Tuesday, October 31, 2006

NBA Action

It's been a great night for Chicago Bulls fans. It started with the report of Kirk Hinrich signing a contract extension:
It wasn't too long ago that free agents only stopped in Chicago to catch connecting flights to other, more competitive cities. How things have changed.

After landing the marquee free agent of the offseason in Ben Wallace, the Bulls have convinced point guard Kirk Hinrich to sign a long-term extension -- and for a hometown discount.

...

"It's a dream come true, completely," Hinrich said. "To be with this organization, an organization that I grew up cheering for and was a big fan of and to be able to provide my family with security, it's just a great day. … My parents used to scrap pennies to provide for me, and now I'm making almost $50 million playing basketball."
And to top it off, the Bulls obliterated the defending champs, on their home court, just after receiving their championship rings. With Hinrich leading the way with 26 points, the Bulls cruised into Miami, and ran off with a 108-66 win over the Heat. Yep, for you math majors (or minors) out there, that's a 42-point win, the worst ever opening night loss by a defending NBA champ.

Reformation Day

When I woke up this morning, I looked on my nightstand for a book to take to work to read on break. In part because my friend Noah had recently blogged about it, I remembered that today was Reformation Day. So I selected accordingly:


John Calvin, the French Protestant Reformer, was a prolific writer, probably best known for his Institutes of the Christian Religion, as well as his set of commentaries on the Bible (appropriately known as Calvin's Commentaries). This book contains a selection of letters that Calvin wrote to many different people, including William Farel, Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, Thomas Cranmer, and John Knox.

God Is the Gospel

I've been done with "God Is the Gospel" for some time now, but haven't taken the time to really put together any of my thoughts, or what I learned. So I'm taking the easy way out. Here are some excerpts that really caught my attention:



The critical question for our generation--and for every generation--is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?

And the question for Christian leaders is: Do we preach and teach and lead in such a way that people are prepared to hear that question and answer with a resounding No? (p. 15)



Hear ye! Heary ye! Hear ye! All rebels, insurgents, dissidents, and protesters against the King! Hear the royal decree! A great day of reckoning is coming, a day of injustice and vengeance. But now hear this, all inhabitants of the King's realm! Amnesty is herewith published by the mercy of your Sovereign. A price has been paid. All debts may be forgiven. All rebellion absolved. All dishonor pardoned. None is excluded from this offer. Lay down the weapons of rebellion, kneel in submission, receive the royal amnesty as a gift of imperial love, swear fealty to your sovereign, and rise a free and happy subject of your King. (p. 19)



The good news is not that there is no pain or death or sin or hell. There is. The good news is that the King himself has come, and these enemies have been defeated, and if we trust in what he has done and what he promises, we will escape the death sentence and see the glory of our Liberator and live with him forever. (p. 21)



God is the final and highest gift that makes the good news good. Until people use the gospel to get to God, they use it wrongly. (p. 42)



My point in this book is that all the saving events and all the saving blessings of the gospel are means of getting obstacles out of the way so that we might know and enjoy God most fully. Propitiation, redemption, forgiveness, imputation, sanctification, liberation, healing, heaven--none of these is good news except for one reason: they bring us to God for our everlasting enjoyment of him. If we believe all these things have happened to us, but do not embrace them for the sake of getting to God, they have not happened to us. Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God. And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there. The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God. If we don't want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel. (p. 47)



... the glory of Christ, as he appeared among us, consisted not in one attribute or another, and not in one act or another, but in what Jonathan Edwards called "an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies." ... These excellencies are so diverse that they "would have seemed to us utterly incompatible in the same subject." In other words,
  • we admire him for his glory, but even more because his glory is mingled with humility;
  • we admire him for his transcendence, but even more because his transcendence is accompanied by condescension;
  • we admire him for his uncompromising justice, but even more because it is tempered with mercy;
  • we admire him for his majesty, but even more because it is a majesty in meekness;
  • we admire him because of his equality with God, but even more because as God's equal he nevertheless has a deep reverence for God;
  • we admire him because of how worthy he was of all good, but even more because this was accompanied by an amazing patience to suffer evil;
  • we admire him because of his sovereign dominion over the world, but even more because this dominion was clothed with a spirit of obedience and submission;
  • we love the way he stumped the proud scribes with his wisdom, and we love it even more because he could be simple enough to like children and spend time with them;
  • and we admire him because he could still the storm, but even more because he refused to use that power to strike the Samaritans with lightning (Luke 9:54-55) and he refused to use it to get himself down from the cross. (p. 52-53)



The dynamics of personal transformation in 2 Corinthians 3:18 assume that we are changed into what we admire and fix our attention on. "Beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being transformed into the same image." We know this is so from experience. Long looking with admiration produces change. From your heroes you pick up mannerisms and phrases and tones of voice and facial expressions and habits and demeanors and convictions and beliefs. The more admirable the hero is and the more intense your admiration is, the more profound will be your transformation. In the case of Jesus, he is infinitely admirable, and our admiration rises to the most absolute worship. Therefore, when we behold him as we should, the change is profound.

Of course, there is more to it than that. ... we should not think that pursuing likeness to Christ has no other components than just looking at Jesus. Looking at Jesus produces holiness along many different paths. (p. 92)



Many people seem to embrace the good news without embracing God. There is no sure evidence that we have a new heart just because we want to escape hell. That's a perfectly natural desire, not a supernatural one. It doesn't take a new heart to want the psychological relief of forgiveness, or the removal of God's wrath, or the inheritance of God's world. All these things are understandable without any spiritual change. You don't need to be born again to want these things. The devils want them.

It is not wrong to want them. Indeed it is folly not to. But the evidence that we have been changed is that we want these things because they bring us to the enjoyment of God. This is the greatest thing Christ died for. This is the greatest good in the good news. Why is that? Because we were made to experience full and lasting happiness from seeing and savoring the glory of God. If our best joy comes from something less, we are idolaters and God is dishonored. He created us in such a way that his glory is displayed through our joy in it. The gospel of Christ is the good news that at the cost of his Son's life, God has done everything necessary to enthrall us with what will make us eternally and ever-increasingly happy--namely, himself. (p. 121)



The aim of the gospel is not an easy life. It is deeper knowledge of God and deeper trust in God. (p. 127)



... the goal of the gospel... is not our ease or wealth or safety in this age, but our dependence on Christ and our delight in his glory. (p. 129)



... the aim of the gospel is not mainly to give us God's gifts, but to give us God. All his gifts are good. But in and through them all, the aim is to see more of God's glory and to savor more of his infinitely beautiful moral perfections displayed in the gospel. (p. 135-136)



The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to the least deserving. This is what God did. At the cost of his Son's life, to the totally undeserving, God gave the best gift--the display of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. (p. 139-140)



We should test ourselves with some questions. It is right to pursue likeness to Christ. But the question is, why? What is the root of our motivation? Consider some attributes of Christ that we might pursue, and ask these questions:
  • Do I want to be strong like Christ, so I will be admired as strong, or so that I can defeat every adversary that would entice me to settle for any pleasure less than admiring the strongest person in the universe, Christ?
  • Do I want to be wise like Christ, so I will be admired as wise and intelligent, or so that I can discern and admire the One who is most truly wise?
  • Do I want to be holy like Christ, so that I can be admired as holy, or so that I can be free from all unholy inhibitions that keep me from seeing and savoring the holiness of Christ?
  • Do I want to be loving like Christ, so that I will be admired as a loving person, or so that I will enjoy extending to others, even in sufferings, the all-satisfying love of Christ? (p. 159)


Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Cross

It's been a while since I've posted any lyrics - I've been lazy. Well, I'm still lazy, but my sister helped me out. She emailed me these lyrics, to a song written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, "The Power Of The Cross."
Oh to see the dawn
Of the darkest day;
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us,
Took the blame, bore the wrath -
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Every bitter thought,
Every evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

This the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us,
Took the blame, bore the wrath -
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Now the daylight flees,
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as it's Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two;
Dead are raised to life;
Finished! the victory cry.

This the power of the cross:
Christ became sin for us,
Took the blame, bore the wrath -
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Oh to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This the power of the cross:
Son of God, slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.
You can hear a couple of short samples of this song here or here. For more from Keith Getty, look here. Or check out Stuart Townend here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Marketing Genius

Jim Gaffigan is probably my favorite stand-up comedian right now. I've heard him on a couple different radio shows recently, and seen him on Comedy Central a couple of times. Here's one of his classic routines, about Hot Pockets:



For more of Jim Gaffigan, check out his website, or YouTube.

Border Security

Here's a bit of an update from the story I referenced the other day, courtesy of WorldNetDaily:
Congressmen concerned about the convictions and stiff prison sentences of two Border Patrol agents who injured a Mexican drug dealer they were pursuing say Homeland Security officials told them the pair were "out to shoot Mexicans."

The White House and federal officials have been getting heat for offering the drug dealer immunity to testify against the two lawmen -- Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean – both of whom are Mexican-Americans.
"Getting heat"? No kidding! Why would they expect otherwise? Yeah, let's take the word of an admitted drug dealer over the word of two border patrol agents. I know common sense is dead, but do we have to keep beating it like a dead horse?
The agents were convicted in March of shooting admitted drug smuggler Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila in the buttocks as he ran away from them near the Rio Grande River in February 2005. Ramos and Compean were sentenced last week to 11 and 12 years, respectively.

...

Aldrete-Davila, a Mexican, is now suing the Border Patrol for $5 million for his injury and violation of his rights.
"Violation of his rights"? What rights does a drug-smuggling illegal alien have in our country? You sneak across our border with 743 pounds of marijuana, and you expect to be treated as if you're a law-abiding citizen? You're neither!
So far, the White House has resisted calls for reopening the investigation and dismissed questions about a pardon raised by WND White House correspondent Les Kinsolving. Even asking whether the two agents should be pardoned was "nonsensical," in the words of Bush spokesman Tony Snow.

"That's an unanswerable question, Les," said Snow earlier this week. "The president is the person who is responsible for pardons. You can tell the network, which made you ask that question, that it is nonsensical."
Can anybody help me out on this one? What is Snow trying to say here? Seriously, I don't get it. Is he trying to say that Kinsolving should ask Bush directly about pardoning the agents? Why, as Bush's spokesman, can't Snow answer that? Why is it "unanswerable" or "nonsensical"? I've got an answer for you, Tony. In fact, I've got several options: "Yes." Or "No." Or "Maybe." Or "I haven't spoken with the president about that yet." Or "Hot Pocket!" (Okay, so maybe that last one isn't a good answer, but it would at least be kind of funny.)

Maybe something went on here that we don't know about, and things were handled correctly. I just can't understand how an admitted drug dealer who's smuggling a large shipment of drugs into our country is able to put away the very people responsible for keeping him and his drugs out of our country. It seems like they just did their job.

NFL Rankings

The Sports Guy is back with updated NFL team rankings. (I wrote about his last set of rankings here.) Bad news for both my brother - his Redskins fell from "Lingering Like A Stale Fart" status to "Fired Up For 2007" - and my sister - her Cowboys fell from "Kinda Sorta Lurking" to "Lingering Like A Stale Fart." Meanwhile, my Bears stayed in the same group, "The Contenders," rising from #6 to #1.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Chart Topper

I posted a while back (here) about a video from Weird Al that I saw on VH1's top 20 video countdown. Now Yahoo! News has a story about Weird Al's recent success. His newest release, "Straight Outta Lynwood," has debuted at #10 on the Billboard 200, the first time in his 27 years of recording (during which he's released 12 albums) that he's made the top 10. His song "White and Nerdy" reached #9 on the Billboard Top 100.

The Real Border Story

Glenn Beck devotes a page of his website, as well as a segment of his CNN Headline News show, to The Real Story. Here's Monday's real story:
The Real Story: Border Injustice
Updated October 23, 2006

The White House announced on Friday that President Bush will meet with President-elect Felipe Calderon of Mexico in a couple of weeks. In the statement announcing the visit, they say that the two will, "discuss a range of global, regional, and bilateral issues, including... competitiveness, free trade, economic growth, and security in North America."

Does anyone else notice the one thing not mentioned here? I grew up in an alcoholic family so I recognize the disease. The Real Story is that there's an 800 pound gorilla in the room and her name is illegal immigration. Anybody else want to recognize it?

Today, instead of talking about the typical illegal immigration issues, I want to update you on a story about Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos, two U.S. border patrol agents, that I first brought you a few weeks ago.

In early 2005, they were in pursuit of an illegal immigrant, who was also a suspected Mexican drug smuggler, when the suspect suddenly ditched his van near a canal and began to flee on foot. Agent Ramos, who was behind his partner, hears guns shots up ahead; sees his partner down on the ground and then, through the dust, sees the suspect turn around with what looks like a gun. Ramos fires at him; the suspect flees; and the two agents head back to the road to search the van.

Inside they found 743 pounds of marijuana. Two weeks later, a Department of Homeland Security investigator tracked down the drug smuggler in Mexico and offered him full immunity in exchange for testifying against the Border Patrol agents who shot at him. Turns out the smuggler had been hit by Agent Ramos' bullet.

By March of this year, the agents had been convicted on felony charges including assault with serious bodily injury and assault with a deadly weapon. Last Thursday they were finally sentenced. Are you ready for this? Agent Ramos -- an agent who last year was nominated for the Border Patrol Agent of Year Award was sentenced to 11 years in prison; Agent Compean got 12.

You might remember another high-profile sentencing last week...Lynne Stewart, an attorney convicted of helping her terrorist client communicate with his extremist followers from prison was given a whopping 28 months. What kind of system do we have where someone who actively put American lives at risk gets just over two years while people actively working to serve and protect us get five times more?
I'm definitely with Glenn on this one. I don't get how or why the Department of Homeland Security would work to effectively weaken our borders by making sure border agents do not have or use any authority.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Why I Hate Politics

This comes from Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Representative from San Francisco, from last night's interview on 60 Minutes. When asked about working with President Bush, whom she's called "an incompetent leader" and "a person who has no judgment," Pelosi had this to say:
"You know, we're professionals. We're professionals. You could go through a long list of things his surrogates have said about me. I know they have to do what they have to do, and they know I have to do what I have to do. And what I have to do is make a distinction in the public that's between the Democrats and the Republicans in order to win. This isn't personal."
Look again as what she "has to do" and why. This is why I hate politics, and why I can't stand most politicians. I don't care if you're a freaking donkey or an elephant. Grow up and act like you actually have the interests of the country ahead of your own personal fame, wealth, and glory. THIS IS NOT A GAME! Our government is not about winning elections. We're not, or at least we shouldn't be, all about Democrats vs. Republicans. If there's really such a big difference, why not just split the country in two?

I tried to watch some of the Iowa gubernatorial debate on Saturday. I lasted through roughly 3 questions. I really would have liked to have been the moderator and tell both candidates, "Stop behaving like 2-year-olds. When I ask a question, answer it. Do not talk about the other candidate - what he will or won't do. Answer the question for yourself. Show that you have a spine and beliefs that you are willing to stand up for. Don't tell us you 'have a plan.' Tell us what the plan is."

I could go on, and on, but I'll stop now. The only thing I left have to say is a paraphrase of what I've heard Glenn Beck saying on his radio show the past couple of weeks: Don't vote for a Republican. Don't vote for a Democrat. Don't vote for an Independent. Vote for an American - find out what candidates believe in and stand up for, and vote for candidates that want to serve the American people instead of their own egos.

I know it may be hard to find such people, and it may take some work. If interested, here's just one site I've found where you can find out more about what candidates believe in and how they've voted in the past: Project Vote Smart. They have a resource of Voting Records and you can look at National Political Awareness Tests (NPATs). You can also search the candidates by name or your zip code. If anybody has any other resources that they've found helpful, please share them in the comments.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"We Had Abortions"

For my friend Michael, at The Blazing Fire - I know how much you enjoy the opinions written in/by the Des Moines Register. Here's another one for your consideration:
"A statement of courage: 'We had abortions'" is an opinion piece regarding Ms. magazine's putting together a "petition" of women who have had abortions.

The "pro-choice" logic is almost unbelievable. Consider the following:

The magazine is repeating something it did in its 1972 debut issue, when 50 well-known women signed a petition declaring they had had abortions and supporting reproductive rights.

"Supporting reproductive rights"? How is aborting babies supporting reproductive rights? Seems more like a last ditch effort to stop reproduction.

Or this:

"Even then, to many it seemed absurd that the government could deny a woman sovereignty over her own body"

Ah, my favorite argument coming out of the "pro-choice" camp. Is anybody actually going to try and argue that 9 months of "inconvenience" are worth more than another person's entire lifetime?

"For many women, choosing abortion is taking control of their lives, their futures. It is being responsible enough to recognize they can't afford to provide for a child or aren't mentally or physically prepared to do so."

How about taking control of your life by not having sex unless you want (or are willing) to have a child? (I hear that sex sometimes leads to pregnancy.) How about being responsible enough to recognize that there are about 1 in 6 married couples that would like to have children but can't?

According to Ms., about 70,000 women and girls die in developing nations each year from unsafe abortions.

What about the 46 million or so babies worldwide that die each year from being aborted?

"Reproductive choice is necessary."

That's the one sentence in the article that I don't have a problem with. Women should not be forced to have sex. But again, I don't see what "reproductive choice" has to do with killing babies.

Music Videos

Every once in a while I'll flip by MTV or VH1 and see if they're actually showing music videos. (Why should I expect "Music Television" to show music videos?) Most of the videos are pretty much garbage, whether it's because of the song itself or the content of the video.

(Some of them amuse me for their unintentional comedy content. Like the Dixie Chicks' "Not Ready to Make Nice." If they have a publicist/advisor, they should fire them. If not, they should probably hire one. For some reason they just don't get it.)

For some reason I still give it a look, and today I hit the jackpot. The following video was the #2 video on VH1's Top 20 Countdown (seriously):



I love Weird Al.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

MLB Playoffs

Here's some more from the Sports Guy's running diaries. From Yankees-Tigers game 1:

6:18 -- Double by Sheffield (3-0, Yankees), followed by a two-run homer from the Giambino (5-0, Yankees). Wow. A rattled Robertson looks like he's starring in the next "wanna get away?" commercial. And if you don't think A-Rod's getting a hit right now, you're obviously not familiar with his work.

6:19 -- A-Rod singles. Classic. In his own inimitable way, he's the most reliable athlete in sports. That prompts a phone call from my gleeful buddy JackO, who says "Yankee baseball!" again and again. I quickly hang up on him.

6:40 -- Enjoyable in-game interview with Joe Torre. He was positively gregarious. And why not? He's leading by five runs. By the way, Buck just said that Randy Johnson received an epidural last week to relieve pain in his back, which is what they give pregnant women right when they're delivering. I don't even have a joke here.

6:46 -- And the Tigers are on the board! Monroe just homered to dead center; 5-1, Yanks. Since Leyland can't smoke in the dugout, he's eating cigarettes three at a time right now.

6:56 -- Let's make this clear once and for all: the question isn't "what if a comedian ran for president?" It's "what if somebody was dumb enough to make a movie where Robin Williams played a comedian who ran for president?"

7:10 -- True or false: Carlos Guillen borrowed Carlos Boozer's chest hair for tonight's game.

(Answer: False. It's his own chest hair.)

7:30 -- Is it considered a step up or a step down when you replace Scooter the Talking Baseball with Tommy Lasorda? You got me.

And Game 1 of the Dodgers-Mets:

1:04 -- Remember when I questioned the ad people working for Holiday Inn? Well, they just ran an ad featuring Joe Buck. In your lifetime, will anyone ever say to his family while pulling off a highway exit: "Apparently Joe Buck likes Holiday Inn ... let's just stay there?" I say no.

1:04 -- Today's announcers: Gary Thorne, Steve Phillips and Joe Morgan, who will leave after the game with a police escort so he can announce Game 2 of tonight's Yankee series. If you ask me, that's a lot of Joe Morgan. I mean, a LOT of Joe Morgan. But you didn't ask me.

1:15 -- After the A's beat the Twins, Gary Thorne moves the audience to ESPN by telling us, "For those of you on ESPN2, we're gonna take you to poker ... " Wait, they're showing poker on TV now? When did this happen?

1:50 -- Kenny Lofton strikes out on three pitches and looks overmatched. Morgan credits Maine's "live fastball." Yeah, that was it. See, this is why I should never be allowed near a broadcast booth, I would have made a joke like, "Lofton hasn't looked this overwhelmed since Satchel Paige struck him out six times in a row in 1932."

2:01 -- Now here's a guy who just doesn't give a crap: JD Drew. He carries himself with the intensity of a grocery bagger. It's amazing. He couldn't care less. Or, he could care less. Whatever's grammatically correct.
(note: it's "couldn't")
2:04 -- Actual quote from Joe Morgan: "I always thought Grady Little did a great job, even with Boston, with the exception of the Pedro incident." That's like saying, "I always thought Britney Spears had pretty good taste in men, with the exception of K-Fed."

2:19 -- Morgan: "The most important inning in a game is the inning after you take the lead." You know what? I'm still going with the ninth inning is the most important inning of the game. Thanks, though.

2:26 -- Two guys on, one out in the fifth ... and Willie pulls Maine so Pedro Feliciano can pitch to Cool Papa Lofton. That's followed by the obligatory post-commercial shot of Maine being consoled in the dugout with one of those, " ... but Dad said I could pitch at least five innings!" pouts on his face, then Feliciano easily striking out Lofton. Enjoyable sequence. Well-played by Willie. He's my favorite manager of the playoffs so far. Plus, I'm almost positive that he played Dudley on "Different Strokes."

2:29 -- Chad Bradford gets a Nomar grounder to end the fifth. This ex-Red Sox thing isn't even funny anymore. Meanwhile, Joe Morgan says goodbye to Thorne and Phillips -- he's headed to Yankee Stadium for tonight's game. I wait for Joe to point out, "If you have a police escort, that means you get to Yankee Stadium faster" or "the big difference between Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium is that the Yankees play in Yankee Stadium." Doesn't happen.

3:05 -- Tim Robbins makes a cameo in the booth. He's a Mets fan. Does this mean that Andy Dufresne was a Mets fan then? I want to throw up.

3:47 -- Easy eighth inning for Aaron Heilman. He's good. Hold on, Ruby Tuesday is about to change our perception of what a burger should be. (Waiting.) Nope. Didn't happen.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Repentance

I wrote a while back (here, actually) about a new book that John Piper was working on, in which he wrote about repentance. Well, that book is out now, and it's called "What Jesus Demands from the World." Demand (and chapter) #2 is "Repent." In it, Piper talks about the true meaning of the word repentance, which is much deeper than what I've heard preached from many different pulpits. Here's how the chapter starts:
The first demand of Jesus’ public ministry was, “Repent.” He spoke this command indiscriminately to all who would listen. It was a call for radical inward change toward God and man.

WHAT IS REPENTANCE?

Two things show us that repentance is an internal change of mind and heart rather than mere sorrow for sin or mere improvement of behavior. First, the meaning of the Greek word behind the English "repent” ... points in this direction. It has two parts: meta and noe√ł. The second part ... refers to the mind and its thoughts and perceptions and dispositions and purposes. The first part ... is a prefix that regularly means movement or change. In view of the way this prefix regularly functions, we may infer that the basic meaning of repent is to experience a change of the mind’s perceptions and dispositions and purposes.

The other factor that points to this meaning of repent is the way Luke 3:8 describes the relationship between repentance and new behavior. It says, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” Then it gives examples of the fruits: “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (Luke 3:11). This means that repenting is what happens inside of us. Then this change leads to the fruits of new behavior. Repentance is not the new deeds, but the inward change that bears the fruit of new deeds. Jesus is demanding that we experience this inward change.
Want to read more? Piper and Desiring God are offering the text of the book for free, in .pdf format, here.

Sorry Cubs Fans

It's official. Congratulations to Major League Baseball's 2007 World Series Champs, the Texas Rangers.

What? It's only 2006? And that playoffs just started? And the Rangers are sitting at home? Well, none of that matters today. Not with the news of the Rangers firing manager Buck Showalter. The past ten years, firing Buck Showalter has been baseball's version of a golden ticket. Take a little trip back in recent baseball history with me.

From 1992 through 1995, Showalter managed the New York Yankees to a 313-268 record, a .539 winning percentage. Under Showalter's leadership, the Yanks were in first place at the time of the strike in 1994, and won the wild card in 1995 before losing in the divisional series to the Mariners. Following that season, Showalter was fired. The next season, the Yankees went 92-70, won their division, and won the World Series.

Showalter found his way back into a mangerial position in 1998 with the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks. In three seasons in the desert, Showalter posted a 250-236 record, a .514 clip. The Diamondbacks won a division title in just their second year of existence, but lost in the divisional series to the Mets. Following a third place finish in their division in 2000, Showalter was shown the exit. The next season, the Diamondbacks went 92-70, won their division, and won the World Series.

After another short hiatus, the Rangers handed the reins over to Showalter. In four seasons, the Rangers cumulated a 319-329 record, a .492 winning percentage. ARod's monstrous contract burdened the Rangers during Showalter's rein, even after his trade to the Yankees. The Rangers failed to make the playoffs under Showalter, but showed some signs of life the past couple of seasons.

So my prediction for next year is that the Rangers will go 92-70, win their division, and win the World Series. Why not? It's happened twice before, and as we all know, trends like this always continue. So after the Cubs hire Joe Girardi and miss the playoffs the next three years, they should think about hiring Showalter for a few years, and then fire him and hit paydirt. Of course, all bets are off if the Cubs continue to sign "big name" free agents like Jeromy Burnitz and Jacque Jones.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

In Christ Alone

In perusing the song list from the Desiring God conference, I noticed one of my favorite songs - In Christ Alone, written by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. Debra Akins shares the story behind the song in this article at crosswalk.com. Here are the song's lyrics:
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

The Truth

The Desiring God National Conference was this past weekend. This year's theme was "Above All Earthly Powers: The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World." I didn't go to the conference, but I'm looking forward to reading/listening to the speakers, and what they had to say in response to our world's ever-increasing movement to subjective, relative truth. Read or listen to the conference messages here.

Sports Diaries

I love the Sports Guy's diaries. He's posting running diaries of the first four games of MLB's postseason. (Read the A's-Twins or Cardinals-Padres.) Here are a few excerpts from his Cardinals-Padres account:

1:43 -- Disturbing sideline report from Duke: When David Wells was a Toronto rookie, he lived at Jesse Barfield's house and occasionally babysat Baby Josh Barfield (before he became Young Josh Barfield), even changing some diapers and everything. Now that's horrifying. Meanwhile, Berman has dropped three "Young Josh Barfields" and two "Little David Ecksteins" in less than three innings. Couldn't he throw in a "Fat Ronnie Belliard" now and then?

1:50 -- New from Domino's: Oven-baked brownie squares!!!! That ranks right up there with Pizza Hut introducing the Lasagna Pizza on the "Did we really need to create ways for Americans to become even fatter?" scale.

2:15 -- Another email from Nigel in NY: "From the A's-Twinkies running diary, you said: 'Let's see what Barry Zito brings to the table here ... as Keith Law pointed out this week, the spacious Oakland outfield and their D makes his record seems much better than it is.' I'm no Zito fan, but his home ERA this year was 4.71 and road ERA was 2.97. In the same number of starts he gave up twice as many HRs at home. You are like a weatherman. You can make stuff up, be completely wrong, and never get fired."

(All good points. I'm an idiot. Although I might have to break up with Keith Law. This was unforgivable. By the way, two on, no outs for the Pads ... and "Young Adrian Gonzalez" is up. I need a drink.)

2:33 -- Orel mistakenly says the phrase "first basemans." Sadly, I can't make fun of him -- I'm the same guy who wrote that David Stern "freezed" the Knicks envelope last week.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Who Needs Fact-Checking?

The Memphis Commercial Appeal (yeah, it's a newspaper) reported on Sunday (see here) that a group led by former Duke basketball player Brian Davis was about to buy a majority stake in the Memphis Grizzlies. I thought that was weird enough. Brian Davis? Where's he get the money to buy a sports franchise? But the weirdest part of the story, to me, was this: "He's [Davis] reportedly interested in a cost-cutting direction that eliminates Griz president Jerry West's position." Seriously, you're going to can The Logo? The man who's won NBA Executive of the Year with two different franchises?

But then I read ESPN's story today, from the Associated Press (here). Turns out Davis isn't the only former Dukie in the group - Davis's former roommate Christian Laettner is part of the group. Davis and Laettner are evidently putting up $40 million of their own money. And according the the AP, Davis "said he wants president Jerry West and [head coach Mike] Fratello to stay with the Grizzlies. He added that he would like to sign West to a lifetime contract..."

Eliminate the position ... give the guy a lifetime contract. You say po-TA-to, I say squash. I know, I know, it's a fine line between getting rid of a guy and offering him a lifetime contract. Minor detail, really.

But the kicker to the AP story is that "Laettner is also interested in returning to the NBA to play for the Grizzlies". Um, Christian? You might want to rethink that. First of all, you haven't played since the 2004-05 season, when you came off the bench for the Miami Heat to average stellar numbers of 5.3 points and 2.7 rebounds per game. Second, you might want to think back to a couple of guys named Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. Both of them made comebacks after investing in NBA teams. League rules mandated that they sell their shares before making their comebacks. And Jordan's didn't end so well. After giving up his role in the front office for the Wizards to return to the court, the Wiz management decided when he was done playing that he was done with the organization altogether.