Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Naughty or Nice?

Our Son is God cartoon


 Book Review: Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton

 I’m Currently Reading

 toby mac 2Concert Review: Toby Mac, Matt Maher and Ryan Stevenson at Braden Auditorium – Dec. 11

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Favorite Quotes of the Week




Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael




  • FREE! Tenth Avenue North Concerts in Peoria. The group behind the hit songs “By Your Side” and “Hold My Heart” will perform three free concert services at Northwoods December 27 & 28.
  • The Modern Hymnal: An interview with Keith Getty.I think you’ll enjoy this interview with Keith Getty, perhaps today’s best modern hymn writer.
  • Carrie Underwood sings “Something in the Water” on The Tonight Show – one of my top songs of the year.
  • New Paul McCartney Song “Hope for the Future”. Watch the video here which turns the former Beatles into a singing hologram and plunges him into the video game ‘Destiny.’
  • Bob Dylan Shadows in the NightNew Dylan Album. 73 year-old Bob Dylan will release Shadows of the Night on February 3. You can pre-order it now on iTunes, and receive the song “Full Moon and Empty Arms”. The album is expected to be an album of cover songs, many of them recorded by Frank Sinatra. Go figure. Another song that is included on the album is “Stay with Me”. Dylan never fails to surprise. Here’s a live recording from October 26 of “Stay with Me”, another song from the album which Dylan has been closing his live sets with recently. Dylan commented, “It was a real privilege to make this album. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a 5-piece band. That’s the key to all these performances. We knew these songs extremely well. It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded. I don’t see myself as covering these songs in any way. They’ve been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.”

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.15.2014

  • By definition, the big difference between mercy and justice is that mercy is never ever obligatory. -RC Sproul
  • Good people don’t go to Heaven, forgiven people do. -Lecrae
  • Grace does not make sin safe. But grace does make sinners safe. -Matt Chandler
  • Forgetfulness of God’s grace is one of the greatest tools in the enemy’s war against our souls. -Mark Dever
  • Christianity is not “Jesus is our example.” Christianity is “Jesus is our substitute.” – Tullian Tchividjian
  • The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. -C.H. Spurgeon
  • You pursue excellence when you care about something other than your own excellence. -Michael Horton
  • Are you living to justify yourself, or are you living because you are justified? -Tim Keller
  • When you look at the Cross, what do you see? You see God’s awesome faithfulness. -Sinclair Ferguson
  • When sin lets us alone we may let sin alone. -John Owen
  • The utter destruction of our culture isn’t just around the corner. It has been here for some time. -R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • What is the deepest root of your joy? What God gives to you? Or what God is to you? -John Piper
  •  We don’t merely need the money from work to survive. We need the work itself to survive and live fully human lives more than money. -Tim Keller
  • The cross is the place where the Judge takes the Judgment.-Tim Keller
  • The desperate addict is closer to the heart of grace than the devout moralist. – Tullian Tchividjian
  • Jesus may ask of you far more than you planned to give, but He can give to you infinitely more than you dared ask or think. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

  • Everything you need to know about leadership in a single verse. Dave Kraft shares leadership principles from Exodus 32:34.
  • Characteristics of an Antiquated Leader. Ron Edmundson writes “Leadership principles and practices have had to change because organizations and people have changed.”
  • New Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast Episode. This month Andy continues to explore the idea of Keystone Habits through an interview conducted with Charles Duhigg.
  • 5 Surefire Ways to Sharpen Your Skills. John Maxwell provides five suggestions on how to sharpen our skills in a strength area. He also mentions his new book JumpStart Your Leadership, a 90-Day Improvement Plan, which releases on December 16.
  • Proactive. Check out what John Maxwell has to say about this word in this “Minute with Maxwell” video.
  • Interview with Joy, Inc. Author Richard Sheridan. He recently appeared on the EntreLeadership podcast.
  • Seven virtues of Christian managers: Lessons from Romans 12-16. Gregory F. Augustine Pierce writes “There are many Christian virtues that managers can practice. I define a Christian virtue as “a habit based on a long-standing belief that God is love.” Here are seven such virtues, with a quote for each from the Letter to the Romans as translated by Eugene Peterson in The Message.
  • The Fitting Job for You. An excellent devotion I recently read in Ligonier Ministries’ TableTalk Magazine.
  • Visiting with Mary and Martha: What about the work? Ann Boyd writes “Mary “chose the better part,” and I do appreciate that — but what about the work Martha was doing? Even after sitting with Jesus, the dishes are still there. How can we resolve this tension?”
  • When Hope is Gone. Dan Miller writes about a time a few years ago when he and his wife did a presentation at the Tennessee Prison for Women: “It gave me a new perspective on how easily we can complain about our “circumstances.” It also reminded me that often when fewer options are available, hope seems to be more present. Believing that all hope is gone is a personal choice. Circumstances do not dictate that – only we can choose to believe that.”
  • Serving a Generation in Search of Meaningful Work. Bethany Jenkins interviews Gregory W. Carmer, who among his other responsibilities directs the Christian Vocation Institute, a collection of programs, including the Elijah Project, which helps students explore the theological underpinnings and practical out-workings of vocation.
  • 7 Ways to Thrive with a Bad Boss. Dan Rockwell writes “If you don’t have a bad boss now, you’ll have one soon.” He gives us seven ways to thrive under that bad boss.
  • The heart behind “Why you hate work”. Brian Gray writes “Christians must embrace the biblical vision of work which claims that all work which is not sinful can be sacred. In God’s economy of spirituality, what we do is far less important than why we do it, how we do it, and who we are and are becoming as we engage our work.”
  • We Were Made to Work. Chris Armstrong writes “At the very beginning of Genesis, God shows himself as a working God, who creates valuable things. And then right away we see that we ourselves as made in his image, also to work.”

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

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club

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

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we conclude the book.

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 7: Your Calling as a Citizen.


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Movie Review ~ Exodus: Gods and Kings

ExodusExodus: Gods and Kings, rated PG-13
** ½

How I look at this film has a lot to do with my expectations of it. The director of the film, the acclaimed Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Thelma and Louise, all of which he received Oscar nominations for) is an outspoken atheist. So I was certainly not expecting his portrayal of the Exodus story to be biblically accurate. On top of that, Christian Bale’s recent quote about Moses “I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life,” didn’t give me much confidence about how Moses would be portrayed. And much like Darren Aronofsky’s Noah from earlier this year, those expectations were met. Given that, how are believers to look at this film? We could choose to stay away from it, or we could see the film and then critically engage with it, knowing that it is not going to be biblically accurate.

First, what I did find was in many ways a well-made and entertaining Hollywood film with a strong cast, including Christian Bale as Moses and the always outstanding Ben Kingsley as Nun. We also see some outstanding special effects, especially around the plagues and the Red Sea scene (more of a low tide than a parting) that only a big budget film ($140 million) can provide. The overall story of the Exodus is in the film, which I would describe as being loosely based on the biblical account. The primary storyline of the film is not necessarily the exodus, but the relationship between Moses, who the Pharaoh Seti (John Turturro) raised as his adopted son, and his own biological son Ramses (Joel Edgerton).

What you may hear about, and also what most concerned me about the film is how our sovereign God was portrayed, beginning with the burning bush scene. In what reminded me of how God is portrayed as a large African American woman in The Shack by William P. Young, God (he is credited as Malak, a Semitic word for angel), is portrayed as a preteen British boy, played by 11 year old Isaac Andrews. Is Malak a messenger, or is he God? He either is God or speaks directly for Him. When asked who he is he responds “I AM”. The character, and thus God, is portrayed as “a self-centered brat” (Gabe Hughes’ review), “a petulant, willful child” (Paul Asay’ review), or as “an impish British schoolboy” (Christy Lemire’s review). Moses and Malak are portrayed as having a contentious relationship throughout the film.

At two and a half hours, the film is much shorter than Cecile B. DeMille’s four hour The Ten Commandments from 1956. As such, the film focuses on the events in the story at the expense of character development. The costumes, jewelry, architecture, etc. that Scott uses in the film were quite good. Scott dedicates the film to his late brother and fellow filmmaker Tony, who committed suicide in 2012.

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Movie Review ~ Calvary

Calvary the movieCalvary, rated R


We had seen a trailer for this film when at an independent/art house theatre in St. Louis this summer where we had gone to see Boyhood. We’ve been waiting for months to see it. It just came out on video yesterday so we were excited to finally see it. Unfortunately we were disappointed, despite an outstanding performance by Brendan Gleeson as Father James.

The film is set in a small town in Ireland. It is often shot darkly, with the exception of the scenes shot along the beach which were beautiful. We had difficulty clearly making out the dialogue throughout, due to the Irish accents and/or the dialogue not recorded clearly and/or our television needing a sound bar.

The film opens with Father James hearing a confession on Sunday. It wasn’t someone confessing their own sins, but terrible sexual abuse done against the one in the confessional. Father James doesn’t know what to say to the man who has been so terribly wounded. He suggests taking the matters to the authorities, but is told that the priest is dead. The confessor says that there would be no good coming from killing a bad priest anyhow. No, what he will do is to kill a good priest. He will kill Father James, and tells him he will do it on the beach next Sunday.

Father James takes the threat seriously, believing he knows who it was who has threatened him. He talks to his superior, but not to the police. He tries to carry out his duties through the week until the following Sunday. But he has quite a broken (and mostly unlikable) congregation, with much talk about suicide and infidelity. M. Emmet Walsh as the elderly writer, is one of the few likeable characters in the film. Almost everyone drinks in the film, including Father James as Sunday approaches. We don’t see him turning to God during this time however. During the week his church is burned to the ground and his beloved dog has his throat slit.

Kelly Reilly stars as Father James’ daughter Fiona (from a previous marriage). She has recently attempted suicide. The two love each other, but she feels that he abandoned her to become a priest after her mother (his wife) died. She felt that she had lost both parents at once.

We didn’t feel like the film had any redeeming value; it was quite depressing. The one reason to see the film would be to see Gleeson’s Oscar worthy performance. The film is rated “R” for language.

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Time is Ticking Away ~ Two Weeks Until Christmas!

Best of 2014

I’ll publish my list of favorites from 2014 in a number of categories the first week of January. I’d love to publish yours as well. So just send your favorites in the following categories to us at by the end of the year.

  • Books
  • Music – albums and individual songs
  • Movies – your best and worst
  • Podcasts
  • Television programs
  • Concerts
  • Radio station
  • Blogger


Book Reviews:The Dawning of Indestructible Joy

Music Review: Peter Furler Christmas Featuring David IanPeter Furler Christmas

I’m Currently Reading



The Pilgrim’s Progress (New Edition). Jonathan Parnell of Desiring God writes “Desiring God is excited to release a new edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress, free of charge in three digital formats (PDF, EPUB, MOBI). This new edition is the original first part of Bunyan’s classic, unabridged and redesigned in beautiful typesetting for modern readability. This edition also features a foreword by Leland Ryken, who kindly offered counsel to us since the beginning of this project, and a short biography of Bunyan’s life by John Piper. The preface to this edition was written by John Newton in 1776 to introduce an old version of the book that included his annotations. This preface was discovered by Tony Reinke, biographer of Newton, and is included now in print for the first time in over a century.”


First Trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film will be in theatres December 18, 2015.

Next James Bond Film Announced. Daniel Craig will play 007 for the fourth time in Spectre, to be released October, 2015.


New McCartney SongDid you see Carrie Underwood’s incredible performance of “All is Well” with Michael W. Smith on the CMA Country Christmas special recently?

New McCartney Song. “Hope for the Future”, which Paul McCartney wrote for the record-breaking video game “Destiny”, will be released globally on December 8.

Michael W. Smith surprised Fort Campbell Staff Sergeant Rafael Panduro at a Clarksville Cracker Barrel.

New Short Film, From The Village to The Basement Introduces Bob Dylan’s The Basement Tapes through a Time-lapse Road Trip narrated by Jeff Bridges. Available exclusively on Bob Dylan’s Official Facebook Page and From The Village to The Basement compresses more than 12,000 photographs into an extended time-lapse tracking shot, opening on the sidewalk in front of the Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village, moving northward through upstate New York, and finally pulling into the driveway of Big Pink, where The Basement Tapes were famously recorded in 1967. Following the route traveled by Dylan and The Band from Manhattan to the West Saugerties on their way to Big Pink, From The Village to The Basement is a virtual road trip with narrator Jeff Bridges serving as tour guide, recounting the history and mystery of The Basement Tapes, their influence on American music and the bootleg culture these recordings launched.

U2’s Songs of Innocence Tops Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of Top Albums of 2014. High Hopes by Bruce Springsteen was number two on the list.

The 2015 Grammy Award nominations in 83 categories were announced recently Congratulations to these artists for their nominations:

  • Best Rock Album – Songs of Innocence – U2
  • Best Rap Performance – “All I Need is You” – Lecrae
  • Best Country Solo Performance – “Something in the Water” – Carrie Underwood
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “Messengers” – Lecrae featuring King & Country
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “Come as Your Are” – Crowder
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “Multiplied” – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Best American Roots Song – “Terms of My Surrender” – John Hiatt
  • Best Americana Album – Terms of My Surrender – John Hiatt
  • Best Comedy Album – Obsessed – Jim Gaffigan

Check out Gawvi’s remixes of Trip Lee’s “Lazarus” and “Sweet Victory” and also this dance video to Trip Lee’s “Manola” from Keone Madrid.

Lecrae hosts “Hope for the City” event in St. Louis December 13. He will be joined by Derek Minor, Propopaganda, J.R. , Flame and Thi’sl.Hope for the City Flyer

Powerful New Trip Lee Song Inspired by recent events. Listen to “Coulda Been Me” here (  and see the lyrics to the song below:
Don’t nobody wanna hear our pain
That’s how I’m feeling when I’m flipping through them twitter comments, all I feel is rain
They telling me get over it’s old
That stuff don’t exist no more
But that don’t ring true when I look in these streets
So it’s real when I feel like it coulda been me

Man can I tell you how I’m feeling right nowTrip Lee Song
Ah they wanna know how I’m feeling right now
I feel like it coulda been me
I feel like it coulda been me
We all made in God’s image you know
All our lives matter, our vision is broke
We feel pain cause we been here before
Who’s innocent I don’t know
But it coulda been me
I feel like it coulda been me

I didn’t know Mike Brown
I ain’t know Trayvon
I didn’t know Sean Bell
But I know they gone
I ain’t know Oscar Grant or Tamir Rice
I didn’t know Eric Garner
But I know they life
Is worth more than they saying on the tv screen
I hate I got a long list, you finna see me scream
Cause I feel like they don’t see we kings
Made to rule like Him, they think we needy fiends
I wasn’t there when they shot at the man
I can’t solve cases, won’t say that I can
But I do know life as a young black man
Guess I can’t be mad that some don’t understand
But maybe you would
If you looked at my life and you stood where I stood
Use my eyes to look at these streets
It’s too real when I feel like it coulda been me

Man can I tell you how I’m feeling right now
Ah they wanna know how I’m feeling right now
I feel like it coulda been me
I feel like it coulda been me

Picture me as a teen
Picking out drinks in the store when I seen
The cashier looking at me, then he screams
Points at my hip and tells me I’m seen
But hold up, I ain’t know that I was that scary
And I ain’t know that I could shoot you with a blackberry
Very odd, that he saw me as a thug
When I’d never caught a case, never stole or bought drugs
Or how bout the time that I flew to a show
Full of joy, finna rap for a room full of folks
Outside then I find it’s a gun in my face
Handcuffs on my hands, pat down at the waist
It’s the same ol, same ol
I fit the description of a criminal that they know
They showed me picture, come on
Are you kidding? We don’t look a like
Well the cops thought we did if you looking right
Every black man I know
Got stories like those, reaping what they ain’t sow
When they assume you a thug from the jump
It don’t matter if you strapped with a pump
Look I don’t know if Mike Brown had his hands up
But I’m writing saying homie I’ma stand up
And I’ma tell you I feel I look in these streets
And say it’s real when I feel like it coulda been me

Skies feeling grey, eyes red
Black and white clash, clouds over head
How long till they heard what we said
How long till they hear what I said?
Shout out to all the good cops
Fighting bad guys, making good stops
I hate that on the hood blocks
In the end they might try to lump you in with all the crooks
I wanna say to all my young black men
I know it’s feeling like we just can’t win
But in your anger don’t sin
Don’t affirm what they thinking
Don’t let nobody tell us we ain’t got worth
Some will try to shut us down it will not work
I know it ain’t fair, but we know that He cares
And one day he’ll wipe away tears

Where’s your hope at? Mine is in him
Where is your hope at? Mine is in him
We got work to do, but my hope is in him
They got work to do too, but my hope is in him

IN THE NEWS:Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose wore an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt in warm-up before the Bulls Game with the Warriors on Saturday in Chicago.

I Can’t Breathe, But I Must Write. David Murray’s take on the Eric Garner decision.

A United Evangelical Response: The System Failed Eric Garner. What pastors, professors, and others are saying about the grand jury’s decision not to indict.

A Conversation with Lecrae, Voddie, and Others on Ferguson. Watch this conversation with Lecrae, Voddie Baucham, Phillip Holmes, James White, and B.J. Thompson on Ferguson, the gospel, the church, and the culture.

This cartoon from World Magazine resonated with me this week.

Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

What ever happened to Rob Bell? Sarah Pulliam Bailey brings us up to date with Rob Bell, who eight years ago the Chicago Sun-Times wondered might be the next Billy Graham.

Brian Williams’ Slow Jam. Did you see Brian Williams join Jimmy Fallon and the Roots on The Tonight Show for a Slow Jam on President Obama’s recent Executive Order on Immigration?

Curt Schilling, ESPN’s Law, and evolution. Interesting story about the response to a tweet of former major league baseball player and believer Curt Schilling.


A Prayer for Filling Our Hearts with Jesus–the Lord of Advent. Scotty Smith prays: “Dear Lord Jesus, knowing that it’s possible to “do Christmas” and miss Advent, today I want to fill my heart, as full as possible, with you. You are the One who has come and is coming again. Isaiah’s words fuel my worship and shrink my worries.”

Take a Break from the Chaos. David Mathis of Desiring God writes: You need a break from the chaos, from the noise and the crowds, more than you may think at first. You need the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude.”

Four Impulses at the Heart of Desiring God. John Piper marvels at the existence of Desiring God ministries, now 20 years old.

Joy Is Free, But Not Cheap. Enjoy this three-minute video from John Piper on what the Desiring God ministry offers free, and encouraging people to partner with the ministry.

James White’s response to Rick Warren’s troubling comments about Roman Catholicism.

The State of Theology: The Good Book. Stephen Nichols continues his analysis of a recent major study on theology in America, this time looking at the Bible. He writes “American Christians have Bibles. We tend to have even more than 4.7 (the number per household). Do we read them? Do we cling to our Bibles as the authoritative and true Word of God to us? Do we obey and follow what we read? The answers to these questions make all the difference in the world.

5 Ugly Qualities of the Anti-Elder. As an Elder in my church, I found this article from Tim Challies of great interest

The Practice of Putting Sin to Death. Tim Challies continues his excellent series on John Owens’ book Overcoming Sin and Temptation. He writes that Owens’ has only two broad instructions: Put your faith in Christ, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Do You Leave a Church? Jeff Robinson writes “There are certainly legitimate reasons to leave a church and sadly, it sometimes becomes necessary or even a duty to find a more biblically faithful body.”

Why the Church Needs a New Approach for Addressing Homosexuality. Eric Metaxas writes “Sixty percent of all Americans now live in a state in which marriage has been redefined to allow same-sex couples to “marry.” So should Christians give up, go home, and move on to another issue?  Absolutely not. While the public policy issue may be largely settled, the matter of how the church should interact with gays—especially gay Christians—is far from settled. And on that subject, one Christian leader says we have a lot of repair work to do.”

Two Enemies of Determination. Darrin Patrick writes “In Jesus, we have the model of a determined man. He pressed on in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. He resisted comfort and approval, knowing what was at stake in his failure. He endured great suffering and shame because he had a greater joy.”

Think the “Emergent Church” was Ineffective? Think again. Chelsen Vicar writes “Brian McLaren is right. The “emergent church” movement is growing. Not as a collective group, but as a savvy, scattered chain ever-present in the fiber of the Church.

The Importance of Hell. Tim Keller offers four reasons in this article.

The frightening side of Advent: Bonhoeffer’s Christmas sermons. Jeff K. Walters shares observations from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons, preached between 1928 and his death in 1945.

Christmas Poem

My good friend Aaron, who works where I do and is also a local pastor, has written a Christmas poem for several years. Here’s his poem for this year:


Joy unto us the angels did sing

Joy unto us our savior was born king

Joy unto us a gift was given

Joy unto us a tree was slain

Joy unto us on the tree – our Lord and savior hang

Joy unto us the angel did say – he is Risen no longer he lay

Joy unto us the message must ring on and on

Joy unto you this Christmas season for only Jesus is our reason to have hope and holiday cheer

LUKE 2: 1 – 20

Visions of VocationVisions of Vocation Book Club

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber.

Steve Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I have been reading his book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. This week we look at chapter 7 The Great Temptations.

  • It is surprising that the promise of more knowledge—to know as God knows, in the words of the tempter—had the bitter fruit of anguish and shame.
  • From that first temptation on, human beings have responded in countless ways to the same question: What will you do with what you know? Or to put it another way, Knowing what you know, how will you respond?
  • We do not want knowing to necessarily mean caring. Not because we are morally misanthropic, but simply because the one who knows the most mourns the deepest. More knowledge often means more pain.
  • Both offer a way to know that allow us to keep our eyes open, seeing things as they “really” are, but not requiring that we get so close that we are hurt by what we know. We have called these responses stoicism and cynicism. Both are ways to know that do not ask us to get too close to what we know; they allow us to protect ourselves from knowing too much, and therefore from caring too much.
  • While I understand that there are horrors and heartaches that are beyond what anyone wants or imagines, it does not make a good life to think that we can have knowledge without responsibility, that we can know but not have to care.
  • While there are honest joys every day, if one has eyes to see, there are also honest sorrows too, if one has eyes to see. What we do with the two realities is what distinguishes us, and is what is distinctive about different religious visions.
  • Every account of human life, from varieties of theism to varieties of pantheism to varieties of materialism, has a vision of the human person at its heart—what is often called a telos. We believe certain things to be true of us as individuals, and true of human beings, and we live in that light. But we do not only live in that light, we theorize and imagine in that light as well. We develop economic and political visions, and we create artistic artifacts—sculpture, paintings, novels, poetry, music, theater and film—that resonate with what we believe to be true of human beings, in light of the telos that shapes our understanding of what is real and true and right.
  • We know pathos, empathy, sympathy, passion and compassion, for example. Each of those words grows out of some effort to make sense of life, of a life where things are often not as they are supposed to be, where in fact there is disappointment, heartbreak and injustice. Knowing the world to be this way, knowing our experience to be this way, what will we do? How will we respond?
  • Knowing that does not require one to respond. One knows, but does not have to step in. One knows, but does not have to be implicated. It is important to note that Stoicism is not malicious with its intentional indifference, but its willingness to look away at critical points is a problem for a good life and a good society.
  • The great Hebrew scholar Abraham Heschel, in his magisterial study The Prophets, argues that the prophetic tradition as a whole was a response to the stoicism of their time, whether that was formally taught and debated, or was more street-level assumptions by ordinary people living ordinary lives.
  • God hears and responds to what he hears, that he sees and acts on what he sees. Not an unmoved mover, but the one who knows and who feels what he knows.
  • Another twentieth-century scholar, Benjamin B. Warfield of Princeton, intriguingly argues that the Gospels were a response to the stoicism of their time.
  • Jesus’ response to the death of his friend was a million miles from the Stoic apatheia.
  • Again, if there has not been an incarnation, a moment in human history when God shows that we can know and still love, then stoicism seems a very good answer to a very hard question: Knowing the hurt of life, what are you going to do?
  • Living in Washington, D.C., for many years now, I have come to the conclusion that while the world at large may criticize the city for its hubris, “the Beltway mentality” and all, the reality is that the city is cynical.
  • But the question which was first asked in the Garden, primordial and perennial as it was, is asked again of everyone who comes to town: Knowing what you know, what are you going to do?
  • One of the best chroniclers of contemporary geo-politics is the British novelist John Le Carré. Le Carré is a master story-teller, seeing the evil of the human heart played out in public and political arenas—and he expects his readers to come to the same conclusion that he has. In a word, he is a cynic—about individuals and institutions, about persons and polities, about anyone and anything that has to do with power and money. And why not? There many good reasons to be cynical.
  • “Life is good,” the T-shirts promise, and we buy them by the truckload. Well, sometimes in some places, but not very often in the massive ghettoes of Nairobi, which is where Le Carré takes us in The Constant Gardner.
  • But there are exceptions. And it is here that Le Carré’s cynicism is more a protection of his heart than a truthful account of the heart. Whether conscious or not, intentional or not, the temptation to cynicism is always a way of keeping one’s heart from being wounded, again.
  • There is much to be cynical about—and it is a good answer if there has not been an incarnation. But if that has happened, if the Word did become flesh, and if there are men and women who in and through their own vocations imitate the vocation of God, then sometimes and in some places the world becomes something more like the way it ought to be.
  • Over twenty years ago, Mark Rodgers and I decided to be neighbors, remembering the credo of the Clapham community in London two hundred years ago: “Choose a neighbor before you choose a house.”
  • There is nothing romantic about trying to do the right thing and feeling the indifference of those you work and live with.
  • Can we know the world and still love the world? Can we know the messes of the world and still work on them because we want to, because we see ourselves as responsible, for love’s sake? Sometimes some people make that choice, like Mark has, and always it is a vocation in imitation of a vocation.
  • At our best and truest, we stand in the long line of those who remember the profound insight of Thomas à Kempis in calling us to “the imitation of Christ.” To choose to know, and still love, is costly; it was for God, and it is for us. In fact it is the most difficult task imaginable.
  • God knows us and still loves us. That is the heart of the incarnation, and not surprisingly the heart of J. I. Packer’s contemporary classic, Knowing God. His vision has shaped my vision, not only of God, but of life.
  • The incarnation is not a call to life in rose gardens, somehow closing our eyes to the terrors of this very wounded world.
  • Strange grace that it is, sometimes people decide that their vocations are in fact to know the world and still love the world; in fact, sometimes there are people who know the worst about the world and still love it. Truth be told, mostly those people are unnoticed in this life. At the end of the day, we are ordinary people in ordinary places. The wisest ones have always known this, reminding us of this deeper, truer truth.
  • And while we may not be weighed down with the questions What will I do today to stay free from stoicism? How will I steer clear of cynicism today? the reality is that if we are to keep our commitments, sticking with what we believe is important, we will have to have reasons that make sense of vocations that implicate us in the histories and complexities of our communities and societies. To see ourselves as responsible, for love’s sake, is both hard work and good work—and it cannot be done alone.
  • Stretched taut between the Last Supper and the Great Supper—with an invitation from Jesus to eat together week by week until he comes again—our Vocares always involve a meal.
  • Simply, he sees his work as imitating the incarnation; knowing the way banking more often than not is, he works for what can be because he believes in what ought to be.
  • Why get involved? It is one thing to know about messes, but it is something else altogether to step into a mess. It is one thing to know about things being wrong, but it is something else altogether to decide that I am responsible to make it right.
  • Knowing what I know, what will I do? There are people who see themselves implicated in the way the world is and ought to be. For love’s sake, they see themselves as responsible for the way the world turns out. Sometimes they are bankers, and sometimes they make hamburgers. But always and everywhere, they are people who have vocations in imitation of the vocation of God: knowing the worst about the world, and still loving the world. They are people who learn to live in the tension of life, living with what is and longing for what will be—keeping clear of the great temptations, for the sake of the world. Simply said, they become hints of hope.

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.8.2014

  • If you say: I believed in God, I trusted God, and He didn’t come through – You only trusted God to meet your agenda. -Tim Keller
  • If you have only been born once you will die twice, but if you are born twice you will only die once. -Steven Lawson
  • By God’s grace, seek to make your home the most encouraging place your family knows. -Scotty Smith
  • We fall privately before we ever fall publicly. -RC Sproul
  • The gospel is not about what we have done or are called to do, but the announcement of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ. -Michael Horton
  • Great sins draw out great grace. Where guilt is most terrible and fierce, the mercy of God appears most high and mighty. -John Bunyan
  • If you make the goal of your life just to stay alive, you’ll fail. If you make the goal of your life the kingdom, you cannot lose. -Kevin DeYoung
  • Fundamentally, Reformed theology is theology founded on and fashioned by God’s Word. For it is God’s Word that forms our theology, and it is we who are reformed by that theology as we constantly return to God’s Word every day and in every generation. -Burk Parsons
  • The people who have taught me the most about grace are those who have blown it so bad that they know how much they need it. -Tullian Tchividjian
  • Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. -Charles Wesley
  • Just because we don’t see a reason why God allows evil and suffering doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Christmas is God going into the darkness for you. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

Martin Luther’s View on Why Clarity of Scripture Matters for Vocation. Andrew Spencer writes “Given the connection between the clarity of Scripture and a return of the doctrine of vocation, it should come as no surprise that the development of the sacred/secular divide in vocation began with a drift in the understanding of the ability for all people to interpret Scripture.”

Non-Negotiables in Team Members. Dave Kraft shares seven non-negotiables he looks for.

The Basics of a Biblical Theology of Work. Enjoy this excerpt from Amy Sherman’s excellent book Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, which I read in my Calling, Vocation and Work class at Covenant Seminary.

Garbage Collecting for the Glory of God. Joseph Sunde writes “In a new video from The High Calling1, Howard Butt, Jr. shares the story of David Magallenez, a garbage man who daily serves the people of San Antonio by removing their trash, and does so with a happy heart.”

What are You Hiding at Work? Jen Sanbulte writes “We’ve all done it. We’ve gone to work and put on the mask, afraid to be at work who we are in Church on Sunday. We hesitate to give people glimpses into our real life and emotions, because it is messy. Instead, we hide. God called us to be light, but many have a hard time figuring out what that looks like at work. And if we’re honest, we all want to be viewed as professional, as good workers, as normal.”

Why are Working Women Starting to Unplug from Their Churches? Sandra Crawford Williamson shares four reasons that are given as to why working women are choosing to stay home from church.

How Your Own Jealousy Can Keep You from Progress. In this podcast, Andy Andrews talks about selfishness, and how it can keep you and everyone around you from growing.

Your work is not as important as you want it to be: Called by Mark Labberton. Marcus Goodyear writes “This little book calls the entire faith and work movement to task, reminding Christians to focus on the First Thing. My career, my success, and my productivity are not elements of my primary calling. A Christian’s calling is not a personal one, but a shared calling with other Christians to something very simple and straightforward: love God and love your neighbor.”

Four Ways Leaders Can Release Control, and Ultimately Thrive. Cole NeSmith shares four ways leaders can release control, and become the leaders we are created to be.

4 Leadership Lessons from a King Who Finished Poorly. One of our favorite bloggers Kevin Halloran writes that “Unfortunately, we don’t have to look far to see failure in leadership. All leaders need to know what God wants them to do and NOT do.” He states that “Like many kings mentioned in the Bible Jehu is a mixed bag. I don’t want to leave a legacy like that. Here are a few lessons I gleaned from Jehu:”

Vocation and Jobs.  Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. “Look for the vocation that is deeply rooted in your life, the way of being that expresses God’s calling on your life.  Whatever happens, you are God’s gift to the world in the making.  No job can give you that.  No job can take it away.”

Reconciling the Call to be Productive with the Messiness of Life. Matt Perman writes “One of the difficulties in affirming that God calls us to be productive is that this can sometimes be mistaken to mean that there is always an easy solution to our productivity challenges. We can think that there is no place for messiness, difficulty, and even falling behind in the life of truly productive, God-honoring people.”

10 Commandments that Fix All Lousy Meetings. Poorly run meetings are one of my pet-peeves. I appreciated this article from Dan Rockwell.

When You Are in Between Jobs. Luke Murry writes “How we handle unemployment ourselves and how we counsel others going through unemployment are both excellent opportunities to bring glory to God’s name.”

New Faith and Work Study Bible. The Bible: Faith and Work Edition will be a unique and engaging combination of doctrine, application, and community that can find its home not only on your nightstand at home, but also on your desktop at work. Its goal is to equip Christians to meaningfully engage various aspects of their work—even those we might not even think could be relevant—with a renewed sense of the power and relevance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Secrets Of The Most Productive People. Fast Company article in which as senator, a chef, four CEOs, and DJ superstar Diplo reveal how, exactly, they get the most out of their days.

Do Hard Things ~ Matt Perman shares a post from Alex and Brett Harris.

Season of Ministry. A good reminder to be open for opportunities to minister to others we lead during this Christmas season:

‘God’s Will and Your Vocation’, an excellent devotion I recently read in Ligonier Ministries’ TableTalk Magazine.

Where Does Our Time at Work Go? Sue Shellenbarger writes “The causes of overload have long been suspected—email and meetings—but new techniques that analyze employees’ email headers and online calendars are helping employers pinpoint exactly which work groups impose the most on employees’ time.”

The Value of Leadership Fears. Glenn Brooke writes “All leaders face fears and suffer trials. There is a grander purpose at work.”

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

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 6: Your Calling in the Family.

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club

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

We continue our overview of this excellent new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we look at Chapter 24: The Greatest Cause in the World Productivity, world missions, and how our faith relates to our work.

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

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Penguins of Madagascar

Penguins of MadagascarPenguins of Madagascar, rated PG
*** ½

I’ve always felt that the best part of the three Madagascar films were the penguins, so I was really looking forward to seeing this film – and I was not disappointed. The writing was sharp and the humor came fast from start to finish. Sometimes it came so quickly it was easy to miss, and much will go over the heads of younger viewers.
The film starts with Skipper (voiced by Tom McGrath), Kowalski (Chris Miller), and Rico (Conrad Vernon), as young penguins marching along with the rest of their colony in Antarctica (being filmed for a documentary, as a humorous reference to the popular 2005 film March of the Penguins narrated by Morgan Freeman). As a penguin egg rolls by and the adults let it go, in a very pro-life statement Skipper takes off after it, not willing to let the baby penguin die as the adults were content to do. Instead, the baby penguin, who comes out humorously with an Australian accent, and is named Private (voiced by Christopher Knights), becomes part of the team. That begins a series of funny adventures for the four friends in locations all around the world, with references to the previous Madagascar films thrown in as their story is told.
In the course of their adventures, they run into someone they had met previously in zoos they had been in – Dave the Octopus (voiced by John Malkovich who attended Illinois State University). Dave also transforms himself into the evil Dr. Brine, and he isn’t happy with our friends, or penguins in general. I won’t share any more of those details with you here or I’ll spoil it for you.
We also meet a high-tech spy team, called the North Wind led by the wolf Classified (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch). The North Wind are searching for Dr. Brine and help out our friends along the way.
The film does include a few nods to homosexuality – an extra-long kiss and some bottom-slapping. I found it sad that something like that had to be included in a film made primarily for children. On the other hand, in addition to the pro-life message, there are also good messages about self-sacrifice for your friends and a deep caring for friends.
Overall I really enjoyed this film. It was fast moving and very funny.

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Blue Ridge Wedding Weekend

Pretty Place Chapel SCLast weekend we travelled to South Carolina for the wedding of our nephew Mark and his bride Tiffany. I have known Mark since he was born in 1981. We have gone on family vacations together most of the years since then. We don’t agree on much – be it sports, politics or religion. But I love him like I would my own son, so we very much looked forward to the destination wedding.

We flew out of an empty Midway Airport in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, and back on Monday (later finding out that Midway made national news for their mile-plus lines going through security on Sunday) and landed in Greenville, South Carolina.

The groom, his bride, the best man and his wife and some friends were already there from Houston, Texas. Others came from as far away as Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Florida and Washington D.C. Many were frustrated by the lack of cell and wireless service in the area, but everyone loved the natural beauty. I enjoyed reading Sinclair Ferguson’s outstanding new book The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen as I sat next to the Saluda River (which was more like a large creek at this time of year).   We stayed in a Table Rock river cabin (check out their site for photos here – There was such joy as family and friends (who stayed in other cabins in the area) would gather to eat, drink and visit in the large cabin next to the one we stayed in. Over the long weekend the crowd plowed through 16+ Giordano’s pizzas!

The largest towns in the area were Pickens and Traveler’s Rest. There were Baptist churches of every type and size in the area, which was just beautiful. In God’s Providence the reading for the day of the wedding (November 29) in Scotty Smith’s book Everyday Prayers was on marriage, and the chapter I read in Gene Veith’s God at Work was on the family, and marriage as a vocation.

Happy Bride and GroomThe wedding was held in a chapel appropriately known as “Pretty Place”, 2,900 feet up at a YMCA camp that held special memories for both the bride and her father. Christ was at the center of the ceremony, just as He is in the center of Mark and Tiffany’s relationship. Above the couple as they took their vows on a beautiful cool (48 degrees) day was Psalm 121:1: I will lift up my eyes to the hills.Table Rock Lodge

The reception was held at the Lodge at Table Rock State Park –, with a beautiful view of Table Rock Mountain and a beautiful lake.

On Sunday morning many had breakfast at the Café at Williams Hardware (appropriately named as the groom’s last name is Williams) in Traveler’s Rest.

Biltmore Estate After we said our “goodbyes”, with all going their separate ways, we were off to Asheville, North Carolina with our niece Amanda to visit the Biltmore Estate which was decorated for Christmas. We had a great time and enjoyed a beautiful day.

All in all, it was a great time with family and friends in a beautiful setting. Many blessings for a long, happy, healthy and Christ-centered marriage for Mark and Tiffany.

A Titillating Tidbit:

Bob Jones University is located in Greenville, South Carolina, and was made infamous in Steve Taylor’s 1984 song “We Don’t Need No Color Code” about their racial policies. The song was going through my mind throughout the time we were in the area:

Down Carolina way
Lived a man name o’ Big B.J.
B.J. went and got a school
Founded on Caucasian rule
Bumper sticker on his Ford
Says “Honkies If You Love The Lord”

White man speak with forked tongue
White supremacists eat their young
Bigotry is on the loose
Ignorance is no excuse
I know Jesus loves that man
Even with a Greenville tan

In 2008, the university apologized for their racist policies including a one-time ban on interracial dating that wasn’t lifted until 1999 and its unwillingness to admit black students until 1971.

So, are there any current Christian musicians that are willing to speak up and light a spark in our culture today?

Favorite Christmas Albums

I love Christmas music! Once I get to the week before Thanksgiving, it’s about all I listen to until Christmas Day. My two favorite Christmas songs are “O Holy Night” (you gotta listen to Stuart Neill’s version) and “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, of which James Taylor has a great rendition.

We usually pick up a few new Christmas albums each year. This year, I chose albums by Keith and Kristyn Getty, Michael W. Smith, John Schlitt and Peter Furler. My all-time favorite Christmas albums are The Andy Williams Christmas Album, which my Mom used to play as we went to sleep and Christmas Songs by Jars of Clay. I also love all four of Michael W. Smith’s Christmas albums, James Taylor’s Christmas albums as well as Christmas music from Chris Tomlin, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Michael Buble, Michael McDonald, Russ Taff, Perry Como, and many others.

What are some of your favorite Christmas albums?


I’m Currently Reading

Movie Reviews:Whiplash

  • Whiplash (reviewed by Jason Halm)
  • Birdman (reviewed by Bill Pence)Birdman

Michael W. Smith ChristmasMusic Review: The Spirit of Christmas – Michael W. Smith & Friends



The Dawning of Indestructible JoyFree Piper Audiobook. The free audiobook for December from Christian Audio month is John Piper’s new The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.

14 Best Books of 2014. Tony Reinke of Desiring God lists his top books of the year, none of which I have read, though Tammy and I plan to read his top choice together soon. I’ll list my favorites from 2014 the first week of January.

Tim Keller on Prayer. Tim Challies writes that “He (Keller) has written a winsome, well-rounded book that leads through theory and into practice. It is one of the strongest books on prayer I have ever read and it receives my highest recommendation.”

Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story by Trip Lee. Here’s a two-minute video about Trip’s new book, which features a Foreword from John Piper and will be released January 27.

MUSIC:Shane and Shane Christmas

Free Download of Shane and Shane ‘Joy to the World’. You can download a track for FREE from A Worship Initiative Christmas from Shane and Shane courtesy of Desiring God. It is the number one Christian album on iTunes this morning.

Lie Down in the Grass ~ Charlie Peacock discusses the 30 year anniversary release of his classic album.

Former Creed Lead Singer Penniless. Sad story about Scott Strapp, who recently made a Christian album and was in my town recently for a concert.

Bob Dylan Performs Concert – For Just One Person. My friend Tom told me about this private concert that Dylan held recently.

U2 Tour LogoNew U2 Tour. Christmas comes a little early for U2 fans as their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour has been announced. The tour begins in 2015, will see U2 play indoor arenas for the first time in a decade and will visit 19 cities (including the United Center in Chicago June 24-25), worldwide during its first year with pairs of shows in each city. “We are going to try to have a completely different feeling from night one to night two,” said Bono, “and have some fun playing with the idea of innocence and experience. More to be revealed!” The tour follows the recent release of U2’s thirteenth studio album Songs Of Innocence. To date, Songs of Innocence has been streamed 81 million times and has been downloaded by 30 million fans. Tickets go on sale to the public Monday, December 8. U2 is my favorite band – can’t wait!

New McCartney Single. Sir Paul McCartney will release a new single – “Hope for the Future” this month. The track is taken from the year’s biggest video game release ‘Destiny’.


Sadie Robertson Finishes Second in Dancing with the Stars. The daughter of Willie and Korie did well on the popular dance competition.

Did you see Ruffalo play “Musical Beers” with Jimmy Fallon and others recently on The Tonight Show?

Why Christian Bale is Wrong About Moses. Matt Perman writes why comments made by Christian Bale (who will portray Moses in the upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings film) are in direct contrast to the depiction of Moses in Scripture.


The Ferguson Moment—A Moral Test for the Nation. Albert Mohler’s reaction on the Ferguson decision last week.

Ferguson and the Path to Peace. Russell Moore writes that the tension in Ferguson, Missouri “ought to remind us, as the church, that we are living in a time in which racial division is hardly behind us. That reality ought to motivate us as citizens to work for justice, but also as the church to seek to embody the kingdom of Christ.”

Why I Believe the Grand Jury Got It Wrong and Injustice Triumphed. Here is Thabiti Anyabwile’s reaction to the Ferguson decision.

Thoughts on Ferguson. Voddie Baucham writes “In the end, the best lesson my children can learn from Ferguson is not that they need to be on the lookout for white cops. It is far more important that I use this teachable moment to remind them that “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Moments before his death, Michael Brown had violently robbed a man in a store. A man doing the best he could to make a living. Minutes later, Brown reaped what he sowed, and was gunned down in the street. That is the sad truth.”   4

Lecrae on Ferguson: ‘The System We Have in Place Has Biases’ Lecrae didn’t choose the article title. He writes “I still have hope for a dream of unity and peace. I’m exercising my faith and fighting for a glorious future, and I want to call others to do the same. It’s going to take a lot of time, long conversations, and education, but if not us then who?”


Why is Church So Boring? R.C. Sproul gives his answer.

Ligonier Ministries Resource Guide. A lot of gold here with many resources that have blessed me mightily over the years.

Mark Noll’s Memoir: World Christianity, Historical Thinking, Humbling Paradox. John Piper gives a glimpse into Noll’s three passions and the foil of his personal faith.

How Pornography Works: It Hijacks the Male Brain. Albert Mohler writes that “We are fast becoming a pornographic society. Over the course of the last decade, explicitly sexual images have crept into advertising, marketing, and virtually every niche of American life. This ambient pornography is now almost everywhere, from the local shopping mall to prime-time television.”

A Theology of Sleep. Andy Naselli offers ten excerpts from And So to Bed….A Biblical View of Sleep by Adrian Reynolds.

A Prayer for Days When You Wake Up with a Low-grade Irritability. Here is another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith that hits a little too close to home.

Favorite Quotes of the Week 12.1.2014

  • Whether you are “radical” or “ordinary” – love Jesus, stay humble, and serve others. -Scotty Smith
  • As long as I am focusing on the faults of others, then I don’t have to face my own. -Tullian Tchividjian
  • In the culture of pluralism…the only thing that cannot be tolerated is a claim to exclusivity. -R.C. Sproul
  • We never grow closer to God when we just live. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness. -Francis Chan
  • The bad news? We’re far worse than we think. The good news? He’s far more gracious than we think. -R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • Suffering is the stripping of our hope in finite things, therefore we do not put our ultimate hope in anything finite. -Tim Keller
  • I am going to judge my circumstances by Jesus’ love, not Jesus’ love by my circumstances. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

Dave Kraft looks at the 20th chapter of Acts in these two articles:

These Occupations Could Offer the Most Satisfying Careers. This list ranks over 200 different occupations not on how big the salary is, but on how meaningful these jobs feel to the people that work them.

Three Practical Ways You Can Express Gratitude at Work. John Kyle writes that “Feeling and expressing gratitude in a workplace filled with thorns and thistles can be challenging.” He provides three ways we can be more thankful at work.

Permission. John Maxwell looks at this word in this edition of a “Minute with Maxwell”.

Work and Rest According to Jesus. Download this free audio sermon from Tim Keller at the Redeemer Presbyterian web site.

Overworking Is Not God’s Idea. Bill Peel shares ideas from J. B. Wood on how to put a little Sabbath in our lives.

4 Ways a Christian Leader Should Know “What Time It Is”. Trevin Wax states that there are four spheres in which Christian leaders should know “the time”.  (Kinda reminds me of “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” a song written and sung by Robert Lamm while in the rock band Chicago.)

How To Get Things Done: Deal With Interruptions. Tim Challies continues his helpful series on productivity

My Work Is More Important than Yours,’ So We All Say. Bethany Jenkins writes that “The more precious the cross becomes to us, the less we feel the need to exalt our work over the work of others.”

Check out this week’s episode of Andy Andrew’s podcast on when to eliminate negative people from your life.

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael





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Give Thanks!

Give thanks~ THIS AND THAT ~


Help to Increase Your Thanksgiving Appetite. Jon Bloom of Desiring God offers several helpful resources that will help increase your thanksgiving appetite.

12 Keys for Successfully Starting Something New. Are you starting a new organization? A Church Planter? Entrepreneur? Involved in a small organization just getting started? Brad Lomenick shares some tips for getting started.

Recommended Blogs. Our friend Kevin Halloran offers some good blog suggestions.

John Owens on Battling Sin. John Owens is hot right now, with Tim Challies reading/blogging about his new Overcoming Sin and Temptation and Sinclair Ferguson’s new book The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen. Check out this article from Mike Riccardi.

Battle Plan. Tim Challies has put together “Battle Plan”, a worksheet that is primarily meant to be used with the assistance of a mentor or pastor (though it can be used individually as well). It is heavily dependent upon John Owen and his instructions on overcoming sin.

A Debate I Would Watch. Ben Carson debating Hillary Clinton? No, Tim Challies would watch a debate between John Owen and Joel Osteen.

How to Distinguish the Holy Spirit from the Serpent. Here is an excerpt from Sinclair Ferguson’s new book The Trinitarian Focus of John Owen.

3 Reasons Why God Ordains that Believers Should Struggle With Sin. God could simply remove our sinful nature entirely at the moment of our conversion, as He will do at the moment of our glorification, but He does not. So why not?

Spiritual Depression: The Dark Night of the Soul. R.C. Sproul writes that the dark night of the soul is a phenomenon that describes a malady that the greatest of Christians have suffered from time to time.

Compassion Without Compromise. Kevin DeYoung’s foreword to the book Compassion Without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth by Adam Barr and Ron Citlau.

Homosexuals in the Church: Keep Reading in Ephesians. The progressive wing of evangelicalism seems to be ramping up its demand that Bible-believing churches accept homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.

A Prayer for Those of Us with Loved Ones Impacted by Memory Loss. Here’s a wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith. I’d highly recommend that you sign up to receive his prayers each day. I’ve been profoundly impacted by Scotty through his writings, sermons and in two wonderful classes at Covenant Seminary. He continues to impact me each days with his prayers.

A Prayer for Accepting the Changes that Come with Aging – a wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith that I can relate to.

Russell Moore Having Fun at the Vatican.   (Holding a copy of Luther's Ninety-Five Theses

Russell Moore Having Fun at the Vatican recently.      (Holding a copy of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses)


R C Sproul and The World-Changing Power Of The Simplest Truth. David Murray writes “Sure, there are other Christian speakers and writers who are better-known, but none of them have managed to combine such geographical reach with such theological depth as Sproul has. He has a unique ability to teach the loftiest truths in an accessible manner.”

Left Behind Theology – A Critical Look. Bad theology always has bad implications. Dispensationalism is no different.

Does Jonathan Edwards Agree with N.T. Wright? In his ongoing efforts to come to terms with the language of “the righteousness of God” in Scripture, John Piper recently came across a pair of posts by Edwards scholar, and friend of Desiring God, Kyle Strobel. Piper wrote the below response to Strobel, and it was sent to him and offered the opportunity to respond. Read Piper’s article followed by Strobel’s reply.

Who Do You Say That I Am? Kevin DeYoung writes “The question is doubly crucial in our day because not every Jesus is the real Jesus. Almost no one is as popular in this country as Jesus. Hardly anyone would dare to say a bad word about him. Just look at what a super-fly friendly dude he is over there. But how many people know the real Jesus?”

What Does It Mean to Be Gospel-Centered? Check out this five minute video from John Piper.

The State of Theology: Sin Is Not Cosmic Treason. Stephen Nichols continues his analysis of the State of Theology survey results.

Listen to the recent lectures with Tim Keller from Reformed Theological Seminary.

10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Evangelicals. Warren Cole Smith is the associate publisher of World Magazine. He shares ten things he wished that everyone knew about Evangelicals.

IN THE NEWS:John Wycliffe Book

Books Save Florida State University Student’s Life During Shooting.

Immigration Reform, Yes; Executive Action, No. Russell Moore writes: “I disagree with President Barack Obama’s decision to act unilaterally on immigration policy. I am for immigration reform, for all sorts of reasons that I have outlined elsewhere. The system we have is incoherent and unjust. I have worked hard to try to see the system changed, and will continue to do so. It’s because of my support for immigrants and for immigration reform that I think President Obama’s executive actions are the wrong way to go.”

Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

I’ve been a long-time fan of Bill Cosby. I hope that that the current charges against him are not true. I thought that this cartoon from World Magazine accurately depicted the situation he is facing.


Michael Card’s Book on Hesed. My friend Michael Card reports, “The work on the hesed book has begun in earnest. Organized about 1500 pages of notes into 53 chapter headings. The best approach for me is not to look at each individual reference (about 250!) but to gather them by theme. The connections to the New Testament are more exciting than I ever imagined.”

Mom Enough Book. This new book, written by eight women, exposes the spiritual corruption behind competitive mothering, and explores how gospel grace is relevant for the daily trials and worries of motherhood. In the trenches, these moms have learned to redirect their hope and trust from the shifting sands of popular opinion to the unchanging all-sufficiency of God. Mom Enough: The Fearless Mother’s Heart and Hope, is a rich collection of gospel truth from Rachel Jankovic, Gloria Furman, Rachel Pieh Jones, Christine Hoover, Carolyn McCulley, Trillia Newbell, and Christina Fox. Download and begin reading Mom Enough free of charge in three digital formats.

George Whitefield: American’s Spiritual Founder. Ian Clary review’s Thomas S. Kidd’s new book on Whitefield.

Top Ten Books for Common Problems. David Murray gives some helpful recommendations.

Stephen Nichols Writes History for the Church. Stephen J. Nichols is a firm believer that every Mountain Man bookChristian should read church history, and he writes books toward that end.

“Mountain Man” Book. Almost everyone else from the Duck Dynasty television program has released a book, so why not “Mountain Man”? His book Keepin’ a Slow Profile was released recently.


Michael Card’s Favorite Michael Card Song. He has written over 400 of them. Which is his favorite? If you have attended one of the two Biblical Imagination Conferences hosted by Christ Church in Normal, Illinois you already know.

Trip Lee Brags on the King ~ Leveraging Platforms for the Glory of God.  

Trip Lee’s Unreleased Songs. Trip has ten songs that he didn’t include in his recent album Rise. He’s thinking about when and if to release some of them. How about a Rise Deluxe Edition?

U2’s Bono to Have Intensive Therapy After Bike Injury. Bono’s injuries were much more significant than originally thought and may delay their 2015 tour.


Did you see Channing Tatum play “Box of Lies” with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show?

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael


I’m Currently Reading41

Book Review: 41: A Portrait of My Faith by George W. Bush. Audiobook read by George W. Bush

Music Reviews:Goliath by Steve Taylor

Goliath – Steve Taylor and the Perfect FoilJohn Schlitt

The Christmas Project – John Schlitt


Oscar Predictions Update 11.24.14. My friend Jason indicates that a couple of new players have crashed the Oscar race. He never updates his annual Oscar predictions, but feels he needs to this year.

Best Picture
~ Selma
~ Unbroken

Both of these movies are becoming nearly sure shots.  Due to them not being released until the last week, critics were afraid to solidly place them in the race.  However, now that they’ve been seen, they’re hard to deny their contention.

Best Actor
David Oyelowo – Selma – he’s now considered a front runner with Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.  It will be hard for a well-done biopic on MLK – and one of his most important events to not grab this attention.

Best Director
Angelina Jolie – Unbroken – movie star turned director has an awfully great formula for winning picture or director.  See Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, Kevin Costner and most recently Ben Affleck.

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 11.24.2014

I love good quotes. This week we start a new feature in which I’ll list the favorite quotes that I see or hear each week.

Painfully, suffering is almost a prerequisite if we are going to be of much use to other people. It makes us far more compassionate. -Tim Keller

I’m guilty, filthy, and stained. But He became a curse, drank my cup and took my pain. -Lecrae

Most of us go through life worrying people will think too little of us. Paul worried people would think too much of him. -D.A. Carson

God invites us to come as we are, not to stay as we are. -Tim Keller

If prayer is supplemental, then it’s obvious that it is not fundamental to you. -Bob Smart

Patience is precisely what excellence requires. It’s difficult wherever the cult of immediate results dominates. -Michael Horton

If we can’t “love the sinner; hate the sin” then how can we relate to ourselves? Love who we are in Christ but still hate the sin remaining. -Tim Keller

I am going to judge my circumstances by Jesus’ love, not Jesus’ love by my circumstances. -Tim Keller

May our Thanksgiving lists be outrageously longer than our Christmas lists. -Scotty Smith

If we pick out which parts of the Bible we dislike, we actually have a god we’ve created. How can that god ever call you out on anything? -Tim Keller

When I hear a man preach, I like to see him act as if he were fighting bees! -Abraham Lincoln

There is not one piece of cosmic dust that is outside the scope of God’s sovereign providence. -R.C. Sproul

Don’t try so hard to be hip. When the Church finds out what is cool, it is not cool anymore. -Kevin DeYoung

A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. -John Maxwell

integrating faith and work
How Leaders Make It Right When They Blow It. Check out these five ways from Michael Hyatt.

Leaders are Risk-Takers. Dave Kraft writes that true leaders “…make decisions, they take reasonable and healthy risks without over-analyzing, procrastinating or being frozen with the fear of failure.”

He Really Meant It. Here’s a good devotional about what it means to be a servant leader.

How to Tell If You’re An Insecure Leader. Gary Nieuwhof offers five signs you’re an insecure leader.

Leadership Lessons from Job. John Maxwell discusses three important leadership lessons that we can learn from Job, from his new book Learning from the Giants.

John Maxwell Discusses What “Average” Means and What You Need to Do To Be Above Average in this Minute with Maxwell.

A “Theology of Work” in 12 Bullet Points. I found these condensed essential elements of work to be helpful.

The Surprising Key that Opens the Gift of Work. Keri Wyatt Kent writes that “We will work better, smarter and more productively if we make time for rest. Rest is the key that opens the gift of work.”

Students: Do You Know Where You’re Headed When You Start Working? Dianne Paddison writes “The sooner you start thinking critically about your professional future, the more you can do to point yourself in the right direction while you’re still in school.”

No, You Are Not Running Late. You Are Rude and Inconsiderate! Tim Challies writes “So by all means, let’s plan to be on time, and let’s live orderly lives. But let’s be slow to stand in judgment of those who show up at a time we deem inappropriate.”

Five Ways to be a Christian in the Workplace (and Not Freak Out Human Resources). David Rupert offers these helpful tips.

How to Stay Positive Consistently (Even When You Don’t Fell Like It). Here’s the latest podcast from Andy Andrews.

The One Thing That Separates the Successful from the Unsuccessful. Michael Hyatt says it is investing in the best training he can get his my hands on. It has been how he has been able to consistently grow both his leadership and his business.

How To Get Things Done: Maintaining the System. Tim Challies continues his helpful series on productivity.

How the Gospel changes networking. Christians believe that the Gospel changes everything. No aspect of our lives is to be untouched by the grace of God and so to be done for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31). So how does the Gospel change networking?

Resolve to Be a Lifelong Learner. David Mathis of Desiring God gives us five principles of a lifelong learning.

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

What’s Best Next Book Club

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

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we look at Chapter 23: Productivity in Organizations and Society

God at Work Book Club

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr. God at Work

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 5: Your Calling as a Worker.



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