Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

CALLING AND VOCATION:

  • Pursue Your Vocation. Tim Challies writes “If you are going to run to win, you, like Jesus, must pursue your vocation.”
  • Your Calling is More Than Your Job. Art Lindsley writes “Before we devote ourselves to a job or role, as Christians, we should devote our lives to God. Before he calls us to a job, God calls us to himself. That is and always will be our greatest call. Our answer to this call should inform and transform every area of life.”
  • Rethinking Christian Calling. Kyle Borg writes “You don’t need a divine calling to confirm the decisions in your life. In a sermon Augustine once famously said, “Love, and do what you will.” Not to tinker unnecessarily with the words of Augustine, but if I can modify that slightly I would say: glorify God in whatever you do, and do what you want. Glorify God in your relationships, and marry who you will. Glorify God in your studies, and study what you will. Glorify God in your job, and work where you will. Glorify God, and do what you want.”
  • Jesus Calls the Disciples (Matthew 3-4). Jonathan Pennington and Alice Mathews of the Theology of Work Project write “Does a call from Jesus mean that we have to stop working at our current job and become a preacher, pastor, or missionary?”
  • Work as Ministry. John A. Bernbaum writes “Viewed biblically, every Christian has ministerial rank! After all, if we are going to be “Ambassadors of the King,” ministerial rank is required.”
  • How God Sees Your Work. Listen to this Table Podcast with Darrell L. Bock and Stephen Ramseur.
  • There’s Nothing Ordinary About You. Art Lindsley writes “Many of us have lost our sense of dignity and self-worth. As a result, we are blind to our own inherent creativity and God-given talents.”
  • One Calling, Multiple Expressions. What does it mean to have a calling? How can we each know what it is we’re meant to do? Annie F. Downs reminds us that God has a specific call on each of our lives and no matter what our vocation is, our role matters.
  • On Calling, Ambition and Surrender. Many of us struggle to discern our role in God’s bigger plan for the world; some of us even struggle to see God’s plan at all. We’re unsure of our purpose, or uncertain of how we can use that purpose to bring renewal to our communities. Pete Richardson helps executive, church, and cultural leaders hone in on their life purpose and perspective. He reveals some of the questions we need to ask ourselves, and the results we can expect when we respond to God’s very personal assignment for each of us.

CHRISTIANITY AT WORK:

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week


  • Before the Throne of Social ‘Likes’. Trevin Wax writes “as Christians who want to be faithful to Jesus in this era, we need to consider what our online interaction is doing to our hearts. How do these online habits shape us? What are the benefits, the promises, and the dangers?”
  • My Life Feels Pointless. In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper answers the question “How do we continue on when this life feels pointless, like when we are treading water and it feels like we’re just passing time until this life is over?”  
  • Repenting of Our Performance-ism and Perfectionism. Scotty Smith prays “I can still lapse into “approval suck” living–seeking to gain and maintain people’s approval by what I do. Likewise, I often consider a day “good” or “bad,” based on the quality and quantity of my production. Rather than boasting in Christ alone, I often look to find something boast-worthy in me. Performance-based living is such a crummy way to do life–one that contradicts the way of grace.”
  • Why I Love the Evening Service and You Can Too. Kevin DeYoung writes “Here are a few reasons why I’m thankful for the evening service and why I hope you’ll consider keeping yours, going to yours, finding a neighboring church that has one, or even starting one at your church.”
  • Passive Christianity is Dead Christianity. Jon Bloom writes “Do what Jesus says. Do whatever it takes to want what’s right. And then, with that new heart, do what you want.”
  • R.C.Sproul Through the Years. It’s hard for me to express how much the Lord has used R.C. Sproul’s ministry (books, teaching series, conferences) in my sanctification. I enjoyed this two-minute video clip of his ministry throughout the past 50 years.

SPIRIT OF OUR AGE:

Courtesy of World Magazine

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How I Integrate My Faith and Work, Part 1


What is it like for me to serve the Lord as a leader in a large and diverse I.T. department at a Fortune 50 company? How do I try to live for Jesus in the workplace? How do I use the platform He has given me? How do I shine His Light to others? How do I integrate my faith and work?

Tim Keller tells us “To be a Christian in business, then, means much more than just being honest or not sleeping with your coworkers. It even means more than personal evangelism or holding a Bible study at the office. Rather, it means thinking out the implications of the gospel worldview and God’s purposes for your whole work life – and for the whole of the organization under your influence.”

In part one, here are 9 ways in which I have personally tried to integrate my faith with my work, and you can as well:

  1. Be a Servant Leader. For me, connecting my faith and work as a leader starts here. The concept of servant leadership is often misunderstood. There are many reasons why this form of leadership resonates with me. Here are just two of them:
  • It aligns well with my faith as Jesus is my model for leadership. Servant leadership means putting the needs and interests of others above your own.
  • It allows me to make a difference in my team member’s lives. Leadership expert Ken Blanchard states that the servant leader is interested in making a difference in their people’s lives, and in the process, positively impacting their organization by delivering good results. The role of the servant leader is to help their people be successful and accomplish their goals.
  1. Do excellent work. I believe that Christians should be the best workers. The rest of these items I mention don’t matter much if I’m not a good worker. And we glorify God when we give credit to Him for what we achieve, rather than claiming the credit for ourselves.
  2. Do your work for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

My key verse here is Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” In their book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert tell us that no matter what our job is or who our boss is, what we do in our jobs is actually done in service to King Jesus.  And that our work has purpose and meaning because we are ultimately doing it for the King. Who we work for is more important than what we do.

  1. Maintain a high level of integrity in all your actions. Are you a person of your word? Can people depend on you? If you say you will do something, do you do it? Former football coach Tony Dungy has written that dishonesty will eventually catch up with you. We can’t control our reputation (what others think of us), but we can control our integrity.

An example of demonstrating integrity is how we utilize resources at work. We shouldn’t steal from our employers, be it how we use our time, or company resources such as computers, office supplies and copy machines.

  1. Be a person of character. I’ve heard character defined as doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Trust is closely related to character. I tell new team members that they have my trust, that’s how we start our relationship. They don’t have to earn it. It’s up to them to lose it.
  2. Be a role model. Dungy has written in his book The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently, that right or wrong, someone is always watching you and that it’s important to see yourself as a role model. We need to be above reproach, be role models, and have a strong “brand”, which is what distinguishes you from others, or what makes you different from others.
  3. Serve as a mentor. I’m a big proponent of the value of mentoring relationships, and never turn anyone down who wants to enter into a mentoring relationship with me. I see it as a way of giving back and pouring myself into future leaders just as my career mentor poured himself into me.
  4. Read books and blogs about integrating faith and work. I’m amazed with how many excellent books and blogs there are these days on this subject – I’m finding new ones all the time. Read some of these books and subscribe to the blogs and then share what you learn with others.
  5. Participate in a Faith and Work Book Club at work, school or home. A few colleagues in my workplace and I have been doing this for a few years now, and we are on our fifth book at this time. Our discussions, early on a Friday morning, are one of the highlights of my week. I enjoy learning from my friends how they integrate their faith and work and seeing the light come on when they realize that their work in an IT department has value in God’s eyes. Stay at home Moms could be encouraged by reading and discussing Courtney Reisigg’s new book Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God.

How have you tried to integrate your faith and work?

Next time, I’ll share 8 more ways in which I have personally tried to integrate my faith with my work.


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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


Crooked – Propaganda
****

Propaganda’s first album since 2014’s Crimson Cord is hard-hitting and challenging, with excellent vocal (spoken word and hip hop) delivery, musical backing and production. Much has happened in America since Crimson Cord and some of the lyrics are right out of the news.

Below are a few thoughts about each of the songs:

Crooked Way featuring Terence F. Clark – This is a powerful opening track, produced by Braille and written with Terence F. Clark. There is much to take in here, which will require multiple listenings. He covers a history of racism from Native Americans and the Confederate flag. Interjects humor about skinny jeans and Dickies. Says he is not a leader, just a hippie with daddy issues, crooked with halos balanced on the tip of his horns.

It’s Complicated – He has zipped up his emotions into a dusty duffel bag that he’s named poetry. He speaks of transgender issues, that we are a laundry list of identity issues and that sometimes our plumbing doesn’t match our urges. It’s complicated.

Bear With Me featuring Marz Gerrer – Produced by Ohmega Watts. This track is about the ups and downs of being in love. Love is not love if it’s never been tested.

Cynical featuring Aaron Marsh & Sho Baraka – This powerful track is produced by Beautiful Eulogy. It hits on several items out of the news – Trump rallies, refugees, immigration – but he’s concerned that Christians are arguing about bathrooms. He addresses being lied to, intolerance and fear.

Slow Cook – This track is produced by Courtney Orlando and Steele, and it’s about his musical influences. “That’s the hip hop I fell in love with”.

Do Know Wrong featuring Macho – Produced by Wert and co-written with Macho. His love letter to California (Cali), with numerous references (earthquake, smog, Poly High, palm trees, traffic, lack of water, ocean, Fatburger, King Taco).

Gentrify – Produced by DJ Efechto. This upbeat sounding track with Odd Thomas on keyboards, addresses a serious subject, gentrification. “And when you see them billboards yelling “cash for homes” Gentrify.”

I Hate Cats – This is a very creative spoken word piece on racism and stereotyping, substituting cats and dogs for Blacks and Whites. Funny and serious. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS


12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You by Tony Reinke. 224 pages. Crossway. 2017
****

Look around, and many of the people you see will be looking down at their smartphone. It is amazing how smartphones have transformed our culture. This well-researched book by Tony Reinke is both an important one and a timely one.
More than a billion iPhones have been sold since Apple introduced it in 2007. Smartphones are now omnipresent. Amazingly, people check their smartphones about every four minutes they are awake.
The author looks at the positives (all the things they can do for us), and negatives (distractions, easier access to sexual sin, for example) of smartphones. The book is neither pro-smartphone, nor anti-smart phone. He encourages us to consider what impact the smartphone has had on our spiritual lives. He states that we might not know what our smartphones are doing to us, but we are being changed. He looks at the question of what is the best use of our smartphones in the flourishing of our life. The book is more diagnostic and worldview than it is application. The author states that the book will succeed only if we enjoy Christ more.
The author tells us that to look at our smartphone history is like piercing into our souls. Our smartphone habits expose our hearts.
He looks at a history of technology and offers a theology of technology. He shares that those addicted to smartphones are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety and have a harder time concentrating at work and sleeping. He looks at the spiritual dimensions and consequences of our digital addiction and distractions. For example, when texting while driving, we are twenty-seven times more likely to have an accident. He addresses topics such as online anger, approval addiction (likes, shares, followers) and the impact smartphones have had on our reading of books, including the Bible. Other topics he looks at are identity and idolatry (do we worship our smartphones, our online presence?), isolation, slander, and the fear of missing out or being left out. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week


CHRISTIAN LIVING:

  • Practical Help for Angry People. In this eight-minute roundtable video Danny Akin (president of Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina), Bill Kynes (senior pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Annandale, Virginia), and Miguel Núñez (senior pastor of International Baptist Church in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) discuss anger and how to overcome it with God’s help.
  • The Damning Devastation of a Single Coddled Sin. Tim Challies shares nine things to consider in times you may feel ambivalent toward even a single sin.
  • Alienation from God. Sinclair Ferguson writes “Alienation from God is not only real but dangerous—and the depth of the alienation is evidenced by the fact that we think we are in no danger at all.”
  • Sloth Doesn’t Just Mean Sleep. Mike Leake (not the St. Louis Cardinals pitcher), writes “The answer to the sluggard’s heart is the gospel of Jesus. When I realize that my rest is already established and founded in Christ it strikes a blow to the inordinate desires of my sluggard heart.”
  • Longs for Healing. Scotty Smith prays “Even as we pray for healing in these stories, we surrender to the mystery of your sovereignty. Jesus, we wish you’d always answer our prayers, just as we pray them when we pray them. But we know you to be more merciful, engaged, and wise than we can imagine. Jesus, we trust your heart, even when we don’t understand your ways or see your hand.”
  • Seven Promises to Pray Against Porn. J.A. Medders writes “These seven verses can serve as an attack plan, a Messiah-taught martial art against lust and pornography. A verse for every day. Read it in the morning. Pray it at night. Train in the car. Run to it when you hear the temptation in the distance. Text it to a friend. Memorize with an accountability partner. Fight.”
  • It is Impossible to Read the Bible. John Piper writes “Reading the Bible should always be a supernatural act. By “supernatural act,” I don’t mean that humans are supernatural. We are not God, and we are not angels or demons. What I mean is that the act of reading, in order to be done as God intended, must be done in dependence on God’s supernatural help.”
  • Man (Or Woman) Cannot Live on Podcasts Alone. Courtney Reisigg writes “In our increasingly connected age, the availability of resources and opportunities to be discipled via smartphone and laptop isn’t going anywhere. There’s a place for those things, but let’s be sure we don’t let them supplant real-life relationships in our own contexts. In many of our churches there are treasure troves of wisdom and experience simply waiting to be heard—if we would just ask.”
  • Will You Cleave and Leave Your Man? Recently John Piper wrote “Husbands, Lift Up Your Eyes.” Now, read Noël Piper’s letter to a would-be adulteress, “Will You Cleave and Leave Your Man?” She tells a little bit of their story, and then describes two ways a wife can cleave in a marriage.

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My Review of Dunkirk

Dunkirk, rated PG-13
****

Christopher Nolan’s tense and inspirational World War II film Dunkirk is my top movie of 2017 thus far.
This film, with an estimated budget of $150 million and clocking in at just 106 minutes, is written and directed by acclaimed three-time Oscar nominee Christopher Nolan (Inception, Interstellar, Memento (which I re-watched this past week), The Dark Knight Batman trilogy, The Prestige). This is the tenth feature film he has directed, and his second shortest.
This time Nolan takes us to the beaches of Dunkirk, a small coastal town in France in May and June, 1940, for a decisive moment in World War II. The coast of England was nearly visible from Dunkirk, just 26 miles across the English Channel. More than 300,000 Allied troops (British, French and Belgium) were trapped on the beach by the Germans. The harbor was so shallow, that a water rescue with large British ships wasn’t possible. Nolan puts the viewer in the center of the battle from a British point of view.

This is a very “visual” film, as Nolan uses a minimum of dialogue. That’s probably not a bad thing, as the dialogue and accents are difficult to understand. Credit goes here to cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema, who worked with Nolan on Interstellar. It appears that very little of the film was computer enhanced. We didn’t see the film in IMAX, but this is a film that you would probably want to see in IMAX, if possible.
The action takes center stage over character development. Nolan tells the story of what Winston Churchill called Operation Dynamo – an all-hands call to civilian sailors, asking that they steer any vessel they can across the English Channel to rescue as many of the stranded soldiers as possible – through three interlocking stories, timelines and perspectives – land, sea and air, complete with flashbacks and revisits. He introduces each story with title cards. “The Mole” (land) takes place over a week. The “mole” is actually an 8-foot-wide, half-mile-long breakwater wall, extended off the beaches of Dunkirk, France, that served as a makeshift dock for British leaders trying to evacuate the troops. Five-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Branagh, portrays Commander Bolton, the highest ranking British naval officer on the beach. He is worried about getting his men home. We see Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) grab the stretcher of a wounded man, pretending to be medics in the hope of getting on a ship and saving themselves. They encounter Alex (Harry Styles from the band One Direction in his acting debut).  “The Sea” takes place in a single day and features Oscar winner (Bridge of Spies) Mark Rylance as Mr. Dawson, a civilian entering into the rescue effort with his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and his best friend George (Barry Keoghan). The third story, “The Air”, takes place in a single hour. Oscar nominee (The Revenant) Tom Hardy portrays Farrier and Jack Lowden portrays Collins. They are Royal Air Force Spitfire pilots engaged in a tense battle with German planes.
Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack (in his sixth collaboration with Nolan), plays an important role in the tense film, mixing music and sound effects (ticking clock sound using Nolan’s pocket watch). The film is intense from beginning to end. It is rated PG-13 for intense war scenes and some adult language, including the abuse of Jesus’ name.
Themes in this inspirational film include sacrifice, heroism, courage and fear.
A final note. Despite this being an excellent film, it’s a disappointment that the crucial National Day of Prayer for Dunkirk was completely left out of the film. Read about it here.