Reflections on 2014
Looking back at 2014, I realize that I have been very blessed. Two significant items that took place were:
- My graduation from Covenant Seminary nineteen years after beginning my studies in 1995. We had a wonderful graduation weekend celebration in St. Louis with family and friends.
- My wife Tammy’s new calling as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Tammy completed intensive training in September and October and has now started to serve as a CASA.
Other things from 2014 that I’m thankful for:
- Overall, our health, and the health of our families, has been relatively good.
- Our nephew Mark got married to Tiffany.
- Our nephew Drew and his wife Allison had their first child, daughter Salem.
- Tammy and I completed two book clubs – The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Visions of Vocation by Steven Garber. Our next book is Generous Justice by Tim Keller.
- Completed one (The Gospel at Work), and have started a second (What’s Best Next), Faith and Work Book Club with peers at work.
- Hosting Michael Card’s Mathew: The Gospel of Identity (Biblical Imagination Conference) at our church.
- Having a good job and team that I love working with each day.
- Enjoying another post-season run by the St. Louis Cardinals, getting to attend several games in St. Louis.
- Enjoying the 2014 Ligonier Ministries National Conference in Orlando with good friends Don and Angela.
- Enjoying eight wonderful concerts, including Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Chris Tomlin and Toby Mac.
- Enjoying a sabbatical as an elder at my church.
I have been blessed this year. I pray that you have as well.
Looking Toward 2015
The beginning of a new year is a good time to set goals. These are good ones:
- Spend more time with family
- Eat better
- Exercise more
- Get more sleep
- Go for that job you’ve been dreaming about
- Read more good books
- Subscribe to and read good blogs
- Read through the Bible
There are so many good daily devotionals and Bible reading plans out there, how do you choose which one to use? Nathan W. Bingham of Ligonier Ministries recently compiled a list of Bible reading plans. Tim Challies also suggested a few Bible Reading Plans. For years, I have used Ligonier Ministries’ excellent magazine Tabletalk. The magazine includes several excellent articles, daily studies and a Bible reading plan. In 2015, the daily studies will take the reader through the Old Testament Wisdom literature, also known as the Poetical Books – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. Whichever plan you choose, why not make it a goal to read through the Bible in 2015.
I would also commend to you to start your day with The Briefing, the excellent podcast with daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations from Albert Mohler, and to sign up to receive Scotty Smith’s wonderful Heavenward Prayers via email. I also plan to use Tullian Tchividjian’s new daily devotional book It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News during 2015.
Many blessings for a wonderful 2015 as you grow in your knowledge of and love for our Lord and Savior.
~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~
BOOK REVIEW: Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin
MUSIC REVIEW: All the People Said Amen – Matt Maher
~ THIS AND THAT ~
- How movies embraced Hinduism (Without You even Noticing). From Interstellar to Batman and Star Wars the venerable religion has been the driving philosophy behind many hit movies. Why? Interesting article from Nirpal Dhaliwal.
- USA Today Names Boyhood Top Film of 2014. I wasn’t overly impressed with the film, giving it 2 ½ stars.
- Adam Sandler tops Forbes ‘Most Overpaid’ Actors List. For the second year in a row, Forbes magazine declares Adam Sandler the “most overpaid” actor in Hollywood, meaning his movies bring in the lowest return on investment.
- Unbroken Uncut. Marshall Segall of Desiring God writes about the incredible life of Louis Zamperini.
- Broken: The Power of Conversion in Louie Zamperini’s Life. Here’s an article from the Gospel Coalition that we’ve run before but in light of the film’s release it is worth reading again.
- After ‘Unbroken’: The remarkable story of Louis Zamperini’s faith Check out Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record Special: Louis Zamperini: A Journey of Faith” with Franklin Graham on December 31 at 7:00pm ET on the Fox News Channel. The special will be rebroadcast on January 1 at 7:00pm ET.
- The Unbreakable Laura Hillenbrand. An excellent New York Times profile of the author of Unbroken.
IN THE NEWS:
- A Christmas Present from the Mainstream Media: Newsweek Takes a Desperate Swipe at the Integrity of the Bible (Part 1). Michael Kruger writes “The recent Newsweek cover article by Kurt Eichenwald, entitled “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,” published intentionally (no doubt) on December 23rd, goes so far beyond the standard polemics, and is so egregiously mistaken about the Bible at so many places, that the magazine should seriously consider a public apology to Christians everywhere.”
- National Geographic’s Photos of the Year. Some amazing photographs.
- Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God. Read this story that Eric Metaxas wrote in the Wall Street Journal.
- The Best (New and Free) Apps of 2014. USA Today lists a few apps you may want to check out.
- Top Posts of 2014. From J.D. Greear.
- Collin Hansen’s Top 10 Theology Stories of 2014. See what the Executive Director of the Gospel Coalition feels are the top theology stories of the year.
- Top Religion news that Christianity Today readers found most interesting in 2014.
- The Awl. John Piper’s poem retelling of The Good Samaritan inspired by the events in Ferguson, Missouri.
- How to Change Your Mind. Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition writes “The beginning of a New Year is an an excellent time to try something new. As you make your list of resolutions and goals I want to recommend adding a simple four step process that could transform your life by, quite literally, changing your mind.”
- The “Celibate Gay Christian” Movement: How Should We Think About It? The hiring of celibate gay Julie Rodgers at Wheaton College has stirred up a lot of conversation. Denny Burk writes that the conversation is ongoing.
- Our Obligation to the Unreached. David Platt (author of Radical), writes “My aim is to show you not simply why we must give, but also why we must go . . . however, whenever, and wherever God leads.”
- God Isn’t Dead in Gotham. Read this interview with Tim Keller from the Wall Street Journal.
- A Prayer for the Peace of Jesus to Reign in Our Relationships. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.
- John Thompson’s Top 10 Albums of 2014. His list includes two of my top three – U2’s Songs of Innocence and Steve Taylor and the Perfect Foil’s Goliath.
- Rolling Stone Names Anomaly by Lecrae #12 Rap Album of the Year. Congrats to Lecrae who is really making a difference in the hip-hop/rap music culture.
- One Solitary Life. Even though Christmas has passed for another year, I though this video of Michael W. Smith was well worth sharing.
- Video of Andy Mineo’s Paisano’s Wylin’ ft. Marty of Social Club. One of my favorite songs from his Never Land EP.
- More Heart, Less Attack. Check out this video of an acoustic version of this excellent song from NEEDTOBREATHE.
- Phil Keaggy Named Greatest Christian Guitarist of All Time. I hope they didn’t spend too much money to determine this. To me, it’s a no-brainer.
- 50 Books Real Simple Readers Love. Real Simple asked “What book made you love to read?” and this list was compiled from about 4,000 responses.
- The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield. I mentioned recently that I was preparing for the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference by listening to last year’s conference messages. One of those messages was a short optional conferences session by Steven Lawson on his new book The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield. If you’ve ever heard Lawson speak, you known he is a passionate and energetic speaker. When he talks about his book, you want to go right out and read it. That’s just what I did after I listened to this message recently. Look for a review in the next few weeks.
- Week 1 of Francis and Lisa Chan’s New Series on Marriage. The series corresponds to their excellent book You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity.
- The Great Divorce on Stage. Jesse Johnson writes about Max McLean’s new stage production of C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce. The production comes to the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage March 28-29.
- Trip Lee preached his last sermon at Capitol Hill Baptist Church on December 21. He spent four years at the church, interning under Mark Dever. His new book Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story will be published January 27. Watch the video for the book here.
- New David Platt Book. The author of Radical will release Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography on February 3.
Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.29.2014
- Religious excellence will not earn you a place at God’s table. Your own efforts will never merit you a seat of honor. Michael Horton
- Success and suffering will either darken your heart or make you wise, but they won’t leave you where you were. Tim Keller.
- The overwhelming emphasis of contemporary Christianity: “Just do it.” The overwhelming emphasis of Biblical Christianity: “It is finished.” Tullian Tchividjian
- The invitation is not Christ plus anything, but Christ alone. Michael Horton
- What are the years from 25 to 75? They are the accumulation of all the questions I wish I had known to ask my teachers. John Piper
- To build your house on the rock is to hear what Jesus says and obey. To be foolish and build your house on the sand is to hear and ignore. Kevin DeYoung.
- Advent = Not what’s under the tree, but Who was on it. Scotty Smith
- The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation. J.I. Packer
- To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. Martin Luther
- Jesus’ claims are particularly unnerving, because if they are true there is no alternative but to bow the knee to him. Tim Keller
- The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God. C.S. Lewis
- Leaders must be close enough to relate to others but far enough ahead to motivate them. John Maxwell
- Of all the things in the world that can set the heart burning, there is nothing like the presence of Jesus! Charles Spurgeon
- You know you’ve created god in your own image when your god loves those you love and hates those you hate. Burk Parsons
- The quest for glory can never be satisfied, it must be extinguished. Martin Luther
- 19 Apps That Made the Difference for Me (and My Team) in 2014. Michael Hyatt writes “These are the nineteen apps I used the most in 2014, the apps that help me run my business and maximize different aspects of my personal life. I was tempted to rank these, but I found I couldn’t. Instead I’ve listed them in alphabetical order.”
- My Top 20 Most Popular Posts of 2014 (And What I Learned from Them). From Michael Hyatt.
- Glenn Brooke’s 14 Best Books Read in 2014. Matt Perman’s excellent book What’s Best Next made Glenn’s list – and mine too.
- 26 Ways to “Provoke the 1 Peter 3:15 Question” at Work. J.D. Greear lists 26 ways that you can live provocatively at work.
- The Source of Your Unlimited Potential. The latest podcast from Andy Andrews.
- Three Critical Responsibilities of a True Leader. Dave Kraft writes “just finished a very insightful book, “View From the Top,” by David Michael Lindsay, President of Gordon Cromwell College (a Christian university in Boston). Here are three critical responsibilities of a true leader adapted from the book. I both resonate and agree with all three. The three main points are David’s the content under each point is mine.”
- Humanizing Work. What resources does Christianity give us to humanize work? Tim Keller explains how work is not part of humanity’s curse but rather how God calls us to cultivate this earth to bring about human flourishing for the common good. Looking at the condition of the heart will lead to loving those we work with well instead of exploiting them. Check out this message from Tim Keller.
- Thoughts on How to Schedule the Day. Matt Perman writes “I believe in having a general framework from which you approach your day. In other words, a basic schedule of sorts that gives some behind-the-scenes guidance for how to slot things in your day. This template is not something you literally put on your calendar, but is more of a mindset.”
- WEEKLY ROUNDUP: Doing What You Love, What Scares You, and What Brings You Peace. Here is a roundup of great articles that are worth your time to read, ponder, share, or even argue with from Mission: Work.
- Resources on Faith and Vocation. Chris Armstrong offers some good suggestions.
- Sloth & Diligence. Ken Jones writes “If we allow our thoughts about work to be shaped by the world, we will be susceptible to making our vocation into an idol. It is not enough to work but to work diligently, so that we do not give room for slothfulness, nor do we simply become men-pleasers. We should take to heart the strong language of Scripture about sloth and laziness. In our labor and in all areas of our lives we are to live to the glory of God.”
- Business as Ministry. Andre Yee of Desiring God writes “To put it simply, vocation is the specific work that God has called each of us to. And vocation is not limited to those who serve in Christian ministry.”
- Recommended Resource: Kingdom Calling. Here are four points from Amy Sherman’s excellent book Kingdom Calling. You can find a full review on our site under Work and Leadership Library.
- Chocolate and Meaningful Work Alayna Greenfield writes “The following videos capture how attitudes change when people realize how their work produces something worthwhile or benefits others.” Alayna Greenfield writes “The following videos capture how attitudes change when people realize how their work produces something worthwhile or benefits others.”
- How to Develop the People You Really Want. True leadership is about developing the people on your team. What is the best way to develop the people you really want to have? Here is Dan Rockwell with some wonderful insight on how exactly to do that.
Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?
Steven Garber was the commencement speaker at my graduation from Covenant Seminary in May. Tammy and I have been reading and discussing this book for the past few months. This week we complete the book by looking at the Epilogue: But Are You Happy?
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 9: The Ethics of Vocation.