One Last Shot Over the Left Field Wall. Andy Andrews writes a tribute to Hank Aaron, the home run king, who died January 22 at age 86. My favorite Hank Aaron memory took place at a 1965 game at Busch Stadium 1 (also known as Sportsman’s Park) in St. Louis. My Dad, Mom, brother Mike (age 6) and I (age 8) were attending the game between the Cardinals and the Milwaukee Braves. Cardinal pitcher Curt Simmons got Aaron out throughout the game with a big lollypop pitch. Aaron was frustrated, but ready for the pitch late in the game, and crushed the ball out of the park. But Aaron was so anxious to hit the pitch that he actually stepped out of the batter’s box and was called out. Read about it here.
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More interesting links to articles about Christian Living, Thinking Theologically, Good Questions and Recommended Resources
In a Post-COVID Workforce, Agility is Key. In the first of a series of articles, Jonathan Chambers writes “As businesses slowly reopen, and Americans prepare to either return to work, or look for work, one major question looms: What skills really matter now?”
God Works Through You. Russ Gehrlein writes “Those of us who follow Jesus Christ can experience God’s presence at work while He is working in us, with us, and through us to meet the legitimate needs of everyone whom we meet on our journey.”
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More links to interesting articles
The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
My Review of Work and Our Labor in the Lord by James M. Hamilton Jr
Snippets from the book Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson
Is it true that Christians should be the best workers? It depends.
I remember one of our pastors telling me years ago about a comment that one of their seminary professors had made in class. They said that if the married students were consistently getting straight “A’s” in class, they were obviously not spending enough time with their families. I think I know what the professor was getting at. If we apply it to our work, we could ask that if we consistently excel at work, could we be giving a lesser effort (time, energy, engagement) to our families, ministry and our relationship with God. Excelling at work includes more than just the effort and results you achieve during the regular workday. It also includes taking job-related classes and studying for exams, be they industry designations or certification or a Master’s Degree.
Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert address the balance that is needed in their book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs. They write that we should never be idle in our work, nor should we make work an idol. In other words, 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. Continue reading →
Until We Meet Again (Live Unplugged) – Mat Kearney ****
Until We Meet Again features songs from Kearney’s second acoustic tour, his winter 2020 Revisited tour. These songs were recorded in January and February, just before the COVID-19 shutdown. Many of the songs are from early in his career, with five of the eleven songs from his 2011 album Young Love and three from his 2009 album City of Black and White. Most of the songs, are about love and relationships, with other themes including encouragement and trust in God.
If you are not familiar with Kearney’s music, this would be an excellent project to check out. Below are a few brief comments about each song: Fire and Rain – This song was written by Robert Marvin and Kearney and originally appeared on the 2009 album City of Black and White. They may not be together anymore, but his love for her will not fade. The song features acoustic guitar, drums, bass, and backing vocals.
Key lyric: My love will not fade
Through the fire and rain
Meeting Jesus: The “I Am” Sayings of Jesus by R.C. Sproul. Banner of Truth. 88 pages. 2019 ***
In this short book – the only one authored by R.C. Sproul that has been published by Banner of Truth – Dr. Sproul looks at looks at eight “I am” sayings of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John which reveal his true identity and teach us the truth about him. Those sayings are:
The Bread of Life
The Light of the World
The Good Shepherd
The Resurrection and the Life
The Way, the Truth and the Life
The True Vine
Before Abraham Was, ‘I Am”
This book reads like the content may have been originally delivered as sermons, or as a teaching series from Ligonier Ministries. Interestingly, there is no “Introduction” or information about the author, as you would normally find in a book.
Sproul, who died in 2017, was a spiritual mentor for me. In this book, he characteristically delivers solid theological teaching in an easy-to-understand manner. Below are ten of my favorite quotes from the book:
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BOOK REVIEWS ~ More of this review…
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur
I’M CURRENTLY READING…. Continue reading →
Every once in a while, a book comes along that just blows you away. Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund is one of those books. You can read my review of the book here. Here are 45 more great quotes from the book:
The sins of those who belong to God open the floodgates of his heart of compassion for us. The dam breaks. It is not our loveliness that wins his love. It is our unloveliness.
The atonement accomplished our salvation; intercession is the moment-by-moment application of that atoning work.
The intercession of Christ is his heart connecting our heart to the Father’s heart.
He knows us to the uttermost, and he saves us to the uttermost, because his heart is drawn out to us to the uttermost. We cannot sin our way out of his tender care.
Our prayer life stinks most of the time. But what if you heard Jesus praying aloud for you in the next room? Few things would calm us more deeply.
Our sinning goes to the uttermost. But his saving goes to the uttermost. And his saving always outpaces and overwhelms our sinning, because he always lives to intercede for us.
An intercessor stands between two parties; an advocate doesn’t simply stand in between the two parties but steps over and joins the one party as he approaches the other. Jesus is not only an intercessor but an advocate.
Yes, we fail Christ as his disciples. But his advocacy on our behalf rises higher than our sins. His advocacy speaks louder than our failures. All is taken care of.
When we choose to sin—though we forsake our true identity, our Savior does not forsake us. These are the very moments when his heart erupts on our behalf in renewed advocacy in heaven with a resounding defense that silences all accusations, astonishes the angels, and celebrates the Father’s embrace of us in spite of all our messiness.
Let Jesus draw you in through the loveliness of his heart. This is a heart that upbraids the impenitent with all the harshness that is appropriate, yet embraces the penitent with more openness than we are able to feel. It is a heart that walks us into the bright meadow of the felt love of God.
The Son of God clothed himself with humanity and will never unclothe himself. He became a man and always will be.
One implication of this truth of Christ’s permanent humanity is that when we see the feeling and passions and affections of the incarnate Christ toward sinners and sufferers as given to us in the four Gospels, we are seeing who Jesus is for us today.
While Christ is a lion to the impenitent, he is a lamb to the penitent—the reduced, the open, the hungry, the desiring, the confessing, the self-effacing. He hates with righteous hatred all that plagues you.
Christ’s heart for us means that he will be our never-failing friend.
The Spirit takes what we read in the Bible and believe on paper about Jesus’s heart and moves it from theory to reality, from doctrine to experience.
The Spirit has been given to us in order that we might know, way down deep, the endless grace of the heart of God.
The Spirit’s role, in summary, is to turn our postcard apprehensions of Christ’s great heart of longing affection for us into an experience of sitting on the beach, in a lawn chair, drink in hand, enjoying the actual experience.
When we see the heart of Christ, then, throughout the four Gospels, we are seeing the very compassion and tenderness of who God himself most deeply is.
As you consider the Father’s heart for you, remember that he is the Father of mercies. He is not cautious in his tenderness toward you. He multiplies mercies matched to your every need, and there is nothing he would rather do.
The bent of God’s heart is mercy. His glory is his goodness. His glory is his lowliness.
The Christian life, from one angle, is the long journey of letting our natural assumption about who God is, over many decades, fall away, being slowly replaced with God’s own insistence on who he is.
God’s thoughts are so much higher than ours that not only does he abundantly pardon the penitent; he has determined to bring his people into a future so glorious we can hardly bring ourselves to dare hope for it.
The Christian life is a lifelong shedding of tepid thoughts of the goodness of God.
He is a fountain of mercy. He is a billionaire in the currency of mercy, and the withdrawals we make as we sin our way through life cause his fortune to grow greater, not less.
Christ was sent not to mend wounded people or wake sleepy people or advise confused people or inspire bored people or spur on lazy people or educate ignorant people, but to raise dead people.
God is rich in mercy. He doesn’t withhold mercy from some kinds of sinners while extending it to others. Because mercy is who he is— “being rich in mercy”—his heart gushes forth mercy to sinners one and all.
He doesn’t meet you halfway. His very nature is to engage death and bring life. He did that decisively once and for all at your conversion, but he continues to do it time and again in your sin and folly.
The evidence of Christ’s mercy toward you is not your life. The evidence of his mercy toward you is his—mistreated, misunderstood, betrayed, abandoned. Eternally. In your place.
If God sent his own Son to walk through the valley of condemnation, rejection, and hell, you can trust him as you walk through your own valleys on your way to heaven.
Do you know what Jesus does with those who squander his mercy? He pours out more mercy. God is rich in mercy.
The battle of the Christian life is to bring your own heart into alignment with Christ’s, that is, getting up each morning and replacing your natural orphan mind-set with a mind-set of full and free adoption into the family of God through the work of Christ your older brother, who loved you and gave himself for you out of the overflowing fullness of his gracious heart.
A healthy Christian life is built on both the objective and the subjective sides of the gospel—the justification that flows from the work of Christ, and the love that flows from the heart of Christ.
The end-time judgment that awaits all humans has, for those in Christ, already taken place. We who are in Christ no longer look to the future for judgment, but to the past; at the cross, we see our punishment happening, all our sins being punished in Jesus.
The gospel is the invitation to let the heart of Christ calm us into joy, for we’ve already been discovered, included, brought in. We can bring our up-and-down moral performance into subjection to the settled fixedness of what Jesus feels about us.
God didn’t meet us halfway. He refused to hold back, cautious, assessing our worth. That is not his heart. He and his Son took the initiative. On terms of grace and grace alone. In defiance of what we deserved.
He didn’t simply leave heaven for me; he endured hell for me.
His heart was gentle and lowly toward us when we were lost. Will his heart be anything different toward us now that we are found?
If you are united to Christ, you are as good as in heaven already.
We love until we are betrayed. Jesus continued to the cross despite betrayal. We love until we are forsaken. Jesus loved through forsakenness. We love up to a limit. Jesus loves to the end.
One way we glorify God is by our obedience to him, our refusing to believe we know best and instead trusting that his way is the way of life.
“So that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”—what does that mean, for those in Christ? It means that one day God is going to walk us through the wardrobe into Narnia, and we will stand there, paralyzed with joy, wonder, astonishment, and relief.
If his grace in kindness is “immeasurable,” then our failures can never outstrip his grace. Our moments of feeling utterly overwhelmed by life are where God’s heart lives. Our most haunted pockets of failure and regret are where his heart is drawn most unswervingly.
In the coming age we will descend ever deeper into God’s grace in kindness, into his very heart, and the more we understand of it, the more we will see it to be beyond understanding. It is immeasurable.
For those not in Christ, this life is the best it will ever get. For those in Christ, for whom Ephesians 2:7 is the eternal vista just around the next bend in the road, this life is the worst it will ever get.
The Christian life boils down to two steps: 1. Go to Jesus. 2. See #1.
We Have a New President – A Christian Response. Scott Sauls writes “One of the chief ways we honor God is in the way we respond to those He places in authority over us. Whether we agree or disagree with our authorities, showing honor and respect is presented in the Bible as a non-negotiable. In showing honor and respect, we also honor and respect God, who, in His own wisdom and for His own purposes, ordains who will lead and who will follow.”
Could our Current Political and Cultural Chaos be Leading to a Spiritual Awakening? Philip Douglass, one of my favorite professors at Covenant Seminary, writes “Our politicians and cultural leaders will not alone solve the problems of our society any more than they were able to do so in years past. It will take another Awakening like the ones we experienced in the late 1940s and 1950s and again in the 1970s, except this renewal must be initiated and sustained by planting new churches.”
Your Work Matters More Than You Think. Colin Smith writes “God puts his people in some surprising places. The testimony of Obadiah can encourage Christians who have been called to serve God in dark places for His purposes.”
Seven New Books on Faith, Work & Economics. I appreciated this listing of new books from Jacqueline Isaacs. I just started reading Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson.
Work is commended in the Bible as a good thing. It is both a privilege and a blessing. But many of those we work with, and perhaps some of us, view it as a necessary evil. Most don’t look at their work as a vocation, a calling or even a career. No, it’s just a job. Many feel that there is “sacred” or “religious” work and everything else is “secular work”, and that secular work is a necessary evil, just to pay the bills, support your family, and have the resources to support God’s mission. Others may see the workplace as a mission field, and they use their position to evangelize non-believing co-workers.
Is it right to share your faith at work? That depends. If you work at Chick Fil-A or Hobby Lobby, organizations that are open about honoring and glorifying God, it may not be a problem. However, at the organization I worked at, and perhaps at yours as well, sharing your faith at work could have serious negative consequences for you.
The most challenging time of my nearly 38-year career was a result of my speaking openly about my faith. Without going into details, a comment I made landed me in Human Resources, and among other disciplinary action I was required to complete diversity training. Continue reading →
Out of Body is NEEDTOBREATHE’s seventh studio album, and first since 2016’s Hard Love. The album debuted at #1 on iTunes Top Albums chart. It is also the band’s first album as a trio – Bear Rinehart (lead vocals, guitar, piano, harmonica), Seth Bolt (backing vocals, bass, percussion), and Josh Lovelace (backing vocals, piano, organ), following the departure of founding member Bo Rinehart. The album was recorded in Nashville with producers Cason Cooley and Jeremy Lutito. Five of the eleven songs were released in advance of the full album release.
The band has said that the album is about their journey toward their true selves. This is a strong album, one of my favorites of 2020. As you would expect, the lyrics are vulnerable, and the musicianship and production are excellent. Below are a few comments about each song:
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More of this review and a review of Precious Memories Collection by Alan Jackson