An Idiot’s Guide to MLB 2015 Predictions

AL EAST

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. Toronto Blue Jays
  3. New York Yankees
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Tampa Bay Rays

AL CENTRAL

  1. Kansas City Royals
  2. Detroit Tigers
  3. Chicago White Sox
  4. Cleveland Indians
  5. Minnesota Twins

AL WEST

  1. Seattle Mariners
  2. Los Angeles Angels
  3. Oakland A’s
  4. Texas Rangers
  5. Houston Astros

NL EAST

  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Miami Marlins
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. New York Mets
  5. Philadelphia Phillies

NL CENTRAL

  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Cincinnati Reds
  3. Chicago Cubs
  4. Pittsburgh Pirates
  5. Milwaukee Brewers

NL WEST

  1. LA Dodgers
  2. San Diego Padres
  3. San Francisco Giants
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks
  5. Colorado Rockies

AL Wildcard: Toronto Blue Jays, Detroit Tigers
NL Wildcard: Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres

ALCS: Seattle Mariners over Kansas City Royals
NLCS: St. Louis Cardinals over LA Dodgers

World Series: St. Louis Cardinals over Seattle Mariners

AL MVP: Mike Trout
NL MVP: Matt Kemp

AL Cy Young: Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw

Other Predictions:

A Good Mentor Teaches You When to Hold ‘Em and When to ‘Fold ‘Em

Have you ever played chess, checkers, poker, or any other card game with a novice? One of the biggest mistakes that people make in these games is focusing so much on their own hand that they don’t consider the other player.

I’ve been teaching my son to play a few of these games and almost without fail he’ll “go all in” when he shouldn’t. He’s so in love with his cards and assuming that they are the best he is unable to see that his daddy is holding a much better hand.

I’m having to teach him the lesson of Kenny Rogers—know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.

Good mentors do this. We are all prone to focus so much on our own situation that we can’t see the whole picture. Occasionally we’ll lack confidence and be too willing to throw in our cards. At other times we’ll be overly confident and not able to see the trap being set for us. A good mentor will provide for us another set of eyes.

John Newton was this other set of eyes to John Ryland, Jr. In 1791 Ryland had a good bit of unrest in his church. A group of High Calvinists were giving Ryland and his friends Fuller and Sutcliff a hard time by stirring up dissension in their churches.

Obviously there were not blogs in the 1790s, but there were pamphlets. If you want to make waves in our connected world then you can do it on social media and blogs. Back then you’d write a scathing pamphlet, go to the printing press, and distribute your literature throughout the towns.

Ryland and his friends were the subjects of many of these pamphlets. In fact, Ryland’s own father seemed to take the side of the pamphlet writers. Ryland struggled with whether or not he should respond in print. Should he hold ‘em, sticking to his guns and fighting in print? Or should he fold ‘em, by letting the controversy die without much of a response?

Newton gave Ryland that extra set of eyes when he said:

Let him alone, and he will expose himself more effectually than you can expose him. And his performance will soon die and be forgotten, unless you keep the memory of it alive, by an answer. I believe scarcely any thing has [contributed to] so much to perpetuate disputes and dissensions in the professing church, as the ambition of having the last word. (Wise Counsel, 251)

History tells us that it played out similar to what Newton predicted. There is a reason why the modern missions movement remembers men like Fuller, Sutcliff, and Ryland. Their evangelical Calvinism, thankfully, won the day.

It was correct for Ryland to fold on this one and to save his chips for more important battles. Had he wasted his energy on ensuring that he got the last word who knows how differently the history of foreign missions would read.

In my opinion, we need Newton to mentor us today. Blogs are easier to write and easier to spread than pamphlets ever were. Much of our energy is spilled on engaging debates that would simply die out if we’d stop giving them so much attention. We’ve got to learn that just because we have a decent hand a few decent points it doesn’t mean that we ought to throw all of our chips in. There are battles that need to be fought—but we’ll already be spent if we think we have to play every hand.

Today in Blogworld 03.27.15

Prooftexting the Personality of the Holy Spirit

Andy Naselli is one of those guys who can make me excited about a research project and the release of a scholarly .pdf.

God the Savior of All?

I find David’s suggestion here quite compelling.

7 Wild Simpson’s Fan Conspiracy Theories

I could see most of these being true.

3 Ways to Kill Your Sermon-Based Small Groups

We do sermon-based small groups so I found this helpful.

I bet if I told you a Miley Cyrus song, done as an instrumental, would tug at your heart strings you wouldn’t believe me:

The Comfort of an Unburdened Conscience

Comfort is a powerful motivator. It takes many forms such as physical comfort. Think … couch potato. There is also financial comfort, which is really a mental comfort. There is comfort in knowing what we think will happen; predictability. There is the comfort of running with the herd and not holding ideas that the herd does not hold. After all, we like the comfort of being liked. There is also the comfort of safety. We hate to walk into a seemingly dangerous situation without knowing the predictable outcome.

We can each point to many situations in our life where we have desired, sought, or had one or all of those comforts. Comfort is not bad. However, when comfort interferes with our obedience to the Lord, it must be set aside. Consider the story of the 12 spies of Israel in Numbers chs. 13-14. The Lord commissioned Moses to send spies into Israel. The report of those spies was the exceeding goodness of the land. However, 10 of the spies reported their fear over the people who inherited the land, expressing doubt and a lake of faith in God, and from that the people were unfaithful.

Yet in all that tumult, Caleb and Hoshea (renamed by Moses to Joshua) remained steadfast.

    “Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” Then all the congregation said to stone them with stones. But the glory of the Lord appeared at the tent of meeting to all the people of Israel.” (Numbers 14:1–10, ESV)

The people could only see the problems before them. Astonishingly to us they looked back on their bondage in Egypt, bondage they had cried out to the Lord to deliver them from, as a desirable comfort over and above God’s covenant promise of land. Fear of the unknown is a powerful thing.

Even though God was visibly and manifestly leading the Israelites on their Exodus the people still lacked the faith to trust God and enter the land he had promised to them. Yet a few spoke up. Caleb and Joshua cautioned them not to rebel because the Lord was with them. Their trust was not in their own ability to overcome the strong and settled Canaanites, but in the Lord who had removed their congregation and would give them victory because he had promised it.

The reaction of the people? They sought to murder them. Except for God’s glorious appearing at the Tabernacle, they might have done it. His judgment followed closely as well. None of those whom he had delivered from Egypt and had seen his miraculous signs, yea, God’s very glory at the tent would step foot in the promised land. For 40 years the Israelites would wander the desert in judgment for their lack of faith at God’s provision.

How do you think it felt to be Caleb and Joshua? 40 years of “I told you so?” I wonder if the people hated them for their faith or if they repented? Did Caleb and Joshua get bitter at their brothers and sisters for having to sojourn in the desert for 40 years rather than taking the land promised to them by God and living in it?

Faith is often uncomfortable. We can be faithful and yet suffer for it. The idea that faith and comfort are tightly related needs to be smashed to bits. At least, comfort the way we rich westerners think of it. There is comfort in obedience, but it is the comfort of an unburdened conscience.

As the west descends into a Judges like cadence with no deliverance in sight, “And every man did what was right in his own eyes,” resolve to be like Caleb and Joshua. Remain faithful to God and trust he will do what he says. The culture is increasingly calling sin good, and calling obedience to God, evil. Whether you are delivered now, or have a wilderness wandering experience for the rest of your life, you are here to glorify God and point others to the salvation offered in Jesus Christ. Live the comfortable life of an unburdened conscience. Have clean hands and a pure heart before God, living as he demands and not as the world demands.