasons this can happen.

1. We can misunderstand the sources.  The scholar might misunderstand the extra-biblical source material, and therefore come to faulty conclusions.  What is strange is that we can assume those extra-biblical sources are more easily interpreted than the biblical text.  This despite the facts that we often have far more context with which to understand the biblical text, far less research on the secondary documents, and that the Holy Spirit will illuminate the Scriptures to all who humbly seek to understand them (no such promise is given for secondary sources).  Secondary sources can be very helpful- but we must remember they are not determinative nor absolute.


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I began reading The Future of Justification by John Piper yesterday.  So far it is very good.  In his introduction, Piper confesses “we all wear colored glasses” and that his “temptation is to defend a view because it has been believed for centuries.  His (Wright’s) temptation is to defend a view because it fits so well into his new way of seeing the world.”  He lays some cards on the table right up front.  Piper is not claiming to be unbiased, but is open about his theological bias.

He also lays out some of the issues he will be addressing in the book, the “head-turners”.  He wants to be fair to N.T. Wright (to whom he gave an early manuscript, received a lengthy response which resulted in a lengthier book).  “(T) confusion is owing to the ambiguities in Wright’s own expressions, and to the fact that, unlike his treatment of some subjects, his paradigm for justification does not fit well with the ordinary reading of many texts and leaves many ordinary folk not with the rewarding ‘ah-ha’ experience of illumination, but with a paralyzing sense of perplexity.”

In his footnotes, he quotes both Jonathan Edwards and John Owen on the idea that some men are saved despite not believing some important doctrines.  However, they say that the more one resists attempts to correct their faulty understanding the less likely it is that they are truly saved.  This notion begins with both charity and an honest estimation of the process of maturity in faith.  New believers know little of the truth, and and they study God’s Word their views should become more and more conformed to biblical teaching.  If they don’t … there is cause for concern.

In an unnumbered chapter On Controversy, Piper explains why he believes in the need for what I’ll call “pastoral polemics.”  As a pastor he doesn’t need to bark at every person or animal on the street, but only at those close enough to potentially represent danger.  His parishoners won’t be reading guys like Sanders or Dunn.  But since Wright is an evangelical, and has made many solid contributions to the church, his people might read Wright’s material on justification and potentially be harmed.  Note that Piper does list Wright’s many positive contributions as an evangelical scholar.  He is not demonizing Wright, but taking issue with him on a particular topic.  This is not a “shock and awe” attack meant to rob N.T. Wright of any shred of credibility.  It is an attempt to understand his views on this matter, and address those ways in which Wright has drifted too far from the biblical text & meaning.


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It was a bit more than 30 days, but I finished Running Scared: fear, worry, and the God of rest by Edward Welch this morning.  Though the book was a tad uneven, overall it was a very good book providing meaningful help for all who struggle with fear and worry (which would be all of us).

Welch covers fear & worry in general, and then moves into some specific fears and worries.  He covers money and possessions, people and their judgments and death, pain & punishment.  Along the way, Ed Welch keeps connecting them back to the gospel.  Our fears are about more than our thoughts or chemical inbalances (though medications may relieve extreme symptoms enough for you to begin dealing with the root issues).

“Your fears are more about God than you realize.  Along the way that light also helps you see yourself more clearly.  What you see is that the world is organized into two kingdoms, and the boundary between those two kingdoms, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn observed, cuts right through each of our hearts.  Our preference is to straddle that line, but our patient God keeps persuading us to be wholeheartedly devoted to his kingdom.  There is no other way to distance ourselves from fear and anxiety.”

That is a great summary of this entire book, found in his last words.  The chapters I found most meaningful were: Your Fear, Fear Speaks, Anxiety and Worry Chime In, The Manna Principle, When the Kingdom isn’t Enough, Grace for Tomorrow, Where is My Treasure? Whose Kingdom?, and Pray.

Ed Welch isn’t holding out a simplistic version of “believe in Jesus”.  This is about the tough work of faith and repentance which is continually opposed by the flesh (Galatians 5, Romans 7, Ephesians 5 among other places.  He paints the picture of an on-going war, not a decisive experiential battle.   The decisive battle that won the war was fought, and won, by Jesus.  What He did, He did as our representative.  Among other things He resisted the temptations to fear anyone other than God, and anxiety.  He also paid the price for our sinful fear, worry and anxiety which are signs that we are really struggling with our allegience to God and His kingdom.  This is why it is important that Welch keeps bringing us back to the Gospel and its implications which alone can truly transform us rather than put a bandaid on the problems that distort our hearts.

Well worth reading for any pastor, counselor and person who just plain wants to understand what is really going on with their own fears & worry, as well as what Jesus has done on our behalf regarding them.

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Fantasy Goes Down the Drain

It was looking good for a Fantasy Football Championship, until about 5 pm.

My opponent had 2 guys in the games Thursday and Friday, and they turned in subpar performances.  Sunday morning I swapped out Plaxico and Reggie Williams for 2 guys I picked up on the waiver wire (dumping Donte Stallworth and the “finally on the IR” Roy Williams).  It was looking great, I was jacked.

Then… my new WR, Gonzalez, caught 2 passes before getting hurt and leaving the Colts game.  My other WRs did absolutely nothing, though Williams did catch a TD.  But I could have survived that.

What I could not survive was John Gruden’s decision (I really can’t stand this guy) to basically not play Ernest Graham since they were in the playoffs, and Tom Brady’s really stinky second half against the Dolphins.  Had I switched my defense and kicker, I had a shot- but those were my back-ups and only used during bye weeks.  Had I run Portis rather than Graham… that was really the only ordinary decision that hurt me.

But… I lost anyway.  Very disappointing….

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Former CCM “bad boy” Steve Taylor will get his second opportunity to direct a movie.  And it will be one of my favorite books of the last few years- Blue Like Jazz.  How, you might ask, can you turn a collection of essays into a movie?  I wondered too.  Donald Miller answers that and other questions on the Belmont Foundation blog.  Maybe Steve will find the time to write some cool music for the movie.

I just couldn’t find a more recent photo except on The Second Chance web site, but it was in Flash Player 9.  Sorry, Steve.

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My first Advent sermon on Matthew 1:1, Moving Beyond the 8 lbs. 6 oz Baby Jesus, is now available on line.  There is one part where I forgot to put the reference in Galatians 3 in my notes (initially there was supposed to be a powerpoint slide) and saw a jumble of black, white & yellow highlighter.  But I survived none the less.  Lots of good feedback as God’s Spirit was at work.  It was on Jesus as the Son of Abraham, fulfilling God’s promises to him for us.  Yes, I’m referring to Ricky Bobby’s hilarious yet blasphemous rant about prayer in Talladega Nights.  If I showed that film clip I wouldn’t be welcome back, like, ever.  But Shake & Bake were happy.

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I haven’t finished The Great Exchange: My Sin for His Righteousness by Jerry Bridges & Bob Bevington yet.  But I’ve read enough to get this review out of my head and off my desk.

This book was “inspired” by George Smeaton’s classic work on the atonement, The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement (or as my copy is titled, The Doctrine of the Atonement According to the Apostles).  They took the same general methodology tracing the doctrine of the atonement through the Scriptures (essentially biblical theology rather than systematic theology).  Smeaton’s book is one of Bridges’ favorite, most important books in addition to the Bible.  He wanted to make its teaching accessible to a new generation of Christians.  In doing so, they briefly covered the Old Testament background to give context to the New Testament’s use of the material.  In doing this Bridges and Bevington were a bit more brief (approximately 300 pages vs. approximately 540 pages). 

Their stated goals are to show the consistency of Scripture in this matter; clearly articulate the time-honored orthodox view of the atonement in an unembellished way (no illustrations or stories) that people might comprehend God’s great work and salvation, and therefore exult in God as a result.

This is a Great Book If…


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Well, despite Larry Johnson and Roy Williams being hurt, and on my “No Cut” list, I was able to make the playoffs.  I also overcame a big injury-inspired slump by Plaxico Burgess.  But some late season pick-ups including Fragile Freddy Taylor and Earnest Graham have been a big help.

I nearly conceded round one of the playoffs due to the snow storm that was due to hit the Northeast.  As it turned out, Brady was blanked in fantasy points.  A big, fat zero.  Fortunately for me, my opponent was playing Tony Romo.  I was thinking I was in big, big trouble, but won handily thanks to some great performances by Clinton Portis, Earnest Graham, and the Patriots defense.  So now the Brewmasters are in the league finals against my nemesis.  This guy was mad at me, and others, because we kept rejecting a trade in which he would get Randy Moss for 3 players whose point totals at the time equalled his.  He was ripping the other guy off.

The last time we played head-to-head he had some extraordinary performances to pull out a win against me.  Over the course of the season my team has scored more points than his.  So this is the “brawl to settle it all”.  This is Pats-Colts round 3, so to speak (I think I beat them early in the season). 

Barring a disaster, I’ll be playing the terriffic Tom Brady at QB against Peyton Manning.  At WR I’ll be fielding Bobby Engram, Plaxico, and Reggie Williams against Reggie Wayne, Torry Holt and Joey Galloway.  At RB I’ll be playing Graham and Taylor against some lousy defenses, while he fields Jones-Drew and Aaron Stecker.  At TE it will be Pro-Bowler Cooley against 1st string Pro Bowler Witten (though Romo may still have thumb issues affecting his stats).  Gostkowski should be able to pile up some points against Green Bay’s Crosby.  The Patriots defense should shut down the Dolphins while his Chargers’ defense will have to stop Denver.

Reason to be optimistic unless Belichick decides to rest starters this week, which really isn’t his style.  Run it up, Bill!  Not a gimme… the Brewmasters could come up without a championship.  Either way, not bad for my first go at Fantasy Football. 

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While reading Crichton’s The Great Train Robbery, I was amused to discover the work conditions for the clerks of the bank which held the gold prior to shipment.  Here are the “Rules for Office Staff” posted in 1854:

1. Godliness, cleanliness and punctuality are the necessities of a good business.

2. The firm has reduced the working day to the hours from 8:30 am to 7 pm.

3. Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office.  The clerical staff will be present.

4. Clothing will be of a sober nature.  The clerical staff will not disport themselves in a raiment of bright color.


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Considering I am Legend

I saw The Omega Man when I was a kid.  Pretty much a B-movie.  It was scary because their were so many “Dark Seekers”.  There weren’t scary so much as creepy.

The newest version, which returns to the title of the book, is downright scary.  The “Dark Seekers” are rabid, fast and dangerous.

Will Smith plays soldier-scientist Robert Neville trying to track down the antidote to a deadly virus that is rapidly spreading.  It is the year 2009, gas is over $6/gallon (oops, got that wrong), the Knicks are really good (truly fiction) and someone thinks they’ve found the cure for cancer.  This cure backfires, turning people into rabid beasts who are allergic to light.

Lt. Col. Neville is the man designated to save the nation.  His protocol is used to try and isolate those infected.  But he fails and is haunted by his failure.  Soon he is the only survivor in Manhatten.

Most of the story takes place 3 years later (he flashes back during dreams) as he continues to seek a cure.  Part of his routine is to locate hives to abduct a “Dark Seeker” to test his latest compound.  It all goes wrong when he takes the wrong “Dark Seeker”.  She is the mate of the lead zombie.  Neville sees them as sub-human, but this zombie in particular retained his intelligence and begins to hunt Neville down. 

What you find is a movie that is part 28 Days, part Cast Away, and part Signs.  There are the super-scary zombies.  There are 2 scenes in particular where the suspense & fear are very intense.  But Neville goes a bit crazy dealing with the isolation.  He watches old movies and TV to hear human voices.  His dog Sam is really his only friend.  He names mannequins.  The only thing keeping him functional is seeking the cure (“I can FIX this!”).  But there is also a theological backdrop similar to Signs.  Neville is angry with God (though he serves God’s purpose, like Jonah).  Like some Holocaust survivors (and atheists who point to it) he thinks no God could let this happen to 6 billion people.  He forgets his earlier comments that “we did this”, meaning we tried to play God and brought the wrath of God upon us.  But there is a woman who saves him, that believes God has led her to him.  She sees God behind ‘co-incidence’.  Soon he sees the light, just in time (like in Signs).  But the Savior-motiff runs through much of the film.

The end comes shortly thereafter as Neville is trapped.  I won’t give any more away.  But the ending seems abit abrupt in some ways.  For such a smart, resourceful guy you think he’d figure a different way out of the situation he finds himself in.  I did… but he failed to give the “Dark Seekers” any credit and missed an obvious door to a different ending.

This is a very good movie.  Though science-fiction/horror, there were some scenes that were very powerful because I am a husband and father.  It taps into much that makes us human.  Some of the early action scenes are shot with what appears to be a hand-held.  They are shaky, giving that appearance of his own fragile state of mind to increase some of the fear.

A good movie leaves you wanting more.  This did.  I could have used a few more action sequences, like in the Omega Man.  But this was anything but campy.  It carries you through isolation/loneliness, sadness and terror.  This is a thinking-person’s horror film.  Makes me want to read the story.

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Considering Crime

I’ve been reading The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton.  In the Introduction, he mentions that serious academic inquiry about crime began in the 1870’s.  What he found the experts to say bears repeating, since we often hear contrary statements made.

“First, crime is not a consequence of poverty.  In the words of Barnes and Teeters (1949), “Most offenses are committed through greed, not need.”

“Second, criminals are not limited in intelligence, and it is probable that the reverse is true.  Studies of prison populations show that inmates equal the general public in intelligence tests- and yet prisoners represent that fraction of lawbreakers who are caught.

“Third, the vast majority of criminal activity goes unpunished.  This is inherently a speculative question, but some authorities argue that only 3 to 5 percent of all crimes are reported; and of reported crimes, only 15 to 20 percent are ever ‘solved’ in the usual sense of the word.  This is true of even the most serious offenses, such as murder.  Most police pathologists laugh at the idea that ‘murder will out.’

“Similarly, criminologists dispute the traditional view that ‘crime does not pay.’  As early as 1877, an American prison investigator, Richard Dugdale, concluded that “we must dispossess ourselves of the idea that crime does not pay.  In reality, it does.”  Ten years later, the Italian criminologist Colajanni went a step further, arguing that on the whole crime pays better than honest labor.  By 1949, Barnes and Teeters stated flatly, “It is primarily the moralist who still believes that crime does not pay.”‘

Lies make us feel better- as if we just have to educate people better- and have led to many a failed social program as a result.  These lies also rob criminals of personal responsibility, and they pretty much like blaming other people.

Pretty interesting intro to the story of one of the ‘great’ crimes of all time.

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Andy Pettitte’s agent released an admission that he used HGH 2 times while rehabbing his elbow in 2002.

“If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize,” Pettitte said Saturday in a statement released by his agent. “I accept responsibility for those two days.”

IF?  Yes, Andy, it was an error in judgment on your part.  HGH had not yet been banned by baseball, but you still did something wrong.  It was not prescribed by your doctor, and was a PED, even if MLB had not yet banned it.

“In 2002 I was injured. I had heard that human growth hormone could promote faster healing for my elbow,” Pettitte said in the statement released to The Associated Press by agent Randy Hendricks.

“I felt an obligation to get back to my team as soon as possible. For this reason, and only this reason, for two days I tried human growth hormone. Though it was not against baseball rules, I was not comfortable with what I was doing, so I stopped.

“This is it — two days out of my life; two days out of my entire career, when I was injured and on the disabled list,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for an edge. I was looking to heal.”

Does this mean Pettitte needs to be reviled or exiled?  No.

But this admission on his part lends more credence to the allegations made against Clemens (who has adamantly denied them).  Those allegations were made by the same man.  In Pettitte’s case, he was speaking truthfully.  Now Clemens has to prove that though he spoke truthfully in Pettitte’s case, he is lying about Roger.  Taking the “Bonds’ Defense” doesn’t help his case whatsoever, however.

If Clemens did take steroids, does this mean Dan Duquette was actually right?  Does this mean we have to dislike him a little less?  Argh!

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From the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Dec. 14): “The agent for Johan Santana has told the Yankees, Red Sox and other teams interested in Twins star pitcher that the price to sign him is a minimum of seven years at $20 million per year, for a total of $140 million guaranteed. The Twins definitely will not meet that price. The Twins did offer Santana his $13.25 million salary for 2008 and four more years for a total of $80 million. The question is, will other clubs pay Santana’s price? …The pitcher the Twins want from the Red Sox is Clay Buchholz… The Twins are being patient, hoping the Red Sox want Santana bad enough to give up both of the great prospects.”

No #$!%#in’ way!  No way I’m giving up Buchholz (and Ellsbury?) and then paying $20 million a year for him.  It reeks of a “bad Yankees’ contract”.  Let them do it!

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Got some less than stellar news last night.  Another interview that didn’t result in a new position.  It was very discouraging.  I’ve seen lots of guys with lots of baggage get new calls reasonably quickly.  I seem to keep coming up short- despite a number of people who value me as a brother and pastor. 

One of the books I’ve been reading is The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes (it is a Puritan paperback for a mere $4.90 at WTS).  I knew I would be in “that place” during this transition.  The title is taken from a passage in the Servant Song of Isaiah 42 which is repeated as fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus in Matthew 12.  Part of that prophecy is “a bruised reed He will not break, a smoldering wick He will not put out.”

This is a great, gospel-filled book about the tenderness and compassion of Jesus toward those who are His.  That they have grace is enough.  That they have even the slightest faith, it is enough to unite sinners to Him.  He does not cast us out for not being strong and spectacular.

The chapter I read this morning dealt a lot with discouragement- and was a needed word from a long-departed brother.  Perhaps some of this will be helpful to others, and perhaps encourage them to seek more of Christ’s encouragement via the ministry of Richard Sibbes.


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It is D-Day for the Mitchell Report.  There has been lots of speculation going on.  Some find it less than coincidental that 2 of the names leaked are those of Yankees (Clemens and Pettite) since former Senator Mitchell is on the Red Sox board of directors.  Well, according the Boston Herald ….

“Mitchell, the former U.S. Senator from Maine and current Red Sox director who has been on a leave of absence from the team and its payroll since March 2006, was asked by commissioner Bud Selig to head the investigation into the sport’s not-so-secret immersion in the world of steroids and human growth hormone since the mid-1990s. This so-called steroid era has coincided with a period of incredible revenue growth in baseball.”

He asked critics to judge him based on the work in the report, not conjecture.  Fair ’nuff. 

The other bit of controversy expressed by a number of people is the standard necessary to find one’s name on the List of Infamy.  We are not sure of that, and perhaps it will be addressed in the report and news conference.  I’m sure they have to explain why people are on there- not just because of “a cancelled check written out to a club house guy” who was procurring steroids for other players.

I can understand the temptation to use steroids.  Management has been rewarding some of those who took steroids with big, bigger and mamouth contracts.  In a business when you have a short shelf-life there is the temptation to maximize your performance to maximize your contract values.  In a day when a lengthy rehabilitation can stunt your numbers, there is temptation to take steroids to speed up rehab or deal with injuries that would normally slow you down.  As salaries increase, so does the perceived need to take these substances.


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I’m currently preparing my 2 advent sermons.  Only 2 since I’m only doing some itinerent pulpit supply this year.  That is a big switch.  But it works well for my plan.  I’ll be preaching on Matthew 1:1.  Yeah… Matthew 1:1.

Matthew 1:1 is really the Big Idea for the rest of Matthew’s Gospel.  Matthew sets out to explain that Jesus is THE son of David (fulfilling the covenant God made with David in 2 Samuel 7) and THE son of Abraham (fulfilling the promises God made to Abraham in Genesis 12).  I’ll actually be handling them in reverse order.

It makes perfect sense, but I hadn’t really noticed it until reading Jesus & Israel: One Covenant or Two? by David Holwerda (sadly, not available through WTS Books).  The second chapter, Jesus and Israel: A Question of Identity, is worth the price of the book.  This is where he works through the meaning and implications of Matthew 1:1.


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Boston.com decided to post the numbers for some of the greatest seasons in Boston Sports History.  The reason?  The potential record-breaking seasons by Tom Brady and Randy Moss.

Tom Brady: 45 touchdowns (a mere 5 interceptions) with 3 games to get 5 TDs to set a new record.  If he gets 1,000 more yards, he will break Marino’s record of 5,084.

Randy Moss needs 4 TD receptions in 3 games to break Jerry Rice’s record of 22.

Big Papi: from 2004-2006 he averaged .295, 47.3 homeruns, 141.3 RBIs, and 109.3 runs scored.

Pedro Martinez: in 1999 he was 23-4, 2.07 ERA, 313 Ks (only 37 walks), 5 complete games, and a gutsy relief performance against the Indians in the playoffs.  In 2000 he was only 18-6 but with a 1.74 ERA.

Roger Clemens: in 1986 he was 24-4 with a 2.48 ERA, 238 Ks to win the MVP and Cy Young awards in the AL

Larry Bird: from 1983-1986 Bird averaged 26.2 ppg, 9.6 rpg and shot 50.9% from the field.  Not bad for a small forward!  The Celtics went to the NBA Finals each year, and won in ’84 & ’86.  He picked up 3 straight MVP awards.


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