Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving-verses-14A Puritan Prayer from the book “The Valley of Vision”:

O My God, Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects, my heart admires, adores, loves thee, for my little vessel is as full as it can be, and I would pour out all that fullness before thee in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with thee ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up, ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed, ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart, crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless thee for the soul thou hast created, for adorning it, for sanctifying it, though it is fixed in barren soil;

for the body thou hast given me, for preserving its strength and vigour, for providing senses to enjoy delights, for the ease and freedom of my limbs, for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;

for thy royal bounty providing my daily support, for a full table and overflowing cup, for appetite, taste, sweetness, for social joys of relatives and friends, for ability to serve others, for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities, for a mind to care for my fellow-men, for opportunities of spreading happiness around, for loved ones in the joys of heaven, for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.

I love thee above the powers of language to express, for what thou art to thy creatures. Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.

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Movie Review ~ The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay – Part 2

Hunger Games The Mockingjay Part 2The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay – Part 2, rated PG-13

This is the final film based on the best-selling The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, with the second book unnecessarily being divided into two films which were filmed at the same time. And other than this film being too long at 137 minutes, I enjoyed it. It has an interesting story, with some twists, and some strong acting performances.

The series has boasted a strong cast, featuring performances by five actors or actresses who have been nominated for a total of fifteen Oscars – Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook, and American Hustle), Woody Harrelson (The People vs. Larry Flynt and The Messenger), Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights, The End of the Affair, The Hours, Far From Heaven, and Still Alice), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote, Doubt, Charlie Wilson’s War, and The Master), and Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones). Seymour Hoffman won for Capote (2005), Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and Moore for Still Alice (2014).

This film is directed by Francis Lawrence, who also directed 2014’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One and 2013’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The moving soundtrack features original music composed by James Newton Howard, who previously scored the first three films in the series. The script is written by Peter Craig and Danny Strong.

Jennifer Lawrence, one of my favorite actresses and already a three time Oscar nominee at age 25, portrays Katniss, the Mockingjay. She is courageous and is the people’s leader/warrior in the battle against President Snow and the Capitol.

The film picks up where Part 1 leaves off, with Katniss recovering from an attack by the Capitol brainwashed Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss’s fellow District 12 tribute and fiancé. Katniss’s aim is to kill President Snow (Donald Sutherland) in order to bring peace to the war-torn Panem. She states “I’m going to kill Snow. He needs to see my eyes when I kill him.”

Members of Squad 451 are Gale (Liam Hemsworth), competing love interest for Katniss with Peeta, Finnick (Sam Claflin), Cressida (Natalie Dormer) and the soldier Boggs (Mahershala Ali). They are under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore), and Plutarch (Phillip Seymour Hoffman in his last screen performance, having died of a drug overdose in February, 2014 at age 46).

Squad 451 brings Peeta, who is struggling with memory loss and is emotionally unpredictable, on their way to President Snow’s mansion. Along the way they have to avoid a series of secret, frightening and deadly pods that surround the mansion. These scenes, especially the mutts, will be too scary for young viewers.

This film is based on a young adult novel, but it is not appropriate for young children. There is significant war violence and much killing, including of small children, in this film.

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Neon Porch Extravaganza - CrowderMusic Review:  Neon Porch Extravaganza (EP) – Crowder

This surprise new live recording available exclusively from iTunes from Crowder features six songs, five of them from his excellent 2014 release Neon Steeple (one of my favorites from last year), plus a video of one of them. The songs were recorded on the front porch of Crowder’s home church, Passion City Church in Atlanta, where Louis Giglio is the pastor. The songs came off so well Crowder decided to release them on iTunes. The album cover art features Kenny Rodgers, the Artic Fox, Crowder’s touring sidekick.

The album features excellent live high-energy versions of “My Beloved” (watch this video of the song being performed. Note: the video is not included on the EP), “I Am”, “Come As You Are”, and “Hands of Love” from Neon Steeple. It also features Crowder’s cover of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home”. That’s right, Crowder covers a Drake song. Although Drake sings it to a girl, in his interpretation, Crowder sings to the Lord and to believers:

I got my eyes on you
You’re everything that I see
I want your high love and emotion endlessly
I can’t get over you
You left your mark on me
I want your high love and emotion endlessly

So just hold on we’re going home (going home)
Just hold on we’re going home (going home)
It’s hard to do these things alone (things alone)
Just hold on we’re going home (going home, going home)

Also included is a new version of “Lift Your Head Weary Sinner (Chains) featuring a powerful rap from Tedashii. A video of this performance is also included.

All in all, you get a lot of value (six songs, including the video) and 25 minutes of music for just $4.99 on iTunes. Can’t wait for the next studio release from Crowder.


musicnewsCaroline. Watch Jon Foreman perform his song “Caroline” from his The Wonderlands: Sunlight EP as he tests out the Fender Acoustic SFX amplifier.

Go Tell It On the Mountain. Watch this video of “Go Tell It On The Mountain” from Keith and Kristyn Getty’s new Christmas album Joy: An Irish Christmas LIVE.

Noel. Watch the video of Lauren Daigle performing “Noel” from Chris Tomlin’s new album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship.

Music Quotes:

  • It’s better to create something that others criticize than to create nothing and criticize others. Lecrae
  • Is it just me or are newer iPhones jetting worse at spellunking wurdz? Matt Maher

Song of the Week

Clothed in Righteousness – Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul

This week we begin our countdown to our annual “My Favorites” listing with our #5 song of the year. The words are by theologian R.C. Sproul and the music by Jeff Lippencott. It is from the sacred music album Glory for the Holy One. It’s a hymn I sang a few times at Ligonier National Conferences and in worship services at Saint Andrews Chapel before this album was released. You can listen to the song here.

Fallen race in Eden fair
Exposed and full of shame
Fled we naked from Thy sight
Far from Thy holy Name

RefrainGlory to the Holy One

Clothe us in Your righteousness
Hide filthy rags of sin
Dress us in Your perfect garb
Both outside and within

Sent from the garden in the east
Outside of Eden’s gate
Banished there from Thy pure light
Were Adam and his mate

Scarlet souls are now like snow
By Thy atoning grace
Crimson hearts become like wool
For Adam’s fallen race


No work of ours is good enough
For evil to atone
Your merit, Lord, is all we have
It saves, and it alone


Next week we’ll look at our #4 song of the year.

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Book Reviews
Kevin Halloran BookWord + Life: 20 Reflections on Prayer, the Christian Life, and the Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ by Kevin Halloran. Word + Life. 79 pages. 2015

Over the past year or so I’ve become familiar with Kevin Halloran’s ministry, through his blog and the articles he has written for other blogs. This, his first book, was intended as he writes “To do what a ‘Greatest Hits’ record does for a band: (1) to introduce new people to the best of the blog and (2) catch current fans up on quality content they have missed.” His heartbeat for the book for “God to plant us beside streams of living water, and for our roots to soak up the encouragement and hope the Scriptures offer us in Christ.”

The articles included flow from Halloran’s personal Scripture reading, struggles in faith, struggles in life, and professional work with both Unlocking the Bible (a radio and online ministry) and Leadership Resources International (a missions organization that equips pastors to faithfully exposit the Scriptures).

Similar to the prayers from The Valley of Vision, Halloran includes a few prayers mixed in with the articles adding to the devotional experience.

I highlighted many passages in my copy of the book. As I revisit those passages they include themes of prayer, anxiety, faith and work, materialism and contentment, battling sin, how Jesus relates to the Old Testament, social media, leadership, persecution and how to read the Psalms.

The author also includes a few recommended resources at the end of the book, which can be read in one sitting, or devotionally, reading one article a day. I highly recommend this short book as an introduction to Kevin Halloran and his ministry. He is a young man who is already doing great things for the Kingdom.

pitch by pitchPitch by Pitch: My View of One Unforgettable Game by Bob Gibson & Lonnie Wheeler. Flatiron Books. 256 pages. 2015

Bob Gibson, who will turn 80 in early November, is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He played seventeen seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. During that time he won two Cy Young Awards and pitched for two World Series champs. In this book he takes the reader through each pitch of game one of the 1968 World Series against the Detroit Tigers.

Gibson was coming off of a record-setting season in which he had an earned run average of an incredible 1.12. His opponent in the October 2 game was Denny McLain, who won an unbelievable 31 games for the Tigers. So we had two pitchers at the top of their games going in game one on a warm October afternoon in St. Louis.

I really enjoyed Gibson’s insights on each pitch. He takes the reader through his thought process on what he was planning to throw and how it turned out. In between, he tells some very interesting stories about his Cardinal teammates and the Tigers he was facing. As a baseball fan and a Cardinal fan I loved every page of this book.

One story in particular was of personal interest. He tells of Cardinal Curt Simmons getting Hank Aaron out on change-up pitches. He writes “When Aaron finally timed one of Simmons’s slowballs and clubbed it over the fence, he was called out for stepping on the plate.” The fascinating thing about that story is that I was at that August 18, 1965 game in St. Louis as an 8 year old boy with my family when that took place.

Gibson writes in a confident manner about racial issues, his pitching “The slider was next; and it was perfect, if you don’t mind my saying so,” catcher McCarver “Tim has since confessed that he can’t think of a single intelligent thing he ever pointed out to me in our little mid-inning visits,” his roommate Curt Flood’s challenge of major league baseball’s reserve clause, and much, much more.

Gibson would break Sandy Koufax’s World Series strikeout record in the game and the Cardinals would win, but ultimately lose the series.

If you are a baseball fan, and in particular a Cardinals fan, you’ll love this book.

Rejoicing in ChristRejoicing in Christ by Michael Reeves. IVP Academic. 135 pages. 2015

Michael Reeves writes that most of our Christian problems and errors of thought come about by forgetting or marginalizing Christ. As a result, this book aims for something deeper than a new technique or a call to action. He calls for us to consider Christ so that he might become more central for us, that we might know him better, treasure him more and enter into his joy.

I thoroughly enjoyed this short, but theologically rich book about Christ. Reeves writes that the Christian life and Christian theology must begin and end with Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Goal. This is a book that you can use in your devotional reading. It contains several short meditations on many aspects of Christ (divinity, humanity, life, death, resurrection, return, etc.). Among the many things I appreciated about this book were his writings on sonship, Christ being the second (or last) Adam, Christ’s loving relationship with the Father, our union with Christ, and the marriage between the church (bride of Christ) and our groom (Christ).

I was not familiar with Reeves until I saw that he was one of the speakers at the 2016 Ligonier National Conference in February. I read this book and am glad that I did as it helped me to know and love Christ even more. He complements his meditations on Christ with historical artwork depicting Jesus, which stimulates the mind as well as the heart. This is one of my favorite books of the year.

book news

  • J.I. Packer An Evangelical LifeJ.I. Packer: An Evangelical Life. Tim Challies reviews J.I. Packer: An Evangelical Life by Leland Ryken. He writes “My few frustrations aside, I was still glad to read it and glad to have encountered its subject within its pages. I thank God for J.I. Packer.”
  • Transforming Homosexuality Interview. Denny Burk was recently interviewed on the “Fire Away!” podcast about his new book Transforming Homosexuality.
  • The Forgotten Quotes of Charles Spurgeon. Read some of these amazing quotes from a book that doesn’t really exist (but it sure is fun thinking of the great preacher saying these things).
  • 10 Serious Problems with Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling Book. Tim Challies writes “Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling is a phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down. According to publisher Thomas Nelson, it “continues to grow in units sold each year since it was released [and] has surpassed 15 million copies sold.” Yet it is a deeply troubling book. I am going to point out 10 serious problems with Jesus Calling in the hope that you will consider and heed these warnings.”
  • Killing Reagan’s Reputation. Gene Veith writes “Bill O’Reilly is considered a conservative, but he is challenging one of American conservatism’s biggest icons.  In his bestselling book Killing Reagan, O’Reilly maintains that the assassination attempt 69 days into his presidency caused Reagan to be mentally impaired for the rest of his terms in office.”
  • Intentional Living Book Review. David Murray reviews John Maxwell’s new book Intentional Living, stating what he likes about the book, as well as a missing opportunity and a missing question.
  • The Songs of JesusThe Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms by Tim and Kathy Keller. In Kevin Halloran’s review of this highly anticipated new devotional he writes “The Songs of Jesus are a rich collection of devotionals that are clear and straight to the point, getting to the heart of each Psalm and helping readers think through them practically and prayerfully. Diligent readers and those who journal through it will feast on the richness of the Psalter and rejoice as they behold and commune with the Savior who so faithfully embodied the psalms.”
  • 6 Reasons You Need the Songs of Jesus. Here’s an excerpt from Tim and Kathy Keller’s new book The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms.
  • What I’m Reading. Russell Moore shares a very diverse list of books that he is reading.
  • A Theological Earthquake with Evangelicals Caught Flat-Footed. Denny Burk writes “These two books are laying the groundwork for evangelicals to abandon the male/female binary that is taught in scripture. Defranza’s book challenges the idea that Genesis 1 defines a binary norm for human beings—that God’s creation of “male and female” is God’s paradigm for humanity. Yarhouse’s book is challenging the notion that male/female biological differences define normative role distinctions between men and women.”

BOOK CLUBS – Won’t you read along with us?

Tim Keller's New Book on PrayerPrayer BOOK CLUB

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller

Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act. Won’t you read along with Tammy and me? This week we look at Chapter 7: Rules for Prayer

  • Perhaps the most distinct part of Calvin’s treatment is what he calls “the rules for prayer.”
  • Calvin’s first rule for prayer is the principle of reverence or the “fear of God.”
  • Calvin calls Christians first of all to have a due sense of the seriousness and magnitude of what prayer is. It is a personal audience and conversation with the Almighty God of the universe.
  • We must instead come to prayer “so moved by God’s majesty” that we are “freed from earthly cares and affections.”
  • What, then, should a Christian be afraid of regarding God? Think of it like this. Imagine that you suddenly are introduced to some person you have always admired enormously—perhaps someone you have hero-worshipped. Your joyful admiration has a fearful aspect to it. You are in awe, and therefore you don’t want to mess up.
  • Because of unutterable love and joy in God, we tremble with the privilege of being in his presence and with an intense longing to honor him when we are there. We are deeply afraid of grieving him.
  • Calvin says that this sense of awe is a crucial part of prayer. Prayer both requires it and produces it.
  • Calvin’s second rule for prayer is “the sense of need that excludes all unreality.” Calvin is here referring to what could be called “spiritual humility.” It includes both a strong sense of our dependence on God, in general, and a readiness to recognize and repent our own faults in particular.
  • We should come to God knowing our only hope is in his grace and forgiveness and being honest about our doubts, fears, and emptiness. We should come to God with the “disposition of a beggar.”
  • Calvin is simply telling us to drop all pretense, to flee from all phoniness.
  • Crucial to true prayer, then, is confession and repentance. Again, prayer both requires and produces this humility. Prayer brings you into God’s presence, where our shortcomings are exposed. Then the new awareness of insufficiency drives us to seek God even more intensely for forgiveness and help.
  • To the degree you can shed the “unreality” of self-sufficiency, to that degree your prayer life will become richer and deeper.
  • Calvin’s third and fourth rules for prayer should be paired and considered together. His third rule is that we should have a submissive trust of God. “Anyone who stands before God to pray . . . [must] abandon all thoughts of his own glory.” We are to trust in him even when things are not going as we wish them to go.
  • One of the purposes of prayer is to bring our hearts to trust in his wisdom, not in our own. It is to say, “Here’s what I need—but you know best.” It is to leave all our needs and desires in his hands in a way that is possible only through prayer.
  • The fourth rule is just as crucial and must be kept beside the third. We are to pray with confidence and hope.
  • If God’s will is always right, and submission to it is so important, why pray for anything with fervor and confidence? Calvin lists the reasons. God invites us to do so and promises to answer prayers—because he is good and our loving heavenly Father. Also, God often waits to give a blessing until you have prayed for it. Why? Good things that we do not ask for will usually be interpreted by our hearts as the fruit of our own wisdom and diligence. Gifts from God that are not acknowledged as such are deadly to the soul, because they thicken the illusion of self-sufficiency that leads to overconfidence and sets us up for failure.
  • Finally, Calvin argues that these two balancing truths are not only not contradictory but are complementary.
  • There are many goods that God will not give us unless we honor him and make our hearts safe to receive them through prayer. But on the other hand—what thoughtful persons, knowing the limits of their own wisdom, would dare to pray if they thought God would invariably give them their wishes?
  • God will not give us anything contrary to his will, and that will always include what is best for us in the long run (Rom 8:28). We can, therefore, pray confidently because he won’t give us everything we want.
  • If we hold Calvin’s third and fourth rules together, it creates enormous incentive to pray.
  • Don’t be afraid that you will ask for the wrong thing.
  • Finally, where you do not get an answer, or where the answer is not what you want, use prayer to enable you to rest in his will.
  • After Calvin expounded his four rules for prayer, he added an extended “coda” so significant that most readers understand it as a fifth rule. The fifth rule is actually a major qualification of the very word rule.
  • Calvin’s fifth rule is the rule of grace. He urges us to not conclude that following any set of rules could make our prayers worthy to be heard. Nothing we formulate or do can qualify us for access to God. Only grace can do that—based not on our performance but on the saving work of Christ.
  • Only when we see we cannot keep the rules, and need God’s mercy, can we become people who begin to keep the rules. The rules do not earn or merit God’s attention but rather align our prayers with who God is—the God of free grace—and thereby unite us to him more and more.
  • For as soon as God’s dread majesty comes to mind, we cannot but tremble and be driven far away by the recognition of our own unworthiness, until Christ comes forward as intermediary, to change the throne of dreadful glory into the throne of grace.
  • Praying in Jesus’ name, then, is not a magic formula. We must not think it means that only if we literally enunciate the words “in Jesus’ name” will our prayers be answered.
  • To pray in Jesus’ name means to come to God in prayer consciously trusting in Christ for our salvation and acceptance and not relying on our own credibility or record. It is, essentially, to reground our relationship with God in the saving work of Jesus over and over again. It also means to recognize your status as a child of God, regardless of your inner state. God our Father is committed to his children’s good, as any good father would be.

Studies in the Sermon on the MountStudies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London. This week we look at Chapter 13: Rejoicing in Tribulation

  • There are three principles with regard to the Christian which emerge very clearly from what our Lord tells us here. They are quite obvious; and yet I think that often we must all plead guilty to the fact that we forget them. The first is once again that he is unlike everybody who is not a Christian. The gospel of Jesus Christ creates a clear-cut division and distinction between the Christian and the non-Christian. The non-Christian himself proves that by persecuting the Christian.
  • The second principle is that the Christian’s life is controlled and dominated by Jesus Christ, by his loyalty to Christ, and by his concern to do everything for Christ’s sake. If we are truly Christian, our desire must be, however much we may fail in practice, to live for Christ, to glory in His name and to live to glorify Him.
  • The third general characteristic of the Christian is that his life should be controlled by thoughts of heaven and of the world to come.
  • Let us look first of all at the way in which the Christian should face persecution. We can put it first of all negatively.
  • The Christian must not retaliate. Furthermore, not only must he not retaliate; he must also not feel resentment.
  • The third negative is that we must never be depressed by persecution.
  • Now let us ask a second question. Why is the Christian to rejoice like this, and how is it possible for him to do so? Why then does he rejoice in it? Why should he be exceeding glad? Here are our Lord’s answers. The first is that this persecution which he is receiving for Christ’s sake is proof to the Christian of who he is and what he is.
  • Or, take the second argument to prove this. It means, of course, that we have become identified with Christ. If we are thus being maligned falsely and persecuted for His sake, it must mean that our lives have become like His. The second cause of rejoicing and of joy is, of course, that this persecution is proof also of where we are going.
  • Let us look at it in this way. According to this argument, my whole outlook upon everything that happens to me should be governed by these three things: my realization of who I am, my consciousness of where I am going, and my knowledge of what awaits me when I get there.
  • The Christian is a man who should always be thinking of the end.
  • What is this reward? Well, the Bible does not tell us much about it, for a very good reason. It is so glorious and wonderful that our human language is of necessity almost bound to detract from its glory. But it does tell us something like this. We shall see Him as He is, and worship in His glorious presence.
  • Unmixed joy, and glory, and holiness, and purity and wonder! That is what is awaiting us. That is your destiny and mine in Christ as certainly as we are alive at this moment. How foolish we are that we do not spend our time in thinking about that. How often do you think of heaven and rejoice as you think of it?

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week



  • A Prayer of Lament in Response to the Terror Attack in Paris. Here is the prayer of the week from our friend Scotty Smith, who first captivated me with his excellent 2001 book Objects of His Affection: Coming Alive to the Compelling Love of God. Don’t forget to sign up to receive his wonderful daily prayers in your inbox.
  • Patience is Not Optional for the Christian. Albert Mohler writes “Patience is not optional for the Christian. The apostle Paul repeatedly commanded Christians to demonstrate patience to each other. In fact, this is a critical test of Christian authenticity. True Christian character, the very evidence of regeneration, is seen in authentic patience.”
  • Ten Diagnostic Questions for Your Marriage. Kevin DeYoung offers ten questions that can help diagnose the health of our marital lives.
  • Is There a Difference Between Happiness and Joy? Randy Alcorn writes “An ungrounded, dangerous separation of joy from happiness has infiltrated the Christian community.”
  • Christmas is Not for Cranks. Kevin DeYoung writes “Let’s look at the next month and half as a season of opportunities instead of a season of obstacles.”
  • Unsocial Media. Tony Reinke writes “Smartphones and social media will cure the epidemic of widespread loneliness. Or so we thought. We would all be connected, all together, all the time, and none of us would ever feel alone. But the harsh truth is we could always be lonely, even lonely in a crowd, and now lonely in a digital crowd.”
  • Don’t Protect Yourself From Adoption. Russell Moore writes “Caring for orphans means, in a very real sense, joining them in their distress. I cannot tell you that won’t be risky. It could up-end your plans for yourself and your family altogether. It could wreck your life-plan. These children need to be reared, to be taught, to be loved, to be hugged, to be heard. That may take far more from you than you ever expected to give. This sort of love is not easy. But for those who are called to it—it’s worth it.”
  • Resentment: The Danger That Destroys Our Hope. Trevin Wax writes that “The greatest challenge facing Christians in North America today is not external. It is not an action by the Supreme Court, or the threat of losing tax exemption, or the political and financial pressures to compromise basic Christian ethics. It’s an internal challenge – the temptation to see yourself as part of a persecuted minority that finds its identity in being wronged.”
  • Winsome Weirdos. John Piper writes “The apostle Peter is calling for a special breed. Not the kind of conservative who gives all his energy to embracing and defending his weirdo status. And not the kind of liberal who will embrace any compromise necessary to avoid being a weirdo. But rather a breed that is courageous enough to be joyfully weird, and compassionate enough to be “zealous for good deeds.””
  • The 6 Assassins of a Man’s Contentment. Darrin Patrick writes “You have enemies as you try to live as a content man. Most of the time we think the enemies are from without—people around us and circumstances upon us. But the true enemies of contentment are within in us, which is where contentment is either fed or starved.”

Russell Moore Prayer


  • CHRISTIAN MINGLE (2)Christian Mingle Inspector. In this spoof video, Christian Mingle, the popular Christian dating website, employs standup comedian John Crist to approve or reject applicants to their website.



  • Seventh-Day_Adventist_Church_logo_svgEvaluating Seventh-day Adventism. Just as Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith raised questions in 2012, Ben Carson’s affiliation as a Seventh-day Adventist is raising questions. Nathan Busenitz writes “The primary issues that separate Seventh-day Adventists from biblical Christianity are (1) their unorthodox view of Christ’s work of atonement; (2) their illegitimate elevation of Ellen G. White’s prophecies; and (3) their legalistic insistence that believers are bound to observe the Sabbath and Mosaic dietary laws.”
  • Help Me Teach the Bible: Derek Thomas on Mark. Nancy Guthrie continues her “Help Me Teach the Bible” with newly named Ligonier Ministries Teaching Fellow Derek Thomas.
  • Christ in the Old Testament Infographics. David Murray shares some infographics that Cameron Morgan produced for him in connection with his book Jesus on Every Page.
  • God’s Grace is Mind-Blowing. Phillip Holmes writes “As our hatred for and awareness of our sin increases, we desperately need a biblical view of the grace of God. We need the Scriptures to paint a clear picture of who God is and how much he loves us in Christ Jesus. We need to see the God of the Scriptures who is so gracious it blows our minds — bringing us to tears and repentance.”
  • david-murrayHelp For Hurting Churches Dealing With Apostasy. David Murray writes “What would you say to a church where two of its most promising young “Christians” had not only left the faith but had turned against it with mockery and hostility?”
  • Tim Keller/Our Identity: The Christian Alternative to Late Modernity’s Story. Justin Taylor shares the video from Tim Keller’s November 11 address at Wheaton College.
  • Theological Quizzes in PDF Format. Tim Challies has shared his theology quizzes in a PDF format. Each quiz contains a question sheet followed by an answer key. You are free to copy, share, and print them.
Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

Favorite Quotes of the Week

  • What an individual is in secret, on his knees before God, that he is and no more. Sinclair Ferguson
  •  Where faith begins, anxiety ends; where anxiety begins, faith ends. George Müller
  • Remember that when you are at your worst and lowest, even then underneath you are the everlasting arms. Charles Spurgeon
  • Imagine a self-help book titled, “7 Steps to Losing Your Life for Another Person.” That’s the essence of HESED. You’re trapped by your love. Paul Miller
  • You can contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary. Jonathan Edwards
  • Everybody out there, despite their claims to the contrary, knows perfectly well that God exists. R.C. Sproul
  • If you’ve experienced God’s forgiveness, others will experience your forgiveness. Burk Parsons
  • He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day. John Bunyan
  • Being in Christ, and united to Him, is the fundamental constitution of a Christian. Thomas Goodwin
  • The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. C.S. Lewis
  • Our present is bearable because Christ’s future glory is guaranteed. Bryan Chapell
  • What makes worship amazing is the object of our worship. Francis Chan
  • Jesus didn’t come primarily to solve the economic, political, and social problems of the world. He came to forgive our sins. Tim Keller
  • Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them. Elisabeth Elliot
  • One can give without loving, but one cannot love without giving. Amy Carmichael
  • Prosperity and poverty are not signs of God’s favor or disfavor; God’s promised mercy in the gospel is the only anchor in the storm. Michael Horton
  • Christianity is not useful if it isn’t true. Francis Schaeffe
  • The greatest dangers to the church will always come from within the church. Kevin DeYoung
  • The resurrection tells us the worst thing is never the last thing. Frederick Buechner
  • To give your life so others can be free sounds like a very Christ-like thing to me. Thank you veterans. Michael Card
  • If God only exercised justice to a fallen race everyone would perish. But God chooses to grant mercy to some. R.C. Sproul
  • No biblical writer has a view of eternal security that makes it superfluous to warn professing Christians they can make shipwreck of faith. John Piper
  • The only reason we have peace with God is because God made peace with us through Jesus. Scotty Smith
  • If you try to seize the day, the day will eventually break you. Seize the corner of his garment and don’t let go. He will reshape the day. Paul Miller
  • Pride is the commencement of all sin. Augustine
  • “How long have I been doing this? I don’t want to overdo it.” – First thoughts I have when I begin working out. Jim Gaffigan

Alistair Quote

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

faith-work-cultureFaith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Start with the Heart. Mark Miller writes “Regardless of where you are on your timeline, there are four arenas which require your attention and ultimately your mastery if you want maximum influence and opportunity. These four domains create an eco-system of sorts – Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading Teams and Leading Organizations. Each contains its own unique elements, but each also is in a symbiotic relationship with the others.” Here he takes a look at what he contends is the most challenging domain of them all and where all great leadership begins… Leading Self.leaders vs. managers
  • Five Thoughts on “Makers” and “Managers”. Eric Geiger writes “Makers primarily focus on creating while managers primarily focus on managing people, processes, and systems to ensure the work gets done.”
  • Work: What is it Good For? In this video interview Tim Keller discusses his excellent book Every Good Endeavor, and how our faith should inform our work.
  • Redeeming Work. Listen to Matt Perman’s messages from the Redeeming Work Conference.
  • Groans as in the Pains of Childbirth. Carey Bustard interviews Kimberly Ibarra, who works in obstetrics/women’s health, about how she integrates her faith and work.
  • Lessons from the First 20 Years. On this episode of the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast Stanley looks back on 20 years of organizational leadership – what worked and what really mattered. Hoping that he puts all of this into book form someday.
  •  You Have What You Seek. Dan Rockwell writes “To get where you want to go, move toward authentic leadership.”
  • leave it betterLeave It Better: Faith, Vocation & The Mission of God. I’ve been enjoying Scott Sauls’ sermon series on faith and work titled “Leave it Better: Faith, Vocation & The Mission of God. You can listen to them here or on the church’s podcast available on iTunes.
  • What Does God Want Done? Matt Perman writes “We can define productivity in this way: to be productive is to be fruitful in good works.”
  • Nehemiah and John Kotter on Leading Change. Dave Kraft looks at the eight steps for leading change, according to John Kotter, and how one can see them in Nehemiah’s leadership.
  • Four Ways to Be a Less Bossy Boss. Eric Geiger writes “Few leaders want to be known as being a “bossy boss,” and even fewer people want to work for one. So here are four ways to be sure you are leading, not just bossing.”
  • 5 Reasons Your Pastor May Not Be Leading Well. Ron Edmondson writes “When a pastor isn’t leading the church well, there’s usually an answer as to why.” He lists five reasons he has observed for this.
  • Teamwork. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses what teamwork means.
  • How I Work: An Interview with Steven Grant. Joe Carter interviews web developer Steven Grant about integrating his faith and work.
  • 30 Questions Every Leader Can Ask to Become a Better Coach. Paul Sohn writes “Whether you’re a CEO, teacher, parent, project leader or any other kind of a leader, you need to know how to coach your team. The need for coaching has never been greater. Gallup’s research shows that a team that is highly engaged has double the chance of job performance and success.”
  • Top Ten Books on Faith & Work. Hugh Whelchel offers this list that you may find helpful. This list is already a few years old, and there are constantly good new books available in this genre. The Center for Faith and Work in New York City offers this helpful list.
  • TeachabilityTeachability: The Prince Of Character Traits. Dave Kraft writes “When I’m thinking of investing in a potential leader, having a teachable spirit is the number one quality I’m looking for.”
  • Leading Team Members You Don’t Like. In this episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper talk with Brad Lomenick about the challenges, complexities, and techniques of leading team members you don’t really like very much.
  • Thinking Strategically in the Moment. Ron Edmondson writes “What the leader says can negatively impact other people or the organization. Good leaders have to learn to think strategically — even when making quick decisions.”
  • 4 Steps to Dying Slowly. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “Your stress and your unhealthy habits may be killing you and hurting your company.” He offers these four helpful thoughts for us to get rid of our unhealthy habits and stress.
  • Results. In this “Minute with Maxwell” John Maxwell discusses achieving the results that we would like to accomplish.
  • Are You an Ambivert? Dr. Travis Bradberry writes “I’m sure you’ve been asked many times whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. For some people, it’s an easy choice, but for most of us, it’s difficult to choose one way or the other.”

Alistair Quote on Service

Faith and Work Quotes

  • Mission includes our vocations and not just church ministry. Tim Keller
  • Holy Spirit, free us to receive feedback humbly and non-defensively today, and help us to give feedback with compassion and clarity. Scotty Smith
  • One often sees a call only in retrospect. This too is God’s design. God often reinforces our faith after we trust Him, not before. Ravi Zacharias
  • When Christ says “Follow Me,” He never tells us where He will lead us. He decides, we follow. Steven Lawson
  • There is a big difference in wanting to and willing to. Coach K
  • In our creativity and work, we image our creator and fulfill his purpose. Art Lindsley
  • Average people make their decisions according to the present, not the future. Andy Andrews
  • We were meant to give our lives away. Spend more time living your legacy instead of worrying about leaving it. Lee J. Colan
  • Your roles are all callings from God and thus avenues of worship. You can serve Him just as fully in the “secular” areas of your life as you can in the spiritual areas.  Matt Perman
  • Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. Augustine
  • Leaders are responsible to be Lifter Uppers, not Letter Downers. Brad Lomenick
  • God feeds the birds, but He doesn’t throw worms in their nest. Dave Ramsey
  • If your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills. Mark Miller
  • You can’t please everyone. On your best day someone loves everything about you and someone is struggling to find one good thing to say. Ron Edmondson

Welchel Quote on Work

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

Kingdom CallingKingdom Calling: Vocational Calling for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman

I first read this book in a “Calling, Vocation and Work” class with Dr. Michael Williams and Dr. Bradley Matthews at Covenant Seminary two summers ago. King Jesus is on a mission to bring restoration in every sphere of society and has invited His followers to join Him in this Kingdom-advancing work. Learn to deeply, creatively and intentionally steward your vocational power in ways that advance foretastes of the coming Kingdom of shalom for our neighbors near and far.

This week we’ll look at the Conclusion and the remainder of the book:

  • What the individuals and church leaders profiled in this book have accomplished is not outside the realm of possibility. These are people like you; these are congregations like yours. What they have done, you can do.
  • The people and the churches profiled in these pages have struggled, questioned, gotten frustrated and taken missteps along the way. They’re ordinary folks like you and me. They didn’t have this all figured out.
  • Coming to clarity about the specific actions you can take to advance the kingdom in and through your profession takes time – time to muse, to pray, to consult, to read, to discuss, to question, to debate.
  • Fining the vocational sweet spot is typically a process with plenty of trial and error in it.
  • Waking up to all the different possibilities there are for serving God through our vocational skills also takes time.
  • Similarly, the churches mentioned in this book also hit bumps along the road. They weren’t perfect. They have their struggles just like every congregation.
  • Pursuing the journey of vocational stewardship as a church is not about “three easy steps and you’re done.” It’s an evolving process that looks different at different times and contexts. And it’s not one-size-fits-all.
  • In all spheres where we work – education, business, government, media, law, arts and more – we are agents of restoration. Talk about a heady job title! The contentions of Christian doctrine are bold; the work we do matters and it lasts.
  • Believers who participate intentionally, thoughtfully, strategically and creatively in the mission Dei through their daily work taste more deeply of God. They learn more about his character as they participate with him in the things he is passionate about. Their work lives gain deeper meaning and purpose. They realize that God is accomplishing his “creational order” work through them. That is, they’re able to see the intrinsic value of their farming or their “lawyering” or their artistry or their managing or their teaching. Through such professions, they realize that God is doing his work – through them! – of providing for, sustaining, and governing his world.
  • Believers who take vocational stewardship seriously also see their reliance on the Holy Spirit become more authentic, more of a daily practice. They lean hard into prayer, seeking heavenly wisdom for decisions. They offer up their workday, each day, as worship to God. They look for new ways to serve their neighbors near and far through their work. Along the way, they begin to feel as though they have stopped being mere spectators and have become active players in the work King Jesus is doing to push back the curse and push in the kingdom of shalom. And all of this brings rejoicing.
  • As we take up our place as agents of restoration, we also become instruments through which our neighbors taste more of God’s goodness. As we faithfully do our part on the section of the “wall” (from Nehemiah), we been called to, we promote the common good. Depending on our circumstances, our efforts to steward our vocational power can cause transformation at a variety of levels – among individuals, within local organizations or neighborhoods, or throughout institutions and different sectors of society.
  • To find a number of helpful follow-up resources go to

Next week, we’ll begin a new book club on the book that has had the most influence on me outside of the Bible – Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Why not read along with us?

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21 Quotes on Calling, Vocation and Leadership from One Thousand Wells: How an Audacious Goal Taught Me to Love the World Instead of Save It by Jena Lee Nardella

Jena Lee Nardella quoteJena Lee Nardella’s new book about her work as co-founder of Blood: Water Mission is my top book of the year. You can read my review of the book here.

We can learn much about calling, vocation and leadership from this inspiring book from a young leader. Here are 21 of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • The vision included serving African villages where women and children walk several miles a day to find water to keep them alive. It included providing clean water for one thousand of those African communities.
  • I see that the only way to reach an audacious goal is slowly by slowly.
  • Most important, I learned that to take on immovable mountains, the first thing you have to do is move. Before you try to conquer something as big as a mountain, you have to change.
  • I was unaware at the time that connecting an overlooked community to a community of resource would become the vocational pattern of my life.
  • Vocation is surprising like that. Sometimes we try to make it much more difficult than it is. We assume that we have to be martyrs, monks, or missionaries in order to be doing what God wants us to do. I hold fast to the words of novelist and theologian Frederick Buechner, who writes, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
  • How to inspire very compassionate but very busy people to care about what you believe is one of the most important things in the world.
  • Even today, my talents are not in being the most capable person in the room but in knowing when I need others and remaining teachable.
  • Dan responded. “A thousand is a number that we shouldn’t be comfortable with. If we get there, we know it wasn’t because of us. It’s audacious; it’s not possible. But it has to be done.”
  • But I had learned that the alignment of passion, skill set, and opportunity—those three pulses at the heart of vocation—is hard to find.
  • I began to ask questions that continue to shape me, and Blood: Water, today: How can we place anything—commerce, opinion, semantics—before caring for those in need? How can we paint “secular” and “sacred” labels while missing the vision that all things God touches are sacred, even if they are broken? And most of all: When do we overlook opportunities to love others because we’re so concerned with keeping ourselves safe?
  • Each of us was just beginning to learn that making an impact with your life is risky. Missional vocation will break you, taunt you, do whatever it can to test whether you mean it when you say you want to serve the poor or provide clean water in Africa or conquer a mountain.
  • “We are implicated in the lives of others, even those we have never met,” Steve Garber had often reminded me.
  • But sometimes best practices are less important than mercy.
  • And I felt the joy of it all, the alignment of calling, the thrill of connecting resources with a corner of the world’s need.
  • Looking around the room at Brooke’s loved ones, I understood in a new way that when you choose a calling, you don’t do so in isolation. The people you love are a part of your choice, too. They are the ones who rejoice the most with you when life goes well, and they are the ones who will bear the heaviest burdens should the world’s brokenness overtake you.
  • A vision for change is thrilling when you stand behind a soup kitchen counter or in a classroom buzzing with ideas or in the back room of a tour bus that overflows with dollar bills. But when you’re face-to-face with human depravity—sometimes others’ and oftentimes your own—it is extremely difficult to keep pressing forward with any conviction that it is worth it. I couldn’t decide if fighting the long defeat was a devastating way to look at vocation, or if it was simply the more honest and, therefore, more sustainable way.
  • This way of looking at the world means admitting that at some point along our vocational journey, we will not feel the rush of serving as we did once, but we will stay with it anyway. It means admitting that the world is indeed a hard place to live, and it will likely break our heart if we keep engaging with it, but we will choose to hope anyway.
  • When you choose to keep walking in a proximate direction, you define success differently than before.
  • The challenge is to wake up each day and live out your vocation in the same way true change happens in Africa: slowly by slowly, brick by brick. Faithfully entering the world does not require an advanced degree, a fancy job title, or endless resources. Vocation is a calling, an action, to be expressed wherever your feet are today.
  • Partnering directly with local people who are capable, compassionate, and hardworking and applying the values of dignity, relationship, and excellence—now that’s where you’ll see true success.
  • My calling is to do the one more thing in front of me. And then the next. If I can step into that, I want to be there. If stepping into this calling means stepping into hard times, I still want to be there.

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