Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Lecrae Concert Review, Music News and Song of the Week

anomaly_tourLecrae, Andy Mineo and DJ Promote at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis April 30, 2015

DJ Promote opened the recent joyful three hour show before a mixed crowd of 3,000 mostly young fans at the Fabulous Fox Theatre, one of the final stops of the Anomaly tour.

We were seated in the second row of the balcony. As the crowd started moving at the beginning of DJ Promote’s set, so did the balcony – a lot! We had never felt anything like that before. Think of going through some turbulence on a flight, except you are sitting in the balcony of a theatre. The person sitting next to Tammy said it always happens. Later, in discussing this with an usher, we were told that the building was built that way to withstand an earthquake. They said we should have been there for the Lady Gaga concert when it was really shaking!

After a short set from DJ Promote, Andy Mineo came on to play an excellent high energy set, featuring songs from his Neverland EP and full-length album Heroes for Sale. Featured were such songs as “Neverland”, “The Saints”, “Bitter”, “Wild Things”, “Uno Uno Seis” (Spanish for 116), “Paisano’s Wylin”, “Rewind”, and “You Can’t Stop Me”.

Lecrae’s set contained mostly songs from his latest and chart-topping Anomaly album, beginning with “Welcome to America”. He effectively used video and song to tell the story of his life, as he was accompanied by a background singer, DJ Promote and a drummer. Other songs performed from the new album included “Outsiders”, “Fear”, “Wish”, “Dirty Water”, “Nuthin”, “All I Need is You”, “Good, Bad, Ugly” and “Give In”. This was more than just a concert, as Lecrae didn’t avoid the hard issues, including driving his girlfriend to an abortion clinic. He also played “I’m Turnt” and “Tell the World”. Andy Mineo joined Lecrae for a rousing “Say I Won’t” closer.

Along the way we had a marriage proposal by Lecrae’s former road manager (she said “yes”)! DJ Promote then led the crowd through some celebratory music.

Throughout the concert Lecrae talked about how much he loved St. Louis and how he felt that the city had adopted him. He thanked those from the St. Louis rap community who had helped him (including Thi’sl, J.R. and Flame), and then called on Thi’sl to join him for a powerful great version of “Fakin” from Gravity.

Lecrae is the real-deal. There is no artist I like or respect more. This was the second time we had seen him in concert, the first being a much shorter set at an outdoor festival. He and his fellow Reach Records artists are making a difference in an otherwise mostly dark genre by consistently producing high quality music.

MUSIC NEWS:

 Song of the WeekThis week’s song, O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, is a favorite of my wife’s. Few hymns paint such a vivid picture of God’s love as this one by Samuel Trevor Francis: vast, unmeasured, boundless free; rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me; Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love …It helps us visualize the immensity of Christ’s love, overwhelming us in the depths of His tender, triumphant heart. Ephesians 3:18 ~ And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

You can learn the tune and sing along at http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/o/t/othedeep.htm

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth, changeth never, nevermore!
How He watches o’er His loved ones, died to call them all His own;
How for them He intercedeth, watcheth o’er them from the throne!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean full of blessing, ’tis a haven giving rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus, ’tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory, for it lifts me up to Thee!


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Book Reviews and News

Book Reviews
What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung. Crossway. 160 pages. 2015.
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Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and one of the leading young voices in Reformed circles, has written a very readable book from a pastoral heart, on a hot topic in our culture today. Up front, he tells us that this is a Christian book that has the focus of defending a traditional view of marriage.

He writes: “Is homosexual activity a sin that must be repented of, forsaken, and forgiven, or, given the right context and commitment, can we consider same-sex sexual intimacy a blessing worth celebrating and solemnizing? That is the question this book seeks to answer.”

He is open in stating that he believes same-sex sexual intimacy is a sin. “Along with most Christians around the globe and virtually every Christian in the first nineteen-and-a-half centuries of church history, I believe the Bible places homosexual behavior—no matter the level of commitment or mutual affection—in the category of sexual immorality.” Why the author believes this is the subject of the book.

The book is divided into a few major parts:  Part 1, consists of five chapters which examine the five most relevant and most debated biblical texts related to homosexuality. In part 2, DeYoung focuses on seven of the most common objections to this traditional view of sexual morality. A final chapter tries to explain what is at stake in the debate. Three appendices follow the main portion of the book.

DeYoung states that we must reinterpret our experiences through the Bible, rather than letting our experiences dictate what the Bible can and cannot mean. He encourages the reader, whatever their presuppositions may be, to keep three things open as they read the book: their heads, heart, and Bible.

In looking at Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, he suggests six reasons why we cannot set aside these passages, but should instead view these prohibitions as an expression of God’s unchanging moral will.

In addressing the key New Testament text on this subject, he writes:  “The most detailed and significant treatment of homosexuality is found in the first chapter of the most important letter in the history of the world. Romans 1 reinforces with unambiguous clarity all that we’ve seen up to this point from the Old Testament; namely, that homosexual practice is a serious sin and a violation of God’s created order.”

In addressing some of the common objections in part two, he writes:  “We cannot count same-sex behavior as an indifferent matter. Of course, homosexuality isn’t the only sin in the world, nor is it the most critical one to address in many church contexts. But if 1 Corinthians 6 is right, it’s not an overstatement to say that solemnizing same-sex sexual behavior—like supporting any form of sexual immorality—runs the risk of leading people to hell.”

DeYoung states that the biblical teaching is consistent and unambiguous, that homosexual activity is not God’s will for his people. In addressing the objections, he states how the revisionist authors look at the issue and texts in question.

He challenges the reader to consider what is at stake in moving away from the standard view of marriage:

  • The moral logic of monogamy
  • The integrity of Christian sexual ethics
  • The authority of the Bible
  • The grand narrative of Scripture

DeYoung states “The path which leads to the affirmation of homosexual behavior is a journey which inevitably leaves behind a clear, inerrant Bible, and picks up from liberalism a number of assumptions about the importance of individual authority and cultural credibility.”

The book concludes with three appendices:

  1. What about Same-Sex Marriage?
  2. Same-Sex Attraction: Three Building Blocks
  3. The Church and Homosexuality: Ten Commitments

He includes a helpful annotated bibliography for those who want to keep exploring what the Bible says about homosexuality.

The publisher is offering a Study Guide for the book at crossway.org/DeYoung2015.

Certainly not everyone will agree with the conclusions in this important book. It is a well-written, pastoral, and I believe biblically based view of this important issue.

 generous justiceThe Generous Justice Book Club

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

This book, which I had read when it was first published, was listed under recommended reading in Matt Perman’s fine book What’s Best Next. Tammy and I are reading it and being challenged on every page. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 6: How Should We Do Justice?

Doing justice is an important part of living the Christian life in the world. What I have wrestled with for many years since is the question of how to practically answer this call today.

  • God does not want us to merely give the poor perfunctory help, but to ponder long and hard about how to improve their entire situation.
  • Doing justice, then, requires constant, sustained reflection and circumspection.
  • 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.
  • Vulnerable people need multiple levels of help. We will call these layers relief, development, and social reform. Relief is direct aid to meet immediate physical, material, and economic needs.
  • The next level is development. This means giving an individual, family, or entire community what they need to move beyond dependency on relief into a condition of economic self-sufficiency.
  • Wright then lays out a good list of what is entailed in helping a poor family or individual climb out of a state of constant dependency. It includes education, job creation and training, job search skills, and financial counseling as well as helping a family into home ownership.
  • When John Perkins explained his philosophy of ministry, he always named three basic factors. One he called “relocation,” though others have called it “reneighboring a community.” Perkins advocated that those helping the neighborhood live in it. Perkins also spoke of “redistribution,” something others have called “reweaving a community.”
  • There is a third important factor in John Perkins’s strategy for rebuilding poor communities. He names it “racial reconciliation.”
  • What is best for the poor community—a nonpaternalistic partnership of people from different races and social locations—was also one of the gifts that the gospel makes possible.
  • We must not miss the profound message of this account—that human pride and lust for power leads to racial and national division, strife, and hatred.
  • Partnership and friendship across racial barriers within the church is one of the signs of the presence and power of the gospel.
  • Racial prejudice is wrong because it is a denial of the very principle that all human beings are equally sinful and saved by only the grace of God.
  • Social reform moves beyond the relief of immediate needs and dependency and seeks to change the conditions and social structures that aggravate or cause that dependency.
  • Many Christians resist the idea that social systems need to be dealt with directly. They prefer the idea that “society is changed one heart at a time,” and so they concentrate on only evangelism and individual social work. This is naïve.
  • Doing justice in poor communities includes direct relief, individual development, community development, racial reconciliation, and social reform.
  • Churches in poor neighborhoods can serve as healing communities.
  • Christians can form organizations that serve as healers of communities.
  • Finally, churches encourage people to be organizers for just communities.
  • What should you do if you and your church are not in located in areas of poverty or dire need? You or your church should begin by discovering the needs in your locale. Another thing that your church can do is to make a connection to churches and ministries that are resident and effective in poorer neighborhoods and poorer countries.
  • You can’t love people in word only (cf. 1 John 3:16-17) and therefore you can’t love people as you are doing evangelism and discipleship without meeting practical and material needs through deeds.
  • As soon as a church engages in holistic ministry, however, it will run up against a number of practical policy issues. Often people with the same basic vision for justice will disagree on the specific answers to the following questions:
  1. How much should we help?
  2. Whom should we help?
  3. Under what conditions does your help proceed or end?
  4. In what way do we help?
  5. From where should we help?
  • As Christians do justice, they must face the important practical issue of how justice relates to their other duties as believers. In particular, what is the relationship between the call to help the needy and the Biblical command to evangelize?
  • I propose a different way to understand evangelism and social justice. They should exist in an asymmetrical, inseparable relationship.
  • Deeds of mercy and justice should be done out of love, not simply as a means to the end of evangelism. And yet there is no better way for Christians to lay a foundation for evangelism than by doing justice.
  • Doing justice necessitates a striking a series of balances. It means ministering in both word and deed, through the local church and as individual agents dispersed throughout the world. It means engaging in relief, and development, and reform.

Counter Culture by David PlattReading Together ~ Week 8

Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography by David Platt.

David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m going to review the content chapter by chapter. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.

Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website www.counterculturebook.com/resources, where you can explore more specific steps you might take.

This week we look at CHAPTER 8: UNITY IN DIVERSITY: THE GOSPEL AND ETHNICITY

  • I feel inadequate to write this book on so many levels, but that inadequacy may be felt most in this chapter, for even as I have sought to develop friendships, foster partnerships, and forge initiatives that promote unity across ethnic lines, I know there is so much more that needs to be done in my own life and in the church of which I am a part.
  • Instead of being strictly tied to biology, ethnicity is much more fluid, factoring in social, cultural, lingual, historical, and even religious characteristics.
  • it makes no sense, then, to categorize our own country as a nation of black, white, brown, or other “races.” Instead, we are a nation of increasingly diverse people groups. We are Anglo Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, and more. These categories can be subdivided further based upon other ethnolinguistic factors, leading us to realize that we are a nation of unique people groups with diverse histories from different lands with distinct customs and even languages.
  • For in the beginning, sin separated man and woman from God and also from one another. This sin stood (and stands) at the root of ethnic pride and prejudice. When Christ went to the cross, he conquered sin, making the way for people to be free from its hold and restored to God. In so doing, he paved the way for all people to be reconciled to one another. Followers of Christ thus have one “Father” as one “family” in one “household,” with no “dividing wall of hostility” based upon ethnic diversity.
  • if the God of the Bible possesses particular compassion for the immigrant, even equating him or her with the orphan and the widow, and if the cross of Christ is designed to compel outreach across ethnic divisions, then how much more should we as the people of God care for immigrants from other countries in our midst?
  • First and foremost the gospel reminds us that when we are talking about immigrants (legal or illegal), we are talking about men and women made in God’s image and pursued by his grace. Consequently, followers of Christ must see immigrants not as problems to be solved but as people to be loved. The gospel compels us in our culture to decry any and all forms of oppression, exploitation, bigotry, or harassment of immigrants, regardless of their legal status. These are men and women for whom Christ died, and their dignity is no greater or lesser than our own.
  • We have a responsibility before God as citizens under a government to work together to establish and enforce just laws that address immigration. Among other things, such laws should involve securing our borders, holding business owners accountable for hiring practices, and taking essential steps that ensure fairness to taxpaying citizens of our country. Likewise, we have a responsibility before God as citizens under a government to work together to refute and remove unjust laws that oppress immigrants.[95] Failing to act in either of these ways would be to settle for injustice, which would put us out of sync with the gospel.
  • Christians are migrants on this earth, and the more we get involved in the lives of immigrants, the better we will understand the gospel.

QUOTE: Be careful what books you read, for as water tastes of the soil it runs through,
so does the soul taste of the authors that a man reads. John Trapp

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Integrating Faith and Work ~ Connecting Sunday to Monday

work hard

  • Boring Work: Good for the Soul. Bradley Nassif writes “Our daily life is nothing less than a sacred journey into the being of God. Our most important spiritual work, then, is located wherever we find ourselves. That is the place where we till the soil of our jobs, and where the soil of our jobs tills us. It’s where God meets us, transfigures us, and leads us from glory to glory. Our workplace is our monastery.”
  • Building an Army. Bob Chapman writes about the Conscious Capitalism 2015 event he recently spoke at with Simon Sinek (Start with Why, Leaders Eat Last) and others in Chicago.
  • Your Job is Not Your Savior. Listen to this episode of “Ask Pastor John” featuring Bruce Hindmarsh.
  • Are You Doing the Right Things? Mark Miller writes “Below are some behaviors for you to consider. As you read the list, see if you can guess which are the nice things, and which ones are the right things.”
  • Dorothy Sayers: Clamor to be Engaged in Work Worth Doing. Matt Perman shares some quotes from Dorothy Sayers’ essay “Why Work”.
  • Is it What You Do or Who You Are? How Your Identity Changes Your Work. Dan Cumberland writes “It’s an internal switch. It’s a choice to put on a new identity that is deeply connected to who you are. It’s the choice to let yourself be something that you’ve felt yourself longing to become. It’s allowing yourself to be identified as having a particular work in the world.”
  • Workers and Laborers or Kings and Priests? John Bolt writes “To think of our work as the work of a royal priest ennobles it, giving work a glory that comes from seeing it sub specie aeternitatis (from the vantage point of eternity). Seeing our work from the perspective of eternity also leads us to confront the purely utilitarian understanding of work. It confronts the notion that work should be done just so we can be free—for weekends, for holidays, for vacations, for leisure—that our work is a necessary means to an end.”
  • Going on Vocation. Watch the trailer for this new video series from the Christian History Institute. Looks like it could be good for as faith and work small group study or an Adult Sunday School class.
  • Your Job is Not a Vocation. Malcom B. Yarnall III writes “To put it boldly, as Luther himself might: It is more important to find out who you are in Christ than it is to find out what you are to do in the world. But once you are in Christ, do what you are doing for his glory!”
  • The Secret to Living a Remarkable Life. In this podcast Jeff Goin and his co-host discuss whether or not there is a specific process to finding your calling and how we should look at trials, difficulties and obstacles along the way — not as things that prevent us from our purpose but actually help us get there. They also talk about how your calling isn’t something you plan. It’s really what happens when the plan goes horribly wrong.
  • How to Be Productive According to the Bible. Colin Smith writes “Your work and productivity matter to God and are profoundly important in his eyes. This goes for every job you may have. If you’re mopping floors for a living, you are mopping floors for the glory of God. Working productively allows you to honor God by maximizing the use of your time and to do more good works for his glory. This is what Christian productivity is all about.”
  • You Have Just Enough Time. Jon Bloom writes “Busyness is moral laziness, God has given us just enough time, every moment is a sacrament — these are massively important truths I need to soak in.”
  • Rest? Who Has Time for Rest?! Heather Day writes “Jesus clearly needed spiritual rest and solitude with His Father. How can we possibly think we need anything less?”

SUCCESS AND FAILURE:

  • 8 Lies Christians Believe about Success. Emily T. Wierenga writes “I have spent my whole life trying to be successful. I thought it was what we were supposed to do. Worse than that, I thought success was the mark of a blessed Christian.”
  • How Do You Become a Successful Failure? John Maxwell writes “Anyone pursuing a goal of value will make mistakes and wrong decisions. So the key is to expect failure, to prepare for it, to be ready to turn it into a lesson and a stepping-stone to success. There is such a thing as a successful failure. These are some of the traits of such a person.”
  • Is it Better to Try and Fail or Not Try at All? Dan Miller writes “My theory is that you will be a brighter, better person for trying something big – even if you “fail.”

LEADERSHIP:

FAITH AND WORK QUOTES:

  • God has an interest in all our nonreligious life. All our business transactions are his concern. God is not so distant or even ‘religious’ that he only cares about what happens at church and during devotions. Every square inch of this earth is his and every minute of our lives is a loan from his breath. He is much more secular than we often think. John Piper
  • If you love what you are pursuing, things like rejection and setbacks will not hinder you in your pursuit. Coach K
  • If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • A leader makes certain that his followers know they are working with him not for him.” John Wooden
  • Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up. Coach K
  • How can you be a positive influence for someone in your life? Andy Andrews
  • Don’t wait for the perfect set of conditions before you do something. If you know it’s the right thing to do … just do it. Dr. Alan Zimmerman

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

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 13: The Leader and Power:

  • The essence of leadership is motivating and influencing followers to get the right things done—putting conviction into corporate action. This requires the exercise of power.
  • Faithful leaders understand that while they will influence the organization with their personality, they must never allow personality to be the defining mark of leadership.
  • There are two dangers here. The first is the well-known “cult of personality,” in which the persona of the leader becomes the hallmark of the organization. The other danger is that the leader will rely on personality as a substitute for conviction or competence.
  • Personality is important, but it will fall flat when conviction wanes or competence is lacking. In addition to the power of personality, power also comes from the office the leader holds.
  • A leader unwilling to exercise the responsibility of office has no business accepting that stewardship.
  • Leaders must keep one truth constantly in focus—the office you hold exists because the organization depends on it.
  • Power of office works in two ways. First, it allows leaders to define reality to outside constituencies. The one who holds the office of leadership gets to speak for the organization. Second, the power of office allows the leader to force change within the organization.
  • Any leader unwilling to force change is destined for ineffectiveness. The faithful leader uses this power sparingly, but uses it nonetheless.
  • The truth is that people within an organization feel most secure when the leader leads.
  • The most sobering thought I often have in the course of a day is that I will make decisions that will impact people’s lives.
  • If the leader’s main task is to lead by conviction, then the convictions must be more central and prominent than the leader’s personality. If the personality looms larger than the convictions, alarms should go off, and they had better be heeded.
  • The Christian leader cannot succumb to the temptations of ostentation and the glorification of power.
  • The Christian leader will serve by leading and lead by serving, knowing that the power of office and leadership is there to be used, but to be used toward the right ends and in the right manner.
  • Power and responsibility must come accountability. A leader without accountability is an accident waiting to happen.
  • The stewardship of power is one of the greatest moral challenges any leader will ever face.

TThe Advantage by Patrick Lencionihe Advantage Book Club

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni. Jossey-Bass. 240 pages. 2012

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite business authors. His books The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are among my favorites. I recently started reading and discussing The Advantage with two colleagues at work. I’m sharing key learnings from the book here.

Some good resources around organizational health can be found here: http://www.tablegroup.com/oh

This week we look at “The Case for Organizational Health”:

  • The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it. That is the premise of this book—not to mention my career—and I am utterly convinced that it is true.
  • In spite of its undeniable power, so many leaders struggle to embrace organizational health (which I’ll be defining shortly) because they quietly believe they are too sophisticated, too busy, or too analytical to bother with it. In other words, they think it’s beneath them.
  • The health of an organization provides the context for strategy, finance, marketing, technology, and everything else that happens within it, which is why it is the single greatest factor determining an organization’s success. More than talent. More than knowledge. More than innovation.
  • But before leaders can tap into the power of organizational health, they must humble themselves enough to overcome the three biases that prevent them from embracing it. The Sophistication Bias: Organizational health is so simple and accessible that many leaders have a hard time seeing it as a real opportunity for meaningful advantage.
  • The Adrenaline Bias: Becoming a healthy organization takes a little time. Unfortunately, many of the leaders I’ve worked with suffer from a chronic case of adrenaline addiction, seemingly hooked on the daily rush of activity and firefighting within their organizations. It’s as though they’re afraid to slow down and deal with issues that are critical but don’t seem particularly urgent.
  • The Quantification Bias: The benefits of becoming a healthy organization, as powerful as they are, are difficult to accurately quantify.
  • There is yet another reason that might prevent them from tapping into the power of organizational health, and that is what provoked me to write this book: it has never been presented as a simple, integrated, and practical discipline.
  • I am convinced that once organizational health is properly understood and placed into the right context, it will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage. Really.
  • At its core, organizational health is about integrity, but not in the ethical or moral way that integrity is defined so often today. An organization has integrity—is healthy—when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense.
  • Any organization that really wants to maximize its success must come to embody two basic qualities: it must be smart, and it must be healthy.
  • Smart organizations are good at those classic fundamentals of business—subjects like strategy, marketing, finance, and technology—which I consider to be decision sciences.
  • A good way to recognize health is to look for the signs that indicate an organization has it. These include minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among good employees.
  • Most leaders prefer to look for answers where the light is better, where they are more comfortable. And the light is certainly better in the measurable, objective, and data-driven world of organizational intelligence (the smart side of the equation) than it is in the messier, more unpredictable world of organizational health.
  • The advantages to be found in the classic areas of business—finance, marketing, strategy—in spite of all the attention they receive, are incremental and fleeting.
  • The vast majority of organizations today have more than enough intelligence, expertise, and knowledge to be successful. What they lack is organizational health.
  • After two decades of working with CEOs and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with how healthy they are.
  • An organization that is healthy will inevitably get smarter over time. That’s because people in a healthy organization, beginning with the leaders, learn from one another, identify critical issues, and recover quickly from mistakes.
  • The healthier an organization is, the more of its intelligence it is able to tap into and use. Most organizations exploit only a fraction of the knowledge, experience, and intellectual capital that is available to them. But the healthy ones tap into almost all of it.
  • First, organizational health just isn’t very sexy, so journalists aren’t terribly excited to talk or write about it.
  • Another reason that organizational health has been overlooked by academia and the media has to do with the difficulty of measuring its impact.
  • Trying to identify exactly how much a company’s health affects its bottom line is next to impossible; there are just too many variables to isolate it from the myriad of other factors.
  • Finally, organizational health gets overlooked because the elements that make it up don’t seem to be anything new. And in many ways, they aren’t. The basic components—leadership, teamwork, culture, strategy, meetings—have been a subject of discussion within academia for a long time. The problem is that we’ve been looking at those elements in isolated, discreet, and theoretical ways instead of as an integrated, practical discipline.
  • The financial cost of having an unhealthy organization is undeniable: wasted resources and time, decreased productivity, increased employee turnover, and customer attrition. The money an organization loses as a result of these problems, and the money it has to spend to recover from them, is staggering. And that’s only the beginning of the problem.
  • Aside from the obvious impact this has within the organization, there is a larger social cost. People who work in unhealthy organizations eventually come to see work as drudgery. They view success as being unlikely or, even worse, out of their control. This leads to a diminished sense of hope and lower self-esteem, which leaks beyond the walls of the companies where they work, into their families where it often contributes to deep personal problems, the effects of which may be felt for years.
  • Turning an unhealthy company into a healthy one will not only create a massive competitive advantage and improved bottom line, it will also make a real difference in the lives of the people who work there. And for the leaders who spearhead those efforts, it will be one of the most meaningful and rewarding endeavors they will ever pursue.
  • DISCIPLINE 1: BUILD A COHESIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM. An organization simply cannot be healthy if the people who are chartered with running it are not behaviorally cohesive in five fundamental ways. In any kind of organization, from a corporation to a department within that corporation, from a small, entrepreneurial company to a church or a school, dysfunction and lack of cohesion at the top inevitably lead to a lack of health throughout.
  • DISCIPLINE 2: CREATE CLARITY. In addition to being behaviorally cohesive, the leadership team of a healthy organization must be intellectually aligned and committed to the same answers to six simple but critical questions.
  • DISCIPLINE 3: OVERCOMMUNICATE CLARITY. Once a leadership team has established behavioral cohesion and created clarity around the answers to those questions, it must then communicate those answers to employees clearly, repeatedly, enthusiastically, and repeatedly (that’s not a typo). When it comes to reinforcing clarity, there is no such thing as too much communication.
  • DISCIPLINE 4: REINFORCE CLARITY. Finally, in order for an organization to remain healthy over time, its leaders must establish a few critical, nonbureaucratic systems to reinforce clarity in every process that involves people. Every policy, every program, every activity should be designed to remind employees what is really most important.


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This & That and Favorite Quotes of the Week

This and That
Sports

  • LPGA Tour Player Makes Eagle to Win Tournament. After chipping-in on the 18th hole to force a playoff with Inbee Park, Sei-Young Kim pulled an 8-iron from 154 yards on the first extra hole and knocked it in for an eagle.
  • Tim Tebow Signs with the Philadelphia Eagles. Tebow joins former teammate Mark Sanchez and fellow believer former St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford on the Eagles.
  • LeBron James Sinks Half-Court Shot. Watch him toss in a 94-foot shot like an NFL quarterback.
  • Prayers for Adam Wainright. As I write this it appears that St. Louis Cardinal ace Adam Wainright will be out for the remainder of the season with an Achilles Heel injury. Our prayers go out to Adam, a believer, who also missed the entire 2011 season due to injury.

In The News:

Media Resources:

Christian Living:

To Encourage You:

Just for Fun

  • The hardest part of the day is all the stuff after I open my eyes in the morning. Jim Gaffigan
  • Suddenly I’m considered lazy if I hire someone to buckle my seatbelt for me. I’m busy, people! Jim Gaffigan

    Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

    Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Favorite QuotesFavorite Quotes of the Week ~ 4.26.2015

On our Culture and World…

If we are not deliberately thinking about our culture and our context, we will be conformed to it without ever knowing. Tim Keller

  • We are redefining terms and rewriting laws and removing fences everywhere you turn, and we seem to think we can do that with impunity. Ravi Zacharias
  •  Worldliness is that system of values, in any given age, which has at its center our fallen human perspective, which displaces God and his truth from the world, and which makes sin look normal and righteousness seem strange. It thus gives great plausibility to what is morally wrong and, for that reason, makes what is wrong seem normal. David Wells
  • As the culture war rages on, Lord give us wisdom to see the difference between defending our rights and protesting our slights. Kevin DeYoung
  • We have to be careful not to elevate our preferences to moral standards and judge others by them. We only do so to feel superior. Tim Keller
  • The drug of choice in the modern age is levity. We want everything to be light and bubbly. We just want to feel good. Matt Chandler
  • In America today, it is considered worse to judge evil than to do evil. Os Guinness
  • Faith only glances at problems, but gazes upon Jesus. Steven Lawson

Our Sin and Our Gracious God and Savior…

  • We have a generation of people who think they can stand before the judgment seat of God despite their sins. R.C. Sproul
  • I rest solely in His righteousness and in His atonement because I know there is nothing I can do to make up for my own iniquity. R.C. Sproul
  • The gospel is not for you who can save yourselves, but for those who are lost. Charles Spurgeon
  • God’s grace meets us in messy places because messy places are all that there are. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He is the Seeker; we are the ones who are running. R.C. Sproul
  • You are more sinful than you could ever dare imagine and you are more loved and accepted than you could ever dare hope-at the same time. Tim Keller
  • What does it mean to be human? It means we are created in the image of God for the glorious reality of being in permanent fellowship with Him. Ravi Zacharias
  • True joy comes only from God and He shares this joy with those who walk in fellowship with Him. Jerry Bridges
  • A holy God is both just and merciful. He is never unjust. R.C. Sproul
  • The only thing that righteousness and sin have in common is that they were both imputed to the undeserving at the cross. Burk Parsons
  • We have no right to come before God at all, apart from the finished work of Christ. R.C. Sproul
  • Christ did not die for any upon condition, if they do believe; but He died for all God’s elect, that they should believe. John Owen
  • “Yes but-ing” the sufficiency of God’s grace for salvation is like “Yes but-ing” the sufficiency of water for wetness. Scotty Smith
  • There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” Abraham Kuyper
  • God knows everything. So why not run to him and tell him all the things that he already knows? Kevin DeYoung
  • If prayer actually changed God’s mind, I would stop praying. Burk Parsons
  • We are all servants. The only question is whom we will serve. R.C. Sproul
  • If we love God’s fame and are committed to magnifying His name above all things, we cannot be indifferent to world missions. John Piper
  • We’re not called to perfection but to faithfulness. Sinlessness in this life isn’t possible, but obedience unto godliness is. Sanctification. Steve Camp

keep-calm-and-coram-deo-4


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Music News, Reviews and More

Tomorrow We Live – KB

Tomorrow We Live – KB
****
Lecrae’s Reach Records continues its run of strong releases with KB’s (Kevin Burgess) second full-length album, and the follow-up to his 2014’s EP 100. The album was recorded in various location (Tampa, Atlanta, South Africa). It features strong production, powerful lyrics which ultimately offer a message of hope, and varied styles.

In interviews KB has said that he drew inspiration for the album from a trip to South Africa and that the album is a story that goes through the emotions of the day. Below are a few brief comments about each of the songs:

Rich Forever – features piano and acoustic guitar, this is a smooth jazzy/R&B song with an infectious beat. KB tells of growing up poor and that we will have riches in Heaven, which are better than riches in this world.

Sideways (featuring Lecrae) – this features a great beat as label owner Lecrae joins him on this excellent track, which looks at the way Christians are often seen by the world. My favorite track on the album.

They don’t know what to do with us
Degree in theology raps for a livin’
Black man in first class that is reading the scriptures
I put my tray table up
Smile why they lookin’ sideways?

And lately I’ve been hangin’ in the hood
Everybody lookin’ like what
You for the people, you pushin’ back evil
Not just in the steeple, you out in the woods
Where the lions and the wolves at?

I Believe (featuring Mattie of For Today) – features a chanting crowd screaming “I believe we will win.” KB addresses subjects from breast cancer and racism to the hope of Heaven. Features a joyful African chorus with drums.

9 AM – a short interlude with wife and baby and a reference to Lecrae’s “Dirty Water” from Anomaly.

Fall in Love with You – features a ukulele and some muted brass. The song is written to his son. It has a pop sound that demonstrates his versatility. It’s similar in theme to Trip Lee’s song about his children “Beautiful Life 2” from Rise.

Always & Forever – soul and funk with a 70’s/80’s sound. Upbeat and joyful, featuring female vocals. A love songs written to his wife. Could be a commercial success such as Lecrae’s “All I Need is You”.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow.

Ima Just Do It (featuring Bubba Watson) – featuring two-time Masters golf tournament champion and one of my favorite golfers Bubba Watson. Has a great beat which will sound good live.

Bubba Wats on the mic now.
Can a golfer spit a rhyme?
Not a gangsta rapper, but my caddie got a knife.
KB need a verse,
Told him ain’t nothin’ to it.
Everybody ask me why, I just look ’em in the eye and say
I’m a just do it
Country boy from the panhandle
No golf lessons, just God’s blessin’s
Ain’t nothin’ He can’t handle,
Left-handed, funny swing,
Driver’s pink, ain’t nothin’ to me.
Got two Masters, a double major
But just one Master, our Savior.

Cruising – a short smooth track in which KB raps about Tampa, shrimp, garlic sauce, riding his bike and breaking bones in an accident.

Calling You – KB tells the heartbreaking story about an Iraq War veteran’s attempted suicide. Features some female vocals.

Save Me – short song that serves to bridge us from “Calling You” to “Drowning”.

Drowning – a laid-back beat with autobiographical content from KB.

Pull me up now before I drown
Save me before I drown.

Lights Go Out (featuring Bianca and Justin Ebach) – Could be another song about his wife. Features vocals from solo artist Bianca and composer/producer Justin Ebach. Has an excellent hook that sounds familiar.

When the lights go out it’s going to be me and you.

Crowns & Thorns (Oceans) – samples the popular worship song “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United. The song mixes hip-hop beats with violins and keyboard, and verses of despair and upbeat chorus:

My idols are mimickin’ Jesus
I bury my sin in 3 days, its back up again

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Find Your Way – a bonus track. KB tells women to look at their value in Christ, not in their looks or in the eyes of men. Features some effective drums.

This is a very strong release in which KB shows his flexibility, not only as a hip-hop artists but also incorporating funk and pop influences.

Song of the Week
This week’s song is my second favorite hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, written by the great Reformer Martin Luther.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Music speaks quote Music Quotes:
• Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody. Bob Dylan
• My God’s good, but He’s not safe. Andy Mineo
• God wants worshippers before workers. Indeed the only acceptable workers are those who have learned the art of worship. A.W. Tozer

Record PlayerIn Praise of Hymns. Hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty were recently profiled on CBS Sunday Morning.
Before Tomorrow. Check out this seven minute film from KB.
“Jesus Loves Me” from Chris Tomlin. Watch the video of the acoustic version of this song from his Love Ran Red album.
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessings. Marshall Segal tells the story of the famous hymn and includes a new recording.
Preview Video for New James Taylor Album. Check out this two minute video in which James Taylor talks about a few songs from his first album of all new material in 13 years, Before This World, which will be released June 16. I’m really looking forward to this new album.


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Movie Reviews ~ The Age of Adaline and True Story

The Age of AdalineThe Age of Adaline, rated PG-13
** ½

Blake Lively (Gossip Girl television series), stars as Adaline Bowman. She was happily married and had a young daughter, but her husband was tragically killed during the building of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then, in 1935 when San Francisco was having a rare snowfall, Adaline’s car slid off of the road and ended up at the bottom of a freezing river. Adaline’s body temperature dropped, and her heart stopped. When it looked like she would die, a lightning bolt brought her back to life. It also resulted in Adaline not being able to age. She would remain at a beautiful 29 years of age. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, not really.

You see as everyone else was aging, including her daughter Flemming (played later in life by Ellen Burstyn), Adaline remained just as she was when the accident occurred. Soon people began asking questions. This resulted in Adaline moving often and changing her name as she did. It was actually a very lonely and sad life that she lived. She didn’t allow herself to get close to anyone as she knew any relationship would have to be a short one. One of those relationships was with a young William Jones (Anthony Ingruber) who had planned to propose to her.

Adaline meets Ellis (Michael Huisman (Game of Thrones television series), who serves on the board of the library/museum where Adaline is working. Ellis is persistent in asking her out. After refusing him several times Adaline finally agrees. After dating for a while, Adaline goes with Ellis to his parent’s home (played by Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker), to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. This is where the film gets particularly interesting, and features a strong performance from the 72 year old Ford, who will next reprise his role as Hans Solo in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

Summary – Morality? It includes a small amount of adult language and a few abuses of God’s name. None of the characters reflect any relationship with God and sex outside of marriage is portrayed. Good things – it showed the celebration of marriage and family and the man being the pursuer in a romantic relationship.  The film features Adaline’s beautiful wardrobe and scenes of the picturesque San Francisco as we follow her through the different time periods of her life. It was a lovely but not memorable film.

True StoryTrue Story, rated R
** ½

This film is directed by first time director Rupert Goold, who also co-wrote the script. It is based on Michael Finkel’s 2005 book True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa”.

We meet Michael Finkel () of the New York Times doing a major story on the slave trade in Africa in 2001. This is projected to be another New York Times Magazine cover story for Finkel, and will perhaps lead to him receiving the Pulitzer Prize. But it turns out that he plays with the facts, and rather than winning the Pulitzer, he is fired. He then returns to Montana where he lived with girlfriend (now wife) Jill (Felicity Jones).

We first meet Christian Longo (James Franco) in a Catholic Church in Mexico. Fast forward a bit and Finkel is contacted by a reporter from Oregon who tells him that Longo has been arrested for killing his wife and three young children and had taken on Finkel’s identity while in Mexico.

Finkel asks to meet with Longo. Longo makes a proposal to the disgraced writer – if he will keep the story to himself until after the trial and teach Longo how to write, he will give his story exclusively to Finkel. Sensing an opportunity to restore his reputation as a journalist, Finkel agrees and soon realizes that more than just an article, this story has book potential. He then negotiates a book deal with a $250,000 advance.

The movie explores the complicated relationship between Finkel and Longo. Themes of narcissism and lies permeate the story as they look to use each other for their own benefit.  What is the true story and who can we trust?

Hill and Franco give solid performances; especially take note of Franco’s eyes. Jones is mostly under-utilized, but offers up perhaps the film’s most powerful (and fictionalized) scene when she visits Longo in prison. (In reality Jill and Longo exchanged letters and spoke on the phone but never met in person).

The film is rated “R” due to the murder theme, some adult language and brief nudity (via a picture of a dead body).


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This & That and Favorite Quotes

This and That

PRAYER:

  • R.C. Sproul, whose ministry has had a profound impact on my life, checked himself into the hospital on Saturday. The doctors suspect a mild stroke. He remains in the hospital for further testing and observation. Please join us in praying for a complete recovery for Dr. Sproul.
  • A Prayer for Reaffirming and Resting in God’s Sovereignty. Here’s a wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.

IN THE NEWS:

  • Marco Rubio’s Faith of Many Colors. Sarah Pulliam Bailey writes “Marco Rubio, who threw his hat into the presidential race last Monday, has also drawn attention for his brief time in Mormonism, his baptism into the Roman Catholic Church and his ties to an evangelical church.”
  • GOP Presidential Candidate Marco Rubio Would Attend a Gay Wedding. Nick Gass writes “Marco Rubio says he would attend the wedding of a same-sex couple, even though the Republican Florida senator and newly minted presidential candidate has said he believes marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
  • Nurses Share Stories of Witnessing Babies Born Alive After Abortions. Sarah Terzo writes “Often when a baby is born alive during an abortion procedure, the child is kept in the abortion clinic until he or she dies. In rare cases, the abortionist himself takes action to kill the baby. But sometimes the baby is transferred to a hospital, where he can be given medical care. Unfortunately, it is the policy of many hospitals simply to allow these babies to die.”
  • Abortion Pill Reversal Allows Women to Change Their Minds–And Saves Lives. Timothy C. Morgan and Deann Alford writeHundreds of pro-life physicians are throwing their support behind the abortion pill reversal process that–to date–has saved the lives of unborn children whose mothers took the abortion pill and then changed their minds.”
  • Why Have Some Evangelicals Turned Against Reparative Therapy? Denny Burk, who opposes reparative therapy for reasons different from President Obama, writes “To deny that this change can happen in any Christian—including those struggling with same-sex attraction—is to deny something fundamental to our faith.”
  • Magician Dan White. Did you see this incredible magic trick he recently did with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show?
COURTESY OF WORLD MAGAZINE

COURTESY OF WORLD MAGAZINE

RESOURCES:

CHRISTIAN LIVING AND THEOLOGY:

SEXUAL ETHICS:

  • The Dead End of Sexual Sin. Rosaria Buttefield shares four responses from John Owen on how we should think about sin that has become a daily part of our identity?
  • Rosaria Butterfield on Engaging Homosexual Friends with the Gospel. Watch this short interview with Rosaria Butterfield.
  • I Was Wrong about Same-Sex Marriage. John Zmirak writes “President Obama, and each of the Clintons, has made a public statement parallel to my own on this volatile topic, so I stand in illustrious company as I say it: I wish to reverse my previous public statements on same-sex marriage. The progress of law, the statements and actions of gay advocates, and the movement of public opinion have rendered my old views repugnant to me, and I now I offer a full and public retraction. Thanks to the hard work of Apple, Walmart, and the national media, I have changed my mind on same sex marriage. I now oppose it.”
  • Frank Bruni Commands Christians to Cave on Homosexuality. Owen Strachan writes “The New York Times just published one of the more rough-handed pieces we’ve yet seen regarding “gay Christianity.” In “Bigotry, the Bible and the Lessons of Indiana,” opinion writer Frank Bruni takes the gloves off and seeks to bully Christians into caving on homosexuality. The column is frank, direct, and brutalizing.”
Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Favorite Quotes

He that reads his Bible to find fault with it will soon discover that the Bible finds fault with him. Charles Spurgeon

It is not your hold of Christ that saves you, it is Christ’s hold of you. Charles Spurgeon

The worst sort of clever men are those who know better than the Bible. Charles Spurgeon

  • All that God had to do to harden Pharaoh’s heart, or to harden your heart, is to withhold His own grace. R.C. Sproul
  • The more sanctified a person is the more heavily weighted his prayer time is in adoration. R.C. Sproul
  • Joining a church should be more like getting married for life and less like getting a new car every few years. Burk Parsons
  • Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you. Tim Keller
  • We are regularly in danger of having too light a view of our sin and also too light a grasp of what Jesus has done to free us from our sin. Tim Keller
  • All our words ought to be filled with true sweetness and grace; and this will be so if we mingle the useful with the sweet. John Calvin
  • You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say. Martin Luther
  • Nothing sets a person so much out of the devils reach as humility. Jonathan Edwards
  • Our bad things will turn out for good. Our good things can never really be lost. And the best things are yet to come. Jonathan Edwards
  • As the culture war rages on, Lord give us wisdom to see the difference between defending our rights and protesting our slights. Kevin DeYoung
  • Christ will be known in the culture when we treat people better than they deserve, not as they deserve. John Piper
  • I wish I could say I do everything for God’s glory. I can’t. What I can say is that Jesus’ blood covers all my efforts to glorify myself. Tullian Tchividjian
  • One of the greatest failures of our generation is not living out the biblical precepts which we so clearly articulate. Ravi Zacharias
  • It’s all about God. May He forgive us for every time we start to think it’s actually all about us. Alistair Begg
  • We should be so joyful from God’s grace that others would respond by saying, “I wish I had your God.” Francis Chan
  • God is both our greatest problem and solution. His presence is the worst or best news, the most fearful threat or the most cheerful comfort. Michael Horton
  • Until we have the right knowledge of God, the knowledge of self and our need for grace remains distorted. Steven Lawson
  • We’re not called to perfection but to faithfulness. Sinlessness in this life isn’t possible, but obedience unto godliness is. Sanctification. Steve Camp

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