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Archive for April, 2008


Yesterday I listened to an interview with Frank Viola and George Barna about their book Pagan Christianity?.  I keep thinking of the former pitcher for the Red Sox.  You have to really have your head in the sand to not notice all the books critical of the “institutional church”.  This is a phrase that was used ad infintinum during the 70-minute interview.  Never defined. 

Here’s my beef with the beef against the institutional church.  Actually I have a few beefs.

1. Overgeneralization.  Yes, many of the criticisms are true of many churches.  But none of the criticisms is true of all churches.  So you end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  Yes, for instance, many churches are all about buildings (I could tell you stories, baby).  But not all are.  And that includes some big, famous congregations.  For instance, Redeemer PCA in NYC does not have a building.  They continue to rent facilities.  

But sometimes owning your facility is a good thing.  Rent was one of the problems we ran into in our restart.  If we had put our money into a new facility on a visible piece of land we might have done better.  I don’t know, and never will.  But buildings alone are not the issue- but the attitude about buildings.

2. Lack of Personal Responsibility.  They blame the church, not themselves.  Yes, there are some dysfunctional churches, and churches that enable spiritual slackers.  But most churches I’ve been associated with want people to grow and be involved.  Most people who are not engaged are not engaged because they don’t want to be engaged.  Those people fail to take personal initiative to build relationships with others, allow others into their lives, go to small groups and the list goes on.  It is easy to make the “institutional church” the scapegoat. 

The larger the church the more effort you may have to put into getting to know people.  But I’ve been in churches of over 1,000 and been able to make friends and build relationships that lasted longer than my time there.  Am I special?  No!  I recognized my personal responsibility instead of expecting everyone to initiate contact with me.  Most churches nearly beg people to be involved, they aren’t wanting to have a congregation of spectators.

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As you can imagine, I’ve gotten plenty of rejection letters in the last few years.  In fact I’ve gotten 3 this week.  Some of them have really annoyed me because they made some faulty assumptions about me, some of which were refuted in my resume & data form.

This one, however, made me laugh.  It was a nice way to deliver bad news.

re-miss  ri’mis- adjective

negligent, careless, or slow in performing one’s duty, business, etc.:  He’s terribly remiss in his work.

2. characterized by negligence or carelessness.

3. lacking force or energy; languid; sluggish [Origin: 1375-1425; late ME<L remissus (ptp. of remittere to send back, slacken, relax) see remit]

I am writing on behalf of our search committee and apologizing for my personal remiss behavior in not writing you sooner.

This really was a good way to communicate not so great news.  They obviously hadn’t read my advice to search committees and failed to keep people up to date (beyond the initial recognition of my application).  I’m glad they didn’t persist, but let me know their search is complete and God provided a godly pastor for them.

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I came across The Gospel According to the Old Testament series some time ago.  I’ve picked up new books when they have come out.  I think I have most of the series, and hope to use them at some point for a sermon series or teaching series.  But I haven’t read one in a few years as other matters distracted me.  But yesterday I was showing them to a friend who hadn’t heard of them.  So I decided now was the time to resume some of my reading.

I had read some of Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham by Iain Duguid for some earlier sermons.  I picked up where I left off.  Let me say that I met Dr. Duguid last June.  He left Westminster West to teach at Grove City College.  In the process he transferred to the ARP with hopes of planting a church near the college.  He seems like a stand up guy.

In the gap between promise and reality, we find Abraham failing in Egypt.  I like what Duguid has to say about failure for Christians.

Now, in this chapter, we will see- not for the last time- faith dealing with that failure.  That’s a very important lesson for us to learn, isn’t it?  There seem to be plenty of books telling you how to be a success, but few write about what to do when you find that you aren’t.  Yet what you do when you are at your lowest ebb, when everything has gone wrong and you have failed God and your neighbor utterly, says a great deal about the kind of person you are and the kind of faith you have.

Thankfully the Bible is about real life, and how faith engages real life.  God knows we all fail and made sure we hear about how other faithful followers have gotten up, dusted themselves off (by the blood of Christ) and kept going (by the grace of God).  This is encouraging to me.  I need to hear this.

Does failure drive you away from God, or does it drive you back to square one, back to where you started, back to the altar, the place of sacrifice, so that you can call on the name of the Lord?  The builders of the Tower of Babel made no room for offering sacrifices to God and calling on the name of the Lord.  Their motto was “In man we trust.”  For that reason, when their building project fell apart, so did they.  They had no means of dealing with failure.  There was no room in their hearts for repentance, and consequently their religiousity could not survive the exposure of their own inadequacy.

Have you met those guys?  I have.  It is not pretty.  By God’s grace I’m not one of them.  I’m pretty inadequate.  As Paul told the Corinthians, any competency I have comes from God.  That’s true for all of us, but not all of us realize it.  So, failure means you are a failure.  I heard a great line about Isiah Thomas when he was FINALLY fired- “putting the ‘L’ in losing since 200_”.  I joke with CavWife that I’ve put the ‘L’ in losing since 1965.  I’m not a “super-apostle” or an uber-Christian.  I’m an ordinary guy with an extra-ordinary calling.  But that doesn’t mean I’ll be successful in all I put my hand to.

Good people, people of faith, fail just as others do.  The difference is that when they fail, they do not fall, because they return to the Lord in repentance, calling on his name and seeking forgiveness.

So, what do you do when you fail?  Do you give up or get back up?  Don’t beat yourself up, but recognize that Jesus was beaten (and crucified) for all your sin and failure.  Get up, and get going just as if God has made all things right (because, well, He has in Christ).

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For me it was unthinkable for the Celtics to lose to the Hawks, again.  Well, it was nearly unthinkable for the Sox to be swept by the Rays, and that happened.  But the Celtics had dominated the Hawks this season, and in the first 2 playoff games.  The Hawks looked utterly horrible!

Game 3 was different.  It was like a completely different team showed up.  The Hawks could apparently do no wrong.  This despite working in a bargain basement setting.  In the second half one of the shot clocks on the goal post didn’t work.  So they turned both off and had the announcer say “10, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and a whistle indicated that time had elapsed.

Surely, I thought they Celtics would figure out their defensive rotations, the technical crew would fix the shot clock and the Hawks would regress to the mean of mediocrity.

Well, the shot clock worked.  But the buzzer didn’t so they time keeper used an air horn.  What is this, Middle School?  David Stern, who was there, had to be cringing since this was part of the national TV doubleheader.  Doc helped the Hawks with some strange rotations.  In a time when they needed a lockdown defender, Eddie House was in there instead of Tony Allen or James Posey.  Huh?????  This helped former Celtic Joe Johnson do his best Michael Jordan impersonation and totally dominate the 4th quarter so the Celtics actually LOSE.  Arrrggghhh!

Worse, ESPN keeps playing the little scrum that erupted.  2 players (Perkins and Marvin Williams) left the bench area and might have to sit for game 5.  KG was going ballistic, so focused on Pachulia that he flicked the ref off of him.  Since the ref didn’t toss him, I’m hoping that the league doesn’t decide to help the Hawks some more by tossing KG for a game or 2.  Of course they fined Pierce for making a gesture that they claim is a gang symbol.  Looks more like flicking something off your finger or going “okay”.  I don’t know.  Apparently it means “blood, sweat and tears” and he does it at the beginning of every game.

So, this series should be over, or at least on the verge of being over.  Yet, we are tied with a far inferior team.  Welcome to the joys of the playoffs.  Now, can the Celtics make the necessary adjustments?  Will they continue to give Bibby wide open looks?  Will they lose players for Game 5?  Have they noticed that the Magic finally WON a playoff series (it’s been more than a decade folks)?

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It was a jam packed weekend filled with fun and frustration.  It is fun hearing that you don’t have any cavities!  It is also fun trying to teach my daughter how to cut paper with her new scissors.  She still uses both hands to open it, and wants to hold them at an odd angle.  Yes, it will take time.  But it was fun.

Frustration?  I was certainly frustrated with the same daughter was angry with me because I didn’t want her walking around with the blade unit from the Magic Bullet.  She can’t grasp that I’m trying to protect her from potentially dangerous situations.  All she knows is that I’m blocking her pursuit of fun.  It also was frustrating not being able to find a gender-neutral scooter for my kids at the W-M. 

Fun was watching my son play with his new cars.  A neighbor gave him the Cars collection.  He really enjoys playing with them- captivated really.  And he has not seen the movie.

Fun was watching him pretend to throw a baseball.  I had the Sox-Rays game on and he was mimicking the pitcher.  It was even funnier looking when I put his arm restraints back on.  He seemed captivated by baseball this weekend.

And boxing.  We were at a friend’s house.  They were showing part of the Ali-Ernie Shaver fight, and his eyes were glued to the TV.  Thankfully he wasn’t practicing with his arm restraints on this time.

Frustrating was having CavWife ask anytime I either had been or was going to be near a computer and wanting me check on the progress of the laptop.  I kept forgetting.  We were both frustrated.

Even more frustrating was watching the Sox get swept by the Rays (who have a very good team this year).  Why?  Try no off days in 3 weeks and fending off the bug.  They were worn out and wasted 2 superior pitching performances by Buchholz and Beckett.  Beckett’s 13 Ks meant an extra point for my fantasy team which remains in first place at this VERY early juncture.  I was also frustrated with watching the Hawks play an amazing game to beat the Celtics.

CavWife is not sure why the NFL draft is a big deal.  I’m not sure why anyone would spend all day watching it, much less heading to Radio City Music Hall.  I did check in periodically to see how the Patriots were doing.  Some people watch to see where players from their favorite college teams and alma maters go.  My alma mater, Boston University, no longer has a football team and so my efforts to see one of them drafter were in vain.  I can’t remember the last Terrier drafted in football or  basketball.  Hockey is a different story.  I think the Patriots addressed their most pressing needs (youth and speed at linebacker and cornerback).  But who’s to say at this point?

Our study of 1 Peter wrapped up chapter 2 Sunday night.  Our group is in transition.  The youth pastor will soon have to take over the youth study since the intern is graduating and moving on.  My long-term status in up in the air.  So we aren’t sure if the group will be able to continue come the Fall.  Someone would have to step up.

Today I took our son to one of his post-surgical appointments.  We arrived early since you can’t predict the traffic into Orlando.  We enjoyed a walk around a nearby park.  He enjoyed the fountains and the water fowls.  We saw a group of ducks that included 8-9 ducklings.  We also saw a good sized turtle swimming around in the pond.  I like sharing those moments with him.  So much better than the wet bedding (an unfortunate result of the liquid diet he’s been on since the surgery).

The surgeon was quite pleased with the repair on the lip.  He thought the palate was looking much better.  We were rinsing it when we should have been irrigating it.  The white spot I feared was a hole or exposed bone is only a scab (huge sigh of relief).  He should only wear the arm restraints for another week.  Once the stitches fall out we no longer have to irrigate.  All in all- a very good report from the surgeon.  I did discover that the reason all the skin was peeling off of his thumb was that in the restraints he couldn’t put it in his mouth.  So it dried out, really dried out.

I finally remembered to check the progress of the laptop.  Still in the repair process (sigh) so no pictures of the family or the animals we have seen.

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I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to post in the next week or so.  Yesterday I went to Presbytery.  Between where I am cicumstance-wise and some decisions made, I’m pretty discouraged.  I’m not excited abou the direction our Presbytery seems to be moving.  I’ll leave it at that.

On the way home I dropped the laptop off for the Geek Squad to try and fix the problem with the screen, again.  It intermitently goes blank, like there is a short.  We need to fix this before the extended warrentee goes the way of all flesh.  But this means I can’t go on-line at home.  Office time is a bit infrequent right now as family responsibilities take up some time.

Today CavWife brings the boy to the surgeon’s office for his post-op check-up.  His stitches will be removed.  We are concerned that there seems to be a “valley” on one side of his palate.  I will stay home with the girl, listening to her pound on the wall as she rocks instead of naps.  I may try to watch The Simpsons Movie again before returning it to its rightful owner.  Or I may sit outside and prepare for the Family Study as we wrap up 1 Peter 2.

I am excited about how well the Red Sox are playing right now.  This despite the missed starts by Beckett and Papi slump (which is over thankfully), Lowell’s injury and shaky starts by Lester and Buchholz.  Ellsbury and Papi are helping the cause of dominating my fantasy baseball league. 

Congrats to KG for getting some of the recognition he deserves for making the Celtics one of the best defensive teams, which transformed them into a winning team.  To watch them in the playoffs, expecting them to win, is a feeling I have not had since the late 80’s.  And I’m loving it!

The Bruins at least made a series out of it with Montreal.  I expected the Canadians to sweep them.  I was pleasantly surprised.  The downfall of Game 7 was losing their aggressiveness.  They seemed more reactive than proactive so the Canadians just walked away with the game.  Or perhaps skated away.

The girl is currently getting her first experience of Rossini here in the office.  She seems to enjoy it despite the fact it has no lyrics (on this CD).  I have to bring her home now.

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I got back to my reading of The Path to True Happiness by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones this afternoon.  He was talking about when Jesus cleansed the Temple in John 2.  He used this to address the church’s relationship to the state.  When this becomes confused, the church loses its real power and the whole nation suffers.

“The church is not here to tell statesmen what to do.  She has a much bigger, a much deeper, calling …  Nor is it the preacher’s task to appeal to world leaders to make peace and banish war.”

Interesting words as much of America, including our President, celebrated the visit of the Pope.  Popes seem to know how to do little else but speak to world leaders.  Sorry, but hugging a sexual abuse victim when the Church of Rome has allowed this sin to fester unhindered for decades is ample evidence of what church’s should not do.  The point: churches lose their moral authority to speak to society if they are not addressing the sin in their own communities first and foremost.

Lloyd-Jones had watched the church in England forfeit its voice for decades.  He was frustrated with a holy frustration.

For it is the tragedy of the hour that the church is telling the world what to do when the question is: Is the church in a fit condition to do so?  I suggest that it is not surprising that the world does not listen.

In tracing this idea through biblical history the Doctor notes:

But the moment there was a declension in the temple worship, deterioration invariably followed in the life of the people: like priests, like people. … Take another verse: ‘Righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34).  Not possessions, not wealth, not material power, but ‘righteousness.’ … When things go wrong in the Temple they will go wrong everywhere.  The key to everything is our relationship to God.

The Doctor is not blaming “those damned heathens” for the moral ills of his society, and neither should we.  He blamed the church because she had not lived up to her calling which opens the door to rebellion based on hypocrisy.  A vibrant church, which is pursuing righteousness, will change the shape of a nation far more than preaching against the ills of that nation.

Well so often in Israel the first thing that went wrong when they lost the living Spirit was that they turned the temple worship into something formal and external.  … The formalizing and externalizing of religion is a great curse.

We know some of this here in America.  Our churches have been infiltrated by materialism and consumerism (the whore of Babylon).  We pursue success and access, not righteousness.  We condemn non-Christians instead of applying the gospel to our own wicked hearts.  Often our churches are used by the political parties to further their agenda (this happens on both sides of the aisle, folks).  The problem is not the political parties, but the pastors and denominational leaders that bow down to them and fail to protect the flock.

The need is not for something to happen in the state, but for something to happen in the church.  Why are the statesmen ignoring the church?  Because the church has no power (he means spiritual power). … if you and I are genuinely concerned about the world and its state, our first duty is to pray for revival in the church.  It is not to say things to the world, but to seek this power which will enable us to speak to the world in such a manner that it will tremble as it listens to us.

The business of the church is to bring men and women to God and to keep them in communion with him.  The church should be filled with such power from God that everybody, in a sense, will be forced to listen. … The first prayer is to plead with him to come into his Temple, to manifest his glory, to show us something of the might of his power and to fill us with that power.

May King Jesus do just that, manifesting His glory in a people being transformed by grace.  As His church becomes healthier and exhibits spiritual power more will be converted and transformed, thus changing the character of cities, counties, states, regions and a nation.

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Unforgettable Fire: The Past, Present and Future- the Definitive Biography of U2 has been sitting on my shelf for at least a decade.  I bought it on a discount shelf while I lived in Orlando.  I’ve been meaning to read it, and decided to finally invest the time to read Eamon Dunphy’s book.

Eamon spends plenty of time covering the childhood of the band members, and what Dublin was like in those days.  I’m someone who appreciates these things.  I like knowing the events that shape the soul of people.

The book essentially covers up to the release of The Joshua Tree when they finally hit the last measure of success in the music world- #1 singles.  You definitely get the sense of how difficult it was for them to make it out of Dublin.  They came an hour away from absolute failure.  They were on the last show of the “let’s get a contract tour” without a contract.  They were broke, and Paul McGuinness’ strategy seemed ready to fail.  It was at that concert that they won over Island records.  There were lots of people who were impressed by their presence, integrity and commitment.  These people were instrumental in helping them go from unknown band to being able to develop a reputation in the U.S.

One of the other big obstacles was their relationship with Shalom, a charismatic group in Dublin.  This Christian fellowship was instrumental in many ways.  It helped cultivate the desire for them to build community as how they did business.  But Shalom, in focusing on surrendering the ego, lost sight of vocation.  They wanted U2 to quit, fearing the role of ego in the music business.  They failed to consider what these young men were called to do with their lives.  They failed to learn from biblical characters like Daniel who lived out their faith in the midst of a corrupt community.  So their influence on the members of U2 was mixed.

The faith of Bono, Edge and Larry was also a problem on their early tours.  It built a barrier in their relationship with Adam and Paul.  At the time, Adam didn’t share their faith.  As they huddled in the back of the bus to read the Bible, pray, sing and talk, Adam was left out.  He feared being kicked out of the band for a few years.  And the band was all he had.  As the 3 men matured in their faith, they realized they had an obligation to Adam (Paul helped them see how many people they were responsible for), to love him and accept him.  When it would have made sense of Bono to ask Edge or Larry to be his best man, he asked Adam in an attempt to bridge the gap he had helped build.

As the book moves on, and new people are brought into the U2 family, he also gives their brief biography as well.  And this is one of the things that sets U2 apart from the vast majority of rock bands.  They built a community of people invested in their vision and values.  I guess I summarized their values as: Respect the Fans, Respect the Crew, and Respect One Another.

The only “flaw” in the book would be the prevelant use of the F-word.  In their culture, Eamon is also from Dublin, this is common (as it was where I grew up).  As the book crosses cultures, it may not be as accepted particularly as fodder for teens.  If this is the worst you can get on U2, that is great.  There are no groupie stories or drunken/drug binges.  They sought to integrate their faith with their music, not by singing hymns but by how they treated people.  Eamon is certainly a fan, but doesn’t cover all their blemishes.  You see some of their immaturity, their weaknesses of character as well as their strengths.  He just doesn’t dwell on them, which is a good thing.

All in all, this makes good reading for someone wanting to learn more about the band members’ childhood, and their early years together.

 

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Dan in the Real World represents a definitive shift in Steve Carrell’s career.  No, still doing comedy.  No, still has that under-current of sadness in his character.  The shift is to playing a family man in a (mostly) family-friendly movie.

Dan is a widower raising 3 growing girls by writing an advice column for a local newspaper.  Since his wife’s death he has focused on raising the girls.  As they begin dating and driving Dan finds that he’s really struggling with the changes, and the loneliness that is beginning to grow more pressing.

The movie takes place over the course of a long weekend.  Each Fall he and the kids return to his parents’ beach house in Rhode Island to spend time with the whole family and close it up for the Winter.  They arrive in the midst of their own relational turmoil.  Ironically he is being considered for a syndication deal.

His whole family is there, always there, to watch him basically come undone.  Banished from his girls by his mom, Dan meets a woman at the local bookstore that unknowingly exposes the overwhelming loneliness and seems like “the one” for him.  One problem: he soon discovers that she is the girlfriend of his brother the perpetual bachelor who finally wants to settle down.  This sets up the total meltdown as the answer man has no answers.

His meltdownIt is a sad, sweet comedy (the director talked about “comedy tempered with pain and sadness”) that has some good laugh-out-loud moments.  It also has some of those “uncomfortable” moments when you know he’s doing the wrong thing (like in Swingers when Mikey kept calling the girl and leaving really long messages).  You really pull for him (or maybe it’s just because I’m the father of a little girl and I am not looking forward to those dating & driving moments when I am forced to surrender control).

In today’s society, his family could come off as suffocating.  They do everything together all weekend.  There are so many siblings and cousins there that he has to sleep in the laundry room.  This is close to how I feel when we are on vacation.  It is lots of fun, unless you need some alone time or are suffering a personal crisis (often the 2 go together).  It is great to see a family-affirming movie.  They are not perfect people- they hurt each other- but they love each other and accept each other.

This is a remarkably clean movie.  There is a mention of “self love”, and you watch him struggle with his own attraction to Juliette Binoche’s character.  There is also one scene where they are situation that was handled well by the director.  He focused on how the embarassment real people would experience rather than going for an opportunity to show some skin.

I wasn’t expecting much, and was pleasantly surprised.  CavWife really liked it and will recommend it to her parents.  They should feel like life on the Farm has been recaptured (although there are no love triangles on the Farm).

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Our family worship is a “work in progress”.  We are seeking to raise our kids in “the fear and admonition of the Lord.” 

We’ve been praying with our daughter at meals and bedtime for quite some time.  That time has also included some songs she knows from Bible Study Fellowship, as well as a few simple songs from church like the Doxology.  Now our son joins us for those times.

The kids like it when I play my guitar, but since I can’t sing I don’t lead us in songs.

It has only been in the last couple of months that she has wanted us to read from her Bible before going to bed.  Sometimes she wants me to read from it other times during the day.  We really like the Jesus Storybook Bible.  All the stories connect to Jesus in some way, shape or form.  I’m not too keen on teaching her morality, but encouraging her to love and serve King Jesus our Great High Priest.  We’ve begun to give it as a gift to some of her friends.  You can see some sample pages.  CavSon has begun to sit still for those stories as well, which is progress.

I feel like slacker dad, but we have finally begun to catechize her.  She actually brings the booklet to me sometimes, asking me to read the questions to her.  Here’s what she knows so far.

Who made you?  God.

Of what were you made?  Dust.

What does that teach you?  To be humble (and mindful of death, but we haven’t really stressed that part).

Why were you made?  To serve God (I add to enjoy/love Him)  She often answers “because he made me” but we are getting there.

Next is- Why should you serve God?  Because He made us, saved us, and keeps us.

I will probably pick up a different children’s catechism.  I’m not wild about how this one is set up.  The number begins again with each section.

 

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Yesterday was one of those days.  Our home was filled with manifestations of depravity (crabiness, anger, fear, doubt, whining etc.)  It was so wearisome.  By the time the kids went to bed we were both done.

Part of the Prayer Jesus gave us states “lead us not into trial/temptation, and deliver us from evil”.  The word Jesus used can be translated as either trial or temptation.  Since God can tempt no one (James 1), but He does test or try us, I prefer translating trial.  But our trials produce temptations as the heat and thorns of life connect with our fallen nature.  What are our temptations?

1. We are tempted to run, fleeing the trial.  We are tempted to merely change our circumstances and remove the pressure of the trial.  Lots of people choose this option far to often.  “When the going gets tough, the ‘tough’ get going”, as in gone.

2, We are tempted to use fleshly means to accomplish (what we think are) God’s purposes.  We see this often in Genesis.  Sarah specialized in this one.  Trouble getting pregnant … “here’s my main servant.  Get her pregnant.”  We employ worldly wisdom to try and get our way (James 3-4).

3. We are tempted to numb ourselves of the pain.  We zone out in front of the TV or computer.  We want a pina-colada IV.  We eat ourselves into oblivion.  He hide in pornography.  Our options are nearly unlimited in modern society.  This the easiest option for us to take.  It requires less of us.  We don’t have to really change anything, just … well, flick a switch or open the fridge.

These are all easy for us to identify.  We see them all the time.  What we rarely see is the response of faith and repentance.  As a result we don’t often know what this looks like, or how to do it.

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Big Papi has been AWOL so far this season.  I wouldn’t be one of those small-minded folks who want to ‘boo’ him.  Thankfully his mega-slump has not hurt the bottom line.  The Red Sox have done well (aside for the middle relief- please bring Snyder back!).

I just want my Big Papi back.  And last night we had a Big Papi sighting.  A grand slam over the Green Monster and another RBI hit meant that he doubled his meager HR total and more than doubled his just as meager RBI total.  Jed Lowrie had as many RBI in his one professional game.  So this was significant.

An extraordinally hot player experiences a “regression to mean”.  This means he will eventually return, regress, to his average performance.  Ortiz should experience a “progression to mean”.  The fact that the HR was to left field is significant.  He’s been trying to pull everything (so say the talking heads on TV- since I haven’t been able to watch a whole lot).  If he starts to hit to all fields again, it takes away the Papi shift, and creates more gaps for him to hit.  And he can put a few more over the Monster.

My fantasy team certainly needs Papi to be back, permanently.  I need HRs & RBIs.  Is last night a tease, or has he finally shaken off the burden he’s been carrying so he can just relax and do that thing he does, and we love him for.

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Even the NYT gets it, finally.  Scientific studies indicate that when you consider the process of creating the biofuels, they produce more greenhouse gases than traditional fuels.  Hah!  Congress’ great hope for not drilling anywhere in the continental U.S. and ending our foreign oil dependence has a few holes in it.

“When you take this into account, most of the biofuel that people are using or planning to use would probably increase greenhouse gasses substantially,” said Timothy Searchinger, lead author of one of the studies and a researcher in environment and economics at Princeton University. “Previously there’s been an accounting error: land use change has been left out of prior analysis.”

Of course these scientists haven’t quite figured out that temperatures are dynamic, not static, and that the models just don’t fit reality.

Then there is the “unintended consequence”. 

For instance, if vegetable oil prices go up globally, as they have because of increased demand for biofuel crops, more new land is inevitably cleared as farmers in developing countries try to get in on the profits. So crops from old plantations go to Europe for biofuels, while new fields are cleared to feed people at home.

Likewise, Dr. Fargione said that the dedication of so much cropland in the United States to growing corn for bioethanol had caused indirect land use changes far away. Previously, Midwestern farmers had alternated corn with soy in their fields, one year to the next. Now many grow only corn, meaning that soy has to be grown elsewhere.

Increasingly, that elsewhere, Dr. Fargione said, is Brazil, on land that was previously forest or savanna. “Brazilian farmers are planting more of the world’s soybeans — and they’re deforesting the Amazon to do it,” he said.

Once again we run after the elaborate, seemingly attractive solution at the expense of the simplier solutions or really understanding if there really is a problem.  So, due to the radical environmentalists and global warming alarmists have tied our hands behind our backs.  As a result of their demands, we continue to export way too much oil, which drives down the dollar, increasing the price for gas, and all the things we ship using it, shift to alternative fuels further driving up the cost of grains and all other products that rely on grains … it is a vicious cycle. 

Yes, I’m sick of the stupidity.

HT: The Institute

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I’d include a new photo, but I can’t seem to insert photos on the laptop, only the PC.  How very strange.  Nothing I’ve tried to resolve it has worked.  And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

CS has been home for 2 days now.  We were not sure what to expect.  We heard some horror stories from some people.  A few mentioned that it completely threw off the children’s sleep patterns.

The night after his surgery he woke up frequently, often needing some water.  The second night, our first back home, I slept like a rock for about 9 hours in the back bedroom.  CW was happy since I snore louder and longer when I am in such a state of exhaustion.  So she had CS duty that night.  He woke up about every 2 hours.  Last night he didn’t wake up until 6:20.  So, he is pretty much back to his normal sleep pattern.  Big sigh of relief there.

One family we know said their son was going to have his surgery in June.  The doctor recommended putting casts on his arms rather than restraints.  Sometimes kids do figure out how to get free.  The first 2 weeks are probably the most important, so he won’t pull at the stitches on his lip (creating some ugly scar tissue) or put something in his mouth that will damage the repaired palate.  He is adjusting fairly well to the restraints.  He’s able to do most things.  We feed him and help him with his cup.  We give him some freedom around bath time as well.  I do get concerned when he’s running around.  It is a bit hard to break your fall with arm restraints.  But he’s doing well.

He was still a bit “off” from the anesthesia (we think) when he got back.  He is back to being his usual self now.   He had a rash on his torso yesterday.  We think it was the penecillan.  He’s still on his tylenol w/codeine, but should go to straight tylenol tomorrow.  The pain and discomfort seem to have improved greatly (this was another reason he was waking up so much).

The 2 of them have been playing outside.  Sometimes I cringe, fearing that he’ll get hurt.

CW is now the Magic Bullet Queen.  She loves using it to puree his food.  She even pureed a biscuit yesterday.  It has been a big help.  He’s able to eat most of what we eat, just with one extra step.  Okay, we also have to spoon feed him.  And sometimes CD as well.  She doesn’t want to feel left out.

 

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Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you.  CavWife (CW) ran across this story today.  It comes from the Yale Daily News and is about a Yale art school senior.  It is sad, distressing and disgusting.

Her senior project is “a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself “as often as possible” while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.”

She says she did not design this for shock value or scandalize anyone.  Self-deceived or clueless, I’m not sure.  But any reasonable adult would realize that this would shock people.

Personally, I cannot believe someone would even consider doing this.  Art should make us think, but to the betterment of our souls.  It should not de-humanize us.  Due to our depravity, it is far too easy for us to show the ugly side of life.  But it requires far more work to show beauty, dignity and honor.  So, when we give our depravity free rein, it reveals the worst in us instead of the best in us.

Sinclair Ferguson touches on this sad reality.

Only by seeing our sin do we come to see the need for and wonder of grace. But exposing sin is not the same thing as unveiling and applying grace. We must be familiar with and exponents of its multifaceted power, and know how to apply it to a variety of spiritual conditions. Truth to tell, exposing sin is easier than applying grace; for, alas, we are more intimate with the former than we sometimes are with the latter. Therein lies our weakness.

    Sadly, both bad art and bad preaching fall into this trap.  Both express only our depravity, and neglect our dignity.  Both settle for sin rather than grasp for grace.

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Stuart Townend is one of the songwriters who wrote In Christ Alone (My Hope is Found) and a bunch of other great modern hymns.  He is helping with the worship at the NWA 08 Conference in England.  It was there that Adrian Warnock caught up with him for an interview to be found in New Frontiers Magazine.  You can download the whole interview if you want.  Here are a few excerpts from Adrian’s blog:

Stuart
It was the first song Keith Getty and I wrote together. Keith is a fantastic melody writer. It was his music that inspired me to take my lyric writing seriously and convey the truths of the Scriptures in a poetic way to help people retain the truth. I have been humbled to see how it has been used. I get more comments on that song than all the rest put together. It was a timely song, written around the time 9-11 shook our foundations. To be able to sing at that time “No scheme of man can pluck me from his hand” was important.

Adrian
What makes a worship song good?

Stuart
Having focused on the cross of Christ, it’s important to ask, “What does that mean for me? What’s the foundation of life?” Stuart TownendIt’s not just, “How does it make me feel?” Rather, it should be—“What is the unchanging truth about my life based on the unchanging truth about God and what he has done? What has God said about me or us or the Church?” Those things are unchanging truths that don’t depend on whether I am having a good time or a bad time. They are about me, but they are really about God and what God has done in me. Worship is not just about singing songs that make me feel better. In the middle of whatever I am facing, God is with me. Worship should be exciting, but founded on the truth of the gospel. Our feelings are a by-product of the glorious truth we are celebrating.

Adrian
Indeed! In Christ Alone has also caused some controversy, hasn’t it?

Stuart
Yes, some people breach copyright law by changing a particular line. Some people will not use the song. But the problem with that is that some people are saying we shouldn’t preach or sing about a core element of the gospel. I cannot make sense of the whole Bible without the concept of wrath.

I like the way he worded that: what does it mean for me, not to me.  A great worship song is focused objectively on Christ’s work on our behalf.  The subjective element is my response, which cannot be dictated to by a song.  Truth must shape our “religious affections”.

Also interesting was the copyright issue posed by those wanting to eliminate any reference to God’s wrath in the song.  Rather than skip a verse, they changed the words which is a no-no.  In this case, I can see pressing the issue, though suing fellow Christians should be avoided (1 Corinthians 6).  In the case of American Idol changing a word in Shout to the Lord, I can see their willingness not to make an issue of it.  They are glad that the song  was played on national TV. 

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Home Again

If I have to do this again … shoot me.  I told CavWife this must have been payback for the China trip.

Yesterday morning I was up at 5:30 after not sleeping all that well.  CavDaughter woke me up twice, so that didn’t help.  Since I’d watched the Red Sox beat the Yankees late Sunday, I didn’t watch the come from behind victory against the Indians.  I was a good boy.  But tired even before loading CavSon into the car to head off to the hospital at 6 am.

He really did great yesterday morning.  I thought he’d become super-whiny since I couldn’t give him anything to eat or drink.  But he was in a good mood until crashing at 10:30.  I brought one diaper with me.  Shortly after arriving I noticed some leakage so I traipsed off to the men’s room to change him, seeing a sign that they had changing tables in there.  Sadly, 1. some guy occupied the bathroom for about 10 minutes, and 2. the changing table was in another bathroom.  I also learned they decided to save money on toilet paper and had an ample supply of sand paper in its place.  At approximately 8 am the magic moment I had feared came.  I asked the lady at the desk for a new diaper.  She directed me to the bathroom with a changing table!

A few minutes later they called us back for him to change.  A series of nurses checked in on us to make sure we didn’t need anything.  Very friendly people.  They put in a Barney video for him.  His first Barney experience.  I wanted him to hate it, but he liked it.  Blues Clues was not received quite as well.  He was restless and the surgeon was behind schedule.  I had not read a page of listened to anything but Barney.  Sadly, I’d left my headphones in the car.  After wearing him out he was ready for a nap when the surgeon came by to go over final details.  He was off for surgeon, happily waving ‘bye-bye’.

I spent the next few hours reading half the PCA Book of Church Order, which nearly put me asleep.  Then I went to the car to grab my lunch, once again forgetting the headphones.  After reading some of my novel, I gave up and went into the children’s waiting room which was empty.  A recliner was a great place to nap until the surgeon woke me up with the good news that he was in recovery.

I joined him in recovery, holding him until he was ready to head to the pediatric ward.  No reading, no sermons.  Up in pediatrics, he was doing pretty well.  But between the phone calls, crying and nurses talking to me I actually heard about 10 minutes of Grahame Goldsworthy.

Before he could leave in the morning he had to be drinking and eating.  He was pretty thirsty and quickly took care of the first.  For dinner he had some applesauce and babyfood bannanas.  Paydirt!  We just had to make it through the night.

My dinner was late.  A friend was bringing me dinner, but circumstances conspired such that he arrived at 8 pm, when visiting hours ended.  But we went off the cafeteria to talk.  He brought me a Joey Bag o’ Donuts and a beer from Moe’s.  He figured I probably would need one.  Oh, a true friend.

I was back in the room by 9:30 and started to watch a movie on the DVD player I borrowed.  After about 20 minutes I faced the fact I would not finish the movie.  I was in bed by 10, so very un-Cavman-like.  It seemed that every time I was close to falling to sleep something happened: a monitor alarm went off, he woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep, a nurse came in, he was thirsty ….  It was as if they had some special detection device.

When the surgeon arrived he found everything in good order and the wheels were in motion for discharge.  He enjoyed his breakfast of applesauce and scrambled eggs.  He also had time to work the floor, flirting with all the nurses.  One of the interesting things about the hospital that I learned as the transportation specialist pushed us in the wheelchair is that they don’t allow child patients out via the parking garage, where I was parked.  So, I had to leave him with the specialist while I went to get the car and drive to the other side of the hospital instead of 150 feet in the parking garage.

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Assuming all goes well, and CavSon does not get sick, he will have surgery tomorrow.  His palate will be repaired, his lip scar touched up and tubes put in his ears.  It is outpatient surgery, so barring complications he and I will be there less than 24 hours.  I’ll be spending the night with him and need to bring things to keep me busy.

1. I’m loading up my MP3 player with some lectures by Graeham Goldsworthy and Piper & Chandler from the Text & Context Conference at Mars Hill.

2. I’m bringing the PCA Book of Church order to brush up “just in case”.

3. I’m bringing The Path to True Happiness by Martyn Lloyd-Jones and hope to finish it.

4. I’m bringing Jungle Pilot which is about Nate Saint.

5. I’ll also bring a novel.

Maybe I should bring my glasses since I’ll be doing so much reading.  I think the laptop will be staying home so CavWife can use it.  I’m not sure if they have wireless service there at the hospital.  Hmmm, I wonder if anyone I know has a portable DVD player.  I’ll have to check on that prospect.

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I’m not talking about the movie.  I’m talking about the ruins left behind by ‘progressive’ ideas.  Two blog posts by Al Mohler illustrate.

One of Ronald Reagan’s greatest regrets, so I’ve heard, is signing the “No Fault Divorce” law as Governor of California.  A man who grew up a few blocks from the “Brady” house in California decided to check in with his friends from high school to see how the rapid increase in divorce among their parents affected them.  His Newsweek article shares some of the shocking stories.  The author is only 2 years older than me.  Although divorce was not quite as common in southern New Hampshire, I know I felt some of those fears as a child.

Despite his experiences, Mr. Jefferson states that he’d marry his partner if allowed to by law.  This leads us to the next topic Dr. Mohler addresses.  Many ‘progressives’ have a “not my kid” mentality about homosexuality.  These are people who willing and warmly embrace homosexuals (actually, many Christians do too), so they are not “homophobes”.  But they are conflicted when it comes to their own children.  And apparently their kids have caught on.  Homosexuals in Christian families report having an easier time telling their parents.  These of course are probably families that understand the gospel and practice unconditional love.  Why do I say this?  A family that “gets” the gospel understands that all of us are corrupt and prone toward evil.  Some of us just pursue “respectable” evils like gluttony, gossip and greed to name but a few.  You don’t have to approve or like your kids’ choices, but you are to love them like you love yourself. 

The ruins of ‘progressive’ thought (which exalts personal freedom over mutual obligation and personal responsibility) are broken families and uncertain kids.  Not only are kids uncertain if their parents will stay together, but if their parents will continue to love them if they knew the truth about them.  Afterall, isn’t that why some/many of their parents are divorcing- they couldn’t handle the truth about one another.  Obviously, sometimes it is one spouse’s unwillingness to change destructive behavior.  But this still undermines a child’s relational foundation.

My hope is not in “conservative values”.  I’m not into moralism though I have conservative values.  My hope is in the gospel, the power of God to save everyone who believes.  We can be saved not only penalty of sin, but the power of sin.  Communities that “get” the gospel will provide the relational stability necessary for children to grow up able to love others.

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 I think Terry Francona really ought to consider keeping Papi on the shelf.  In fact, I’d put him on the DL.

1. It would give his knee time to rest and heal more completely.

2. Both Ellsbury and Crisp will play everyday.  This will allow both to get into, and stay, in a good rhythm.

3.  Ellsbury adds so much to the team offensively.  He needs some time to learn the major league ball parks too.  I’d really hate to kill his Rookie of the Year chances with this platooning problem.

4. Coco needs to play if they want to showcase him for a trade, which seems to be the plan. 

I think this solves all of the Red Sox current everyday issues.  It doesn’t provide relief for the bullpen which has not performed well outside of Papelbon and Okajima.

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