Last weekend we celebrated our birthdays with a long weekend at beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin, having often vacationed in Hayward growing up and having enjoyed a few vacations in Door County more recently. We had visited Lake Geneva a few times over the past decade, with this time being the first time we had spent two nights (though one more night would have been perfect!). We stayed at the Mill Creek Hotel for the second time. It is a 33 room boutique suite hotel, which is located perfectly in the heart of the shopping (about a hundred shops) and restaurant district near the Riviera Docks.
The center of Lake Geneva is Geneva Lake, a deep (140 feet at the deepest) clear water lake which is surrounded by beautiful homes (many dating back to the early 20th century when many business leaders from Chicago built homes at the lake). A walking path is available which allows you to make the full 21 mile walk around the lake, or as much of it as you would like.
There are about a thousand piers on the lake, and on a busy summer day there will be that many boats on the lake. We experienced two days of great weather, and since it was after Labor Day, the lake was far less crowded. We would recommend you take one of the many different boat cruises that depart several times a day from the Riviera Docks. The Riviera once featured big bands and singers such as Louis Armstrong and a young Frank Sinatra, and now is a popular destination for weddings. We enjoyed meals at Popeye’s and Scuttlebutts just across Wrigley Avenue from the lake. We also had some great pizza at the Next Door Pub, watching the Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers just an hour away from Lake Geneva.
If you’ve never checked out Lake Geneva, we highly recommend the three hour and fifteen minute drive. You can take in a movie at the Showboat Theatre, play golf, take long walks or eat at any number of excellent restaurants as you enjoy the beauty. You won’t regret it!
Last weekend we celebrated Tammy’s birthday. In fact we celebrated both of our birthdays with a long weekend trip to one of our favorite places – Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. As I thought about Tammy’s birthday, I was again reminded how blessed I am to be her husband. She is my Proverbs 31 woman.
Initially, the Lord used Tammy to help draw me to Him. I was raised Roman Catholic and went to church every Sunday, but it made no difference in my life. When we met she was focused on her career in Accounting, with goals of achieving her CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation and becoming a partner in an Accounting firm. But the Lord had other plans for her. Early in our marriage she became seriously ill and her life changed into one of service. Over the past 30 years, she has served as a Hospice volunteer, at a Catholic worker house, a soup kitchen (12 years), as the treasurer at our church (18 plus years), and will soon begin her next journey of service as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer. I appreciate so many things about Tammy, but her spirit of service is amazing. Thank you Lord for Tammy!
What makes our blog different from all of the others out there? I see four components to what we hope to do each week. We aim to:
Look at art (music, movies, and books) from a Christian worldview.
- Contemplate culture (news, theology) and share important articles with you.
- Consider how to integrate faith and work.
- Share articles, videos and cartoons that will make you smile.
~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~
Book Review ~
- Gifted Hands 20th Anniversary Edition. The Ben Carson Story
- The Marks of a Spiritual Leader by John Piper
- If I Stay
- The Trip
Quotable: My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior. -John Newton
~ THIS AND THAT ~
IN THE NEWS –
- Did you see the recent video of Victoria Osteen indicating that we worship God for us? Ligon Duncan uses that to start a discussion of worship here in his article titled “Victoria Osteen, the glory of God and Reformed Worship” http://ligonduncan.com/victoria-osteen-the-glory-of-god-and-reformed-worship/
- Albert Mohler writes on the Osteens in his article “The Osteen Predicament — Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel” You can read it here: http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/09/03/the-osteen-predicament-mere-happiness-cannot-bear-the-weight-of-the-gospel/
- Sadie Robertson, daughter of Willie and Korie from Duck Dynasty, will be part of the Dancing with the Stars line-up: http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/04/showbiz/tv/dancing-with-the-stars-season-19-cast/index.html?hpt=hp_c3
- Through September, Reformation Trust Publishing is offering for FREE Daniel Hyde’s e-book Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims. To find out more, go to http://www.ligonier.org/blog/welcome-reformed-church-free-ebook/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=ligonierministriesblog
- The latest to offer their recommendation for a novel that every Christian should consider reading is Andrew Peterson. His recommendation Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. Read Justin Taylor’s article.
- David Murray reviews the new book From the Mouth of God by Sinclair Ferguson. Read his review.
- Leland Ryken served as professor of English at Wheaton College for more than 43 years. Check out the novel he suggests that every Christian should consider reading.
- Check out these book recommendations from Jon Bloom of Desiring God. He also gives a plug to audiobooks, which I love, as well: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/some-books-to-feed-your-brain
- Banner of Truth has released another ten e-books, bringing their total to twenty. Check out all of them here: http://banneroftruth.org/us/store/product-tag/ebooks/
- The latest book from the Duck Commander family is from Sadie Robertson. Her book Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Values will be released on October 28.
- And not to be outdone, Robertson brother Alan will release his first book A New Season: A Robertson Family Love Story of Brokenness and Redemption on January 6.
PROBING QUESTIONS –
- Some of us may face the issue of being invited to the wedding of a gay friend. Should we attend? Read this article from Matthew Hosler for his thoughts on the question: http://thegospelcoalition.org//article/should-i-attend-a-same-sex-wedding
- Is it sinful for unmarried couples to make out? Check out Andy Naselli’s post here: http://andynaselli.com/is-it-sinful-for-unmarried-couples-to-make-out
- Did you know that the ninth commandment is about much more than lying? Read Kevin DeYoung’s article here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/09/04/the-ninth-commandment-is-about-much-more-than-lying/
- How do you find peace when dealing with death? On this week’s podcast, Andy Andrews addresses a listener’s question.
- Are those who have never heard of Christ going to hell? R.C. Sproul writes that considering this question is one of the most emotionally laden questions that a Christian can ever be asked. Nothing is more terrifying or more awful to contemplate than that of any human being going to hell. http://www.ligonier.org/blog/are-those-who-have-never-heard-christ-going-hell/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=ligonierministriesblog
- Here are a few upcoming music releases that I’m excited about:
- Michael W. Smith Christmas album – September 30
- Peter Furler Christmas, featuring David Ian – October 7
- Rise by Trip Lee – October 28
- Love Ran Red by Chris Tomlin
- U2, my favorite band, surprised everyone and released a brand new album Songs of Innocence, their first since 2009, free on iTunes on September 9. Wow! Read all about it here: http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/6244130/u2-songs-of-innocence-free-album-apple-itunes
- Kevin Trax writes that “Evangelicals were taken aback this summer by popular Christian contemporary musician Michael Gungor’s denial of the historicity of several Old Testament narratives. This came just weeks after Jars of Clay’s lead singer, Dan Haseltine, took to Twitter to debate the merits of same-sex marriage. Both situations provoked celebration from the left and consternation from the right. Why such a fuss over Christian musicians’ theology and ethics?” Read his article “Gungor, Questions, and the Doubters Among Us”.
- Here’s a fun little article on the top ten Contemporary Christian songs that also work as parodies of Christian songs. The bad thing is, with the exception of the Carmen song, I had all ten. Read the article here: http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/2014/08/26/top-10-christian-songs-that-also-work-as-parodies-of-christian-songs
- Lecrae’s highly anticipated Anomaly, which was released on September 8, has been streaming free in its entirety on iTunes radio.
ARTICLES OF INTEREST –
- The 2015 Gospel Coalition National Conference will be held in Orlando April 13-15. The theme is “Coming Home: New Heaven & New Earth” Speakers include Tim Keller, John Piper, D.A. Carson, Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, Randy Alcorn, Trip Lee and dozens more. To find out more and register go to: http://2015.thegospelcoalition.org/
- We all have things, probably a number of things, that we are concerned or fearful of. Here’s a wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith on trusting God with our fears: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/2014/09/04/a-prayer-for-trusting-god-with-our-fears/
- John Maxwell talks about the “word of the day” each day in a short video. On this day, the word was “grace”. Check out what Maxwell says about grace here: http://johnmaxwellteam.com/grace-2/
- Kevin DeYoung writes that “You may be familiar with the provocative idea from Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) that the true test of gospel preaching is whether people mistake your gospel for antinomianism. Here, for example, is the Doctor preaching from Romans 6 on the charge “shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2014/08/29/lloyd-jones-on-scandalous-grace-that-isnt-cheap/
- Tim Challies writes “Now is the time to renew our commitment to a life of self-control, a life that is disciplined toward godliness. It is time to renew our commitment to their sheer goodness, and their plain value. There is no better time than right now.” Read his article “The Lost Virtue of Self-Control”.
- Read this article from Wesley J. Smith about how the emphasis is shifting from “Pro-Choice” to Pro-Abortion: http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2014/08/from-pro-choice-to-pro-abortion
JOHN PIPER AND DESIRING GOD –
- John Piper writes about doing a task in the strength of another using the acronym A.P.T.A.T in this article titled “How to Find Strength in the Strength of God”. Read it here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/how-to-find-strength-in-the-strength-of-god
- Marshall Segall of Desiring God writes: “He who began a good work in you — saving you and beginning to make you more like Jesus — he will complete that work.” Read his article “Love That Will Complete You” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/love-that-will-complete-you
LIGONIER MINISTRIES –
- Ligonier Ministries has released a new 12-part teaching series, Only Two Religions from Dr. Peter Jones which examines the worldview and fundamental religious convictions that drive modern culture. He demonstrates that in the final analysis, there can be only two religions—worship of the Creator or worship of creation. To find out more go to: http://www.ligonier.org/store/only-two-religions-dvd/
- Rosaria Butterfield will be speaking at the Ligonier National Conference Pre-Conference. When she spoke at Wheaton College there were protesters. She is a former lesbian tenured professor in feminist studies at Syracuse University. Read about the protest and listen to her chapel address at Wheaton here: http://www.dennyburk.com/wheaton-students-protest-rosaria-butterfield/
- Ligonier Ministries has released a new course from Sinclair Ferguson in their Ligonier Connect curriculum on Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. In the course, Dr. Ferguson paints a vivid picture of the disciples’ final moments with their Savior. Carefully walking through John 13–17, Dr. Ferguson reminds us of the centrality of Christ in all of life. Read more here: https://connect.ligonier.org/school/catalog/course/jesus-farewell-discourse/
- Dr. Keith Mathison of Reformation Bible College writes this article about the year since his wife was diagnosed with cancer
- Dr. Steven Lawson writes that there are five questions we should ask to reveal God’s way to us when we read the Bible. Read what they are in his article here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/5-questions-ask-when-reading-bible/
TO MAKE YOU SMILE –
- Did you see Jimmy Fallon and Adam Levine play the wheel of music impressions recently on The Tonight Show? If not, check it out here: http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/segments/11056
- Check out this video of golfer Rory McElroy taking on a trash-talking golfing machine: https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=rory+mcilroy+vs.+the+machine
Visions of Vocation Book Club Week 2
Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we highlighted from our reading for the second week of our book club:
- The Last Butterfly is about moral imagination, about learning to see with the heart in the context of one’s calling, right in the middle of the push and shove of life, full as it is of complex responsibilities.
- Our propensity to deceive ourselves about our place and purpose makes it so very difficult to see the truth of our lives, to understand the meaning of our moment in history and our responsibility to it.
- The importance of The Last Butterfly is that it asks the viewer this probing question: In the context of one’s calling, how does one learn to see with the eyes of the heart, to see oneself as responsible for the way the world is and isn’t?
- In a captivating though sobering chapter, “The Duties of Law-Abiding Citizens,” she described Eichmann as reading his world through this lens: This was the way things were, this was the new law of the land, based on the Führer’s order; whatever he did he did, as far as he could see, as a law-abiding citizen. He did his duty, as he told the police and the court over and over again; he not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law.
- The distinction mattered to Eichmann. In the pharisaism of his heart, he understood his employment as a public vocation with professional responsibilities, so that it was important to not only do one’s duty but to obey the law—even if the law was one and the same with the fatally flawed Führer himself.
- Arendt painstakingly set forth the historical details of the Nazi vision in general, and Eichmann’s role in particular, always returning to the question, “Why didn’t he see these people as neighbors? What perversion of law and order made it possible to go to work day by day, year after year, making choices with horrific consequences, and to see it all as “my duty”?
- Also perplexed by Eichmann and the court, she tried to find language sufficient to communicate the moral meaning of his actions, and offered the word thoughtlessness—he did not think things through, he was not thoughtful about what he did and what it meant. In the narrowness of his vision of neighbor, of citizen, of employee, he failed to follow through on the moral implications of his beliefs and behavior.
- Eichmann’s failure to see truthfully enabled him, by just doing his job, to oversee Theresienstadt, the “city of the Jews” in The Last Butterfly. The film is what we call historical fiction, but Eichmann’s role was far from fictional. Blind to the meaning of who he was and what it meant, he made sure that the trains left on time for Auschwitz, going to bed at night certain that “with the killing of Jews I had nothing to do.”
- But the harsh truth is that the twentieth century produced other holocausts, some more terrifying than that of Nazis, and to own that history is part of our human responsibility even in the midst of our ordinary lives in ordinary places.
- Over time Gary decided to leave the Department of Justice to find a way to address injustices small and large wherever they might be found. If in the Philippines it was child prostitution, in India it was child slavery. And so three years after the Rwandan genocide, the International Justice Mission was formed. Now, fifteen years later, IJM has developed networks of attorneys, investigators and trauma social workers in nations on every continent.
- Two stories, one century: Eichmann and Haugen. Where one did not see a neighbor in need, the other understood that moral, political and social injustice is in fact always one more window into a neighbor’s need. The question that searches the deepest places is this: Why did Gary feel responsible? He had eyes to see that he was in fact responsible to do something, because someone had to say no. And he found a way in the context of his calling to do just that.
- Over the years I have read and reread Percy’s work, dwelling in his vision of learning and life. He is, after all, the one who wrote that “it is possible to get all A’s and still flunk life.”
- An observation about the human condition from his novel The Second Coming, the second of two novels about Will Barrett, his words are a warning about the temptation that lurks around the corner of everyone’s heart—to believe that competence can be separated from character, that excellence can be defined in merely academic terms without a corresponding concern for the kind of people we are. Do we have eyes to see what is really important? What really matters?
- Along the way, principally in conversations with good friends, he was drawn to mere Christianity, to the gospel of the kingdom which was strange good news for someone like him who longed for something to believe about life and the world that could make sense of his life in the world.
- What the literati saw in Percy’s work was his unflinching willingness to look at sorrow and anguish and not blink. Eyes that see, yes—but what do we see? He was not a romantic—that was not a possibility. Rather he was a realist to the core. What the reviewers missed was his deeply rooted commitment to seeing human beings as “pilgrims in the ruins,” that we are glories and shames at the same time.
- “But I always want some hint of hope in my writing.” What did he mean? And why did it matter?
- Honest readers of Percy’s work acknowledge that he was painstakingly honest about the sorrows that are ours as human beings, and his hints of hope were never more than that.
- There is one great question in his work: “Knowing what you know about yourself and the world, what are you going to do?”
- Attentive as he was to life, and to his life, Percy was writing about the challenge of being alive in the modern world. So much to see, so much to hear, so much to know—what will we do?
- That is the most difficult dilemma for thoughtful, serious human beings: What will you do with what you know?
- If most of Europe was Eichmann-like, offering “the obedience of corpses” in thousands of terribly ordinary ways, there were exceptions. In every nation there are people who choose otherwise, who have eyes to see that something is wrong and that they can do something about it.
- Taken together they are some of the best stories in the whole of history, reminding all of us what it means to be a neighbor, what it means to have eyes that see.
- In thousands of important and different ways, each is a story formed by the asking and answering of the question, knowing what I know, what will I do?
- Always and everywhere, this is our challenge as human beings. Can we know and love the world at the very same time? Knowing its glories and shames, can we still choose to love what we know? Is there any task more difficult than that?
- Knowing what I know about the way the world is, what am I going to do? A mime in Europe had to answer, as did the Nazi bureaucrats, as did the Justice Department lawyer, as do all of us. Percy’s question echoes through the heart of every human being, and it is especially poignant for those coming out of the starting blocks of early adulthood with a life of knowing and doing on the horizon. The question requires an answer if we are going be human.
Next week we’ll look at chapter 3. Won’t you join us?
Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?
- How then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work by Hugh Whelchel
This week we begin a new book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. This week we cover the material in the book through the first chapter. Click here to read the passages I highlighted in CHAPTER 1.
- What’s Best Next Series – Part 6
We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from CHAPTER 12: Finding Your Life Calling (Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page).
- You can also read excerpts from The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert and excerpts from our past book club – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell.
Integrating Faith and Work
- NEW Book Review ~ The Marks of a Spiritual Leader by John Piper
- In her article “This was not My Plan”, Courtney Reissig writes that “I’m okay with that possibility because I see the expansive work of redemption that God is doing through all of his people and through all of their work.” Read her article here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/this-was-not-my-plan
- Related to the above article is “Work Hard, Work Smart, and Trust the Lord” from Daniel Reissig. Read it here: http://thegospelcoalition.org//article/work-hard-work-smart-and-trust-the-lord
- Recently some members of the Patheos Faith and Work Channel staff attended the Washington Institute’s “Come and See” Vocation Conference. There were many thought-provoking talks and discussions, and the “MISSION:WORK” blog is starting to report in on them. Check out the first four here.
- In this 11th installment in the “Love at Work” series, John Kyle, the author shares two concerns that we should be aware of at work – addressing the sin in our own hearts and that we are not to delight in the sin of others. Read this article entitled “The Subtle Sins of the Workplace”.
- Dr. Gene Veith writes “Do you want to know how Christians can influence the culture? How to have a strong family? Do you want to know the meaning of your life? Do you want to know how authority works? Then attend to the Reformation doctrine of vocation.” Read his article “Authority in Vocation” here http://www.ligonier.org/blog/authority-in-vocation/
- It’s often said that people don’t quit their jobs, they quit their bosses. In many cases, employee turnover is a function of poor leadership rather than the result of a mismatch between the employee and the company. Consciously or unconsciously, people ask three questions about a leader when determining how far and for how long they will follow him/her. See what the three questions are in this article “Should I Stay or Should I Go” from the John Maxwell Company.
- Each workday, John Maxwell sends out a word of the day – last week one of the words was “Work”. Check out his short video and sign up to receive his daily “A Minute with Maxwell” http://johnmaxwellteam.com/work.
- Here are twenty practical principles from Proverbs to motivate you to work hard and avoid laziness. Read this article titled “Work Hard and Don’t Be Lazy” from John MacArthur: http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A373/Work-Hard-and-Dont-Be-Lazy
- Not ready financially for retirement? This infographic on “Reconsidering Retirement” reflects that you not alone.
- Here are four truths not covered in your job orientation, but important to understanding your vocation: http://thecripplegate.com/labor-daze-4-truths-not-covered-in-job-orientation/
- This article states that we should see work as a blessing, an opportunity, a way to share and show our God-given talents, a means to a greater end, a God-given example to follow rather than a curse to be avoided. Read “Work and Purpose: Labor as God’s Blessing” by Alan Dowd here: http://byfaithonline.com/work-and-purpose/
- Katherine Leary Alsdorf, Founder & Director Emeritus at Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Center for Faith and Work writes “Let’s ask ourselves the question on a regular basis. What do we do with the gifts God’s given us? What do we do in our little corner of this fallen world to join in God’s plan for its redemption? How do we pray for help in our work? How do we seek to understand the lessons God is trying to teach us? If work is this crucial a part of God’s design for us, we need to learn all we can about God’s perspective on it.” Read her article “Stop Apologizing for Caring What You Do”.
- Here is the first article in a new series from Dr. Timothy Ewest on five themes which have been historically present in the lives of God’s people as they seek to live out their biblically-based faith in the workplace.