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Archive for December, 2008


I started to see this book pop up on people’s blogs a few years ago.  The title, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation by Graeme Goldsworthy, intrigued me.  So, using a gift certificate, I bought the book.  Recently, excited to begin reading, a friend wondered aloud why we need to read another book on hermeneutics.

I’m glad I didn’t listen.  I have not yet finished the book, but I’ve found it quite stimulating, understandable and grappling with an important topic: how should we, as evangelical Christians, interpret the Scriptures?

Here we will cover Part 1 of the book: Evangelical Prolegomena to Hermeneutics.   Goldsworthy introduces the idea of presuppositions into the question of hermeneutics: will we assume the supreme authority of God or assume human autonomy?  This is the question upon which so much hinges in biblical interpretation.  Our assumptions or presuppositions, in addition to this one, greatly affect the effectiveness of our attempts to understand, explain and apply the text of Scripture.

“The function of hermeneutics could be stated as the attempt to bridge the gap between the text inside its world and the readers/hearers inside their world.”

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I’m reading my brother-in-law’s copy of A Gospel Primer for Christians by Milton Vincent.  It should be read slowly as I’m discovering.  That way you can meditate on the greatness of the gospel and its connection to our lives today.  Vincent reminds us that the gospel is for Christians- we never outgrow our need for the gospel in this earthly life.  As a result, we need to continually preach the gospel to ourselves.  This is not as simplistic as it sounds, and he addresses the many results of the gospel we need to remember.

“Additionally, with the gospel proving itself to be such a boon in my own life, I realize that the greatest gift I can give to my fellow-Christians is the gospel itself.  Indeed, I love my fellow-Christians not simply because of the gospel, but I love them best when I am loving them with the gospel!  And I do this not merely by speaking gospel words to them, but also by living before them and generously relating to them in a gospel manner.  Imparting my life to them in this way, I thereby contribute to their experience of the power, the Spirit, and the full assurance of the gospel.”

A great summary of the point of many of Paul’s epistles.  Further:

“Hence, the more I comprehend the full scope of the gospel, the more I value the church for which Christ died, and the more I value the role that I play in the lives of my fellow-Christians, and the more I appreciate the role that they must be allowed to play in mine.”

The gospel banishes individualism and independence.  Jesus doesn’t just work for and in me, but worked for US and works in US.

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David Wayne, aka the Jolly Blogger,  is my friend.  We spent some time together at RTS Orlando.  But we got to know each other much better when we both served different churches in Winter Haven.  I was often a beneficiary of he and Lynnette’s hospitality.  They even put up with my dog, except for when he peed on their Christmas gift.  Actually, they handled that in their typically gracious manner.  I was very disappointed to learn they would be moving to MD.

Their move to Baltimore paid off when I was stranded in Baltimore one Christmas Day when the Albany airport was closed due to snow.  David came to the hotel to bring me home to enjoy fellowship and a hot meal (and I had not had anything to eat all day).  Again, graciousness and hospitality.

David was the one who encouraged me to blog.  He understood how isolated you can feel in Winter Haven.  He may regret that encouragment.  I did tell him to let me know if I said anything really stupid or crossed any lines.

Ever the good guy with a hearty laugh, David recommended me for a position recently. 

Why am I going on about the JollyBlogger?  My friend learned he has colon cancer.  He’s going to spend Christmas Eve on the operating table.  Not quite what he and the family were thinking Christmas would be like last week.  So, I’m asking those of you who share our faith in Jesus as our Prophet, Priest and King, to pray for David, Lynette and their 3 kids.  Ask for mercy and grace.  He’s no superstar pastor, but he’s the kind of guy you’d want for a pastor- a heart open to Jesus and His people.  (here is more after the video)

I love that movie.  And that scene…. how can you not be moved.

Update: The surgery went well, and David is recovering.  But, they found 2 large tumors on his liver (which is NOT good), nodules in his lungs and his lymph nodes  have been infected.  Bekah is making updates on his blog.  Please continue to pray.

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As part of his chapter on Worldliness in Respectable Sins, Jerry Bridges talks about money and how Christians use it.  First, let’s see his definition of worldliness.

“Worldliness means accepting the values, mores, and practices of the nice, but unbelieving, society around us without discerning whether or not thos values, mores, and practices are biblical.”

Pretty good definition.  It is when we are shaped by the world instead of being conformed to Christ in how we approach seemingly trivial matters.  He points to how Christians use money as a place where we are often quite worldly.  We often don’t examine how we spend our money- only if we have enough to get what we want.  We tend to get caught in that self-centered approach to living when it comes to “our” money.

Evangelicals are giving far less money to their churches than they did in years past.  He notes that in 8 evangelical denominations (not mainline ones) people give only 4.4% of their income.  They are spending more money on themselves by keeping up with technological toys, collecting music or movies, big boy toys (boats, snowmobiles..), eating out often, etc.  But here was what disturbed me even more.

“Not only are we giving less to our churches, but it seems that more of what we do give is spent on ourselves.  In 1920, the percentage of giving to missions from total offerings was just over 10 percent.  But by 2003, that figure had declined to just under 3 percent.  That means we spent 97 cents of every dollar on our own local programs and ministries while sending 3 cents overseas.”

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Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges is long overdue.  Jerry has done us a service by addressing this topic, and particularly in a way that points us to Christ in the process.  It is not a book filled with condemnation, but one that seeks to convict us while reminding us of Christ’s work for us and in us.  Since there is a discussion guide available, many small groups or SS classes could profitably use these materials and work through their sin together.

Bridges starts by building the much needed case for why we need to look at these things in the first place.  He overcomes some sad areas of ignorance among Christians.  Before he addresses those sinse we overlook, he discusses The Malignancy of Sin, The Remedy for Sin and the Power of the Holy Spirit.  There is even a short chapter on Dealing with Sins.  This establishes a gospel-centered focus which should keep the book from just being a finger in your eyes.  Bridges also puts himself in the boat with us, sharing some of his own struggles with these sins.

In terms of the sins he addresses, they are: ungodliness, anxiety & frustration, discontentment, unthankfulness, pride, selfishness, lack of self-control, impatience and irritability, anger, judgmentalism, envy, jealousy, sins of the tongue and worldliness.  An impressive list.  He could have done more, but I feel enough conviction.  Yes, we have normalized many of these sins with a variety of excuses.  We write them off to anything but our sinfulness, be it genetics, nurture etc.

Bridges’ work with the Puritans is evident to me, as he dissects each sin so you get a better idea of its many manifestations.  His book is readable, not filled with big technical theological verbiage.  He writes for the average person.  But it is difficult to read precisely because we find ourselves represented, in a negative light, so very often.   It is tough to root out the sins we don’t hate, and don’t even recognize as sins.  Bridges assists us in this process so the gospel gains a stronger foothold in our lives.

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The Red Sox learned from one of their earlier mistakes.  Dice-K has done well in his 2 years with the Red Sox.  But not as well as perhaps anticipated.  The difference in balls (Japanese teams often use a smaller ball) and Dice-K’s relatively small hands meant that he had trouble gripping the ball for certain pitches.  John Farrell says they removed 2 pitches from his arsenal as a result.  If Dice-K had control of those 2 pitches … he would obviously be even better.

So, when the Red Sox tried out Junichi Tawaza they had him throw using MLB balls.  This gave them a better idea of which pitches he’d be able to throw well when he got to America.  Apparently they liked what they saw enough to sign him to a contract.

(HT: Peter Gammons)

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Mark Teixeira is like the anti-Manny.  Money Ramirez just wants to hit, be adored on the field and ignored off the field.  He forfeited 2 one-year team options for $20 million a piece in the hopes for one last big contract.  He’s not known for his fielding, nor his community involvement.

Teixeira is a 2-time Gold Glove winner who is known for his community involvement.  He is the ideal team player.  The Sox, who couldn’t get rid of Money fast enough, really want Mark.  They see this off season as the chance to undo the mistake the previous ownership made in not treating him well after drafting him out of high school.  He ended up at Georgia Tech, like their Captain who also switch-hits, before being drafted by the Rangers.

But there is something they have in common beside being hitting cage rats- Scott Boras.  Scott is the bane of most GM’s existence.  He has a reputation for not negotiating above board, often creating phantom offers.  He often gets what he wants for a player (see J.D. Drew & Johnny Damon for example).

He’s up to his old tricks again.  The Red Sox had made the highest offer for Teixeira’s services for the next 8 years.  During a meeting in Texas, in this lousy economy, the Red Sox were informed their offer was about $25 million short.  Ah … so who is going to sign him to that contract at $24 million per year?

Boras must think he’s dealing with the Yankees, whose $161 million dollar offer was about $60 million more than any one else’s offer.  The Red Sox have made the biggest offer thus far, but not by much.

The other teams have pretty much maxed out their offers.  And, so it seems, have the Red Sox.  This is not being cheap- we’re talking nearly $200 million here!  But Scott Borat, I mean Bora$, like many a guy on a used car lot, has a figure in his mind and no one has met it.

So what happens?  It should be interesting as Teixeira’s personal deadline draws near.  Will someone up their offer?  Very doubtful at this point unless the Yankees decide to nearly double their contract signings so far.  Will Teixeira realize it isn’t going to happen and do what everyone expected him to do and sign with the Sox?  Will he persist and wait teams out, possibly until Spring Training?  That would hold up a number of other free agents, and he could see the number of teams pursuing him dwindle until THEY have all the leverage and Mark and Bora$ have to save face.

Why should Teixeira sign with the Red Sox?

  • They have made the best offer so far- a generous one, mind you.
  • They are successful now, and should be for years to come.  The Yankees’ window, if the big signings work for them, will be small since their stars are aging and there aren’t enough young stars rising thru the ranks.  The Red Sox have vets like Papi, Drew and Lowell, guys entering their prime (Beckett, Youkilis, Dice-K, Bay) and young studs who are the foundation for the next decade (Pedroia, Lester, Ellsbury), and some exciting prospects to boot.  They have pitching & hitting.
  • They are on the east coast, where he wants to be.
  • They have a hitting philosophy just like his.  With those hitters around him, he’ll see more good pitches which will lead to some All-Star numbers, possibly Hall of Fame numbers, and lots of victories.  He has a chance to become legendary.
  • The Angels made it to the playoffs, losing to the Red Sox, and have promptly lost their record-setting closer, and most likely their DH (Anderson).  They have the pitching, but not the offense unless they suddenly reload.  They may get to the playoffs, but they won’t be favorites to win it all unless other teams are hobbled by injury.

It all makes sense to everyone by Mark and $cott.  Or maybe it does, and they are just trying to milk a few million more out of the Red Sox.  But doesn’t that reduce their ability to field a winning team around you?  Bora$ isn’t concerned about that, just his percentage off a bigger contract.  Mark, only you and the Red Sox care about winning championships.  Time to change your play.

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