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- Christianaudio’s Free Book of the Month. The free audiobook of the month from Christianaudio is The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel.
- Interview with Zack Eswine. David G. Moore interviews Zack about his excellent new book Spurgeon’s Sorrows.
- Tim Challies’ review of Counter Culture by David Platt. Enjoy Tim’s review of this important new book by the author of Radical. I’m reading the book now and will share my review in a few weeks.
- Albert Mohler reviews Counter Culture by David Platt. I’m reading this book now and will have a review for you soon.
- On My Shelf: Life and Books with Bryan Chapell. Matt Smethurst shares the next installment of On My Shelf, which helps us get to know various writers through a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their lives as readers. He recently talked with Bryan Chapell, Senior Pastor of nearby Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria about what’s on his nightstand, books he regularly revisits, and the biographies that have most shaped him.
- 20 Truths from The Happy Christian by David Murray. Ed Stetzer shares 20 quotes from David Murray’s new book The Happy Christian.
- New Iain Murray book. His new book Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes has been released by Banner of Truth.
- All for Love? Five Red Flags to Watch for in YA Christian Romance Fiction The Redeemed Reader writes “All these are valid plotlines and themes. But here are the red flags, in the form of questions to ask yourself as you read these books.
- A Theologian Wrestles with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ. J. Todd Billings, the Gordon H. Girod Research Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, introduces his new book, Rejoicing in Lament: Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ.
- New & Notable Books. Tim Challies looks at a few new books, including John Knox: Fearless Faith by Steven Lawson which I recently read and very much enjoyed.
- Announcing the NIV Zondervan Study Bible D. A. Carson is general editor; the associate editors are T. Desmond Alexander, Richard S. Hess, and Douglas J. Moo.
- 100 Bible Passages through Scripture’s Storyline (Printable Reading Plan). Kevin Halloran writes “I recently came across the E100 Bible Reading Plan that seeks to take readers on a big picture tour of the Bible’s amazing story in 100 Bible passages. I can see it being a useful tool for working with seekers, discipling new believers, and also Christians that want a quicker tour than a one year Bible reading plan might give. I wish my friend had a list like this years ago! I hope it deepens your understanding of the amazing story of the gospel and your love for the God of Scripture.”
MUSIC AND MOVIES:
- Upcoming Music Releases. Here are a few upcoming music releases that I’m excited about:
- Lead Us Back – Third Day – March 3
- Saints and Sinners – Matt Maher – March 17
- Passion 15’ Conference Album (Title TBD) – Passion – March 17
- Duets: Reworking the Catalog – Van Morrison – March 24
- Tomorrow We Live – KB – April 21
- Lecrae and Andy Mineo at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in St. Louis April 30. Don’t miss it!
- “Frozen Heart” from The Hawk of Paris. Here’s a new single from Jars of Clay lead singer Dan Haseltine’s side project The Hawks of Paris.
- In the Studio with Michael Card. Michael Card hosted a wonderful weekly radio program, In the Studio with Michael Card. It was carried by stations in 48 states, Canada, and the Caribbean. It was also available via internet streaming audio and as a podcast. The show was an amalgam of talk, musical performances and Bible study. The show ceased production in March, 2009. Now you can enjoy some of the programs and relive the lessons and the music with Michael and his guests. This was my favorite radio show at the time.
- Andrae Crouch: The Man Who Raised the Goal. Kirk Franklin writes “Our music doesn’t affect people the way it used to. It doesn’t create movements like it did during Andrae’s time. Is it because today’s worship leader is too busy trying to get the record deal, the applause, a higher church salary, and that crossover song? Every step we take away from the cross — and the cross alone – every time we focus on sales over souls… the goal gets lower and lower.”
- Wheel of Music Impressions. Did you see Christina Aguilera and Jimmy Fallon play Wheel of Musical Impressions on The Tonight Show recently?
- Irish U2 frontman Bono may have perfectly summed up the American idea. “In 2012, U2 frontman Bono gave a speech about poverty and social enterprise at Georgetown University. On February 13, Glenn Beck played the audio and called it one of the best descriptions of human potential and the American idea he’s ever heard.”
- “Every Breaking Wave” Video. Here is a 13-minute music film for U2’s excellent song “Every Breaking Wave”
- New Van Morrison Album. Duets: Re-Working The Catalogue will be released on March 24. The album features Morrison re-recording some of his earlier songs with artists such as George Benson, Mavis Staples, Stevie Winwood, Mark Knopler and Natalie Cole. The first single, which you receive when you pre-order the album on iTunes is “Real, Real Gone” with Michael Buble.
- Brian Wilson Biopic Trailer. The first trailer for the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy has hit the Internet. Paul Dano stars as the young Wilson, the chief architect behind much of the Beach Boys’ buoyant pop. John Cusack plays Wilson later in life.
- 12 Questions to Ask When Watching a Film. Here are helpful questions from John Frame.
- 9 Ways to Find a Movie’s Worldview of Redemption. Justin Taylor writes “Screenwriter and reviewer Brian Godawa (who wrote the screenplay for the excellent film, To End All Wars) suggests what to look for in order to understand a movie’s vision of redemption, which is a key part of its worldview.”
- YOU’VE GOT TO WATCH THIS! Russell Brand (yes, Russell Brand), Trashes Porn and 50 Shades of Grey. Yep, that Russell Brand
- Fifty Shades of Shame — The Evolution of Pornography. Albert Mohler writes “The release of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, timed for Valentine’s Day, is a more important and lamentable event than many Christians may realize. What the movie represents is nothing less than the evolution of pornography in an age increasingly distant from a biblical vision of sexuality and human dignity. Going to see Fifty Shades of Grey, or reading the book series, is an exercise in pornographic intent and effect. It is also an act of defiance against the goodness of the gift of sex as granted to humanity by God. Furthermore, the series is an assault upon the dignity of every human being.”
- No Grey Area. Kevin DeYoung writes “There is nothing gray about whether a follower of Christ should see 50 Shades of Grey. This is a black and white issue. Don’t go. Don’t watch it. Don’t read it. Don’t rent it.
- Fifty Shades of Grey: A Dangerous Distortion of God’s Design. Randy Alcorn writes “Part of what makes Fifty Shades of Grey so dangerous is that it twists and distorts God’s design and intentions for sex”
- 10 Articles on Pornography. Tim Challies offers ten articles he’s written on the subject of pornography and deviant sexuality.
- Strategies for Fighting Sexual Sin. Here’s an “oldie but goodie” from John Piper.
- A Chart Contrasting Healthy and Unhealthy Sexuality (or Godliness vs. Porn) Our friend and fellow blogger Kevin Halloran writes “Pornography is one of the biggest challenges the church faces in this generation. It is vital to understand Scripture’s teaching on it and also be aware of devastating consequences that come from consuming it. William Struthers shared this helpful chart* in Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain comparing healthy and unhealthy sexuality.”
- 10 Questions on Dating with Matt Chandler. Matt Chandler is a husband, father, lead pastor at The Village Church in Dallas, and author of several books, including The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption. Matt was a recent guest on the Ask Pastor John podcast and answered ten questions on singleness and dating
- Andy Stanley’s Troubling Rules on Love, Sex, and Dating. In discussing Stanley new book, Chelsen Vicari writes “As hard as it is to admit, America’s most influential pastor will not define or defend the sanctity of marriage because he doesn’t want to upset anyone. So he seems to compromise his teachings by insinuating that Jesus would probably bake a cake for a same-sex wedding couple and therefore Christians should too.”
- Three key connections between knowing God and staying pure Heath Lambert writes “The most important thing you can do in your pursuit of purity is to get to know the living God. It kind of makes you wonder though, doesn’t it? What is it about knowing God that is so essential to purity? I can think of three things.”
- The Most Important Yet Most Neglected Organ In Our Bodies. David Murray writes “The brain is the most important organ in our body, and yet we hardly ever give much thought about how to care for its health.”
- Preparing Your Heart for Worship. R.C. Sproul writes “It is very important that we take time to prepare our hearts to worship God before we set foot in the sanctuary on Sunday morning.”
- What is Your Doing Saying? Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “The old adage, “actions speak louder than words,” is true because, as another adage says, “words are cheap.” So, when it comes to our faith, if our words and actions are saying different things we must look to our actions for the truth.”
- R.C. Sproul’s Favorite Word. David Murray writes that “Dr. Sproul’s special word is a swear word to many Christians. That’s desperately sad. And deadly serious.”
- The Radical Demands of the Gospel. Check out this article by Eric Metaxas and John Stonestreet’s BreakPoint This Week” interview with David Platt.
- A Prayer for Taking Responsibility for Our Words. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.
- What I Would Have to Deny to Deny Hell. Tim Challies writes “If I am ever to come to the point of denying the existence of hell, what will be the doctrinal cost of getting there? Though I am sure there is much more that could be said, I can think of at least four major denials.”
- Communing with Christ on a Crazy Day. David Mathis of Desiring God writes “Whatever the circumstances that throw a wrench into your routine, your crazy mornings raise the question, How should you think about, and engage in (if at all), the “spiritual disciplines” — or better yet, “the means of grace” — of Bible meditation and prayer when God’s good, but often inconvenient, sovereignty has you reeling without your routine?”
- 26 Ways Doing IT Support is Better than Being a Pastor. Those in my department may enjoy this one.
- A Prayer for re-learning the secret of contentment. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.
IN THE NEWS:
- A Prayer in Response to the Martyrdom of the Egyptian Christians. See this prayer from Scotty Smith.
- The Coptic Church and Chalcedon. Kevin DeYoung writes that we need to “Think more carefully about why some consider the Coptic Orthodox Church to be, well, unorthodox. While participating in a panel discussion at Ligonier last week (the “Question and Answers #2” session that Kevin is referring to here can be watched free at http://www.ligonier.org/blog/2015-national-conference-audio-and-video-now-available/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=ligonierministriesblog), one of the first questions we were asked was about the twenty-one Coptic martyrs and the heresy of monophysitism (yes, it’s that kind of conference). So let’s step back and try to understand the history and theology behind what may be the oldest (formal) split in the church.
- Should We Pray for the Defeat of ISIS, or Their Conversion? Russell Moore writes “The main problem is that we sometimes forget that we are called to be a people of both justice and justification, and that these two are not contradictory.”
- A Prayer for the 150 Assyrian Christians Imprisoned by ISIS. See this prayer from Scotty Smith.
- Out of the NFL, Tebow Builds His Lasting Legacy. Dan Olson writes “Tebow’s dream of returning to the NFL is unlikely to materialize, but his generosity is bringing glory to Jesus Christ and touching lives for eternity. Regardless of his day job, I hope Tebow continues to build on this lasting legacy.”
Music Review ~ Glory to the Holy One: Sacred Music for the People of God – Jeff Lippencott and R.C. Sproul
Over the years Orlando always seems to generate a good “Truth is Stranger than Fiction” contribution – from a guaranteed express worship at a church on the way to Mount Dora to a drive in worship service at a church in the downtown Orlando area. This year’s contribution comes courtesy of a billboard on Sand Lake, near the Drury Inn hotel we stayed at the beginning of our week in town.
Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 3.1.2015
- Am I desiring and seeking the temporal and eternal good of my neighbor with the same zeal, ingenuity and perseverance that I seek my own? John Piper
- Worship is not simply a feeling that is experienced; it must also involve understanding and the mind. R.C. Sproul
- The Bible is shallow enough for a new believer to wade in, but deep enough for a theologian to drown in. Steven Lawson
- Some Christians live in such fear, they act as if they believe in the sovereignty of Satan rather than the sovereignty of God. Steven Lawson
- The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead. Tim Keller
- The sin of fallen man is this: Man seeks the benefits of God while at the same time fleeing from God himself. R.C. Sproul
- Tolerance is a relatively weak virtue; we’re called to so much more than that in the body of Christ. Kevin DeYoung .
- Loving as Jesus loves us is the best thing to do with the rest of our lives. Scotty Smith
- He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. Jim Elliot
- Because He’s the living God, He can hear. Because He’s a loving God, He will hear. Charles Spurgeon
- The poor are not a problem to be solved but a people to join. Eugene Peterson
- We’re far worse than we ever imagined, and far more loved than we could ever dream. Tim Keller
- A loving God who has no wrath is no God. He is an idol of our own making as much as if we carved Him out of stone. R.C. Sproul
- A high view of God leads to high worship and holy living, but a low of God leads to trivial worship and low living. Steven Lawson
- Here is a vocation that will bring you more satisfaction than if you became a millionaire ten times over: Develop the extraordinary skill for detecting the burdens of others and devote yourself daily to making them lighter. John Piper
- At the final judgment, everyone will stand before God alone. R.C. Sproul
- God doesn’t merely invite people to worship him, he commands it. Burk Parsons
- The way of God’s grace becomes indispensable when we realize that the way of God’s law is inflexible. Tullian Tchividjian
- The more I learn about God, the more aware I become of what I don’t know about him. R.C. Sproul
- The irreligious don’t repent at all and the religious only repent of sins. But Christians repent of their wrongfully placed righteousness. Tim Keller
- Christian discipleship recognizes life as a gift, not a given. We don’t make ourselves. We are made. Michael Horton
- We do not sit in authority over the Scripture, the Scripture sits in authority over us. Steven Lawson
- Dear single, widowed, abandoned, divorced, heartbroken, or happily married woman, may your first and ultimate love be Christ. Burk Parsons
- The church is not a museum for pristine saints, but a hospital ward for broken sinners. Tim Keller
- The situations that have been the biggest wins for me have been because I was forced to think differently. Andy Andrews
- For the Christian, every tragedy is ultimately a blessing, or God is a liar. R.C. Sproul.
- We are likely to deny Christ when the cost of identifying with Him is great. Bob Smart
- Jesus Christ is able to set us free because He has dealt with the sin that enslaves us. Sinclair Ferguson
- No one can go back and make a new start. But everyone can start now and make a new ending. Lecrae
- The law demands that we do it all; the gospel declares that Jesus paid it all. Tullian Tchividjian
- Take me, and enable me to glorify You now, in all that I say, in all that I do, and with all that I have. Charles Spurgeon
- Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness is believing God got it wrong. Tim Keller
- Thinking that I deserve heaven is a sure sign I have no understanding of the gospel. Sinclair Ferguson
- Hope can see heaven through the thickest clouds. Thomas Brooks
- Our Children’s First Glimpse of the Value of Work. Courtney Reissig writes “My home is my work right now. My children are my work right now. Of course, they are so much more than that, but they are not less.”
- My Job Exists Solely Because of the Fall. Paul Maxwell interviews Nate who lives in Maryland with his wife, Becky, and daughter, Lina.
- More, But Not Less, Than a Carpenter. Tom Nelson, author of the excellent book Work Matters, writes “Several years ago I remember reading a fine book that was winsomely titled More Than a Carpenter. In this book, the author points out a great deal of convincing evidence that supports the deity of Jesus. This is essential to understanding the person and work of Jesus. Yet in no way should we conclude that because Jesus was more than a carpenter, his vocational calling to work as a carpenter was somehow less than important. Clearly the Son of God was much more, but not less, than a carpenter. This incarnational pattern of Jesus’s earthly life speaks volumes about the importance of our day-to-day vocational work.”
- Stay-at-Home Work when Kids Have Special Needs. Courtney Reissig interviews Rachael Newton is married to Josh and is a stay-at-home mom to their three kids. Their 9-year-old son has autism. They live in Little Rock, Arkansas, and are members of Midtown Baptist Church, where she also serves as the children’s ministry director.
- 5 Strategies to Cultivate a Healthy Leadership Spirit. Randy Conley writes “Even more important than recognizing the warning signs something is wrong with your inner life as a leader, is pursuing strategies to prevent yourself from running off the rails in the first place. To cultivate a fertile soil for your life as a leader, or to apply a soothing balm to your wounded spirit, try following these five strategies.”
- I Don’t Have a Job. I Have a Higher Calling. Rachel Feintzeig writes: “Those who can connect their work to a higher purpose—whether they are a janitor or a banker—tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, put in longer hours and rack up fewer absences, according to Ms. Wrzesniewski’s research.”
- Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn for Teens. John Maxwell writes about his new book written for teens.
- Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. In this month’s podcast Andy explores the dangerous desire for autonomy.
- What Is Meaningful Work? Courtney Reissig writes “It’s all meaningful, from wiping bottoms to writing sentences. We can all work, mothers and non-mothers, and find great meaning in what we do on any given day—not because the world tells us it is meaningful work, but because the God who created work tells us so.”
- Character Matters for Workplace Culture, All the Way up the Corporate Ladder. Check out part one in this series on Character at Work from Art Lindsley.
- Your Job Does Not Matter! C. Patton writes “The point here is that it really does not matter exactly what you do, you should do it in the name of Jesus and do it for Him. Are you a teacher? Then teach for Jesus. Are you in business? Then do business for Jesus. Do you design software? Then do that for Jesus. WHATEVER you do, do it for Jesus.”
- The Five Practices of Leadership. Dan Rockwell writes “People of influence knowingly engage in the five practices of leadership described in, “The Leadership Challenge.”
- In Praise of Trade Schools. Anthony Bradley writes “One of the benefits of a Christian theology of work is that it frees parents up to encourage their children to pursue various employment-related vocations that cultivate creation, rather than prod them to waste a life in the unfulfilling pursuit of the American Dream.
- 3 Ways You’re Giving up Power with Your Words. Michael Hyatt writes “ur words can be powerful tools to accomplish our goals. But sometimes the things we say can sabotage our success”
- Does the L-Word Belong in Business? J.B. Wood writes “Plenty of research keeps cropping up showing that people at work are much more productive when they also feel cared for.”
- John Maxwell on Maximize. Check out this short video from John Maxwell as he discusses “Maximize”.
- An Extraordinary Skill for Ordinary Christians. Tim Challies writes “I love what John Piper says: “Here is a vocation that will bring you more satisfaction than if you became a millionaire ten times over: Develop the extraordinary skill for detecting the burdens of others and devote yourself daily to making them lighter.” This is the extraordinary ministry for every ordinary Christian—bearing the burdens of others. What seems so mundane and so unspectacular, is actually bringing great glory and honor to God.”
- 4 Groups to Whom the Leader Should Listen. Eric Geiger writes “Where should leaders look to find the people who will speak into the direction of the organization? Where should leaders find people who will influence them? As you evaluate the voices you listen to and the feedback you elicit, consider the following four spheres of influence.”
- An essential faith and work bibliography, or two, or three… Check out these posts on essential resources for understanding the interconnection of faith, work, vocation, and economics.
- A Sacred Trust In this Lead Like Jesus devotional an excellent question is posed – “How would you approach your leadership responsibilities differently if you saw them as God-given?”
Friday Reflections by Greston Miller
I meet with some wonderful folks at work each Friday morning to discuss faith and work books. Currently we are reading and discussing Matt Perman’s excellent book What’s Best Next. Recently, Greston Miller, a long-time friend recently shared his thoughts with the group. With his permission I’m sharing it with you as well:
|F||Forget and Forgive||Forget about any setbacks you may have had this week. Forgive yourself. And, forgive those who may have offended you or let you down.|
|R||Reflect||Reflect upon your week and remember your accomplishments and those who helped you to be a little better this week than you were last week. Did you send a note acknowledging them, or a note of thanks, or a note of appreciation?|
|I||There is no “I” in team||Yes there is! What did you do to help your team this week?|
|D||Did I?||Ask yourself, “Did I give my team and my family my very best this week?”|
|A||Ask||Ask yourself, “What can I do next week to be a little better than I am this week?” Then, from this day forward, ask yourself at the start of each day, “What can I do today to be a little better than I was yesterday?” And, at the end of the day ask yourself, “Who did I help today?”|
|Y||Say “Yes”||Say “Yes” to having a wonderful weekend. Tell your family how much you love them.|
Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?
The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler
I’m re-reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with me? This week we look at Chapter 6 – The Passion to Lead: Passionate Leaders Driven by Passionate Beliefs Draw Passionate Followers:
- Leaders need to possess and develop many qualities, but the one element that drives them to the front is passion. Without it, nothing important happens.
- Passion is not a temporary state of mind. It is the constant source of energy for the leader, and the greatest cause of attraction for followers.
- Kierkegaard reminds us that passion cannot be artificially generated or transmitted. If authentic, it naturally shines through as convictions come to life, as a great mission is undertaken, and as people share the same great passion and join together as one.
- Passion must arise out of conviction. It cannot come any other way. Passion arises naturally or not at all. It happens when convictions come to life, and deep beliefs drive visions and plans. The passionate leader is driven by the knowledge that the right beliefs, aimed at the right opportunity, can lead to earth-shaking changes.
- In any context of leadership, passion arises out of beliefs. For the Christian leader, those convictions must be drawn from the Bible and must take the shape of the gospel. Our ultimate conviction is that everything we do is dignified and magnified by the fact that we were created for the glory of God. We were made for his glory, and this means that each one of us has a divine purpose. The Christian leader finds passion in the great truths of the Christian faith, and especially in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Leadership arises from this passion and is driven by it. Other leaders may be driven by a passion for cars or technology or empire building, but the Christian leader is driven by the convictions that give all of life its meaning. Everything else flows from this naturally.
- Passionate leaders attract and motivate passionate followers. Together, they build passionate movements. When this happens, anything is possible.
- When the mission is ambiguous and the beliefs of the organization are nebulous, passion dissipates quickly.
- Leaders must use their brains, but they need to speak from the heart.
- The passionate leader emphasizes morality and purpose. It is not enough that a decision is workable; it must also be right. The leader cannot be satisfied that a product is adequate; it must enhance the lives of those who use it.
- Organizations driven by passion thrive on the experience of seeing change happen in the service of common convictions.
- When push comes to shove in leadership—and it will—the leader resets the equation by going back to the convictions and leaning into passion. As new people come into the movement, they must be trained in the convictions if they are to share the passion. When trouble is confronted, the leader responds consistently with the convictions in order to protect the passion.
- The language of passion requires boldness. Leaders learn to speak of causes, not structures; of movements, not mechanics; of people, not statistics; of cherished principles, not mere policies.