Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Coram Deo – Under the Gaze of God

Ernie BanksRemembering Ernie Banks

Even though I’m a St. Louis Cardinal fan, I had the utmost respect for Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, who died last week. Banks was my brother’s favorite player growing up and there was no better ambassador for major league baseball.

It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame…
Let’s play two! ~ Ernie Banks

 

 

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~Learning from the Giants

Book Review: Learning from the Giants: Life and Leadership Lessons from the Bible by John C. Maxwell

This book guides you through thinking about the giants of the faith and the messages they had for us ~ Elijah: God loves you on your bad days. Elisha: Give your best wherever God puts you. Job: God sees the big picture. Jacob: Let God have control of your life. Deborah: God specializes in the unexpected. Isaiah: God has a reason for your encounter with Him. Jonah: God always gives us a second chance. Joshua: God is greater than your greatest challenges. Daniel: Have a purpose bigger than yourself.

 I’m Currently Reading

~ THIS AND THAT ~Everyone's a Theologian - R.C. Sproul

 BOOKS:

MUSIC:

  • The “Rise” of Rapper and Pastor Trip Lee. A Q&A with Trip Lee on pastoring, porn, and John Piper. Trip Lee is one of my favorite music artists. At 27, he is also a pastor and recently released his second book.
  • New Ringo Starr Album. Postcards from Paradise, the 18th solo album by the former Beatles drummer will be released March 31. The album will featuring eleven new and original songs, and guests including Joe Walsh, Dave Steward, Richard Marx, Peter Frampton and many others.

CURRENT EVENTS:

THEOLOGY ~ Knowing God:

  • By Grace, We are Free in Christ. Sinclair Ferguson writes “Jesus Christ is able to set us free because He has dealt with the sin that enslaves us.”
  • How to Offend a Room Full of Calvinists. Tim Challies writes “Do you want to know how to make a Calvinist angry? Do you want to know how to offend a whole room full of them? Just bring up the old line about Reformed theology being incompatible with evangelism. We have all heard it, we have all read it, we have all rejected it.”
  • Does James 2:24 Deny Justification by Faith Alone? R.C. Sproul writes “I’m convinced that we don’t really have a conflict here.”
  • The God-man or a Madman? Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “You can’t be neutral when it comes to Jesus. He doesn’t give you that luxury. If you really listen to what he says, you either need to believe that he is the Preeminent Son of God and worship him, or you need to get as far away from him as you can. He demands a hot or cold response and spews anything lukewarm (Revelation 3:15–16).
  • Why the Prosperity Gospel Is the Worst Pyramid Scheme Ever. Nicholas McDonald shares how the prosperity gospel, sometimes known as the health and wealth gospel, is strikingly similar to a pyramid scheme in at least three ways.
  • If the Lord Marks Iniquity, Who Should Stand? R.C. Sproul writes “The Psalmist asked the question: “If the Lord marks iniquity, who should stand?” This query is obviously rhetorical. The only answer, indeed the obvious answer is no one.”

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • To the Church in America Today. Watch this seven minute video clip in which John Piper speaks directly to the hearts of Christians who feel increasingly unwelcome and alien in the America we know today. Stop expecting everything to go well. Stop trying to fit in here. Instead, fuel your life with the invincible and eternal hope of knowing Jesus Christ forever.
  • A Prayer for Resting in the Sovereignty of God. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.
  • 13 Ways You Waste Your Money. Tim Challies writes “About once a year I go through a phase—a deliberate phase—in which I evaluate our family finances to see where we’re doing well and where we aren’t doing so well. I especially look for places we are spending money we don’t need to spend—bills that are too high, subscriptions we no longer need, and all of those little money-wasters that eventually add up. And over the years, I’ve collected quite a list of ways that we, and perhaps you, waste money.” He asks “Where do you find that you are tempted to waste money?”
  • God Works All Things for Your Good. Marshall Segal of Desiring God writes “In this three-part series through Romans 8:28, John Piper mines layer after layer of comfort and strength from this dense promise. If you’ve never reflected on this verse, you will be stunned by its power and relevance for your life. And if you have known it, maybe even memorized it, we believe you will discover new depths of God’s sovereign love for you.”
  • May Jesus’s Name Be Known Through Me. Marshall Segal of Desiring God writes “God will reveal his fame even through his bread-less, bag-less, penniless, but faithful followers. God will exalt the name of his Son through us — going before us in the hearts of our listeners, then sending us to speak the good news to them, all the while promising to go with us and provide us with everything we need along the way, and finally fulfilling and completing all that he calls us to do. Jesus’s name will be known, and believed, and treasured. May it happen through me.”

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 2.2.2015

  • 10 of Winston Churchill’s Best Quotes. The fiftieth anniversary of Churchill’s death was last week.
  • Some of us are memory haunted. Horror left its stain. Broken brained we need mercy not scolding, a grace that won’t quit. Zack Eswine
  • Being productive is not just about getting things done. It’s about being a useful person, making a contribution, and leaving things better than you found them.   Matt Perman
  • You will never see the preciousness of a Savior, if you do not see the reality of your sin. Kevin DeYoung
  • Here’s one way I can know that I’ve forgotten the gospel of grace: when your sin bothers me more than my sin. Tullian Tchividjian
  • To honor God as God, we must worship Him as He and He alone decrees.  R.C. Sproul
  • If you don’t feel like praying, pray to God to give you the desire. Tim Keller
  • God calls you to the kind of work that you need most to do, and that the world most needs to have done . . . the place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. Frederick Buechner
  • Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ—to make him look great by all we do. Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work. John Piper
  • When it is the Lord’s work in which we rejoice, we need not be afraid of being too glad. Charles Spurgeon
  • We are so quick to tweet, Facebook, and Instagram but we treat prayer with a sense of delay? Tim Keller
  • When we turn a godly passion for excellence into an idol of our own self-justification, we miss the truly radical thing God is doing. Michael Horton
  • As we’ve been forgiven, accepted, and loved in Christ, so let us do so to others. That’s the surest sign we “get” the gospel. Scotty Smith
  • God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does. Martin Luther
  • The only Christian work is good work well done. Dorothy Sayers
  • The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. Samuel Johnson
  • If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep the streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of Heaven and earth will have to pause and say, “Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.” Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Sin will usher in the greatest and the saddest losses that can be upon our souls. Thomas Brooks 
  • Instead of starting with our plans and dreams, we need to begin with God, who freely created, sustains, and directs history to his ends. Michael Horton
  • Unchecked, the new tolerance will sooner or later put many people in chains.” D.A. Carson
  • Talk is cheap. When all is said and done, a lot more is said than done. Dave Kraft
  • I believe one of the next great moves of God is going to be through the believers in the workplace. Billy Graham
  • Christians necessarily believe we depend on God for everything—a prayerless Christian, then, is a contradiction in terms. Tim Keller
  • There is no way to work your way to God. There is no way to climb up to heaven. There is only one way, and that is through Christ. Kevin DeYoung
  • When we behold the face of God, all memories of pain and suffering will vanish. Our souls shall be totally healed. R.C. Sproul
  • You are not what you have. You are not what you do. You are not what other people say about you. You are the Beloved! Henri Nouwen
  • Father, free us from under-believing the gospel and over-believing our worries. Scotty Smith
  • If you feel compelled to respond every time you’re criticized it reveals just how much you’ve built your identity on being right. Tullian Tchividjian
  • The hand of the wicked can’t stir one moment before God allows them to begin, and…one moment after God commands them to stop. J.C. Ryle
  • The joys of heaven will surely compensate for the sorrows of earth.” Charles Spurgeon
  • The more we see our own flaws and sins, the more precious, electrifying, and amazing God’s grace appears. Tim Keller
  • Some of you are sitting at home saying, ‘I don’t need a church to love God,’ and I am here telling you that you are so wrong. Francis Chan
  • So here’s some relief to perfectionists out there: Give up! Stop climbing and fall into God’s gracious arms. Michael Horton
  • Walking in the light means we pursue obedience and are honest about our remaining darkness. Kevin DeYoung
  • Christians are defined not by our heritage, but by our mission; not by our blood, but by His. Mark Dever.
  • The church is not full of hypocrites. It’s full of repentant sinners. Huge difference. Burk Parsons.
  • Do your best to succeed and push the limits without violating them. Ken Blanchard
  • We will either deal with our “stuff” or our “stuff” will continue to deal with us. Scotty Smith
  • Suffering can serve us. Suffering tests our trust in God’s promises. And we have a great interest in knowing the truth about our trust in Him. Mark Dever
  • That fact that Jesus Christ died is more important than that fact that I will die. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • Sometimes God has to remind you that you’re a sinner so that you can be set free from your self-righteousness. Tullian Tchividjian

  • Seattle Seahawks Assistant Coach: “Jesus is Better Than the Super Bowl”. David Daniels interviews Seattle Seahawks Assistant Coach Rocky Seto about football and his faith.
  • Competing for God’s Glory on the Gridiron. Matt Perman interviews Kurt Earl, a teacher and a coach at Lincoln Christian School in Lincoln, Nebraska.
  • John Maxwell on confrontation. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks about confrontation.
  • All Things Well. The February 2015 issue of TableTalk has a theme of Labor and Rest: Finding the Right Balance. In Burk Parson’s Coram Deo article, he writes “As Christians, we are called to labor well and rest well, and only when we do both as God has directed us will we find the right balance in life.”
  • Portrait of a Better World: Gene Cornelius. Bob Chapman writes “Gene wants all his teammates to find their work meaningful. He wants them to go home at the end of the day feeling valued, that their contribution made a difference. And as a leader, he wants to help facilitate that feeling in his team.”
  • This Four Letter Word will Determine Your Future. In this Tuesday Tip, Dr. Alan Zimmerman looks at how to get hope working for you.
  • Faith and Work Ministries. Here’ a helpful list of ministries — local, national, and international — focused on faith and work compiled by the Center for Faith and Work at LeTourneau University.
  • 7 Characteristics of Good Employees. Brad Lomenick offers 7 keys   to help us be a better employee, partner, or peer to others in our organizations.
  • Pastor, Why Not Visit Their Workplace? Greg Forster writes “If you’re a pastor, every week congregants visit you in your workplace and watch you do your job. Part of your job is to prepare them to take what they learn from you in your workplace and carry it back to their own workplaces. Wherever they do their work—on the job or in the home—they need your support to persevere in honesty, diligence, self-control, and generosity, in the midst of terrible brokenness. One of the most important things you can do for them is return the favor. They visit you in your workplace regularly. Why not visit them in theirs?
  • Four Things to Do When You Make a Mistake at Work. David Rupert shares four things we must do when we make a mistake at work.
  • What Makes a Good Life. Steven Garber in comparing the lead characters from the films It’s a Wonderful Life and Birdman writes “At the end of his film, George is surrounded by a community of family and friends who gather round, singing a glad song that remembers to remember the truest truths of a good life. When all is said and done, all the Birdman has is himself, and at the end of the day and the end of the film, that isn’t enough.” In his book, Charlie Self specifically challenges Pentecostal believers, calling them to a level of discipleship that integrates faith, work, and economics so that believers view their work in light of God’s design for flourishing their communities”.
  • Stay in Your Own Lane or Own the Whole? Eric Geiger writes “Perhaps you have had a leader challenge you to “stay in your lane.” Whether your mind conjured up a football analogy or lanes on an interstate, you got the message. Quit trying to lead everyone else’s area, and focus on yours. And perhaps you heard a different message in a different meeting when the leader told the team, “Everyone must help shoulder this. We all must own this. So which one is it? Do I stay in my lane or do I own the whole? And if you are a leader, you may have wondered, Which message do I deliver? Both.”
  • Bringing faith and work and people together: Flourishing Churches and Communities by Charlie Self. Mikel Del Rosario writes “In his book (Flourishing Churches and Communities), Charlie Self specifically challenges Pentecostal believers, calling them to a level of discipleship that integrates faith, work, and economics so that believers view their work in light of God’s design for flourishing their communities.”
  • How to Stay Relevant in a Constantly Changing Marketplace. Michael Hyatt writes “Instead of obsolescence, we can take steps to ensure ongoing relevance. Here are seven ways to stay relevant in today’s marketplace. I’ve seen these work in my own life and also the lives of people I’ve coached.”
  • A Call to Transform Our Work and Professions. Stacy Jackson writes “The high calling to work is a call to transform our organizations, our jobs, and our responsibilities. It is a call to consider how industries such as banking, consulting, education, and manufacturing must change. It is also a call to explore a right view of strategic planning, marketing, finance, sales, and various other valuable roles. Our work cannot remain the same when we recognize its eternal purpose. Once we realize the high calling of our work, the real work begins.”
  • Is There Room in Our Theology of Work for Rest and Recreation? Andrew Spencer writes “In many ways, the culture in which we live has lost sight of a vision of work that resonates with what we see in Scripture. Two aspects of this vision that we’ve forgotten are rest and recreation. Though work has been part of God’s design for humans since the very beginning, there is a place in a theology of work for understanding the importance of these things.
  • Are You TOO Nice? 4 Ways to Be Compassionate and Fair. Madeleine Homan Blanchard writes “As a manager, you really do have to be kind and understanding when people go through rough times. But you also need to balance sympathy for the needs of an employee with common sense about the needs of the team and the business.” She offers four ideas that may help.
  • Patrick Lencioni: How to Make Your Company Healthy and Wealthy. Is it possible to have a company where politics are minimized, clarity is king, and team members are passionate about what they do? Absolutely. Listen this this episode of the EntreLeadership Podcast.
  • Danger: Highly Flammable! This article from Christian Faith at Work states that the “bottom line is that we have to see the spiritually ‘flammable’ potential in our business.”
  • 3 Lies that can Shipwreck a Leader. Here’s a short but helpful article from Scott Cochrane.
  • Four Things All Leaders Should be Fearful of and Protect Themselves From. Dave Kraft writes “There are things every leader should be genuinely and honestly fearful of and seeking protection from. Here are four that I have been thinking about.”
  • What Should be the Legacy of a Successful Leader? John Maxwell writes “I believe the greatest legacy a leader can leave is having developed other leaders.”
  • 7 Good Reasons for a Leader to Learn and Use the Word “No”. Ron Edmondson writes “I hate disappointing people. And every time I say the word “No”, someone isn’t happy with my answer. That’s reality”.
  • What Does a Leader Do? Matt Perman, quoting Marcus Buckingham, writes that “A great leader does not control people, he rallies them. He rallies them to realize and bring about a vision of a better future.”
  • Five Ways to Expand Your Leadership Potential. Ron Edmondson writes “In my experience, my leadership influence grows the fastest when it grows through the people I’m supposed to be leading.”

    Christian Cartoon

    Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Faith and Work Book Club – 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 from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 3 Convictional Intelligence.


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Coram Deo ~ Living Life Under the Gaze of God

Christianity Today Church Sign

Courtesy of Christianity Today

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

I’m Currently ReadingChuck Pagano

 Book Review: Sidelined: Overcoming Odds Through Unity, Passion and Perseverance by Chuck Pagano with Bruce A. Tollner

 ~ THIS AND THAT ~

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • A New Convert’s Guide to Understanding Christian Code Words. This article from Stephen Altrogge may give you a chuckle or two
  • 10 Ways to Hate God. David Murray looks at a passage from R.C. Sproul’s classic book The Holiness of God and then shares ten ways in which we hate God.
  • Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart. J.D. Greear writes “On this issue—the most important issue on earth—we have to be absolutely clear. I believe it is time to put the shorthand aside. We need to preach salvation by repentance before God and faith in the finished work of Christ.”
  • The Measure You Use. Kevin DeYoung writes that the past several months have been difficult in regards to race relations in America. He writes “I know we ought to use the measure with each other that we want used for us (Matt. 7:2): “Don’t assume the worst about me because I don’t look like you. Don’t size me up based on how I dress, where I live, who my parents were, or if I ever knew my parents. Don’t speak before you listen. Don’t rush to judgment before you’ve heard from all sides.” Isn’t that what we all want?”
  • Francis Chan on Fighting for Joy, Singles Marrying Later, Spousal Arguments, and Monitoring Video Game Time. Our friend Kevin Halloran writes “Francis Chan, pastor and author of the new marriage book You, Me and Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternitywas recently a guest on the Ask Pastor John Podcast, where he shared about fighting for joy, leading his family, why singles marry later, spousal arguments, and other topics, including monitoring video game time of kids in the “Dads and Family Leadership” episode.”
  • The Most Difficult Time to Lead. Tim Challies writes “The most difficult time to lead is when you have forfeited the respect of those who are meant to follow you, when your confidence, and theirs, is shattered. But this is also the most important time to lead. This is where a real man will, and must, lead.”
  • Are You a Peter Pan Christian? Kevin Halloran writes “Many Christians function as spiritual Peter Pans who, consciously or unconsciously, avoid growing up in Christ. They put Christ on the side in their lives instead of at the forefront. They don’t realize that there is something so much greater, something so much more satisfying, more secure, and more significant than coasting in their immaturity, staying in spiritual diapers and drinking from bottles.”
  • I’ve Sinned; Now What? Eleven Reminders For Dealing with Sin. Rey Reynoso writes “On this side of eternity we will sin. I’m not saying we must sin. Sin is not necessary to human life but it is part of human life. On this side of eternity we will struggle with it. We will sin.” He shares eleven things (to limit it to a readable number) to keep in mind in regards to sin.
  • What To Do When We’re Prayerless. Jon Bloom of Desiring God writes “When we’re prayerless, the first thing we must address is the cause of our faith deficit.” He offers five suggestions for doing that.

THEOLOGY:

  • Why Do I Exist? Tony Reinke of Desiring God writes “Am I failing at life? Am I succeeding? And why do I exist in the first place? These questions are huge, we all ask them, and thankfully the Bible helps us with answers in the form of a litmus test.”
  • Election: Unconditional, Eternal, and Loving. Anthony Carter writes “Election is unconditional. God did not choose His people based on who we are or what we can do, on any potential we have or that He saw in us. Rather, He chose us when we had met no prior condition or obligation.”
  • God’s Super-Apostles. Tim Challies writes “There is a new religious movement alive today that is gaining momentum and claiming followers. Like so many movements before it, it began in the United States and has since spread around the world. I have seen many manifestations of it right here in Canada. It is called the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and it is the subject of God’s Super-Apostles, where it receives some well-deserved scrutiny.”
  • Peter Jones interviewed on Only Two Religions Teaching Series.  R.C. Sproul and Lee Webb of Ligonier Ministries interview Peter Jones to discuss the theme of his teaching series Only Two Religions. Together they discuss the fundamental religious convictions that drive modern culture, demonstrating that in the final analysis there can be only two religions—worship of the Creator or worship of creation.

TO LIGHT A FIRE UNDER YOU IN YOUR CHRISTIAN JOURNEY:

  • Does your city measure up to Indianapolis? Motivated by faith, many ministries in this Midwestern city bear fruit in their good works.
  • The Eighth Decade of Life and the Ultimate Purpose of God. John Piper recently turned 69 years old. He writes “As the year and the decade turn, I have been thinking about Jesus’ final words, “Teach [all the nations] to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Not just to know what I commanded, but to observe it — obey it, do it. The last command of the Lord was, “Teach the nations in such a way that they obey me.” So I invite you to follow me as I meditate on not wasting my life in view of this final command.
  • Religious liberty and persecution: a global perspective. David Platt writes “Surrounded by the global reality of religious persecution, and driven by our love for God, we must act. We must pray and work for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. When one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers (see 1 Corinthians 12). In a land of religious liberty, we have a biblical responsibility to stand up and speak out on their behalf.”

ENCOURAGEMENT:

  • Comfort, Hope and Encouragement from God. Randy Alcorn writes” Some days no one but God has the right words. I suggest you read each of these verses aloud. Or, stop on one that really speaks to you and read and reread it aloud. Meditate on it, memorize it, and let God speak to your heart as only He can. These are the very words of God. Shut out all the rest of the voices in the world—TV, radio, magazines, books, internet, email, social media—and listen to His voice alone.”
  • A Prayer for Days When You’re Feeling Weary. Here’s another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.

TELEVISION

BOOKS AND VIDEOS:

MUSIC:

  • Rapper Trip Lee, Self-Described ‘Boring’ Guy, Talks Finding Inspiration in Malcolm Gladwell, CS Lewis, and Jay-Z. This is part one of a two-part interview with rapper, pastor, and author Trip Lee about his latest projects, his thoughts on U.S. Christianity, his new church plant, and his perspectives on race as black man in America
  • Third Day Pre-Order. You can pre-order the Deluxe edition of Third Day’s new album Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship on iTunes. The album will be released on March 3. However, when you pre-order the album, you instantly get downloads of the new single “Soul on Fire” (featuring All Songs & Daughters) and eight live recordings.
  • Passion 2015 Album. The live recording from the Passion 2015 conference will be released March 17. Artists that were scheduled to perform at the events held in Atlanta and Houston earlier this year were Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Crowder, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill and Brett Younker.
  • Song Premiere: Bob Dylan, “Stay With Me”. The first single from Dylan’s upcoming Shadows in the Night album of songs recorded by Frank Sinatra.
  • Bob Dylan’s interview with AARP The Magazine. In his first interview in almost three years, Bob Dylan spoke with AARP The Magazine in advance of his upcoming album, Shadows in the Night.
  • First review of Bob Dylan’s Shadows in the Night album. Neil McCormick of The Telegraph in the UK says that “Shadows In The Night is quite gorgeous, the sound of an old man picking over memories, lost loves, regrets, triumphs and fading hopes amid an ambient tumble of haunting electric instrumentation. It is spooky, bittersweet, mesmerizingly moving and showcases the best singing from Dylan in 25 years.” The album will be released February 3.
Christian Cartoon

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

IN THE NEWS:

  • Aaron Rodgers: God Probably Doesn’t Care Who Wins Football Games. Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers states ““I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome,” Rodgers said. “He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.”
  • Ben Zobrist Takes out Newspaper Ad to Say Goodbye to Fans and Teammates. Zobrist is a Christian and played his high school baseball in nearby Eureka, Illinois
  • The Techniques of a Sexual Predator. Unfortunately this article hits a little too close to home as a man in my department was arrested for this last week. Tim Challies writes “In his book On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Children Abuse at Church, Deepak Reju provides a look at the techniques of a sexual predator, and focuses on the way a predator will prepare or groom an entire church so that he can take advantage of its children. His words are worth reading and worth considering.”
  • Joshua Harris resigns to attend seminary. Watch or read his sermon from Sunday.
  • Barna Group Surveys and Statistics Challenged. James C. Pakala Library Director at Covenant Theological Seminary shares concerns with Barna writes “The Barna Group’s statistic was not particularly well-constructed to begin with, but it got substantially less accurate and more dire with each retelling”.
  • Most Godless Cities in America. Time Magazine cites a report from the American Bible Society that ranks cities based on the amount of Bible reading.
  • Abortion and the Gospel. Russell Moore wrote “As today marks the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, most Christians recognize, and rightly so, the loss of millions of unborn human lives. What we often forget is the second casualty of an abortion culture: the consciences of countless men and women.
  • Abortion Bill Dropped Amid Concerns of Female GOP Lawmakers. House Republican leaders abruptly dropped plans late Wednesday to vote on an anti-abortion bill amid a revolt by female GOP lawmakers concerned that the legislation’s restrictive language would once again spoil the party’s chances of broadening its appeal to women and younger voters.
  • It, a new pro-life poem from John Piper:

It
I waited in my nausea,
Surrounded by stone-faced bourgeois
With rolls of twenty-dollar bills
In jacket pockets with their pills,
Funds from the ATM outside
The clinic door, because the guide,
Imbedded in the website said
“Cash only in advance.” The dread
Concealed — as if I really read
The Mademoiselle — my eyes instead
Were staring at the vinyl floor,
So clean and cold, a wise decor
In case a mother’s vomit soiled
The luster underfoot, and spoiled
This sterile place.

And then, all through
The brief and mindless interview
And prep, they called my baby “it.”
I tried to think that what God knit
In me was only “it.” I gripped
For dear life every word — a script
To somehow make this life an “it.”
But then, with legs still split
In clamps, I lifted up my head,
And saw there on the table, dead,
A tiny torso, not an “it,” but “she,”
Destroyed, and with her, me.
~ John Piper

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 1.26.2015

  • The Fall means, we should expect to be regularly frustrated in our work even though we may be in exactly the right vocation. Tim Keller
  • Encouragement and hope flow through our weakness more easily than through our competency. Scotty Smith
  • Where God has put a period, the devil puts a question mark, casting doubt. Steven Lawson
  • You can’t have an informed mind without an engaged heart. Tim Keller
  • The next time someone tells you, “The Church is full of a bunch of hypocrites.” You can respond, “You don’t even know the half of it.” Kevin DeYoung
  • We are not primarily called to do something or go somewhere; we are called to Someone.  Os Guinness
  • Doing your job well is an act of worship. Scotty Smith
  • When a man truly sees himself, he knows nobody can say anything about him that is too bad. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  • I guarantee you there is someone in your life that deserves more appreciation. Who is it? Find that person and let them know! Andy Andrews
  • When you share the gospel, you’re not calling people to a better way of life, you’re proclaiming to them eternal life. Kevin DeYoung
  • Get low; grace will meet you there. Jack Miller
  • Sometimes sadness is sanity. Tears are the reasonable response. Quickness to shush, shame or fix them, can reveal a resistance to wisdom. Zack Eswine
  • Spiritual growth is marked by a growing realization of just how much grace you need. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Sometimes providences, like Hebrew letters, must be read backwards. John Flavel
  • When your sin is deep, the suffering is strong, and your resolve is weak, remember: he gives more grace (James 4:6). Kevin DeYoung
  • Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. Lou Holtz
  • I want you to see everything you do in a new light so that you can become an agent for good, right where you are, to the glory of God. Don’t just try to get things done, seek to serve others to the glory of God in everything you do.  More than that, be proactive and enthusiastic in doing good for others.  Matt Perman
  • To remember Dr. Martin Luther King, here’s a quote I love, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” Ken Blanchard
  • How Religion Works: If I obey, then God will love and accept me. The Gospel: I’m loved and accepted, therefore I wish to obey. Tim Keller
  • There’s no sense in improving your marriage until you are secure with God. Francis Chan
  • In grey areas here’s a tip: Embrace things that lead you closer to Jesus, and reject things that lead you away from Jesus. Trip Lee
  • GREAT Leaders always do what is right, instead of settling for doing what is easy. Right takes work. Brad Lomenick
  • Humility is not an ‘added extra,’ one of the lesser Christian virtues. If you don’t have humility, you may be lost. Mark Dever
  • If you are justified, you can no more be unjustified than Christ can be pulled down from heaven. Sinclair Ferguson
  • The heart of the new birth is the new birth of the heart. Steven Lawson
  • Legalism has its origin in self-worship. Tom Schreiner
  • A self-consumed desire to be famous and cool doesn’t come from a Spirit-consumed heart that desires wisdom and humility. Burk Parsons
  • Many in Jesus’ day saw him, but they didn’t have communion with him. You can have more of Christ by faith than they had by sight. Kevin DeYoung
  • The time is always right to do what is right. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • The grace of God sets us free from a life of perfection, performing, and pretending. Tullian Tchividjian
  • WHAT a person thinks is determined by HOW a person thinks. Andy Andrews
  • But regardless of our circumstances, they do not define us — not unless we give in and let them. Circumstances never determine who we are; they reveal who we are. Chuck Pagano
  • Contentment is an undervalued grace. Sinclair Ferguson
  • Moral cowardice at the expense of the vulnerable unborn is both wrong and pathetic. Russell Moore
  • God never made a promise that was too good to be true. D. L. Moody
  • By praying with friends and others, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived. Tim Keller
  • I am dismayed at my capacity for self-reliance (which is to say, my capacity for prayerlessness). Tim Challies
  • Grace doesn’t lead us into destructive behavior. Sin does. And grace is the only remedy for sin. The kindness of God leads to repentance. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Do I learn through dark providences, or simply seem relieved when they are over? Sinclair Ferguson

integrating faith and work

  • The jerk Factor. Patrick Lencioni writes “I had the opportunity to work with a college baseball team recently, and came to a realization that helps explain why accountability is one of the biggest challenges for team members and leaders alike.  I call it “The jerk Factor,” and yes, the “j” is not capitalized for a reason.”
  • 4 Ways to Beat the Resistance and Reach Your Goals This Year. Michael Hyatt offers four ways that are perfectly timed for the transitional period when so many of us contemplate giving up on our goals.
  • Overcoming Career Challenges. Jasen Lawrence shares three defining moments that exemplify the important role God has played in shaping his career.
  • Are You Celebrating Where You Are? This short article from Randy Gravitt makes a good point about being content in the situation we are in now.
  • The Role of ‘Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding’ in Our Vocations. In this excerpt from his book Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview Al Wolters argues that “spiritual wisdom and understanding” in our various vocational spheres can often be discerned from the created order—even as he maintains the unique place for proclamation of the gospel.
  •  Life-Changing Insights from Louis Zamperini. Dr. Alan Zimmerman shares three life-changing insights he got from Louis Zamperini (the subject of the book and movie Unbroken in this Tuesday Tip.
  • The Lesson I Discovered about Calling in Unbroken. Hugh Welchel writes “There is a great lesson for all of us in Zamperini’s story. God has called each of us to do good works, at our jobs, in our families, our churches, and in our communities. Everything in our lives, good and bad, has prepared us for what he has called us to do today.”
  • Overcoming obstacles – Steven Claunch. I saw this video in a meeting at work recently and wanted to share it, it’s that good.
  • Serving Patients in a Broken World. Enjoy this interview with Kaileigh Mobbs who works as a nurse in a surgical/trauma intensive care unit.
  • The Importance of Prayer in the Workplace. Caroline Cross writes “Rituals and routines matter and yet Christians often disregard what should be the most important workplace habit: prayer.”
  • Inspiring a Listening Revolution. Marty Moore writes of Bill Ury: “Bill’s new TEDx Talk “The Power of Listening” was significantly influenced by his discussions with us. In it, he challenges viewers to consider the fights—even wars– that could be averted and the personal relationships that could be mended if every one of us simply committed to listening a little more and talking a little less. He invites all of us to join a listening revolution because better listening has the power to transform every single human relationship. Barry-Wehmiller is helping to lead the way. We hope you will join us.
  •  The Healthy Leader. Dave Kraft writes “Okay, here are a few things I have been learning about being a healthy leader who will last and not disintegrate physically due to my own stupidity and poor choices. Doctor Swenson as written two excellent books on this subject.  Margin and The Overload Syndrome. They have both been a rich source of instruction, warning and wisdom. Here are my six favorite gems from “Overload Syndrome”
  • Testing Leadership Ambition. Eric Geiger writes “Christian leaders, in any environment, often struggle with how to think through and process the ambition that fills them. There is a battle in our hearts that leads us to either self-righteously cast out all attempts to grow in our calling and gifts (labeling them “selfish”), or to selfishly pursue all attempts to increase our “platform,” that dangerous term, by outdoing all others in showing honor to ourselves.” He suggests three ways that we can test our ambition and two ways that we can be presently faithful while ambitiously pursuing future possibilities.
  • Leadership Requires More than Self-Awareness. Eric Geiger writes “A wise and effective leader possesses more than self-awareness; he also has a keen awareness of the team. More than a sense of his/her unique gifting, he/she has a sense of the people on the team, their gifts and potential. Team-awareness enables the leader to leverage the gifts of the team, to hand over responsibility to others, and to utilize ‘roving leadership’.”
  • 3 Leadership Lessons from Winston Churchill. On the eve of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death, Gavin Ortlund shares these three lessons.
  •  John Maxwell on Leadership. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks discusses the word leadership.
  • John Maxwell on Adding Value. John Maxwell is known for saying that he wants to add value to us. What does he mean by that? Check out this “Minute with Maxwell”.
  • John Maxwell discussing Leading. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell, he looks at the word “Leading”.
  • 3 Hard but Powerful Truths about Likeability and Leadership. Carey Nieuwhof writes “The tension between likeability and leadership is much older than social media. Every leader in every generation has had to struggle with it at some level. While you may never resolve the tension, understanding it and keeping it in front of you will help you navigate it better.”

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

Generous JusticeGenerous Justice Book Club  

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

Tammy and I are reading and discussing this book by Tim Keller. This week we look at Chapter 2: Justice and the Old Testament.

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 from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 2 Leading Is Believing.

 


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Coram Deo 1.21.2015

~UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

The Basement Tapes Raw - Bob Dylan and the BandNot by SightMusic Review: The Basement Tapes Raw: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 – Bob Dylan and the Band
Book Review: Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith by Jon Bloom
I’m Currently Reading

~ THIS AND THAT ~

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • How Involved Is God in the Details of Your Life? Jon Bloom of Desiring God states that God has many reasons to drive us through Joseph’s life, some more obvious than others. He looks at one perhaps lesser obvious reason.
  • What God Can Do in Five Seconds. John Piper writes “God can do more in five seconds than we can do in five hours or months or years. This is one reason the habit of prayer is wise. Sometimes we do not get the five-second breakthrough because we do not ask.”
  • One Indispensable Rule. Tim Challies writes “Before you attempt to apply the Bible to your life and circumstances, anchor it in the lives and circumstances of its original recipients. Application must be related to meaning.”
  • Learning from a Hard Knox Life. Jonathan Parnell of Desiring God looks at the life of John Knox, on the 500th anniversary of his birth
  • What Made David Great? Kevin DeYoung writes “So with all these flaws, what made David great? One could easily mention David’s courage, his loyalty, his faith, and his success as a leader, musician, and warrior. But he was great in other, lesser-known ways as well. In particular, David was a great man because he was willing to overlook others’ sins but unwilling to overlook his own.”
  • Prayer: A 14-Day Devotional by Tim Keller. Start the plan or view a sample.
  • A Prayer for Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves. Another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith.
  • Lecrae Confesses Abortion, Invites Others into the Light. Read this story and watch the video of the conversation with Lecrae, John Piper and John Ensor.

MUSIC:

BOOKS:

  • Setting the Record Straight. Phil Johnson writes about the recent decision of Tyndale Publishing to pull The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin Malarkey from bookshelves.
  • On Guard. Tim Challies writes “if I could mandate that at least one leader from every church had to read a single book, I don’t think there are too many I would choose ahead of On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church.”
  • Don’t Envy the Bench. See this excerpt from Trip Lee’s book Rise, which will be released January 27
  • The Things of Earth Will Grow Strangely Bright. John Piper writes about Joe Rigney’s new book The Things of Earth: Treasuring God by Enjoying His Gifts
  • Ten Books that Have Shaped Me as a Christian. I enjoyed reading this list from Kevin DeYoung.

MOVIES AND TELEVISION:

IN THE NEWS:

  • Duke University cancels plans to broadcast Muslim call-to-prayer. World Magazine reports “Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant, and welcoming campus for all of its students,” said Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations. “However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”
  • The Supreme Court and Same-Sex Marriage: Why This Matters for the Church. Russell Moore writes “The Supreme Court announced today that they are taking cases on whether same-sex marriage is a constitutional right. Effectively, this means that the highest court in the land will decide, this year, whether marriage, as defined for thousands of years, will exist in our country any longer.” He shares a few things we should keep in mind.
  • Time Magazine Pulls the Oldest Trick in the Book. David Murray writes “It’s one of the oldest political tricks in the book. Create such an impression of momentum behind a certain candidate or policy that everyone else jumps on board to avoid being left out or left behind. It’s a deception that plays on common human weaknesses; the desire to be on the winning side, the fear of being on the “outside,” the instinct to avoid unpopularity, and the yearning for approval.” Murray writes that Time Magazine is attempting to pull off this sneaky ruse on Evangelical Christians with an article headlined, How Evangelicals Are Changing Their Minds on Gay Marriage.
  • In Light of Recent Events. Recent and potential terrorist attacks in France currently dominate the news cycle. Analysts, experts, and commentators discuss and debate the facts, often with skewed and confused perspectives on Islam, and offer a variety of political and emotional responses. Over the years John MacArthur and the Grace to You staff have put together messages and articles that relate well to these current events and can help you bring biblical truth to bear on your conversations with family and friends. We trust that these resources will help and encourage you.
  • Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God. Eric Metaxas’ article in the Wall Street Journal appears to be the most popular article in the history of the WSJ! According to an inside source at the newspaper, the previous record was held by the “Tiger Mom” article from a few years back, but at 375,000 Facebook “Likes” and counting, Metaxas’ essay now “unofficially” has the top spot. There are also over 6,000 comments.
  • Year-in-Review: Barna’s Top 10 Findings from 2014. Every December, Barna Group compiles its top findings and trends from research conducted in the past year. From legalizing marijuana to increasing secularization trends to America’s complicated relationship with sports—2014 was an interesting year.

THEOLOGY:

 Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 1.19.2015

  • Our going to Heaven does not depend on our commitment, but on Christ’s commitment to us. Bob Smart
  • Worship is not something we “work up,” it is something that “comes down” to us, from the character of God. Sinclair Ferguson
  • The ultimate question isn’t why doesn’t God save everyone but why does God save anyone? Burk Parsons
  • Our deepest fear is judgment. Our deepest longing is love. The gospel of grace removes the one and provides the other. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Because of the Cross, God can be both just towards sin and yet mercifully justifying to sinners. Tim Keller
  • The pursuit of holiness is always on the path of obedience to the Word, never apart from it. Steven Lawson
  • The weakest faith gets the same strong Christ as does the strongest faith. Sinclair Ferguson
  • Does the sovereignty of God make you feel paralyzed in uselessness, or thrilled that you are an agent of miracles? John Piper
  • Repentance is like antiseptic. You pour antiseptic onto a wound and, at first, it stings. Then it heals. Tim Keller
  • Jesus is not a good way to heaven, nor even the best way. He is the only way to heaven. Steven Lawson
  • A materialistic world will not be won to Christ by a materialistic church. David Platt
  • If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, then growing in our knowledge of God is always practical. Kevin DeYoung
  • Love says: I’ve seen the ugly parts of you, and I’m staying. Matt Chandler
  • Who are we? We’re not perfect but we’re not worthless. Scripture tells us that we’re beautifully made, but broken. Trip Lee
  • Fully known, yet truly loved. Period. Tim Keller
  • Am I desiring and seeking the temporal and eternal good of my neighbor with the same zeal, ingenuity and perseverance that I seek my own? John Piper
  • It is no more narrow to claim that one religion is right than to claim that your way to think about all religions is right. Tim Keller
  • Tell me what the world is saying today, and I’ll tell you what the church will be saying in seven years. Francis Schaeffer
  • Sometimes we behave and perform with our lives, not for God, but for an audience. R.C. Sproul
  • Truth without love is self-righteous. Love without truth is overindulgent. Tim Keller
  • Grace frees you to be honest about what you’ve always known to be true about yourself: that you’re weaker and more afraid than you want to be. Tullian Tchividjian
  • The existence of hypocrites does not prove the non-existence of true believers. Charles Spurgeon
  • What does it say about us that we are rarely perplexed by the good things that come our way, only the bad? Andy Stanley
  • People are messy; therefore, relationships will be messy. Expect messiness. Tim Keller
  • If you’re indifferent about doctrine, you’re indifferent about that which will save or damn your soul. Burk Parsons
  • Hell is a real place, more real than the city in which you live, much hotter and more populated. Steven Lawson
  • No matter how long it takes or how desperately a person battles or denies, the truth always—always—makes itself known. Andy Andrews
  • God doesn’t want us to just feel gratitude, but for us to show it by giving thanks to God with our lives. R.C. Sproul 

    If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well’. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    integrating faith and work 

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

Generous JusticeGenerous Justice Book Club  

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

Tammy and I are reading and discussing this book by Tim Keller. This week we look at a video of Tim Keller discussing the book which gives a good summary of the content in 30 minutes.

He points out how “many who are concerned about justice are not concerned about justification by faith alone; many who are concerned about justification by faith alone are not concerned about justice.” One of Luther’s own burdens was to establish that “Christian ethics…is grounded in justification by faith alone.”  Keller shows what that means.

Tim Keller speaks about his book Generous Justice.

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’ve been excited to read it. This week we complete our review of the book by looking at Chapter 11: Conclusion: Resting in Vocation.

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 from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 1: The Conviction to Lead True Leadership Starts With a Purpose, Not a Plan.

 

 

 


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Living Life Before the Face of God 1.14.2015

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

~ THIS AND THAT ~

BOOKS:

MOVIES AND TELEVISION:

  • David Oyelowo: ‘Selma Was a Spiritual Endeavor For Me’. Oyelowo portrays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma.
  • Golden Globe Awards. Here is the full list of winners.
  • New Peanuts Film Trailer. The film will be released November 6.
  • Do You Believe? A new faith based film by the makers of God’s Not Dead opens March 20.
  • Watching Naked People. Lore Ferguson writes “Recently I heard John Piper speak on watching nudity of any kind in any media. He gives twelve reasons why we should be “radically bold, sacrificially loving, God-besotted freaks, aliens—saying no to the world for the sake of the world.” The world doesn’t need more copies of itself. I’m sharing his twelve points here and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to him and commit to not watch nudity of any kind.”
  • Seinfeld on The Tonight Show. Did you see Jerry Seinfeld’s stand-up routine on The Tonight Show recently? I’ve been a long-time fan, including seeing him in concert a few times. This routine was particularly funny.Lecrae on The Tonight Show

MUSIC:

  • Lecrae performs “Welcome to America” on The Tonight Show. On the night that the film Selma debuted nationally, Lecrae performed this song from his Anomaly album and included some sound bites from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mixed in.
  • New Toby Mac Single. “Beyond Me”,Beyond Me - Toby Mac the new single we heard Toby Mac play in concert recently is now available on iTunes.
  • Apple/U2 Collaboration. The two are working on a secret new digital music format.

THEOLOGY AND DOCTRINE:

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

IN THE NEWS:

  • Remembering Andraé Crouch. Robert Darden offers these remembrances on the life and influence of Andréa Crouch who died last week.
  • Theological Extremism in a Secular Age. Albert Mohler writes after the terrorist attack in Paris last week “We are living in a world growing more dangerous by the day. That world — the real world — is a world of clashing ideologies and conflicting worldviews. The real world is also a world in which theology always matters, and a world in which an empty secular worldview is no match for an Islamic theology set on conquest and driven by revenge.”
  • Pastor Preaches the Entire Bible in 53 Hours. Trevin Wax interviews Mount Dora, Florida pastor Zach Zehnder.
  • Roe v. Wade Turns 42An Unhappy Birthday. Alan Dowd writes “The numbers are staggering; indeed, they are almost impossible to grasp. Since 1973, some 54 million abortions have been performed in the United States. Lots of myths have emerged in the intervening years to obscure and defend and rationalize what Roe spawned — myths that honest and responsible people need to address.”
  • Atlanta’s Fire Chief Loses Job Over Beliefs on Homosexuality. Kelvin Cochran was suspended for 30 days then fired, following complaints that he promoted anti-gay views in a 2013 self-published Christian book.
  • Alice Cooper, Christian. An interesting story about the rock and roller.

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~Start with Why

I’m Currently Reading

Book Review: Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

 Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 1.12.2015

  • Evil aims to destroy hope. Bob Smart
  • Without immersion in God’s words, our prayers may not be merely limited and shallow but also untethered from reality. Tim Keller
  • We are broken people living in a broken world with other broken people. We all need grace. Tullian Tchividjian
  • There’s nothing that makes you more miserable, or less interesting, than self-absorption. Tim Keller
  • When you experience God it is deeply personal, but it’s not at all private. Tim Keller
  • Christianity is not about good people who want to get better. It is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good. Tullian Tchividjian
  • God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them. John Piper
  • You’ll always feel the need to pretend to be more holy and happy than you are when you try to get people looking at you and not at Jesus. Burk Parsons
  • The aim is never to become a master of the Word, but to be mastered by it. D. A. Carson
  • Grace does not lead us to overlook obedience. Grace compels and empowers us for obedience. Kevin DeYoung
  • Forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness. To not retaliate is to absorb the cost. Tim Keller
  • Unless you’re ready to live sinlessly, suffer miserably, and be murdered brutally, point people to Christ, not yourself. Burk Parsons
  • With arms outstretched on the cross. Jesus took holy God in one hand and sinful man with the other and brought the two together. Steven Lawson
  • Sometimes our weakness and tears encourages others more than our stories of strength and victory. Scotty Smith
  • Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love. John Piper
  • Even one who has been to God a million times with the same problem need not fear exhausting the grace of God. Tullian Tchividjian
  • When we try and use fear or pride to stop from sinning, we are forgetting that we sin because of either fear or pride. Tim Keller
  • Saying you’re a new kind of Christian with a new kind of Christianity is basically saying you’re an old kind of heretic. Burk Parsons
  • Do all the good you can, try all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you ca, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can. John Wesley 
  • Sin is what you do when you are not satisfied in God. John Piper
  • We are all servants. The only question is whom we will serve. R.C. Sproul
  • While our self-righteousness reaches far, God’s grace reaches farther. Tullian Tchividjian
  • The opposite of love is not anger, its indifference. Tim Keller
  • When God measures a church, He begins with its depth not its breadth, with its substance not its style. Steven Lawson
  • Annihilation is what the unrepentant want, not what they dread. It would be a reward, not a punishment. Non-consciousness knows no loss. John Piper
  • If we truly long for revival, we will rejoice even when it starts at the church down the road. Kevin DeYoung
  • TGIF – Thankful Grace Is Free! Scotty Smith
  • If you don’t need your Bible at church, then the Bible says you don’t need that church. Thabiti Anyabwile
  • When Jesus promises everlasting life, he isn’t just promising everlasting existence. He is promising eternal joy. True life. That’s amazing. Matt Perman
  • God wants every local church to be the first place people think to go when they’ve really messed up…not the last. Tullian Tchividjian
  • Ask yourself this question everyday: What is it about me that other people would change if they could? Andy Andrews
  • As I am humbled by my difficulties, so I am strengthened by God’s grace. Alistair Begg
  • Astounded again at God’s faithfulness. Another clean MRI today. Hard to believe it’s been over 5 years (since he was diagnosed with brain cancer) Matt Chandler
I got a chuckle out of this sign that appeared on ChristianityToday.com. But seriously?

I got a chuckle out of this sign that appeared on ChristianityToday.com. But seriously?

integrating faith and work

Closing the Sunday to Monday Gap

Over the weekend I finished Tom Nelson’s excellent book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work. We’ll look at that book in detail in a few weeks.

The book continued a journey to integrate my faith with my work that I started by reading Tim Keller’s 2012 book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work. My journey got a boost by completing a “Calling, Vocation and Work” class on campus at Covenant Seminary during the summer of 2013. More recently, we’ve featured a regular Integrating Faith and Work section on this blog. I’ve also read a number of books on the subject and we just began our second Faith and Work Book Club in the organization where I work.

Nelson has served as senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas, for more than twenty years. He writes that closing the Sunday-to-Monday gap will require more than hopeful thinking. He writes that “honest vocational appraisal is needed to begin doing the important work of equipping others for vocational diligence and faithfulness”.

He writes that for churches to move forward they will need to:

  1. Become more intentional about teaching a robust theology of vocation
  2. Begin celebrating the diversity of vocations
  3. Equip for vocational faithfulness
  4. Collaborate with our like-minded local churches that also recognize the church at work as a primary conduit for gospel faithfulness

It’s my experience that we don’t do much to help those in our churches connect Sunday worship with Monday work. I have seen the lightbulb come on with those in our Faith and Work Book Clubs who never thought of connecting their faith and work. Nelson writes that in his interactions with other pastors, he is often shocked how few regularly spend time in the workplaces of their congregation, where we spend most of our waking hours.

I would encourage you to open up the Faith and Work issue in your local churches. Volunteer to lead an Adult Sunday School class on the topic. Feel free to use the articles and book reviews here on our site to help you put together your class. Invite those from various professions – IT, farming, nursing, etc. – to come in and talk about what it means to them to be a Christian in their vocations.

I like what Tom Nelson has done in their worship services. He writes: “In our Sunday morning services, congregational members periodically give short and timely vocational testimonies, either live or via video, regarding their faith at work. At times, the video testimonies will be shot on location at their particular workplaces.”

I hope to continue Faith and Work Book Clubs in my organization and would like to someday attend the Center for Faith and Work National Conference in New York City. Here is information on this year’s conference: http://www.faithandwork.com/cfwconference/

Faith-and-Work

  • To Quit or Not to Quit When Kingdom and Corporate Goals Conflict. I had the privilege of taking two courses with Dan Doriani at Covenant Seminary, one of them being on Christian Ethics. Dr. Doriani writes “Work that pleases God must be honest and lawful. Believers cannot take jobs that require sin. We cannot be hit-men, drug-runners, or prostitutes. But is it wrong to work in a wholesome branch of a large corporation that also has dubious divisions?
  • Recommended: Business for the Common Good. Mikel Del Rosario shares three things learned from the book Business for the Common Good: A Christian Vision for the Marketplace by Kenman L. Wong and Scott B. Rae.
  • 4 Ways to Win the Battle Against Busyness. J.D. Greear offers four precepts from Scripture and other wisdom that can help us diffuse busyness and sit at Jesus’s feet.
  • What’s the Best Way to Set Goals That Glorify God? Hugh Whelchel shares three questions to ask from Michael Hyatt.
  • How to Change People Who Don’t Want to Change. When you’re trying to influence people who need motivation, but not information, don’t offer more information. Instead, use questions to create a safe environment where they can explore motivations they already have.
  • Productivity: Simple Tricks. R.C. Sproul writes “I realize that all my time is God’s time and all my time is my time by His delegation. God owns me and my time. Yet, He has given me a measure of time over which I am a steward. I can commit that time to work for other people, visit other people, etc., but it is time for which I must give an account.”
  • Your Messy Desk Is Ruining Your Career. Martha C. White writes “A disorganized, sloppy workspace detracts from your ability to focus and get tasks completed efficiently. Physical clutter has a funny way of creeping into your head and creating mental distractions, say pro organizers. Here are their best tips for corralling your stuff.” 2015
  • John Maxwell on Change. In this “Minute with Maxwell” John Maxwell discusses the word “Change”.
  • 5 Tips to Unlock Your Potential. John Maxwell offer five tips on how to unlock your potential and reach your goals.
  • How Google Works. Matt Perman shares an excellent summary of the best principles for making organizations effective today by Eric Schmidt, executive chairman at Google.
  • 5 Insights I Have Learned About Failure. Ron Edmondson writes “One reason people seem to identify with my teaching is that I’m not perfect. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I didn’t enter the ministry until I was 38 years old and that was plenty of time to learn valuable life experiences by failure. (And, I haven’t quit making mistakes in ministry.)”
  • Set the Tone for the New Year. Dr. Alan Zimmerman asks what can you do to set the RIGHT TONE at work or at home, and gives a few tips for starters.

LEADERSHIP:

  • What Makes Leaders Safe or Unsafe? Dave Kraft writes offers a helpful list of what makes leaders safe and unsafe.
  • Is a Transparent Leader Really the Best Leader? On this podcast, Andy Andrews discusses whether transparency helps or hurts your leadership potential.
  • How Do You Define Leadership? Watch this video of Tod Bolsinger, VP of vocation and formation at Fuller Seminary (and at the time this video was made pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church), talk about what makes a good leader…and why it’s different from just being a good manager.
  • Fatal Flaws of a Leader. Dave Kraft asks “Are there certain kinds of flaws that Christian leaders may develop which could spell the end of their leadership effectiveness, their leadership altogether or, worse yet, the downward spiral of their walk with Jesus? I believe there are. Here are three to consider.
  • 20 Characteristics of an ALL IN Leader. Brad Lomenick lists these helpful characteristics of an ALL IN leader.

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

Generous Justice Book Club  Generous Justice

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

Throughout the Old Testament we see God’s love for the entire nation of Israel, but we also see Him reaching out to individuals–the widows, orphans, and sojourners. His instructions to His people included a charge to show mercy and bring justice to the needy. In the New Testament we see this played out in Jesus’ life as well. Like a great revolving door of grace, God has been in the business of loving, saving, and equipping His people so they can love and save others throughout the whole of Scripture. In Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church Tim Keller, explores the connection between when believers in Christ receive grace, and how that impacts the world around them. He argues that the Bible is a trustworthy guide for living a life of justice. Sharing examples from the lives of believers around him, and giving support from the Bible, Keller outlines a hopeful manifesto for all who seek to show God’s mercy to the world.

Tammy and I are reading and discussing this 2010 book by Tim Keller. This week we look at Chapter 1: What is Doing Justice?

God at Work Book ClubGod at Work

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 10: Bearing the Cross in Vocation.


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Living Life Before the Face of God in 2015

Cemetery Story

Last week I made my annual trek out to Funk’s Grove cemetery to visit my Mom’s grave on Christmas Eve. I always play Andy Williams’ Christmas music on the way to and from the cemetery because it reminds me of Mom, who used to play his first Christmas album as we were growing up.  As I visited her grave I was reminded of a rather strange story.

When Mom died unexpectedly in 1996 at age 60 we didn’t have any plans on where she and Dad would be buried.  As we were sitting in the Family Room at the hospital, still in shock that we had lost Mom, the thoughts turned to where she would be buried. Mom loved the fall colors. Dad mentioned that the previous fall they were out at the Funks Grove cemetery and Mom mentioned that she could see herself buried near one of the beautiful trees out there.  So that’s where she is buried. It’s a beautiful cemetery in Central Illinois that dates back to 1830.

At that time Tammy and I decided to go ahead and buy a plot near Mom and Dad’s plot. I remember it not being far from a bench that I would sit on when I came out to visit Mom’s grave. The guy who was running the cemetery back then had a hand drawn map (from 1830?) with the locations marked on it.  He seemed pretty disorganized but we didn’t think too much of it at the time. We made our installment payments and eventually got the deed to our plot. Over the years I would see additional graves dug near where our plot was but figured all was well.

A few years ago we got a voice message from the new caretaker of the cemetery. He wanted to talk to us. What could he want? Well, it turns out the cemetery had installed a computer system, and as they went through their records “our” plot had been sold to two different clients. And the other client had died first. Yes, someone was buried in our plot. Seriously? At least we found out about it ahead of time. Could have been much more of an issue if they had found it out when they were getting ready to dig the hole for one of us!  Should we have ‘stood our ground’ and made them evict the other client? No, we ended up picking out a plot in the same general area, but it made for an interesting story to tell.

~ THIS AND THAT ~

2014 CHART-TOPPERS:          

RESOLUTIONS FOR THE NEW YEAR:

IN THE NEWS: Newsies

  • Disney’s Newsies. We saw the musical (based on the 1992 movie starring an 18 year old Christian Bale) in Chicago over the weekend. We really enjoyed it! Check it out if it comes anywhere near you – GREAT singing and dancing.            
  • Jesus Changes Everything: An Announcement Regarding My Future Ministry. R.C. Sproul Jr. announces his parting with Highlands Ministries.
  • Unbroken Film Gets My Dad’s Faith Right. Luke Zamperini writes “That was his (Louis Zamperini) greatest hope for the film version of Unbroken: not that it would be applauded by fellow Christians, although he certainly would have been honored and humbled by their appreciation; but that it would be seen by non-Christians drawn to a rousing epic about the indomitable human spirit who, when the credits have finished rolling, might just discover there’s a whole lot more to his story than that.
  • Louis Zamperini: Captured by Grace. Here is a 28 minute documentary on Zamperini from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
  • Heisman Trophy winner: ‘Football doesn’t define me’ Marcus Mariota of Oregon will face Ohio State in the National Championship game January 12.
  • ‘Wheel of Fortune’ contestant solves puzzle with ONE letter. Matt DeSanto, a Pennsylvania father of two, racked up $91,892 in prize winnings, a new record for the show. DeSanto told TODAY.com that he didn’t do anything special to prepare.
  • Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin. Albert Mohler calls Newsweek’s recent cover story “An irresponsible screed of post-Christian invective leveled against the Bible and, even more to the point, against evangelical Christianity. It is one of the most irresponsible articles ever to appear in a journalistic guise.”
  • NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos Saw Streets as His Ministry. Rafael Ramos was just hours away from becoming a lay chaplain and graduating from a community-crisis chaplaincy program before he and fellow New York police Officer Wenjian Liu were gunned down in their patrol car Saturday in Brooklyn.
Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

MUSIC:

BOOKS: Spurgeon's Sorrows by Zack Eswine

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

FREE AND RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:Morning and Evening - Spurgie

Tullian Tchividjian is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, grandson of Billy Graham and one of my favorite authors. This is a book of daily readings released just in time to begin 2015. Here is a flavor of what to expect from the reading for January 1:

“We start every new year thinking, This is the year! We resolve to turn over a new leaf – and this time we’re serious. We promise ourselves that we’re going to quit bad habits and start good ones. We’re going to get in shape, eat better, waste less time, and be more content, disciplined, and intentional. We’re going to be better husbands, wives, fathers, mothers. We’re going to pray more, serve more, plan more, give more, read more, and memorize more Bible verses. We’re going to finally be all that we can. No more messing around.

And then, twelve months later, we realize we’ve fallen short – again.

What I’m most deeply grateful for is that God’s love for us, approval of us, and commitment to us does not ride on our resolve but on Jesus’s resolve for us.”

He goes on to write: “As this new year gets under way, take comfort knowing that we are weak and He is strong – that even as our love for Jesus falls short, Jesus’s love for us is eternal.”

I look forward to making this book part of my devotional reading each day. If you would like to try out a free 52 week email devotional from Tullian, you can sign up here – It is Finished Devotional.

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

I’m Currently ReadingThe Art of McCartneyJohn The Gospel of Wisdom

Book Review ~ John: The Gospel of Wisdom by Michael Card

Music Review ~ The Art of McCartney – Various Artists

 

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 1.5.2015

• Try this New Year’s resolution: I won’t check my phone, my tablet, or my computer until I’ve first read a chapter in my Bible. Kevin DeYoung
• Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that! Charles Spurgeon
• The “old man” dies hard. He doesn’t die easily. And the struggle goes on throughout life. R.C. Sproul
• Don’t panic, if you haven’t figured out 2015. Every moment is the beginning of the rest of your life. Begun is begun, no matter when. John Piper
• To say doctrine doesn’t matter, only how you live matters, is itself a doctrine. It’s the doctrine of salvation by works. Tim Kelller
• You cannot experience God without knowing who he is, what he has done, and who you are in relation to him. Michael Horton
• We can only grasp the gospel’s sweetness if we first grapple with its offense- you can’t save yourself. Tim Keller
• Make the most of your life instead of comparing it to everyone else’s. Lecrae
• Christianity loses its scriptural fidelity and internal power when it no longer affirms both sola fide and the necessity of obedience. Kevin DeYoung
• If Christ is not everything, He is nothing. He who has Christ has everything. Steven Lawson
• We do not need more conferences, and celebrities. We need more churches where the Spirit is immersing sinners into Christ day by day. Michael Horton
• Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon. John Piper
• It’s better to feel sorry for doing something bad than to feel superior for doing something good. Tullian Tchividjian
• We do not find success by trying to be successful or happiness by trying to be happy. Michael Horton
• We too often complicate that which God has made simple and too often try to simplify that which God has made mysterious. Burk Parsons
• A spiritual leader is one who knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way. Steven Lawson
• Prayer is the breath, the watchword, the comfort, the strength, the honor of a Christian. Charles Spurgeon
• The best way to guard our hearts isn’t to seal them off from the world but fill them up with grace. Scotty Smith
• I am throwing all my good works overboard, and lashing myself to the plank of free grace; for I hope to swim to glory on it. Charles Spurgeon
• We often think of prayer as a means to an end. Prayer is the goal. Francis Chan
• I fear that many don’t speak out and work against abortion because they think it’s not cool or not the “in thing” to be passionate about. Burk Parsons
• If you do not receive Christ as the Lamb who saves and delivers, you will face Him as the Lion who stalks and devours. Steven Lawson
• To discover the real you, look at what you spend time thinking about when no one is looking. Tim Keller
• It’s because Jesus spoke so frequently about hell that the church should take the concept seriously. R.C. Sproul

integrating faith and work

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

 


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Happy New Year!

Happy New YearReflections on 2014

Looking back at 2014, I realize that I have been very blessed. Two significant items that took place were:

  • My graduation from Covenant Seminary nineteen years after beginning my studies in 1995. We had a wonderful graduation weekend celebration in St. Louis with family and friends.
  • My wife Tammy’s new calling as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). Tammy completed intensive training in September and October and has now started to serve as a CASA.

Other things from 2014 that I’m thankful for:

  • Overall, our health, and the health of our families, has been relatively good.
  • Our nephew Mark got married to Tiffany.
  • Our nephew Drew and his wife Allison had their first child, daughter Salem.
  • Tammy and I completed two book clubs – The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman and Visions of Vocation by Steven Garber. Our next book is Generous Justice by Tim Keller.
  • Completed one (The Gospel at Work), and have started a second (What’s Best Next), Faith and Work Book Club with peers at work.
  • Hosting Michael Card’s Mathew: The Gospel of Identity (Biblical Imagination Conference) at our church.
  • Having a good job and team that I love working with each day.
  • Enjoying another post-season run by the St. Louis Cardinals, getting to attend several games in St. Louis.
  • Enjoying the 2014 Ligonier Ministries National Conference in Orlando with good friends Don and Angela.
  • Enjoying eight wonderful concerts, including Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Chris Tomlin and Toby Mac.
  • Enjoying a sabbatical as an elder at my church.

I have been blessed this year. I pray that you have as well.

Looking Toward 2015

The beginning of a new year is a good time to set goals. These are good ones:

  • Spend more time with family
  • Eat better
  • Exercise more
  • Get more sleep
  • Go for that job you’ve been dreaming about
  • Read more good books
  • Subscribe to and read good blogs
  • Read through the Bible

There are so many good daily devotionals and Bible reading plans out there, how do you choose which one to use? Nathan W. Bingham of Ligonier Ministries recently compiled a list of Bible reading plans. Tim Challies also suggested a few Bible Reading Plans.   For years, I have used Ligonier Ministries’ excellent magazine Tabletalk. The magazine includes several excellent articles, daily studies and a Bible reading plan. In 2015, the daily studies will take the reader through the Old Testament Wisdom literature, also known as the Poetical Books – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. Whichever plan you choose, why not make it a goal to read through the Bible in 2015.

I would also commend to you to start your day with The Briefing, the excellent podcast with daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations from Albert Mohler, and to sign up to receive Scotty Smith’s wonderful Heavenward Prayers via email. I also plan to use Tullian Tchividjian’s new daily devotional book It Is Finished: 365 Days of Good News during 2015.

Many blessings for a wonderful 2015 as you grow in your knowledge of and love for our Lord and Savior.

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

BOOK REVIEW:Louis Zamperini Book Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini and David Rensin

I’m Currently Reading

All The People Said AmenMUSIC REVIEW: All the People Said Amen – Matt Maher

 

~ THIS AND THAT ~

MOVIES:

UNBROKEN:

IN THE NEWS:

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

MUSIC:

BOOKS:

  • 50 Books Real Simple Readers Love. Real Simple asked “What book made you love to read?” and this list was compiled from about 4,000 responses.
  • The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield. I mentioned recently that I was preparing for the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference by listening to last year’s conference messages. One of those messages was a short optional conferences session by Steven Lawson on his new book The Evangelistic Zeal of George Whitefield. If you’ve ever heard Lawson speak, you known he is a passionate and energetic speaker. When he talks about his book, you want to go right out and read it. That’s just what I did after I listened to this message recently. Look for a review in the next few weeks.
  • Week 1 of Francis and Lisa Chan’s New Series on Marriage. The series corresponds to their excellent book You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity.
  • The Great Divorce on Stage. Jesse Johnson writes about Max McLean’s new stage production of C.S. Lewis’ book The Great Divorce. The production comes to the McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage March 28-29.
  • Trip Lee preached his last sermon at Capitol Hill Baptist Church on December 21. He spent four years at the church, interning under Mark Dever. His new book Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story will be published January 27. Watch the video for the book here.David Platt Book
  • New David Platt Book. The author of Radical will release Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography on February 3.

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.29.2014

  • Religious excellence will not earn you a place at God’s table. Your own efforts will never merit you a seat of honor. Michael Horton
  • Success and suffering will either darken your heart or make you wise, but they won’t leave you where you were. Tim Keller.
  • The overwhelming emphasis of contemporary Christianity: “Just do it.” The overwhelming emphasis of Biblical Christianity: “It is finished.” Tullian Tchividjian
  • The invitation is not Christ plus anything, but Christ alone. Michael Horton
  • What are the years from 25 to 75? They are the accumulation of all the questions I wish I had known to ask my teachers. John Piper
  • To build your house on the rock is to hear what Jesus says and obey. To be foolish and build your house on the sand is to hear and ignore. Kevin DeYoung.
  • Advent = Not what’s under the tree, but Who was on it. Scotty Smith
  • The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the incarnation. J.I. Packer
  • To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing. Martin Luther
  • Jesus’ claims are particularly unnerving, because if they are true there is no alternative but to bow the knee to him. Tim Keller
  • The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God. C.S. Lewis
  • Leaders must be close enough to relate to others but far enough ahead to motivate them. John Maxwell
  • Of all the things in the world that can set the heart burning, there is nothing like the presence of Jesus! Charles Spurgeon
  • You know you’ve created god in your own image when your god loves those you love and hates those you hate. Burk Parsons
  • The quest for glory can never be satisfied, it must be extinguished. Martin Luther
Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

line-divider
integrating faith and work

  • 19 Apps That Made the Difference for Me (and My Team) in 2014. Michael Hyatt writes “These are the nineteen apps I used the most in 2014, the apps that help me run my business and maximize different aspects of my personal life. I was tempted to rank these, but I found I couldn’t. Instead I’ve listed them in alphabetical order.”
  • My Top 20 Most Popular Posts of 2014 (And What I Learned from Them). From Michael Hyatt.
  • Glenn Brooke’s 14 Best Books Read in 2014. Matt Perman’s excellent book What’s Best Next made Glenn’s list – and mine too.
  • 26 Ways to “Provoke the 1 Peter 3:15 Question” at Work. J.D. Greear lists 26 ways that you can live provocatively at work.
  • The Source of Your Unlimited Potential. The latest podcast from Andy Andrews.
  • Three Critical Responsibilities of a True Leader. Dave Kraft writes “just finished a very insightful book, “View From the Top,” by David Michael Lindsay, President of Gordon Cromwell College (a Christian university in Boston). Here are three critical responsibilities of a true leader adapted from the book. I both resonate and agree with all three. The three main points are David’s the content under each point is mine.”
  • Humanizing Work. What resources does Christianity give us to humanize work? Tim Keller explains how work is not part of humanity’s curse but rather how God calls us to cultivate this earth to bring about human flourishing for the common good. Looking at the condition of the heart will lead to loving those we work with well instead of exploiting them. Check out this message from Tim Keller.
  • Thoughts on How to Schedule the Day. Matt Perman writes “I believe in having a general framework from which you approach your day. In other words, a basic schedule of sorts that gives some behind-the-scenes guidance for how to slot things in your day. This template is not something you literally put on your calendar, but is more of a mindset.”
  • WEEKLY ROUNDUP: Doing What You Love, What Scares You, and What Brings You Peace. Here is a roundup of great articles that are worth your time to read, ponder, share, or even argue with from Mission: Work.
  • Resources on Faith and Vocation. Chris Armstrong offers some good suggestions.
  • Sloth & Diligence. Ken Jones writes “If we allow our thoughts about work to be shaped by the world, we will be susceptible to making our vocation into an idol. It is not enough to work but to work diligently, so that we do not give room for slothfulness, nor do we simply become men-pleasers. We should take to heart the strong language of Scripture about sloth and laziness. In our labor and in all areas of our lives we are to live to the glory of God.”
  • Business as Ministry. Andre Yee of Desiring God writes “To put it simply, vocation is the specific work that God has called each of us to. And vocation is not limited to those who serve in Christian ministry.”
  • Recommended Resource: Kingdom Calling. Here are four points from Amy Sherman’s excellent book Kingdom Calling. You can find a full review on our site under Work and Leadership Library.
  • Chocolate and Meaningful Work Alayna Greenfield writes “The following videos capture how attitudes change when people realize how their work produces something worthwhile or benefits others.” Alayna Greenfield writes “The following videos capture how attitudes change when people realize how their work produces something worthwhile or benefits others.”
  • How to Develop the People You Really Want. True leadership is about developing the people on your team. What is the best way to develop the people you really want to have?  Here is Dan Rockwell with some wonderful insight on how exactly to do that.

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

Visions of VocationVisions of Vocation Book Club

Steven Garber was the commencement speaker at my graduation from Covenant Seminary in May. Tammy and I have been reading and discussing this book for the past few months. This week we complete the book by looking at the Epilogue: But Are You Happy?

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 9: The Ethics of Vocation.


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Love Came Down at Christmas

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

David Crowder Band - Oh for JoyMusic Review: Oh For Joy – David Crowder BandJohn Owen book

I’m Currently Reading

Book Review: The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen by Sinclair B. Ferguson

I read most of this wonderful book (one of my favorites of the year), by one of my favorite authors sitting along the Saluda River in Cleveland, South Carolina over the Thanksgiving weekend. We were in the area for the marriage of our nephew Mark and his bride Tiffany. We had rented two cabins on the Saluda River, located a few miles Table Rock State Park. It was an incredible setting to read this book about the Trinity – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.cabinSaluda River Photo

 ~ THIS AND THAT ~

  • One of our favorite annual traditions is to see It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed at the Normal Theater in town. This is a theatre that opened in 1937, and after being restored, has now been open for 20 years, showing classic, independent and foreign films (http://www.normaltheater.com/). It’s a great feeling to be in the jam packed theatre seeing friends from church and the community. Although Tammy tells me that she thinks she knows how it is going to end, I have to go each year to see if Clarence earns his wings.

PROBING QUESTIONS AND LESSONS ABOUT CHRISTMAS:

  • Should Christians Celebrate Christmas? John MacArthur gives his response.
  • Is Christmas a Pagan Holiday?  R.C. Sproul writes “I can’t think of anything more pleasing to Christ than the church celebrating his birthday every year.”
  • What Does the X in Xmas Mean?  R. C. Sproul writes “There’s a long and sacred history of the use of X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.”
  • Christmas Past: Ignatius. Stephen Nichols writes “Ignatius led the church to a faithful understanding of the doctrine of the incarnation.”
  • Christmas is the Greatest Mystery. David Mathis of Desiring God shares three important lessons that the incarnation reveals.
  • Alistair Begg Preaches on Luke 2 and Christ’s Birth. Watch this recent sermon from Alistair Begg.
  • The Incarnation: What We Celebrate at Christmas. In this excerpt from R.C. Sproul’s video series “What Did Jesus Do?” Sproul reminds us what we really celebrate at Christmas—the incarnation of God Himself.
  • The Dark Side of Christmas. John Piper reads his poem “The Innkeeper”.
  • God in a Manger. John MacArthur writes “The enemy must love the world’s Christmas celebration. He must revel in the blatant sin and blasphemy and rejection of Christ—all by people who suppose they are celebrating His birth! He must glory in the way people inoculate themselves against the truth of Christ by commemorating His birth with lip service while ignoring the point of it all—that Jesus is almighty God.”

King Size Bed

CHRISTIAN LIVING AND RECOMMENDED RESOURCES:

  • Please Don’t Give Them Porn for Christmas. Tim Challies provides a warning to parents regarding the electronic devices that parents will be giving their children for Christmas this year. Tim will speak on “Purity in a Digital Age” at the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference in Orlando on February 19.
  • Top 14 Posts of 2014 at Desiring God. The number one article for 2014, and now all-time at Desiring God, was “Why Homosexuality is Not like Other Sins”.
  • 10 Marks Of True Conversion. From a sermon by John MacArthur, David Murray provides a summary of the ten effects of true conversion in a Christian’s life.
  • Overcoming the World Conference Messages. As I prepare my heart and mind for the 2015 Ligonier Ministries National Conference to take place in February, 2015, I’ve been listening to the messages from the 2014 conference, which had a theme of “Overcoming the World”.  You can listen and watch all of the conference messages. Of all these wonderful messages, I will commend one to you in particular. It is Derek Thomas’ message “How Then Shall We Live in This World?” using 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 as his primary text.
  • 20 Recommended Daily Devotionals. Here is a helpful list from Kevin Halloran.
  • Editor’s Choice: The Best of 2014. Collin Hansen, Executive Director of the Gospel Coalition has compiled a list of his ten favorite 2014 Gospel Coalition resources.

MOVIES AND TELEVISION:

BOOKS:

MUSIC:

  • iTunes I have 968 albums (or 42.4 days) of music in my iTunes library. I’ve recently started putting my favorite songs in playlists. For example, I have my favorite 100 (and growing) Christian hip-hop/rap songs in a playlist and have built playlists for many of my favorite artists from Amos Lee to Toby Mac. This year I built a Christmas music playlist. We usually pick up a few new Christmas albums each year and so we have quite a collection after 34 years of marriage. It was a lot of fun to build the playlist, which currently has 212 songs in it after adding four songs from the David Crowder Band’s Oh for Joy album. Using playlists is a great way to build your own “Greatest Hits”.
  • Christmas Carols: Joy to the World. Randall Van Meggelen writes “This famous hymn is one of my favorite carols because it faithfully conveys the resounding message in Psalm 98 that Jesus saves.”
  • “Say I Won’t” Video. The new single from Lecrae featuring Andy Mineo.
  • Because He Lives. I saw Matt Maher perform this incredible new song in a recent concert, in which he appeared with Toby Mac. He told a nice story about contacting Bill Gaither when writing the song, because, well, Bill Gaither wrote the classic song “Because He Lives”. This is a great song and it’s now available on iTunes. Check out the video for the song.
  • New Third Day Single. The band has released “Soul On Fire”, the first single from their new worship album Lead Us Back: Songs of Worship, which will be released March 3, 2015. The single is available on iTunes.
  • Casting Crowns in Concert. Casting Crowns will be in concert at the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington, IL at 7:00 pm on February 26.
  • USA Today names Taylor Swift’s 1989 Top Album of 2014.Well, I guess everyone has their opinion.

CURRENT EVENTS/IN THE NEWS:

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

 

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.22.2014

• Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest. Linus
• Your most irritated, impatient, uncaring self didn’t separate you from God’s love today; it made you a target of his love. Scotty Smith
• Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love. John Piper, (from Don’t Waste Your Life)
•Salvation is not a reward for the righteous, but a gift for the guilty. Steven Lawson
•If you didn’t earn your salvation how are you going to un-earn it? Tim Keller
• Ironically, the insistence that doctrines do not matter is really a doctrine itself Tim Keller.
• What is the deepest root of your joy? What God gives to you? Or what God is to you? John Piper
• Sometimes we emulate the Pharisees more than we imitate Christ. RC Sproul
• Why couldn’t North Korea have found “Left Behind” offensive? Barnabas Piper
• We’re far worse than we ever imagined, and far more loved than we could ever dream. Tim Keller
• The question is not, “Why is there only one way to God?” but “Why is there even one way? R.C. Sproul
• Lay your burdens of self-contempt, cynicism, and shame at the feet of Jesus tonight. He welcomes them, and you. Scotty Smith
• When it comes to understanding and appreciating grace, our biggest problem is our so-called goodness…not our self-perceived badness. Tullian Tchividjian
• You pursue excellence when you care about something other than your own excellence. Michael Horton
• Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. John Wooden
• Christmas is telling you that you could never get to heaven on your own. God had to come to you. Tim Keller
• If you want to know God as your Father, you need to know Jesus Christ as your Savior. Kevin DeYoung.
• In heaven I’ll be shocked by those who aren’t there, those I didn’t think would be there but are. And the fact I’m there at all. Lecrae
• We live in a culture where the truth claims of Christianity are not only rejected, they are ridiculed. R.C. Sproul
• Faith is quenching the soul’s thirst at the fountain of God. John Piper
• Before crawling between the sheets tonight, preach the gospel to your heart and forgive whoever you possibly can. Scotty Smith
• Having hope is hard; harder when you get older. Wendell Berry
• Worry is a waste of energy. It can’t change the past. It can’t control the future. It only makes today miserable. Tullian Tchividjian
• What greater value could you possibly have than to be delighted in and sacrificed for by the Maker of the universe? Tim Keller
• When I find my justification in Christ alone, I am free to love and serve others in ordinary and unheralded ways. Michael Horton

integrating faith and work

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

Visions of Vocation Book Club

Steven Garber was the commencement speaker at my graduation from Covenant Seminary in May. Tammy and I have been reading and discussing this book for the past few months. This week we look at Chapter 8: Learning to Live Proximately.

Generous JusticeGenerous Justice Book Club

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

In the recommended reading for developing a vision for your life section of Matt Perman’s excellent book What’s Best Next, Matt suggested Tim Keller’s book Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just. I have read the book before but with the reminder from Matt, and in light of the recent decisions about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, Tammy and I have decided to read and discuss it again at this time. This week we look at the Introduction.

God at Work Book ClubGod at Work

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 8: Your Calling in the Church.

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Naughty or Nice?

Our Son is God cartoon

UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG:Ordinary

 Book Review: Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton

 I’m Currently Reading

 toby mac 2Concert Review: Toby Mac, Matt Maher and Ryan Stevenson at Braden Auditorium – Dec. 11

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Favorite Quotes of the Week

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS:

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

THEOLOGY

CHRISTIAN LIVING:

MUSIC:

  • FREE! Tenth Avenue North Concerts in Peoria. The group behind the hit songs “By Your Side” and “Hold My Heart” will perform three free concert services at Northwoods December 27 & 28.
  • The Modern Hymnal: An interview with Keith Getty.I think you’ll enjoy this interview with Keith Getty, perhaps today’s best modern hymn writer.
  • Carrie Underwood sings “Something in the Water” on The Tonight Show – one of my top songs of the year.
  • New Paul McCartney Song “Hope for the Future”. Watch the video here which turns the former Beatles into a singing hologram and plunges him into the video game ‘Destiny.’
  • Bob Dylan Shadows in the NightNew Dylan Album. 73 year-old Bob Dylan will release Shadows of the Night on February 3. You can pre-order it now on iTunes, and receive the song “Full Moon and Empty Arms”. The album is expected to be an album of cover songs, many of them recorded by Frank Sinatra. Go figure. Another song that is included on the album is “Stay with Me”. Dylan never fails to surprise. Here’s a live recording from October 26 of “Stay with Me”, another song from the album which Dylan has been closing his live sets with recently. Dylan commented, “It was a real privilege to make this album. I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a 5-piece band. That’s the key to all these performances. We knew these songs extremely well. It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded. I don’t see myself as covering these songs in any way. They’ve been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.”

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.15.2014

  • By definition, the big difference between mercy and justice is that mercy is never ever obligatory. -RC Sproul
  • Good people don’t go to Heaven, forgiven people do. -Lecrae
  • Grace does not make sin safe. But grace does make sinners safe. -Matt Chandler
  • Forgetfulness of God’s grace is one of the greatest tools in the enemy’s war against our souls. -Mark Dever
  • Christianity is not “Jesus is our example.” Christianity is “Jesus is our substitute.” – Tullian Tchividjian
  • The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. -C.H. Spurgeon
  • You pursue excellence when you care about something other than your own excellence. -Michael Horton
  • Are you living to justify yourself, or are you living because you are justified? -Tim Keller
  • When you look at the Cross, what do you see? You see God’s awesome faithfulness. -Sinclair Ferguson
  • When sin lets us alone we may let sin alone. -John Owen
  • The utter destruction of our culture isn’t just around the corner. It has been here for some time. -R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • What is the deepest root of your joy? What God gives to you? Or what God is to you? -John Piper
  •  We don’t merely need the money from work to survive. We need the work itself to survive and live fully human lives more than money. -Tim Keller
  • The cross is the place where the Judge takes the Judgment.Tim Keller
  • The desperate addict is closer to the heart of grace than the devout moralist. – Tullian Tchividjian
  • Jesus may ask of you far more than you planned to give, but He can give to you infinitely more than you dared ask or think. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

  • Everything you need to know about leadership in a single verse. Dave Kraft shares leadership principles from Exodus 32:34.
  • Characteristics of an Antiquated Leader. Ron Edmundson writes “Leadership principles and practices have had to change because organizations and people have changed.”
  • New Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast Episode. This month Andy continues to explore the idea of Keystone Habits through an interview conducted with Charles Duhigg.
  • 5 Surefire Ways to Sharpen Your Skills. John Maxwell provides five suggestions on how to sharpen our skills in a strength area. He also mentions his new book JumpStart Your Leadership, a 90-Day Improvement Plan, which releases on December 16.
  • Proactive. Check out what John Maxwell has to say about this word in this “Minute with Maxwell” video. http://johnmaxwellteam.com/proactive/
  • Interview with Joy, Inc. Author Richard Sheridan. He recently appeared on the EntreLeadership podcast. https://www.entreleadership.com/
  • Seven virtues of Christian managers: Lessons from Romans 12-16. Gregory F. Augustine Pierce writes “There are many Christian virtues that managers can practice. I define a Christian virtue as “a habit based on a long-standing belief that God is love.” Here are seven such virtues, with a quote for each from the Letter to the Romans as translated by Eugene Peterson in The Message.
  • The Fitting Job for You. An excellent devotion I recently read in Ligonier Ministries’ TableTalk Magazine.
  • Visiting with Mary and Martha: What about the work? Ann Boyd writes “Mary “chose the better part,” and I do appreciate that — but what about the work Martha was doing? Even after sitting with Jesus, the dishes are still there. How can we resolve this tension?”
  • When Hope is Gone. Dan Miller writes about a time a few years ago when he and his wife did a presentation at the Tennessee Prison for Women: “It gave me a new perspective on how easily we can complain about our “circumstances.” It also reminded me that often when fewer options are available, hope seems to be more present. Believing that all hope is gone is a personal choice. Circumstances do not dictate that – only we can choose to believe that.”
  • Serving a Generation in Search of Meaningful Work. Bethany Jenkins interviews Gregory W. Carmer, who among his other responsibilities directs the Christian Vocation Institute, a collection of programs, including the Elijah Project, which helps students explore the theological underpinnings and practical out-workings of vocation.
  • 7 Ways to Thrive with a Bad Boss. Dan Rockwell writes “If you don’t have a bad boss now, you’ll have one soon.” He gives us seven ways to thrive under that bad boss.
  • The heart behind “Why you hate work”. Brian Gray writes “Christians must embrace the biblical vision of work which claims that all work which is not sinful can be sacred. In God’s economy of spirituality, what we do is far less important than why we do it, how we do it, and who we are and are becoming as we engage our work.”
  • We Were Made to Work. Chris Armstrong writes “At the very beginning of Genesis, God shows himself as a working God, who creates valuable things. And then right away we see that we ourselves as made in his image, also to work.”

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

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we conclude the book.

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 7: Your Calling as a Citizen.

Linus


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Time is Ticking Away ~ Two Weeks Until Christmas!

Best of 2014

I’ll publish my list of favorites from 2014 in a number of categories the first week of January. I’d love to publish yours as well. So just send your favorites in the following categories to us at bntpence@msn.com by the end of the year.

  • Books
  • Music – albums and individual songs
  • Movies – your best and worst
  • Podcasts
  • Television programs
  • Concerts
  • Radio station
  • Blogger

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Book Reviews:The Dawning of Indestructible Joy

Music Review: Peter Furler Christmas Featuring David IanPeter Furler Christmas

I’m Currently Reading

~ THIS AND THAT ~

 BOOKS:

The Pilgrim’s Progress (New Edition). Jonathan Parnell of Desiring God writes “Desiring God is excited to release a new edition of The Pilgrim’s Progress, free of charge in three digital formats (PDF, EPUB, MOBI). This new edition is the original first part of Bunyan’s classic, unabridged and redesigned in beautiful typesetting for modern readability. This edition also features a foreword by Leland Ryken, who kindly offered counsel to us since the beginning of this project, and a short biography of Bunyan’s life by John Piper. The preface to this edition was written by John Newton in 1776 to introduce an old version of the book that included his annotations. This preface was discovered by Tony Reinke, biographer of Newton, and is included now in print for the first time in over a century.”

MOVIES:

First Trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film will be in theatres December 18, 2015.

Next James Bond Film Announced. Daniel Craig will play 007 for the fourth time in Spectre, to be released October, 2015.

MUSIC:

New McCartney SongDid you see Carrie Underwood’s incredible performance of “All is Well” with Michael W. Smith on the CMA Country Christmas special recently?

New McCartney Song. “Hope for the Future”, which Paul McCartney wrote for the record-breaking video game “Destiny”, will be released globally on December 8.

Michael W. Smith surprised Fort Campbell Staff Sergeant Rafael Panduro at a Clarksville Cracker Barrel.

New Short Film, From The Village to The Basement Introduces Bob Dylan’s The Basement Tapes through a Time-lapse Road Trip narrated by Jeff Bridges. Available exclusively on Bob Dylan’s Official Facebook Page and BobDylan.com From The Village to The Basement compresses more than 12,000 photographs into an extended time-lapse tracking shot, opening on the sidewalk in front of the Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village, moving northward through upstate New York, and finally pulling into the driveway of Big Pink, where The Basement Tapes were famously recorded in 1967. Following the route traveled by Dylan and The Band from Manhattan to the West Saugerties on their way to Big Pink, From The Village to The Basement is a virtual road trip with narrator Jeff Bridges serving as tour guide, recounting the history and mystery of The Basement Tapes, their influence on American music and the bootleg culture these recordings launched.

U2’s Songs of Innocence Tops Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of Top Albums of 2014. High Hopes by Bruce Springsteen was number two on the list.

The 2015 Grammy Award nominations in 83 categories were announced recently http://www.grammy.com/nominees. Congratulations to these artists for their nominations:

  • Best Rock Album – Songs of Innocence – U2
  • Best Rap Performance – “All I Need is You” – Lecrae
  • Best Country Solo Performance – “Something in the Water” – Carrie Underwood
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “Messengers” – Lecrae featuring King & Country
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “Come as Your Are” – Crowder
  • Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song – “Multiplied” – NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Best American Roots Song – “Terms of My Surrender” – John Hiatt
  • Best Americana Album – Terms of My Surrender – John Hiatt
  • Best Comedy Album – Obsessed – Jim Gaffigan

Check out Gawvi’s remixes of Trip Lee’s “Lazarus” and “Sweet Victory” http://www.gawvi.com/remix-tracks/ and also this dance video to Trip Lee’s “Manola” from Keone Madrid.

Lecrae hosts “Hope for the City” event in St. Louis December 13. He will be joined by Derek Minor, Propopaganda, J.R. , Flame and Thi’sl.Hope for the City Flyer

Powerful New Trip Lee Song Inspired by recent events. Listen to “Coulda Been Me” here (http://builttobrag.com/coulda-been-me/)  and see the lyrics to the song below:
Don’t nobody wanna hear our pain
That’s how I’m feeling when I’m flipping through them twitter comments, all I feel is rain
They telling me get over it’s old
That stuff don’t exist no more
But that don’t ring true when I look in these streets
So it’s real when I feel like it coulda been me

Man can I tell you how I’m feeling right nowTrip Lee Song
Ah they wanna know how I’m feeling right now
I feel like it coulda been me
I feel like it coulda been me
We all made in God’s image you know
All our lives matter, our vision is broke
We feel pain cause we been here before
Who’s innocent I don’t know
But it coulda been me
I feel like it coulda been me

I didn’t know Mike Brown
I ain’t know Trayvon
I didn’t know Sean Bell
But I know they gone
I ain’t know Oscar Grant or Tamir Rice
I didn’t know Eric Garner
But I know they life
Is worth more than they saying on the tv screen
I hate I got a long list, you finna see me scream
Cause I feel like they don’t see we kings
Made to rule like Him, they think we needy fiends
I wasn’t there when they shot at the man
I can’t solve cases, won’t say that I can
But I do know life as a young black man
Guess I can’t be mad that some don’t understand
But maybe you would
If you looked at my life and you stood where I stood
Use my eyes to look at these streets
It’s too real when I feel like it coulda been me

Man can I tell you how I’m feeling right now
Ah they wanna know how I’m feeling right now
I feel like it coulda been me
I feel like it coulda been me

Picture me as a teen
Picking out drinks in the store when I seen
The cashier looking at me, then he screams
Points at my hip and tells me I’m seen
But hold up, I ain’t know that I was that scary
And I ain’t know that I could shoot you with a blackberry
Very odd, that he saw me as a thug
When I’d never caught a case, never stole or bought drugs
Or how bout the time that I flew to a show
Full of joy, finna rap for a room full of folks
Outside then I find it’s a gun in my face
Handcuffs on my hands, pat down at the waist
It’s the same ol, same ol
I fit the description of a criminal that they know
They showed me picture, come on
Are you kidding? We don’t look a like
Well the cops thought we did if you looking right
Every black man I know
Got stories like those, reaping what they ain’t sow
When they assume you a thug from the jump
It don’t matter if you strapped with a pump
Look I don’t know if Mike Brown had his hands up
But I’m writing saying homie I’ma stand up
And I’ma tell you I feel I look in these streets
And say it’s real when I feel like it coulda been me

Skies feeling grey, eyes red
Black and white clash, clouds over head
How long till they heard what we said
How long till they hear what I said?
Shout out to all the good cops
Fighting bad guys, making good stops
I hate that on the hood blocks
In the end they might try to lump you in with all the crooks
I wanna say to all my young black men
I know it’s feeling like we just can’t win
But in your anger don’t sin
Don’t affirm what they thinking
Don’t let nobody tell us we ain’t got worth
Some will try to shut us down it will not work
I know it ain’t fair, but we know that He cares
And one day he’ll wipe away tears

Where’s your hope at? Mine is in him
Where is your hope at? Mine is in him
We got work to do, but my hope is in him
They got work to do too, but my hope is in him

IN THE NEWS:Derrick Rose

Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose wore an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt in warm-up before the Bulls Game with the Warriors on Saturday in Chicago.

I Can’t Breathe, But I Must Write. David Murray’s take on the Eric Garner decision.

A United Evangelical Response: The System Failed Eric Garner. What pastors, professors, and others are saying about the grand jury’s decision not to indict.

A Conversation with Lecrae, Voddie, and Others on Ferguson. Watch this conversation with Lecrae, Voddie Baucham, Phillip Holmes, James White, and B.J. Thompson on Ferguson, the gospel, the church, and the culture.

This cartoon from World Magazine resonated with me this week.

Courtesy of World Magazine

Courtesy of World Magazine

What ever happened to Rob Bell? Sarah Pulliam Bailey brings us up to date with Rob Bell, who eight years ago the Chicago Sun-Times wondered might be the next Billy Graham.

Brian Williams’ Slow Jam. Did you see Brian Williams join Jimmy Fallon and the Roots on The Tonight Show for a Slow Jam on President Obama’s recent Executive Order on Immigration?

Curt Schilling, ESPN’s Law, and evolution. Interesting story about the response to a tweet of former major league baseball player and believer Curt Schilling.

THEOLOGY AND CHRISTIAN LIVING:

A Prayer for Filling Our Hearts with Jesus–the Lord of Advent. Scotty Smith prays: “Dear Lord Jesus, knowing that it’s possible to “do Christmas” and miss Advent, today I want to fill my heart, as full as possible, with you. You are the One who has come and is coming again. Isaiah’s words fuel my worship and shrink my worries.”

Take a Break from the Chaos. David Mathis of Desiring God writes: You need a break from the chaos, from the noise and the crowds, more than you may think at first. You need the spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude.”

Four Impulses at the Heart of Desiring God. John Piper marvels at the existence of Desiring God ministries, now 20 years old.

Joy Is Free, But Not Cheap. Enjoy this three-minute video from John Piper on what the Desiring God ministry offers free, and encouraging people to partner with the ministry.

James White’s response to Rick Warren’s troubling comments about Roman Catholicism.

The State of Theology: The Good Book. Stephen Nichols continues his analysis of a recent major study on theology in America, this time looking at the Bible. He writes “American Christians have Bibles. We tend to have even more than 4.7 (the number per household). Do we read them? Do we cling to our Bibles as the authoritative and true Word of God to us? Do we obey and follow what we read? The answers to these questions make all the difference in the world.

5 Ugly Qualities of the Anti-Elder. As an Elder in my church, I found this article from Tim Challies of great interest

The Practice of Putting Sin to Death. Tim Challies continues his excellent series on John Owens’ book Overcoming Sin and Temptation. He writes that Owens’ has only two broad instructions: Put your faith in Christ, and rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.

When Do You Leave a Church? Jeff Robinson writes “There are certainly legitimate reasons to leave a church and sadly, it sometimes becomes necessary or even a duty to find a more biblically faithful body.”

Why the Church Needs a New Approach for Addressing Homosexuality. Eric Metaxas writes “Sixty percent of all Americans now live in a state in which marriage has been redefined to allow same-sex couples to “marry.” So should Christians give up, go home, and move on to another issue?  Absolutely not. While the public policy issue may be largely settled, the matter of how the church should interact with gays—especially gay Christians—is far from settled. And on that subject, one Christian leader says we have a lot of repair work to do.”

Two Enemies of Determination. Darrin Patrick writes “In Jesus, we have the model of a determined man. He pressed on in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. He resisted comfort and approval, knowing what was at stake in his failure. He endured great suffering and shame because he had a greater joy.”

Think the “Emergent Church” was Ineffective? Think again. Chelsen Vicar writes “Brian McLaren is right. The “emergent church” movement is growing. Not as a collective group, but as a savvy, scattered chain ever-present in the fiber of the Church.

The Importance of Hell. Tim Keller offers four reasons in this article.

The frightening side of Advent: Bonhoeffer’s Christmas sermons. Jeff K. Walters shares observations from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons, preached between 1928 and his death in 1945.

Christmas Poem

My good friend Aaron, who works where I do and is also a local pastor, has written a Christmas poem for several years. Here’s his poem for this year:

JOYOUS

Joy unto us the angels did sing

Joy unto us our savior was born king

Joy unto us a gift was given

Joy unto us a tree was slain

Joy unto us on the tree – our Lord and savior hang

Joy unto us the angel did say – he is Risen no longer he lay

Joy unto us the message must ring on and on

Joy unto you this Christmas season for only Jesus is our reason to have hope and holiday cheer

LUKE 2: 1 – 20

Visions of VocationVisions of Vocation Book Club

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber.

Steve Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I have been reading his book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. This week we look at chapter 7 The Great Temptations.

  • It is surprising that the promise of more knowledge—to know as God knows, in the words of the tempter—had the bitter fruit of anguish and shame.
  • From that first temptation on, human beings have responded in countless ways to the same question: What will you do with what you know? Or to put it another way, Knowing what you know, how will you respond?
  • We do not want knowing to necessarily mean caring. Not because we are morally misanthropic, but simply because the one who knows the most mourns the deepest. More knowledge often means more pain.
  • Both offer a way to know that allow us to keep our eyes open, seeing things as they “really” are, but not requiring that we get so close that we are hurt by what we know. We have called these responses stoicism and cynicism. Both are ways to know that do not ask us to get too close to what we know; they allow us to protect ourselves from knowing too much, and therefore from caring too much.
  • While I understand that there are horrors and heartaches that are beyond what anyone wants or imagines, it does not make a good life to think that we can have knowledge without responsibility, that we can know but not have to care.
  • While there are honest joys every day, if one has eyes to see, there are also honest sorrows too, if one has eyes to see. What we do with the two realities is what distinguishes us, and is what is distinctive about different religious visions.
  • Every account of human life, from varieties of theism to varieties of pantheism to varieties of materialism, has a vision of the human person at its heart—what is often called a telos. We believe certain things to be true of us as individuals, and true of human beings, and we live in that light. But we do not only live in that light, we theorize and imagine in that light as well. We develop economic and political visions, and we create artistic artifacts—sculpture, paintings, novels, poetry, music, theater and film—that resonate with what we believe to be true of human beings, in light of the telos that shapes our understanding of what is real and true and right.
  • We know pathos, empathy, sympathy, passion and compassion, for example. Each of those words grows out of some effort to make sense of life, of a life where things are often not as they are supposed to be, where in fact there is disappointment, heartbreak and injustice. Knowing the world to be this way, knowing our experience to be this way, what will we do? How will we respond?
  • Knowing that does not require one to respond. One knows, but does not have to step in. One knows, but does not have to be implicated. It is important to note that Stoicism is not malicious with its intentional indifference, but its willingness to look away at critical points is a problem for a good life and a good society.
  • The great Hebrew scholar Abraham Heschel, in his magisterial study The Prophets, argues that the prophetic tradition as a whole was a response to the stoicism of their time, whether that was formally taught and debated, or was more street-level assumptions by ordinary people living ordinary lives.
  • God hears and responds to what he hears, that he sees and acts on what he sees. Not an unmoved mover, but the one who knows and who feels what he knows.
  • Another twentieth-century scholar, Benjamin B. Warfield of Princeton, intriguingly argues that the Gospels were a response to the stoicism of their time.
  • Jesus’ response to the death of his friend was a million miles from the Stoic apatheia.
  • Again, if there has not been an incarnation, a moment in human history when God shows that we can know and still love, then stoicism seems a very good answer to a very hard question: Knowing the hurt of life, what are you going to do?
  • Living in Washington, D.C., for many years now, I have come to the conclusion that while the world at large may criticize the city for its hubris, “the Beltway mentality” and all, the reality is that the city is cynical.
  • But the question which was first asked in the Garden, primordial and perennial as it was, is asked again of everyone who comes to town: Knowing what you know, what are you going to do?
  • One of the best chroniclers of contemporary geo-politics is the British novelist John Le Carré. Le Carré is a master story-teller, seeing the evil of the human heart played out in public and political arenas—and he expects his readers to come to the same conclusion that he has. In a word, he is a cynic—about individuals and institutions, about persons and polities, about anyone and anything that has to do with power and money. And why not? There many good reasons to be cynical.
  • “Life is good,” the T-shirts promise, and we buy them by the truckload. Well, sometimes in some places, but not very often in the massive ghettoes of Nairobi, which is where Le Carré takes us in The Constant Gardner.
  • But there are exceptions. And it is here that Le Carré’s cynicism is more a protection of his heart than a truthful account of the heart. Whether conscious or not, intentional or not, the temptation to cynicism is always a way of keeping one’s heart from being wounded, again.
  • There is much to be cynical about—and it is a good answer if there has not been an incarnation. But if that has happened, if the Word did become flesh, and if there are men and women who in and through their own vocations imitate the vocation of God, then sometimes and in some places the world becomes something more like the way it ought to be.
  • Over twenty years ago, Mark Rodgers and I decided to be neighbors, remembering the credo of the Clapham community in London two hundred years ago: “Choose a neighbor before you choose a house.”
  • There is nothing romantic about trying to do the right thing and feeling the indifference of those you work and live with.
  • Can we know the world and still love the world? Can we know the messes of the world and still work on them because we want to, because we see ourselves as responsible, for love’s sake? Sometimes some people make that choice, like Mark has, and always it is a vocation in imitation of a vocation.
  • At our best and truest, we stand in the long line of those who remember the profound insight of Thomas à Kempis in calling us to “the imitation of Christ.” To choose to know, and still love, is costly; it was for God, and it is for us. In fact it is the most difficult task imaginable.
  • God knows us and still loves us. That is the heart of the incarnation, and not surprisingly the heart of J. I. Packer’s contemporary classic, Knowing God. His vision has shaped my vision, not only of God, but of life.
  • The incarnation is not a call to life in rose gardens, somehow closing our eyes to the terrors of this very wounded world.
  • Strange grace that it is, sometimes people decide that their vocations are in fact to know the world and still love the world; in fact, sometimes there are people who know the worst about the world and still love it. Truth be told, mostly those people are unnoticed in this life. At the end of the day, we are ordinary people in ordinary places. The wisest ones have always known this, reminding us of this deeper, truer truth.
  • And while we may not be weighed down with the questions What will I do today to stay free from stoicism? How will I steer clear of cynicism today? the reality is that if we are to keep our commitments, sticking with what we believe is important, we will have to have reasons that make sense of vocations that implicate us in the histories and complexities of our communities and societies. To see ourselves as responsible, for love’s sake, is both hard work and good work—and it cannot be done alone.
  • Stretched taut between the Last Supper and the Great Supper—with an invitation from Jesus to eat together week by week until he comes again—our Vocares always involve a meal.
  • Simply, he sees his work as imitating the incarnation; knowing the way banking more often than not is, he works for what can be because he believes in what ought to be.
  • Why get involved? It is one thing to know about messes, but it is something else altogether to step into a mess. It is one thing to know about things being wrong, but it is something else altogether to decide that I am responsible to make it right.
  • Knowing what I know, what will I do? There are people who see themselves implicated in the way the world is and ought to be. For love’s sake, they see themselves as responsible for the way the world turns out. Sometimes they are bankers, and sometimes they make hamburgers. But always and everywhere, they are people who have vocations in imitation of the vocation of God: knowing the worst about the world, and still loving the world. They are people who learn to live in the tension of life, living with what is and longing for what will be—keeping clear of the great temptations, for the sake of the world. Simply said, they become hints of hope.

Favorite Quotes of the Week ~ 12.8.2014

  • If you say: I believed in God, I trusted God, and He didn’t come through – You only trusted God to meet your agenda. -Tim Keller
  • If you have only been born once you will die twice, but if you are born twice you will only die once. -Steven Lawson
  • By God’s grace, seek to make your home the most encouraging place your family knows. -Scotty Smith
  • We fall privately before we ever fall publicly. -RC Sproul
  • The gospel is not about what we have done or are called to do, but the announcement of God’s saving work in Jesus Christ. -Michael Horton
  • Great sins draw out great grace. Where guilt is most terrible and fierce, the mercy of God appears most high and mighty. -John Bunyan
  • If you make the goal of your life just to stay alive, you’ll fail. If you make the goal of your life the kingdom, you cannot lose. -Kevin DeYoung
  • Fundamentally, Reformed theology is theology founded on and fashioned by God’s Word. For it is God’s Word that forms our theology, and it is we who are reformed by that theology as we constantly return to God’s Word every day and in every generation.Burk Parsons
  • The people who have taught me the most about grace are those who have blown it so bad that they know how much they need it. -Tullian Tchividjian
  • Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee. -Charles Wesley
  • Just because we don’t see a reason why God allows evil and suffering doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Christmas is God going into the darkness for you. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

Martin Luther’s View on Why Clarity of Scripture Matters for Vocation. Andrew Spencer writes “Given the connection between the clarity of Scripture and a return of the doctrine of vocation, it should come as no surprise that the development of the sacred/secular divide in vocation began with a drift in the understanding of the ability for all people to interpret Scripture.”

Non-Negotiables in Team Members. Dave Kraft shares seven non-negotiables he looks for.

The Basics of a Biblical Theology of Work. Enjoy this excerpt from Amy Sherman’s excellent book Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, which I read in my Calling, Vocation and Work class at Covenant Seminary.

Garbage Collecting for the Glory of God. Joseph Sunde writes “In a new video from The High Calling1, Howard Butt, Jr. shares the story of David Magallenez, a garbage man who daily serves the people of San Antonio by removing their trash, and does so with a happy heart.”

What are You Hiding at Work? Jen Sanbulte writes “We’ve all done it. We’ve gone to work and put on the mask, afraid to be at work who we are in Church on Sunday. We hesitate to give people glimpses into our real life and emotions, because it is messy. Instead, we hide. God called us to be light, but many have a hard time figuring out what that looks like at work. And if we’re honest, we all want to be viewed as professional, as good workers, as normal.”

Why are Working Women Starting to Unplug from Their Churches? Sandra Crawford Williamson shares four reasons that are given as to why working women are choosing to stay home from church.

How Your Own Jealousy Can Keep You from Progress. In this podcast, Andy Andrews talks about selfishness, and how it can keep you and everyone around you from growing.

Your work is not as important as you want it to be: Called by Mark Labberton. Marcus Goodyear writes “This little book calls the entire faith and work movement to task, reminding Christians to focus on the First Thing. My career, my success, and my productivity are not elements of my primary calling. A Christian’s calling is not a personal one, but a shared calling with other Christians to something very simple and straightforward: love God and love your neighbor.”

Four Ways Leaders Can Release Control, and Ultimately Thrive. Cole NeSmith shares four ways leaders can release control, and become the leaders we are created to be.

4 Leadership Lessons from a King Who Finished Poorly. One of our favorite bloggers Kevin Halloran writes that “Unfortunately, we don’t have to look far to see failure in leadership. All leaders need to know what God wants them to do and NOT do.” He states that “Like many kings mentioned in the Bible Jehu is a mixed bag. I don’t want to leave a legacy like that. Here are a few lessons I gleaned from Jehu:”

Vocation and Jobs.  Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. “Look for the vocation that is deeply rooted in your life, the way of being that expresses God’s calling on your life.  Whatever happens, you are God’s gift to the world in the making.  No job can give you that.  No job can take it away.”

Reconciling the Call to be Productive with the Messiness of Life. Matt Perman writes “One of the difficulties in affirming that God calls us to be productive is that this can sometimes be mistaken to mean that there is always an easy solution to our productivity challenges. We can think that there is no place for messiness, difficulty, and even falling behind in the life of truly productive, God-honoring people.”

10 Commandments that Fix All Lousy Meetings. Poorly run meetings are one of my pet-peeves. I appreciated this article from Dan Rockwell.

When You Are in Between Jobs. Luke Murry writes “How we handle unemployment ourselves and how we counsel others going through unemployment are both excellent opportunities to bring glory to God’s name.”

New Faith and Work Study Bible. The Bible: Faith and Work Edition will be a unique and engaging combination of doctrine, application, and community that can find its home not only on your nightstand at home, but also on your desktop at work. Its goal is to equip Christians to meaningfully engage various aspects of their work—even those we might not even think could be relevant—with a renewed sense of the power and relevance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Secrets Of The Most Productive People. Fast Company article in which as senator, a chef, four CEOs, and DJ superstar Diplo reveal how, exactly, they get the most out of their days.

Do Hard Things ~ Matt Perman shares a post from Alex and Brett Harris.

Season of Ministry. A good reminder to be open for opportunities to minister to others we lead during this Christmas season:

‘God’s Will and Your Vocation’, an excellent devotion I recently read in Ligonier Ministries’ TableTalk Magazine.

Where Does Our Time at Work Go? Sue Shellenbarger writes “The causes of overload have long been suspected—email and meetings—but new techniques that analyze employees’ email headers and online calendars are helping employers pinpoint exactly which work groups impose the most on employees’ time.”

The Value of Leadership Fears. Glenn Brooke writes “All leaders face fears and suffer trials. There is a grander purpose at work.”

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

God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week – won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 6: Your Calling in the Family.

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

We continue our overview of this excellent new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we look at Chapter 24: The Greatest Cause in the World Productivity, world missions, and how our faith relates to our work.

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael


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Blue Ridge Wedding Weekend

Pretty Place Chapel SCLast weekend we travelled to South Carolina for the wedding of our nephew Mark and his bride Tiffany. I have known Mark since he was born in 1981. We have gone on family vacations together most of the years since then. We don’t agree on much – be it sports, politics or religion. But I love him like I would my own son, so we very much looked forward to the destination wedding.

We flew out of an empty Midway Airport in Chicago on Thanksgiving Day, and back on Monday (later finding out that Midway made national news for their mile-plus lines going through security on Sunday) and landed in Greenville, South Carolina.

The groom, his bride, the best man and his wife and some friends were already there from Houston, Texas. Others came from as far away as Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey, Florida and Washington D.C. Many were frustrated by the lack of cell and wireless service in the area, but everyone loved the natural beauty. I enjoyed reading Sinclair Ferguson’s outstanding new book The Trinitarian Devotion of John Owen as I sat next to the Saluda River (which was more like a large creek at this time of year).   We stayed in a Table Rock river cabin (check out their site for photos here – https://www.facebook.com/tablerockrivercabins). There was such joy as family and friends (who stayed in other cabins in the area) would gather to eat, drink and visit in the large cabin next to the one we stayed in. Over the long weekend the crowd plowed through 16+ Giordano’s pizzas!

The largest towns in the area were Pickens and Traveler’s Rest. There were Baptist churches of every type and size in the area, which was just beautiful. In God’s Providence the reading for the day of the wedding (November 29) in Scotty Smith’s book Everyday Prayers was on marriage, and the chapter I read in Gene Veith’s God at Work was on the family, and marriage as a vocation.

Happy Bride and GroomThe wedding was held in a chapel appropriately known as “Pretty Place”, 2,900 feet up at a YMCA camp that held special memories for both the bride and her father. http://www.campgreenville.org/chapel.php Christ was at the center of the ceremony, just as He is in the center of Mark and Tiffany’s relationship. Above the couple as they took their vows on a beautiful cool (48 degrees) day was Psalm 121:1: I will lift up my eyes to the hills.Table Rock Lodge

The reception was held at the Lodge at Table Rock State Park – http://www.southcarolinaparks.com/tablerock/tablerock-lodge.aspx, with a beautiful view of Table Rock Mountain and a beautiful lake.

On Sunday morning many had breakfast at the Café at Williams Hardware (appropriately named as the groom’s last name is Williams) in Traveler’s Rest. http://cafeatwilliamshardware.com/.

Biltmore Estate After we said our “goodbyes”, with all going their separate ways, we were off to Asheville, North Carolina with our niece Amanda to visit the Biltmore Estate which was decorated for Christmas. We had a great time and enjoyed a beautiful day. http://www.biltmore.com/visit/biltmore-house-gardens

All in all, it was a great time with family and friends in a beautiful setting. Many blessings for a long, happy, healthy and Christ-centered marriage for Mark and Tiffany.

A Titillating Tidbit:

Bob Jones University is located in Greenville, South Carolina, and was made infamous in Steve Taylor’s 1984 song “We Don’t Need No Color Code” about their racial policies. The song was going through my mind throughout the time we were in the area:

Down Carolina way
Lived a man name o’ Big B.J.
B.J. went and got a school
Founded on Caucasian rule
Bumper sticker on his Ford
Says “Honkies If You Love The Lord”

White man speak with forked tongue
White supremacists eat their young
Bigotry is on the loose
Ignorance is no excuse
I know Jesus loves that man
Even with a Greenville tan

In 2008, the university apologized for their racist policies including a one-time ban on interracial dating that wasn’t lifted until 1999 and its unwillingness to admit black students until 1971.

So, are there any current Christian musicians that are willing to speak up and light a spark in our culture today?

Favorite Christmas Albums

I love Christmas music! Once I get to the week before Thanksgiving, it’s about all I listen to until Christmas Day. My two favorite Christmas songs are “O Holy Night” (you gotta listen to Stuart Neill’s version) and “Go Tell it on the Mountain”, of which James Taylor has a great rendition.

We usually pick up a few new Christmas albums each year. This year, I chose albums by Keith and Kristyn Getty, Michael W. Smith, John Schlitt and Peter Furler. My all-time favorite Christmas albums are The Andy Williams Christmas Album, which my Mom used to play as we went to sleep and Christmas Songs by Jars of Clay. I also love all four of Michael W. Smith’s Christmas albums, James Taylor’s Christmas albums as well as Christmas music from Chris Tomlin, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Michael Buble, Michael McDonald, Russ Taff, Perry Como, and many others.

What are some of your favorite Christmas albums?

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Michael W. Smith ChristmasMusic Review: The Spirit of Christmas – Michael W. Smith & Friends

~ THIS AND THAT ~

BOOKS:

The Dawning of Indestructible JoyFree Piper Audiobook. The free audiobook for December from Christian Audio month is John Piper’s new The Dawning of Indestructible Joy.

14 Best Books of 2014. Tony Reinke of Desiring God lists his top books of the year, none of which I have read, though Tammy and I plan to read his top choice together soon. I’ll list my favorites from 2014 the first week of January.

Tim Keller on Prayer. Tim Challies writes that “He (Keller) has written a winsome, well-rounded book that leads through theory and into practice. It is one of the strongest books on prayer I have ever read and it receives my highest recommendation.”

Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story by Trip Lee. Here’s a two-minute video about Trip’s new book, which features a Foreword from John Piper and will be released January 27.

MUSIC:Shane and Shane Christmas

Free Download of Shane and Shane ‘Joy to the World’. You can download a track for FREE from A Worship Initiative Christmas from Shane and Shane courtesy of Desiring God. It is the number one Christian album on iTunes this morning.

Lie Down in the Grass ~ Charlie Peacock discusses the 30 year anniversary release of his classic album.

Former Creed Lead Singer Penniless. Sad story about Scott Strapp, who recently made a Christian album and was in my town recently for a concert.

Bob Dylan Performs Concert – For Just One Person. My friend Tom told me about this private concert that Dylan held recently.

U2 Tour LogoNew U2 Tour. Christmas comes a little early for U2 fans as their iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour has been announced. The tour begins in 2015, will see U2 play indoor arenas for the first time in a decade and will visit 19 cities (including the United Center in Chicago June 24-25), worldwide during its first year with pairs of shows in each city. “We are going to try to have a completely different feeling from night one to night two,” said Bono, “and have some fun playing with the idea of innocence and experience. More to be revealed!” The tour follows the recent release of U2’s thirteenth studio album Songs Of Innocence. To date, Songs of Innocence has been streamed 81 million times and has been downloaded by 30 million fans. Tickets go on sale to the public Monday, December 8. U2 is my favorite band – can’t wait!

New McCartney Single. Sir Paul McCartney will release a new single – “Hope for the Future” this month. The track is taken from the year’s biggest video game release ‘Destiny’.

IN THE NEWS:

Sadie Robertson Finishes Second in Dancing with the Stars. The daughter of Willie and Korie did well on the popular dance competition.

Did you see Ruffalo play “Musical Beers” with Jimmy Fallon and others recently on The Tonight Show?

Why Christian Bale is Wrong About Moses. Matt Perman writes why comments made by Christian Bale (who will portray Moses in the upcoming Exodus: Gods and Kings film) are in direct contrast to the depiction of Moses in Scripture.

FERGUSON, MISSOURI

The Ferguson Moment—A Moral Test for the Nation. Albert Mohler’s reaction on the Ferguson decision last week.

Ferguson and the Path to Peace. Russell Moore writes that the tension in Ferguson, Missouri “ought to remind us, as the church, that we are living in a time in which racial division is hardly behind us. That reality ought to motivate us as citizens to work for justice, but also as the church to seek to embody the kingdom of Christ.”

Why I Believe the Grand Jury Got It Wrong and Injustice Triumphed. Here is Thabiti Anyabwile’s reaction to the Ferguson decision.

Thoughts on Ferguson. Voddie Baucham writes “In the end, the best lesson my children can learn from Ferguson is not that they need to be on the lookout for white cops. It is far more important that I use this teachable moment to remind them that “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Moments before his death, Michael Brown had violently robbed a man in a store. A man doing the best he could to make a living. Minutes later, Brown reaped what he sowed, and was gunned down in the street. That is the sad truth.”   4

Lecrae on Ferguson: ‘The System We Have in Place Has Biases’ Lecrae didn’t choose the article title. He writes “I still have hope for a dream of unity and peace. I’m exercising my faith and fighting for a glorious future, and I want to call others to do the same. It’s going to take a lot of time, long conversations, and education, but if not us then who?”

TRENDING TOPICS:

Why is Church So Boring? R.C. Sproul gives his answer.

Ligonier Ministries Resource Guide. A lot of gold here with many resources that have blessed me mightily over the years.

Mark Noll’s Memoir: World Christianity, Historical Thinking, Humbling Paradox. John Piper gives a glimpse into Noll’s three passions and the foil of his personal faith.

How Pornography Works: It Hijacks the Male Brain. Albert Mohler writes that “We are fast becoming a pornographic society. Over the course of the last decade, explicitly sexual images have crept into advertising, marketing, and virtually every niche of American life. This ambient pornography is now almost everywhere, from the local shopping mall to prime-time television.”

A Theology of Sleep. Andy Naselli offers ten excerpts from And So to Bed….A Biblical View of Sleep by Adrian Reynolds.

A Prayer for Days When You Wake Up with a Low-grade Irritability. Here is another wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith that hits a little too close to home.

Favorite Quotes of the Week 12.1.2014

  • Whether you are “radical” or “ordinary” – love Jesus, stay humble, and serve others. -Scotty Smith
  • As long as I am focusing on the faults of others, then I don’t have to face my own.Tullian Tchividjian
  • In the culture of pluralism…the only thing that cannot be tolerated is a claim to exclusivity. -R.C. Sproul
  • We never grow closer to God when we just live. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness. -Francis Chan
  • The bad news? We’re far worse than we think. The good news? He’s far more gracious than we think. -R.C. Sproul Jr.
  • Suffering is the stripping of our hope in finite things, therefore we do not put our ultimate hope in anything finite. -Tim Keller
  • I am going to judge my circumstances by Jesus’ love, not Jesus’ love by my circumstances. -Tim Keller

integrating faith and work

Dave Kraft looks at the 20th chapter of Acts in these two articles:

These Occupations Could Offer the Most Satisfying Careers. This list ranks over 200 different occupations not on how big the salary is, but on how meaningful these jobs feel to the people that work them.

Three Practical Ways You Can Express Gratitude at Work. John Kyle writes that “Feeling and expressing gratitude in a workplace filled with thorns and thistles can be challenging.” He provides three ways we can be more thankful at work.

Permission. John Maxwell looks at this word in this edition of a “Minute with Maxwell”. http://johnmaxwellteam.com/permission/

Work and Rest According to Jesus. Download this free audio sermon from Tim Keller at the Redeemer Presbyterian web site.

Overworking Is Not God’s Idea. Bill Peel shares ideas from J. B. Wood on how to put a little Sabbath in our lives.

4 Ways a Christian Leader Should Know “What Time It Is”. Trevin Wax states that there are four spheres in which Christian leaders should know “the time”.  (Kinda reminds me of “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” a song written and sung by Robert Lamm while in the rock band Chicago.)

How To Get Things Done: Deal With Interruptions. Tim Challies continues his helpful series on productivity

My Work Is More Important than Yours,’ So We All Say. Bethany Jenkins writes that “The more precious the cross becomes to us, the less we feel the need to exalt our work over the work of others.”

Check out this week’s episode of Andy Andrew’s podcast on when to eliminate negative people from your life.

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael