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:

REST:

  • Work Is Not Your Life: Why Sabbath Rest Is Essential. Hugh Whelchel writes “God rested not because he was tired, but because he had completed his work. God wanted to teach us that work is not an end in itself, which is why he instituted the Sabbath.”
  • How to Embrace Rest When Work Never Ends. Courtney Reisigg writes “Since work is a fluid part of my life (as a stay at home mom), with no real beginning and end, a question keeps arising in my own mind, and maybe in yours as well: What’s the difference between rest and play?” 
  • How to Harness Sleep to Boost Your Productivity. Michael Hyatt writes “When we face time crunches, sleep is often the first thing to get cut. It may seem efficient and even smart at the time, but it’s not.”
  • A Christian’s Secret Weapon to Prevent Burnout: Shalom. Hugh Whelchel writes “We must learn to live lives that are integrated around a single, common purpose. Here, we as believers have a secret weapon in the war against burnout. Our singular purpose is to glorify God, fulfilling this mission by living lives based on his design and desire.”

WORKING AT HOME:

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE:

  • Every Role in the Assembly Line Matters. Bethany Jenkins interviews Matt Carter, pastor of preaching and vision at the Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas about how he integrates his faith and work.

YOUR PURPOSE:

  • The Why. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states your why is your purpose.When you find your WHY you find your Way. Lose your WHY you lose your way.
  • What’s the Purpose of Business? HINT: It’s Not Maximizing Shareholder Value. Hugh Whelchel writes “Work was given to us by God as a tool to bring about flourishing for his creation. We all need to act purposefully to see that it is used for this end.”
  • Only One Platform Will Last. Karen Swallow Prior writes “Our real platform is the life we are living and the work and ministry we are already doing. Platform is our proven track record and the authority we’ve gained in whatever area God has called us to—whether we work out of the home and take care of children, or teach and research as a professor.”
  • Why Don’t All Jobs Matter?Paul Krugman writes “I don’t want to sound unsympathetic to miners and industrial workers. Yes, their jobs matter. But all jobs matter. And while we can’t ensure that any particular job endures, we can and should ensure that a decent life endures even when a job doesn’t.”

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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

  • Ten Questions Christians Should Ask of Their Entertainment. Our friend Kevin Halloran writes “Discerning media consumption needs more than a litmus test of saying we shouldn’t watch excessive violence and sexuality (which is true). We need to understand the complex and often subtle effects of media on our lives.”
  • Why We Don’t Need to Fear the Moment of Our Death. Randy Alcorn writes “Though as believers we know that Heaven awaits us after death, many of us still wonder about or fear the moment of death. What will it be like? Will it be frightening to experience the soul’s departure from the body?”
  • Is it Possible to be Totally Free from Lust?Watch Dr. Jeremy Pierre from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary answer that question in this five-minute video.
  • Tim Keller: 3 Questions Fake Christians Can’t Answer. In this two-minute video, Tim Keller offers a group of “questions designed to wake up sleeping Christians”. His questions focus on three hallmarks of a growing relationship with God.
  • Sleep Disorders and the Glory of God. Eric Davis writes “With sleeplessness comes unique suffering. The side-effects tend to be many, complex, and severe. It can be hard to understand.”
  • Bible Reading is an Art. Watch this two-minute video from David Mathis.
  • Watching Your Spiritual Diet. John MacArthur writes “When believers aren’t growing, it’s almost always symptomatic of a failure to be in God’s Word. They may attend church regularly, but what they learn dissipates rapidly once they exit the building. They often complain that they’re not getting much out of church or the Christian life. They are weak and rundown when it comes to facing temptations, trials, problems, and challenges. They lack the vigor to do much of anything for the Lord.”
  • You Can Defeat Distraction. David Mathis writes “The trouble is especially pressing for Christians. We believe that the inner person is more important than the outer, and that where we focus our minds and hearts today counts forever. The very essence of what we believe to be true about the world hangs on where we direct our attention.”

Doug Michael’s Cartoon of the Week

BABIES:

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MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS


The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert – Bob Dylan
****

The album’s rather strange title is based on the fact that for decades a famous Bob Dylan bootleg known as The Royal Albert Hall Concert was incorrectly labelled, having actually been a performance at the Manchester Free Trade Hall on May 17, 1966.  That performance was officially released in 1998 as The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live, 1966: The “Royal Albert Hall Concert”. This is actually the recording of the Royal Albert Hall concert, recorded May 26, 1966, and originally recorded by Dylan’s CBS label for a live album. This is the 2-CD version, which is also included in the massive 36-CD 1966 Live Recordings box set.
From a historical context, Dylan was fresh off of the release of his classic Blonde on Blonde double album just ten days prior to the concert. His set included material from his incredible trio of albums from that period Bringing It All Back Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde.
The first CD is the acoustic set and contains seven songs, including an epic version of “Desolation Row”. Dylan’s voice sounds great, and he is backed only by his acoustic guitar and harmonica. The sound quality is excellent, and you hear the crowd’s appreciative but somewhat restrained applause.
The second CD is the electric set and has Dylan backed by the Hawks, who would become better known as The Band. The sound quality is not as a good as the acoustic set for some reason. The set begins with Dylan and the Hawks ripping into “Tell Me Momma”, a song he would never release a studio version of, and would play only 15 times on the 1966 tour, the final time being the concert after this one at the Royal Albert Hall. The music is raw and intense, led by Robbie Robertson’s guitar, and Dylan’s expressive vocals, spitting out the lyrics, quite a difference from the acoustic set. The crowd is energized and you hear Dylan interacting with them, stating before the start of a blistering “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat”, “Are you talking to me?  Come on up here and say that”. The blistering eight-song electric set ends with “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “Like a Rolling Stone”.
Recommended for Dylan fans and music fans who might not already have heard the earlier The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: Bob Dylan Live, 1966: The “Royal Albert Hall Concert”. Continue reading


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BOOK REVIEWS and NEWS

Book Reviews

The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life by Rick Ankiel and Tim Brown.  Public Affairs. 307 pages. 2017
****

Many baseball fans will be aware of Rick Ankiel who was a top pitching prospect for the St. Louis Cardinals. In his rookie season at the age of 21, he started a playoff game for the Cardinals with great anticipation. His career had such promise. As a left-hander, he was being called the “next Sandy Koufax”. Then it happened. He writes that on a day when he asked his arm to be more special than ever, it deserted him. And for the next five years he chased the life he wanted, the one he believed he owed to himself, and the one he probably believed the world owed to him.
I was familiar with his story, but not the details that this honest book will give you. I came away with a new compassion for what he went through as he tried to understand what had happened to him and possible cures so that he could get back to being an elite pitcher with a great future. What happened to Ankiel is called “the Thing” because there’s no diagnosis and no cure. It is also called the monster, the yips and the phenomenon.
But there is much more to his story than what happened on the pitching mound in St. Louis on that fall afternoon.  He writes of his volatile father, who was often drunk, in trouble with the law and abusive to Ankiel’s mother. They were never married and he never acted as though they were, which Ankiel writes explains his half-sister— a whole other family—across town as he was growing up.
He writes about the nightmares, awake in the dead of night, waiting for his heart to settle, cursing the thing that would not leave him alone, not even in his sleep. He tried to drink and medicate those nights away. He tried to pitch them away in the minor leagues for the better part of four years. But four and a half years after “the pitch”, a pitch that even all that time later seemed so innocent, he retired at age twenty-five. His career was over almost before it had started, and yet he was not at all unhappy about it.  But within three hours of retiring as a pitcher, the Cardinals wanted him back – as an outfielder.
Ankiel returned to the major leagues as an outfielder on August 9, 2007, a game I remember watching. Incredibly, he hit a three-run home run in that game. Cardinal manager Tony La Russa stood by the dugout steps, applauding and smiling. Nobody could ever recall seeing that before. Years later, La Russa would recall it as one of the happiest days of his life. As a hitter, Ankiel was soon called “the Natural.”
Ankiel writes of Dr. Harvey Dorfman, a sports psychologist, who played a very important part of his life. They met in the spring of 2000, and Harvey became one of his best friends, in many ways replacing the real father he despised. Ankiel writes that Harvey saved careers, that he probably saved lives, or at least made them exceedingly more livable. He became what Ankiel had hoped for in a father and what his two boys should’ve had in a grandfather.
Ankiel retired for good after the summer of ’13, when the New York Mets released him. All in all, he played for six teams in six cities—St. Louis, Kansas City, Atlanta, Washington, Houston, and finally New York. Seven years a pitcher, seven years not. He then took a job with the Washington Nationals as their Life Skills Coordinator.
He states that he has written this book about his story for his two sons so that when they are old enough and curious enough they will hear it from his perspective. The book does include a fair amount of adult language and is certainly hard to read at times. Ankiel’s story is sad, tragic and ultimately triumphant. He is a survivor; his life story would make a great movie.
Sadly, he does not speak of having any faith. One wonders how that would have helped him in his times of darkness. Continue reading


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THIS & THAT and Favorite Quotes of the Week

NOW THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION!

  • How Do You Pray Without Ceasing?Watch Don Whitney explain this in a four-minute video.
  • Is Homosexuality Really the Worst Sin? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper responds to the question “Is homosexuality truly more detrimental to a society than other sins? How would you weigh the cultural impact of this sin against, say, the sins of pride and overeating and greed?”
  • Can Anyone Really Be Blameless?  John Piper writes “When you read the Psalms, do you identify with the psalmist when he claims blamelessness and uprightness and integrity and righteousness?”
  • Who is the Lord of the Church?  John McArthur writes “The truth that Christ is Lord of His church may sound somewhat benign to a casual listener in our generation, but the struggle for Christ’s authority in the church has come to us through the ages on a sea of blood.”
  • Why Do Christians Love the Law? Burk Parsons writes “The truth of the matter is that not just anyone loves the law of God but only those who have been set free by our law-giving, law-keeping, and law-liberating Savior.”
  • Judge Not? Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:1–2). Jon Bloom writes that this teaching of Jesus is widely misunderstood.
  • Do You Exercise for the Wrong Reasons?David Mathis writes “The biblical take on exercise is not “Life is short; let your body go.” Rather, with God’s revealed truth ringing in our ears, we say, “Life is too short to not harness the body God gave me.”

  • It is Never Right to be Angry at God. Ever. Denny Burk offers some brief reflections to answer objections to a recent tweet that has proven to be controversial.
  • For the Annoyed, Irritated and Exasperated.Scotty Smith prays “I don’t want to be the fool who shows his annoyance at once, or the quick-spirited “inn-keeper” who makes his anger a welcomed guest. Settle me and center me, Lord, by the grace, truth, and power of the gospel. I won’t try to justify my snarly, edgy attitude.”
  • The Cumulative Effect of Our Little Choices. Randy Alcorn writes “Following Christ isn’t magic. It requires repeated actions on our part, which develop into habits and life disciplines.”
  • A Marriage Checklist. David Murray writes about chapter 5 from Tim and Kathy Keller’s bookThe Meaning of Marriage and the teaching on “Love Currencies” or “Love Languages.” He writes “His basic point was we must give the love-currency to our spouse that they value most and speak the love-language that best communicates love to them.”
  • God Will Hold You Through Your Habits. David Mathis writes “Simply put, your habits are one of the most important things about you. So, here are four lessons that might help you get intentional, and become more effective, in cultivating life-giving habits for the Christian life.”

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My Review of Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, rated PG-13
*** ½

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is visually stunning, funny, surprisingly emotional, and has some great messages about the importance of family. Oh yeah, it has some good action scenes and music as well.  Overall, it’s a lot of fun.
I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed the first movie in this Marvel series. If you enjoyed that film you will enjoy this one as well. It is directed by James Gunn, who also directed the first film in 2014. Gunn shares the writing credits with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who also wrote the first film. We saw the film in IMAX 3-D so the film was visually spectacular thanks to cinematographer Henry Braham. The IMAX sound system was helpful as the film includes a lot of 1970’s music from Fleetwood Mac, Cat Stevens, Sam Cooke, George Harrison and others.
Filmed in the Atlanta, Georgia area, the film had a budget of about $200 million, and is projected to open this weekend at more than $140 million in the U.S. alone. A third film has already been announced.
The film takes place three months after the end of the first film. As the opening credits roll, Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel, Fate of the Furious) is dancing to ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” from the Awesome Mix Part 2, seemingly unaware of the space battle going on behind him. That battle has Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt, Jurassic World), and the other Guardians – Gamora (Zoe Saldana, Avatar), Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), Rocket Racoon (voiced by four-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper) – defending valuable batteries from a monster called the Abilisk for people known as the Sovereign, led by a golden woman Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki, The Night Manager). Their payment is Gamora’s evil sister Nebula (Karen Gillan), who the Guardians plan to turn in for a substantial bounty.
After the Guardians successfully complete their mission, Rocket decides to steal some of the batteries from the Sovereign. Ayesha hires the blue-skinned Ravager Yondu (Michael Rooker), who had abducted Peter from Earth as a child and raised him, to pursue the Guardians and bring them back for punishment.
The Guardians escape, but their ship is badly damaged when they have a crash landing. There they meet Ego (Golden Globe nominee Kurt Russell) who tells Peter that he is his real father, and has been looking for him for years. In ancient Greek “Ego eimi” means “I am”, which is how God identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14: God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
***SPOILER ALERT ***
Ego identifies himself as a god with a “small g”, a celestial. He has his own planet, that he created over millions of years. Peter, Drax and Gamora decide to go with Ego to visit his planet. There they meet Ego’s assistant/companion Mantis (Pom Klementieff). Mantis can read the emotions of others and is even able to change them. She is able to help Ego sleep.
We see Yondu shunned by Stakar Ogord (three-time Oscar nominee Sylvester Stallone), who appears in the film in two brief scenes. Stakar tells Yondu that he has betrayed his people. Then, Yondu’s men rebel against him when they complain that he has gone too easy on Peter. He is imprisoned along with Rocket while they try to get Baby Groot to rescue them. Meanwhile, Ayesha hires Yondu’s men to go after Peter, Drax and Gamora, to kill them. There is a lot going on. To tell you more would reveal spoilers.
************************
I really enjoyed the characters in this film, how they are developed and interact with each other. The film includes some excellent humor and a lot of fun. The music from the 1970’s is used well, as it was in the first film. Mostly, the film is about family – Peter dealing with two fathers – his biological father Ego, and Yondu, the one who raised him. Then there is the relationship between sisters Gamora and Nebula, and Nebula’s own father issues. And mostly, it shows the Guardians, though they had originally come together by accident, are their own type of family.
I felt that the first half of the film was superior to the second, primarily because the ending scene went on for way too long.  This is certainly not a children’s film, though I did see some young children in the theatre. It includes some adult language, some of which is of a sexual nature, and some of which abuses God’s name. There is a good deal of violence in the space battles as well, which is to be expected.
And, as with all Marvel films, don’t forget to sit all the way through the closing credits, as there are five scenes included throughout the lengthy credits.
The Guardians of the Galaxy will return in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duGqrYw4usE


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

Speaking Updates. Thanks for the words of encouragement about a few faith and work presentations I have coming up. The first will be at the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly in Greensboro, North Carolina. I’ll be speaking at 8:00 am on Wednesday, June 14. The title for that presentation is “Helping Our People Connect Their Faith to Their Work and Callings”.  The second will be at 6:15 pm on Thursday, July 6  at the By the Way Conference at the Lexington Community Church. The working title for that presentation is “Disciples at Work”.

WOMEN AND WORK:

  • Working Women are Leaving the Church. Here’s How to Bring Them Back. Diane Paddison writes “It is possible to stem the tide of working women leaving the church. See that working woman, acknowledge her, and provide opportunities for her to connect, learn, and serve. With the church’s help, she can transform her family, her workplace, her church, and her community with the gospel.”
  • Is Homemaking Part of God’s Economy?Anna Arnold writes “So, take heart (John 16:33)! Be encouraged. Just because what you do as a stay-at-home mom doesn’t make the news or get quantified in some tangible way, you have great value to our economy, our society, and, most importantly, to the God who made you.”
  • At-Home Work—Not Just for Women. Courtney Reissig writes “But the work of the home is for everyone. The home isn’t just filled with women or mothers. It’s often filled with children and a husband. Sometimes it’s filled with other family members and houseguests, too.”

REAL LIFE EXAMPLES:

  • The Golfer Who Won the 2012 U.S. Open. Sean Martin interviews Webb Simpson, who has won four times on the PGA Tour, including the 2012 U.S. Open, and has ranked as high as No. 5 in the world, about how he integrates his faith and work.
  • Why John Wooden’s Teams Won. John Maxwell writes “Most of you who are reading this are interested in winning and learning how you can get ahead at your own businesses. So let me share with you two things that helped set Coach Wooden apart from other coaches.”
  • The Navy Captain Who Said No to the Dream. Jason Cook interviews Voresa Booker, a retired Navy captain who served our country for more than 30 years, about how she integrates her faith and work.
  • Conversations with Consequences. I was encouraged to hear about Steven Garber, who gave the address at my graduation ceremony in 2014, working with Covenant Theological Seminary on a DMin degree in “faith, vocation and culture”.
  • When Tragedy Touches Every Part of Your Job. Abby Perry interviews Val Anderson, the executive director of His Grace Foundation (HGF), a nonprofit organization that provides physical, emotional, and financial support to patients and families on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (BMTU) of Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH), about how she integrates her faith and work.

YOUR WORK MATTERS TO GOD:

  • The Value of Work. In this episode of the Unlimited Grace podcast, Bryan Chapell answers questions about how God values our work.
  • Check Your Bias at the Door—Manufacturing Jobs Have Dignity, Too. Anne Bradley writes “We were designed to reflect the creativity of the One who designed and brought us into being. We need to be proactive about affirming the dignity of others in their work, just as we need to possess a balanced, honest understanding of our own value in society and to our God.”
  • Christ-Like Submission at Work. Watch this three and a half minute video clip from J.D. Greear about three things that Christ-like submission at work means.
  • Wanted: A Meaningful Job. Hugh Whelchel writes “Can you see your work through God’s eyes? Do you see how meaningful your job is to God? Embracing his perspective should put the work of every Christian, no matter what it is, at the top of the “most meaningful job” list.”
  • 4 Reasons Your Work Matters Today. Michael Kelley writes “Does our work really matter? And if the answer is “yes,” then are there reasons for that answer that go beyond the scope of a particular vocation? In other words, does our work matter regardless of what our position is?”
  • 3 Transforming Truths About Your Work. Tom Nelson writes “God cares a great deal about your work. How about you? Are you increasingly seeing your work as God sees it? What does faithful stewardship in your vocation look like? Are you being slothful or diligent? Has work become an idol in your life? Or are you seeing your work and workplace as a primary place for your spiritual formation and gospel mission? What steps do you need to take to embrace a more seamless gospel faith that narrows the Sunday-to-Monday gap? Your work really does matter.”

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