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Archive for April, 2015


I hadn’t seen Switchfoot live since before the release of Nothing is Sound in 2005. That was at the short-lived Cypress Gardens Adventure Park (now Legoland). That night they previewed Stars which is still one of my favorite Switchfoot songs.

Since then there have been a series of lost chances and bad chances. For awhile, they only placed festivals in FL, like Rock the Universe. Most of the bands at those events don’t really interest me.

Then in early 2010 they would be in concert close enough in FL to get my hopes up during the Hello, Hurricane tour. Then I realized I would actually be in AZ finalizing things for my new position. So I checked their tour dates to see when they would be in AZ. There was one coming up, while we were driving from FL to AZ.

The last 5 years have seen a similar pattern of festivals and concerts when I was unable to make it (like on at Grand Canyon University). This may be for my good: the saving of my hearing.

When I saw there was a tour with NeedToBreathe I looked at the dates. Nothing near me. So I was surprised when a short time later my wife called to say they would be playing in Tucson. I was surprised. There was nothing on their website, but I found it on the local KLOVE website. Yes, they would be at the Pima County Fair, the night before presbytery.

Argh! I thought. The Choir and Mike Roe would be Phoenix in June for the 25th anniversary of the Circle Slide album Tour. It is the night before I leave for General Assembly so CavWife put the kibosh on that. I thought this might suffer a familiar fate since it would most likely be an overnight trip. Maybe she felt a tinge of guilt, but she actually encouraged me to go. It helped that my session meeting on Tuesday night had been postponed.

I’ve lived here for 5 years and have yet to go to the fairgrounds for ANYTHING including the fair. So on Wednesday night I made the drive south of town into the veritable middle of nowhere to the fairgrounds. It is very easy to get to. Parking was not bad. $5 for parking and $8 for admission made this a $13 concert for me. It was also an hour closer than Phoenix.

I endured the slow-moving crowds to make my way to the main stage. They were the only act. I was about 40 minutes early and camped out between the preferred seating (about $10 extra bucks) and the sound board. I was dead center and less than 100 feet from the stage. There was only one group of people between me and fence. This was a great spot. As the sun went down and the wind picked up, I wondered if I should have worn either a fleece or pants instead of my shorts and t-shirt. But as the area filled with warm bodies it was great weather for a concert.

At 7:30 one of the local rock stations sent a rep up who introduced two people from KOVE. How is that for a bit strange. They had some give-aways, but sent a girl who threw t-shirts like a girl and frisbees like a 3 year-old. If you were more than 10 feet from the stage- forget about it!

At the same time the show started, and for about 30 minutes, there was some aircraft zooming around to the southwest. Non-blinking green lights on one side, and red on the other. I couldn’t see a spot so I don’t think it was a Border Patrol helicopter. At times it seemed to hover like one, but at other times it was moving very fast. It was interesting in distracting as I kept on eye on it and one on the concert.

They opened with a song I didn’t recognize. The most repeated phrase was “Like You Mean It”. From there they went into the aforementioned “Stars”. They seemed to hit their stride at this point.

I wasn’t sure what the next song was entitled but then they moved into a cover of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.” Then they played “Your Love is a Song” which is a great song of off Hello, Hurricane.

For there they played “Love Along is Worth the Fight” from Fading West with a bit of an intro connected with the making of the movie. Jon came down off the stage. First he was walking on the preferred seating fans and then made it to the corner near me, standing of the fence but facing away from me. Then he moved to the other corner and faced me.

From there he mentioned they were back from Australia and open to getting away from the set list. Someone had requested “We Are One Tonight”. In the middle of the song they did a verse from “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine.” Nice little mini-medley there.

They went back in time to play “Dare You to Move” which Jon claimed to have written before he dropped out of college. Then it was “Let it Out.” Jon introduced his little brother Tim on bass who got to pick the next song. I have no idea what the song was but it did have a great bass line to feature him.

From there it was “We Come Alive” (questionable title) before “Dark Horses”. Jon then got his acoustic for the familiar strains of “Meant to Live” to close the set. I looked at my phone to see the time. Only 8:40.

They came back for an encore of “Only Yours” and “Forever Now”, wrapping up at 8:55.

It was a short show, but I figured it was a $13 dollar show. They did put on a good show and sounded good. As a band they don’t focus on elongated solos. The drum “solo” at the end of a song was maybe 30 seconds. That just doesn’t seem to be there thing, which is too bad. Jon’s voice isn’t the strongest so it got lost in the mix occasionally.

I was disappointed by what they didn’t play. I wanted to hear “The Sound (John Perkin’s Blues)”, “Mess of Me” and nearly anything from Nothing is Sound.” But such things are to be expected when you have that many albums. It was still a good and enjoyable show.

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At the beginning of his book, Calvin and the Sabbath, Richard Gaffin notes that everyone seems to make use of a quote from Calvin to support their view of the Sabbath. The subtitle helps us understand the quandary: The Controversy of Applying the Fourth Commandment.

This volume is a re-working of Gaffin’s Master of Theology thesis under John Murray at Westminster Seminary many years ago. This means it is not written at a popular level. Most of us will have to concentrate to track with Gaffin at times, and there will not be any interesting stories to help us understand a point. It is still an academic work.

Gaffin’s procedure is pretty simply. He begins with some background to the controversy before examining Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and some catechisms. Gaffin compares different editions of the Institutes as well. He then examines exegetical writings (his commentaries) and sermons. He then includes other Reformers and some of the Reformation Creeds to show a similarity of thought on the issue.

“First, widespread disagreement as persisted about what Calvin meant where he has expressed himself concerning the Sabbath.”

As you read you can see how it is that people can latch on one aspect of what Calvin says to support so many views of the Sabbath and its application to our corporate and personal lives.

In the background material Gaffin summarizes the main theories regarding the Sabbath or Lord’s Day.

1. The Antinomian View. This began with the Anabaptist movement during the Reformation which had a sharp antithesis between law and gospel. It argues that Christ fulfilled the law for us and we no longer have an obligation to keep the ten commandments. To fulfill this command would be to contradict the NT teaching regarding there being no distinction of days and seasons (Rom. 14 & Col. 2).

2. The Seventh-Day Sabbatarian View. Gaffin notes that this view also appears among 16th century Anabaptists. While Christ fulfilled the law for us, Jesus didn’t abolish the law and we keep it out of faith, love and gratitude.

3. The Ecclesiastical or Dominical View. This cluster of views hold that the Sabbath  has its origin in the Mosaic covenant and therefore was strictly for the Jews, not for Christians. The end result is the same as the Antinomian view, but the rationale is quite different. This has been the dominant view in Anglican churches.

4. The Sabbatarian View. This focuses on the Sabbath as a creation ordinance from Genesis 2. The Mosaic regulation of the Sabbath is not binding on us but was for Israel, yet the creation ordinance remains. This view was argued by many of the English Puritans.

On the eve of the Reformation the western church was overloaded with feast and fast days which were required to be celebrated as part of the sacramental system essential for salvation. The Reformers were not only dealing with the Scriptures but also their own historical context. We do best to keep this in mind. At times Calvin is arguing against the view of Rome. At other times he is arguing against the Antinomian Anabaptists. When we forget this we tend to see him as contradicting himself instead of addressing a different series of errors. This, in part, is why Gaffin wants to look at all of Calvin’s writings to get a more comprehensive understanding of Calvin’s view.

We could summarize Calvin’s view as Gaffin does in a number of places.

1. The weekly day of rest which Israel was ordered to keep by the fourth commandment fulfilled three distinct functions.

a) It was a promissory sign, typical of the spiritual rest from sin which God would one day give to his people.

b) It provided a day for public assembly, a stated time for hearing the law and offering sacrifices.

c) It provided a day of rest from toil for slaves and servants.

2. At the first advent of Christ, culminating in his death and resurrection, the Sabbath ceased to function as a type. The spiritual rest promised to Israel by the weekly day of rest, has become a full reality. Christians now enjoy that rest on every day of their lives. In this sense, as a type of spiritual rest, the Sabbath has been abrogated and should no longer be observed.

3. Although the typical character of the Sabbath no longer exists, the other two functions of the Sabbath given to Israel are still in force.

a) The fourth commandment requires the public assembly of the church … Which day of the week is set aside for this assembly, whether one or more, is a matter of indifference.

b) The fourth commandment requires that rest be given to those who in their labors are subject to the authority of others.

4. The fourth commandment must always be seen in its context, that is, as part of the Decalogue, which applies to all people in every age.

There, you got that? The commandment is still binding, but the typological function of the command has been fulfilled in Christ. What remains, basically is a spiritual rest from sin, the need for public worship and the provision of rest for those under authority. This view would be different from the way the Westminster Divines expressed our responsibility in a way very similar to its Mosaic expression. This presents a tension in denominations like my own which holds to the Westminster Confession of Faith and yet holds Calvin in high esteem with many pastors embracing his view (as they understand it).

“Here Calvin shows himself, despite undeniable and decided differences in theological rationale for observing the Lord’s Day, to be remarkably close, in practice, to later Puritan views, like those given confessional status in the Westminster Confession of Faith.”

Calvin’s view would not appear to undermine the system of doctrine in the Westminster Confession. He upholds it as part of the moral law which still abides, but differs on how to apply it.

Yet, I still experience some cognitive dissonance with Calvin’s view. I also experience some with regard to the view of the Confession (I did take an exception). In other words, neither view completely expresses my own view which even I struggle to express. This is because in some ways my views are still “cooking” or developing. I think of it like a stew that needs time for everything to come together.

Gaffin, in his evaluation of Calvin’s view, puts his finger on some of the areas of dissonance for me. First, his understanding of the Sabbath as spiritual rest for everyday seems deprive it of it’s place in the Decalogue. He quotes Edwards as one who recognized this: “And if it stands in force now only as signifying a spiritual, Christian rest, and holy behavior at all times, it doth not remain as one of the ten commandments, but as a summary of all the commands.” In other words it no longer stands alone and doesn’t really command anything in particular. It “merely” summarizes the many other commands to flee sin and pursue godliness.

Second, Calvin does not seem to fully appreciate the Sabbath as creation ordinance. Calvin sees the Sabbath within the context of sin. As a creation ordinance it has bearing on man as man, not only as sinner. He doesn’t seem to do justice to the concept that as made in the image of God I not only work, but rest as God does. I need rest as man, not only as sinner. “The meaning of the Sabbath institution prior to the fall seems not to have crossed his mind.” This is a big weakness in Calvin’s view. This also affects how he views work, or at least how he expresses his view of work. Work is good! But we cannot only work, even if we recognize work as worship.

Gaffin also notes that we lose the full eschatlogical significance of the Sabbath when we do this. Typology, Gaffin argues, is present in every aspect of creation. It points us to the new heavens and earth. We cannot enter into the rest that awaits unless we are in Christ, but also until we have completed the tasks appointed to us like Adam. We are only able to complete those tasks because we have been redeemed by Christ, and those works have been prepared for us beforehand (Eph. 2:10 for instance).

Sabbath as creation ordinance also reminds us that this regular rest, which prefigures our ultimate rest in Christ, is for all people everywhere. They suffer when they do not rest. As Gaffin, and one of my professors notes, they do deserve to suffer so since they are in rebellion. Yet, we should offer them rest as a common grace for the benefit of society.

“Faithful and joyful Sabbath-keeping, we should not forget, is among the most concrete ways for the church to witness to a world full of turmoil and unrest, as never before or at least as much as ever, that there does indeed “remain a rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9).”

This is an important book to read, but not always an easy book to read. Anyone wrestling with the Sabbath should include this volume as part of their study. It will be worth the investment of time and mental energy.

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2014 didn’t go well for the Red Sox. After going from last to first, and the World Series where they beat the Cardinals, they returned to last place.  There were a number of issues. Lester and Lackey were solid, but the rest of the rotation pretty much stunk. Buchholz was still trying to fix the bad mechanics he picked up when he was hurt in the latter part of 2013. Eventually they gave up on Jake Peavy’s streak of futility and Doubrant’s inability to do just about anything.

Their attempts to replace Ellsbury failed. Sizemore couldn’t maintain his hot spring, and Jackie Bradley Jr. couldn’t hit- period. With Victorino on the DL much of the year this resulted in a horribly under-producing outfield for the first half of the season. Relying on Jonny Gomes full-time isn’t a good idea.

Their infield plan of Bogaerts and Middlebrooks just didn’t work as Xander pressed after the Red Sox brought Stephen Drew back when Middlebrooks got hurt- again. Napoli was never the same after an injury, and A.J. was a cancer behind the plate.

The rebuild started mid-season as they traded or cut every starter but Buchholz and traded Gomes away. They took a chance on Allen Craig’s track record, hoping 2014 was an injury-induce aberration. They signed Rusney Castillo for the future. Out of desperation they put Mookie Betts in the outfield where he flourished on his third call up.

In the off season they got the Panda for third, making the perpetually injured Will Middlebrooks unnecessary. They also picked up Hanley Ramirez to play outfield and added Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson to Clay and Joe Kelly to replace the under-performing Webster, De La Rosa and Ranaudo.

So … they entered Spring Training with a glut of outfielders: Betts, Ramirez, Castillo, Nava, Craig, Bradley and the surgically-repaired Victorino. They also didn’t have a clear cut ace, and a suspect bullpen.

They left Spring Training with projected starting catcher Christian Vazquez in need of Tommy John surgery, their closer Koji Uehara and Joe Kelly on the DL. The excess in the outfield has Castillo and Bradley in AAA at least until there is an injury to either Victorino or Ramirez, or a trade of either Craig or Victorino. Did you get all that?

Much is made about a $72 million dollar player being in AAA. Well, that is over 6 years so $12 million average, just over $10 million this year. Victorino is making $13 million. So the money is not the issue here. Particularly when we realize Betts played his way into center. Castillo is in the big leagues long term. Next year at the very latest, but most likely earlier particularly if Victorino struggles, gets hurt or traded. Victorino has lots of rust and injury echo to shake off. He is historically not very concerned about spring training. Let’s see if Shane can show up and play every night. Unfortunately the only guys with options were Castillo, Betts and Bradley.

They want to go from last to first again. It might happen, largely because of the offense. This could be a devastating offense. Off-season surgery may have enabled Pedroia to return to being the Destroya, and Napoli to stay awake by actually sleeping at night. Napoli has been killing the ball. Betts has been getting on base and while not as dangerous as the Tiger’s line up it should be a gigantic improvement over last year’s anemic offense.

The big question is the pitching. Clay is looking more like the early 2013 Clay, who dominated, than last year’s model. Porcello is looking good. Masterson seems to have regained his arm slot and has improved velocity. Miley isn’t expected to be a 2 or 3 like in Arizona. His job is to throw 200 innings with an ERA around 4. They just need Kelly to get back quickly

Fortunately they are in a division with a bunch of flawed teams. They have a chance to take the division. But there is also a good chance they won’t. This is like a return to the old Red Sox formula: all hitting and decent pitching. It may get them to the playoffs, but I don’t think it will get them a World Series. The good news for them is that Bogaerts, Betts, Castillo and the Panda will be around for awhile. Next winter they can get some of the elite pitchers who look to be heading into free agency. Or bring up some of their top pitching prospects. They have moved in the right direction, but probably not far enough (yet) to add another title.

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