Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Coram Deo and the Integration of Our Faith and Work

This blog has been named Coram Deo since it originally started as a monthly church newsletter way back in September, 1998. The phrase means so much to me that my license plate is CORMDEO!
I first became aware of the Latin term “Coram Deo”, sometimes associated with Martin Luther, years ago at the end of the daily teaching studies of Ligonier Ministries’ monthly magazine Tabletalk. R.C. Sproul, the founder of Ligonier Ministries, has written that the big idea of the Christian life and its essence is coram Deo.  He writes that the phrase literally refers to something that takes place in the presence of, or before the face of, God. To live coram Deo is to live one’s entire life in the presence of God, under the authority of God, to the glory of God. He tells us that to live in the presence of God is to understand that whatever we are doing and wherever we are doing it, we are acting under the gaze of God. God is omnipresent. There is no place so remote that we can escape His penetrating gaze.
Dr. Sproul tells us that the Christian who compartmentalizes their life into two sections of the religious and the nonreligious has failed to grasp the big idea. The big idea is that all of life is religious or none of life is religious. He tells us that to divide life between the religious and the nonreligious is itself a sacrilege.
Sproul then addresses coram Deo and our callings and vocations, and this is what I want to bring your attention to. He states that if a person fulfills their vocation as a steelmaker, attorney, or homemaker coram Deo, then that person is acting every bit as religiously as a soul-winning evangelist who fulfills his vocation.
That makes sense, doesn’t it? As we carry out our vocations we do so coram Deo, in the presence of, and before the face of God. Knowing this has provided me a direct line of sight between my faith and my work.
What about you? Do you divide your life between the religious (church, spiritual disciplines, etc.) and the nonreligious (work, household chores, raising your children, etc.)?  Or, do you carry out your vocations and callings coram deo, in the presence of, and before the face of a holy God?

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Finding Dignity on the Assembly Line. Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writes “Vermeer makes large-scale farming and industrial equipment—things like balers, directional drills, and compost turners. The place is run by a family that’s serious about faith and work and has been puzzling over how to fill those job openings.”
  • My Daily Fight at the Hospital. Kelly Mott writes “My job involves serving, showing value, and loving well, especially in times of loss. I don’t believe I could endure this job without my Christian faith. I would be crushed by the weight of lament. I am better at my job when I feel a deep sense of purpose and connection in my relationships with my patients. Braving pain, showing value, and choosing connection are ways I express my faith at work. I show families through my time, actions, compassion, and therapy that their loved one is important, special, valuable, and cared for.”
  • How a Mortgage Company Is Loving its Neighbors. Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writes “Movement is trying to take Sunday to Monday, for both believers and unbelievers.”

  • How Do I Find God’s Will for My Life? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper answers the question “It would be helpful to know what God has for me, but I don’t even know where to begin this process, other than to pray. How can I discover God’s calling over my life? Where do I even begin?”
  • What is Your Calling? Charles Spurgeon writes “Therefore do not be discontented with your calling. Whatever God has made your position or your work, remain in that, unless you are quite sure that He calls you to something else. Let your first concern be to glorify God to the best of your ability where you are.”
  • Stuck in the Wrong Job? Five Practical Tips from a Biblical Perspective. Hugh Whelchel writes “The reality is that some people, whether recent graduates or not, do indeed get stuck in the wrong job and need guidance. Most people would tell them to quit and go find something else. But depending on the job market, that may not be easy, or even possible. There are many reasons people may not be able to leave their current job: a tough economy, family commitments, or limited opportunities in their field. So, what do you tell someone who is stuck in the wrong job?”
  • If Work Matters to God, What About Vacation? David Leonard writes “Instead of working in order to play, the order gets reversed: we seek out rest and leisure to prepare ourselves for work.”

RETIREMENT:

  • How to “Refire” After Retirement. Luke Bobo and Lawrence Ward write “Retirees reflect God by working, even after weekly compensated work ends. Many retirees are not following the often advertised narrative of enjoying bountiful leisure and rest. Many retirees desire to do meaningful work. Yet, retirees are often not part of the faith, work, and economic wisdom conversation, but they have much to offer us.”
  • Reframing Retirement: Living with Purpose After Your Career. Paul Akin writes “Today, unprecedented opportunities abound for retirees (all of ages) to engage meaningfully in God’s mission. I would argue that retirees, not millennials, are positioned and poised to make the greatest impact for the Great Commission in the next two decades.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence for Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders
  • Snippets from the book ‘The Economics of Neighborly Love’

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Six Ways God’s Presence Impacts Our Work. Russell Gehrlein writes “My desire is that many Christians will learn to practice the presence of God at work and experience the same joy that Brother Lawrence had.”
  • Facing Our Fear of Failure. Justin Poythress writes “One of the best ways to develop the next generation of leaders in the church is to create a culture which allows the freedom to fail.
  • Your Best Years Are Not Behind You. Patricia Raybon writes “That’s the biggest surprise to me about getting older: God doesn’t worry about age. He needs willing workers.”
  • 3 Things Your Calling is Not. Ivan Mesa writes “Maybe you’re not like me and have never experienced dark nights of the soul because of calling confusion. But I know if you’re a child of God and trusting in Christ, he has called you to himself and to others. So, serve people and God by pressing into the ordinary fullness of life.”
  • Faith and Work for the “Rest of Us”. Charlie Self writes “Welcoming and empowering retirees may compel a cynical world to take notice and glorify our Father in heaven as we ascribe dignity and worth to all work. Perhaps these steps of hospitality and thoughtfulness for the “rest of us” are providential conditions for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
 More interesting article links
 The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
 My Review of Immanuel Labor—God’s Presence in Our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work by Russell E. Gehrlein
 Snippets from the book ‘The Economics of Neighborly Love’

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • By the Way Conference. I look forward to speaking again this year at the Lexington Community Church’s By the Way I’ll be speaking the evening of Thursday, July 12 on the topic of “How to Be Mission-Minded in our Everday Lives”. If you are in the central Illinois area, I’d love to have you stop by. More details to come.
  • Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace. That is the tentative title for the book I’ve been working on for about a year and a half now, with much more concentrated effort recently. I’m early on in the process with just over 30,000 words written. I would appreciate your prayers on this project and I’ll keep you updated on my progress.
  • When Work Stinks. Greg Forster writes “We walk—we work—by faith, not by sight. We trust that God is at work in our work, even if we don’t necessarily see or understand what he’s doing.”
  • Seven Marks of a Workaholic. David Murray writes “Workaholism is probably the most respectable sin in the Christian community, and maybe especially among pastors.”
  • The High Value of At-Home Work. In this episode of the Gospel Coalition podcast, Courtney Reissig talks about why work in the home matters to God. The message was recorded at the Gospel Coalition 2017 National Conference.

Click on ‘Continue Reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links – Real Life Examples, Influence at Retirement Age, Courageous Leadership and Answers to Good Questions
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Matt Perman’s book ‘How to Get Unstuck’
  • Snippets from the book ‘The Economics of Neighborly Love’

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • How Should We Respond When a Leader Implodes? Eric Geiger writes “Regardless of whether or not the reality of leaders falling is more common or the same as it has always been, it’s happening too much. The moral failures are far too frequent. So how should we, those of us who are believers, respond when a leader disqualifies himself or herself from their role?”
  • The Sanctity of Labor. Are you working “for the weekend”? Or counting the years to retirement? From his series Christian Ethics, R.C. Sproul explains that work is sacred and we are called to labor diligently to the glory of God.
  • Work’s Toll and Significance. Bill Peel tells us that work can have a high toll on us but also a lasting significance. Learn how to work smarter for the Kingdom of God.
  • John Coltrane’s Faith and Work Story Behind A Love Supreme. Caroline Cross writes “Like Coltrane, we too are working toward the consummation of a calling.”
  • Strengths or Weaknesses: Which Need More Attention? Hugh Whelchel writes “God intends for us to use our gifts and talents to glorify him, serve the common good, and further his kingdom in all we do in our churches, our families, our communities, and at our jobs.”
  • How to Establish a Workplace Cultures That Actually Sticks. Art Lindsley writes “In today’s culture, we are desperately seeking a renewal of character but are not willing to give it a sufficient foundation.”
  • Practicing Curiosity: How to Connect Better with Congregants. Amy Sherman writes “To shepherd well, a pastor must know his sheep. To know implies curiosity about the people God has entrusted to your care. Curious pastors will study their congregations, they will seek to understand their lives and contexts, and they will give particular attention to the vocations of their people. Curious pastors will want to know what their sheep do Monday through Saturday and how they do it.”
  • Discerning the Season of Your Life. Ron Edmondson writes “Review your life by how the seasons molded you. God never wastes a season. Ask God to place in your heart what He wants you to learn during this specific season of your life. Invite God to speak into your seasons.”

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Three Organizations That Exemplify a Close Connection between Faith and Work


There are a few organizations that I respect because they exemplify a close connection between faith and work. Three in particular are:

Chick Fil-A. In her book It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture by Dee Ann Turner writes that Chick Fil-A is not in the chicken business, but the people business. Selling chicken is just a means for glorifying God.  See my review of Dee Ann’s book.
All Chick Fil-A stores are closed on Sunday. Chick Fil-A’s founder Truett Cathy, made the decision to close on Sundays in 1946 when he opened his first restaurant in Hapeville, Georgia. Having worked seven days a week in restaurants open 24 hours, Truett saw the importance of closing on Sundays so that he and his employees could set aside one day to rest and worship if they choose.
Cathy also stated “We should be about more than just selling chicken. We should be a part of our customers’ lives and the communities in which we serve.”
Chick Fil-A is known for their world-class service. I’ve read about their organization in books by Patrick Lencioni, Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller.

Hobby Lobby. Hobby Lobby got its start in 1970 when David and Barbara Green took out a $600 loan to begin making miniature picture frames out of their home. Today, with more than 750 stores, Hobby Lobby is the largest privately owned arts-and-crafts retailer in the world with approximately 32,000 employees and operating in forty-seven states.
One of their principles is “Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles”. Another is “Providing a return on the family’s investment, sharing the Lord’s blessings with our employees, and investing in our community.” All Hobby Lobby stores are closed on Sunday.

Barry-Wehmiller. Barry-Wehmiller is a global supplier of manufacturing technology and services based in St. Louis, Missouri. I first read about Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller in Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t. Barry-Wehmiller measures success by the way they touch the lives of people.
Their website states the following about their organizational culture:
“Step inside any one of our 100 locations around the globe and you’ll feel it: a culture of care, compassion and human connection. Our commitment to our people-first culture runs deep and has inspired a leadership model that places a priority on improving the lives of the people who make our business possible. We call it Truly Human Leadership and it stems from a deep-rooted belief that this is the way we are called to work and live. By sharing the story of our successful cultural and leadership model initiatives we intend to raise the awareness of other leaders about the power of business to have a profound positive impact on the world.”
Check out Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family by Chapman and Raj Sisodia to learn more about this extraordinary organization.  Read my review of the book.

Are there any organizations that you respect because of how they connect faith and work?


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Faith & Work Conference Livestream. If you are not able to travel to New York City for the Center for Faith & Work Conference don’t despair, you can watch the conference via livestream for just $35. “Join us via Livestream for this two-day event which is part of Redeemer’s Formation Conference Series! Explore how the gospel gives us a radical new vision: the issue is not that we expect too much from our work, it’s that we expect too little.” Speakers include Tim Keller, Katherine Leary and David H. Kim.
  • Made to Flourish. “Made To Flourish exists to equip pastors with a more integral connection between Sunday faith and Monday work, in order to empower them to lead churches that produce human flourishing for the common good.”

  • When It Seems Your Life is Going Nowhere. Scott Sauls writes “Although it is sometimes hard to believe that your work, done for God’s glory, has enduring significance, it absolutely does.”
  • Finding Glory in My Ordinary Year. Courtney Reisigg writes “One day I will do the work in a way that I want again, but until then I am asking for grace to find the glory in the ordinary days—even days where everyone else is helping me get by.”
  • 3 Ways to Help Your Students Discern Their Vocational Future. Meryl Herr writes “A theology of calling could be the anchor that these young people need. Our primary call is to follow Christ. Yet each Christ-follower also has a unique, or specific, calling.”
  • 7 Tips for Writing Your Personal Vision Statement. Hugh Whelchel writes “Having a clearly articulated personal vision statement gives you a template of purpose that can be used to initiate, evaluate, and refine all of your activities.”
  • Why Your Personal Vision is Important and How to Discover It. Hugh Whelchel writes “Discovering your personal vision helps you understand who you are in Christ, your talents, and your comparative advantages. It helps you know how to create the greatest value for yourself, your family, your church, your community and your work for the glory of God.”
  • How to Climb the Corporate Ladder – For Jesus’ Sake. In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper answers the question “How do I balance my earthly work with eternal work”
  • Work for the Common Good. God designed every human being to find agency in his or her vocation. “If we understand the “common good” as the truest good for all people, how can our work play a role in renewing the world? Author, speaker, and pastor Skye Jethani helps us contemplate how our work is not primarily for the gain of wealth and pleasure—but ultimately an opportunity to cultivate a better world for our neighbors.”

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