Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 Movie Review ~ The Equalizer, rated R

 

~ THIS AND THAT ~

PROBING QUESTIONS:

SPORTS:

MUSIC:

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

LISTEN, WATCH, READ, CONSIDER, PRAY:

IN THE NEWS:

BOOKS:

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

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

Beyond the Ark header

Doug Michael cartoon

Visions of Vocation Book Club Visions of Vocation

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

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

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

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

Quotables:

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

 Faith-and-Work

 Quotables:

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

 INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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

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

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

The Gospel at WorkThe Gospel at Work Book Club

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

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

CHAPTER 7 HOW DO I HANDLE DIFFICULT BOSSES AND COWORKERS?

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

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

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

 

R.C. Quote

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 37 years, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 50 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and Colossians 3:23 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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