Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


Leave a comment

5 Ways to Build Trust at Work

Patrick Lencioni QuoteI’m increasingly reminded of the importance of trust in healthy work (and all), relationships. I’ve read books by authors such as Patrick Lencioni, Stephen M.R. Covey and Ken Blanchard on the subject over the past few years. Dave Kraft recently posted a helpful article entitled “I Don’t Trust You”, stating “When it comes to business, church and family (just about anything having to do with relationships), trust is critical. Probably one of the worst things anyone can say to another person is, ‘I don’t trust you.’”

In his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, one of the most helpful books I’ve read and a book I refer to often, Lencioni states that trust is the foundation of real teamwork. Covey writes that the first job of a leader – at work or home – is to inspire trust. He states that regardless of the relationship – sports team, business or family, if you can’t trust one another there’s going to be trouble.

If trust is so important, how can we build and maintain it? Here are five ways:

  1. Start with trust. Ken Blanchard writes that trust is a delicate thing, taking a long time to build, but it can be lost in a matter of minutes. My parents often told me that it is the last thing that someone does that people remember you for. Think of the sad Bill Cosby situation, for example. In the expectations/philosophies document I send new team members I state “You have my trust – that is my starting point. You will have it unless you give me reason to withhold that trust”. Where do you begin in regards to trust?
  2. Maintain trust by developing strong relationships. Lencioni writes that like a good marriage, trust on a team is never complete but must be maintained over time. Covey states that in relationships of high trust we can say the wrong thing and people will still get our meaning. However, in relationships of low trust we can be very measured and precise but people will still misinterpret us. How do you build strong relationships so that you can maintain trust with your teams? See my article, “5 Ways to Know Your Team Members Better”.
  3. Show trust in action. Blanchard writes that today we hear a lot of talk about trust and even more about the lack of it. He states that people need to see trust in action more than they need to hear about it. What are some ways you show trust in action? For example, are you able to keep confidential things that people share with you? Do you keep your word and can people depend on it?
  4. Work hard to restore trust. Even if we start with trust, there are times we will do or say things that will damage trusting relationships. We need to work to restore that trust by being accountable and repentant. Lencioni states that the key ingredient to building trust is not time, but courage. Members of trusting teams admit weaknesses and mistakes to one another. A friend once told me that once trust is lost, she will never give it again. I don’t think that’s a healthy approach. What do you do when trust needs to be restored?
  5. Be intentional about maintaining trust. Demonstrate daily that those you work with can count on you. By consistently showing trustworthiness in action on a daily basis and over a long period of time, you make daily deposits into your trust account with each team member. How do you intentionally do that?

These are just a few thoughts on how to build and maintain trust at work. There are many, many more. What are you doing to build trust with those you work with?


Leave a comment

MUSIC NEWS and QUOTES

Music News:

  • This is Not a Test - Toby MacNew Toby Mac Album. This Is Not A Test, Toby Mac’s first album since Eye on It debuted at the top of the charts three years ago, will be released August 7. Four songs have been released thus far, and this looks to be one of the top releases of the year.
  • Andy Mineo Uncomfortable Tour. For those of you in the Midwest, you might want to check out Andy Mineo at the House of Blues in Chicago on October 17.
  • My Worth is Not in What I Own. Keith Getty writes “’My Worth Is Not in What I Own’ is a song that speaks to the subject of worth by reminding us that true significance is found in our identity in Christ.
  • All I Have is Christ. Tony Reinke interviews Bob and Jordan Kauflin about their hymn “All I Have is Christ”, which is one that we sing regularly in our church.

Music Quotes:music quote

  • Nothing will happen today that hasn’t first ran through the good intentions of the Sovereign God. So why worry? KB
  • Let’s be honest. No one is ever truly “just saying”.  Propaganda

Song of the Week

He’s All You Need by Steve Camp

This week we look at Steve Camp’s “He’s All You Need”, a song that was a blessing to me during Tammy’s serious illness early in our marriage. You can listen to the song here.

When you’re alone, your heart is torn, He is all you need.
When you’re confused, your soul is bruised, He is all you need.
He’s the rock of your soul, He’s the anchor that holds
Through your desperate time.
When your way is unsure His love will endure, a peace you will find
Through all your years, the joy, the tears, He is all you needSteve Camp

When you give in to that familiar sin, He is all you need
Guilt as you’re paralyzed, it slowly it eats you alive,
He is all you need
He’ll be faithful to you though your heart is untrue
And your love’s grown cold
His forgiveness is real, it’ll comfort and heal your sin-weary soul
Well, God loves you so, He’ll never let you go
He is all you need.

He’ll be faithful to you though your heart is untrue
And your love’s grown cold
His forgiveness is real, to comfort and heal your sin-weary soul
Through all your years, the joy, the tears, He is all you need.

speak-life


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS

Book Reviews

A Well Ordered ChurchA Well-Ordered Church: Laying a Foundation for a Vibrant Church by William Boekestein and Daniel R Hyde. Evangelical Press. 190 pages. 2015
***

This book is written by two pastors about organizing and running a Reformed church based on principles from Scripture and Reformed Confessions. It is well-written, and will be most helpful to pastors and elders as they read and discuss how to be a “well-ordered church”.

The authors state that the goal of the book is to bring us back to the basics of ecclesiology, or, the biblical doctrine of the church. They include helpful discussion questions and resources for further reading at the end of each chapter. The discussion questions will aid in applying the information included in the chapter, and will be helpful as church leadership teams discuss the book.

As an elder in a Presbyterian Church in American (PCA) church, I read this book with particular interest. The authors organized the book into four categories:

  1. Identity. What is the church in general? Who are we as a church in particular?
  2. Authority. On a practical level, from whom do we as a church receive our marching orders? How does a church make decisions?
  3. Ecumenicity. How should one church relate to other churches?
  4. Activity. What is our mission? What should we as a church be doing?

As I read the book I was mentally comparing how we organize and run our church with what the authors were saying. A few thoughts that I found particularly helpful or challenging were the following:

  • Do the pastors, elders, and deacons regularly visit their members to check up on their spiritual and physical well-being?
  • A well-ordered church is a teaching church, a worshiping church, a witnessing church, and a repenting church.
  • Worship is the goal of the church’s mission.
  • A current trend is to allow contemporary culture rather than Scripture to determine the manner of the church’s worship. Ironically, God specifically warns against this.
  • The practice of removing children from the worship service is a relatively new invention reflective of our consumer-driven culture with its desire for choice and specialization.
  • Missionaries should not be accountable to a board or network but to the leaders of an organized church of Christ.
  • The priority of the mission of the church over that of para-church organizations should also impact the way congregants and congregations tithe. Honest para-church organizations tell their audience that their first responsibility is to give to the local church.
  • Unfortunately, for many churches and Christians, evangelism and missions is an appendix rather than a core component of their task.
  • Non-witnessing churches are definitely not well-ordered.
  • There are a million and one causes that your local church could be supporting; but our priority should be to fund ordained ministers planting churches. This means that our congregations need to be allocating a sizeable portion of our spending to foreign missions.
  • Many of us don’t witness because we lack a method.
  • The church is a reflection of God. When rebellion is permitted in the church of God, his reputation suffers.

The authors include an Appendix on Foundational Principles of Reformed Church Government.

I found this book to be helpful. As Michael Horton writes, all readers may not agree with everything presented in the book. However, where you don’t, you will be challenged from Scripture and historic Reformed Confessions as to why you might disagree.

 Discovering God's Will by Sinclair FergusonDiscovering God’s Will by Sinclair Ferguson. Banner of Truth. 128 pages. 1982.
****

A few months ago Banner of Truth finally announced that they would begin offering some of their excellent books in an e-book format. That was great news for me as I almost exclusively read e-books on Kindle, while also listening to audiobooks. Sinclair Ferguson is one of my favorite authors/preachers, and I’ve seen him at Ligonier Ministries National Conferences since 1997 and read several of his books. This one is well worth reading in any format.

This books is about guidance. Ferguson states:

“There are three particular areas in which we form patterns of life which largely determine the whole course of life. We form patterns of behaviour—a life-style. We decide which occupation and career we will pursue. We decide to marry or not to marry. To each of these areas of vital concern, I have devoted a chapter. You will find principles which, when conscientiously applied to your own circumstances, will keep you in the pathway along which God’s will may be discovered. To that extent I have tried to deal with practical issues.”

Ferguson writes that he has tried to convey that we learn about guidance primarily by learning about the Guide. It is the knowledge of God and His ways with men which ultimately gives us stability in doing his will. His prayer is that the book will provide the reader some help and clarification about how God will guide us and perhaps be granted illumination on the very areas of our lives which perplex us at the moment.

For a short book, I highlighted a significant number of passages. I would like to share some of them with you below:

  • The very idea that God guides us implies that we live according to the path which he has laid down, that our lives have a purpose in the present, as well as a destiny for the future.
  • There is, in fact, no more basic question for us to ask than this: Will this course of action tend to further the glory of God? Is the glory of God the driving principle of our actions? If we do not seek his glory, we cannot be walking in the way of his blessing. If we seek his glory, then we can be sure that we shall discover his light shed on our paths.
  • What does it mean that our lives should reflect his glory? It means likeness to Jesus. To live for the glory of God means to imitate Jesus. It means to live in dependence on the Holy Spirit who has been given to us with the specific function of bringing glory to Jesus in our lives (John 16:14). It means to live in dependence on the Holy Spirit who has been given to us with the specific function of bringing glory to Jesus in our lives (John 16:14). According to Ephesians 4:20-24, it means to live in righteousness and holiness.
  • If there is one critical issue we must face about divine guidance it is this one. Is Scripture our guide? Is Scripture ultimately ‘the only rule to direct us how we may glorify’ God?
  • How then does God make his will known to us? Primarily by teaching us about himself and our relationship to him. As we come to know the character of God, and his ways with men, we shall increasingly discover this wisdom—that is, the practical knowledge of his will and the ways in which it is to be put into action.
  • The chief need we have, therefore, is that of increased familiarity with and sensitivity to the wisdom of his Word.
  • Very often when young people say they are having problems about guidance, what they are really faced with is a problem about obedience. The issue at stake is whether we will walk along the paths of righteousness in which God will lead us.
  • The experience of discovering the will of God has two aspects to it. We have been considering some of the objective guidelines which Scripture provides. But there is also a subjective element in coming to know God’s will. After all, it is my life, not another’s, and my obedience, not another’s, which are involved in my coming to the conviction that one specific course of action is the Lord’s will for my life.
  • The point of contact between God’s revealed will and my personal obedience and walk in his will for my own life lies in the heart.
  • Before God, as we seek his guidance, there must be a developing harmony between our motivations to serve him, and a true condition of the heart. There must be fear and humility, and also obedience and trust.
  • How are we to walk worthy of God? Paul indicates that it is by living in a way that is consistent with his revealed character. To live in the will of God is to walk in love, to walk in light and to walk in wisdom.
  • The first characteristic of walking in the light is separation. The child of God will not become a partner in sin, nor with men in the pursuit of sin. The second characteristic—his life is identified by contrast. He was once darkness, but now he is light in the Lord!
  • There is no sincerity in our profession to want the will of God in our lives if we are not in tune with his will for personal holiness.
  • Few things are more common among those who complain that guidance has become a very frustrating thing for them than the failure to use the present opportunities God has given to them!
  • Guidance is the way in which God leads us as we think through the implications of his truth, and seek to find practical application of it in our lives. It involves using our minds to think through the path which God wants us to take in his service. It requires familiarity with Scripture, and fellowship with the Spirit, who alone knows the mind of God (1 Cor. 2:11-13).
  • Wherever we search in Scripture for teaching on the guidance of God, we invariably meet this combination. Guidance is supernatural; the will of God is made known to us spiritually. That is why we need to walk in the Spirit. But it is also made known to us through the Word. That is why we must walk intelligently in the Spirit.
  • No action which is contrary to the plain Word of God can ever be legitimate for the Christian. No appeal to spiritual freedom or to providential circumstances can ever make what is ethically wrong anything else but sinful. For the Christian is free only to love and obey the law of God. Therein lies his true freedom.
  • The question I must learn to ask is: Will it bring benefits, as far as I am able to judge, so that my relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ is strengthened? Will it draw me nearer to him? We are no longer speaking about whether a course of action is lawful for the Christian. We are considering only actions which are. But something which has a neutral influence on one person may be detrimental to another.
  • So the real question is: Can I take Christ there and look him in the face without shame? Is this course of action, this decision I am taking, totally consistent with my personal confession that ‘Jesus Christ is my Lord’?
  • We must not rest content with asking whether a course of action will be personally helpful. Will it have a like beneficial effect on others? Indeed, do I engage in it with a view to serving and helping them?
  • ‘What would Paul have done?’ ‘What would Christ himself have done?’. These are the questions we can now ask. Are there incidents, or is there teaching in Scripture, which can be applied to the situation in which I find myself?
  • Is it lawful? Is it helpful? Is it enslaving? Is it consistent with the Lordship of Christ? Is it helpful to others? Is it consistent with the example of Christ and the apostles? Is it for the glory of God? For that matter, am I living for the glory of God?
  • For the Christian the choice of a life-calling will be seen as one of the most important decisions he ever makes. It will determine many aspects of his life. It is essential therefore to be assured that we are doing the will of God.
  • There is no text in the Bible which tells you: This is what you are to do with your life. There are texts which say: These are things which you must not do. How then are we to arrive at the personal knowledge of God’s will?
  • We will never come to know and enjoy the will of the Lord, and find it good, perfect and acceptable until we first gain a true view of God and his fatherly character towards us.
  • If we are to marry, only God can bring us to the person we are to marry. There are principles enshrined in Scripture which will give stability, safety and wisdom to you as you contemplate the prospect, or possibility, of marriage.
  • For such people, there is a final word of biblical counsel. It has a wide application and is relevant to every Christian who longs to know the will of God. It is the one word: WAIT! Wait for the Lord!
  • We are sometimes unwilling to bow to the sovereign providences of God in our lives. We become bitter against him, and consequently refuse to wait for his leading. We become frustrated with God.
  • All impatience can be traced back to a disbelief in God’s ultimate goodness. That is why, if we are to appreciate the wisdom of God’s guidance, it is important for us to understand not only the nature of his guidance, but the character of the Guide himself. Trust him for his goodness, and we will trust him for his guidance!
  • God has his own place and time to act. He has his purposes to fulfil in us as well as his will to reveal to us.
  • The fact that we cannot see what God is doing does not mean that he is doing nothing. The Lord has his own timetable. It is we who must learn to adjust to it, not vice versa.
  • Do you not see that only in his will can you ever find the glory of God and the joy for which he created you? Will you not respond, and begin again to walk.

I'm currently reading...


Leave a comment

THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

 

This and That

My Amazon.com Reviews. You can see more than fifty of my book, music and movie reviews here.

SPORTS:

  •  Zack JohnsonA Tough Lie. Phil Michelson’s hooked tee shot on the famous “road hole” (#17) at Saint Andrews Old Course at the British Open landed on a hotel room balcony.
  • Zack Johnson. Congratulations to Zack Johnson on winning his second major championship at the British Open!
  • Kurt and Mike PhotoTwo Role Models. Kurt Warner and St. Louis Cardinal Manager Mike Matheny. Warner spoke at the Cardinals Christian Family Day on July 19. Watch Cardinals Adam Wainright, Matt Carpenter, Trevor Rosenthal, Mike Matheny, and Kurt’s post-game message (after the 18 inning game!) here.

 

IN THE NEWS:

  • I thought Planned Parenthood Protected Family Values. Rosaria Butterfield writes “The worldview that redefines “personhood,” denies the God who created us, despises Jesus—the prophet whose wisdom knows no earthly bounds, the priest whose grace and sacrifice knows no earthly shackles, the king whose power and authority orchestrates the details of every life and every day—is the worldview manifested in the recent SCOTUS decision and the viral Planned Parenthood videos.”
  • We Will Not Bow. Watch this recent sermon from John MacArthur. The text is also provided.
  • 10 Numbers You Should Know About Planned Parenthood. Joe Carter shares this information about Planner Parenthood.
  • More Smoking-Gun Evidence of the Evil of Planned Parenthood. Denny Burk writes “Just to be clear, Planned Parenthood has argued that everything it has done is legal. Planned Parenthood is not disputing the most damnable aspects of this video–that their services include killing babies in utero and receiving payment to cover the cost of distributing baby body parts for research. Those are the facts that are undisputed and that shock the conscience. The latest undercover video is more evidence of the whole bloody business.”
  • Abortion as a Form of Discrimination: Why It Ought to be Unthinkable. Here’s a paper Matt Perman wrote in seminary showing why abortion is wrong on the basis of reason, philosophy, science, the founding documents of our nation, and Scripture.
  • On Defending the Ghastly. Doug Wilson writes “Every United Way chapter, along with the national organization, needs to be repeatedly asked a simple question: “In the light of the recent videos that reveal that Planned Parenthood traffics in baby parts, and the upcoming congressional hearings, is the United Way currently willing to discontinue funding Planned Parenthood?”
  • The New York Times Offers Full-Throated Defense of Barbarism. Denny Burk writes “The New York Times editorial board has penned a full-throated defense of Planned Parenthood.”
  • Britt Hume Commentary on Abortion. Watch this minute and a half commentary from Fox News commentator Britt Hume.
  • New York Times Op-Ed Piece Makes the Case for Polygamy Based on Obergefell. Denny Burk writes “The New York Times has published an op-ed making the case for polygamy. And it does so by appealing to the logic of Obergefell v. Hodges.
  • How to Make a Pro-Life Argument in 2 Minutes or Less. Watch this short video from Scott Klusendorf, president of Life Training Institute and the author of The Case for Life.
  • Everyone you’ve ever met is a “product of conception.” Russell Moore
  • Aborted children, crushed to death by human hands, will one day run in new bodies filled with the aliveness of resurrection joy. Tony Reinke
  • Abortion steals praise from God by denying image-bearers the opportunity to live through and for him. Rosaria Butterfield
  • “When Wilberforce showed England the horror of the Slave-Trade, England Abolished It. Let’s show America the reality of Abortion.” Eric Metaxas
As Seen In World Magazine

As Seen In World Magazine

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • Mutual Brokenness Over Sexual Sin. Dr. Heath Lambert in this two-minute video talks about why it is so important for the church to begin with humble introspection when it comes to addressing issues of sexual sin.
  • Are We on the Wrong Side of History? “You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, do you?” What do we Christians make of this increasingly common question, usually posed in regard to our supposedly passé—even evil—beliefs about sexuality? How should believers respond? Don Carson, Tim Keller, and John Piper offer some pastoral wisdom and biblical guidance in this 6-minute video.
  • Talking with Children about God’s Design for Sexuality. Nate Shurden shares four practical suggestions for speaking with our children about matters of sexuality.
  •  Theological Heroes and Villains. Tim Challies writes “I have learned that I need to choose my heroes carefully. I need to expect that my heroes will be flawed. I need to believe that I am flawed. And I need to force myself to remember that the best of men are but men at their best.”
  • The Stampede of Secularism Will Not Stop Conversions. John Piper writes that “It is no harder for God to save people today than it ever has been. Evangelistic despair or cowardice in the face of a deeply secular culture is wholly out of place in the Christian church.
  • Os Guinness: Welcome to the ‘Grand Age of Apologetics’. See this interview with Os Guinness from Christianity Today.
  • 10 Reasons Believers Should Take Care of Themselves Physically. Chuck Lawless writes “I confess that I don’t always take care of myself as I should. I have to work hard to maintain a healthy weight, keep my blood pressure down, etc. As a Christian, though, I see this issue as more a spiritual one than a physical one. Here are some reasons believers need to take care of ourselves.”
  • How Do You Define Joy? This video is the first of a six-part series on the theme of joy in the book of Philippians. John Piper will walk us through a short study of how to understand joy, pursue it for ourselves, and then apply it in all of life. Other videos in the series will be: Part 2: What Is Christian Hedonism? (September 1), Part 3: What Is the Secret of Joy in Suffering? (September 6), Part 4: Must Faith in God Enjoy God? (September 13), Part 5: How Does Joy Overflow in Love? (September 20) and Part 6: Does Joy Die in Sorrow? (September 27).

PRAYER:

  • The Five Minute CACTIS Prayer Plan. Clint Archer offer a “beginning therapy to help rehabilitate your prayer life. This is a five minute template of prayer, with a five simple segments, each of which can easily be filled with one minute of prayer. And then the idea is that you increase the time you spend on each segment; twelve minutes per segment fills an hour”.
  • 5 Days to Learn a Simple, Practical Biblical Approach to Prayer. Sign up to join Don Whitney—author of the new, short book, Praying the Bible—on a 5-day journey to learn a simple, practical, and biblical approach to prayer that will turn duty into delight! In just a few minutes a day, you’ll learn a time-tested method that could transform your prayer life: praying the words of the Bible.
  •  A Prayer for Trusting God with Important Decisions in Front of Us. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.
  • “Nothing is adapted better to excite us to prayer than a full conviction that we shall be heard.” John Calvin
  • Prayer is an earnest and familiar talking with God. John Knox
  • When we pray, we must remember who we are and whom we are addressing. R.C. Sproul
  • The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access. Tim Keller

HEAVEN:

  • When Dying is Gain. Nathan Busenitz shares two reasons that when our hope is properly placed in God, death comes as a welcome friend to take us home.”
  • Is the Kingdom of God Strictly in the Future? R.C. Sproul writes “Many professing evangelicals today believe the kingdom of God is strictly in the future, although there is no biblical foundation for that. This view robs the church of important teachings concerning the kingdom that are clearly set forth in the New Testament.
  • Is the Hope of Heaven Beautiful or Boring? In five minutes, John Piper describes the beauty and wonder of a never-ending life in God’s presence. When you think about spending a trillion years in heaven, does that hope feel satisfying or boring?

CHURCH LIFE:

  • Why Join a Church. David Mathis shares six reasons to go against the noncommittal grain, put down roots, join a particular local church, and be as involved as possible in the life of that church.
  • The Sunday Worship Killer. Jason Helopoulos writes “Donning the robes of the critic maims and kills many would-be worshipers in churches every single Sunday morning.”   
  • Help Me Teach the Bible: Michael Lawrence on Acts. Here’s the latest podcast in Nancy Guthrie’s “Help Me Teach the Bible” series.
  • 5 Things to Look for in a Church. R.C. Sproul shares five things to look for in our biblical church.
  • Don’t give up on the church. The New Testament knows nothing of churchless Christianity. Kevin DeYoung
  • “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exists because worship doesn’t.”  John Piper
Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

JUST FOR FUN:

  • 15 of the Funniest Christian Parody Twitter Accounts to Follow. Kevin Halloran writes “Below is a list of my 15 favorite funny Christian accounts to follow on Twitter and some of their best tweets. Chances are you’ve seen a few retweets from these accounts.”
  • The Jim Gaffigan Show. I’m enjoying the new television series from my favorite comedian.
  • Key to the City: St. Louis. Key to the City is the insider’s guide to baseball cities. Matt Fisher covers the must-see spots to visit before a Cardinals game, including our favorite place to eat in this city – Pappy’s Smokehouse.
  • Slow Motion Lightning. Tim Challies shared this video that shows lightning at 2000 frames per second.
  • A rabbi, a priest, and an atheist walk into a bar. The bartender says “What is this, a joke?” Fernando Ortega
  • “I calculate I’m only 20 pounds away from suspenders.” Jim Gaffigan
  • “If I was to guess job titles by looking at church staff photos from various websites, LOTS of churches have well-staffed donut ministries.” Barnabas Piper

Favorite Quotes of the Week

  • “The flesh is not totally annihilated at conversion; the war goes on.” R.C. Sproul
  • Repentance is a daily experience. Alistair Begg
  • Religion says, ‘I obey, therefore I am accepted’ Christianity says, ‘I am accepted, therefore I obey’ Alistair Begg
  •  It is not great faith we need so much as faith in a great God. Hudson Taylor
  • Hesed is a deep intuitive instinct towards kindness that is a vestige of the image of God in us. Michael Card
  • Forgiving those who betray us will be some of the most difficult and important heart-work we will do this side of heaven. Scotty Smith
  • Truth is to be believed in your head, received as worship in your heart, and practiced with wisdom through your hands. Darrin Patrick
  • All the preaching in the world cannot make a man see the truth so long as his eyes are blinded. Charles Spurgeon
  • What will really save the lost world? Let me tell you: none of our complaints against it. Jared Wilson
  • If you don’t live for Jesus you will live for something else. Will those things be enough? Will they die for you? Tim Keller
  • Christ is not valued at all unless He is valued above all. Augustine
  • Our greatest need before conversion is the gospel, and our greatest need after conversion is the gospel. Burk Parsons
  • The devil will tell you at the beginning of your lives, ‘It is too soon to serve God”. He will tell you at the end it is too late. J.C. Ryle
  • The cross opens the possibility to all of the endless blessings of the glorious God. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • We are too prone to engrave our trials in marble and write our blessings in sand. Charles Spurgeon
  • Jesus is one of the following: Lord, Lunatic, Liar, or a Legend. Only four possibilities. Tim Keller
  • Our delight in Jesus is a mere whisper of his delight in us. Scotty Smith


Leave a comment

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Links to Interesting Faith and Work Articles:

  • What Experts Will Never Tell You about Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type. Paul Sohn shares some interesting facts for each 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. Some of these findings may surprise you.
  • 5 Leadership Questions about Building a Great Organizational Culture. In this episode of the 5 leadership Questions podcast Eric Geiger, the Vice President of the Resources Division at LifeWay, helps leaders figure out how to build a healthy culture in their organizations.
  • GiftOfWorkGood Work: The Gift of Work by Bill Heatley. Despite some criticisms, J.B. Wood writes “The Gift of Work is filled with some incredible nuggets of spiritual wisdom – the kind that hits you between the eyes — because it frames work as directly integrated with our relationship with God. Bill Heatley tells us what that is like, because he is living it. And that, frankly, is inspiring.”
  • Two Very Different Callings. David Murray helpfully writes “There’s been a welcome resurgence of the Christian doctrine of vocation and calling over the past years, helping many Christians to see their work as an essential part of their service to and worship of God. But it’s vital that we don’t confuse it with the Christian doctrine of effectual calling. The difference? Vocational calling is God “calling” us into work that fits our gifts and talents. He is bringing out of us what is already there so that we find ourselves suited to certain kinds of work. Effectual calling is God calling us out of darkness and into light. He didn’t call out of us what was already there; by His call, He put something in us that was never there before. He didn’t match what we were with something that fitted us; He made us fit for something totally unlike us. He didn’t match our passions with opportunities; He gave us passions for what we previously hated.”
  • 5 Ways to Spot Leaders with Character. I’ve been reading a lot about character recently. Here, Dan Rockwell shares 5 ways to spot leaders with character.
  • Renew. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses what it means to renew ourselves.
  • What is Christian Ministry? C. Patton writes “What exactly do you have to do to qualify for Christian ministry? What exactly is full-time ministry? Is it something you must be called to do?”
  • Three Reasons Leaders Must Constantly Say “No”. Eric Geiger writes “Steve Jobs famously said, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” He was ruthlessly focused as a leader. Many of us have a difficult time saying “no,” but leaders must do so for at least three reasons.”
  • The Power of Morning & Evening Routines. See this seven minute video from the Art of Manliness.
  • Criticism5 Wrong Ways to Respond to Criticism. Ron Edmondson writes “The way a leader responds to criticism says much about the maturity of the leader and the quality of his or her leadership.”
  • How to Get People to Do What You Want. In this “Tuesday Tip” Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “If you’re like most people, you want to know how you can get others to do what you want them to do.  That’s understandable, but it’s also a little short-sighted. If you’re a truly effective communicator, you ask a slightly different question.  You want to know how you can get others to do what you want them to do — BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DO IT.
  • 5 Leadership Questions with Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey joins the 5 Leadership Questions podcast for a lively conversation about leadership. His insights about leadership transitions, running a family business, and organizational culture are practical and helpful.
  • The Reality of Work-Life Balance. Ken Blanchard writes “Reaching balance in life is all about decreasing stress by focusing on things that create a sense of contentment. Several years ago my lovely wife, Margie, came up with PACT—an easy to remember model whose elements can help people relieve stress in their lives by achieving Perspective, Autonomy, Connectedness, and Tone.”
  • 12 Killers of Good Leadership. Ron Edmondson writes “Any one of these can squelch good leadership. It’s like a wrecking ball of potential. If not addressed, they may even prove to be fatal.”
  • Creating a Culture of Accountability. Mark Miller shares four specific things you can do to begin creating a culture of accountability in your organization.
  • Swiss army knifeOne Tool Every Leader Needs. Mark Miller writes “How do you keep score as a leader? What key metrics ultimately determine whether you are winning or not?” He believes that all leaders need a scorecard.
  • Everybody Matters Podcast: Jacob Morgan. Jacob Morgan is the founder of the Future of Work Community and an author and speaker. On this episode of the Everybody Matters podcast, Jacob continues a discussion about leadership and management, and shares his thoughts about what the workplace of tomorrow will look like.

Faith and Work Quotes:

  • When everything bothers you, it’s about you. Dan Rockwell

    Dan Rockwell

    Dan Rockwell

  • Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy. General Norman Schwarzkopf
  • We often judge ourselves by our intentions but others by their actions. Andy Andrews
  • Accountability goes wrong when it focuses on preventing failure rather than creating success. Dan Rockwell
  • Dependence on God as a leader is a requirement, responsibility and obligation, not just a perk or program of the Christian life. Brad Lomenick
  • Leaders are never satisfied and they’re never finished. Mark Miller
  • Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you brought with you. Coach K
  • You handle things. You work with people. John Wooden
  • Mediocrity arrives when difficult conversations are avoided. Dan Rockwell

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

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book on leadership principles from a renowned agent of change, Albert Mohler. It is one of the best that I’ve read on leadership and is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at

Chapter 24 – The Leader and Death

  • Christians understand death to be the result of human sin and the final enemy that is defeated by Christ. But as long as this age continues, death comes to us all.
  • We lead with the knowledge that our time is limited, and that someone else will inevitably take over for us.
  • Leadership, in other words, is perishable.
  • There is no place as humbling as a cemetery—and there is no place more likely to remind the leader of the limits of one’s leadership.
  • A legacy is what is left in the wake of a great leader. The leader is gone from the scene, but his influence remains essential to the direction and culture of the work he led. Once again, conviction is central.
  • What matters is that the convictions survive.
  • Remember that leadership is conviction transformed into united action. If the convictions are right, the right actions will follow.
  • The leader who aims at a legacy aims to perpetuate conviction. If the conviction is truly perpetuated, all the rest will follow. If the convictions are not perpetuated, none of the rest really matters.
  • In truth, there are no indispensable people, only indispensable convictions. The convictions came before us and will last when we are gone. Truth endures when nothing else can. This is the only real assurance that we have.
  • If we are faithful stewards of the leadership entrusted to us, we will see ourselves as setting the stage for greater things to come.
  • There are several strategic moves a leader can make that will greatly assist in perpetuating conviction. The first is to drive conviction into the genetic identity of the organization.
  • Second, hire on the basis of conviction.
  • Third, promote on the basis of conviction.
  • Fourth, let convictional strength be the deciding factor in building your leadership team.
  • Fifth, document and communicate conviction everywhere you can. The key issue at this point is the perpetuation of conviction so that the truths you have given your life to serve stay at the heart of the organization, church, or institution.

Next week we’ll finish our review of this book.

 The Advantage by Patrick LencioniThe Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni. Jossey-Bass. 240 pages. 2012

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite business authors. His books The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are among my favorites. I recently started reading and discussing The Advantage with two colleagues at work. I’m sharing key learnings from the book here.

Some good resources around organizational health can be found here: http://www.tablegroup.com/oh.  This week we look at

Behavior 3: Achieving Commitment

  • The reason that conflict is so important is that a team cannot achieve commitment without it.
  • When leadership teams wait for consensus before taking action, they usually end up with decisions that are made too late and are mildly disagreeable to everyone. This is a recipe for mediocrity and frustration.
  • It’s only when colleagues speak up and put their opinions on the table, without holding back, that the leader can confidently fulfill one of his most important responsibilities: breaking ties.
  • But when there has been no conflict, when different opinions have not been aired and debated, it becomes virtually impossible for team members to commit to a decision, at least not actively.
  • Most leaders have learned the art of passive agreement: going to a meeting, smiling and nodding their heads when a decision is made that they don’t agree with. They then go back to their offices and do as little as possible to support that idea.
  • The only way to prevent passive sabotage is for leaders to demand conflict from their team members and to let them know that they are going to be held accountable for doing whatever the team ultimately decides.
  • At the end of every meeting, cohesive teams must take a few minutes to ensure that everyone sitting at the table is walking away with the same understanding about what has been agreed to and what they are committed to do.

Comfort Zone


Leave a comment

Movie Review ~ Southpaw

Southpaw, rated R
***

Jake Gyllenhaal follows up his excellent performance as Louis Bloom in Nightcrawler with another superb performance as Billy Hope, the light heavyweight champion of the world. Billy is married to Maureen, or Mo, played by Rachel McAdams. They met when she was 12, both being orphans and foster children in the New York City system. They now live in a mansion in New York City with their 10-year old daughter Leila, who was played by Oona Laurence in a strong performance. He is surrounded by a posse of friends who are living a good life by being associated with the champ.

Mo is concerned with the increasing beatings that Billy is taking in his fights and pleads for him to take some time off, against the wishes of his manager Jordan Mains (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). After speaking at a charity event, Billy is taunted by an up-and-coming boxer, Miguel “Magic” Escobar (Miguel Gomez). When Escobar makes comments about Mo, things escalate and Billy can’t control his anger, leading to a brawl which will change everything for him.

Forest Whitaker, one of our better actors, delivers an Oscar-worthy performance as Titus “Tick” Wills, a former boxer. Tick now runs a boxing gym in Harlem, serving as a mentor to many boys. He develops a close relationship with Billy. Naomie Harris plays Angela Rivera, a Child Protective Services case worker.

This powerful film contains themes of family, responsibility, humility, loyalty, friendship, pain, anger, revenge and redemption. Though Tick drinks too much, we see that he has a relationship with God, at one difficult point telling Billy “God must have some kind of plan to teach me some kind of lesson. I just can’t figure out what it is.”

The film is directed by Antoine Fuqua and Kurt Sutter. Rapper Eminem was originally pegged to play the Billy Hope character. Eminem does provide some of the film’s music, notably the track “Phenomenal”.

In addition to the boxing violence that is expected, there is a significant amount of adult language included in both the dialogue and in some of the music featured in the film. The language will be enough to keep some away from this film and the fine acting performances from Gyllenhaal, Whitaker and Laurence.

James Horner provided the film’s score. This was his final work as he was killed in a plane crash on June 22.


Leave a comment

Movie Review ~ Mr. Holmes

Mr. HolmesMr. Holmes, rated PG
*** ½

This version of the Sherlock Holmes story (one critic references 254 appearances as of 2012, stating that Sherlock Holmes is the most-portrayed fictional character of all time), is directed by Academy Award winning Bill Condon, and stars the 76 year-old Academy Award nominee Ian McKellen (Magneto from the X-Men films and Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films) as the 93 year-old Holmes. McKellen’s last collaboration with director Bill Condon was 1998’s Gods and Monsters. The new film is based on Mitch Cullin’s 2005 novel A Slight Trick of the Mind.

The film is set in 1947 and Holmes has been retired for 35 years. He lives in a seaside English cottage on the Dover coast with his widowed housekeeper Mrs. Munro, whose husband died in the war (Academy Award nominee Laura Linney), and her young son Roger (Milo Parker). Mr. Holmes a beekeeper, and is interested in exotic herbal medicines to help him with his fading memory. We hear several references from Holmes about how his stories were embellished by his friend Dr. Watson. We see Holmes in a movie theatre watching The Lady in Grey in which he is played by Nicholas Rowe, who really did portray Holmes in the 1985 film Young Sherlock Holmes.

We feel a deep sadness in Holmes, but with his fading memory he can’t remember the exact reasons for his despair. He does recall it has something to do with his final case some 35 years earlier (we see several flashbacks), and thus he tries to piece the story together sharing it with young Roger, who also takes an interest in beekeeping. Holmes in some ways becomes the father that Roger was too young to remember.   This movie does a good job of portraying opening your heart to new relationships after walling it off from hurt for many years.

A side story involves a trip to Japan to meet Tamiki Umezaki  (Hiroyuki Sanada) and to find a plant (prickly ash) that Holmes hopes will help him with his memory loss.

I really enjoyed this film, but found it much sadder than I had expected. The acting performances are superb from McKellen, Linney and the young Parker. I wouldn’t be surprised if McKellen receives a “Best Actor” nomination. The movie is beautifully filmed and captures the seaside cottage location wonderfully, and the costumes are meticulous.


Leave a comment

10 Ways to Integrate Your Faith with Your Work

Colossians 3,23For years, I felt that I needed to be in full-time Christian work/ministry to truly be doing my work for the Lord. That began to change when I took a “Calling, Vocation and Work” class at Covenant Seminary two summers ago. My thinking in this area continued to evolve as I read several excellent books about faith and work such as Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller, God at Work by Gene Veith, Work Matters by Tom Nelson, How Then Should We Work by Hugh Welchel, The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert and others. I now believe that the work I do in an IT department at a Fortune 100 company has as much value in God’s eyes as that done by the pastors in my church.

So how can you integrate your faith and work? Here are 10 ways:

  1. Do excellent work. Christians should be the best workers. The rest of the items below don’t matter if you are not a good worker. In fact, people will mock you if they see you reading your Bible in the break area or at your desk during lunch but your work is poor. Do your work for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). Traeger and Gilbert have written that we should do our work for King Jesus.
  2. Maintain a high level of integrity in all your actions. Are you a person of your word? Can people depend on you? If you say you will do something, do you do it? Tony Dungy has written that dishonesty will eventually catch up with you. We can’t control our reputation (what others think of us), but we can control our integrity. Be a person of high integrity.
  3. Be a person of character. I’ve heard character defined as doing the right thing when nobody is watching (except God, of course). I’m glad to see character being talked about again. See my review of David Brooks’ new book The Road to Character. Are you a person of character, or do you only work hard when the boss is around, for example?
  4. Be a role model. Tony Dungy has written that right or wrong, someone is always watching you and that it’s important to see yourself as a role model. Some people take particular joy in seeing a Christian fall, such as a famous athlete with his drug and alcohol addiction or a famous pastor with his adultery. Be above reproach – be a role model.
  5. Serve as a mentor. Again, Tony Dungy has written that mentoring is building character into the lives of others and leaving a legacy. Mel was my career mentor. He poured his life into me early in my career. Mentoring is a way for me to invest into the lives of others, and I see a direct connection between mentoring and my faith.
  6. Read books and blogs about integrating faith and work. I’m amazed with how many excellent books and blogs there are these days on this subject – I’m finding new ones all the time. Read some of these books and subscribe to the blogs and then share what you learn with others. I try to do this with my “Connecting Sunday to Monday” post each Monday here on the blog.
  7. Participate in a Faith and Work Book Club at work or school. A few colleagues and I are working on our second book (Matt Perman’s excellent What’s Best Next) at this time. Our discussions are one the highlights of my week; I enjoy learning from my friends how they integrate their faith and work.
  8. See Jesus as Your Supervisor. John Piper’s article “Lord Focused Living at Work” was key for me on this. Piper suggests we ask the following questions: Why would the Lord like this done? How would the Lord like this done? When would the Lord like this done? Will the Lord help me do this? What affect will this have for the Lord’s honor? Piper states that “What you are asked to do by a supervisor should generally be viewed as an appeal from the Lord.”
  9. Keep work in its proper perspective. Traeger and Gilbert helpfully write that we should never be idle in our work, nor should we make work an idol. In other words, as we stated above, we should not be idle at work, but instead do excellent work. On the other hand, we should not make work an idol by being a workaholic, placing work above our family and church responsibilities. A good balance is needed.
  10. Point people to Christ. Lastly, our lives at work should point others to Christ. In some cases you might be able to develop relationships and actually share the gospel with those you work with (but not on work time). In other cases, especially if you are in a leadership position, that may not be possible. I’ve always appreciated the quote from St. Francis when he said “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” In your situation you may not be able to use words. Are you drawing people to Christ at work? Would the people you interact with each week say that about you?

These are just a few ways you can integrate your faith and work. There are many others. What suggestions do you have?

The Wonderlands: Shadows by Jon Foreman


Leave a comment

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

The Wonderlands: Shadows by Jon ForemanMusic Review ~ The Wonderlands: Shadows by Jon Foreman
****

This is the second of four Wonderlands EPs from Switchfoot (my second favorite band, just behind U2), frontman Jon Foreman, and follows Sunlight released in late May. See my Amazon review of Sunlight here.

The four “hourly” EPs will each feature six songs, in total one song for each hour of the day. Each song on the project that has been 10 years in the making will produced by someone different. So there will be 24 songs and 24 producers, certainly a unique approach from the always creative Foreman.

Shadows is darker, both musically and lyrically, than most of Foreman’s work. I’ve only listened to each song a few times. To get the full impact of these songs will take many listens. Below are my initial thoughts on each of the six songs:

Ghost Machine Produced by Jeremy Edwardson. Foreman sings of the ghost machine, referring to it as “she”. This song has a regretful feel. It is somber and features an acoustic guitar. What is the ghost machine he’s singing about? It’s sucking the life out of him. It’ a drug, in his blood and he can’t give her up.

My Coffin Produced by Ryan O’Neal of Sleeping At Last. Foreman wonders early in the song:

Is there someone buried
Beneath this skin?
And is he free when I am lost
In my coffin

The song finishes with:

Resurrection comes
But death comes first

And when I lose myself I’m safe
In my coffin

Fake Your Own Death Produced by Darren King. Features an interesting musical backdrop. With some strings, jazz instrumentation, and light drums I felt it had almost a Sgt. Pepper-like sound at times.

What would you live like if you had died
And been reborn with a second chance to live
Would you lose your fear of being dead?
And be afraid of something else instead?
Maybe you’d be more concerned with living it like you mean

Good For Me Produced by Andrew Wessen and Charlie Peacock (who has a long-time relationship with Foreman and Switchfoot).

This was the most musically interesting song on Shadows. Featuring guitar, drums, horns, it has a great beat to it. That doesn’t surprise me with the creative Peacock’s involvement.

Lyrically Foreman wonders if what he puts in his soul is taking a toll on him. Is it good for him? Does it keep him on his knees? Does it set him free?

Your Love is Enough Produced by Foreman and Seth Mosley. Foreman sings that only God can help him in times of doubt, longing, darkness. His love is enough. In a recent interview Foreman said “It’s a song that chronicles my lifelong battles with doubt and fear. Our roads in life can be painful at times – lonely, dark, and discouraging. But we are not alone.”

Siren’s Song Produced by Eric Owyoung from Future of Forestry.

This song features a nice orchestral arrangement. His love is at the edge of the ocean, wrapped in greens and blues.

Come to the sea
come and have me
my arms are open wide
come to the sea
come and cross me
we’ll reach the other side
come to the sea
come and take me
and have me for your bride
come to the sea
come and listen to the sailor’s lullaby

Again, give this release several listens to get to the full depth that Foreman intends. The final two EPs in the Wonderlands series are Darkness, due out September 4, and Dawn, set for release on October 23.

Song of the Week Unbroken Praise by Matt Redman

This song, from Redman’s new live worship album Unbroken Praise, is one of my favorites of the year. Watch the lyric video of this song.

Praise unbroken
Matt Redman Unbroken PraisePraise unending
Be yours, be yours forevermore

Praise untainted
Praise unfading
Be yours, be yours forevermore
Be yours, be yours forevermore

[Chorus]
Unbroken praise be yours, God, forever
All my praise be yours, God, forever
Lord, take this life, let it become your throne
Unbroken praise be yours

My surrender
My devotion
Be yours, be yours forevermore
Be yours, be yours forevermore

So let my deeds outrun my words

line-divider

musicnews

 Brother. Congratulations to NEEDTOBREATHE for topping Billboard’s Christians songs chart with their song Brother, featuring Gavin DeGraw.

Outcry Tour. Trip Lee and Crowder are a few of the artists on this new tour, which stops in Chicago on July 24 and St. Louis on August 4.

Your Love is Enough. Here’s a video of an acoustic version of Jon Foreman’s new song “Your Love is Enough” from his Wonderlands: Shadows EP.


Leave a comment

BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Book Reviews

UncommonUncommon: Finding Your Path to Significance by Tony Dungy. Tyndale Momentum. 288 pages. 2009. Audiobook read by Tony Dungy.
****

This book was released shortly after Coach Tony Dungy announced his retirement from coaching the Indianapolis Colts in the National Football League. I read the book when it was first released and recently read it again. The book is addressed to men, even more specifically to young men, though men of all ages will benefit from reading it.

Dungy writes that two young men were the motivation for him to write the book: “Two boys, two different backgrounds, two different upbringings. Both followed the “wide road” and ended up in prison, which tells me that our society is facing a widespread problem. It is not an inner-city problem, or an economic problem, or even a religious problem. The kind of ideas our young people are buying into and the pressure to conform are causing our teenagers to follow the path of least resistance.”

He states that the book came about due to two separate but related causes. First, after the release of his first book Quiet Strength he received a number of letters and emails from men, particularly young men, who indicated that they were struggling with what it meant to be a man in today’s culture. Second, he noticed that young men coming into the NFL were increasingly less prepared to be a man, and in need of more direction.

In thirty-one short chapters, Dungy shares a lifetime of wisdom, much of which he learned from his parents, on a wide variety of topics all designed to help develop what he calls an uncommon man. A few of the takeaways I had from the book were:

  • Character. How you do things is more important than what you do. We build character through the little things we do.
  • Integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Dishonesty will eventually catch up with you. We can’t control our reputation (what others think of us), but we can control our integrity.
  • Humility and Availability. Don’t blow your own horn. There is a fine line between confidence and pride. Billy Graham and Tom Landry were examples mentioned. God often works through ordinary, humble and available people.
  • Stewardship. Stewardship recognizes that life is not about us, but about and owned by God. Stewardship is not ownership. How we steward our time and gifts is important.
  • Convictions and Principles. It takes courage to stick with our convictions and principles. Don’t give in to peer pressure.
  • Treating Women. The way you treat a woman will impact all other areas of your life. Many men have not had good role models in this area, having fathers who were either too strong or too passive.
  • Fathers. Children need positive role models as fathers. Be present – don’t be an absentee father. Watch how you speak to your children –words matter. Make memories with your children.
  • Friendship. What benefits do you bring to your friendships? Choose your friends for their values.
  • Mentoring. Mentoring is building character into the lives of others and leaving a legacy.
  • Work and Purpose. Be careful about making job/career decisions primarily based on money. Leave work at work. Be fully present with your family. Don’t be so busy making a living that you forget to live.
  • Failure. Failure is part of the journey to success. The uncommon man stays focused on his goals and values during times of adversity.
  • Style over Substance. Many men find their significance in status and success. Choosing style over substance obscures what is really important in living a significant life. A life centered on Christ will re-direct our focus to direct our priorities to what really matters. It is never too late to adjust our priorities. Don’t confuse your value with what you do.
  • Sexual integrity. Sexual activity was designed for those in a marriage relationship. Run from sexual sin (porn, affairs, etc.).
  • Platform/Role Model. Use whatever platform you have been given to positively impact lives. Right or wrong, someone is always watching you. It’s important to see yourself as a role model. Dungy shares the positive impact his parents and uncles have had on his life as role models.
  • Faith and Relationship with Christ. You were created by God and He cares about you in every circumstance.
  • Purpose. We were intentionally designed by God to have a unique and significant impact on those you meet, and also on those you will never meet.
  • Significance. God calls us to be faithful, not successful. God’s scorecard is different from ours. At the end of each major part of the book Dungy helpfully summarizes the key points from that section. At the end of the book is a 32-page “Q&A” with Coach Dungy in which he answers 73 questions that relate to each of the chapters of the book. This would be an excellent book to read not only individually, but also with a son or as a part of a Men’s study group.   Since the publication of this book, Dungy has continued the Uncommon theme with The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge (which I read daily) and Uncommon Marriage: What We’ve Learned about Lasting Love and Overcoming Life’s Obstacles Together.

Tim Keller's New Book on PrayerPrayer Book Club – Won’t you read along with us?

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Tim Keller

Christians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful. In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act. Won’t you read along with Tammy and me? This week we look at

Chapter 2: The Greatness of Prayer

Rather, in them he reveals what he asked most frequently for his friends—what he believed was the most important thing God could give them. What is that? It is—to know him better.

  • It means having the “eyes of their hearts. . . enlightened” (Ephesians 1:18).
  • It is to have a more vivid sense of the reality of God’s presence and of shared life with him.
  • Therefore, knowing God better is what we must have above all if we are to face life in any circumstances.
  • Paul’s main concern, then, is for their public and private prayer life. He believes that the highest good is communion or fellowship with God.
  • He does not see prayer as merely a way to get things from God but as a way to get more of God himself.
  • If we give priority to the outer life, our inner life will be dark and scary.
  • To discover the real you, look at what you spend time thinking about when no one is looking, when nothing is forcing you to think about anything in particular. At such moments, do your thoughts go toward God?
  • If you aren’t joyful, humble, and faithful in private before God, then what you want to appear to be on the outside won’t match what you truly are.
  • The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life.
  • Those with a genuinely lived relationship with God as Father, however, will inwardly want to pray and therefore will pray even though nothing on the outside is pressing them to do so. They pursue it even during times of spiritual dryness, when there is no social or experiential payoff.
  • At the heart of all the various ways of knowing God is both public and private prayer.
  • I can think of nothing great that is also easy. Prayer must be, then, one of the hardest things in the world.
  • When your prayer life finally begins to flourish, the effects can be remarkable.
  • The Bible is all about God, and that is why the practice of prayer is so pervasive throughout its pages. The greatness of prayer is nothing but an extension of the greatness and glory of God in our lives. The Scripture is one long testimony to this truth.
  • To fail to pray, then, is not to merely break some religious rule—it is a failure to treat God as God. It is a sin against his glory.
  • Jesus Christ taught his disciples to pray, healed people with prayers, denounced the corruption of the temple worship (which, he said, should be a “house of prayer”), and insisted that some demons could be cast out only through prayer. He prayed often and regularly with fervent cries and tears (Heb 5:7), and sometimes all night.
  • When he faced his greatest crisis, he did so with prayer. We hear him praying for his disciples and the church on the night before he died (John 17:1–26) and then petitioning God in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Finally, he died praying.
  • All Christians are expected to have a regular, faithful, devoted, fervent prayer life.
  • Christians are taught that prayer should pervade their whole day and whole life—they should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17).
  • Prayer is so great that wherever you look in the Bible, it is there. Why? Everywhere God is, prayer is. Since God is everywhere and infinitely great, prayer must be all-pervasive in our lives.
  • One of the greatest descriptions of prayer outside of the Bible was written by the poet George Herbert (1593–1633) in his “Prayer (I).” The poem is remarkable for tackling the immense subject of prayer in just one hundred words and without a single verb or prose construction. Instead, Herbert gives us some two dozen word pictures.
  • Prayer is a natural human instinct.
  • Prayer is a nourishing friendship.
  • Prayer changes those around us.
  • Prayer is a journey.
  • Prayer helps us endure.
  • Prayer is learning who you are before God and giving him your essence. Prayer means knowing yourself as well as God.
  • Prayer is rebellion against the evil status quo of the world
  • Prayer changes things.
  • Prayer is a refuge.
  • Through prayer, which brings heaven into the ordinary, we see the world differently, even in the most menial and trivial daily tasks. Prayer changes us.
  • Prayer unites us with God himself.
  • Prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle—yet the way to reality. There is nothing more important, or harder, or richer, or more life-altering. There is absolutely nothing so great as prayer.

Book News

  • The Biggest StoryOn My Shelf: Life and Books with Tom Schreiner. Matt Smethurst continues his series of visiting with various writers through a behind-the-scences glimpse into their lives as readers. This time he corresponds with Tom Schreiner, professor of New Testament theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  • Praying the Bible. Tim Challies reviews the new book Praying the Bible from Don Whitney.
  • Kevin DeYoung Children’s Book. DeYoung’s first children’s book The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden will be published August 31.

I'm currently reading...