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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Coram Deo ~ In the Presence of, and Before the Face of God

Our blog is named Coram Deo, It’s not a phrase we hear about each day, so what does it mean? Read R.C. Sproul’s answer.

Getty'sKeith and Kristyn Getty
at Grace Presbyterian Church – October 17

Just a reminder that the modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty will be in concert at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria on Friday, October 17. Tickets are going fast and available locally at Christ Church. Don’t miss this wonderful evening of worship.
To find out more and to purchase tickets go to: http://www.wbnh.org/resources/store/

 

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~The EqualizerUnPHILtered by Phil Robertson

Book Review – UnPHILtered: The Way I See It by Phil Robertson with Mark Schlabach

 Movie Review ~ The Equalizer, rated R

 

~ THIS AND THAT ~

PROBING QUESTIONS:

SPORTS:

MUSIC:

  • Steve Taylor was my favorite Christian music artist in my early days as a believer in the mid-1980’s. He was edgy, funny and said things that the church needed to hear (and nobody else was saying). He hasn’t had a new album since 1994’s Squint. Since then he has directed two films, The Second Chance and Blue Like Jazz. Taylor returns on November 18 with the Perfect Foil (which features Peter Furler), and Goliath. My good friend Jeff sent me a link to “Only a Ride” and the song just explodes! Welcome back Steve! Check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/splint-entertainment/only-a-ride
  • This is a good story on Lecrae. It’s written by Sarah Pulliam Bailey and titled “How Lecrae mixed rap and theology to find huge, mainstream success”. You can read it here: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/09/26/lecrae-mixed-rap-theology-find-huge-mainstream-success-video/Trip Lee
  • Trip Lee’s long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s The Good Life is Rise, and it will be released October 27. You can pre-order it at iTunes and when you do you will receive the songs “Shweet” and “Sweet Victory”. Guests on the new album include Lecrae and Andy Mineo. The pre-order for Rise checks in at #2 on the iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap charts, behind Lecrae’s Anomaly, which remains at #1 for a third week.
  • The Newsboys, who are dominating the Christian music charts (8 songs in the top 200 on the iTunes Christian charts), thanks to the popularity of the film God’s Not Dead have released a new single “Hallelujah for the Cross” which should be in heavy rotation on Christian radio soon.
  • Here’s an article from the Chicago Tribune about the ten best post-Beatles solo albums by the members of the band. Read the article here and let us know what you think about the choices.
  • U2 has released the cover art for the physical release of their album Songs of Innocence. The visuals reflect the new songs and their inspiration in the early years of U2 as teenagers in Dublin. Glen Luchford’s striking cover image of Larry Mullen Jr, protecting his 18 year old son, resonates with the band’s iconic 1979 debut album Boy – and the album War, four years later. Both featured the face of a child, Peter Rowen, the younger brother of Guggi, Bono’s childhood friend growing up on Cedarwood Road.
    • The physical release of Songs of Innocence on October 13th comes in three formats:Songs of Innocence Cover
      • Deluxe, 2 CD Format which comes with 2 x 16 page booklets, the 11 track album on CD1 plus additional tracks on CD2 including a 6-song acoustic session along with Lucifer’s Hands, The Crystal Ballroom, The Troubles (Alternative Version) and Sleep Like A Baby Tonight (Alternative Perspective Mix by Tchad Blake).
      • 2 LP 180gram White Vinyl Format featuring the 11 track album on sides 1, 2 & 3 with bonus track The Crystal Ballroom 12″ Mix on side 4.
      • Single CD Format with a 24-page booklet along with the 11 track album.
  • Did you see the fabulous Stevie Wonder on The Tonight Show recently? Here’s a song that he performed (“All Day Sucker”) , that was not aired on the show: http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/segments/12416

LISTEN, WATCH, READ, CONSIDER, PRAY:

IN THE NEWS:

BOOKS:

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

  • One of my favorite shows of last season was Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg. Sandberg was recently on The Tonight Show. Check out this bit he did with Jimmy Fallon on five second movie summaries here:   http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/segments/12416

Beyond the Ark header

Doug Michael cartoon

Visions of Vocation Book Club Visions of Vocation

Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we discussed from our reading of Chapter 4 – Knowing is Doing:

  • Few stories capture the poignancy of parenting and politics, particularly of the ways in which fathers and their sons together learn to care about the world, as does Chaim Potok’s The Chosen.
  • It is at its core a reflection on the relationship of education to vocation, offering a tale of two answers to the question, Knowing what I know, having heard what I have heard, having read what I have read, what am I going to do?
  • And so he decided to raise his son in silence, as he himself had been raised, to feel the pain of the world in his own pain.
  • None of us, child or parent, older or younger, can read this without weeping. And none of us can conclude that the father’s choice was cheap.
  • Working with others in the city, we called it “Knowing and Doing: Crucial Questions for the Modern University” and commissioned a provocative poster, black and white for starkness, of a student standing on very large books, Grand Canyon–like, looking down into the world.
  • Each in his own way spoke to the question of the responsibility of knowledge within the academic community, perennially challenged as it is by the fiction that one can know but not do, that one can in fact “get all A’s and still flunk life.” What is the point of learning, after all? The question is not new.
  • That story became reality a century later in the appointment of Peter Singer to an endowed chair at Princeton University, where he has famously argued that parents ought to have at least several months after the birth of a child to decide if in fact they want to keep the child. And all this from the ironically named Center for Human Values, which he directs.
  • It was in (John) Stott’s address, taking up the question of the series, that I first heard the story of The Chosen as one with meaning for learning. “A mind without a heart is nothing.” I can still hear Stott say those words in his deeply Oxbridge voice, and they still ring true—for everyone everywhere. Knowing still has to mean doing.
  • How do we learn to become people who have minds and souls at the same time, in the same bodies, in the same persons? How do we avoid fragmenting ourselves so that we read stories of suffering but are insensitive to their meaning? To hear but not care? To see but not respond?
  • As Mark Schwehn has argued so well in Exiles from Eden, “Epistemologies have ethical implications . . . ways of knowing are not morally neutral but morally directive.” The ways we learn shape our souls, for blessing or curse, consciously chosen or not, and are rooted in epistemological commitments which are not morally neutral. Each and every time, they are morally directive.
  • With unusual wisdom, Louise Cowan’s essay “Jerusalem’s Claim Upon Us” takes up for one more generation the age-old question, What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens?
  • Cowan says, that “the object of the Greek way of thought is to know rightly; the object of the Hebrew is to do rightly.” To sum up, she argues that this deity who “fashions a cosmos out of love”—not the eros of the Greeks but the hesed of the Hebrews—makes a covenant with the human race, calling forth “a creature like himself, in his own image, one that could know and understand and love.”
  • Taking these ideas together, Cowan sets forth the contours of the Hebrew vision of the way the world is and ought to be. Woven as strands, they become a tapestry of the way to be holy and human, which in the end is the gift of “the covenant with the human race” that makes sense of the Hebrew understanding of life.
  • Not forever lost in the cosmos, wondering who they are and how they are to live, but rather created in covenant to know and be known, to love and be loved.
  • Written into that vocation is an epistemological challenge, a way of knowing that is not and can never be morally neutral, but is always morally directive. We must not only know rightly, but do rightly. And we must know and understand and love—at the same time. Taken together this is the heart of the Hebrew way of knowing.
  • If at the core of the calling to be human is the task to know and do rightly, to act responsibly in history, to coherently connect knowledge with understanding with love, then there must be a reason for being that makes sense of human relationships and responsibilities in those terms, a context for seeing what one believes and how one lives as a seamless whole. For the Hebrew people, this comes from their understanding of covenant.
  • And generation by generation, God continued to “covenant” with his people—with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David—and of course, in the Christian vision, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the covenant incarnate, the covenant made flesh, living for a while among us.
  • From beginning to end, the word covenant represents the reality that God is holy, holy, holy—and expects his people to be so, too. Covenants reveal a God who is gracious and compassionate—and expects his people to be so, too. A covenant was a call to live rightly, to act justly—images that imply a “north star,” which is the character of God himself.
  • This is who I am, this is who you are and this is the way you are to live.
  • Three realities mark covenants wherever they are found in the Hebrew scripture: relationship, revelation, responsibility—the first and the last mediated by the second. Each time a covenant is made, a relationship is offered, a revelation is given, a responsibility is expected. It is the God who “fashions a cosmos out of love” who calls a people into covenant, saying, “I want to know you and to be known by you. This is who I am and who you are. This is the way you are to live. Now, what are you going to do? How are you going to respond? With faithful love, with heart and mind and soul and strength—or will you falter?”
  • Relationship, revelation, responsibility. The words define each other, even as they define covenant.
  • The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob connects to his people through covenant, saying with word and deed, “I know you, I know all about you, and I choose to love you. I will be in relationship to you.”
  • But with that relationship comes a revelation.
  • This is who I am. This is what I am like. This is who you are. This is how you are to live.
  • A relationship initiated—by grace. A revelation made—with power and clarity. And a responsibility, an ability to respond. Always and everywhere, the revelation requires a response.
  • Though the words are historically situated in a moment in Hebrew history, Joshua’s charge to his people echoes across the ages: “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15 ESV). It is a line in the sand for every generation, perennially asked and answered in every time, in every place. But it is particularly so within the covenantal character of the biblical story, where the dynamic of relationship/revelation/responsibility is sustained in time and space, generation by generation.
  • Noah, Abraham, Moses, David—on each occasion that a covenant is made, a question is set forth: What will you do with what you know? How will you respond to what you have heard?
  • But the covenant, at its very core, reveals the God who knows rightly and does rightly, who knows and understands and loves.
  • Havel was just becoming a more internationally known figure at the time, having come from prison to the presidency of Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic. His people saw themselves as victims. But he also knew that there was no future for his people if they could not set that identity and history aside and instead take up responsibility for the future.
  • If we lose God in the modern world, then we lose access to these four great ideas—meaning, purpose, responsibility, accountability.
  • What Havel saw is what Cowan saw, that human beings are “obligated through the very fact of their existence.”
  • Knowing and doing are at the core of every examined life, but putting the two together is the most difficult challenge we face.
  • A storyteller whose work will long outlive him because he spoke so truthfully about the human condition, Hitchcock rarely missed the opportunity in his films to ask, and answer, the probing questions which are implicit in the relationship of knowing to doing.
  • All of us—friends, parents and children, teachers and students, employers and employees, political leaders and their people—at some point are faced with the question: If you knew, why didn’t you do? How could you be so irresponsible?
  • From the most personal to the most public of our relationships, from marital unfaithfulness to corporate scandals—how else do we explain the outrage, the disappointment, when we find that one more time in one more situation with one more person, there was a disconnect between what someone knew and what they did?
  • What does it mean to “know”? If we were to take the Hebrew scripture, from Genesis to Malachi, listening to and learning the way that knowledge is understood, it would come to something like this: to have knowledge of means to have responsibility to means to have care for.
  • If one knows, then one cares; if one does not care, then one does not know.
  • Like the word covenant, it is defined in life, not in abstraction.
  • As always, the way that belief and behavior are formed over time is complex; but it is clear that the way we live shows what we believe.
  • The epistemological vision that threads its way through biblical history is plainly part of this book’s account of why and how to live in the world: if you know, you care; if you don’t care, you don’t know.
  • And God in his faithful love, hesed, sends prophets to call the people back to the meaning of the covenant. Remember who I am. Remember who you are. Remember how you are to live.
  • But the people have rejected the covenant, they have separated knowing from doing. They may know rightly, but they do not do rightly.
  • The prophet Jeremiah adds his voice to Isaiah’s, lamenting the loss of knowledge, calling the people to an integrity of heart, to do what they know, to move outside the compartmentalization of faith that is the perennial temptation of people of faith anytime and anywhere.Bottom of Form
  • Like a prism in the sun, yada is a multi-faceted word that, in its near one thousand uses in the Hebrew scripture, is translated variously as know, knows, knew, known, knowing, knowledge, acknowledge, understand, teach, realize, show, experience, care for, concern, concerned about, have sex with and learns.
  • From beginning to end it is a word for life, ranging across the spectrum of human relationships and responsibilities—and not surprisingly, its meaning includes both joy and sorrow, the way things ought to be and the way things more often than not are.
  • In Seinfield’s cynical world, the point was that there was no point, and “Yada yada yada” was the response. As silly as Seinfeld meant it to be, for those with ears to hear, it did have meaning. After the Fall, where the covenant is first broken in the Garden, everything is broken, the whole cosmos is affected—and so is yada, so is knowing. Yada, yada, yada.
  • When our older children were almost adolescents, I invited them and their friends at Rivendell School to see the film Weapons of the Spirit. With unusual seriousness, the Washington Post saw it as “a kind of spiritual quest,” and I thought it would be good grist for the mill of young minds. “The question at the heart of this modest, compelling film is this: how in the middle of great evil did a great good take place?”
  • Why do we care? It is never an easy question, and there is never an easy answer.
  • If we remember solely the horror of the Holocaust, it is we who will bear the responsibility for having created the most dangerous alibi of all: that it was beyond man’s capacity to know and care.
  • In the image of Simone Weil, true learning is learning to pay attention, seeing things as they really are.
  • Why do we care? Because we see ourselves in relationship, “obligated by the very fact of our existence.” And now knowing what we know, we are responsible, for love’s sake, for the people and places that are ours—if we have eyes that see.

Steven Garber was recently interviewed by byFaith about Visions of Vocation. You can read the interview here: http://byfaithonline.com/how-do-we-love-a-broken-world/

Next week we’ll look at chapter 5. Won’t you join us?

Quotables:

  •  I have often repented of speech but hardly ever of silence. -C.S. Lewis
  •  It is clear that lax doctrine and lax living are pretty frequently associated. -Charles Spurgeon

 Faith-and-Work

 Quotables:

  • I am hugely influenced in these things by Peter Drucker and his reminder that the effective executive maximizes his opportunities and knows himself. So we need to know whether we are more mentally active in morning or evening, and we need to maximize that. - Albert Mohler
  • If work is to find its right place in the world, it is the duty of the Church to see to it that the work serves God, and that the worker serves the work. -Dorothy Sayers

 INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

How Then Should We WorkHow then SHOULD We Work?  Book Club ~ Chapter 3

This week we continue our book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. This week we cover the material in Chapter 3: The History of Work and Calling.

The Gospel at WorkThe Gospel at Work Book Club

We recently completed week three in the book club for The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert. We covered:

CHAPTER 6 HOW DO I BALANCE WORK, CHURCH, AND FAMILY?

CHAPTER 7 HOW DO I HANDLE DIFFICULT BOSSES AND COWORKERS?

 What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Series – Part 9

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from Chapter 15 Creating the Right Routines.

 

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An Anomaly of a Week

Top Albums of 2014

2014 has been a particularly strong year for music, with most of my favorite artists releasing new albums. Below are my top choices, in order, thus far:
1. Tie:
•      Songs of Innocence – U2
•      Anomaly – Lecrae
2.  Neon Steeple – Crowder
3.  Fading West and The Edge of the Earth – Switchfoot
4.  Rivers in the Wasteland – NEEDTOBREATHE
5.  20 – Jars of Clay
Two other highly anticipated releases that may crack this list are Love Ran Red by Chris Tomlin and Rise by Trip Lee, both of which will be released October 28.

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Movie Review:

  • The Maze Runner, rated PG-13

Music Reviews:

  • The Edge of the Earth: Unreleased Songs from the film “Fading West” – Switchfoot
  • Anomaly by Lecrae

Book Review:

~ THIS AND THAT ~

MUSIC:

  • Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong, the new album from For King & Country, who also guests on one song on Lecrae’s Anomaly, debuted at #2 on the iTunes top albums charts on September 16. Congratulations!
  • And the exciting new music just keeps coming. From Jars of Clay to Lecrae, U2 and Switchfoot, now comes news that Chris Tomlin has released a new single from his forthcoming album Love Ran Red. The album features the singles “Waterfall” and “Jesus Loves Me”, along with “Almighty” and “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)” which were included on the Passion: Take it All album earlier this year. Below are the lyrics to this excellent new worship anthem “Jesus Loves Me”, which I’m sure will be soon be sung in churches around the world:

I was lostChris Tomlin
I was in chains
The world had a hold of me

My heart was a stone
I was covered in shame
When He came for me

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

Jesus, He loves me, He loves me, He is for me
Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me

And it was a fire
Deep in my soul
I’ll never be the same

I stepped out of the dark
And into the light
When He called my name

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

He holds the stars and He holds my heart
With healing hands that bear the scars
The rugged cross where He died for me
My only hope, my everything

  • Steve TaylorMy good friend Jeff told me that Steve Taylor is getting ready to release his first new album in 20 years. It will be called Goliath and will be released November 18. His band – The Perfect Foil – includes Peter Furler. Can’t wait!
  • Stevie Wonder, who rarely tours, will be in concert at the United Center in Chicago for the Songs in the Key of Life Performance tour on November 14. This will be a performance of his classic album of the same name. I saw him in concert at the State Farm Center (then called the Assembly Hall) back in 1974 and have long enjoyed his music.Lecrae

           ALL LECRAE ALL THE TIME…

BOOKS:

MOVIES:

  • Here is the first full-length trailer for the upcoming Hunger Games: Mockingjay film: http://entertainthis.usatoday.com/2014/09/15/the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1-first-full-trailer/
  • Kirk Cameron’s next film is Saving Christmas. The promotion for the film states: Every year at Christmas time it seems the baby in the manger takes more and more of a backseat to retail sales, Santa Claus, and political correctness.  With “Merry Christmas” being replaced by “Seasons Greetings” and court ordered removal of public nativity scenes, the fruit of Mary’s womb is falling on hard times. But this year, Kirk Cameron is taking back Christmas with his engaging new movie Saving Christmas. Opening in select theaters November 14, the newest movie from the star of Fireproof and Unstoppable is filled with laughter, warmth, and God-honoring cheer! Saving Christmas will change the way your family sees and celebrates this magical time of year. Check out the official site for the film here: http://savingchristmas.com/
  • Andrew Barber has a problem with Christian films (and so does Tammy by the way, but perhaps for different reasons). Barber writes that there are currently two primary problems with Christian films: (1) they are either inherently dishonest and/or (2) they are primarily concerned with what C. S. Lewis called “egoistic castle-building.” Read his article “The Problem with Christian Films” here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-problem-with-christian-films

INTERESTING ARTICLES, VIDEOS AND EARNEST PRAYERS:

DESIRING GOD ~

  • We don’t like to wait – I know I sure don’t. Paul Maxwell of Desiring God writes that helpful to remember that “God’s most precious gifts are often established in gradation for three reasons”. Read what those reasons are in his article titled “Do You Hate to Wait?” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/do-you-hate-to-wait
  • Jon Bloom of Desiring God writesIrritability. I give into it too often. It’s time to take this sin more seriously and lay it aside (Hebrews 12:1). Every time I’m irritable I burden myself with the detrimental weights of prideful selfishness and relational conflict. And as my irritation overflows on others, it burdens them too because my harsh words stir up anger in them (Proverbs 15:1).” I know I struggle with irritability more than I would like to admit. Read his article “Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/lay-aside-the-weight-of-irritability
  • David Mathis from Desiring God writes that one of the most loving things you can do for someone is tell them when they’re wrong. Read his article “Give the Blessing of Rebuke” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/give-the-blessing-of-rebuke

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

IN THE NEWS – ISIS:

  • Here is an interesting article from the New York Times on how ISIS works.
  • Former Petra and Head East lead singer John Schlitt has been working with Jay Sekulow of ACLJ, John Elefante and Mark Townsend. They have just recorded their first original tune, Where I Stand, which is a moving tribute to the persecuted Christians in Iraq. The song goes hand-in-hand with an original book written by Sekulow called “Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore.” The song is available when you purchase the book.
  • Scotty Smith tweeted the below picture of women being sold like slaves in Mosul, Iraq by ISIS, saying “This is what true slavery looks like, people”.ISIS selling female slaves

Quotables

  • The only thing that we have earned at the hands of perfect justice is perfect punishment. -RC Sproul
  • If you have wasted your whole life, and have five minutes left, you can live them to the glory of Christ. -John Piper

 Beyond the Ark headerCourtesy of World Magazine

Doug Michael Adam and Eve cartoonWorld Magazine Cartoon

Faith-and-Work

Quotable: Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. -Steve JobsHeaven is a Place on Earth

BOOK REVIEW – Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God by Michael E. Wittner

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

  • Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes that business success and gratefulness go hand in hand. Read his “Tuesday Tip” titled “The Wonder of Gratitude” here” http://drzimmerman.com/tuesdaytip/gratitude.php
  • Here are quotes on leadership that Dr. Alan Zimmerman is known for and people have found helpful: Download your copy by clicking here
  • On this month’s Leadership podcast titled “Keystone Habits”, Andy Stanley talks about habits that can change your organization. You can find the podcast on iTunes or here:  http://andystanley.com/free-resources/
  • Here is a one-minute video (“60 Seconds to Significance” from The High Calling) from pharmaceutical and vaccine industry consultant Boyd Clarke on how to take criticism.
  • I found this article about reflecting on our performance at work from J.B. Wood to be helpful. Read “How To Know if You are Doing a Good Job”.
  • What are the best places to work? Here is one list – from Fortune – of the top 100 best companies to work for: http://www.greatplacetowork.com/best-companies/100-best-companies-to-work-for
  • Matt Perman writes “What are the components of an effective management philosophy that is based upon the fact that humans are in the image of God and that the glory of God is the goal of all things? I am going to outline eleven”. Read his article titled “Management in Light of the Supremacy of God: How Should Christians Think about Management” here: http://whatsbestnext.com/2011/01/management-in-light-of-the-supremacy-of-god/
  • Matt Perman shares the slide deck he uses to help introduce people to the theology of productivity that he gives in What’s Best Next the book. It can serve as a good refresher for those who have read the book, and also something that you can easily share with those who haven’t read the book.
  • I receive the Lead Like Jesus e-devotional three times each week. This one from last Friday got my attention as the prayer stated “Lord, I hand over my need to be in control, my desire to look good in other people’s eyes”, a few things that are probably counterfeit idols in my life. Read the entire devotional here: http://leadlikejesus.com/blog/blog-post/seeking-answers#
  • In this twelfth installment in the series on love at work, John Kyle writes on what it means to rejoice with the truth, even when you’re at work.
  • In this article titled “Heroism in a Cubicle”, Dr. David Leonard states “To put it differently, you must resolve to be intellectually virtuous; you must resolve to be heroic, even in your cubicle. dc46cd4#sthash.y5L6UZKH.dpuf
  • Can unfulfilling work be a vocation? Read Gene Veith’s comments.
  • In his article “What is the Vocation of a Student”, Andrew Spencer offers five lessons he wishes he had learned as a younger student. Find out what those lessons are.
  • Christianaudio is offering John Maxwell’s Leadership Series audiobooks at a discount of up to 75% off through September 30. Check out the details.

 Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?How Then Should We Work

How then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work Book Club ~ Chapter 2

This week we continue our book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. Read the passages I highlighted in Chapter 2: The Gospel, The Kingdom and Our Calling: What Does the Bible Say About Work?

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Series – Part 8 What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

  • Architect CREATE A FLEXIBLE STRUCTURE
  • CHAPTER 14 Setting Up Your Week

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from chapter 14.

 R.C. Quote


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Timely News!

This just in, thanks to our cub reporter Tony Gunther.

Lecrae, whose album Anomaly debuted at #1 on Billboard’s album charts yesterday, will appear on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon TONIGHT. He’ll sit in with The Roots and is expected to perform his single “All I Need is You”. To find out more read: http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2014/september/lecrae-brings-reformed-rap-jimmy-fallon-tonight-show.html


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Coram Deo – Before the Face of God 9.15.2014

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Book Reviews

To celebrate their 20th anniversary Francis and Lisa decided to serve at a village in Africa that one of their friends started. This body of believers had been building a village to feed children dying of starvation, liberate women trapped in prostitution, and give hope and opportunity to a community ravished by poverty. Moved by what God was doing there for the poor, Francis and Lisa wanted to bless the ministry to double or triple its impact.  With another book already in motion, this time written together by Francis and Lisa, they saw an opportunity to use the book as a way to support the work in places like this village in Africa. They decided to self-publish with a team of volunteers to generate as much money possible to give away.  100% of net profits from each book sold goes straight to this vision. They would love to raise 5 million dollars to feed the hungry, free women from prostitution and spread the gospel to unreached places. All net proceeds are being directed to Crazy Love Ministries, a 501(c)3 registered in the state of California, and then are dispersed from there to several previously-selected partners for the book

Part of the reason why Francis and Lisa decided to publish independently was so they could bless others with the book who couldn’t afford it. To download a free PDF, please click here: Download PDF.
 
Movie Reviews

  • The Drop, rated R
  • Mom’s Night Out, rated PG

Music Review

  • Songs of Innocence – U2

Doug Michael’s Cartoons

I first saw Doug Michael’s cartoons in our local newspaper several years ago. Later, I found out that he worked with me at the same corporation. For years Doug allowed us to run his cartoons in Coram Deo, our church newsletter. I’m pleased to say that Doug is now allowing us to run his cartoons in our blog! Many thanks to Doug for sharing his talents with us. Here’s the first one – enjoy!

Doug Michael 

~ THIS AND THAT ~

MUSIC:Getty's

  • Keith and Kristyn Getty in Concert at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria on October 17 ~ just a reminder that Keith and Kristyn Getty will bring their “Hymns for the Christian Life” tour to Grace Presbyterian Church on October 17. Jim Hubert from WBNH reports that nearly 600 tickets have been sold already! Get your tickets soon. For more information and to purchase tickets go to http://www.wbnh.org/resources/store/
  • Switchfoot surprised their fans last week with a seven-song EP of unreleased songs from their excellent Fading West film. The EP is titled The Edge of the Earth and you can buy it on iTunes for just $6.99. Look for a review in next week’s blog.
  • Songs of McCartneyHere’s an interesting new project – the songs of Paul McCartney sung by artists such as Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Steve Miller, Heart, Jeff Lynn (Electric Light Orchestra), Yusuf (Cat Stevens), Willie Nelson and others. The two CD and DVD set will be released November 18.
  • You can watch below an exclusive 29 minute behind-the-scenes jamming session filmed at Paul McCartney’s “Early Days” video shoot. The official video was launched earlier this summer and the end of it sees Paul playing with a group of blues guitarists, including Johnny Depp. This exclusive footage captures an impromptu jamming session that broke out between Paul and the musicians on the day of the shoot. Watch it here: http://c4483579.r79.cf2.rackcdn.com/EarlyDaysJam_MFMclimatepledge_Web.html
  • As Bruce Springsteen gets ready to turn 65, read this article on why he still matters: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/09/13/why-springsteen-still-matters-at-age-65/15600175/
  • Bob Seger has a new album coming out Ride Out, his first new album of new material in eight years, on October 14. On the album Seger covers one of my favorite John Hiatt songs “Detroit Made”. The songs seems like it was written for Seger to cover. Check out Seger performing the song in concert here: http://ultimateclassicrock.com/bob-seger-releases-detroit-made/
  • Music superstar Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. He went on one final farewell tour. ‘Glen Campbell I’ll Be Me’ tells the story of the shows, and a great cast of contributors includes Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow, Taylor Swift and Edge. Check out the trailer for the film here: http://www.u2.com/news/title/ill-be-me

BOOKS:John Maxwell

  • What is the novel that R.C. Sproul says that every Christian should consider reading? Go to Justin Taylor’s blog to find out.
  • Gene Veith offers his contribution to Justin Taylor’s series on a work of fiction of that every Christian should consider reading. Check out his recommendation here.
  • John Maxwell’s next book will be Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. It will be released on October 7.      Michael Horton book      
  • And speaking of upcoming books of interest, Michael Horton’s new book is titled or-di-nar-y: 1. Sustainable Faith in a Radical World. It even features an orange cover, just as David Platt’s Radical book did. It will be published October 7.
  • In his article “Christian, Do You Make it Your Daily Work”?, Tim Challies summarizes chapter two of John Owen’s classic Overcoming Sin and Temptation, a book that has been precious to generations of Christians as they have battled sin and pursued holiness. He indicates that reading his article will deepen your hatred for sin and spark your love for holiness. I plan to refer to the article often. Read it here. http://www.challies.com/reading-classics-together/christian-do-you-make-it-your-daily-work?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzEmail&utm_content=5575&utm_campaign=0

PROBING QUESTIONS

IN THE NEWS:

PRAYERS, ARTICLES, ETC.:

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

 Visions of Vocation Book Club – Week 3Visions of Vocation

Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we highlighted from our reading of Chapter 3 – The Landscape of Our Lives:

  • To understand this cusp of a new century—marked as it is both by the sociological reality of the information age and the philosophical movement we call postmodernism—we have to pay attention to the novelists, filmmakers and musicians who are culturally upstream, as it is in their stories, movies and songs where we will feel the yearnings of what human life is and ought to be.
  • Whether staged or celluloid, in print or on computer disks, they are fingers to the wind. Why? Artists get there first.
  • Take U2, for example. It is hard to imagine students of history in some future era making sense of the dawn of this millennium without studying their music. Pop icons, yes. But prophets as well, as they have set out for themselves and their audience a vision of human life under the sun that has been as enormously entertaining as it has been politically and socially attentive.
  • While there are scores of songs that offer artful windows into the human heart, in their album Zooropa, the song “Numb” captures better than almost anything else what it feels like to be alive in the information age.
  • For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the song is a finger on the pulse of the ABC/BBC/CBS/NBC/CNN/FOX/MSNBC on-all-the-time culture. And U2 gets at it brilliantly, profoundly. Artists do get there first. I feel numb.
  • A growing chorus of critics brings their voices to bear on the meaning of the information age, wondering what it means, and will mean, for all of us.
  • Describing the contemporary world as “an info-glut culture,” he has asked with probing seriousness, “But have we become any wiser?” The words echo across the landscape of our time.
  • One of the best known voices bringing a critical eye to bear upon the information age is Neil Postman, who for twenty-five years wrote as widely and perceptively as anyone on the challenge of learning to learn and live in a technological society.
  • With an uncanny eye and ear, he picked up on the tremendous challenge of holding onto one’s humanity in an information-saturated culture.
  • Carr instead draws on brain physiologists to argue that our very brains are being rewired so that we are seeing life differently, and we are reading the world differently. Scanning our way down the computer screen, hyperlinking as we do, we are decreasingly able to read more carefully, with the kind of discernment that critical reading requires. In a word, Carr calls our contemporary practice “the shallows.”
  • Of all that has been written on this phenomenon, Colin Gunton’s Bampton Lectures at Cambridge University, The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity, seem the wisest. Brilliant and far-ranging, he argued that disengagement is the essence of modern life. Looking out at the world, we want to understand it, we want to respond to it—and yet we find it so very hard to do so in any morally meaningful way. Knowing what I know, what am I to do?
  • An info-glut culture? Yes, in more ways than we know, on more levels than we can understand. I feel numb. While the artists get there first, the world at large catches up, and we all wonder, What am I going to do?
  • As probing as that question is for all, some have decided, with a shrug of the mind and heart, whatever. Sometimes playful, often more cynical, the word itself is a window into the complexity of life; we feel overwhelmed in so many different ways all at once. How else to respond than with a heartfelt “whatever”? From casual conversations in families and among friends to core curricular commitments at major universities, “whatever” seems to many the best response to the way the world is—and isn’t.
  • Thoughtful, honest human beings wonder, Knowing what I know, what am I going to do? To do nothing seems less than human, seems less than right.
  • Whether we read the philosophers or not, the belief that we have no access to certainty, particularly to moral absolutes, to the world of “basic right and wrong in the universe,” is in the cultural air we breathe.
  • In a post-Enlightenment world, there is no voice, no perspective that carries more weight than any other, because no one has access to certainty about anything. There is no Story to make sense of stories, no Truth to make sense of truths, no Metanarrative to make sense of narratives. All claims to the contrary are “totalitarian” and are not to be tolerated. The worst face of postmodernism is that nothing has metaphysical or moral weight; it is the culture of whatever, a nihilism for Everyman.
  • To get what I want when I want it. To do what I want to do when I want to do it. Baldly stated, that is the way I have described morally malformed people to my children over the years, like a driver along the interstate who bullies everyone else, a politician who with Machiavellian cynicism skillfully uses the system to advance his own ambitions. Very, very bright people do not always make very, very good people. You can get all A’s and still flunk life.
  • Human lives and history are at stake here. No wise person, therefore, will step into this analysis with a cheap critique. But Solzhenitsyn’s analysis of the notion that “it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose, simply for the satisfaction of his whims” was profoundly prescient. He saw where the line in the sand was, and would continue to be, in the culture of whatever.
  • Few films have captured this dilemma with as much cinematic brilliance as Run Lola Run.
  • For the foreseeable future, we will never become a completely postmodern culture. At best, we are stretched taut between times. Airplane schedules, with all the technological complexities of air traffic controllers, with the mathematical precision required in allocation of air space, with the interrelatedness of computers across continents and oceans, require modern consciousness, the ongoing commitment to certain things—“facts”—being true for everyone all the time. But the on-the-street ethos, the air we breathe, is plainly that of postmodernism, and its worst face is the culture of whatever.
  • Seeing what I see, hearing what I hear, what am I going to do?
  • From mime artists in Paris, to attorneys walking the killing fields of Rwanda, to young, eager human rights activists in Washington, to graduate students at Yale, how does one learn to see with the eyes of the heart, to see oneself as responsible for the way the world is and isn’t? Not a cheap question, and there are no cheap answers.

Next week we’ll look at chapter 4. Won’t you join us?

Faith-and-WorkIntegrating Faith and Work

Part 1: http://www.rzim.org/just-thinking-broadcasts/faith-under-fire-christian-ethics-in-the-workplace-part-1/

Part 2: http://www.rzim.org/just-thinking-broadcasts/faith-under-fire-christian-ethics-in-the-workplace-part-2/

Part 3: http://www.rzim.org/just-thinking-broadcasts/faith-under-fire-christian-ethics-in-the-workplace-part-3/

Part 4: http://www.rzim.org/just-thinking-broadcasts/faith-under-fire-christian-ethics-in-the-workplace-part-4/

 Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

The Gospel at WorkThe Gospel at Work Book Club – Session 3

We recently completed week three in the book club for The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert. Read the highlighted passages from CHAPTER 4 – THE KING’S PURPOSE IN OUR WORK and CHAPTER 5 HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE A JOB?

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Series – Part 7

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from CHAPTER 13 Clarifying Your Roles.

Os Guinness

 

 


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Lake Geneva

Lake GenevaLake Geneva, Wisconsin

Last weekend we celebrated our birthdays with a long weekend at beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin, having often vacationed in Hayward growing up and having enjoyed a few vacations in Door County more recently. We had visited Lake Geneva a few times over the past decade, with this time being the first time we had spent two nights (though one more night would have been perfect!). We stayed at the Mill Creek Hotel for the second time. It is a 33 room boutique suite hotel, which is located perfectly in the heart of the shopping (about a hundred shops) and restaurant district near the Riviera Docks.

The center of Lake Geneva is Geneva Lake, a deep (140 feet at the deepest) clear water lake which is surrounded by beautiful homes (many dating back to the early 20th century when many business leaders from Chicago built homes at the lake). A walking path is available which allows you to make the full 21 mile walk around the lake, or as much of it as you would like.

There are about a thousand piers on the lake, and on a busy summer day there will be that many boats on the lake. We experienced two days of great weather, and since it was after Labor Day, the lake was far less crowded. We would recommend you take one of the many different boat cruises that depart several times a day from the Riviera Docks. The Riviera once featured big bands and singers such as Louis Armstrong and a young Frank Sinatra, and now is a popular destination for weddings. We enjoyed meals at Popeye’s and Scuttlebutts just across Wrigley Avenue from the lake. We also had some great pizza at the Next Door Pub, watching the Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers just an hour away from Lake Geneva.

If you’ve never checked out Lake Geneva, we highly recommend the three hour and fifteen minute drive. You can take in a movie at the Showboat Theatre, play golf, take long walks or eat at any number of excellent restaurants as you enjoy the beauty. You won’t regret it!

TamMy Amazing Wife

Last weekend we celebrated Tammy’s birthday. In fact we celebrated both of our birthdays with a long weekend trip to one of our favorite places – Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. As I thought about Tammy’s birthday, I was again reminded how blessed I am to be her husband. She is my Proverbs 31 woman.

Initially, the Lord used Tammy to help draw me to Him. I was raised Roman Catholic and went to church every Sunday, but it made no difference in my life. When we met she was focused on her career in Accounting, with goals of achieving her CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation and becoming a partner in an Accounting firm. But the Lord had other plans for her. Early in our marriage she became seriously ill and her life changed into one of service. Over the past 30 years, she has served as a Hospice volunteer, at a Catholic worker house, a soup kitchen (12 years), as the treasurer at our church (18 plus years), and will soon begin her next journey of service as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer. I appreciate so many things about Tammy, but her spirit of service is amazing. Thank you Lord for Tammy!

 Coram DeoCoram Deo

What makes our blog different from all of the others out there? I see four components to what we hope to do each week. We aim to:

Look at art (music, movies, and books) from a Christian worldview.

  • Contemplate culture (news, theology) and share important articles with you.
  • Consider how to integrate faith and work.
  • Share articles, videos and cartoons that will make you smile.

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Book Review ~

Movie Reviews ~

  • If I Stay
  • The Trip

 Quotable: My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior. -John Newton

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS -

BOOKS -

PROBING QUESTIONS -

MUSIC -

  • Here are a few upcoming music releases that I’m excited about:
    • Michael W. Smith Christmas album – September 30
    • Peter Furler Christmas, featuring David Ian – October 7
    • Rise by Trip Lee – October 28
    • Love Ran Red by Chris Tomlin

ARTICLES OF INTEREST -

JOHN PIPER AND DESIRING GOD -

LIGONIER MINISTRIES -

TO MAKE YOU SMILE -

Visions of Vocation Book Club Week 2Visions of Vocation

Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we highlighted from our reading for the second week of our book club:

  • The Last Butterfly is about moral imagination, about learning to see with the heart in the context of one’s calling, right in the middle of the push and shove of life, full as it is of complex responsibilities.
  • Our propensity to deceive ourselves about our place and purpose makes it so very difficult to see the truth of our lives, to understand the meaning of our moment in history and our responsibility to it.
  • The importance of The Last Butterfly is that it asks the viewer this probing question: In the context of one’s calling, how does one learn to see with the eyes of the heart, to see oneself as responsible for the way the world is and isn’t?
  • In a captivating though sobering chapter, “The Duties of Law-Abiding Citizens,” she described Eichmann as reading his world through this lens: This was the way things were, this was the new law of the land, based on the Führer’s order; whatever he did he did, as far as he could see, as a law-abiding citizen. He did his duty, as he told the police and the court over and over again; he not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law.
  • The distinction mattered to Eichmann. In the pharisaism of his heart, he understood his employment as a public vocation with professional responsibilities, so that it was important to not only do one’s duty but to obey the law—even if the law was one and the same with the fatally flawed Führer himself.
  • Arendt painstakingly set forth the historical details of the Nazi vision in general, and Eichmann’s role in particular, always returning to the question, “Why didn’t he see these people as neighbors? What perversion of law and order made it possible to go to work day by day, year after year, making choices with horrific consequences, and to see it all as “my duty”?
  • Also perplexed by Eichmann and the court, she tried to find language sufficient to communicate the moral meaning of his actions, and offered the word thoughtlessness—he did not think things through, he was not thoughtful about what he did and what it meant. In the narrowness of his vision of neighbor, of citizen, of employee, he failed to follow through on the moral implications of his beliefs and behavior.
  • Eichmann’s failure to see truthfully enabled him, by just doing his job, to oversee Theresienstadt, the “city of the Jews” in The Last Butterfly. The film is what we call historical fiction, but Eichmann’s role was far from fictional. Blind to the meaning of who he was and what it meant, he made sure that the trains left on time for Auschwitz, going to bed at night certain that “with the killing of Jews I had nothing to do.”
  • But the harsh truth is that the twentieth century produced other holocausts, some more terrifying than that of Nazis, and to own that history is part of our human responsibility even in the midst of our ordinary lives in ordinary places.
  • Over time Gary decided to leave the Department of Justice to find a way to address injustices small and large wherever they might be found. If in the Philippines it was child prostitution, in India it was child slavery. And so three years after the Rwandan genocide, the International Justice Mission was formed. Now, fifteen years later, IJM has developed networks of attorneys, investigators and trauma social workers in nations on every continent.
  • Two stories, one century: Eichmann and Haugen. Where one did not see a neighbor in need, the other understood that moral, political and social injustice is in fact always one more window into a neighbor’s need. The question that searches the deepest places is this: Why did Gary feel responsible? He had eyes to see that he was in fact responsible to do something, because someone had to say no. And he found a way in the context of his calling to do just that.
  • Over the years I have read and reread Percy’s work, dwelling in his vision of learning and life. He is, after all, the one who wrote that “it is possible to get all A’s and still flunk life.”
  • An observation about the human condition from his novel The Second Coming, the second of two novels about Will Barrett, his words are a warning about the temptation that lurks around the corner of everyone’s heart—to believe that competence can be separated from character, that excellence can be defined in merely academic terms without a corresponding concern for the kind of people we are. Do we have eyes to see what is really important? What really matters?
  • Along the way, principally in conversations with good friends, he was drawn to mere Christianity, to the gospel of the kingdom which was strange good news for someone like him who longed for something to believe about life and the world that could make sense of his life in the world.
  • What the literati saw in Percy’s work was his unflinching willingness to look at sorrow and anguish and not blink. Eyes that see, yes—but what do we see? He was not a romantic—that was not a possibility. Rather he was a realist to the core. What the reviewers missed was his deeply rooted commitment to seeing human beings as “pilgrims in the ruins,” that we are glories and shames at the same time.
  • “But I always want some hint of hope in my writing.” What did he mean? And why did it matter?
  • Honest readers of Percy’s work acknowledge that he was painstakingly honest about the sorrows that are ours as human beings, and his hints of hope were never more than that.
  • There is one great question in his work: “Knowing what you know about yourself and the world, what are you going to do?”
  • Attentive as he was to life, and to his life, Percy was writing about the challenge of being alive in the modern world. So much to see, so much to hear, so much to know—what will we do?
  • That is the most difficult dilemma for thoughtful, serious human beings: What will you do with what you know?
  • If most of Europe was Eichmann-like, offering “the obedience of corpses” in thousands of terribly ordinary ways, there were exceptions. In every nation there are people who choose otherwise, who have eyes to see that something is wrong and that they can do something about it.
  • Taken together they are some of the best stories in the whole of history, reminding all of us what it means to be a neighbor, what it means to have eyes that see.
  • In thousands of important and different ways, each is a story formed by the asking and answering of the question, knowing what I know, what will I do?
  • Always and everywhere, this is our challenge as human beings. Can we know and love the world at the very same time? Knowing its glories and shames, can we still choose to love what we know? Is there any task more difficult than that?
  • Knowing what I know about the way the world is, what am I going to do? A mime in Europe had to answer, as did the Nazi bureaucrats, as did the Justice Department lawyer, as do all of us. Percy’s question echoes through the heart of every human being, and it is especially poignant for those coming out of the starting blocks of early adulthood with a life of knowing and doing on the horizon. The question requires an answer if we are going be human.

Next week we’ll look at chapter 3. Won’t you join us?

Faith-and-Work

Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us? How Then Should We Work

  1. How then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work by Hugh Whelchel 
    This week we begin a new book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. This week we cover the material in the book through the first chapter. Click here to read the passages I highlighted in CHAPTER 1.What's Best Next
  2. What’s Best Next Series – Part 6        
    We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from CHAPTER 12: Finding Your Life Calling (Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page).The Gospel at Work
  3. You can also read excerpts from The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert and excerpts from our past book club – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. 

Integrating Faith and Work

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Coram Deo – Before the Face of God 9.4.2014

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Movie Reviews:
• The One I Love, rated R
• Magic in the Moonlight, rated PG-13

Book Reviews:
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

Quotable:
If you are a Christian, and you refrain from committing adultery or using profanity or missing church, but you don’t do the hard work of thinking through how to do justice in every area of life – you are failing to live justly and righteously. -Tim Keller from Generous Justice

Visions of Vocation Book Club Week 1Visions of Vocation

Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we highlighted from our reading for the first week of our book club:
• Percy describes the novelist as “a physician of the soul of society,” and in his essay “Another Message in a Bottle,” he argues, “Bad books always lie. They lie most of all about the human condition.” That insight has become foundational to me, and it is a rare day that I do not draw upon it in conversations.
• Why is it that we care? Why is it that we see ourselves implicated in the world, in the way the world is and isn’t—and in the way it ought to be? And why does it seem that some do not care? I have thought about those questions for most of my life, and they continue to run through my heart.
• But it is also true that whether our vocations are as butchers, bakers or candlestick makers—or people drawn into the worlds of business or law, agriculture or education, architecture or construction, journalism or international development, health care or the arts—in our own different ways we are responsible, for love’s sake, for the way the world is and ought to be. We are called to be common grace for the common good. That is the vision of the Washington Institute, which is my work. Our credo is that vocation is integral, not incidental, to the missio Dei, and we work that out in many different ways in our teaching and writing, courses and curriculum. This book is an effort within that larger work, inviting you in its own way to “come and see” that this vision of vocation is being lived into by men and women, younger and older, who are committed to a faith that shapes vocation that shapes culture.
• “Seek the well-being of the city” was Jeremiah’s prophetic word to the exiles in Babylon, for “when it flourishes, you will flourish” (Jeremiah 29:7 paraphrase). To learn to see—to see ourselves implicated in history, to see that we share a common vocation to care not only for our own flourishing, but for the flourishing of the world—is the vision that has brought this book into being.
Chapter 1 To Know the World and Still Love It?
• More often than not, people want to do the right thing. They want their lives to matter, their visions to shape the way the world works for the common good, at least as they understand the good. In a thousand different ways they want their ideas to have legs. That is what makes Washington, Washington. Who we are and how we live together is the stuff of this city. Laws are imagined, laws are debated, laws are legislated.
• After the lecture, I noticed some young men who were a bit older than the typical undergraduate. They were a group of musicians who called themselves Jars of Clay. I knew of them, but did not know them, and they had their own questions to ask. So we talked and a conversation began that continues to this day. Over the months, they asked about books and essays to read and I was increasingly impressed with their moral seriousness. One day we talked about Africa and their desire to put their creative energy behind an effort to address its complex need for clean blood and water. I told them that a week earlier I had been in Phoenix, Arizona, speaking at a conference called “The Faces of Justice,” and had met a young woman named Jena Lee from Whitworth College who had impressed me with her articulate passion for Africa. It is a long story, but when Jena graduated that spring, she moved to Nashville to work with the Jars of Clay guys to begin Blood:Water Mission. Years later there are more than a thousand different projects in Africa that have grown out of Blood:Water Mission’s work. Jena has done a remarkable job, taking the band’s life and hopes, connecting them to hers, and birthing an organization that is healthy and responsible. The board has grown, and one of its prized members has been Clydette, who is still at USAID doing her work on the global threat of tuberculosis. She has brought all that and more to bear for the sake of the vision and work of Blood:Water Mission, with gladness and singleness of heart marking her vocation.
• To know the world and still love it? There is not a more difficult task that human beings face.
• How do we see what is awful and still engage, still enter in? How can we have our eyes open to reality and understand that we are more implicated, for love’s sake, now that we see?
• As Clydette and Jena have been my teachers, so has Simone Weil. In the 1940s, on the last night of her life, Weil wrote, “The most important task of teaching is to teach what it means to know.” To teach what it means to know? Found in the journal at her bedside, these were the final words of Simone Weil, the French philosopher who died in the 1940s. While her social position would have allowed otherwise, her own passions and commitments led her to the decision that while others suffered during the war years, she would eat only that which was available to the ordinary people of France. And simply said, she starved herself to death. Where did this seriousness of heart come from? Why did she see the world as she did? Why did the weightiness of the world mean so much to her? And why would knowing become that which mattered most? The ideas of Marx and Lenin and Trotsky failed her and her country, was there an answer to be found anywhere? She discovered it finally in the God who cries, the God who has tears. Among many essays that she wrote, there is one that I have loved most, called “On the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God.”
• Weil argues that it is in learning to pay attention that we begin to understand the meaning of life and of learning. What does she mean? To pay attention is to see what matters and what does not matter. It is to discern rightly, to choose well. Yes, it is to know as we ought to know, to know in a way that leads us to love. She calls this kind of study sacramental, as it is a kind of learning that is born of a love of God for the world—and in it a calling to love as God loves because we know as God knows. Her vision is formed by the story of the Good Samaritan, because in it she sees the primary issue as one of having learned, or not learned, to pay attention to things that matter.
• Two religious leaders, men much like the expert in the law, walk by and do not see a neighbor. They see a man, but do not see a neighbor—someone their law requires them to care for—and they pass by, having justified their indifference religiously, historically and sociologically. They had not learned to pay attention.
• In contrast, the Samaritan does see a neighbor and stops to care for him because he has learned to pay attention, to understand what he sees and why it matters. Weil also calls this kind of seeing sacramental, because it is a kind of learning that connects heaven to earth. Sacraments always do that—they give us the grace to understand that the universe is coherent, that things seen and unseen are equally real, equally true. And they allow us to understand that the most ordinary elements of life can be made holy—even our learning, even our labor, even our love.
• When we see all of life as sacramental, as the graceful twining together of heaven and earth, then we begin to understand the meaning of vocation, which in their very different ways are what the stories of Clydette, Jena and Simone Weil are each about. We can begin to see that all of life, the complexity of our relationships and responsibilities—of family and friendships, of neighbors near and far, of work and citizenship, from the most personal to the most public—indeed, everything is woven together into the callings that are ours, the callings that make us us.
• There is nothing we are asked to do that requires more of us than to know and to love at the same time. Mostly we choose otherwise. Mostly we choose to step away, now knowing as we do.
• Whether it is in the most familiar of relationships, as in marriage, or in the most far-reaching of responsibilities, as in the global AIDS crisis, when we begin to really know what someone is like or what something or someplace is like, the calculus of our hearts more often than not leads us to conclude that it will no longer be possible to love. How can we, after all? Now we know!
• One of my deepest commitments is to the “come and see pedagogy” of the Gospels.
• We learn the truest truths, the most important things, only when we look over the shoulder and through the heart, only when we can see that ideas have legs and that worldviews can become ways of life.
• So when I travel around the country and beyond, I talk about people I know who in their very different ways are connecting what they believe with the way that they live in and through their vocations.
• In fact, they are showing that it is possible to honestly know and to responsibly love as they take up the callings and careers that are theirs. And so time and again, I will say to those who have asked me to speak, “Come and see.” Yes, come and see that what I am saying is possible. People actually do live like this—and you can too.
• We do not have to play games with ourselves or with history, pretending that the world is a nicer place than it ever can be, that somehow really awful things do not happen, that horribly sad moments are not ours to live with and through.
• We do not have to decide that the only livable responses are the most perennial responses, the ones that human beings have made since the beginning of time, those of cynicism and stoicism. Both of course are ways of protecting our hearts from being hurt again, ways of “knowing” that do not ask us to love what we know.
• Rather they are ways of knowing that allow us to step away from history and from our responsibility for the way that history unfolds. They give us the ability to say no to the tragedies and heartaches of life, and to protect ourselves from being hurt by becoming too close to what will inevitably bring pain.
• We can choose to know what is going on in the world and still love the world. But we need good reasons to do so.
• And I began to wonder, Is there something that is more true than what I have believed? Is there an account of the universe that makes more sense of griefs like this?
• John does record, “Jesus wept,” but Warfield digs deeper and opens windows into the heart of God, incarnate in Jesus, who twice is said to have “groaned severely in his spirit.” He does what a good reader of the text will always do and asks about the meaning of John’s words. What he found surprised me. The very words that are used are the same ones that Greek poets used to describe a warhorse ready to enter battle, a stallion rearing on his hind legs, nostrils flaring, angry at what he sees and ready to enter the conflict as a warrior himself, even as he carries a warrior in armor on his back.
• There are moments when we can do nothing else than cry out against the wrongs of the world. It is just not the way it is supposed to be! Outrageous, it is outrageous! Tears matter, and sometimes they are very complex.
• We all cry—but what is important here is why we cry and when we cry and what our crying means for who we are and how we live.
• The tears of God are complex. They must be tears of sympathy, even empathy, as Aslan weeps for Digory’s mother and as Jesus weeps with his friends at the death of their brother. But sometimes they are also tears of anger at the unnaturalness of death, at the distortion of death, at the skewing of human hopes, as Jesus “groaned severely in his spirit” at the death of Lazarus.
• So, reader, come and see. In these next pages, you will meet my friends from near and far, men and women who incarnate the reality that we can know and still love the world, even in its wounds—perhaps especially in its wounds—whether they be in family or friendship, psychological or sociological, in economic life or political life, in the arts or in education, in small towns or on complex continents. As the poet Bob Dylan once sang, “Everything is broken.” Yes, everything, and so we must not be romantics. We cannot afford to be, just as we cannot be stoics or cynics either.
• But the story of sorrow is not the whole story of life either. There is also wonder and glory, joy and meaning, in the vocations that are ours. There is good work to be done by every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve all over the face of the earth. There are flowers to be grown, songs to be sung, bread to be baked, justice to be done, mercy to be shown, beauty to be created, good stories to be told, houses to be built, technologies to be developed, fields to farm, and children to educate.
• All day, every day, there are both wounds and wonders at the very heart of life, if we have eyes to see. And seeing—what Weil called learning to know, to pay attention—is where vocations begin.

Next week we’ll read chapter 2. Won’t you join us? To entice you, here are a few reviews of the book.

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS ~

  • In our weekly Mark Driscoll update a Mars Hill Church member offers this article on forgiving her pastor. Read it here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2014/august/forgiving-my-pastor-mark-driscoll.html?paging=off
  • Gene Veith writes that “Fighting ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”) is a worthy cause, worth dumping an ice bucket over your head.  The main beneficiary of the “Ice Bucket Challenge” is the ALS Association.  The problem with that group, though, is that they use a stem cell line from an aborted child.  There are, however, other ALS research organizations that honor the sanctity of life.” Read his article here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/geneveith/2014/08/better-places-to-send-your-ice-bucket-challenge-money/2015 Ligonier National Conference
  • Peter Jones and my favorite blogger Tim Challies have been added to the lineup for the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference. The conference theme is “After Darkness, Light” and will be held February 19-21 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando. The conference features a strong lineup of speakers. In addition to Challies and Jones, speakers include R.C. Sproul, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson, Alistair Begg, Russell Moore, Stephen Nichols and more. You can find out more about the conference and register at: http://www.ligonier.org/events/2015-national-conference/
  • Kevin DeYoung, who pastors a church on or near the campus of Michigan State University writes that “With most major college getting whipped into a full frenzy, I thought it would be worthwhile to dust off a few thoughts about binge drinking on our nation’s campuses.” Read his thoughts here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/08/26/christ-and-keg-stands/
  • Recently the trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board elected David Platt to serve as president. Platt will be leaving his position as lead pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama where he has served since 2006 to take on this new assignment. Read here why Russell Moore is radically happy about Platt assuming his new position.
  • There sure is a lot going on of concern in our world these days – Russia/Ukraine, Ebola, Israel/Hamas, ISIS, Ferguson and you could add much more. I got a chuckle out of this cartoon from World Magazine.

Obama - World MagazineTRENDING TOPICS ~

SPORTS ~

TO MAKE YOU SMILE ~

PROBING QUESTIONS ~

 INTERESTING ARTICLES, VIDEOS AND MUCH NEEDED PRAYER ~

     BIBLE STUDY ~

     DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE AND SITUATIONS ~

TIM KELLER ~

MOVIES ~

BOOKS ~Francis Shaeffer Book

  • This month’s free audiobook from Christianaudio is a good one. It is the classic How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer. Read about how to download your copy here: http://christianaudio.com/free/?utm_source=HomePage&utm_medium=InternalBanner&utm_campaign=FreeAudiobook
  • Great news! Banner of Truth is now offering e-books! They have released their first ten, including the classic Valley of Vision. Check out their e-book page here.
  • Not a Chance by R.C. Sproul and Dr. Keith Mathison, has been revised and expanded in light of recent scientific discoveries and ongoing attacks against God and reason, exposing the irrational claims of modern day science. Read about the new release and special pricing from Ligonier Ministries here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/not-chance-new-sproul-mathison/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=ligonierministriesblog
  • Justin Taylor is starting a new series on novels that every Christian should consider reading. The first contributor to share their list is Kathy Keller. Read her suggested novels here.  Francis Chan book
  • Francis Chan and his wife Lisa have written a book on marriage You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity. Christianaudio is offering a special introductory rate of $7.49 for the audiobook. In addition, all other Francis Chan titles are now 50% off at Christianaudio.com. Read more here.
  • UnPHILtered by Phil RobertsonUnPHILtered is the ultimate guide to everything Phil Robertson believes in. Balancing his sometimes off-the-wall comments with his strong focus on home and family life, it is sure to spark discussion, laughs, and a sincere appreciation for Phil’s unique approach to life. The book will be released this week.
  • Last week I re-read Radical by David Platt. The book ends with “The Radical Experiment”. Read about that here:  http://www.radicalexperiment.org/overview.html
  • NoiseTrade is offering a free download of the new book from Plumb. “Need You Now: A Story of Hope” is the incredibly honest and hugely encouraging new book by recording artist, songwriter, and performer PLUMB aka Tiffany Lee. Both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving, it is the story of beautiful and embarrassing moments on stage, the joys and trials of motherhood and unbridled forgiveness”. To download here: http://books.noisetrade.com/plumb/need-you-now-a-story-of-hope

MUSIC ~

  • Tim Challies takes a crack at the ten greatest hymns of all time here. Did he leave out any of your favorites?
  • Christian rapper Shope has released a new EP. You can listen to it here: https://soundcloud.com/allofshope/sets/shope-ep
  • Lecrae’s Anomaly will be released September 9. He has released four songs thus far for those who have pre-ordered the album. All four are charting in the top 44 on iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap chart, which on August 27 contained only 43 songs on the Top 200 not marked “Explicit” (of which 4 were Lecrae’s). He is truly making a difference in this genre. The latest song to be released “Say I Won’t” (featuring Andy Mineo) is also coming in at #10 at the overall iTunes top songs chart.
  • Lecrae is on the cover of CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) Magazine. Download it here: http://www.ccmmagazine.com/getcurrentissue/
  • Dylan - Basement TapesThe Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 from Bob Dylan and the Band will be released November 4. The Basement Tapes Complete brings together, for the first time ever, every salvageable recording from the tapes including recently discovered early gems recorded in the “Red Room” of Dylan’s home in upstate New York. Garth Hudson (of The Band), worked closely with Canadian music archivist and producer Jan Haust to restore the deteriorating tapes to pristine sound, with much of this music preserved digitally for the first time. The six disc collection compiled from the summer of 1967 recordings, will feature 138 tracks and cost $59.99 on iTunes. Read this article from USA Today about the new collection. 
  • Bruce Springsteen has written a children’s book Outlaw Pete, based on his 2009 song of the same name. Read about the book here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2014/08/28/bruce-springsteen-childrens-book-outlaw-pete/14728461/
  • The hidden gem on 20, Jars of Clay’s 20th anniversary celebration album is “If You Love Her”, inspired by Blood: Water Mission (http://www.bloodwater.org/)

You go find water
You go find water
If you love her
If you love her
If you love her
If you love her
At all

You can watch Jars of Clay singing this beautiful song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YlW0j47OSQFaith-and-Work

Integrating Faith and Work:  Connecting Sunday to Monday

Book Review:
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

Whats Best Next Poster

 What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Series – Part 5

 What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. Zondervan. 352 pages. 2014

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from chapter 11.

I’d encourage you to read the book along with me, and to visit Matt’s website at http://whatsbestnext.com/ and in particular The Toolkit: http://whatsbestnext.com/toolkit/

 

Don’t Waste Your Life at Work

Next to the Bible, this book has had the most impact on my life. I’ve tended to read the book each year since it was published in Don't Waste Your Life-0012003. There are many things I would like to share below from “Chapter 8: Making Much of Christ from 8 to 5”.
• It would be a mistake to infer from the call to wartime living in the previous chapter that Christians should quit their jobs and go to “war”—say, to become missionaries or pastors or full-time relief workers. That would be a fundamental misunderstanding of where the war is being fought.
• The war is not primarily spatial or physical—though its successes and failures have physical effects. Therefore, the secular vocations of Christians are a war zone. There are spiritual adversaries to be defeated (that is, evil spirits and sins, not people); and there is beautiful moral high ground to be gained for the glory of God. You don’t waste your life by where you work, but how and why.
• The call to be a Christian was not a call to leave your secular vocation. That’s the clear point of 1 Corinthians 7:17-24. Therefore, the burning question for most Christians should be: How can my life count for the glory of God in my secular vocation?
• Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ—to make him look great by all we do.
• Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work. The question is, How? The Bible points to at least six answers.
1. We can make much of God in our secular job through the fellowship that we enjoy with him throughout the day in all our work.
• When the saints are at work in their secular employment, they are scattered. They are not together in church. So the command to “remain there with God” is a promise that you may know God’s fellowship personally and individually on the job.
• One way to enjoy God’s presence and fellowship is through thankful awareness that your ability to do any work at all, including this work, is owing to his grace.
• This is the way God speaks to you through the day. He encourages you, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He reminds you that the challenges of the afternoon are not too hard for him to manage: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). He tells you not to be anxious, but to ask him for whatever you need (Philippians 4:6), and says, “Cast all your anxieties on me, for I care for you” (paraphrase of 1 Peter 5:7). And he promises to guide you through the day: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
2. We make much of Christ in our secular work by the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry.
• So if you go all the way back, before the origin of sin, there are no negative connotations about secular work. According to Genesis 2:2, God himself rested from his work of creation, implying that work is a good, God-like thing.
• To be sure, when God sends us forth to work as his image bearers, our ditches are to be dug straight, our pipe-fittings are not to leak, our cabinet corners should be flush, our surgical incisions should be clean, our word processing accurate and appealing, and our meals nutritious and attractive, because God is a God of order and beauty and competence. But cats are clean, and ants are industrious, and spiders produce orderly and beautiful works. And all of them are dependent on God. Therefore, the essence of our work as humans must be that it is done in conscious reliance on God’s power, and in conscious quest of God’s pattern of excellence, and in deliberate aim to reflect God’s glory.
• When you work like this—no matter what your vocation is—you can have a sweet sense of peace at the end of the day. It has not been wasted. God has not created us to be idle. Therefore, those who abandon creative productivity lose the joy of God-dependent, world-shaping, God-reflecting purposeful work.
• True personal piety feeds the purposeful work of secular vocations rather than undermining it. Idleness does not grow in the soil of fellowship with God. Therefore, people who spend their lives mainly in idleness or frivolous leisure are rarely as happy as those who work. Retired people who are truly happy have sought creative, useful, God-honoring ways to stay active and productive for the sake of man’s good and God’s glory.
• So the second way we make much of God in our secular work is through the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry. God created us for work so that by consciously relying on his power and consciously shaping the world after his excellence, we might be satisfied in him, and he might be glorified in us. And when we remember that all this God-exalting creativity and all this joy is only possible for undeserving sinners like us because of the death of Christ, every hour of labor becomes a boasting in the cross.
3. We make much of Christ in our secular work when it confirms and enhances the portrait of Christ’s glory that people hear in the spoken Gospel.
• There is no point in overstating the case for the value of secular work. It is not the Gospel. By itself, it does not save anyone. In fact, with no spoken words about Jesus Christ, our secular work will not awaken wonder for the glory of Christ. That is why the New Testament modestly calls our work an adornment of the Gospel.
• So one crucial meaning of our secular work is that the way we do it will increase or decrease the attractiveness of the Gospel we profess before unbelievers. Of course, the great assumption is that they know we are Christians.
• Should Christians be known in their offices as the ones you go to if you have a problem, but not the ones to go to with a complex professional issue? It doesn’t have to be either-or. The biblical mandate is: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23; cf. Ephesians 6:7).
• So the third way we make much of God in our secular work is by having such high standards of excellence and such integrity and such manifest goodwill that we put no obstacles in the way of the Gospel but rather call attention to the all-satisfying beauty of Christ. When we adorn the Gospel with our work, we are not wasting our lives. And when we call to mind that the adornment itself (our God-dependent, God-shaped, God-exalting work) was purchased for us by the blood of Christ, and that the beauty we adorn is itself the Gospel of Christ’s death, then all our tender adornment becomes a boasting in the cross.
4. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning enough money to keep us from depending on others, while focusing on the helpfulness of our work rather than financial rewards.
• The curse under which we live today is not that we must work. The curse is that, in our work, we struggle with weariness and frustration and calamities and anxiety.
• Able-bodied people who choose to live in idleness and eat the fruit of another’s sweat are in rebellion against God’s design. If we can, we should earn our own living.
• How then do Christians make much of Christ in working “to earn their own living”?
• First, by conforming willingly to God’s design for this age. It is an act of obedience that honors his authority.
• Second, by removing stumbling blocks from unbelievers who would regard the lazy dependence of Christians on others as an evidence that our God is not worthy of following. “Work with your hands . . . so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). We honor God by earning our living because this clears the way for non-Christians to see Christ for who he really is. Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love. They waste their lives.
• Third, we make much of God by earning our own living when we focus not on financial profit but on the benefit our product or service brings to society.
• This is paradoxical. I am saying, yes, we should earn enough money to meet our needs. But, no, we should not make that the primary focus of why we work. In other words, don’t focus on mere material things in your work. Don’t labor merely with a view to the perishable things you can buy with your earnings. Work with an eye not mainly to your money, but your usefulness. Work with a view to benefiting people with what you make or do.
• So don’t labor for the food that perishes. Labor to love people and honor God. Think of new ways that your work can bless people. Stop thinking mainly of profitability, and think mainly of how helpful your product or service can become. You are not working for the food that perishes. Your goal is to enjoy Christ’s being exalted in the way you work.
• None of us in our vocations should aim mainly at the food that perishes—leave that to the Lord. We should aim instead to do the will of him who sent us. And his will is that we treasure him above all else and live like it.
• If we simply work to earn a living—if we labor for the bread that perishes—we will waste our lives. But if we labor with the sweet assurance that God will supply all our needs—that Christ died to purchase every undeserved blessing—then all our labor will be a labor of love and a boasting only in the cross.
5. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning money with the desire to use our money to make others glad in God.
• So my point here is that, as we work, we should dream of how to use our excess money to make others glad in God. Of course, we should use all our money to make others glad in God, in the sense that our whole life has this aim. But the point here is that our secular work can become a great God-exalting blessing to the world if we aim to take the earnings we don’t need for ourselves (and we need far less than we think) and meet the needs of others in the name of Jesus.
• God clearly tells us that we should work to provide the needs of those who can’t meet their own needs.
6. We make much of Christ in our secular work by treating the web of relationships it creates as a gift of God to be loved by sharing the Gospel and by practical deeds of help.
• But now I want to say that speaking the good news of Christ is part of why God put you in your job. He has woven you into the fabric of others’ lives so that you will tell them the Gospel. Without this, all our adorning behavior may lack the one thing that could make it life-giving.
• Christians should seriously ask not only what their vocation is, but where it should be lived out. We should not assume that teachers and carpenters and computer programmers and managers and CPAs and doctors and pilots should do their work in America. That very vocation may be better used in a country that is otherwise hard to get into, or in a place where poverty makes access to the Gospel difficult. In this way the web of relationships created by our work is not only strategic but intentional.
• In conclusion, secular work is not a waste when we make much of Christ from 8 to 5. God’s will in this age is that his people be scattered like salt and light in all legitimate vocations. His aim is to be known, because knowing him is life and joy. He does not call us out of the world. He does not remove the need to work. He does not destroy society and culture. Through his scattered saints he spreads a passion for his supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples. If you work like the world, you will waste your life, no matter how rich you get. But if your work creates a web of redemptive relationships and becomes an adornment for the Gospel of the glory of Christ, your satisfaction will last forever and God will be exalted in your joy.
Peace


1 Comment

Coram Deo ~ 8.27.2014

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Book Reviews

  • What Works: Common Sense for a Stronger America by Cal Thomas
  • Recovering Redemption: A Gospel-Saturated Perspective on How to Change by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer

 Music Review

  • 20 – Jars of Clay

 Movie Reviews

  • When the Game Stands Tall, rated PG
  • A Most Wanted Man, rated R
  • The Lunchbox, rated PG

~ THIS AND THAT ~

UPDATES ON YOURS TRULY:

  • Bucket List Update – due to the continuing fighting between Israel and Hamas, as well as the inability to obtain travel insurance to that area, I’ve had to drop out of the trip to Israel with Michael Card, scheduled for early January. While this is a disappointment, I hope to attend a future trip with Michael and his team.
  • I’m Currently Reading – Heaven is a Place on Earth by Michael E. Wittmer. I’ve always got a number of books going, and a big stack in my ‘on-deck circle’, so click on the link for more info.

IN THE NEWS:Gettys Tour Photo

  • WBNH welcomes Keith & Kristyn Getty and Friends and the Hymns for the Christian Life concert.  This will undoubtedly be the inspirational worship concert of the year in our area!   Keith and Kristyn appear at Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, on Friday evening, October 17, at 7:00 pm. The concert with the Gettys will feature their full stage band and full choir including members of the Grace Presbyterian Church! Tickets are on sale NOW!   They are $15 for general admission, $10 each for groups of 10 or more.  Children 15 years old and younger will be admitted free with a paid adult, but they will need a ticket.  Tickets are available at WBNH, Route 9 at Mayflower Drive just east of Pekin; at Hoerr’s Berean Bookstore in Peoria; and at Christ Church, located at 1301 N. Linden Street just south of Raab Road in Normal.  You can also order them on the WBNH website, www.wbnh.org. We saw the Getty’s lead worship at Moody’s Founder’s Week a few years ago. I can’t wait for this concert!
  • Hall of Fame quarterback and believer Jim Kelly got good news on his cancer last week. Read about it here: http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11383849/jim-kelly-no-evidence-sinus-cancer-doctors-say
  • Downtown Disney was opened in 1975. The area is being changed over to Disney Springs, to be completed in 2016. Check out more about the transformation of the area here: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/attractions/the-daily-disney/os-new-disney-springs-renderings-revealed,0,4916209.story
  • In our weekly Mark Driscoll update, he has stepped down for six weeks while an investigation into the charges against him takes place. Read more here.

         FERGUSON, MO. AND RACE RELATIONS:

ARTICLES, VIDEOS, PHOTOS and PRAYERS:

BOOKS:

MUSIC:

  •  Upcoming concerts of interest are:
    • John Wilson at Northwoods Community Church in Peoria on August 30.
    • Switchfoot at Olivet Nazarene University on September 19.
    • Brandon Heath at the First United Methodist Church in Springfield on October 23.
  • Russell Moore writes “In recent days, singer/songwriter Vicky Beeching announced that she is a lesbian, and that she disagrees with the historic Christian sexual ethic. Prior to this, Beeching wrote many songs used as praise choruses in evangelical churches. Some are asking if they should continue to sing her songs in corporate worship.” Read the rest of his article “Should We Stop Singing Vicky Beeching Songs” here: http://www.russellmoore.com/2014/08/19/should-we-stop-singing-vicky-beeching-songs/
  • Lecrae has released a fourth song from his forthcoming Anomaly album, to be released September 9. It is “Say I Won’t” featuring Andy Mineo, and it’s another good one. Can’t wait for the full album!
  • Melanie Penn is the Creative and Events Director for City to City, Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s (Tim Keller’s church) church-planting ministry, and is also a singer-songwriter. Read more about her in this article titled “Singer in the City”.
  • The Dove Award nominations came out last week. I’m torn on “Artist of the Year”, in which three of my favorites were nominated – Lecrae, Switchfoot and NEEDTOBREATHE. Read about all of the nominees here: http://www.ccmmagazine.com/article/2014-dove-nominees/
  • In 1967, during the creation of the original Basement Tapes, Bob Dylan left a large number of long-lost handwritten lyrics unrecorded. Now for the first time Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), and Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) have come together to create and record new music to these lyrics. The album of 20 completed songs, Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes was produced by T Bone Burnett and is slated for release November 11.

MOVIES:

  •  Here’s some early chatter about the new movie Exodus: Gods and Kings, in which one of our best actors Christian Bale will star as Moses. I’m sure we will hear a lot more about this film before its release.

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

 “That’s cool but partner this just in
That you going live forever whether you want to or not
Some of us going end up holy some of us going end up hot.”
-“No Regrets” by Lecrae

The 5 Love Languages Book Club    5 love  

Last week, Tammy and I completed our summer book club of Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to a Love that Lasts. We covered chapters eleven, twelve and the rest of the book. Here are a few passages we highlighted:

Chapter 11 Love Makes the Difference

  • Love is not our only emotional need. Psychologists have observed that among our basic needs are the need for security, self-worth, and significance. Love, however, interfaces with all of those.
  • If I feel loved by my spouse, I can relax, knowing that my lover will do me no ill. I feel secure in her presence.
  • My sense of self-worth is fed by the fact that my spouse loves me. After all, if she loves me, I must be worth loving.
  • Feeling loved by a wife or husband enhances our sense of significance. We reason, if someone loves me, I must have significance. Without love, I may spend a lifetime in search of significance, self-worth, and security.
  • When I experience love, I am more secure in my self-worth and can now turn my efforts outward instead of being obsessed with my own needs. True love always liberates.
  • Love is not the answer to everything, but it creates a climate of security in which we can seek answers to those things that bother us. In the security of love, a couple can discuss differences without condemnation. Conflicts can be resolved. Two people who are different can learn to live together in harmony. We discover how to bring out the best in each other. Those are the rewards of love.
  • Can emotional love be reborn in a marriage? You bet. The key is to learn the primary love language of your spouse and choose to speak it.
  • What does your spouse do to make you feel more “significant”? How about what you do for them?

Chapter 12 – Loving the Unlovely

  • In what many have called Jesus’ greatest sermon, I read the following words, which I call love’s greatest challenge. I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. . . . Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” love those who love them.
  • Is it possible to love a spouse who has become your enemy? Is it possible to love one who has cursed you, mistreated you, and expressed feelings of contempt and hate for you? And if she could, would there be any payback? Would her husband ever change and begin to express love and care for her?
  • I was astounded by this further word from Jesus’ sermon: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
  • “As I understand that, Jesus is stating a principle, not a way to manipulate people. Generally speaking, if we are kind and loving toward people, they will tend to be kind and loving toward us. That does not mean that we can make a person kind by being kind to him. We are independent agents. Thus, we can spurn love and walk away from love or even spit into the face of love.”
  • That is why loving someone who is not loving you is extremely difficult. It goes against our natural tendencies. You will probably have to rely heavily upon your faith in God in order to do this. Perhaps it will help if you read again Jesus’ sermon on loving your enemies, loving those who hate you, loving those who use you. And then ask God to help you practice the teachings of Jesus.”
  • “Perhaps it would be helpful for us to distinguish between love as a feeling and love as an action,” I said. “If you claim to have feelings that you do not have, that is hypocritical and such false communication is not the way to build intimate relationships. But if you express an act of love that is designed for the other person’s benefit or pleasure, it is simply a choice. You are not claiming that the action grows out of a deep emotional bonding. You are simply choosing to do something for his benefit. I think that must be what Jesus meant.
  • Perhaps you need a miracle in your own marriage. Tell your spouse that you have been thinking about your marriage and have decided that you would like to do a better job of meeting his/her needs. Ask for suggestions on how you could improve. His suggestions will be a clue to his primary love language. If he makes no suggestions, guess his love language based on the things he has complained about over the years. Then, for six months, focus your attention on that love language. At the end of each month, ask your spouse for feedback on how you are doing and for further suggestions. Whenever your spouse indicates that he is seeing improvement, wait one week and then make a specific request. The request should be something you really want him to do for you. If he chooses to do it, you will know that he is responding to your needs. If he does not honor your request, continue to love him. Maybe next month he will respond positively. If your spouse starts speaking your love language by responding to your requests, your positive emotions toward him will return, and in time your marriage will be reborn. I cannot guarantee the results, but scores of people whom I have counseled have experienced the miracle of love.
  • Choosing to love and expressing it in the primary love language of their spouse has made a drastic difference in their marriage. When the emotional need for love is met, it creates a climate where the couple can deal with the rest of life in a much more productive manner.
  • With empty love tanks, couples tend to argue and withdraw, and some may tend to be violent verbally or physically in their arguments. But when the love tank is full, we create a climate of friendliness, a climate that seeks to understand, that is willing to allow differences and to negotiate problems. I am convinced that no single area of marriage affects the rest of marriage as much as meeting the emotional need for love.
  • The ability to love, especially when your spouse is not loving you, may seem impossible for some. Such love may require us to draw upon our spiritual resources.
  • For a free online discussion guide please visit:   http://www.fivelovelanguages.com

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What if I cannot discover my primary love language?
  2. What if I cannot discover my spouse’s love language?
  3. Does your love language change as you get older? I think that our primary love language tends to stay with us for a lifetime. It is like many other personality traits that develop early and remain consistent.
  4. Does the five love language concept work with children?
  5. Do children’s love languages change when they get to be teenagers?
  6. What if the primary love language of your spouse is difficult for you?
  7. Are some of the love languages found more among women and others with men?
  8. How did you discover the five love languages?
  9. Do the love languages work in other cultures?
  10. Why do you think The Five Love Languages has been so successful?
  11. What if I speak my spouse’s love language and they don’t respond?
  12. Can love be reborn after sexual infidelity?
  13. What do you do when a spouse refuses to speak your love language even when they know it?
  14. Can emotional love return when it has been gone for thirty years?
  15. I’m single. How does the love language concept apply to me?

The Five Love Languages Profile for Husbands and Wives. An interactive version of this Personal Profile is also available Visions of Vocationat www.5lovelanguages.com.

Next week we will start a new book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber. Garber was the speaker at my graduation ceremonies at Covenant Seminary in May. Won’t you join us?

“Every time I look in the mirror
I’m in a shadow of doubt
Maybe I’m as lost as the next guy
Just have to find, just have to find out.”
-From “Reckless Forgiver” by Jars of Clay

 Faith-and-Work

Integrating Faith and Work

 “Grouches of the world unite!
Stand up for your grouchly rights!
Don’t let the sunshine spoil the rain
Just stand up and complain.
Let this be the grouches’ cause: Point out everybody’s flaws!
Something is wrong with everything
Except the way I sing!”

- “The Grouch Anthem” by Oscar the Grouch

 What’s Best Next Series – Part 4What's Best Next

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from chapter 10.

I’d encourage you to read the book along with me, and to visit Matt’s website at http://whatsbestnext.com/ and in particular The Toolkit: http://whatsbestnext.com/toolkit/

The Gospel at Work Book Club – Session 2The Gospel at Work

In last summer’s “Calling, Vocation and Work” course, taught by Professors Williams and Matthews, I got my first interest in seeing how I could integrate my faith with my work. Recently, I started a book club at work with a few friends to read and discuss The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert. My hope is that this book club will be the beginning of a local “Faith and Work Movement”. Read the highlights from Chapter 3 “The Gospel in the Workplace”, which we discussed in our second session.

R.C. Sproul Ligonier Minisries

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