Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

Jon Foreman DawnMusic Review 

The Wonderlands: Dawn – Jon Foreman
****
This is the final of four Wonderlands EPs from Switchfoot lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter Jon Foreman, and follows Sunlight released in late May, Shadows in July and Darkness in September. The four “hourly” EPs were to each feature six songs, or one song for each hour of the day – though Darkness actually featured seven songs. Foreman indicated that he wanted “to sneak 25 songs into 24 hours.”

Each song on the project, that has been 10 years and more than 1,000 hours in the making, is co-produced with someone different. So there are 25 songs and 25 producers, certainly a unique approach from the always creative Foreman. He has stated in an interview that his collaborators would send him back their musical response: bass, clarinet, background vocals, etc. His challenge was to put those things together and make it sound like a cohesive statement rather than 25 different projects. Every hour had to be distinct and yet still feel like a cohesive body of work. Foreman celebrated the complete release of The Wonderlands by performing 25 shows in 24 hours in his hometown of San Diego on October 24 (which was in progress as I was writing this review), with proceeds benefiting charities.

Foreman had stated that the Wonderlands EPs would explore themes of faith and doubt, love and frustration, and everything else. I noted that Dawn has more explicit Christian lyrics than the earlier EPs in the Wonderland series. Below are brief comments and favorite lyrics on each of the six new songs:

Inheritance – This song begins with acoustic guitar then builds with light drums, instrumentation and backing vocals. It is a lovely song about the story of his relationship with his wife Emily, whose heart he sings, is a work of art. In the beginning they didn’t have anything to offer each other except for the rest of their lives.

I wanna be rich in memories, not money
Our love is our inheritance, honey

Run Free – This joyful song starts out with Foreman singing a paraphrase of Luke 4:18. It features keyboards, light drums, light brass, strings and backing vocals. Foreman just can’t keep quiet as he invites the listeners to run free and dance like a prisoner released. He sings of the Lord taking our shame away.

Inseparable – This songs is based on Romans 8:35-39, where Paul responds to the question “What shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Foreman sings of the love of his Savior.

Nothing can keep us away
Nothing can separate

The song features acoustic guitar, light drums, strings and echoing vocals.

When We Collide – This is another song written to his wife Emily. He writes that when they met their world was black and white. He’s waiting for the day when they collide. It features an interesting almost chime sound, light drums and backing vocals.

We’ve got our disagreements
Our separate points of view
But the line that runs between us
Could be the thread that pulls us through

Mercy’s War – This wonderful song has Foreman singing of the wonderful blood of Jesus and how “Because they broke you I am whole”. He sings that he went looking for ways out, but Christ showed him the way in. He thought Christ was a stranger, but instead Christ called him out by name. The song features a slow strumming acoustic guitar, a very likeable clarinet, and choir-like backing vocals.

Before Our Time – The last of the 25 songs in The Wonderlands series is an upbeat song about time with Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek. The catchy musical backing on the song reminds me of the Getty’s “Greengrass” (Irish and Nashville) fusion. About the song, Foreman has said “And then the whole thing ends on another song about the clock called “Before Our Time”, talking about things before our time runs out. And so that’s the way it ends, kind of the way it began, focus on the clock.”

Time is illusion
Time is a curse
Time is all these things and worse
But our time is now
Our time is now

Let us sing before our time runs out

Dawn is a great way to end “the day” with Jon Foreman. It’s definitely my favorite of the four Wonderlands EPs. Highly recommended.

I’ve heard that a box set containing all 25 songs will be released. At this time, the physical editions of Darkness and Dawn and Sunlight and Shadows are available for purchase on Amazon.

Music News:

  • He Shall Reign Forevermore. Watch this performance of Chris Tomlin’s new single from his new Christmas album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, which he co-write with Matt Maher.
  • Behind the Album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship. Chris Tomlin talks about his new live Christmas album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, live worship album recorded in the same location he recorded his first Christmas album Glory in the Highest six years ago.
  • New Steve Camp Album. One of my all-time favorite artists Steve Camp recently reported that he is in Los Angeles to work on his new record with friend and producer Tim Miner.
  • I Believe. Watch KB and Mattie perform “I Believe” at the GMA Dove Awards.
  • Have You Ever Seen the Rain? John Fogerty performs an impromptu acoustic version of his classic “Have Your Ever Seen the Rain” recently on Conan.
  • It Takes a Lot to Laugh It Takes a Train to Cry – Take 1. Here’s another track from Bob Dylan’s new The Best of the Cutting Edge 1965-66: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12. Read Jon Pareles’ article about the album here.
  • U2’s Boy at 35: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review. Released 35 years ago, Billboard magazine’s Kenneth Partridge looks at U2’s Boy album.

Music Quotes:

  • Whether today seems to go your way or not, it’s always going God’s way. He makes no mistakes. Trust Him. Proverbs 3:5-6. Lecrae
  • We stand before God’s wonder and yet we are disinterested and bored. This should not be. Trip Lee

Song of the Week

Too Much Pride by Don Henley

This song has a gospel flavor and is included on the deluxe edition of Henley’s excellent new album Cass County. Watch him perform the song here.

Common as dirt; as old as sin
The road to ruin, again and again
Oh, how many dreams have bloomed and died
Too much pride

How many heavens are hopelessly lost?
How many tender loves has vanity cost?
Lord, help the soul that can’t be satisfied
Too much pride

You don’t have to be right all the timeProverbs 1618
You can’t go on with all of these axes to grind

So, why don’t you lighten up and let it ride
Too much pride

Empires rise and empires fall
Stick around here long enough, you’ll see it all
Now it looks like it’s gone nationwide
Too much pride

Some people tell you it’s a good thing
Some people tell you it’s a sin
Just like a weed in the garden
You’re askin’ for trouble if you let it in

Now, it looks like it’s gone nationwide
Too much pride
It’s the oldest form of suicide
Too much pride

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Steve Jobs by Water Isaacson – read this book review before seeing the movie!

JobsSteve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Simon & Schuster. 2011. 656 pages. Audiobook read by Dylan Baker
****

This book, which Steve Jobs fully cooperated with through nearly forty interviews with the author he sought out to write his biography, tells the incredible story of Steve Jobs, the man who built and then rebuilt Apple. It has inspired Danny Boyle’s new film Steve Jobs.

The book, which was released just 19 days after Jobs died, is a fascinating biography. Jobs encouraged Isaacson to tell his story “warts and all”, and to interview both his friends and enemies. The only creative input he asked for was to change the cover photo that Isaacson originally had planned, which Isaacson agreed to. Isaacson last interviewed Jobs just weeks before his death, just before and after, he stepped down as CEO of Apple.

He is best-known as the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple, Inc. He also cofounded and served as CEO of Pixar Animation Studios, later selling Pixar to Disney for $7.4 billion. Jobs died on October 5, 2011 after three bouts of pancreatic cancer.

Working in an IT department I was particularly interested in this book from a leadership, innovation and technology perspective. I’m rarely separated from my iPod, and buy all of my music through the iTunes Store. While I don’t have a Macintosh computer, and only recently got an iPhone, my wife does have an iPad that she very much enjoys.

Jobs’ accomplishments are many, including building Apple, founded in 1976, into the largest publicly traded company in the world, worth more than Google and Microsoft combined. Isaacson takes us through Jobs story, from his first job at Atari, through the founding of Apple, his ousting from Apple, the founding of NeXT and Pixar and his triumphant return to Apple.

But, to be honest, Jobs was not a nice person. He would not be a person that you would want as your manager. He was a brutal boss and a brutal man. He didn’t have the social skills to filter what he was thinking so he would tell people what he thought, which was often that what they had created or done was “junk” (not his word). In fact, this well written and researched book contains a good deal of adult language, most of it directly from Jobs’ mouth.

Jobs could have wild mood swings, at times telling people that they were the best thing that had happened to Apple and telling them they were “junk” in the same day. He bore lifelong grudges, threw tantrums, berated people who worked for him and often would break out in tears. He had a binary view of the world in which things and people were either great or horrible (“junk”).

Throughout his life Jobs went on binge diets, often eating only one thing (carrots, for example) for weeks at a time. When originally diagnosed with cancer, against the wishes of doctors and friends, he resisted surgery for nine months, which led to the cancer spreading.

Jobs loved the music of Bob Dylan and the Beatles. One of his last goals was getting the Beatles music on iTunes, which he did in 2011.

He had an incredible passion for design and quality, painstakingly stressing over product design details or product announcement presentations. For example, he wanted the inside of a Mac computer to be as pristine as the outside, even though he knew that the only one would ever see the inside would be an Apple technician.

Despite his lack of people skills, Jobs was able to drive people to new heights of innovation and creativity. He would demand the impossible in his drive for perfection, and somehow inspire people to achieve it. Colleagues at Apple maintained that his abrasive behavior, along with his refusal to take no for an answer, forced them to do the best work of their lives.

Isaacson often refers to Jobs’ “reality distortion”. Many times he would tell employees that their ideas were “junk”, only to come back to them later with the exact same idea, portraying it as his own, and thinking it was great.

Jobs is frank of his assessments of his rivals and critics, many who made the mistake of underestimating him and the Apple products that were introduced while he was CEO. He was often critical of Bill Gates and Microsoft, though their final three-hour meeting shortly before Jobs’ death was a friendly one between the two longtime competitors.

Jobs strongly contended that Google stole many of the iPhone features for their Android phone. In fact, Apple sued Google for infringement of 20 Apple patents. Jobs stated “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong.”

Jobs was adopted, later seeking out his birth mother, and finding out that he had a sister, but having no desire to have a relationship with his birth father, who he actually met, but didn’t know it at the time . The fact that he was adopted stuck with him his entire life, yet for his own first child, a daughter, he at first denied that she was his child, and for years had nothing to do with her. He later reconnected with Lisa, though they would have a stormy relationship, marked by long periods of estrangement.

He was married for more than 20 years, having a son Reed that he was much closer to than he was his two younger daughters. But Apple was always his first priority. He attended a Lutheran church as a boy, but after not being satisfied with answers a Lutheran minister gave to his questions about God and starving children in Africa, Jobs said he couldn’t worship that kind of God and never returned to the church. He was a lifelong student of Eastern religion, and his religious beliefs aligned most closely with Zen Buddhism.

In his review of the book, Tim Challies wrote: “Along the way he became convinced that he was an enlightened being, that he existed on a higher plane than most people. From this exalted position he was able to see and to judge; he had the right to. He was able to stand, if not in the place of God, at least in the place of a judge. He felt that it was his right to speak the truth – the truth as he understood it – to others. After all, he was enlightened and they were not. His arrogance knew no bounds”.

Jobs was not a good people person or manager. He was not necessarily a great husband or father. He was not a great engineer. But he had incredible vision and was a great marketer. He had an intuitive sense of what the customer would want before the customer had any idea. Isaacson writes “Was he smart? No, not exceptionally. Instead, he was a genius.”

Jobs was always convinced that he would die at an early age. His last words are reported to have been “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” Of course we don’t know what it was that he saw or felt at that time. But what we do know is that despite all of his earthly success and gifting, he had long ago turned his back on the one true God that could have saved him.


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

BOOK REVIEW:

If I Should Die Before I WakeIf I Should Die Before I Wake: What’s Beyond this Life? by K. Scott Oliphint and Sinclair Ferguson. Christian Focus. 128 pages. 2014 Edition.
****

This book was first published in 1995 and updated in 2004. This edition was published by Christian Focus in 2014. The book’s title comes from the two-hundred year old children’s prayer, a prayer for mercy and for grace at the time of death.

The book discusses the subject of death and asks the question: ‘Why do you expect to get to heaven?’ and looks at both true and false answers. The book helps explain what the Bible has to say about the future and about what heaven is like.

The authors state that the majority of people believe in heaven, and also believe they have a ‘good-to-excellent’ chance of going there. However, some people may admit that they are rather vague about how God’s assessment will be made. After all, in our modern, rights-oriented society, it has become unthinkable that we might not go to heaven when we die. When asked why they expect to go to heaven after death, most people answer in such terms as: ‘Because of what I have been and done.’ The authors also tell us that a poll indicated that the most offensive teaching of the Christian faith is that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and therefore to heaven.

The authors state the fact that people feel at liberty to flaunt the laws of God as they do is itself an indication that the judgment of God has already begun. God’s response to our sin is appropriate to our response to him. His judgments are completely righteous in this respect. The authors state that the New Testament is clear that each one of us will be judged by God on the basis of what we have done.

The authors state that Heaven is the presence of God and that being in heaven means living with him forever. Jesus said that He is the One through whom we must come in order to be with the Father. This is the essential condition for our going to heaven. The authors emphasize that those who hope that they can enter heaven in some other way than through His grace will be sorely disappointed (Matt. 7:21-23).

But some religions teach that the way to heaven is by our own efforts. Those efforts may take the form of personal discipline and sacrifice, humanitarian acts, sincerity or honesty in one’s beliefs, or even gifts to charity. But Jesus tells us that there is nothing we can contribute to our salvation. No matter what we offer to God it will never be adequate enough to compensate for our sins.

The Bible has much to say about heaven, one of the most basic being that God is present with his people. In heaven Christians will experience a deepened relationship with Christ.

People wonder what our bodies will be like in heaven. The Apostle Paul tells us that our bodies will be spiritual, glorious, and unrecognizable. Some people want to know if we will be able to recognize each other in the future. The authors tell us that the resurrection of the body implies that we will be identifiably the very same persons we are now, even though we will not be constituted of precisely the same physical substance.

But what about those who do not belong to Christ, who do not trust Him as the way, the truth, and the life? The authors tell us that the New Testament is clear that there will be those who will one day go to the left hand of Christ. They will be forever lost. Their destiny is described by Christ Himself in a series of vivid, terrible pictures. Jesus also teaches that there are graduations of punishment for the lost. This is the final operation of God’s perfect justice.

Some, most notably the respected theologian John Stott, have believed that the lost simply cease to exist, usually referred to as annihilationism. The authors do not believe that the idea of annihilation is supported by the scriptures and include a detailed appendix on the subject to support their argument.

The authors ask how we can develop a Christian attitude toward death, and state that the Christian views death as a defeated enemy. They see death as the entrance to a yet-more-glorious life that gives a clearer vision of Jesus. The Christian also looks forward to a wonderful reunion with those who have already gone to be with Christ.

The authors communicate in a very readable manner on these important topics. This would be a good book to read and discuss with those who may have questions.

Book News

Studies in the Sermon on the Mount BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?

Studies in the Sermon on the MountStudies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London. This week we look at

Chapter 10: Blessed are the Pure in Heart

  • We come now to what is undoubtedly one of the greatest utterances to be found anywhere in the whole realm of Holy Scripture. Anyone who realizes even something of the meaning of the words, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God”, can approach them only with a sense of awe and of complete inadequacy.
  • Who are the pure in heart? Essentially, as I am going to show you, they are those who are mourning about the impurity of their hearts.
  • We begin of course with the `heart’. The gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned about the heart: all its emphasis is upon the heart. The heart is the whole center of His teaching. He puts His emphasis upon the heart and not upon the head.
  • We have to remind ourselves again that the Christian faith is ultimately not only a matter of doctrine or understanding or of intellect, it is a condition of the heart.
  • “Blessed are the pure in heart”; blessed are those who are pure, not merely on the surface but in the center of their being and at the source of their every activity. It is as deep as that.
  • Then, secondly, it emphasizes that the heart is always the seat of all our troubles. The trouble is in the heart, and the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful.
  • Now we come to the second term. “Blessed”, says our Lord, “are the pure in heart”, and you see again how packed with doctrine these Beatitudes are.
  • What does our Lord mean by “pure in heart”? It is generally agreed that the word has at any rate two main meanings. One meaning is that it is without hypocrisy; it means, if you like, “single”.
  • This pureness of heart, therefore, corresponds to “singleness”. It means, if you like, “without folds”; it is open, nothing hidden. You can describe it as sincerity; it means single-minded, or single-eyed devotion.
  • Now the pure heart is the heart that is no longer divided,
  • But that is not the only meaning of this term “purity”. It also obviously carries the further meaning of “cleansed”, “without defilement”.
  • But perhaps we can perfectly express it by saying that being pure in heart means to be like the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. To be pure in heart, in other words, means to keep “the first and great commandment”, which is that “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” Reducing it still further, it means that we should live to the glory of God in every respect, and that that should be the supreme desire of our life. It means that we desire God, that we desire to know Him, that we desire to love Him and to serve Him.
  • We must be pure in heart before we can see God.
  • Our terms are so inadequate, and our minds are so small and finite, that there is a danger in any attempt at a description of God and His glory. All we know is that there is this glorious promise that, in some way or other, the pure in heart shall see God.
  • I suggest, therefore, that it means something like this. As with all the other Beatitudes, the promise is partly fulfilled here and now. In a sense there is a vision of God even while we are in this world.
  • But of course that is a mere nothing as compared with what is yet to be.
  • Do you realize that a day is coming when you are going to see the blessed God face to face? Not as in a glass, darkly; but face to face. Surely the moment we grasp this, everything else pales into insignificance.
  • Do you spend time in meditating upon the glory that yet awaits you? If you do, the greatest concern of your life will be to have a pure heart.
  • But how can our hearts become pure? There are two great ideas. First there are those who say there is only one thing to do, that we must become monks and segregate ourselves from the world. All such efforts at self-cleansing are doomed to failure.
  • The way of the Scriptures is rather this. All you and I can do is to realize the blackness of our hearts as they are by nature, and as we do so we shall join David in the prayer, “Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me”.
  • The only way in which we can have a clean heart is for the Holy Spirit to enter into us and to cleanse it for us.
  • That does not mean that I therefore remain passive in the matter.
  • Our one confidence is that He is working in us and preparing us for that. But let us also work and purify ourselves `even as he is pure’.

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

this.n.that-small
CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • Everyday PrayersA Prayer for a Fresh Work of Grace in Our Hearts. Here’s our prayer of the week from our friend Scotty Smith. Don’t forget to sign up to receive these daily prayers. You will be blessed by them. You’ll also enjoy his book Everyday Prayers.
  • Born Again to a Living Hope. What does the new birth mean for our lives today? The glorious effects do not wait for heaven, but bring light back into everything we experience here on earth, even the hardest trials. In twenty-five minutes, John Piper reminds us of all that is promised to those who hope in Jesus Christ.
  • A Marriage Leaning on Jesus and Longing for Heaven. Phillip Holmes writes about the story of Ian & Larissa Murphy, authors of the book Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up.
  • Joyless Christianity is Dangerous. Jim Johnston writes “Joy is one of the vital gauges on the dashboard of the Christian life. When the needle dips — when you lose your joy — you should take note. To stay safe, you need to pay attention to your joy.”
  • Two Underused Strategies for Addiction. Ed Welch shares “two of many hopeful teachings that emanate from the death and resurrection of Jesus and can attract someone caught in addiction. But they are both powerful, and underused.”
  • How to Find the Will of God. In this sermon, John Piper looks at the first two verses in Romans 12 and talks about the will of God, what it means, how to find it, and what it means to have your mind renewed to find it.” Watch the video or read the text.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO ‘HMMM’…

  • Tattoos and Skin Deep Hermeneutics. Clint Archer writes “If examining the heart doesn’t work just have your arty teen turn to Leviticus. By the time they have matured enough to know they’ve been hoodwinked by skin deep hermeneutics, they’ll have outgrown the impulse for a tattoo.”
  • Are There Degrees of Sin? R.C. Sproul writes “It’s clear that we have different degrees of sin when we consider the warnings of Scripture.”
  • Take a Quiz on Christ. Tim Challies writes “How well do you know what the Bible teaches us about Jesus? I teamed up with Mark Jones, author of the new book Knowing Christ, to prepare a quiz that asks thirty questions about Jesus.”
  • What is Love? Kevin DeYoung writes that we will not know what love is like unless we know Jesus.

Tim-Kellers-9-Questions-for-Sleepy-and-Nominal-Christians

CHURCH LIFE AND THEOLOGY:

  • A Theology of Worship. Kevin DeYoung writes “There is nothing more important in life than worship. We all worship something or someone. The only question is whether we will worship the right One in the right way.”
  • The Five Fruits of Calvinism. David Murray continues his series on Calvinism. He writes “The doctrines of grace are not just rooted in the grace of God, and demonstrate the grace of God; they should also produce grace in those who believe these truths. Here are five fruits that result from a full embrace of the doctrines of grace.”
  • Exploring Evangelicalism: Presbyterian Church in America. Ed Stetzer interviews Bryan Chapell, senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria and former president of Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.
Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

CURRENT EVENTS:

  • Ben Carson wouldn’t vote for Muslim president because he takes religion seriously.  Trevin Wax writes “What the Carson controversy shows us is that many people in a secular society are OK with religion, whatever religion, as long as it doesn’t really impinge upon one’s view of the world or how one votes or what platforms one endorses.”
  • How Should Christians Think About Socialism? Listen to John Piper’s answer on this edition of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast.
  • New Star Wars Trailer. Denny Burk writes that the latest trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens “continues to dribble out a bit more of the storyline of Episode VII, and it is fanning the flame of speculation. Someone has arisen to “finish” what Darth Vader started. Who will it be?”
  • Daniel Murphy is a Christian on the New York Mets, and won the MVP in the NLCS because, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark “Murphy spent his first eight seasons in the big leagues being one player — and then spent October as a whole other player: Namely, the greatest postseason hitter who ever lived.”

Daniel Murphy

Favorite Quotes of the Week
FROM DEAD GUYS:

  • Faith is believing that Christ is what he is said to be, and that he will do what he has promised to do, and then to expect this of him. Charles Spurgeon
  • The one condition for spiritual progress is that we remain sincere and humble. John Calvin
  • The essence of God’s action in wrath is to give people what they choose, in all its implications. J.I. Packer
  • Confession of sin shuts the mouth of hell and opens the gates of paradise. Thomas Watson

STILL ALIVE AND KICKIN’:

Tim Keller:

  • Unless you point to the good news of God’s grace people will not be able to bear the bad news of God’s judgement.
  • Jesus asks for far more than you ever thought, but offers more than you ever dreamed.
  • If Christianity is actually true it will be offending and correcting you and your society somewhere. It has throughout time.

 
John Piper:

  • The God of perfect patience is continually ready to start fresh with you. Totally fresh. Christ died for this.
  • God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.

 
R.C. Sproul:

  • Every Christian is a theologian. The issue for Christians is not whether we are going to be theologians, but whether we are going to be good theologians or bad theologians.
  • The holiness of God is traumatic to unholy people.
  • Even the slightest sin is an act of cosmic treason.
  • We do not determine right or wrong based on what everybody else is doing.
  • The only reason why I’m a Christian is because I’m a gift of the Father to the Son, not because of anything I’ve ever done.
  • The only cure for anxiety is to get down on our knees.

 
Others:

  • The real test that I believe that God is love is that tragedies don’t separate me from the conviction that God is love. Sinclair Ferguson
  • If you want to be anxious today, pretend you’re in control. Michael Reeves
  • Whenever you try to break God’s moral law, you end up breaking yourself and hurting others — all while proving His law in the process. Ravi Zacharias
  • God is not counting our sins against us because He is counting our sins against Christ. Alistair Begg
  • Only the Holy Spirit can give you the power to not think about yourself, to set you free from yourself. Francis Chan
  • Preaching and sacraments do not save, but God saves through preaching and sacraments. Michael Horton
  • When you feel exposed in prayer & it starts getting uncomfortable, don’t pull back from God. He is just starting to work. Paul Miller
  • If you are only born once, you will die twice. But if you are born twice, you will only die once. Steven Lawson
  • If we always want grace for ourselves and judgment for others, we barely understand grace. Burk Parsons
  • There is more grace in Christ than sin in you. Burk Parsons
  • Spiritual maturity is marked by being comfortable with the unpredictability of God. Erwin Lutzer
  • The more we get to know God, the more we want to know him better. D.A. Carson


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • How I Work: An Interview with Lori Bridges. Joe Carter interviews Lori Bridges, a homeschooling mother who has four children.
  • Nicknames Your Boss Deserves But You Don’t Dare to Use. Dan Rockwell shares this humorous post of names that none of us want attributed to us.
  • prayingOne Responsibility a Christian Leader Cannot Delegate. Chris Patton writes that “there is one responsibility that you simply cannot delegate to your team – not even to your inner circle. This responsibility is prayer.
  • The Dangerous Fear of Attrition. Patrick Lencioni states that “Many leaders have something of an obsession with retention, and a corresponding fear of attrition.” But, “Retaining a misaligned employee, customer or member of the congregation is not actually good for that person, who is often just plain unhappy.  Compassionately freeing them to leave, without animosity or bitterness, will actually increase the likelihood that they may eventually opt in for the right reasons.  That seems a lot wiser than retaining them for the wrong ones.”
  • 5 Steps to Dealing with Compromise in Business. Chris Patton writes “If you are a Christian in business, then you have been compelled to compromise your faith (or how you exercise it) at some point. It may have come in the form of a small decision. Maybe it came in the form of a big one. Whatever the case, there are many opportunities to compromise. We need to be aware of this and fight hard to stand firm.”
  • 10 Powerful Beliefs of Unstoppable Leaders. Dan Rockwell writes “What you believe is the most important thing about you. Choose your beliefs carefully, they determine your destiny.”
  • In Praise of an Uncommon Corporate Value. John Kyle writes “We are not called to simply have romantic thoughts about the idea of warmth. We’re called to live it. We’re called to be passionate advocates for it – even in the workplace, even when our colleagues are hard to love.”
  • 5 Keys to Getting Through Conflict. Dr. Alan Zimmerman shares five tips that will help you resolve any interpersonal problem
  • rebuild the dreamRebuilding the Dream. Bob Chapman writes “It’s our responsibility as leaders to make the American Dream a reality. We can do this by moving away from the singular focus on shareholder value and working towards leadership practices that create a ‘safe’ environment where people feel valued for who they are and what they do as we collectively aspire to a vision that creates value for all stakeholders. Business could be the most powerful force for good if it simply cared about the lives they touch.”
  • How to Seize the Biggest Missed Opportunity in Meetings. Dan Rockwell writes “Treat people – in the conference room – the way you want them to treat each other in the hall. The way we treat each other, while we do the work, is the most important thing about us.”
  • Four Warning Signs You’re Approaching Burnout. Eric Geiger writes “I am not a medical doctor or counselor, but I have learned the rhythms in my own life and have sought counsel continually from leaders I respect. I have seen and also learned the hard way that pushing through seasons of exhaustion can backfire.”
  • 3 Signs We’ve Made Work an Idol. Jeff Haanen writes about exhaustion, fear and pride.
  • The Best of Patrick Lencioni. Andy Budgell writes “For the last few decades, Patrick Lencioni has been on a crusade to help revolutionize teams. Anticipating the changes of the 21st century workplace, Lencioni’s ten books have sold more than four million copies worldwide. The following are some of our top takeaways from this prolific author.”
  • Leadership Identity. Brad Lomenick ends his series on leadership identity with a sixth installment. The other five articles are also linked here.
  • The Great Leader’s Guide to Connecting Emotionally with Others. John Maxwell writes “After spending forty years as a leader and communicator, I am convinced more than ever that good communication is all about connecting.  If you can connect with others at every level—one-on-one, in groups, and with an audience—your relationships are stronger, your sense of community improves, and your ability to create teamwork increases. In addition, your influence grows, and your productivity skyrockets.”
  • Lead Like Jesus Devotional. I enjoy these short devotionals I receive each week. You can sign up to receive them free.
  • Acquire. In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks about the word acquire.
  • Three Things That Will Greatly Improve Morale on Your Team/Staff. Dave Kraft writes that if clarity, communications and celebration are missing you are guaranteed to have bad morale
  • 7 Popular Productivity Beliefs You Should Ignore.  Stephanie Vozza shares seven myths productivity experts say we should avoid. Some of which I’ve heard for a long time.
  • 7 Ways to Respond to a Lazy Co-Worker. Ron Edmondson writes about how to respond to lazy co-workers, “People who don’t want to work. They often have a job, but give far less than their best to it. They want a paycheck, they want to eat well, but they don’t really want to earn their pay.”

lazy coworker

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. C.S. Lewis
  • You’re never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream. C.S. Lewis
  • To you to live a significant life, you have to become intentional. John Maxwell
  • Success is about us. Significance is about others. John Maxwell
  • Most people are not valued. Very few people have someone who believes in them. Very few have others love them unconditionally. Do these things intentionally every day. John Maxwell
  • What if leadership is mostly about trying to graciously embody each day what you invite others to follow? Zack Eswine
  • God doesn’t call people to a job description, He calls people to Himself and His mission in the world. Louie Giglio
  • Discernment might be the greatest requirement for leadership. Seeing beyond the surface to the core issue is essential. Pray for it. Louie Giglio
  • Leadership is stewardship. Ron Edmondson
  • Don’t wait to be inspired to work, work until you are inspired! KB
  • Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Coach
  • To leave someone in a position of leadership when he/she cannot be successful is like cancer within an organization. Mark Miller
  • Leaders with the most POWER must be the MOST willing to pass it on, Give it away and push it to others. Brad Lomenick
  • Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. Saint Augustine
  • True greatness, true leadership, is achieved not by reducing men to one’s service but in giving oneself in selfless service to them. Oswald Sanders
  • Great vision without great people is irrelevant.  Jim Collins
  • The moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you’ve made a hiring mistake.  Jim Collins
  • Whatever you focus upon, increases. Andy Andrews

John Maxwell Quote

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

Kingdom CallingKingdom Calling: Vocational Calling for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman

I first read this book in a “Calling, Vocation and Work” class with Dr. Michael Williams and Dr. Bradley Matthews at Covenant Seminary two summers ago. King Jesus is on a mission to bring restoration in every sphere of society and has invited His followers to join Him in this Kingdom-advancing work. Learn to deeply, creatively and intentionally steward your vocational power in ways that advance foretastes of the coming Kingdom of shalom for our neighbors near and far.

It’s an excellent book, so let’s read it together. This week we’ll look at

CHAPTER 11 ~ Pathway 2 DONATE YOUR SKILLS

  • Pathway two of vocational stewardship is about donating vocational skills to nonprofits and ministries-within the church, in the local community or abroad-that can use them to advance God’s kingdom.
  • Churches with the ability to promote not only blooming but also this pathway may discover that many congregants respond enthusiastically to meaningful opportunities to use their job skills on their off time.
  • Despite the fact that this kind of service would be of obvious benefit to both the server and the served, most congregations have no specific, intentional focus or programs to identify their congregants’ occupational skills and match those to serving opportunities.
  • With regard to administration, some churches do not use any sort of database to gather information on their parishioners. Consequently, they do not collect vocational information that could be useful in matching members to relevant volunteer opportunities.
  • Some clergy are not enthusiastic about helping their members to plug in to service opportunities best suited for their skills when those opportunities are outside the church’s own programs.
  • Congregational leaders have pioneered four strategies for overcoming administrative obstacles: implementing new technology; rethinking traditional approaches to engaging volunteers; partnering with a local “volunteer clearinghouse’; and providing formal coaching.
  • Many church leaders fear that releasing congregants to agencies outside the congregation will leave the church itself bereft of the human and financial resources it requires. Leaders must conquer this fear if they are to implement vocational stewardship along pathway two.
  • Facilitating pathway two may require congregational leaders to make some changes in both their attitudes and their administrative structures. Change is never easy, and it doesn’t happen without significant motivation. For those active in vocational stewardship along pathway two, the enormous benefits are well worth the effort.
  • The first benefit is the deep joy parishioners experience. They discover that it is profoundly rewarding to use their unique, God-given skills to serve others on the frontlines.
  • Service along pathway two has also deepened some congregants’ appreciation for believers whose skill sets are much different from their own. For them, it illuminates in fresh ways the truth of 1 Corinthians 12 about the value of all parts of Christ’s body.
  • Congregants who have donated their vocational skills to ministries also report that they’ve grown in their appreciation for the unity of Christ’s body worldwide.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly for congregational leaders, service along pathway two has sparked spiritual growth in some parishioners.


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3 Reasons Why Attitude is Critical to Your Success

Swindoll quoteHave you ever been around someone with a negative attitude? I’m not talking about someone who is just having a bad day. I’m talking about someone who is always complaining about something. They are consistently negative.

A positive attitude has always been something that is very important to me. I am weakened and drained when I am around negative people. Dr. Alan Zimmerman says that a negative attitude is just as contagious as the common cold. We can’t afford to catch it.

Dr. Zimmerman, in his excellent book Pivot, writes that he’s noticed that attitude makes a huge difference in determining a person’s level of success in life. He goes so far as to say that attitude is one of the most powerful factors in your life. John Maxwell agrees, stating that the connection between attitude and success is undeniable. Why is it then that so few people demonstrate a consistently positive attitude?

There are many benefits of a positive attitude. Below are three of them:

  1. Those with positive attitudes make good team members. On the document that I send to all of my new team members, I start off with attitude because of the importance that I place on it. I state “Attitude is very important with me. I’ve always said that I would rather have someone on my team with less talent and a great attitude than someone with more talent and a poor attitude.” Why do I say that? You can generally teach someone skills, but you can’t teach someone to have a good attitude. They either have it or they don’t. A person’s attitude will influence their team either for the good or bad. I don’t want someone with a bad attitude negatively impacting my team. Have you experienced team members with negative attitudes? If so, how has that impacted you and what have you done about it?
  2. Those with positive attitudes are better able to deal with what comes their way. One of my favorite quotes is this one from pastor and author Chuck Swindoll, which I also share with team members and have a framed copy in my office:
    “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. It is more important than facts. It is more important than past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…home.
    The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitude.”
    Swindoll states that we are in charge of our own attitudes. Think of what he says here. Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. Do you agree with that? Why or why not?
  3. Those with positive attitudes will deliver better results. Dr. Zimmerman writes that you can trace just about everything you achieve or don’t achieve back to your attitude. He tells us that good attitudes bring good results and bad attitudes bring bad results, and that our attitude, even more than our aptitude determines our altitude. I firmly believe that. Your attitude on how you approach a challenge makes a significant difference. Have you found that to be the case with challenges that you have faced?

    These are just a few reasons why attitude is critical to your success. There are many more. What are some additional ways you can think of?


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Movie Review ~ Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs MovieSteve Jobs, rated R
****

This film about the late Steve Jobs, best known as co-founder, Chairman, and CEO of Apple, Inc., is directed by Oscar winning director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire). The screenplay is by Oscar winner Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and is based in part on Walter Isaacson’s excellent book Steve Jobs. This film is superior to the 2013 film Jobs, starring Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs.

Rather than giving us a full look at Job’s life (there is no mention of the iPad, iPhone, iTunes, just a hint of the iPod, or Job’s cancer), Boyle chooses to tell Job’s story through three major acts spreading across sixteen years of his life. All of the scenes take us backstage (giving the feel of 2014’s Birdman), before three major product launches (the Macintosh in 1984, NeXT in 1988, and the iMac in 1998).

As he is preparing to go on stage to introduce these new products, we see many important issues arising for Jobs just minutes before he is to go out in front of thousands of excited people in the auditorium. How he could keep his mind straight when he does walk out on stage is amazing in itself. The three major scenes (product launches) in the film were filmed on 16mm, 35mm, and digital to illustrate the advancement in Apple’s technology across the 16 years depicted of Jobs’ life.

Oscar nominee (for 12 Years a Slave) Michael Fassbender portrays Jobs and does an outstanding job, most likely earning him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. I was very impressed with Seth Rogen’s portrayal of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who was a consultant on the film. Rogen met with Wozniak often when preparing to play him. He has my favorite line in the film, and I found Wozniak the most likeable character. He and Jobs are having an argument near the end of the film – Wozniak has wanted Jobs for some time to acknowledge the key members of the Apple II team, but Jobs again refuses and says some mean things to Wozniak. As he walks out of the auditorium, Wozniak says “. It’s not binary. You can be decent and gifted at the same time.”  Jobs liked to think of himself as the conductor of an orchestra, but forgot that there is nothing to conduct without the musicians.

Oscar winner (for The Reader) Kate Winslet delivers a strong performance as Joanna Hoffman, head of marketing and Job’s trusted assistant/advisor throughout the three main scenes in the film, and is worthy of an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Hoffman does her job extremely well, works closely with him, has his respect and is one of the few who can speak directly to him and have it received. A good line that she delivers is “What you make isn’t supposed to be the best part of you”.

Jeff Daniels, who recently appeared in The Martian, portrays John Sculley, Job’s one-time father figure who would later be responsible for forcing him out of Apple. Michael Stuhlbarg plays engineer Andy Hertzfeld who takes the brunt of Job’s criticism at the beginning of the film because the Macintosh doesn’t want to say “Hello”. Katherine Waterston plays Crisann Brennan, Jobs ex-girlfriend and mother of his daughter Lisa, well played by Makenzie Moss (at age 5), Ripley Sobo (at age 9) and Perla Haney-Jardine (at age 19).

The fact that Jobs was adopted comes up a few times in the film, almost to explain the way he treated those closest to him so poorly. We are forced to look at a flawed human being (as we all are). He was a genius visionary in design and marketing, and a perfectionist, but he also treated people terribly, including his daughter Lisa, who he denied for years that he was her father, and her mother Crisann.

The film is rated “R” for extensive adult language, primarily from Jobs. God’s and Jesus’s names are also misused several times. Although there are a few references to God and Jesus, and also one about Job’s birth parents wanting him to be adopted by a Catholic family, faith is not portrayed as a factor in any of the characters’ lives. That doesn’t mean that some don’t demonstrate commendable actions, as both Hertzfeld and Hoffman do commendable things for Lisa.

Having read Isaacson’s book, I loved this film that features strong directing, writing (which reminded us of Sorkin’s work on The West Wing), and acting performances. I found it to be one of the best films of the year. My wife on the other hand, not familiar with the details of Job’s life or career, respected the above, but was lost part of the time as the movie assumes you know the story and the characters and doesn’t go out of its way to fill you in. She also said that it was a well-made film but was exhausting due to being filmed in cramped back-stage areas, the time pressure in the movie and the fast-paced West Wing style dialogue.  Be sure and listen to how the music builds, especially during the first two acts, and watch to see how many characters are looking for acknowledgement and affirmation from others.