Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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How I Spent Spring Break: 9 Reflections on the 2017 Ligonier National Conference

Almost every year since 1997, my wife Tammy and I have left the cold of the Illinois winter to head down to the sun and warmth of Central Florida to attend the annual Ligonier Ministries National Conference. This year’s conference, held March 9-11, was their 30th National Conference. It had a theme of “The Next 500 Years” and was being held on the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Thus, many of the speakers referred to Martin Luther and his influence in their addresses. The conference was held in the wonderful facilities of the First Baptist Church in Orlando where it has been held most years, sold out months in advance, and featured an excellent lineup of speakers, including John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, Albert Mohler, Sinclair Ferguson, R.C. Sproul, Michael Horton and more.

As Ligonier President and CEO Chris Larson told the attendees at the beginning of the conference, “Pace Yourself”. The three-day conference can be exhausting. In total, there were 26 sessions you could attend, in addition to a prayer session, two mini-concerts, and a bookstore tour. I always purchase copies of the messages and listen to them multiple times in the months after the conference. Here are the daily highlight posts that Ligonier posted about the conference:

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Here are 9 reflections I have from this year’s conference: Continue reading


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20 Helpful Quotes on the Transgender Revolution from “We Cannot Be Silent” by Albert Mohler  

New Mohler bookWith the transgender “bathroom” issue in the news so much lately, I thought it would be good to share these 20 helpful quotes from Albert Mohler’s excellent 2015 book We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage & and the Very Meaning of Right & Wrong. 

  1. The ability to “transform” gender and have “gender reassignment surgery” is so new that it was not even considered a prominent part of the gay rights movement when it emerged in the 1960s.
  2. Arguing that we should draw a clear distinction between who an individual wants to go to bed with and who an individual wants to go to bed as requires the dismantling of an entire thought structure and worldview. This is why the transgender revolution, even more than the movement for gay liberation, undermines the most basic structures of society.
  3. The transgender revolution, however, undermines any understanding of human identity based in the Christian tradition, the trajectory of Western civilization, and the worldview that has shaped today’s world.
  4. The transgender revolution represents one of the most difficult pastoral challenges this generation of Christians will face.
  5. A biblical response to the transgender revolution will require the church to develop new skills of compassion and understanding as we encounter persons, both inside and outside our congregations, who are struggling.
  6. The movement makes a sharp distinction between gender with regards to an individual’s self-understanding and an individual’s sex, which refers to the biological sex determined at birth.
  7. As with the gay liberation movement, the transgender movement looked to liberal theologians who helped further their cause.
  8. Transforming the way children think of gender is actually central to the transgender movement. Oprah Winfrey, whose television show was viewed by millions of Americans, became a major advocate for transgender issues, particularly among children.
  9. If the gay liberation movement gained its greatest traction when it succeeded in convincing many Americans that its aims were nonthreatening, the opposite may be the case for the transgender revolutionaries.
  10. The transgender revolution presents a vexing dimension to the challenge Christian churches, families, and institutions will face regarding religious liberty.
  11. The reality is that there is no end to the transgender revolution; endurance is one of its central dynamics.
  12. The Christian response to the transgender movement must begin with Scripture.
  13. What differentiates the transgender movement is the intention to change one’s gender identity from one’s biological sex.
  14. We unflinchingly hold, therefore, that to be born male is to be male and that to be born female is to be female.
  15. We affirm that biological sex is a gift of God to every individual and to the human community to which that individual belongs.
  16. We must understand that the argument that says the brain is wired differently than the body does not justify reason for sex reassignment surgery or the transgender option. Rather, it testifies to the brokenness of creation and the effects of human sin. It is an opportunity for the Christian to respond with the message of the gospel and with the recognition that every Christian is a broken individual seeking wholeness in the only place it can be found—in obedience to Scripture under the lordship of Christ.
  17. If nothing else, the transgender revolution shows Christians that the gospel confronts ideologies, patterns of deception, and spiritual opposition in every generation.
  18. The church must also respond to the transgender movement by rejecting both the reality and the morality of gender reassignment surgery.
  19. Scripture itself attests to the fact that our bodies are not accidents that happen to us, but part of God’s intention for us.
  20. The gospel provides the only true remedy for sexual brokenness. The theological and pastoral challenges we face in the transgender revolution are indeed enormous, but they are not beyond the sufficiency of Christ’s cross and resurrection.


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50 Important Quotes from the book “We Cannot Be Silent” by Albert Mohler

New Mohler bookI recently read Albert Mohler’s outstanding new book We Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong, a very important book that I can’t recommend too highly. I highlighted many passages in the book. Below are 50 of the best quotes from the book:

  • When it comes to marriage and morality, Christians cannot be silent—not because we are morally superior, but because we know that God has a better plan for humanity than we would ever devise for ourselves.
  • We are facing nothing less than a comprehensive redefinition of life, love, liberty, and the very meaning of right and wrong.
  • There is no middle ground in the church’s engagement with homosexuality. Either churches will affirm the legitimacy of same-sex relationships and behaviors or they will not.
  • The Christian church has long been understood by the culture at large to be the guardian of what is right and righteous. But now the situation is fundamentally reversed. The culture generally identifies Christians as on the wrong side of morality.
  • The moral revolution is now so complete that those who will not join it are understood to be deficient, intolerant, and harmful to society.
  • Put bluntly, so long as sex between a man and a woman implied the possibility of pregnancy, there was a biological check on extramarital sexual activity. Once the Pill arrived, with all its promises of reproductive control, the biological check on sexual immorality that had shaped human existence from Adam and Eve forward was removed almost instantaneously.
  • It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the separation of sex and babies from the moral equation.
  • Marriage was thus shifted from being a covenant into being a mere contract that should be considered in force only insofar and for so long as both parties feel equally committed to the contract.
  • In the end, we will almost surely have to concede that divorce will harm far more lives and cause far more direct damage than same-sex marriage.
  • The Pill allowed sex without babies, and the modern reproductive technologies allow babies without sex.
  • In previous centuries, non-marital cohabitation between a man and a woman was not only frowned upon, it was sometimes even illegal. In recent years, cohabitation before marriage has become not only expected but also a replacement for marriage itself.
  • Ultimately, seen in tandem, the contraceptive revolution, the arrival of no-fault divorce, the arrival of advanced reproductive technologies, and the social acceptance of extramarital sex and cohabitation are all evidence of the success of the sexual revolution and elements that have fueled the expansion of that revolution into terrain that the early sexual revolutionaries could never have imagined.
  • The logic of same-sex marriage cannot end with same-sex marriage. Once marriage can mean anything other than a heterosexual union, it can and must eventually mean everything—from polygamy to any number of other deviations from traditional marriage. It is just a matter of time and the progressive weakening of moral resolve.
  • In After the Ball, Kirk and Madsen set out a program that, in retrospect, was likely even more successful than they had dreamed. They demanded that American society embrace homosexuality as a normal sexual experience and view same-sex relationships on par with heterosexual marriage.
  • In one of the most successful aspects of their strategy, Kirk and Madsen petitioned the movement to “portray gays as victims, not as aggressive challengers.” Similarly, the two argued, “For all practical purposes, gays should be considered to have been born gay”.
  • Again, the most amazing aspect of this strategy is its overwhelming success. If anything, the momentum gained by the effort to normalize same-sex relationships during the last two decades has exceeded even the wildest aspirations of these early activists.
  • While Kirk and Madsen provided the homosexual movement with marching orders, the actual outworking of the progress of the homosexual agenda has been documented in Linda Hirshman’s Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution. As she argued, the public acceptance of homosexuality had to overcome what she called the “four horsemen” of moral judgment. Those arguing for the normalization of homosexuality and same-sex relationships had to overcome the pervasive judgment in American society a generation ago that homosexuals were “Crazy, Sinful, Criminal, and Subversive.”
  • The efforts of the activists have been so successful they have not only undone the original psychiatric judgment on homosexuality, but in some ways they have completely reversed the nation’s moral judgments. At least in American popular culture, to consider homosexuality to be morally suspect, in any way, or a form of mental illness is culturally dismissed. “Homophobia” is now the new mental illness and moral deficiency, while homosexuality is accepted as the new normal.
  • The normalization of same-sex relationships and behaviors could not have happened without a significant group of liberal Bible scholars, theologians, and religious leaders who were willing to declare that the church’s position on the sinfulness of homosexuality—a position that had existed for millennia—was in error and needed a major overhaul.
  • In the main, liberal Protestant denominations have moved away from biblical teachings on human sexuality to the acceptance of same-sex relationships, the affirmation of openly homosexual clergy, and, more recently, the authorization of clergy to perform same-sex marriages. This trajectory can be traced over and over again in denominations such as the Episcopal Church, The Disciples of Christ, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Each of these denominations, in their own way and on their own timetable, has made headlines and nationwide news by moving progressively to the left on these issues.
  • The leaders who moved to normalize homosexuality recognized that they needed both the culture and the courts on their side if their movement was to succeed. They persuaded the public by means other than the courts, but they still used the courts to add moral authority to their movement.
  • The effort to normalize same-sex relationships has succeeded most when it presents homosexuals as harmless neighbors, kindhearted friends, and contributing members of a happy society. The nation’s entertainment culture has provided Kirk and Madsen’s strategy the space it needed to thrive. A concerted effort to present a constant parade of happy, nonthreatening homosexuals in popular culture has undercut the notion that homosexuality is subversive to a healthy society.
  • For those who understand marriage to be the lifetime union of a man and a woman on the basis of Scripture, same-sex marriage presents a situation of daunting challenge. The reason for that is quite simple: our convictions about the nature of marriage preclude us from recognizing the union of a man and a man or a woman and a woman as a real marriage. In the Christian understanding, same-sex marriage is actually impossible, so we cannot recognize same-sex couples as legitimately married.
  • While the law may redefine marriage in a legal sense, Christians must continue to affirm that marriage, in the eyes of God, remains the union of a man and a woman.
  • The ability to “transform” gender and have “gender reassignment surgery” is so new that it was not even considered a prominent part of the gay rights movement when it emerged in the 1960s.
  • Arguing that we should draw a clear distinction between who an individual wants to go to bed with and who an individual wants to go to bed as requires the dismantling of an entire thought structure and worldview. This is why the transgender revolution, even more than the movement for gay liberation, undermines the most basic structures of society.
  • A biblical response to the transgender revolution will require the church to develop new skills of compassion and understanding as we encounter persons, both inside and outside our congregations, who are struggling.
  • The (transgender) movement makes a sharp distinction between gender with regards to an individual’s self-understanding and an individual’s sex, which refers to the biological sex determined at birth.
  • Transforming the way children think of gender is actually central to the transgender movement.
  • The reality is that there is no end to the transgender revolution; endurance is one of its central dynamics.
  • We unflinchingly hold, therefore, that to be born male is to be male and that to be born female is to be female. We affirm that biological sex is a gift of God to every individual and to the human community to which that individual belongs.
  • The church must also respond to the transgender movement by rejecting both the reality and the morality of gender reassignment surgery.
  • The gospel provides the only true remedy for sexual brokenness. The theological and pastoral challenges we face in the transgender revolution are indeed enormous, but they are not beyond the sufficiency of Christ’s cross and resurrection.
  • Conservative Christians far too quickly accuse the proponents of same-sex marriage of being the enemies of marriage, believing that marriage was in great shape before same-sex couples started clamoring for the legal recognition of their unions. This is intellectual dishonesty, and the record must be set straight. The previous damage to marriage can be traced to the intellectual, sexual, legal, and therapeutic subversion of marriage by heterosexuals.
  • As the defenders of traditional marriage have warned for many years, the legalization of same-sex marriage will necessarily open the door, in both logic and the law, to the recognition of polygamy and a multitude of other sexual relationships.
  • The Bible is straightforward in its depiction of sexual sin—from adultery to incest and bestiality to same-sex behaviors. The Bible’s honesty on these matters is an incredible gift to us.
  • The doctrine of redemption reminds us that every single human being—whether heterosexual or homosexual—is a sinner in need of the redemption that can only come through Christ.
  • While gender will remain in the new creation and in our glorified bodies, sexual activity will not. Sex is not nullified in the resurrection, but rather fulfilled.
  • The Christian’s faithfulness in marriage and faithful defense of marriage and gender is an act of Christian witness—indeed, one of the boldest acts of Christian witness in this secular age.
  • Biblical Christianity is the final wall of resistance to the homosexual agenda. In the end, that resistance comes down to the Bible itself. It is not an argument over what the biblical text says, but over the authority of the biblical text and the proper means of obeying it.
  • With the movement toward same-sex marriage and the normalization of homosexuality gaining momentum, some churches are running for cover. Yet our Christian responsibility is clear—we are to tell the truth about what God has revealed concerning human sexuality, gender, and marriage. No one said it was going to be easy.
  • Any sexual expression outside of that heterosexual marriage relationship is outlawed by God’s command. That fundamental truth runs counter not only to the homosexual agenda but to the rampant sexual immorality of the age. Indeed, the Bible has much more to say about illicit heterosexual activity than it does about homosexual acts.
  • Our response to persons involved in homosexuality must be marked by genuine compassion. But a central task of genuine compassion is telling the truth, and the Bible reveals a true message we must convey. Those contorting and subverting the Bible’s message are not responding to homosexuals with compassion. Lying is never compassionate—and ultimately leads to death.
  • Religious liberty simply evaporates as a fundamental right grounded in the U.S. Constitution, and recedes into the background in the wake of what is now a higher social commitment—sexual freedom.
  • Even while religious liberty is supposedly recognized and affirmed, it is often being transformed and minimized. The Obama administration provides a classic example of this. Numerous representatives of the administration, including President Obama himself, have shifted their language from “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship.” Though these two phrases may appear to be very similar, freedom of worship is a severe and deadly reduction of freedom of religion. Religious freedom is not limited to what takes place within the confines of a church building and its worship. Freedom of worship marginalizes and ghettoizes Christian speech so that its liberties only exist within the confines of a church facility—but it does not guarantee a right to a public voice. Freedom of worship essentially muzzles the Christian in the public square.
  • We must recognize that as the sexual revolution gains more and more traction in the court of public opinion, the church will continue to be displaced in the larger culture.
  • The moral revolutionaries now demand us to shift our understanding of same-sex behaviors and relationships from the category of sin to the category of moral good.
  • A robust biblical theology should inform us to expect that those struggling with same-sex attraction who come to faith in Christ and repent of their sins will continue to struggle with some of those sins and impulses until Christ calls them home.
  • Christian faithfulness in our generation demands that we allow ourselves to genuinely love people even when we cannot endorse their lifestyle, grant recognition to the relationship they believe they deserve, or sanction their sin.
  • Should a Christian attend a same-sex wedding ceremony? The simple answer is no, but, of course, there are a number of complex issues we must think about here. Attending a wedding ceremony always signals moral approval. Attending a same-sex marriage ceremony is to grant a positive and public moral judgment to the union. At some point, that attendance will involve congratulating the couple for their union. There will be no way to claim moral neutrality when congratulating a couple upon their wedding. If you cannot congratulate the couple, how can you attend?
  • We cannot be silent, and we cannot join the moral revolution that stands in direct opposition to what we believe the Creator has designed, given, and intended for us. We cannot be silent, and we cannot fail to contend for marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
  • In one sense, everything has changed. And yet, nothing has changed. The cultural and legal landscape has changed, as we believe this will lead to very real harms to our neighbors. But our Christian responsibility has not changed. We are charged to uphold marriage as the union of a man and a woman and to speak the truth in love. We are also commanded to uphold the truth about marriage in our own lives, in our own marriages, in our own families, and in our own churches.
  • We are called to be the people of the truth, even when the truth is not popular and even when the truth is denied by the culture around us. Christians have found themselves in this position before, and we will again. God’s truth has not changed. The holy Scriptures have not changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ has not changed. The church’s mission has not changed. Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow.


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

book reviews
Good News of Great JoyGood News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. Desiring God. 78 pages. 2013
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In this short book of daily readings for Advent, John Piper writes that Advent is for adoring Jesus. It is an annual season of patient waiting, hopeful expectation, soul-searching, and calendar-watching marked by many. Advent is a tradition that developed over the course of the church’s history as a time of preparation for Christmas Day. He writes that many have found observing Advent to be personally enjoyable and spiritually profitable.

Piper tells us that the English word “Advent” is from the Latin adventus, which means “coming.” Although the advent primarily in view each December is the first coming of Jesus two millennia ago, Piper tells us that Jesus’s second coming gets drawn in as well, as the popular Christmas carol “Joy to the World” makes plain.

Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas and ends Christmas Eve. Piper states that Christians throughout the world have their different ways of celebrating Advent, such as lighting candles, singing songs, eating candies, giving gifts and hanging wreaths.

My wife and I started reading these meditations yesterday (December 1), to help us prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus and to keep Him as the center of our celebrations and the greatest treasure of our Advent season. The readings are short and can be completed in just a few minutes each day. I would recommend reading them with your spouse or family, if possible. An Appendix on Old Testament shadows and the coming of Christ coordinates with the meditation for December 12.

New Mohler bookWe Cannot Be Silent: Speaking Truth to a Culture Redefining Sex, Marriage, and the Very Meaning of Right and Wrong by R. Albert Mohler Jr. 256 pages, Thomas Nelson, 2015.
****

Albert Mohler, the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, and one of the leading voices in evangelicalism today, has written a very important book regardless of where the reader stands on these issues. He states that we are now witnesses to a revolution that is sweeping away a sexual morality and a definition of marriage that has existed for thousands of years. He writes about that moral revolution, how it happened and what it means for us, for our churches, and for our children.

He takes us through the moral revolution and its vast impact. He states that any consideration of the eclipse of marriage in the last century must take into account four massive developments: birth control and contraception, divorce, advanced reproductive technologies, and cohabitation.

He includes a very interesting chapter on the transgender revolution and spends a chapter asking what the Bible really says about sex. I found the chapter on the real and urgent challenges to religious liberty to be of particular interest, recognizing many of the recent examples from culture he writes about. He also includes a very helpful “Question and Answer” section, in which he looks at 30 questions pertaining to the moral revolution. He concludes the book with a “Word to the Reader”, written in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage.

Mohler writes that when it comes to marriage and morality, Christians cannot be silent—not because they are morally superior, but because they know that God has a better plan for humanity than we would ever devise for ourselves. He wrote the book in the hope that the church will be found faithful, even in the midst of the storm.

This is a well-researched and written book. Mohler states that we are facing nothing less than a comprehensive redefinition of life, love, liberty, and the very meaning of right and wrong. He has covered some of this information in his excellent daily podcast “The Briefing”, which features an analysis of the leading news headlines and cultural conversations from a Christian worldview. I can’t think of a more important book that I have read this year and highly recommend it.

book news

  • Big Christianaudio Sale. I always look forward to this semi-annual sale from Christianaudio in which almost their entire inventory of audiobooks is priced at just $7.49. Hurry, though. The sale ends at midnight Pacific time on December 18.
  • The Whole ChristThe Whole Christ. I can’t keep up with all of the new books by Sinclair Ferguson – a wonderful problem to have! While I’m reading Child in the Manger, I’ll look forward to The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance—Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters, with a Foreword by Tim Keller, to be published by Crossway on January 31.
  • The Plausibility Problem. Tim Challies reviews Same-Sex Attraction and the Church: The Surprising Plausibility of the Celibate Life by Ed Shaw. He writes “Shaw’s book is just the latest in a number of excellent titles pushing Christians to better understand and serve those who experience same-sex attraction. It helpfully identifies specific concerns and shows how the Bible calls us to meet them in God’s way. It does all of this with a firm grounding in Scripture and without an ounce of compromise. I highly recommend it.”
  • Lessons from a Hospital Bed. Another new book I’m looking forward to in 2016 is Lessons from a Hospital Bed by John Piper. The 80-page book will be published on February 29.
  • Jesus is Never Mentioned in the Psalms, but Tim Keller Sees Him There. Jonathan Merritt talks to Tim Keller about the new book he wrote with wife Kathy, The Songs of Jesus: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Psalms. Listen to the Kellers discuss the new book with Eric Metaxas here.
  • Good News of Great Joy: Daily Readings for Advent Check out this book of Advent readings from John Piper and Desiring God, the e-book version being free. Tammy and I are using this in our daily readings as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ.
  • Recovering Redemption by Matt ChandlerChristianaudio Free Audiobook of the Month. The free audiobook for December is Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler and Michael Snetzer. Recovering Redemption, written with a pastor’s bold intensity and a counselor’s discerning insight, takes you deeply into Scripture to take you deeply inside yourself. The authors discover that the heart of all our problems is truly the problem of our hearts. But because of what God has done, and because of what God can do, the most confident, contented person you know could actually be you—redeemed through Jesus Christ.
  • Top 15 Books of 2015. Here’s the first of many “Best” lists that I’ll be sharing (including my own). This one is Tony Reinke. His top book is Happiness by Randy Alcorn.

Top 15 Books

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

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

This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London. This week we look at Chapter 15: The Light of the World.

  • First of all let us look at its negative import or claim. It always represents itself in terms of light, and men who are interested in that kind of movement always refer to it as `enlightenment’. Knowledge, they say, is that which brings light, and, of course, in so many respects it does.
  • Scripture still proclaims- that the world as such is in a state of gross darkness, in spite of our having discovered all this great and new knowledge, we have failed to discover the most important thing of all, namely, what to do with our knowledge.
  • Is it not obvious that our Lord’s statement is still true, that the world is in a state of terrible darkness? Think of it in the realm of personal life and conduct and behavior.
  • There is obviously no light at all in this world apart from the light that is provided by Christian people and the Christian faith.
  • The darkness of the world has never been more evident than it is now, and here comes this astonishing and startling statement. That, then, is the negative implication of our text.
  • Now let us consider its positive implications. Its claim is that the ordinary Christian, though he may never have read any philosophy at all, knows and understands more about life than the greatest expert who is not a Christian.
  • Let us always remember that it is a statement concerning the ordinary, average Christian, not certain Christians only. It is applicable to all who rightly claim this name.
  • The Lord who said, `Ye are the light of the world,’ also said, `I am the light of the world.’ These two statements must always be taken together, since the Christian is only `the light of the world’ because of his relationship to Him who is-Himself `the light of the world’.
  • It is essential that we bear in mind both aspects of this matter. As those who believe the gospel we have received light and knowledge and instruction. But, in addition, it has become part of us. It has become our life, so that we thus become reflectors of it.
  • The light that is Christ Himself, the light that is ultimately God, is the light that is in the Christian.
  • Here is a man who has become a Christian; he lives in society, in his office or workshop. Because he is a Christian he immediately has a certain effect, a controlling effect, which we considered together earlier. It is only after that, that he has this specific and particular function of acting as light. In other words Scripture, in dealing with the Christian, always emphasizes first what he is, before it begins to speak of what he does.
  • Far too often we Christians tend to reverse the order. We have spoken in a very enlightened manner, but we have not always lived as the salt of the earth. Whether we like it or not, our lives should always be the first thing to speak; and if our lips speak more than our lives it will avail very little. So often the tragedy has been that people proclaim the gospel in words, but their whole life and demeanor has been a denial of it. The world does not pay much attention to them.
  • Let us never forget this order deliberately chosen by our Lord; `the salt of the earth’ before `the light of the world’. We are something before we begin to act as something. The two things should always go together, but the order and sequence should be the one which He sets down here.
  • Bearing that in mind, let us now look at it practically. How is the Christian to show that he is indeed `the light of the world’?
  • The first thing light does is to expose the darkness and the things that belong to darkness.
  • Light not only reveals the hidden things of darkness, it also explains the cause of the darkness.
  • The sole cause of the troubles of the world at this moment, from the personal to the international level, is nothing but man’s estrangement from God. That is the light which only Christians have, and which they can give to the world.
  • In spite of all the knowledge that has been amassed in the last two hundred years since the beginning of the enlightenment half-way through the eighteenth century, fallen man by nature still `loves darkness rather than light’. The result is that, though he knows what is right, he prefers and does what is evil.
  • Light not only exposes the darkness; it shows and provides the only way out of the darkness.
  • What man needs is not more light; he needs a nature that will love the light and hate the darkness-the exact opposite of his loving the darkness and hating the light.
  • The Christian is here to tell him that there is a way to God, a very simple one. It is to know one Person called Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
  • He gives us that new life, the life that loves the light and hates the darkness, instead of loving the darkness and hating the light.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

connecting faith and workInteresting Links about Faith and Work

  • Finding a Job that Fits. Listen to this message from R.C. Sproul.
  • 7 False Assumptions Made about Introverts. Ron Edmondson writes “There are a lot of false assumptions made when someone is introverted.”
  • 10 Things We All Want from Our Leaders. Dan Rockwell is one of my favorite leadership bloggers. He has the gift of being able to deliver helpful advice in posts of 300 words or less. Here he shares 12 things we wish our leaders would stop and 10 things we all want from our leaders.
  • Great Leaders Walk the Talk. Mark Miller writes “When we do what we say we’re going to do, when we walk the talk, this builds trust and confidence in our leadership. When we fail to Embody the Values, we erode or destroy our opportunity to lead. As leaders, we must be adept at building trust.” He shares 3 steps to embody the values.
  • Authenticity. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses what it means to be authentic.
  • 13 Key Points on Being an Authentic Leader. Brad Lomenick writes “Here are 13 points on the importance and practice of being Authentic as a Leader. You might consider these “Authenticity Rules.” And in today’s leadership culture, it’s true that “Authenticity does actually rule.””
  • Cut it Out: The Secret to Winning. In this “Tuesday Tip”, Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “If you’re a leader or a manger that means you’ve got to keep on training your employees. And if you’re an individual contributor, you’ve got to recognize that school is not out and it never will be.”
  • 13 Points on Being an Authentic Leader. Brad Lomenick writes “Here are 13 points on the importance and practice of being Authentic as a Leader. You might consider these “Authenticity Rules.” And in today’s leadership culture, it’s true that “Authenticity does actually rule.”
  • Preacher with a Skate Shoe Named After Him. Bethany Jenkins interviews Brian Sumner, a professional skateboarder and evangelist pastor originally from Liverpool, England. In 2013, he produced a short film, Foolishness, which John Piper called “the fullest 60-minute gospel word I’ve heard.” Sumner currently serves as city pastor of Rock Harbor Church in Huntington Beach, California, where he lives with his wife and their three children.
  • Evangelism in the Workplace: Is Sharing Your Faith Ever Appropriate? Bill Peel writes about whether evangelism in the workplace is appropriate.
  • Three Reasons Leaders Must Constantly Ask “Why”. Eric Geiger writes “Wise leaders constantly ask “why.” Not because they find joy in questioning everything but because they want to ensure the thinking beneath the decisions is sound and the motivations beneath the actions are pure. Instead of mindlessly executing, they think deeply about what is beneath the execution. Instead of simply implementing, they care about the theology and philosophy underneath the implementation.”
  • Mentorship. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell encourages us to reach out to multiple mentors.
  • A Heart Transplant. Mark Miller writes “To become a leader people want to follow is primarily an issue of the heart. The truth is, if your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills.”
  • Seeing Seamlessly. Steven Garber, who gave the commencement address at my graduation from Covenant Seminary, writes “Every vocation at its truest is a call to see things as they really are, to understand the reality of the world that is really there. In science, in art, in economics, in education, in politics, in law, at home and at play, in our work and in our worship, from the most public of our responsibilities to the most personal of our relationships, we are called to the vocation of seeing seamlessly.”
  • Business as a Moral Community. Drew Cleveland writes “Integrating faith with the demands of work is a challenge many Christians face.  Two men with a lot of insight on faith, business ethics, integrity, and leadership recently sat down to discuss this challenge: Al Erisman of Seattle Pacific University and Bill Pollard, retired CEO of ServiceMaster and professor emeritus at Wheaton College. They recorded a video conversation about the God-honoring business model, thoughts on Peter Drucker, and the struggles of godly leaders in corporate management.” 
  • 5 Leadership Questions about using Profiles and Assessments to Build a Team. This episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast looks at the best ways to use profiles and assessments (think Strengthsfinders, Myers-Briggs, etc.) to craft the best team.
  • Seven Signs Success Has Outgrown Your Character. Eric Geiger writes “When a leader’s competence outpaces a leader’s character, implosion is imminent. When skills surpass the process of sanctification, the trajectory is downward though everything looks great on the outside. It is often easier to see the speck in someone else’s eye than the plank in our own, so here are seven signs your success is outpacing your character.”
  • Top 30 Must-Read Posts On Leadership/July 2015. Paul Sohn shares this helpful list of articles.
  • The Top 10 Ways Leaders Erode Trust. Randy Conley shares this helpful list.

Quotes about Faith and WorkNo one wants to follow people who are constantly impressed with themselves. Andy Andrews

The world is full of leaders with impressive credentials who people choose not to follow. Mark Miller

Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you brought with you. Coach K

  • Don’t tell me what you start. Tell me what you finish. Dan Rockwell

Toby Mac

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club ~ Won’t you read along with us?

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

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

CHAPTER 25 – The Leader’s Legacy

  • The leader unconcerned about leaving a legacy is a leader who will leave the job undone.
  • Every leader must understand that whatever we contribute, build, and dream can be lost more quickly than we can imagine.
  • The leader’s central concern with regard to legacy is the perpetuation of conviction.
  • The convictional leader strives to the end to see fundamental beliefs taken up by others, who will then join in the mission that grows out of those convictions.
  • The evidence indicates that most leaders are not very good at managing succession and most organizations do little more than hope for the best.
  1. The leader’s first task is to make certain that the organization’s core commitments and convictions are shared by those who will hire the new leader.
  2. Second, the leader bears the responsibility of building a leadership team of outstanding individuals who fully share the leader’s convictions and vision.
  3. Third, the leader must communicate these convictions to the organization’s various constituencies, laying a solid foundation for a healthy succession.
  4. Fourth, the leader should strive to drive the convictions and beliefs so deeply into the culture and ethos of the organization that alteration or abandonment is seen as betrayal.
  5. Fifth, this means that every hiring decision is a legacy decision.
  • The ideal of retirement seems to be a life of leisure and ease, occasionally interrupted by travel and entertainment. That is a fundamentally dangerous concept.
  • For Christians the issue should be redeployment rather than retirement.
  • John Piper puts this new vision of our lives into clear focus when he writes, Finishing life to the glory of Christ means resolutely resisting the typical American dream of retirement. It means being so satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Christ that we are set free from the cravings that create so much emptiness and uselessness in retirement. Instead, knowing that we have an infinitely satisfying and everlasting inheritance in God just over the horizon of life makes us zealous in our few remaining years here to spend ourselves in the sacrifices of love, not the accumulation of comforts.
  • The legacy I aspire to is the perpetuation of conviction and the furtherance of a worthy mission—nothing less.
  • Your legacy is all that remains when you are gone. Do you have any idea what that legacy will be? Answering that question honestly is part of what it means to have the conviction to lead.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Links to Interesting Faith and Work Articles:

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

Faith and Work Quotes:

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

    Dan Rockwell

    Dan Rockwell

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 24 – The Leader and Death

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

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

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

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

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

Behavior 3: Achieving Commitment

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

Comfort Zone


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Links to Interesting Articles about Faith and Work:

sabbath_Wisdom and Sabbath Rest. Tim Keller writes “The purpose of Sabbath is not simply to rejuvenate yourself in order to do more production, nor is it the pursuit of pleasure. The purpose of Sabbath is to enjoy your God, life in general, what you have accomplished in the world through his help, and the freedom you have in the gospel—the freedom from slavery to any material object or human expectation. The Sabbath is a sign of the hope that we have in the world to come.”

  • Re-Creation or Wreck-reation…What’s Your Approach to Life and Work? In this “Tuesday Tip” Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes that he tells his clients “If you can’t find time for recreation, sooner or later your body will make time for illness.” He shares four tips for what you should do if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, burned out, or off balance.
  • Escape Perfectionism Once and For All. Michael Hyatt states that “Perfectionism is the enemy of productivity and success. It costs us opportunities, even freedom. But anyone can beat perfectionism and finally launch with the three simple steps in this podcast.”
  • Avoid Vacation Meltdown. Malinda Fasol writes “Here are our five safe harbor suggestions to shield you from the storm of conflict, which often accompanies vacation.”
  • 15 Ways to Dig Out of Discouragement. Dan Rockwell writes “The only reason encouragement matters is discouragement is real. Positive thinking addresses the reality of negative. Dark feelings give relevance and power to positive.”
  • The Slowest Way to Build a Reputation. C. Patton uses an illustration about his daughter to show that a reputation is built over time.
  • 5 Ways to Bless Others with Our Words at Work. This post from the Theology of Work Project states “The words we use in our places of work have the power either to bless or curse, to build others up or to tear them down. Our choice of words often has more power than we realize.”
  • Communication. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell looks at the word “communication”.
  • The Future of Work – Part 2. Mark Miller continues to discuss his Free Address experiment, an approach to work in which a person does not have a designated, permanent workstation or office.
  • This Job Influences the Future of Culture. Bethany Jenkins “I’ve come to realize that being a college career counselor or coach might just be one of the most strategic jobs that any person, especially any Christian, can have. Here are four reasons why.”
  • A Testimony of Conscience and Conviction in the Workplace. Hands On Originals Christian Outfitters is a small printing company in Lexington, Kentucky, that, up until recently, had very few problems when they declined to print a certain message. The company is owned by Blaine Adamson. Watch Adamson’s testimony in this four-minute video.

LEADERSHIP:

  • Clarity. Mark Miller writes “How to help a team or organization stay laser focused on what matters most is a universal and eternal question for every leader. It doesn’t matter if you are leading a scout troop or a multi-national conglomerate. Clarity is a precursor to alignment and alignment multiplies impact. As leaders, we should always be in the pursuit or preservation of clarity. The list of strategies and tactics is virtually endless.”
  • How to be a Horrible Boss. Barnabas Piper writes “Do you want to be an epically bad boss? Do you want to grind employees into dust, crush their morale, and leave quaking dry husks of humanity in your wake? If so, then all you need to do is follow these 13 simple steps.”
  • Are You on the Leadership Fast Track. Mark Miller says that if you want to accelerate your career development, perhaps you need to be more of a Developer.
  • Act As If Then Is Now: Strategic Change Management. In this two-minute video from Leadercast, Andy Stanley shares his leadership principles for understanding why change management is important and the two key areas on which to focus as an investment in the future.
  • 5 Leadership Questions with Brad Lomenick. On this episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper talk with Brad Lomenick about his own experiences, his passion for authenticity in leadership, and even some of his thoughts about being a single leader.
  • Great Teams Have Great Depth. John Maxwell shares six dimensions of depth that every team leader needs to focus on to have a winning season
  • 15 Ways NOT to Lead Well. Brad Lomenick asks “How is your leadership dysfunctional? What stands out as areas to improve? Here are a few key indicators of the kind of leadership and ultimately a leader that needs to reimagine, re-engage, and recommit. Look for these, and if they exist, be committed to change.”
  • How to Make Meetings Less Painful. In this episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast, hosts Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper and guest, Brad Lomenick, discuss 5 questions about how to make meetings less painful.
  • 7 Questions Leaders Should Use Often. Ron Edmondson shares 7 examples of questions leaders should memorize and use often.
  • 11 Ways to Earn Respect at Work. Peter Daisyme writes “We seek respect in our professional lives. Gaining the respect of others in the workplace is something many people want, but often have misguided ideas on how to achieve this goal. The following tips will provide valuable insight into the process of gaining and keeping respect in the workplace.”
  • When Should Leaders Change Their Minds? Jeff Iorg writes “Despite how firmly we (leaders) hold our convictions, we are also learners — meaning we are open to new ideas. When we discover new insights, we are humble enough to change our minds. When we are wrong, we admit it and move forward. But with new information generated daily and all the different biblical interpretations being proposed, how do you know when to change your mind?”

 Faith and Work

  • Calling means that everyone, everywhere, and in everything fulfills his or her (secondary) callings in response to God’s (primary) calling. Os Guinness
  • If there is no Caller, there are no callings – only work. Os Guinness
  • Start your day with good intentions and set yourself up for a good attitude. It’s not what happens to you that matters but how you respond. Ken Blanchard
  • It’s normal to enjoy praise and dislike criticism. True character is when you prevent either from affecting you in a negative manner. Coach K
  • The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision. Ken Blanchard
  • Dependence on God as a leader is a requirement, responsibility and obligation, not just a perk or program of the Christian life. Brad Lomenick

 The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club – Won’t you read along with us?

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

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

Chapter 23: Leadership that Endures

  • The leaders who make the biggest difference are those with long tenure. Great impact requires a lengthy term of leadership, and the leader who wants to make a difference had better make a public commitment to stay.
  • The most effective leaders know to stay on the job, determined to see the task done.
  • Short terms for leaders are the rule rather than the exception.
  • The average tenure of corporate leaders is amazingly short, and their leadership impact is frighteningly temporary. If you want to make a lasting difference, you had better make the commitment to endure.
  • Leadership is an endurance test that will demand the best of anyone.
  • Endurance is what keeps the leader on the job, day in and day out.
  • Endurance not only makes demands of leaders, it also offers the blessing of a long memory and a longer period of evaluation.
  • Leadership requires maturing, learning, adapting, rethinking, and retooling. None of these things come fast or easily.
  • Convictional leaders prize endurance for one other fundamental reason—the endurance of truth. The truths we hold and the beliefs we cherish take the form of convictions that frame every aspect of reality. Our mission is to see these convictions known, believed, and translated into meaningful combined action.