Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Give Thanks!

Give thanks~ THIS AND THAT ~

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

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)

THEOLOGY:

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.

BOOKS:

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.

MUSIC:

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.

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

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

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

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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Movie Review ~ The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
** ½

This film is based on the first part of Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, the final book in her best-selling Hunger Games trilogy. The film corresponding to the second part of the book will be released in 2015. Our Friday night Movie Club (including a few additional honorary members) was really looking forward to this film (much as we did with each Harry Potter film). We purchased tickets in advance, and arrived in the theatre about 45 minutes before show time, only to find several excited patrons already in there ahead of us. It was a very festive atmosphere.

As the film starts, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) and her mother are safe, far below ground in a bunker in District 13. However, Katniss’ true love Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is being held as a propaganda tool by the Capitol’s evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland). We see an increasingly thinner and paler Peeta shows up on television pleading for peace in “interviews” led by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci).

Image consultant Plutarch (played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, to whom the film is dedicated) tells district President Coin (Julianne Moore) that Katniss is needed as the Mockingjay, to rally the district against the capitol. Katniss initially rejects the idea, but after seeing the death and destruction in her District 12, she agrees, but adds her own conditions. Among those conditions are that Peeta (who is now seen as an enemy) is rescued and pardoned.

President Coin then uses Katniss to film videos, much like President Snow uses Peeta. Katniss is in love with Peeta, though it is obvious that Gale (Liam Hemsworth) also loves her.

Woody Harrelson returns as now sober Haymitch (thanks to the prohibition as he calls it), and Elizabeth Banks brings some comic relief as Effie.

The film is bleak, the darkest installment yet of the three films released to date. It seemed to drag, much like Interstellar did, and at 123 minutes could have been edited more effectively, or better yet, make just one film from the final book, rather than stretching it into two.

The film features a strong cast, led by Lawrence. The story does not move forward too much in this film, but it sets us up for next year’s finale.


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Coram Deo 11.18.14

Courtesy of Christianity Today

Courtesy of Christianity Today

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS:

U2 will not be on The Tonight Show this week. The band announced on their website “It looks like we will have to do our Tonight Show residency another time – we’re one man down. Bono has injured his arm in a cycling spill in Central Park and requires some surgery to repair it. We’re sure he’ll make a full recovery soon, so we’ll be back! Much thanks to Jimmy Fallon and everyone at the show for their understanding.”

Taveras and the Avoidable Tragedy. Bernie Miklasz of the St. Lous Post Dispatch writes about the death of St. Louis Cardinal right fielder Oscar Taveras after hearing the news that Taveras was drunk when he crashed his car killing himself and his girlfriend.

A Muckraking Magazine Creates a Stir Among Evangelical Christians. The New York Times writes an article on World Magazine.

Moody’s Founder’s Week, February 2-6, 2015. Speakers include Voddie Baucham and Erwin Lutzer. Musicians include Sara Groves and Rend Collective.

Voddie Baucham announces that he is leaving his church to be president of African Christian University. Read his announcement to his church.

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

Sexual Orientation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Dr. Albert Mohler writes “As I explained in my address, I had previously denied the existence of sexual orientation. I, along with many other evangelicals, did so because we did not want to accept the sexual identity structure that so often goes with sexual orientation. I still reject that notion of sexual identity. But I repented of denying the existence of sexual orientation because denying it was deeply confusing to people struggling with same-sex attraction.”

On Purity and Homosexuality. Randy Alcorn writes “Two weeks ago our EPM staff member Julia Stager posted her first video on my blog: “Superheroes, Heresies and the God-man.” We got a terrific response from this video, and those still coming will be every bit as good! Our plan is to highlight another of Julia’s videos every other week. Julia’s featured video today is on the critical topic of purity and homosexuality.”

Not That Kind of Homosexuality? Kevin DeYoung writesThere is simply no positive case for homosexual practice in the Bible and no historical background that will allow us to set aside what has been the plain reading of Scripture for twenty centuries. The only way to think the Bible is talking about every other kind of homosexuality except the kind our culture wants to affirm is to be less than honest with the texts or less than honest with ourselves.”

Hospitality, Sacrifice, and Delight in God. Good article from Jen Pollock Michel of Desiring God on hospitality.

Hurdles of Comparison and Perfectionism for Women. Matt Chandler answers questions in this episode of Ask TVC from his A Beautiful Design series.

12 Struggles Singles Face. David Murray writes “When we hear the word “single” we usually think of one kind of single – someone maybe 25-50 who has not married. But there are other kinds of singles: widows, single parents, divorcees, those who suffer with same-sex attraction, and even those who are in loveless marriages – perhaps the most painful singleness of all. But for all singles, there are twelve struggles that must be faced at different stages and to different degrees”.

John Piper and Mark Driscoll: Lessons Not Learned? A thought-provoking article from Dan Phillips.

Francis Chan Asks “Are You Walking with God?” Janet Denison writes that was Francis Chan’s message for a group of Christian leaders in Dallas recently.

Barbershop Grief ~ This post from Thabiti Anyabwile has three points: He is full of grief. He is so tired of guns. He wants Jesus to come quickly.

Six Truths about Sickness. Brian G. Najapfour writes “You will experience sickness at some point in your life. You might have a bad cold, fever, incurable disease, chronic ailment, or terminal illness like cancer. And since sickness is a part of our existence, understanding it properly is of great importance. Therefore, in this post we will examine what the Bible teaches about illness.”

What Does “Amen” Mean? R. C. Sproul writes that Jesus says “amen” to indicate truth; we say it to receive that truth and to submit to it.

John Macarthur On Helps And Hindrances To Joy. In a sermon on Rejoice Always (1 Thess. 5:16), John Macarthur listed eight sources of joy and then six thieves of joy. David Murray summarizes them for us. John MacArthur Answers Questions Via Twitter. Recently, John MacArthur dusted his Twitter account off, and opened it up for business. Part of that was hosting a Q&A session in real time.

The State of Theology: The Taming of God. Stephen Nichols continues his analysis of the recent “State of Theology” survey that Ligonier Ministries commissioned He states “One of the things the survey reveals is a significant confusion and disconnect when it comes to thinking about God.”

Lay Aside the Weight of “I’ll Never Change” by Jon Bloom. He writes “We all must come to terms with the way we are. But there are two ways we must do this. The first is to cultivate contentment with who God designed us to be, which results in a wonderful liberation from trying to be someone we’re not. The second is to lay aside the burdensome weight of the fatalistic resignation that we’ll never be any different than what we are, which results in an enslavement to our sin-infused predilections.”

The Seven Deadly Sins in a Digital Age: An Introduction. A helpful new series by W. Bradford Littlejohn. Check out the following article in the series on lust.

9 Steps to Putting That Sin to Death. Tim Challies continues his series on John Owen’s classic book Overcoming Sin and Temptation.

On the Wrong Side of History? Carson, Keller, and Piper Tackle a Common Objection. The wrong-side-of-history objection “presupposes a certain view of history, an inevitability of certain social trends that are going that way no matter what we do,” Don Carson explains in a new roundtable video with Tim Keller and John Piper. “But if we look at history another way—space and time are going to unravel as the Lord of history brings all things to pass—you bet I want to be on the right side of history.” As Keller puts it, “Since Jesus Christ is coming again, the only way to be on the right side of history is to belong to him.”

A Prayer for Not Being First. Scotty Smith offers a wonderful prayer for us to be convicted and freed from the ways we love to be first.

MOVIES AND MUSIC:

Back from Death’s Door: ‘Hoovey’ a Must See Movie. In this film, when 16-year-old “Hoovey” of Normal, Ill., collapses on the basketball court, doctors discover a life-threatening brain tumor that could derail all of his hopes and dreams. After high-risk surgery he must relearn life’s fundamentals: walking, reading, even seeing clearly.

World Magazine’s review of the acclaimed new film about Stephen Hawking entitled, “The Theory of Everything”.  

Matt Damon to return as Jason Bourne. Actor Matt Damon confirmed that he will return to the role of Jason Bourne in 2016 after stepping out of the spotlight for the fourth installment of the popular action series.

Lecrae Delivers ‘Dirty Water’ Lyrics for ’16 Bars’. Exclusive video from Boom Box.

BOOKS:

New Piper BookJohn Piper releases a new book of Advent devotionals. John Piper’s first Advent devotional book has been so well received these last two years that Desiring God has partnered with Crossway Books to produce a new set of meditations for this December: The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent. These 25 short readings begin December 1 and lead us into Christmas Day in hopes of keeping Jesus at the center of our season. The new book is now available for purchase in paperback and Kindle, as well as free of charge in PDF.

4 Benefits of Our Adoption. Sinclair Ferguson offers this excerpt from his new book The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen. Look for a review in the coming weeks. I’m looking forward to reading this book!

Amazon Editors Pick their Top 100 Books of 2014. 

Amazon 2014 Best Books of the Year: The Top 100 in Print Format (NOTE: Lila: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson is at #87)

The Fallibility of the Foundling’s Savior: Marilynne Robinson’s Lila and Jonathan Edwards. John Piper writes “Pulitzer Prize winning novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson writes fiction and non-fiction with complexity and narrative skill, because the thinkers who have moved her most deeply “did some justice to the complexity of things” and spoke of salvation as “a revolution of consciousness that opened on an overwhelming sense of the beautiful” — people like John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards. In other words, she’s complex, because reality is. And she pursues skilled craftsmanship, because reality is beautiful. She just published her fourth novel, Lila, and an essay about Jonathan Edwards in Humanities: Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both publications carry a similar message about the unacceptability of hell, and the good effects of rejecting it, and the ultimate mystery — and wonder — of human life.

TO MAKE YOU CHUCKLE:

I enjoyed this recent tweet: “I hereby grant full amnesty to all Romulan ships entering the Neutral Zone.”

I enjoyed this recent tweet: “I hereby grant full amnesty to all Romulan ships entering the Neutral Zone.”

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~Eric Metaxas book - Miracles

Book Review: Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life by Eric Metaxas

I’m Currently Reading

~ QUOTES ~

    • Though sin often brings immediate pleasure, it gives no lasting joy. -R.C. Sproul
    • To believe the gospel is to stop giving God bit parts in our story, and to begin celebrating our place in His story. -Scotty Smith
    • If Jesus rose from the dead you have to accept all He said; if he didn’t then why worry about any of what he said? -Tim Keller
    • Live like someone died for you. -Lecrae

Doug Michael Cartoon
Faith-and-Work
Quotable

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes. -Chuck Swindoll Faith and Work

Integrating Faith and Work:  Connecting Sunday to Monday

Your Relationships Play an Essential Role in Biblical Flourishing. Hugh Welchel writes that God designed humans to have four types of healthy relationships, all of which were broken at the Fall.

The Price and Payoff of Leadership. Dave Kraft writes “So fellow leader. Hang in there. Don’t quit because of the price. He (Jesus) didn’t quit when the price was high!

A Christian Tightrope Walker? David Murray writes “Is tightrope-walking a legitimate Christian vocation? Does repeatedly mentioning God sanctify whatever job we do? Or are there certain vocations that Christians should not pursue? If so, are there biblical guidelines for helping us to decide which jobs are legitimate for a Christian? I believe there are four such guidelines, and I’d like to measure Wallenda’s chosen vocation against them.”

Elisha: Give Your Best Wherever God Puts You. John Maxwell writes “If you are willing to do small things in the service of God, and do them with excellence, God will give you opportunities to do bigger things for Him when you are ready.”

My Three Seasons of Faith and Work: How farmers, scientists, teachers, doctors, and a furnace repair man taught Matt Woodley to see all callings as holy.

Don’t Waste Your Two Most Productive Hours. ‘Each morning we get a brief window of time during which we’re most mentally capable of getting stuff done’ said behavioral scientist Dan Ariely in a recent Ask Me Anything on Reddit. And yet most of us waste that time.

Did I Waste My Most Productive Hours? Aimee Byrd writes “The article (referenced above), reports on the statement by behavioral scientist Dan Ariely that our two most potentially productive hours are the two hours after we are fully awake. This is when we supposedly have the best mental capacity to get things done. The first thing I wonder is what qualifies as “fully awake”?

The Five Components of Effective Delegation. Matt Perman writes “How do you delegate in a way that gets the tasks done and builds people up in the process? You do this by communicating five things.”

6 Strategies to Sleep Soundly, Wake Rested, and Accomplish More. Michael Hyatt shares six strategies for getting more and better sleep starting tonight.

The Heart of Our Message. Bob Chapman writes “When you focus on people as people, instead of just ‘head count,’ it makes a difference. Not just in your business, but in a very real way in people’s everyday lives.”

Is Career Success a Zero Sum Game? Dr. David Leonard, in writing about the film Nightcrawler, states: “But the film also reminded me of a helpful lesson about work and relationships that is essential for Christians to grasp: your colleagues are not your competition; nor are your clients disposable contributors to your bottom line. They are people of value, within your sphere of influence, whom you have the opportunity to serve.”

Don’t Bother With Goals…..Unless. In this “Tuesday Tip”, Dr. Alan Zimmerman looks at a few of the smaller but nonetheless important strategies you can use to move you along the path of becoming a success.”

Calling: A Biblical Perspective – Free E-Book. Calling, or vocation, is the single most popular topic in the theology of work. When people ponder how their faith relates to their work, their first question is often, “What kind of work is God calling me to?”

Work for God: Called Out of the Ministry. Will Ratliff writes “God cares infinitely more about my character than my career choices. This seems to be a recurring life lesson for me.”

Most of the Work of Ministry Is Done by Christians Who Work Secular Jobs. Jon Bloom writes “Most Christians struggle at some point with the sense that ministry jobs are just more sacred than other jobs. You can see this reflected in our terminology: we tend to call non-ministry jobs “secular jobs.” It can be hard not to see them as “unspiritual” or “less spiritual” jobs.  But God draws no such distinctions.”

How To Get Things Done: Taming the Email Beast. Tim Challies continues with his series on productivity.

Why Everything Is Awesome When You’re Leading a Team. Michael Hyatt writes “The benefits of a team are probably endless. But depending on the type of team you want to build, here are four new possibilities for your business.”

What Manufacturing Teaches Us about the Dignity of Work. Dr. Anne Bradley writes that all work is valuable. “We were designed to reflect the creativity of the One who designed and brought us into being. We need to be proactive about affirming the dignity of others in their work, just as we need to possess a balanced, honest understanding of our own value in society and to our God.”

What is a Good Job? Hugh Whelchel writes: “A good job is one where God allows us to bring purpose and meaning into the work he has called us to do, understanding there is inherent value in that work itself because it is important to God. This is true whether we are a dishwasher or a CEO, a stay-at-home mom, or the pastor of a mega church.”

Being a Strong Leader without Being an Abusive Leader. Dave Kraft writes “Strong leadership doesn’t have to become abusive and arrogant; but, sadly, that’s what sometimes occurs. Let’s all strive for, and grow in, strong and humble leadership.”

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

Matthew through Acts – Theology of Work Bible Commentary, volume 4 Published. On October 24, 2014, the Theology of Work Bible Commentary (Volume 4: Matthew-Acts) was released in print for the first time. The entire commentary is currently available for free at www.theologyofwork.org

 Quotes:

Our prayers are included among God’s providential plan for the destiny of His world. -R.C. Sproul

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer (from The Cost of Discipleship)

 Success isn’t what you did compared to others. It’s what you did compared to what you were supposed to do. -Lecrae

 Everybody you see and talk to today is dealing with something hard that you can’t see. Everyone needs grace from everyone. -Tullian Tchividjian

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 22: Daily Execution.

 

God at Work Book Club

God at WorkGod 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 4: Finding Your Vocations

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When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul. -From “It is Well” written by Horatio G. Spafford


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Living Life Under the Gaze of God on 11.12.2014

Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS:

What the Election Reveals About Us, and Why We Vote as We Do by Albert Mohler. He writes: “The results of this midterm election will give intelligent Christians a great deal to think about. But when it comes to the larger issues at stake, the midterm election is simply one episode in a very long story, a story of political engagement that should lead Christians to continue to think ever more seriously about the issues that are really at stake.”

NFL Players Injured Doing State Farm’s “Discount Double Check” dance. Two National Football League players have suffered season-ending knee injuries in the past month thanks to a celebration dance associated with, ironically, a major insurance company. In similar instances, Chicago Bears tackle Lamarr Houston and Detroit Lions linebacker Stephen Tulloch have each attempted to do particularly exuberant versions of State Farm’s “Discount Double Check” after logging quarterback sacks.

Chick Fil-A is making plans to open a restaurant in Bloomington, Illinois! Our sources tell us that the restaurant will be at the corner of Veterans Parkway and College Avenue in the area where the new Red Robin has already been announced. As Trip Lee says, that would be Shweet!

Pope Francis Wants To Know What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage. Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, and Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission, will meet Pope Francis and offer an “evangelical Protestant” perspective as part of a Vatican colloquium on marriage and family held November 17-19.

Risk Is Right, Says Ebola Survivor and Missionary Nancy Writebol. Nancy Writebol, would prefer to be known as just a Christian, wife, mother to two grown boys, and grandmother. But after an adventurous few months, she’s now known to the world as a brave missionary, Ebola survivor, and success story of medical evacuation.

Tom Magliozzi, half of the “Click and Clack” team of brothers who hosted NPR’s “Car Talk” radio show dies. I always enjoyed that radio show, not because I know much about cars, which I don’t, but because of the humor that the brothers brought to the show. NPR reported the death

Brittany Maynard’s Suicide. Brittany Maynard committed suicide as planned on November 1. Read Randy Alcorn’s article about her death.

Billy Graham: 96 and Still Preaching. It’s been nearly a decade since his last Crusade in 2005, but the evangelist continues to have an impact through his second annual “My Hope” evangelistic program, to be televised nationally on his birthday.

Yadier Molina Wins 7th Consecutive Gold Glove. Continuing to build a Hall of Fame worthy resume, St. Louis Cardinals catcher (and my favorite Cardinal) Yadier Molina won his 7th consecutive Gold Glove, only the third catcher in Major League Baseball history to do so. Congratulations Yadi!

Albert Pujols with Trip Lee. The Angels slugger attended Lee’s November 8 Winter Jam concert.

Albert Pujols with Trip Lee. The Angels slugger attended Lee’s November 8 Winter Jam concert.

HOLINESS:

Pornography: Why Internet Accountability Software Doesn’t Work. Leon Brown writes “Essentially what has occurred is that internet accountability software has produced an outward display of repentance (i.e., I can be on my best behavior because I have accountability software) but the heart has never been changed. The heart still desperately yearns for viewing that material and it will do what it takes to satiate its desires. Repentance, therefore, is needed, but it must take place both outwardly and inwardly. Internet accountability software can work, but those using it must be saturated in the love of Christ and repentant both outwardly and inwardly. This does not mean one’s struggles will cease permanently, but it does produce a greater possibility that you will never look at pornography again. Beloved, in Christ, it is possible to break the cycle.

3 Things to Consider Before That Next Big Sin. Tim Challies continues his series on John Owens’ book Overcoming Sin and Temptation with part ten in the series.

Five Truths about the Wrath of God. Joseph Schuemann of Desiring God writes “The doctrine of the wrath of God has fallen on hard times. In today’s world, any concept of God’s wrath upsets our modern sentiments. It’s too disconcerting, too intolerant.”

My Strange Bedfellow, Guilt. Lore Ferguson writes “For as long as I can remember I have wakened to guilt. It is a pulsating thought with root in no particular sin or crime, just a carried burden that I have done the world, and the Lord, an irreparable wrong. It is not a quiet guilt, but a raging one. It consumes me on some days and on the days when it doesn’t, it reminds me it is coming soon for me again. Guilt is my roadmap to repentance—even when I’m not sure what it is I’m repenting for.”

A Prayer for Dealing with My Plank-Filled Eye. Here is a wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith as he prays for the Lord as cardiologist and ophthalmologist to bring his grace and truth to bear in our hearts and eyes.

THEOLOGY AND THE CHURCH:

The Biggest Heresy in America. David Murray writes that “Pushing errors regarding the trinity and the church into second and third place is the denial of the Bible’s teaching about the doctrine of sin, especially in the related areas of human depravity and human inability.”

Declaration of Interdependence by Charlie Peacock. He shares about some of the incredible people in his life as a result of God’s Providence, which he describes as “God going ahead of a person or persons, preparing the way for future eventualities and interdependent connection of people and place.”

The Most Important Session of All. R.C. Sproul writes that churches that use the Presbyterian form of church government are led by elders, who collectively constitute what is called the session, but that the most important session of all is the session of Jesus Christ in heaven.

7 Wrong Reasons to Join a Church. Joining a church is a very important decision, and yet it’s a decision to which the larger part of church attenders have given little or no thought.

PROBING QUESTIONS:

How Can You Tell if Someone Has Truly Repented of Grievous Sin? R.C. Sproul Jr. writes: “If the sinner ends up in heaven, you will know they had truly repented. If not, they likely had not.”

What is the Heartbeat of Reformed Theology? Jason Helopoulos indicates that he wouldn’t argue with someone who felt that the heartbeat of Reformed Theology was the Doctrines of Grace, union with Christ, or even the Solas of the Reformation, but states that “Reformed theology is a system of doctrine that seeks to rightly articulate the teaching of the Scriptures for the glory of God. It is His glory that is our heartbeat, propels us to action, and the reward that we seek after.”

The State of Theology: What’s Our Theological Temperature? Stephen Nichols writes:”What is our theological temperature? To answer this question, we recently partnered with Lifeway Research to conduct a poll of 43 questions relating to the doctrines of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin, salvation, the Bible, the church, and ethics.”

Why do People Like John Piper Put an Emphasis on Being Radical, Rather Than Ordinary? Matt Perman states that “I tend to gravitate more to the “radical” theme, because I think the Scriptures do.”

What’s Better Than Jesus Being Beside You? J.D. Greear writes about the Holy Spirit and the two extremes that Evangelicals usually fall into regarding the Holy Spirit – either being obsessed with Him, relating to him in strange, mystical ways, or neglecting his ministry altogether.

MUCH NEEDED MERCY AND GRACE!

God is Merciful Not to Tell Us Everything. Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “He tells us enough to sustain us if we trust him, but often that does not feel like enough. We really think we would like to know more.”

That is the Grace ~ Enjoy this three-minute sermon excerpt from Matt Chandler.

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

BOOKS:

Purity is Possible. Tim Challies writes that “For a long time I have pointed to the lack of good books on sexual purity that are targeted at women. Thankfully, Christian publishers are beginning to address the issue, and to address it well.” He introduces us to the new book Purity is Possible: How to live free of the fantasy trap (Live Different) by Helen Thorne.

Lecrae’s Upcoming Book will explain why he has stormed the gates of the secular hip-hop community with his music.

Matt Chandler book on MarriageNew Matt Chandler book on Marriage. Matt Chandler’s new book The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption will be released January 1. He will be discussing the book at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago on January 30.

The Calvinist on the Bestseller List. Rachel Marie Stone writes that Marilynne Robinson’s “rigorous intellect is wedded to a profound appreciation of the human soul; her creative vision takes shape in relation to her Christian faith.”

8 Reasons to Pursue Biblical Friendships. David Murray summarizes key points from The Company We Keep: In Search of Biblical Friendship by Jonathan Holmes.

The 53 Best Books of 2014. Here’s the first “best” list for 2014 that I’ve seen. Tony Reinke looks at the top books of 2014. As much as I read, I’ve read only two of these, have one in progress and plan to read another.

Tim Keller's New Book on Prayer20 Quotes from Tim Keller’s new book on Prayer. Matt Smethurst lists 20 quotes that caught his attention as he read Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God.

Watch this Video for Tim Keller’s new book on Prayer.

Review of Tim Keller’s new book on Prayer. Andrew Davis reviews the much anticipated new book from Keller Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. This will be the next book Tammy and I read together.

Eric Metaxas Interview about His New Miracles Book. Metaxas, best-selling biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and William Wilberforce was recently interviewed by Tim Stafford of Christianity Today about his new book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life. Look for a review of that book here next week.

MOVIES AND TELEVISION:

Toy Story 4 announced. Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the gang from the beloved Pixar/Disney Toy Story franchise will be back on the big screen for a fourth animated installment, slated to open in theaters June 16, 2017.

Was Moses schizophrenic and barbaric? So says Christian Bale, who will portray Moses in the upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Jim Gaffigan is known as the “Clean Comedian”. Did you see him recently on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon?

Watch Kevin Spacey and Jimmy Fallon play the Wheel of Impressions recently on The Tonight Show? They both do great impressions!

Family Circle - submitted by Karen DeKeersgieter

Family Circle – submitted by Karen DeKeersgieter

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Movie Review: Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, rated PG

Music News and Reviews:
Ride Out – Bob Seger
Hallelujah for the Cross – Newsboys

Book Review: Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation to Successful Leadership by John C. Maxwell

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Quotables:

  • There is nothing more foreign, more alien, to our nature than holiness. -RC Sproul
  • When you pray: remember who you’re talking to, remember what really matters, and remember what you really need. -Kevin DeYoung
  • We’re not loved by God because of our faithfulness. We’re loved by God because of Jesus’ faithfulness for us. -Tullian Tchividjian

 

 


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Music News and Reviews 11.12.14

Record PlayerMUSIC NEWS:

Hilarious Video from Steve Taylor. Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil’s (featuring Peter Furler on drums) new album Goliath will be released on November 18. This week I’ve been enjoying some of Steve’s music from the 80’s and 90’s, which still sound great. Enjoy “The Future of the Music Industry” video from Steve Taylor & The Perfect Foil.

Real Music about Real Change. Petra front man John Schlitt and up-and-coming hip-hop artist KB come from different eras, but both experienced Christ’s deliverance from a life of darkness and found themselves in the spotlight of the Christian music industry.

Rend Collective to appear in Clinton, IL. Rend will be in concert at First Christian Church in Clinton on February 7.

New TobyMac album. TobyMac has been in the studio working on new songs for his sixth full album, with a planned release in May 2015.

Get to Know Trip Lee. Check out this brief overview of Trip from Trevin Wax.

D.C. rapper Trip Lee withstands disease, while pastoring at church, releasing album. Good article about Trip in the Washington Times.

New Worship Album from Third Day. Third Day will release their third worship album, and first in more than a decade, Lead Us Back, on March 3.

U2 to Play The Tonight Show for an Entire Week. My favorite band will play on The Tonight Show each night the week of November 17. Can’t wait!

MUSIC REVIEWS:

Bob Seger AlbumRide Out – Bob Seger
*** ½

This is 69 year old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bob Seger’s seventeenth album and first since 2006’s Face the Promise (and only his second since 1995), and it’s a very good one at that. Christians will be excited about “Gates of Eden” his song about coming to faith. He also shares his strong feelings about political issues and the environment.

We saw Seger at the Silver Bullet Band in their prime in the early 1980’s at the Poplar Creek Music Theatre (which was torn down in 1994) in Hoffman Estates. For those not familiar with his body of work I would recommend Ultimate Hits: Rock and Roll Never Forgets.

Below are brief comments and/or lyrics from each song on the new album which I really enjoyed. It was great to hear some new Seger music. His voice is in great shape and he’s hinted that this could be his final studio album. One critical comment – the standard version of the album is just too short at 10 songs and 34 minutes. The Deluxe version, contains three additional songs.

The album starts out strong with four upbeat songs before the pace settles down. Spacing the rockers out may have helped give the album better pacing.

Detroit Made – This is a great version of one of my favorite John Hiatt songs, which sounds like it was written for Seger (though it wasn’t).
She’s a Detroit made
Deuce and a quarter, babe

Hey Gypsy – A Chicago blues song written by Seger and one of the best songs on the album featuring a blistering guitar solo from Kenny Greenberg (who is married to Ashley Cleveland). It is a flat-out Stevie Ray Vaughan shuffle. Seger states “I was such a huge fan of his. I called the players in Nashville, and I said, ‘I want you to play as close to Stevie Ray as you can.’ The guitarist Kenny Greenberg, whom I was working with at the time, he brought a special amp in that made him sound exactly like Stevie Ray! We even got Stevie Ray’s old organ player, Reese Wynans. That’s the first time I used him, and he’s on everything (on the album) now.”

Hey Gypsy, where we gonna be
The hard love livin’
It’s getting too much for me

Seger recently performed “Hey Gypsy” on the Ellen show. Check it out here: http://www.ellentv.com/videos/0-v21sxmz1/

The Devil’s Right Hand – Seger covers the gun-violence parable written by Steve Earle. It’s a song Seger has liked ever since he first heard it in the 1988 film “Betrayed,” featuring Debra Winger and Tom Berenger.

The devil’s right hand, the devil’s right hand
Momma said the pistol was the devil’s right hand

Ride Out – A rocker about getting away from things and enjoying God’s creation:
Ride out to a bold new horizon
Where the sun me be shinin’
On a place you’ve never seen

Ride out lift your soul and your spirit
Take a chance and get near it
Everybody needs a dream

Ride out where the hills meet the valleys
Far from campaigns and rallies
And the things we do for oil

Adam and Eve – This song was written by Kasey Chamber and features a duet with Laura Creamer, who has been singing backup for him since “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” in the ’60s, and features a fiddle, Seger on banjo and mandolin. It’s a slower folk/acoustic that is an interpretation of the sin of Adam and Eve, though I have concern with this line where Adam sings that he was misled:
I can remember, I do recall
There were no weeds here, no thorns at all
I was misguided, I was misled
I asked for good, but got evil instead
I also take exception to this line about God being on their trail:
Come on, we’re leaving, no time to waste
Garden of Eden’s no longer safe
Throw down that apple, that ship has sailed
We’re on the run with God on our trail

The pace of the song and the simple lyrics reminded me of Dylan’s “God Gave Names to All the Animals” from Slow Train Running (which isn’t necessarily a good thing).

California Stars – This is Seger’s take on Woody Guthrie lyrics put to song by Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett and recorded by Wilco. The song builds and features some horns and effective background vocals.
I’d like to dream my troubles all away
On our bed of California stars
Jump up from my star bed make another day
Underneath my California stars

It’s Your World – This rocker finds a defiant Seger calling out the things he is concerned about – environmentally, financially, etc. It’s interesting musically and features some good background vocals.
Let’s talk about mining in Wisconsin
Let’s talk about breathing in Beijing
Let’s talk about chemicals in rivers
Let’s talk about cash as king

All of the Roads – This mid-tempo song with a fiddle and effective femaile background vocals finds the rocker in reflective mood.
I’ve done it all before
And I have gone through every door
And I’ve been right down on the floor and more

All of the roads I’ve run
All of the years have fallen away
Light from a distant star
Crossing the void and arriving one day
Oceans of space defending the great unknown
Sooner or later all of us head for home

You Take Me In – A somber acoustic ballad which could be written to a woman or God.
I search for the meaning and keep on believing
Because in the end you take me in
Through all of these reasons that change like the seasons
I’ve got a friend, you take me in

Gates of Eden – This song starts slowly and builds appropriately as Seger sings about his conversion. I’ve included the complete lyrics to the song below:
I was in the tender mercies of the breaking down
I was somehow in a place that made me want to go along
I remember thinking all of this must have a reason
I remember thinking maybe I should look beyond

The night came on like thunder lightning split the purple skies
My whole day had been a journey sorting through the truth and lies
I remember searching longing for a deeper meaning
And it hit me like a diamond bullet right between the eyes

And I believed everything You said
Every paragraph and every work I read
Calling into question everything that I believe in
Huddled with the masses
Stranded at the gates of Eden
I was huddled with the masses
Stranded at the gates of Eden

Seger will bring his tour to the United Center in Chicago on December 11 and the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 13. Check out his official site at www.bobseger.com

Newsboys AlbumHallelujah for the Cross – Newsboys
***

This has been an incredible year for the Newsboys. The release of the film God’s Not Dead, which they appeared in, propelled their album of the same name back to the top of the Christian charts. Then, their single “We Believe” from their latest album Restart became a big Christian radio hit. I was a little surprised that they were releasing new music at this time, but still excited that for the first time in the band’s history, the Newsboys have recorded a collection of classic hymns (they have released three previous albums of worship songs). The new album features the group’s take on nine classic hymns and one new selection, the title song and first single, written by Ross King and Todd Wright.

Doing your version of classic hymns is a risky proposition as these songs are dear to many. There is a fine line between being faithful to the traditional rendering and showing creativity as an artist. The best I saw at creativity was Jars of Clay’s excellent Redemption Songs.  The Newsboys play it pretty safe with Hallelujah to the Cross, making a few tweaks to the songs and using a sound similar to their current radio hit “We Believe”.

Lead singer Michael Tait stated “Hymns are important to me. We picked through songs that went way, way, way back into my past and my dad’s Baptist church. I love modern worship but I just love that old stuff because they were written in such desperate and perilous times, and out of great pain comes great resolve, I think. When I sing them, they go deeper in ways to me than a lot of things I reach out for when I’m in that spiritual drought.”

The album is produced by Seth Mosley, who also produced the Newsboys’ past two albums, God’s Not Dead and Restart. Below are a few brief comments about each of the songs:
All Creatures of our God and King – The end of the song includes a new modern worship chorus. 

Where You Belong/Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus (Medley) – This is an updated (more upbeat) version of the medley that appeared on the band’s 1995 Not Ashamed album.

His Eye Is On The Sparrow – This song rocks harder than the traditional hymn.
Hallelujah For The Cross – This is the first single released from the project and the only newly written song on the album.
It Is Well – This version rocks harder is has a faster pace than the traditional hymn.
Jesus Paid It All – This song was released on last year’s Jesus Firm Foundation: Hymns of Worship. The end of the song includes a new modern worship chorus.
I Surrender All – The band keeps the pace about the same as the traditional hymn.
What A Friend We Have In Jesus – Michael Tait’s vocal here is less full-throated than usual. Some additional features that add to the song.
Holy Holy Holy – The band slows down the pace for one of my favorite hymns. They add some additional lyrics to the chorus: “You are holy, holy, holy”.
All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name – The band ends the album with a beautiful a Capella version of the song showcasing the voices of the entire band, not just Tait. This is perhaps my favorite song on the album.

This is a solid effort from the Newsboys, which will hopefully introduce these classic hymns to a new generation.


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Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and WorkGood Leaders Ask Great Questions by John Maxwell

Book Review: Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation to Successful Leadership by John C. Maxwell

TRENDING TOPICS:

Should you do what you love, or love what you’re doing?

Can Work Ever Be Good News? Here is the beginning of a series of ten posts featuring artwork from the Christians in the Visual Arts exhibit, “Work: Curse or Calling?

Three Points about Common Grace Every Businessperson Should Consider. Dr. Vincent Bacote looks at the relationship between common grace and business that was addressed Calvin College Business Department and the Acton Institute co-sponsored the Symposium on Common Grace and Business.

Yes, You Do Know Your “Calling”. Dan Miller addresses the subject of calling and includes a 48-minute audio on “Is Your Job Your Calling?”

On this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses the word ‘contentment’.

Only the Gospel, Not Our Vocations Can Truly Change Us. In this excerpt from his book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, Tom Nelson writes “Hard work, however noble, without a relationship with the Father proves empty, meaningless, and despairing.”

ReFrame has launched! ReFrame is a 10 week video-based discipleship course that helps you answer questions such as “how does my story fit into God’s story?” and “does my day-to-day life matter to God?”  It features lectures by Regent College faculty, interviews with prominent Christian thought-leaders, and stories of everyday Christians asking questions about how the Gospel reframes their lives.

Work is a glorious thing. John Piper writes “Come, leave off sloth and idleness. Become what you were made to be. Work.”

Why Most Web-Sites Are Hard To Use – And What To Do About It. Matt Heerema writes that most web-sites are unnecessarily difficult to use, and there is one core reason for this.

The Seven Qualities of Perfect Teammates. Dan Rockwell writes “Everyone is irritating. They either do things that bug you, or, they leave something undone, and that bugs you. What does a perfect teammate look like?”

What’s in It for Me? What motivates your leadership choices? A desire to succeed, a need for human applause, or a desire for God’s approval?

John Maxwell BookJohn Maxwell writes leadership lessons from the great prophet Elijah from his upcoming book Learning from the Giants.

Eight Ways to Honor Your Leaders. Brad Lomenick writes that “Leading is not easy. And it’s even more difficult if those on your team aren’t equipped well to follow. We all have leaders that we work with, for and around. And every leader I know values being honored and respected. Honor is a really big thing. And incredibly important as it relates to being part of a team.

How to Get Things Done: Using Your Calendar Effectively. Tim Challies continues his series on productivity from a biblical perspective. In this article he focuses on a scheduling tool – calendars.

What Does It Take to Manage Your Faith, Work, and Family? Diane Paddison writes “When you’re in that important meeting and your phone rings, you should take the call, but not before you’ve laid some important groundwork.”

Quotes from Matt Perman:

  • The role of the leader is to help build intelligence, judgment, and character. It is not to control people.
  • Servant leaders also see themselves as accountable to those they lead.        

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

What’s Best Next Book Club What's Best Next

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 look at Chapter 21: Managing Projects and Actions.

God at Work Book ClubGod at Work

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 3: The Purpose of Vocation.

The Gospel at Work Book ClubThe Gospel at Work

The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg D. Gilbert

I’m involved in a book club with peers at work discussing this book. Last week we concluded the book with beginning with Chapter 10: Is Full-Time Ministry More Valuable Than My Job?

 


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Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me Movie Review

Glen Campbell MovieGlen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, rated PG
****

Glen Campbell has sold more than 50 million records, including country/pop hits “Gentle on My Mind”, Wichita Lineman” and “Rhinestone Cowboy”. Prior to achieving stardom as a solo artist he was a respected session player, playing with the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys. He has five Grammy Awards, is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, had his own television program (The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour), and co-starred in the original film version of True Grit.

He also struggled with substance abuse, has been married four times and has eight children. He, his wife of nearly 30 years Kim, and their three children are people of faith, which has helped them get through the news that became public in 2011 – that the then 75 year old Glen had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease just as his final album Ghost on the Canvas was being released. This film, directed by James Keach, documents Campbell’s on and off stage challenges of his farewell tour, a 151 show tour (including a stop in Bloomington, Illinois), which ended in 2012 when he was no longer able to perform. His three youngest children were a part of his backing band.

The film begins with Glen and Kim at the Mayo Clinic when they receive the official diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. You can argue whether they should have taken Glen on the road for the final tour or not (apparently some of his ex-wives and older children were against the idea), but the fact is that they did, giving his fans one last chance to see him in concert.

At times the film was very difficult to watch, as you see him deteriorating as the tour progresses. At other times, you are amazed that once onstage he can still deliver incredible guitar solos, and with the aid of a teleprompter still sing his well-loved songs to the delight of the supportive audiences.

The film includes a number of interviews with music stars such as Bruce Springsteen, and Edge from U2, who comment about Campbell. The most powerful clips are those from country stars Kathy Mattea and Brad Paisley who talk about their own loved one’s battles with Alzheimer’s.

Toward the end of the film, with the help of others, including his former session band the Wrecking Crew, Campbell is able to record his final song, the moving “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, a song he wrote for Kim.

The film is helping to raise awareness for the need for additional funding to fight the disease, and features a clip of daughter Ashley speaking before a Congressional committee on the matter. Campbell, now 78, was moved to a specialized Alzheimer’s treatment facility in 2014.

Alive-Inside-Film-Poster-2014Note: We are looking forward to seeing the documentary, ALIVE INSIDE.  It is a joyous cinematic exploration of music’s capacity to reawaken our souls and uncover the deepest parts of our humanity. Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.

This stirring documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it. Rossato-Bennett visits family members who have witnessed the miraculous effects of personalized music on their loved ones, and offers illuminating interviews with experts including renowned neurologist and best-selling author Oliver Sacks (Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain) and musician Bobby McFerrin (“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”).

 


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Big Hero 6 Movie Review

Big Hero 6Big Hero 6, rated PG
*** ½
*SPOILER ALERT*

This film is getting excellent reviews (91% critics and 94% from moviegoers on rottentomatoes.com). It is loosely based on an obscure comic book. It takes place in San Fransokyo, an imaginative mixing of San Francisco and Tokyo, and stars Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter). Hiro is a brilliant 14 year old who has already graduated from high school. He and his brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) lost their parents sometime in the past and now live with their likeable Aunt Cass (Maya Rudolph). Hiro spends his time winning money in back-alley illegal robot fights.

Tadashi takes him to his college robotics lab to try to encourage him to attend the school. There Hiro meets Go Go Tomago (Jamie Chung), Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez), Wasabi (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Fred (T.J. Miller). Tadashi also shows him Baymax (Scott Adsit). Baymax is Tadashi’s robotics project – an inflatable robot designed to tend to the sick (think of a giant Pillsbury Dough Boy).

Hiro is encouraged and wants to attend the school. Tedashi encourages Hiro to develop a project to present at a science fair at the school. He presents his microbots, which wows the crowd, and he is accepted at the college by Professor Callaghan (James Cromwell). But his joy is short-lived as just minutes later the building that hosted the fair goes up in flames and Tadashi is killed as he goes back into the building in an attempt to save his beloved professor. Tadashi is crushed after losing his brother and best friend.

Days later, when a depressed Hiro is in his room (which he shared with Tadashi), Baymax rises out of his container. He quickly becomes Hiro’s new best friend. It was this part of the film that was probably most enjoyable to the many children in the audience, and I really enjoyed hearing them laugh at Baymax.

To Hiro’s surprise, one of his microbots survived the fire. It leads Hiro and Baymax to an abandoned warehouse where they realize that the fire was not an accident. This is where the film changes. There is much less humor and it turns into a super hero film. We won’t share any more, or we would spoil it for you.Winston in Feast

I really enjoyed the film, but didn’t see the whole super hero thing coming. Tammy loved the first half of the film and didn’t like the second half as much.

Get there early enough to see the enjoyable short film Feast, which precedes Big Hero 6. Feast is the story of one man’s love life as seen through the eyes of his best friend and dog, Winston, and revealed bite by bite through the meals they share. As dog lovers we really enjoyed it.

And stay through the end of the credits for Big Hero 6 to see a Marvel film-like reveal about Fred.

If you see the film, write us and let us know what you think of it.


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Interstellar Movie Review

InterstellarInterstellar, rated PG-13
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*SPOILER ALERT!*

I’m not too familiar with many film directors. Sure, if a film is directed by a director such as Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson or David O. Russell, and perhaps a few others, it will get my attention. However, the director that I’m most excited about these days is Christopher Nolan, who directed the new film Interstellar. Nolan first got our attention with the creative Memento in 2000. Since then he has made the Batman trilogy – Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. He has also made Inception and The Prestige. So based on the director alone, I was looking forward to seeing this film, which Nolan writes with his brother Jonathan. On top of that, you can add a cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon. Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Ellen Burstyn and John Lithgow.

The film is set in rural America at an undetermined time in the future –time (and love) are important themes in this film. We meet a farming family trying to survive – father, widower and former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy as the young Murph and Jessica Chastain as the adult Murph), brother Tom (Timothée Chalamet as young Tom and Casey Affleck as the adult Tom), and grandfather/father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow). Only corn will grow now as a blight has wiped out the rest of the planet’s crops. Most of the earth’s population has been wiped out. Massive dust storms come up and it is impossible to keep the house clean.

After one such dust storm hits the area the dust is arranged in a strange way on the floor of a bedroom lined with bookshelves, a room that Murph thinks is haunted by ghosts. The dust spells out coordinates that lead Coop and Murph to a secret NASA location, led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine). Brand shares his plan (named the Lazarus Plan) to find a home for the inhabitants of Earth before time runs out and everyone dies. He tells Coop that he is the right one to lead the mission through a wormhole near Saturn. He will go with Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), astrophysicist Romilly (David Gyasi), scientist Doyle (Wes Bentley) and two robots voiced by Bill Irwin and Josh Stewart to see if they can find a planet that will sustain life.

Tom and especially Murph don’t want their father to leave, as he will be gone for years, perhaps forever. But Cooper decides to go to attempt to save the planet.

The film was confusing at times with its talk of relativity, gravity, etc. On top of that, the dialogue was not only hard to understand, but often hard to hear as well. Film critic Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune writes of the script “It is hobbled by astronomy and physics seminars disguised as dialogue”. In fact Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist served as an advisor and executive producer on the film).

We saw the film on the Mega screen at the local Wehrenberg Theatre. This is a film that you’ll want to see on a large screen, ideally an IMAX screen. Sixty-six minutes of the film were filmed in 70 millimeter IMAX cameras and on celluloid, as opposed to digitally. As a result, the film features a grainier quality than you typically see.

The film is nearly three hours in length, and I felt it was slow at times. It includes some adult language and some violence. It was beautifully filmed and some of the film will remind you of last year’s Gravity.  This is a good film, at times a very good film, but not the great film that I expected to see. If you see it, let us know what you think.

 

 


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Living Life Before the Face of God on November 4, 2014

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~Ask It

2015 Oscar Predictions ~ My good friend Jason knows his movies. Each year he puts together his Oscar predictions. I thought you might enjoy seeing his picks this year.

Music News and Reviews – Rise by Trip Lee and Love Ran Red Deluxe Edition by Chris Tomlin

Book Review ~ Ask It: The Question That Will Revolutionize How You Make Decisions by Andy Stanley. Multinomah. 208 pages. 2014 (Revised and updated edition of The Best Question Ever)

~ THIS AND THAT ~A.W. Tozier book

BOOKS:

ChrIstianaudio’s free audiobook of the month. Download your copy of the free audiobook for November ~ The Attributes of God, Volume 1 by A.W. Tozier.

Dancing for the DevilDancing for the Devil: One Woman’s Dramatic and Divine Rescue from the Sex Industry, tells the story of Anny Donewald’s transformation and her ministry. Anny was the youngest daughter of good friends of ours in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. After being abused by one of her father’s college basketball players, she fell into a dark life. After God intervened in her life, she founded Eve’s Angels, a ministry to women and girls exploited by the adult entertainment industry. Read the interview with Anny “Hope for Women in Hell”.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World. Read this interview with Michael Horton on his new book about the type of Christianity that God loves.

New video for Eric Metaxas’ book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life. I’m reading the book now and will run a review in the next few weeks.

IN THE NEWS:

Oscar Tavares TributeMike Matheny is the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals and has always been open about his Christian faith. His team has just suffered a significant loss, the death of 22 year old right fielder Oscar Taveras in a car accident. I liked this article from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, indicating that Matheny is the right leader for the Cardinals to have at this difficult time.

Tribute to Oscar Taveras. The St. Louis Cardinals paid tribute to Oscar Taveras, their young right fielder killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on October 26 by leaving the right field lights on at Busch Stadium Tuesday, the day of his funeral.

Did you see the incredible video of the St. Louis Arch being cleaned? For the first time since the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was completed, crews collected stains from the structure in an attempt to figure out what caused them to form. The National Park Service is hoping to sample the stains and figure out what caused them so they can be removed. How much would you need to be paid to take on this work?

Mars Hill Church to Dissolve. The campuses of multi-site Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the church founded and led by Mark Driscoll up until his recent resignation will dissolve into separate churches.

We Are Not Our Own: On God, Brittany Maynard, and Physician-Assisted Suicide. John Piper writes “We are not our own. We live and we die and we suffer for the glory of Christ, our Lord. And we never forget the truth that makes everything worth it: “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

PROBING QUESTIONS:

What is it about C.S. Lewis that makes such a huge impact on so many? Read Jon Bloom of Desiring God’s article “What is it about C.S. Lewis?”

Why Are So Many Middle-Aged Men Falling Into Sexual Sin? Larry Tomczak writes “In the past few years there seems to be an epidemic of adulterous and sexually inappropriate relationships coming to light on a regular basis.”

What are the marks of a deadly sin? Tim Challies shares the seven marks of a deadly sin in his latest installment of his series on John Owen’s classic book Overcoming Sin and Temptation.

What are the perils facing the Evangelical church today? First of all, what does “Evangelical” mean? Read this article from R.C. Sproul.

What is the state of theology in our country today? A new survey from Ligonier Ministries helps point out common gaps in theological knowledge and awareness so that Christians might be more effective in the proclamation, teaching, and defense of the essential truths of the Christian faith.

REFORMED THEOLOGY:

“Is the Reformation Over?” by Kevin DeYoung. Are there still critical doctrinal issues which rightly divide Protestants and Catholics? Absolutely. We do neither side any favors by pretending otherwise.

How much do you know about Reformed Theology? Check out this article “10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew about Reformed Theology”.

Reformation Day marks the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. That act by a passionate monk is often recognized as the flashpoint of the Protestant Reformation. In a special program on “Renewing Your Mind,” John MacArthur sits down with Dr. R.C. Sproul to discuss the importance of Sola Scriptura, the vital work of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other reformers, and how the battle for the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture continues to this day. You can listen to their insightful, encouraging discussion here.

“New Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies”. Most American evangelicals hold views condemned as heretical by some of the most important councils of the early church. That statement, which should, but perhaps doesn’t shock us. Here’s an article on the same survey from Trevin Wax: “Here’s Where Your Neighbors Are Theologically”.

REAL MEN OF GENIUS:

Augustine of Hippo was one of the most influential thinkers in the history of the Church and Western civilization. How much do you know about Augustine? Read Dr. Keith Mathison’s article about Augustine.

Martin Luther defined faith as “Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures.” Read this brief excerpt from his book An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

PRAYER:

Do you have questions about prayer? Tim Keller’s new book is on prayer. Check out this interview with him on ten questions about prayer.

A Prayer for the Gospel to Impact Our Heads, Hearts, and Hands. Here is a wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith asking that the gospel increasingly impact us and our community, the same way it landed on the hearts of the men and women of Thessalonica.

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

Did you see Daniel Radcliffe (Harry from the Harry Potter films) rap the alphabet on The Tonight Show recently? If not, check it out here: http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/segments/15506

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

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

 What’s Best Next Book Club What's Best Next

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 look at Chapter 20: Managing Email and Workflow.

 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 2: How God Works Through Human Beings.
Faith and Work Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Leadercast Live speakers for the May 8 event have been announced. They include Andy Stanley, Peyton Manning, Seth Godin, Rudy Giuliani and several others. As the event gets closer we’ll let you know of the local host locations for the simulcast.

Do you want to get paid for doing what you love? How do you take something you love and turn it into a career? Andy Andrews has some suggestions to help you.

How can you glorify God at work? Check out this article for a few ideas from John Piper.

Do you know how to effectively handle criticism that you receive – on the job or off? Here are some helpful suggestions from Dr. Alan Zimmerman in this week’s Tuesday Tip.

Pastors should visit the workplaces of their church members. It’s a suggestion from Greg Forster and I think it’s a great idea.

How to Get Things Done: Information Management. “An information management tool is used to collect, manage and access important information. If you will need to remember or access information in the future, it goes into this tool”, writes Tim Challies in his next installment of his series on productivity.

All of Life is for Jesus – including our work. Jim Mullins writes that for five minutes before his church’s sermons, they interview someone from the church about their vocation to demonstrate just that. Read his article “The Butcher, Baker or Biotech Maker”.

Bringing order out of chaos, one dirty job at a time is how window washer and seminary student Zachary Tarter describes his job. He states “I haven’t always intuitively classified my work as image-bearing, but as I’ve thought about it, I’ve seen that bringing order out of chaos reflects the image of God.” Read this interview with Zachary to hear more about that.

What do you feel the most important leadership characteristic is? Different leadership experts will come up with different characteristics. Eric Geiger writes that in their book The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner state that the most important leadership characteristic is credibility.

Every leader needs wise advisors, says Selma Wilson. To be a healthy leader, we need to seek out others for personal advice as well as counsel on critical decisions. Read her entire article “6 Nuggets of Wisdom for Leaders”.

Martin Luther’s Contribution to the Church’s View of Vocation. Did you know that the reformer Martin Luther helped develop a new doctrine of vocation? Andrew Spencer writes “He pushed back against the notion that certain callings, like his earlier monastic calling, were somehow more holy than working outside the church.”

“7 Performance Characteristics of a Great Team Member” by Ron Edmondson. How does a great team member perform on a team?

The Good Life. Trip Lee writes “To live is not wealth. To live is not worldly success. To live is not sex. To live is not family. To live is Christ.”

How to Recognize a Toxic Leader. Thom Rainer identifies 14 characteristics of a toxic church leader.

 Quotable:  Servant leaders also see themselves as accountable to those they lead. -Matt Permandivider 1

Visions of Vocation Visions of Vocation Book Club

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 last week from our reading of Chapter 6: “Vocation as Implication”.

  • Can we know the world and still love it?
  • Uncle Peach did not deserve to be loved, and there was no indication that he was ever going to change.
  • Knowing what they knew, complicated and complex as it was, they chose to love. To do that with honesty and integrity is the most difficult task in the world.
  • But there are people who make that choice. Not out of grandeur or great ambition, but in the spirit of Berry’s vision: in the relationships and responsibilities of common life, they see themselves as implicated in the way the world is and ought to be. They see themselves as having vocations that call them into life, into the world—into a way of knowing that implicates them, for love’s sake.  And in the unfolding of my life, living where I have lived, working where I have worked, I have met some of those people.

Jonathan Groene—Kansas Born and Bred

  • In a place like Lawrence, it is not possible to say one thing and then do another and still keep your head up the next day.
  • Jonathan has become the words he advertised, living into his promise: a steward of visions and resources.

Todd and Maria Wahrenberger—MDs

  • One book they read was Denis Haack’s The Rest of Success, and his writing gave them reasons to rethink what ambition meant and what a good life might look like. A year later they formed a health clinic on the north side of Pittsburgh, near the stadiums, in a neighborhood that was medically underserved. As a wise friend has persuaded me, most things don’t work out very well. Even with hopes and dreams, the vision of a common practice was not sustainable, and eventually Todd and Maria took more responsibility for the work.
  • The day-by-day work of physicians took them into a community of people who needed doctors who would know them and still love them. All of us are like that, really. We hope that those who serve us will really care about us.
  • Their choice to enter into the complexity of medical care for people who need it but often do not take good care of themselves is reflective of a deeper way of knowing, a deeper vision of responsibility, a deeper kind of loving.
  • To see them in their work is to see people who love what they do and who love the ones they serve.
  • That is the best part of a vocation—to love and serve with gladness and singleness of heart. When we take the wounds of the world into our hearts—not just for a day, but for a life—we long to see the work of our hands as somehow, strangely, part of the work of God in the world, integral to the missio Dei, not incidental to it.
  • J. and Robin Smith—Tearing Corners Off of the Darkness
  • Because her own passions have been for “doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with God” for as long as I have known her, her analytical skills are never offered in the abstract, as if the research of the Institute is for ivory-towered policy wonks who live far away from ordinary people in ordinary places. For her, it always has to be worked at on the ground, in life.
  • She is a storyteller, deeply and professionally so. His great delight is to listen well and then help an organization tell its story through the wonders of the web.
  • To choose to step into frailty—or, as Berry describes Uncle Peach, being “poor, hurt, mortal”—is what a vocation is all about. We are called to care, especially about complexity because that is the world we live in.
  • For him there is always a longing that his work address both that which is wrong and that which might be and must be.
  • He wants the work of his hands to matter, to be part of “tearing a corner off of the darkness,” in Bono’s poetic image.

Santiago and Nicole Sedaca—At Work in the World

  • But it is the powerless people who live in villages and cities the world over who are the clients of Santiago, as they are the ones whose lives depend on the healthy social ecosystems that are the focus of his work.
  • It is critical to link the poor to markets, and through that process to help them understand how countries need to change their production and distribution systems in a way that helps create wealth for everyone, not just the powerful.

David Franz—Home Again

  • St. Augustine argued that the question What do you love? is the most important of all questions. While other questions matter, it is the question of our loves that goes to the heart of who we are.
  • Most of life is only understood in retrospect.
  • With an ever-deepening sense of vocation, he began taking up the questions that have become his, the interdisciplinary nexus of sociology and economics, but with a great interest in what the questions in those disciplines mean for ordinary people in ordinary places.
  • His work there is focused on the renewal of education in the local schools, bringing the years of his study about people and places through the lenses of his disciplines and making that insight useful to the people and place of Shafter.
  • There is an echo of Berry himself in David’s story, if we have ears to hear.
  • “I am from somewhere and from some people that my relationships to that place and those people give me a responsibility to and for them, and therefore my vocation will be found with them and among them.”
  • He wants honest coherence between his education and his vocation, so that what he has learned will be for the sake of where he has lived.

Kwang Kim—A Global Citizen

  • If there is a question at the heart of his life, it is this: What should the world be like?
  • Is captivated by the question, What ought we to be doing? Are there norms for development? Do we have any access to what it is supposed to be? Can we ever know what development should be? Are there any oughts and shoulds in this whatever world? Or are we only left with culturally relative “maybes” and “perhapses”?
  • Watching as I do, I am intrigued when someone sees seamlessly, when someone’s instincts are to find the connections between ideas, when someone assumes that there is a coherence to the cosmos—and that our task is to understand it. From my earliest conversations with Kwang, that was true. In the questions he asked and the visions he pursued there was a thread that ran through everything he took up. In a word, it was integrity. Not only for his life as a human being, an Asian/Latino/American, but as someone with a calling into the socio-political economies of the world, with their almost unfathomable complexity. Even in the midst of that work, Kwang wrestles his way to coherence.
  • For years now he has given time and energy to the renewal of North Korean culture, meeting monthly to pray with other Korean Americans in Washington, each one autobiographically implicated in the hopes of their homeland. The Washington group is only one of many like this all over the United States and Canada, each one full of eager, bright, motivated men and women who yearn together for a new day in Korea, where social and political and economic and artistic flourishing will become reality—because that is the way it is supposed to be, for everyone everywhere.
  • What should the world be like? is the animating question at the heart of Kwang’s life, making sense of his days and his nights. That is what a vocation is, and does.

Christopher Ditzenberger—Recasting the Paradigm of Pastor

  • Chris entered into the ministry with passions for people to understand the world and their place in it.
  • The credo for the Washington Institute is that “vocation is integral, not incidental, to the missio Dei.” Most of the time, all over the world, the church teaches otherwise, that vocation is incidental, not integral, to the missio Dei. It is always a compartmentalizing of faith from life, of worship from work, and it has tragic consequences for the church and the world.
  • He has also entered into a year-long learning community with folk from across the country, all focused on the same vision: Could we recast the paradigm? What would it look like in my congregation to rethink the relationship of worship to work, of liturgy to life and labor?
  • To see what we do as woven into the fabric of who God is and what the world is meant to be is the vision that has captured Chris’s heart. He longs to so understand his work that he is able to pastor people in their work, praying and preaching in such a way that ordinary people doing ordinary things see the sacramental meaning of their labor, a common grace for the common good.

Claudius and Deirdre Modesti—A Life for Others

  • After the Enron scandal that rocked the nation, with the complicity of major accounting firms fudging the numbers and creating a chasm of confidence in investment, Claudius was asked to give leadership to an effort that would bring more order to public accounting, and so for years now he has used his legal skill to oversee the financial records of major corporations.
  • Some of it is her family, some is her personality, some is her gift, some is her education, some is her community, but taken together she has eyes to see who people are and why they are. And over time she has become a trusted counselor, taking people seriously as she listens carefully.
  • People who keep at their callings for a lifetime are always people who suffer. The world is too hard and life is too broken for it to be otherwise.
  • Their life for others is a window into the meaning of common grace for the common good. From the hospitality of their table to the way they live in their neighborhood to the work that is theirs in the worlds of law and psychology, they have chosen vocations that give coherence, making sense of what they believe about God and the human condition, and have unfolded habits of heart that are a grace to the watching world.

George Sanker—Educating for Character and Competence

  • “Occasions [circumstances] do not make a man frail. Rather they show who he is.”
  • We make our way through the occupations of life, hoping and hoping that as we do our vocation becomes clearer to us, that over time we will come to know more and more about who we are and what matters to us, and who God is and what matters to him.
  • What was sorely lacking were “chests,” the mediating center where mind and passions could become alive together so that the student would become a whole human being.
  • A half-century later, Lewis’s critique forms the contours of George’s calling. He lives so that children will become men and women with chests, understanding that the way we educate the next generation will affect the way the world turns out. That is the telos that shapes his pedagogical praxis.

Gideon Strauss—Living with Hope

  • Often the longer we live, the more hardened we become. But sometimes some people still choose to enter in, knowing what they know of the world. Not naive, not innocents, but time-tested and able to step in again.
  • Still committed to thinking through the hardest questions, his work is now focused on developing leaders for vocations within the social structures of the church and the world. Never a romantic, Gideon lives with hope, understanding that to try and try again is the heart of a good life, living between what is and what someday will be.

Susan Den Herder—A Mother and More

  • Coherence, where what they believed about the world was more and more the way that they lived in the world.
  • Her studies, her loves, her marriage, her work, her children, together a vocation, she is making sense of life as she lives her life.
  • A Just Man Ordinary people in ordinary places, each one is a story of a life lived as a vocation. None have arrived, and each lives with a keen sense that more could be done.
  • What most do not know is that in Victor Hugo’s novel there is a lifetime behind that decision. If the stage play gives the bishop ten minutes, the novel tells the story of his whole life over almost one hundred pages, titling book one “A Just Man.” From the calling to a pastoral vocation on through to becoming a bishop, we come to know an unusual man.
  • And it is the story of a man who sees his vocation as implicated in the lives of people like that. He has chosen to live a common life for the common good. And Valjean, very slowly, makes that choice too. Profoundly formed by the bishop’s life, he begins to take up his new life with the same simple grace—not in the ministry, but in the marketplace. If the bishop’s clerical calling implicated him in the lives of his people, then it was the vocation of business for Valjean that drew him into the welfare of his workers and his city. And because he saw himself in relationship to a people in a place, he saw himself as responsible for the way their world turned out, for the way it was and the way it ought to be.

Scripture interprets Scripture