Monday, July 25, 2005

Some thoughts on something not all that vital

What I have been pondering is the fate of my hockey team, the Ottawa Senators.

Deep stuff, I know. Bear with me. If get this out of my system now, I will likely be fine for a few weks if not months. I mean, I said hardly anything during the lockout, so give me a break here...

On the plus side, we finally have a hockey season to look forward to. Of course the price, especially for fans, was pretty steep. The new CBA should provide some pay back, in the form of more competitive balance. Sure, there have been a series of cinderellas making it deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs the last few years, but I don't think anyone would seriously argue that all teams have a reasonable chance at winning the Cup each year. That should change under the new arrangement, which effectively caps the disparity in payrolls, and the increased movement of players created by liberlaised free agency and the cap, should make more and better players available every year. That means a pretty quick rebuilding process. Revenue sharing should also give encouragement for low incomce teams to spend, further narrowing the payroll disparity.

So what does this mean for my team? Well I am of two minds. On the one hand the liberalised free agency should make it harder to keep the team together. The cap ensures that the team can't just keep paying your players more money all the time. Eventually you bump your head against the cap. So keeping a large core of really good players together may be impossible.

On the other hand, I expect that a team that pays really good attention to scouting, drafting and development should be able to continuallly turnover its roster of middle and low skill players. That would have the impact of keeping the cost of 3rd and 4th line players as well as #5-7 d-men down, freeing up salary for more elite players. Ottawa does excel at drafting and developing, so this may work out alright. The so-called "middle class" player gets squeezed though.

Of course it is also posible that teams will opt to stock their rosters with mostly middle class players. Lots of depth that way. But I confess that when I think of that, I see a whole lot of Minnesotas. That defense first style is what we want to avoid. But that defense first style comes from not being able to compete in terms of skill, which is partly due to inability to compete in terms of salary. Maybe the new CBA will make i so easy for teams to get skill players that there won;t be the need for such stiff defensive strategies.

Of course parity could also make such startegies that mcuh more important.

As for the rule changes, the only one that matters is enforcement. If enforcement on the clutch and grab doesn't happen, the rest is just window dressing.

If it does happen though, teams like Ottawa, which are built on speed, should thrive.

Other little thought for my team:

Sign and trade Todd White, and leave a roster spot open for Alexei Kaigorodov. The Russian is bigger, faster, cheaper, with more offensivce upside.

Don't resign Curtis Leschyshyn. You already have a very solid defense corps in Phillips, Redden, Chara, DeVries, Pothier, and Volchenkov. If depth iw what you want, there are some AHL guys who could stand to be called up, and would be cheaper. Think Christoph Schubert.

The answer to the Sens left wing problems may already be in the system in the form of Brandon Bochenski.

I would favour ditching Chris Neil in favour of B-Sens captain Chris Kelly. Even if you don't get rid of Neil, Kelly deserves a look.

Antone Vermette is wasted on the 4th line. Get that kid on the 3 or even the 2nd line.

Speaking of lines, here is what I would like to see:

Hossa - Spezza - Vermette
Alfredsson - Smolinski- Fisher
Havlat - Kaigorodov - Langfeld
Kelly - Neil - Varada

Spare: Schaeffer; First call up: Bochenski

Redden - Volchenkov
Phillips - Chara
Pothier - De Vries

Spare: Schubert; First Call up: Platil


Let me first say that if I had my druthers, I'd sign Khabibulin. I am not convinced that Hasek can do it. So, in the absence of anohter signing, here is what I see:

#1- Hasek
#2- Emery

Prusek gets traded. First call up would be Billy Thompson, who will get the #1 job in Binghamton, backed up by Kelly Guard or Jeff Glass.

I Hasek doesn't come bac, then expect Prusek to stay and platoon it with Emery.

I expect Patrick Eaves to sign and play in the AHL. He may get a look towards the end of the season.

So that should be all you hear out of me hockey wsie for a while.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Some things that occurred...

Is there a biblical theology of home ownership? I take possession of my first home in 5 days, and, beyond the borad category of "stewardship", I can't say as I am aware of one. Anyone feel free to enlighten me.

An odd week in the family, with a couple of deaths occurring. In both cases the relations are a bit on the distant side, but its amazing how far the ripples of such events extend into the lake of life.

It is a pleasure to welcome Holly Adele into the world.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think its weird that the same country can refuse to call the people responsible for the bombings in London "terrorists" while at the same time denying the reigning Miss Universe (a national) the opportunity to be greeted at Toronto City Hall?

Do mainline protestant Christians who deny the deity of Jesus consider themselves Trinitarians? I don't see how they can.

When ants come marching into the house, it ain't by no measly two by two.

Speaking as someone who grew up as an only child, every day I seeing how and why my two boys fight is a revelation. Speaking as a parent, its an Apocalypse.

My oldest arrived home from summer camp with a great attitude. God is good.

My youngest greeted his arrival with a lot of grief about no longer being the center of attention. God is still good.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

I'm Back

I had a great time, too.

This was a three day retreat from pretty well everyone. I spoke to virtually no one. It was great.

This was a big step for me. I am an extrovert, so I tend to thrive on being around and interacting with other people. I really enjoyed the solitude though. I realized that I have really come to be comfortable with who I am. I have really gotten to know who and what I am, both good and bad. I am not satisfied with who I am. I want to be more godly, more effective for Christ. But I am comfortable with who I am at this moment. I don't need external validation like I once did. I now realize that part of the reason for being an extrovert was a need to find such external validation.

But I was alone, and I was happy to be so. I played 27 holes of golf, and I was just happy to be on the links. I really didn't care if I scored well or not. I just wanted to enjoy the time. As it happened (and I understand this is normal) I ended up playing my best 27 holes in over 5 years. I scored a combined 138, with 9 hole breakdowns of 44, 53, and 41, for an average of 46 per 9 holes. I lost exactly 1 ball. I know that isn't stellar, but considering that the last time I played 18 holes I scored 135, I think I have reason to be pleased.

I also got a lot of opportunity to read my Bible as well as a commentary on Luke. Over the three days, I read James, Luke, and some scattered old Testament passages. I also read about half of a book by Greg Laurie, called "God of the Second Chance." I enjoy the book; its a nice change of pace from the other things I usually read.

Well, I look forward to sharing some of the insights I gained in my (very) mini-sabbatical next time.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Gone Camping

See you in a few days.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Frightening Thought

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of performing a marriage. I will have that pleasure again in about 8 weeks. So why am I sad?

The simple answer is that these may be the last two weddings I perform in my life.

No, I am not dying, nor am I leaving the ministry. But I may be abandoning marriage as a legal institution.

This week a parishioner asked me directly if I would ever officiate a same sex-marriage ceremony. I said, equally directly, that no I never would. The Law may have a different view.

It is my hope that denominations would free themselves from any possibility of prosecution or persecution by simply getting out of the marriage business. The arrangement that denominations have with provinces regarding the registration of marriages that ministers solemnize is, to the best of my understanding, a voluntary one. That is, there is no legal requirement that ministers serve as agents of the state in performing a marriage ceremony. My thought is that ministers could continue to perform marriages "in the sight of God" that would be recognized by the churches. Couples would be therefore married in the eyes of God, if not that of the state.

But this week the thought crossed my mind that we ministers may not be permitted to disentangle ourselves so easily. It occurred to me that some might try to accuse ministers of an illegal activity. I know that this probably sounds alarmist, but hear me out. The federal and provincial governments have, with the passage of this Bill and existing jurisprudence, established that they alone have the right to define marriage, and have exclusive control over its solemnization. With that in mind, and assuming that churches do indeed get out of the "marriage business," I ask: If a minister performs a ceremony of marriage, calling it such, would that minister be guilty of performing an unauthorized service?

In a prior post I had said that the government ought have no more say over a marriage performed purely as a matter of religious observance than it does over baptism. Yet the state does claim exclusive right to control marriage. It makes no such claim to baptism.

So what will happen? I don't know. I am no lawyer. Nor am I prophet. But I am sad.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Why Is It So Hard To Understand?

One of the central issues of the Reformation is also a central issues of human eternal destiny: How does one get right with God?

In theological terms, this is called "justification." It's an ancient legal, or forensic, term that carries a very special meaning in the Bible. Our legal system really has no parallel for it. "acquitted," or "not guilty" comes close but doesn't quite capture it.

The situation that is envisaged in the Bible really is a mixture of what we would call legal and civil proceedings. A legal proceeding is one wherein a law has been broken, and the alleged perpetrator is before judge or jury to determine guilt or innocence. In a civil proceeding, the judge chooses between two parties, one who has been harmed in some way, and the one who has allegedly done the harm.

According to the Bible we are judged by God for our sins, which are at the same time matters of breaking God's Law, and a matters of causing harm to God. One trial, one judgment, speaks to both the "judicial" and "civil" elements.

It would be, in our society, a gross miscarriage of justice for the victim to be the judge in either case, let alone both. We would assume impartiality to be impossible, and that this "justice" is little more than vigilantism.

What then are we to say when it is made clear to us that through faith we are justified by God? As I said earlier, the words we typically apply, "acquitted" and "not guilty," are insufficient. Those terms suggest that we in ourselves are found to be innocent. That isn't the case; if it were then no one would be punished. Yet Christ died for our sins. Clearly in the matter of our sins, we are found guilty. The reason we are not punished though is Christ Jesus. He took our penalty upon Himself. In that process we received his righteousness, and that is stronger than just innocence. Innocence connotes the mere absence of evil, but righteousness gives the idea of having been obedient.

That's what happens when we believe in Jesus Christ. When we trust Him to bear our punishment for us, we find that He did just that. We also find that God declares that we have not been disobedient, but we have been actively obedient to His will, in all ways, and in all things. Our obedience is found to be perfect, because that's the obedience that Jesus had.

Now since that obedience is perfect, there is nothing we can do to add to it. Nothing at all. And it doesn't matter if our obedience from the point of belief onward is not perfect; all our failures were born by Jesus on the Cross, even the ones that follow that moment of faith.

That doesn't mean though that we can just live however and get away with it. The fact is that when you are justified, your whole life orientation changes; you want to serve and please God. Your lifestyle will reflect that inevitably. There is no going back to the old way because you don't want to go back. Sure, there may be moments when you feel like it, but over the long run your life will be characterized by obedience to God, not sin.

So it happens that when the Final Judgment comes, God can say what he already said; you are justified, righteous. He said you were when you believed, and because of that, your life since gives evidence of it.

This is how the Reformation has come to understand the answer to the question: How do you get to be right with God? I confess I don't understand why so many don't believe when they have it explained to them. I don't understand why so many who are Christians don't accept it, but would rather try to add to Jesus' obedience with some of their own.

Maybe its just because I've studied the question so long. Maybe.