Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Reflections from the 2019 Ligonier National Conference

My wife Tammy and I recently attended the 32nd annual Ligonier National Conference in Orlando. We’ve been attending the conference on a regular basis since 1997, leaving the winter of the Midwest for sunny Florida, and it’s one of my highlights each year. The conference, which is described as a “family reunion” (because you often run into some of the same friends each year) was held at the impressive facilities at the First Baptist Church Orlando, the annual host of the conference. This was the second National conference held since the death of Ligonier founder R.C. Sproul 16 months ago. It was also the third consecutive conference that sold out.

James Brown, Director of Worship and Music Ministries at Independent Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, returned after several years, to lead the 5,000 attendees in singing, always a highlight for Tammy. In addition to the Ligonier Teaching Fellows (Sinclair Ferguson, Albert Mohler, Steven Lawson, Robert Godfrey, Stephen Nichols, Derek Thomas and Burk Parsons), other main session speakers included Michael Reeves and Ligon Duncan. There were a number of optional sessions during meal breaks and recordings of the radio program Renewing Your Mind. Continue reading

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My 10 Favorite Blogs


I subscribe to a lot of blogs and websites. Some are related to theology, some focus on leadership, some faith and work, etc. Here are 10 of my favorites that I would recommend to you:

Tim Challies  Tim Challies’ blog is my personal favorite. It includes articles he has written, as well as his book reviews. His A La Carte blog post is required reading for me six days a week. A feature of A La Carte is a listing of Kindle deals of e-books that his readers might enjoy.

Head, Heart, Hand – This is pastor, author and seminary professor David Murray’s blog. He includes articles he has written, helpful links to other articles, a listing of Kindle deals and of new books his readers might enjoy.

Ligonier Ministries – This blog includes searchable articles and short videos from R.C. Sproul, the Ligonier Teaching Fellows (Albert Mohler, Derek Thomas, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey and Steven Lawson) and others.

Albert Mohler – This site features articles from Albert Mohler as well as a post featuring the articles he discussed in that morning’s The Briefing program, Monday through Friday.

Desiring God – This blog features articles and videos from John Piper, Tony Reinke, David Mathis and others from Desiring God.

Randy Alcorn – This blog features articles from Randy Alcorn, author and founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries.

The Gospel Coalition – This blog features articles and videos from a large number of respected Bible teachers.

DeYoung, Restless and Reformed – This is pastor and author Kevin DeYoung’s blog and features articles he has written.

Brian Dodd on Leadership – Brian Dodd writes that his site will make you a better leader. I especially like his weekend roundup of the best articles he has read on leadership that week.

Leadership Freak  – This is Dan Rockwell’s leadership site. His helpful posts are never more than 300 words, so you can read them quickly.

These are my ten favorite blogs at this time. There are many more blogs that I enjoy on a regular basis, including Russell Moore, Ron Edmondson, Gene Veith, Dave Kraft, Kevin Halloran, Scott Sauls, Denny Burk, and others.
What are your favorite blogs?  


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Living Life Before the Face of God on November 4, 2014

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~Ask It

2015 Oscar Predictions ~ My good friend Jason knows his movies. Each year he puts together his Oscar predictions. I thought you might enjoy seeing his picks this year.

Music News and Reviews – Rise by Trip Lee and Love Ran Red Deluxe Edition by Chris Tomlin

Book Review ~ Ask It: The Question That Will Revolutionize How You Make Decisions by Andy Stanley. Multinomah. 208 pages. 2014 (Revised and updated edition of The Best Question Ever)

~ THIS AND THAT ~A.W. Tozier book

BOOKS:

ChrIstianaudio’s free audiobook of the month. Download your copy of the free audiobook for November ~ The Attributes of God, Volume 1 by A.W. Tozier.

Dancing for the DevilDancing for the Devil: One Woman’s Dramatic and Divine Rescue from the Sex Industry, tells the story of Anny Donewald’s transformation and her ministry. Anny was the youngest daughter of good friends of ours in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. After being abused by one of her father’s college basketball players, she fell into a dark life. After God intervened in her life, she founded Eve’s Angels, a ministry to women and girls exploited by the adult entertainment industry. Read the interview with Anny “Hope for Women in Hell”.

Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World. Read this interview with Michael Horton on his new book about the type of Christianity that God loves.

New video for Eric Metaxas’ book Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life. I’m reading the book now and will run a review in the next few weeks.

IN THE NEWS:

Oscar Tavares TributeMike Matheny is the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals and has always been open about his Christian faith. His team has just suffered a significant loss, the death of 22 year old right fielder Oscar Taveras in a car accident. I liked this article from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, indicating that Matheny is the right leader for the Cardinals to have at this difficult time.

Tribute to Oscar Taveras. The St. Louis Cardinals paid tribute to Oscar Taveras, their young right fielder killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic on October 26 by leaving the right field lights on at Busch Stadium Tuesday, the day of his funeral.

Did you see the incredible video of the St. Louis Arch being cleaned? For the first time since the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was completed, crews collected stains from the structure in an attempt to figure out what caused them to form. The National Park Service is hoping to sample the stains and figure out what caused them so they can be removed. How much would you need to be paid to take on this work?

Mars Hill Church to Dissolve. The campuses of multi-site Mars Hill Church in Seattle, the church founded and led by Mark Driscoll up until his recent resignation will dissolve into separate churches.

We Are Not Our Own: On God, Brittany Maynard, and Physician-Assisted Suicide. John Piper writes “We are not our own. We live and we die and we suffer for the glory of Christ, our Lord. And we never forget the truth that makes everything worth it: “The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

PROBING QUESTIONS:

What is it about C.S. Lewis that makes such a huge impact on so many? Read Jon Bloom of Desiring God’s article “What is it about C.S. Lewis?”

Why Are So Many Middle-Aged Men Falling Into Sexual Sin? Larry Tomczak writes “In the past few years there seems to be an epidemic of adulterous and sexually inappropriate relationships coming to light on a regular basis.”

What are the marks of a deadly sin? Tim Challies shares the seven marks of a deadly sin in his latest installment of his series on John Owen’s classic book Overcoming Sin and Temptation.

What are the perils facing the Evangelical church today? First of all, what does “Evangelical” mean? Read this article from R.C. Sproul.

What is the state of theology in our country today? A new survey from Ligonier Ministries helps point out common gaps in theological knowledge and awareness so that Christians might be more effective in the proclamation, teaching, and defense of the essential truths of the Christian faith.

REFORMED THEOLOGY:

“Is the Reformation Over?” by Kevin DeYoung. Are there still critical doctrinal issues which rightly divide Protestants and Catholics? Absolutely. We do neither side any favors by pretending otherwise.

How much do you know about Reformed Theology? Check out this article “10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew about Reformed Theology”.

Reformation Day marks the anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his Ninety-five Theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. That act by a passionate monk is often recognized as the flashpoint of the Protestant Reformation. In a special program on “Renewing Your Mind,” John MacArthur sits down with Dr. R.C. Sproul to discuss the importance of Sola Scriptura, the vital work of Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other reformers, and how the battle for the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture continues to this day. You can listen to their insightful, encouraging discussion here.

“New Poll Finds Evangelicals’ Favorite Heresies”. Most American evangelicals hold views condemned as heretical by some of the most important councils of the early church. That statement, which should, but perhaps doesn’t shock us. Here’s an article on the same survey from Trevin Wax: “Here’s Where Your Neighbors Are Theologically”.

REAL MEN OF GENIUS:

Augustine of Hippo was one of the most influential thinkers in the history of the Church and Western civilization. How much do you know about Augustine? Read Dr. Keith Mathison’s article about Augustine.

Martin Luther defined faith as “Faith is a living, bold trust in God’s grace, so certain of God’s favor that it would risk death a thousand times trusting in it. Such confidence and knowledge of God’s grace makes you happy, joyful and bold in your relationship to God and all creatures.” Read this brief excerpt from his book An Introduction to St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans.

PRAYER:

Do you have questions about prayer? Tim Keller’s new book is on prayer. Check out this interview with him on ten questions about prayer.

A Prayer for the Gospel to Impact Our Heads, Hearts, and Hands. Here is a wonderful prayer from Scotty Smith asking that the gospel increasingly impact us and our community, the same way it landed on the hearts of the men and women of Thessalonica.

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

Did you see Daniel Radcliffe (Harry from the Harry Potter films) rap the alphabet on The Tonight Show recently? If not, check it out here: http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/segments/15506

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

Beyond the Ark by Doug Michael

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

 What’s Best Next Book Club What's Best Next

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

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. This week we look at Chapter 20: Managing Email and Workflow.

 God at WorkGod at Work Book Club

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

When we recently visited St. Andrews Chapel where R.C. Sproul is one of the pastors, this book was the church’s “Book of the Month”. I’m excited to read it. We’ll look at a chapter each week. Won’t you read along with us? This week we cover Chapter 2: How God Works Through Human Beings.
Faith and Work Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Leadercast Live speakers for the May 8 event have been announced. They include Andy Stanley, Peyton Manning, Seth Godin, Rudy Giuliani and several others. As the event gets closer we’ll let you know of the local host locations for the simulcast.

Do you want to get paid for doing what you love? How do you take something you love and turn it into a career? Andy Andrews has some suggestions to help you.

How can you glorify God at work? Check out this article for a few ideas from John Piper.

Do you know how to effectively handle criticism that you receive – on the job or off? Here are some helpful suggestions from Dr. Alan Zimmerman in this week’s Tuesday Tip.

Pastors should visit the workplaces of their church members. It’s a suggestion from Greg Forster and I think it’s a great idea.

How to Get Things Done: Information Management. “An information management tool is used to collect, manage and access important information. If you will need to remember or access information in the future, it goes into this tool”, writes Tim Challies in his next installment of his series on productivity.

All of Life is for Jesus – including our work. Jim Mullins writes that for five minutes before his church’s sermons, they interview someone from the church about their vocation to demonstrate just that. Read his article “The Butcher, Baker or Biotech Maker”.

Bringing order out of chaos, one dirty job at a time is how window washer and seminary student Zachary Tarter describes his job. He states “I haven’t always intuitively classified my work as image-bearing, but as I’ve thought about it, I’ve seen that bringing order out of chaos reflects the image of God.” Read this interview with Zachary to hear more about that.

What do you feel the most important leadership characteristic is? Different leadership experts will come up with different characteristics. Eric Geiger writes that in their book The Leadership Challenge, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner state that the most important leadership characteristic is credibility.

Every leader needs wise advisors, says Selma Wilson. To be a healthy leader, we need to seek out others for personal advice as well as counsel on critical decisions. Read her entire article “6 Nuggets of Wisdom for Leaders”.

Martin Luther’s Contribution to the Church’s View of Vocation. Did you know that the reformer Martin Luther helped develop a new doctrine of vocation? Andrew Spencer writes “He pushed back against the notion that certain callings, like his earlier monastic calling, were somehow more holy than working outside the church.”

“7 Performance Characteristics of a Great Team Member” by Ron Edmondson. How does a great team member perform on a team?

The Good Life. Trip Lee writes “To live is not wealth. To live is not worldly success. To live is not sex. To live is not family. To live is Christ.”

How to Recognize a Toxic Leader. Thom Rainer identifies 14 characteristics of a toxic church leader.

 Quotable:  Servant leaders also see themselves as accountable to those they lead. -Matt Permandivider 1

Visions of Vocation Visions of Vocation Book Club

Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we discussed last week from our reading of Chapter 6: “Vocation as Implication”.

  • Can we know the world and still love it?
  • Uncle Peach did not deserve to be loved, and there was no indication that he was ever going to change.
  • Knowing what they knew, complicated and complex as it was, they chose to love. To do that with honesty and integrity is the most difficult task in the world.
  • But there are people who make that choice. Not out of grandeur or great ambition, but in the spirit of Berry’s vision: in the relationships and responsibilities of common life, they see themselves as implicated in the way the world is and ought to be. They see themselves as having vocations that call them into life, into the world—into a way of knowing that implicates them, for love’s sake.  And in the unfolding of my life, living where I have lived, working where I have worked, I have met some of those people.

Jonathan Groene—Kansas Born and Bred

  • In a place like Lawrence, it is not possible to say one thing and then do another and still keep your head up the next day.
  • Jonathan has become the words he advertised, living into his promise: a steward of visions and resources.

Todd and Maria Wahrenberger—MDs

  • One book they read was Denis Haack’s The Rest of Success, and his writing gave them reasons to rethink what ambition meant and what a good life might look like. A year later they formed a health clinic on the north side of Pittsburgh, near the stadiums, in a neighborhood that was medically underserved. As a wise friend has persuaded me, most things don’t work out very well. Even with hopes and dreams, the vision of a common practice was not sustainable, and eventually Todd and Maria took more responsibility for the work.
  • The day-by-day work of physicians took them into a community of people who needed doctors who would know them and still love them. All of us are like that, really. We hope that those who serve us will really care about us.
  • Their choice to enter into the complexity of medical care for people who need it but often do not take good care of themselves is reflective of a deeper way of knowing, a deeper vision of responsibility, a deeper kind of loving.
  • To see them in their work is to see people who love what they do and who love the ones they serve.
  • That is the best part of a vocation—to love and serve with gladness and singleness of heart. When we take the wounds of the world into our hearts—not just for a day, but for a life—we long to see the work of our hands as somehow, strangely, part of the work of God in the world, integral to the missio Dei, not incidental to it.
  • J. and Robin Smith—Tearing Corners Off of the Darkness
  • Because her own passions have been for “doing justice, loving mercy, walking humbly with God” for as long as I have known her, her analytical skills are never offered in the abstract, as if the research of the Institute is for ivory-towered policy wonks who live far away from ordinary people in ordinary places. For her, it always has to be worked at on the ground, in life.
  • She is a storyteller, deeply and professionally so. His great delight is to listen well and then help an organization tell its story through the wonders of the web.
  • To choose to step into frailty—or, as Berry describes Uncle Peach, being “poor, hurt, mortal”—is what a vocation is all about. We are called to care, especially about complexity because that is the world we live in.
  • For him there is always a longing that his work address both that which is wrong and that which might be and must be.
  • He wants the work of his hands to matter, to be part of “tearing a corner off of the darkness,” in Bono’s poetic image.

Santiago and Nicole Sedaca—At Work in the World

  • But it is the powerless people who live in villages and cities the world over who are the clients of Santiago, as they are the ones whose lives depend on the healthy social ecosystems that are the focus of his work.
  • It is critical to link the poor to markets, and through that process to help them understand how countries need to change their production and distribution systems in a way that helps create wealth for everyone, not just the powerful.

David Franz—Home Again

  • St. Augustine argued that the question What do you love? is the most important of all questions. While other questions matter, it is the question of our loves that goes to the heart of who we are.
  • Most of life is only understood in retrospect.
  • With an ever-deepening sense of vocation, he began taking up the questions that have become his, the interdisciplinary nexus of sociology and economics, but with a great interest in what the questions in those disciplines mean for ordinary people in ordinary places.
  • His work there is focused on the renewal of education in the local schools, bringing the years of his study about people and places through the lenses of his disciplines and making that insight useful to the people and place of Shafter.
  • There is an echo of Berry himself in David’s story, if we have ears to hear.
  • “I am from somewhere and from some people that my relationships to that place and those people give me a responsibility to and for them, and therefore my vocation will be found with them and among them.”
  • He wants honest coherence between his education and his vocation, so that what he has learned will be for the sake of where he has lived.

Kwang Kim—A Global Citizen

  • If there is a question at the heart of his life, it is this: What should the world be like?
  • Is captivated by the question, What ought we to be doing? Are there norms for development? Do we have any access to what it is supposed to be? Can we ever know what development should be? Are there any oughts and shoulds in this whatever world? Or are we only left with culturally relative “maybes” and “perhapses”?
  • Watching as I do, I am intrigued when someone sees seamlessly, when someone’s instincts are to find the connections between ideas, when someone assumes that there is a coherence to the cosmos—and that our task is to understand it. From my earliest conversations with Kwang, that was true. In the questions he asked and the visions he pursued there was a thread that ran through everything he took up. In a word, it was integrity. Not only for his life as a human being, an Asian/Latino/American, but as someone with a calling into the socio-political economies of the world, with their almost unfathomable complexity. Even in the midst of that work, Kwang wrestles his way to coherence.
  • For years now he has given time and energy to the renewal of North Korean culture, meeting monthly to pray with other Korean Americans in Washington, each one autobiographically implicated in the hopes of their homeland. The Washington group is only one of many like this all over the United States and Canada, each one full of eager, bright, motivated men and women who yearn together for a new day in Korea, where social and political and economic and artistic flourishing will become reality—because that is the way it is supposed to be, for everyone everywhere.
  • What should the world be like? is the animating question at the heart of Kwang’s life, making sense of his days and his nights. That is what a vocation is, and does.

Christopher Ditzenberger—Recasting the Paradigm of Pastor

  • Chris entered into the ministry with passions for people to understand the world and their place in it.
  • The credo for the Washington Institute is that “vocation is integral, not incidental, to the missio Dei.” Most of the time, all over the world, the church teaches otherwise, that vocation is incidental, not integral, to the missio Dei. It is always a compartmentalizing of faith from life, of worship from work, and it has tragic consequences for the church and the world.
  • He has also entered into a year-long learning community with folk from across the country, all focused on the same vision: Could we recast the paradigm? What would it look like in my congregation to rethink the relationship of worship to work, of liturgy to life and labor?
  • To see what we do as woven into the fabric of who God is and what the world is meant to be is the vision that has captured Chris’s heart. He longs to so understand his work that he is able to pastor people in their work, praying and preaching in such a way that ordinary people doing ordinary things see the sacramental meaning of their labor, a common grace for the common good.

Claudius and Deirdre Modesti—A Life for Others

  • After the Enron scandal that rocked the nation, with the complicity of major accounting firms fudging the numbers and creating a chasm of confidence in investment, Claudius was asked to give leadership to an effort that would bring more order to public accounting, and so for years now he has used his legal skill to oversee the financial records of major corporations.
  • Some of it is her family, some is her personality, some is her gift, some is her education, some is her community, but taken together she has eyes to see who people are and why they are. And over time she has become a trusted counselor, taking people seriously as she listens carefully.
  • People who keep at their callings for a lifetime are always people who suffer. The world is too hard and life is too broken for it to be otherwise.
  • Their life for others is a window into the meaning of common grace for the common good. From the hospitality of their table to the way they live in their neighborhood to the work that is theirs in the worlds of law and psychology, they have chosen vocations that give coherence, making sense of what they believe about God and the human condition, and have unfolded habits of heart that are a grace to the watching world.

George Sanker—Educating for Character and Competence

  • “Occasions [circumstances] do not make a man frail. Rather they show who he is.”
  • We make our way through the occupations of life, hoping and hoping that as we do our vocation becomes clearer to us, that over time we will come to know more and more about who we are and what matters to us, and who God is and what matters to him.
  • What was sorely lacking were “chests,” the mediating center where mind and passions could become alive together so that the student would become a whole human being.
  • A half-century later, Lewis’s critique forms the contours of George’s calling. He lives so that children will become men and women with chests, understanding that the way we educate the next generation will affect the way the world turns out. That is the telos that shapes his pedagogical praxis.

Gideon Strauss—Living with Hope

  • Often the longer we live, the more hardened we become. But sometimes some people still choose to enter in, knowing what they know of the world. Not naive, not innocents, but time-tested and able to step in again.
  • Still committed to thinking through the hardest questions, his work is now focused on developing leaders for vocations within the social structures of the church and the world. Never a romantic, Gideon lives with hope, understanding that to try and try again is the heart of a good life, living between what is and what someday will be.

Susan Den Herder—A Mother and More

  • Coherence, where what they believed about the world was more and more the way that they lived in the world.
  • Her studies, her loves, her marriage, her work, her children, together a vocation, she is making sense of life as she lives her life.
  • A Just Man Ordinary people in ordinary places, each one is a story of a life lived as a vocation. None have arrived, and each lives with a keen sense that more could be done.
  • What most do not know is that in Victor Hugo’s novel there is a lifetime behind that decision. If the stage play gives the bishop ten minutes, the novel tells the story of his whole life over almost one hundred pages, titling book one “A Just Man.” From the calling to a pastoral vocation on through to becoming a bishop, we come to know an unusual man.
  • And it is the story of a man who sees his vocation as implicated in the lives of people like that. He has chosen to live a common life for the common good. And Valjean, very slowly, makes that choice too. Profoundly formed by the bishop’s life, he begins to take up his new life with the same simple grace—not in the ministry, but in the marketplace. If the bishop’s clerical calling implicated him in the lives of his people, then it was the vocation of business for Valjean that drew him into the welfare of his workers and his city. And because he saw himself in relationship to a people in a place, he saw himself as responsible for the way their world turned out, for the way it was and the way it ought to be.

Scripture interprets Scripture


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Kicking One off the Old ‘Bucket List’

Concert Review ~ Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band at The Fox Theatre in St. LouisRingo at the Fox

Ringo in Concert

I grew up, and remain, a huge Beatles fan. Though I never saw them perform (they stopped touring in 1966), I have seen Paul McCartney in concert eleven times, the late George Harrison on his only US tour in 1974, and unfortunately never saw John Lennon in concert; he was murdered in 1980. Seeing Ringo Starr in concert was on my “Bucket List”. He tours often with an assortment of artists known as his All-Starr Band. The current lineup has been together for three years, something that hasn’t been done since Ringo started touring with the All-Starr Band back in 1989.
Last Friday when I eventually did see Ringo in concert was one fine day. After stopping at Busch Stadium to get my NLDS t-shirt and having a great lunch at Pappy’s Smokehouse, my favorite place to eat in St. Louis, we checked into the Hotel Ignacio, a small boutique hotel within walking distance of the Fabulous Fox Theatre, where the concert was held.
The Cardinals were opening the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the best pitcher in baseball, Clayton Kershaw. I watched the first few innings from the Triumph Restaurant next to the hotel, and Kershaw was dominating, giving the Cardinals only one hit and leading the Dodgers to a 4-1 lead. By the time I found my seat at the Fox a few minutes later, the score was 6-1. I continued to monitor the game throughout the two hour concert, and the Cardinals won in a thriller 10-9.
Ringo, who is 74 years old, was in great physical shape and strong voice on this night in front of an enthusiastic sold-out crowd at the unique Fox Theatre. He opened with “Matchbox” shortly after 8:00 pm, and the night was off and running. The background vocals of the other six members of the band also added much to Ringo’s twelve songs.
The night was equally split between Ringo and the All-Starr Band, which was comprised of Todd Rundgren, Toto’s Steve Lukather on guitar, Mr. Mister bassist Richard Page, Santana/Journey keyboardist Gregg Rolie, drummer Gregg Bisonette and percussionist/saxophonist Warren Ham. Rundgren, Lukather, Page and Rolie each did three of their songs, in addition to Ringo’s twelve songs, Beatles and solo songs.
It was obvious that Ringo and the entire band are enjoying what they are doing on this tour. Ringo would often flash the peace sign as he repeatedly said “Peace and Love”. There was a red star on his drum and stars served as the artwork on the curtain. Surprisingly, unlike most concerts these days, there was no video screen for this tour.
You can check out the entire set-list and the review of the concert from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch here: http://www.stltoday.com/entertainment/music/reviews/ringo-starr-shines-with-his-friends/article_52cc5819-9871-5df9-a259-3c774c3752c3.html

The Good Lie

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Movie Review ~ The Good Lie, rated PG-13

 

~ THIS AND THAT ~

ARTICLES, VIDEOS, PODCASTS, OH MY!

Only one life, yes only one, Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet, And stand before His Judgment seat;
Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last

Read Nathan’s article “Only One Life” here: http://thecripplegate.com/only-one-life/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheCripplegate+%28The+Cripplegate%29

  • I found this Q&A from the folks at Crucial Skills to be of interest, not only for those in the workplace, but all of us. Read “Atoning for Past Mistake”.   
  • This week’s Andy Andrews’ podcast looks at what makes a successful coach, as well as Andy’s criteria for being coachable. Listen to it!
  • Each day John Maxwell offers a short video on a word of the day that someone writes in about. This one is about the word “kind”. Watch it here:   http://johnmaxwellteam.com/kind/
  • John Maxwell writes that “….ALL ethics boils down to one thing: ‘The Golden Rule’. Essentially, asking the question, “How would I like to be treated?” is an integrity guideline for ANY situation.” He states that we like to be treated in six different ways in the workplace. Read what they are in his article titled “The Right Thing 101” here:  http://www.johnmaxwell.com/blog/the-right-thing-101
  • Dr. Alan Zimmerman in this “Tuesday Tip” indicates that he learned what produces excellence, mediocrity and failure, and then began to realize the difference between winners and losers. Read more here in his article titled “The One Thing that Separates the Winners from the Losers”.
  • Have you visited “Place for Truth”, the website for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals? Check it out at http://www.placefortruth.org/placefortruth
  • The “casual conversations about things that count” will soon be expanding with a new website. The new site will maintain the same URL address and house the weekly Mortification of Spin podcast, but will feature articles from each of the three hosts: Carl Trueman, Todd Pruitt and Aimee Byrd. Also, listen this fall for several podcasts that will be recorded before, and even include participation from a live audience! Lots of surprises are coming; don’t miss them at http://www.mortificationofspin.org/mos/podcast/double-dipping#.VC0ju40tD3g

R.C. SPROUL – LIGONIER MINISTRIES:

  • Ligonier Ministries Teaching Fellow Steven Lawson writes: “It is my great privilege to introduce to you the inaugural issue of Expositor Magazine, the print magazine of One Passion Ministries. Through the bi-monthly publication of Expositor, we desire to address the historical, biblical, and theological dynamics and practice of expository preaching. In addition, Expositor will serve pastors, preachers, students, teachers, and lay people by examining historical and current issues related to biblical exposition. Please visit ExpositorMagazine.com for more information and to subscribe.”
  • Richard Phillips writes that Philippians 1:6 develops the theme of God’s preserving grace—which ensures the perseverance of His own—in three points. Read about those three points in his article “God is Faithful to Preserve His Own” here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/god-faithful-preserve-his-own/
  • Ligonier Ministries has released a new 12-part teaching series, Lessons from the Upper Room, from Sinclair Ferguson. Ferguson paints a vivid picture of the disciples’ final moments with their Savior. Carefully walking through John 13-17, Dr. Ferguson reminds us of the centrality of Christ in all of life. Click here to find out more about this new resource.
  • Do you know what the Covenant of Redemption is? If not, check out this article from R.C. Sproul: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-covenant-redemption/

JOHN PIPER – DESIRING GOD MINISTRIES:

  • John Piper, in writing about the aging of the Baby Boomers suggests four items be the goal of our aging. See what these four are in his article “Boomer’s Bodies – And Yours” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-dignity-of-our-deterioration
  • John Piper addresses four common causes of Bible neglect in the Christian life, like: “I don’t read my Bible because . . .
    • . . . it seems so irrelevant to my life.”
    • . . . I don’t have time.”
    • . . . I go to church every Sunday.”
    • . . . I find it confusing.”

Read this article titled “Why We Neglect Our Bibles” to see how he addresses these causes: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/why-we-neglect-our-bibles

  • John Piper has released a number of Look at the Book labs on the Desiring God website. Look at the Book is a new online method of teaching the Bible. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. You will hear John Piper’s voice and watch his pen underline, circle, make connections, and scribble notes — all to help you learn to read God’s word for yourself. His goal is to help you not only see what he sees, but where he sees it and how he found it. Check out the labs here: http://www.desiringgod.org/labs

SPORTS:

  • Did you see the catch that Steven Souza Jr. of the Washington Nationals made on the final play of the game to finish off Jordan Zimmermann’s no-hitter against the Miami Marlins on the last day of the baseball season last week? If not, check it out. 
  • My friend Jim sent me this St. Louis Cardinals corn maze from Eckert’s Fun Farm in Millstadt, Illinois. Can we send the San Francisco Giants into the maze?Cardinal Corn Maze

BOOKS:Christian Audio Book of the Month

  • The free audiobook of the month from Christianaudio is He Wins, She Wins from Willard F. Harley, who is best known for the best-selling book His Needs, Her Needs: Building An Affair-proof Marriage. He Wins, She Wins begins with one simple rule: Never do anything without an enthusiastic agreement between you and your spouse.  Click here to find out how to download your free copy.   Bush Book
  • George W. Bush’s book about his father is titled 41: A Portrait of My Father. It will be published November 11.
  • I enjoyed this review of the new book Fallen: A Theology of Sin – Theology in Community Series, edited by Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson, the latter of which I had for two classes at Covenant Seminary. Others from Covenant Seminary who contributed were Bryan Chapell, Robert Yarbrough and David Calhoun. You can read the review here: http://www.reformation21.org/shelf-life/fallen-a-theology-of-sin.phpBonhoeffer Abridged Edition
  • Eric Metaxas’ excellent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer at 608 pages may have scared some readers away (though Tammy recently completed the book). Now a 256 page abridged edition has been released. Check out this excellent book and learn more about this important figure. Metaxas’ new book Miracles, will be released October 28.
  • Here’s a Christianity Today review of Michael Horton’s new book Ordinary, which I plan to read when it is released this week. Check out “The Case Against ‘Radical’ Christianity”. 

TELEVISION:

MOVIES:

  • Justin Taylor writes that the film Hound of Heaven (Kurosawa Productions) will premiere at the 2014 Raindance Film Festival on October 4. Author N.D. Wilson adapted Francis Thompson’s spiritual poem (1893), the original of which you can read here. Propaganda provides the spoken-word narration. You can read the whole story here.
  • Last weekend a new Left Behind film, based upon the popular book series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins and a remake of the previous film by the same name opened. The film stars Nicolas Cage and Randall Hardman writes “…a severe misinterpretation of what the Bible actually says about the topic. To put it bluntly, and perhaps to the chagrin of some readers, the idea of a “rapture” is simply not biblically based (and that’s where I’ve lost a third of you!) It represents, instead, a theology based on escapism and in the process does damage to what the Bible really does say about “the last days.” Read his article “Why Left Behind Should be Left Behind” here: http://theaquilareport.com/why-left-behind-should-be-left-behind/

MUSIC:

  • Keith and Kristyn Getty’s sold-out concert at Grace Presbyterian Church is less than two Getty's EPweeks away. On the verge of the concert they have released a new EP The Greengrass Sessions. This limited edition EP features:
    • My Worth Is Not in What I Own – the new hymn written by Keith and Kristyn and Graham Kendrick
    • Good Shepherd of My Soul – a warm and moving a capella rendition of one of Keith and Kristyn’s newer songs
    • Come Ye Sinners – a musical journey from Ireland to Appalachia envelops the traditional hymn
    • Plus 3 more brand new recordings!

To order, go to http://www.gettymusic.com/USA-albums.aspx?id=1162

  • Here’s a few more upcoming music releases you might be interested in:
    • November 4: Eye’M All Mixed Up: Remixes – TobyMac
    • November 4: Hallelujah for the Cross – Newsboys
    • November 11: The Essential Collection – Passion (Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, etc.)
    • After All These Years – Andrew Peterson
  • U2’s album The Unforgettable Fire is 30 years old. Billboard magazine takes a track by track look at the classic album.Newsboys
  • More on the new Newsboys album…. On the heels of one of the biggest years in their legendary career, Newsboys are at it again with a brand new hymns album, Hallelujah for the Cross. It will include many traditional hymns with new arrangements like: “Jesus Paid It All,” “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” “It Is Well,” “All Hail The Power Of Jesus Name” and many more.
  • One of my favorite new songs is “Liberty” from Switchfoot’s new EP The Edge of the Earth: Unleased Songs from the Film ‘Fading West’: Here are the lyrics to the song:

A feeling comes to me in wavesSwitchfoot
The darkest seas I’ve ever known
Mine is an odyssey of grace
Mine is a story headed home

I tied myself to the mast
Give up the semblance of control
The sirens sing but I let them pass
Cause only You can free my soul

Set these broken bones to cast
Stitch my wounds with holy sutures
Every saint has got a past
But every sinner’s got a future

Show me the freedom from these chains
Show me a battlefield that saves
That world is still a word away
But You are my liberty

Free my soul, free my soul
And let liberty flow
Like a flood, let it go
And I’ll let the past go
I’ve come running back home
And I’ll make it, I know
All my love, all my hope
Only You could free my soul
Come on, free my soul
Only you could free my soul

I tie myself up to the mast
I tie myself up to the mast
And let it go

Only You could free my soul

PRAYERS:

 Quotable:  Don’t go to bed tonight without preaching the gospel to your heart one more time. -Scotty Smith

 Beyond the Ark headerDoug Michael Cartoon

Faith-and-Work

Quotables:

  • God himself will milk the cows through him whose vocation that is. He who engages in the lowliness of his work performs God’s work, be the lad or king. – Martin Luther
  • A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them. – John C. Maxwell

Joy, Inc.

 Work and Leadership Book Review –

      Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love by Richard Sheridan

 

 Integrating Faith and Work: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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

How Then Should We WorkHow then SHOULD We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work Book Club – Chapter 4

This week we continue our book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. This week we cover the material in Chapter 4: Our Current Situation. 

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Book Club – Chapter 16

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from Chapter 16: The Problem with Full System Utilization.Love never fails

 

 


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Coram Deo ~ In the Presence of, and Before the Face of God

Our blog is named Coram Deo, It’s not a phrase we hear about each day, so what does it mean? Read R.C. Sproul’s answer.

Getty'sKeith and Kristyn Getty
at Grace Presbyterian Church – October 17

Just a reminder that the modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty will be in concert at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria on Friday, October 17. Tickets are going fast and available locally at Christ Church. Don’t miss this wonderful evening of worship.
To find out more and to purchase tickets go to: http://www.wbnh.org/resources/store/

 

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~The EqualizerUnPHILtered by Phil Robertson

Book Review – UnPHILtered: The Way I See It by Phil Robertson with Mark Schlabach

 Movie Review ~ The Equalizer, rated R

 

~ THIS AND THAT ~

PROBING QUESTIONS:

SPORTS:

MUSIC:

  • Steve Taylor was my favorite Christian music artist in my early days as a believer in the mid-1980’s. He was edgy, funny and said things that the church needed to hear (and nobody else was saying). He hasn’t had a new album since 1994’s Squint. Since then he has directed two films, The Second Chance and Blue Like Jazz. Taylor returns on November 18 with the Perfect Foil (which features Peter Furler), and Goliath. My good friend Jeff sent me a link to “Only a Ride” and the song just explodes! Welcome back Steve! Check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/splint-entertainment/only-a-ride
  • This is a good story on Lecrae. It’s written by Sarah Pulliam Bailey and titled “How Lecrae mixed rap and theology to find huge, mainstream success”. You can read it here: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/09/26/lecrae-mixed-rap-theology-find-huge-mainstream-success-video/Trip Lee
  • Trip Lee’s long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s The Good Life is Rise, and it will be released October 27. You can pre-order it at iTunes and when you do you will receive the songs “Shweet” and “Sweet Victory”. Guests on the new album include Lecrae and Andy Mineo. The pre-order for Rise checks in at #2 on the iTunes Hip-Hop/Rap charts, behind Lecrae’s Anomaly, which remains at #1 for a third week.
  • The Newsboys, who are dominating the Christian music charts (8 songs in the top 200 on the iTunes Christian charts), thanks to the popularity of the film God’s Not Dead have released a new single “Hallelujah for the Cross” which should be in heavy rotation on Christian radio soon.
  • Here’s an article from the Chicago Tribune about the ten best post-Beatles solo albums by the members of the band. Read the article here and let us know what you think about the choices.
  • U2 has released the cover art for the physical release of their album Songs of Innocence. The visuals reflect the new songs and their inspiration in the early years of U2 as teenagers in Dublin. Glen Luchford’s striking cover image of Larry Mullen Jr, protecting his 18 year old son, resonates with the band’s iconic 1979 debut album Boy – and the album War, four years later. Both featured the face of a child, Peter Rowen, the younger brother of Guggi, Bono’s childhood friend growing up on Cedarwood Road.
    • The physical release of Songs of Innocence on October 13th comes in three formats:Songs of Innocence Cover
      • Deluxe, 2 CD Format which comes with 2 x 16 page booklets, the 11 track album on CD1 plus additional tracks on CD2 including a 6-song acoustic session along with Lucifer’s Hands, The Crystal Ballroom, The Troubles (Alternative Version) and Sleep Like A Baby Tonight (Alternative Perspective Mix by Tchad Blake).
      • 2 LP 180gram White Vinyl Format featuring the 11 track album on sides 1, 2 & 3 with bonus track The Crystal Ballroom 12″ Mix on side 4.
      • Single CD Format with a 24-page booklet along with the 11 track album.
  • Did you see the fabulous Stevie Wonder on The Tonight Show recently? Here’s a song that he performed (“All Day Sucker”) , that was not aired on the show: http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/segments/12416

LISTEN, WATCH, READ, CONSIDER, PRAY:

IN THE NEWS:

BOOKS:

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

  • One of my favorite shows of last season was Brooklyn Nine-Nine, starring Andy Samberg. Sandberg was recently on The Tonight Show. Check out this bit he did with Jimmy Fallon on five second movie summaries here:   http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/segments/12416

Beyond the Ark header

Doug Michael cartoon

Visions of Vocation Book Club Visions of Vocation

Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we discussed from our reading of Chapter 4 – Knowing is Doing:

  • Few stories capture the poignancy of parenting and politics, particularly of the ways in which fathers and their sons together learn to care about the world, as does Chaim Potok’s The Chosen.
  • It is at its core a reflection on the relationship of education to vocation, offering a tale of two answers to the question, Knowing what I know, having heard what I have heard, having read what I have read, what am I going to do?
  • And so he decided to raise his son in silence, as he himself had been raised, to feel the pain of the world in his own pain.
  • None of us, child or parent, older or younger, can read this without weeping. And none of us can conclude that the father’s choice was cheap.
  • Working with others in the city, we called it “Knowing and Doing: Crucial Questions for the Modern University” and commissioned a provocative poster, black and white for starkness, of a student standing on very large books, Grand Canyon–like, looking down into the world.
  • Each in his own way spoke to the question of the responsibility of knowledge within the academic community, perennially challenged as it is by the fiction that one can know but not do, that one can in fact “get all A’s and still flunk life.” What is the point of learning, after all? The question is not new.
  • That story became reality a century later in the appointment of Peter Singer to an endowed chair at Princeton University, where he has famously argued that parents ought to have at least several months after the birth of a child to decide if in fact they want to keep the child. And all this from the ironically named Center for Human Values, which he directs.
  • It was in (John) Stott’s address, taking up the question of the series, that I first heard the story of The Chosen as one with meaning for learning. “A mind without a heart is nothing.” I can still hear Stott say those words in his deeply Oxbridge voice, and they still ring true—for everyone everywhere. Knowing still has to mean doing.
  • How do we learn to become people who have minds and souls at the same time, in the same bodies, in the same persons? How do we avoid fragmenting ourselves so that we read stories of suffering but are insensitive to their meaning? To hear but not care? To see but not respond?
  • As Mark Schwehn has argued so well in Exiles from Eden, “Epistemologies have ethical implications . . . ways of knowing are not morally neutral but morally directive.” The ways we learn shape our souls, for blessing or curse, consciously chosen or not, and are rooted in epistemological commitments which are not morally neutral. Each and every time, they are morally directive.
  • With unusual wisdom, Louise Cowan’s essay “Jerusalem’s Claim Upon Us” takes up for one more generation the age-old question, What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens?
  • Cowan says, that “the object of the Greek way of thought is to know rightly; the object of the Hebrew is to do rightly.” To sum up, she argues that this deity who “fashions a cosmos out of love”—not the eros of the Greeks but the hesed of the Hebrews—makes a covenant with the human race, calling forth “a creature like himself, in his own image, one that could know and understand and love.”
  • Taking these ideas together, Cowan sets forth the contours of the Hebrew vision of the way the world is and ought to be. Woven as strands, they become a tapestry of the way to be holy and human, which in the end is the gift of “the covenant with the human race” that makes sense of the Hebrew understanding of life.
  • Not forever lost in the cosmos, wondering who they are and how they are to live, but rather created in covenant to know and be known, to love and be loved.
  • Written into that vocation is an epistemological challenge, a way of knowing that is not and can never be morally neutral, but is always morally directive. We must not only know rightly, but do rightly. And we must know and understand and love—at the same time. Taken together this is the heart of the Hebrew way of knowing.
  • If at the core of the calling to be human is the task to know and do rightly, to act responsibly in history, to coherently connect knowledge with understanding with love, then there must be a reason for being that makes sense of human relationships and responsibilities in those terms, a context for seeing what one believes and how one lives as a seamless whole. For the Hebrew people, this comes from their understanding of covenant.
  • And generation by generation, God continued to “covenant” with his people—with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David—and of course, in the Christian vision, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus is the covenant incarnate, the covenant made flesh, living for a while among us.
  • From beginning to end, the word covenant represents the reality that God is holy, holy, holy—and expects his people to be so, too. Covenants reveal a God who is gracious and compassionate—and expects his people to be so, too. A covenant was a call to live rightly, to act justly—images that imply a “north star,” which is the character of God himself.
  • This is who I am, this is who you are and this is the way you are to live.
  • Three realities mark covenants wherever they are found in the Hebrew scripture: relationship, revelation, responsibility—the first and the last mediated by the second. Each time a covenant is made, a relationship is offered, a revelation is given, a responsibility is expected. It is the God who “fashions a cosmos out of love” who calls a people into covenant, saying, “I want to know you and to be known by you. This is who I am and who you are. This is the way you are to live. Now, what are you going to do? How are you going to respond? With faithful love, with heart and mind and soul and strength—or will you falter?”
  • Relationship, revelation, responsibility. The words define each other, even as they define covenant.
  • The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob connects to his people through covenant, saying with word and deed, “I know you, I know all about you, and I choose to love you. I will be in relationship to you.”
  • But with that relationship comes a revelation.
  • This is who I am. This is what I am like. This is who you are. This is how you are to live.
  • A relationship initiated—by grace. A revelation made—with power and clarity. And a responsibility, an ability to respond. Always and everywhere, the revelation requires a response.
  • Though the words are historically situated in a moment in Hebrew history, Joshua’s charge to his people echoes across the ages: “Choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15 ESV). It is a line in the sand for every generation, perennially asked and answered in every time, in every place. But it is particularly so within the covenantal character of the biblical story, where the dynamic of relationship/revelation/responsibility is sustained in time and space, generation by generation.
  • Noah, Abraham, Moses, David—on each occasion that a covenant is made, a question is set forth: What will you do with what you know? How will you respond to what you have heard?
  • But the covenant, at its very core, reveals the God who knows rightly and does rightly, who knows and understands and loves.
  • Havel was just becoming a more internationally known figure at the time, having come from prison to the presidency of Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic. His people saw themselves as victims. But he also knew that there was no future for his people if they could not set that identity and history aside and instead take up responsibility for the future.
  • If we lose God in the modern world, then we lose access to these four great ideas—meaning, purpose, responsibility, accountability.
  • What Havel saw is what Cowan saw, that human beings are “obligated through the very fact of their existence.”
  • Knowing and doing are at the core of every examined life, but putting the two together is the most difficult challenge we face.
  • A storyteller whose work will long outlive him because he spoke so truthfully about the human condition, Hitchcock rarely missed the opportunity in his films to ask, and answer, the probing questions which are implicit in the relationship of knowing to doing.
  • All of us—friends, parents and children, teachers and students, employers and employees, political leaders and their people—at some point are faced with the question: If you knew, why didn’t you do? How could you be so irresponsible?
  • From the most personal to the most public of our relationships, from marital unfaithfulness to corporate scandals—how else do we explain the outrage, the disappointment, when we find that one more time in one more situation with one more person, there was a disconnect between what someone knew and what they did?
  • What does it mean to “know”? If we were to take the Hebrew scripture, from Genesis to Malachi, listening to and learning the way that knowledge is understood, it would come to something like this: to have knowledge of means to have responsibility to means to have care for.
  • If one knows, then one cares; if one does not care, then one does not know.
  • Like the word covenant, it is defined in life, not in abstraction.
  • As always, the way that belief and behavior are formed over time is complex; but it is clear that the way we live shows what we believe.
  • The epistemological vision that threads its way through biblical history is plainly part of this book’s account of why and how to live in the world: if you know, you care; if you don’t care, you don’t know.
  • And God in his faithful love, hesed, sends prophets to call the people back to the meaning of the covenant. Remember who I am. Remember who you are. Remember how you are to live.
  • But the people have rejected the covenant, they have separated knowing from doing. They may know rightly, but they do not do rightly.
  • The prophet Jeremiah adds his voice to Isaiah’s, lamenting the loss of knowledge, calling the people to an integrity of heart, to do what they know, to move outside the compartmentalization of faith that is the perennial temptation of people of faith anytime and anywhere.Bottom of Form
  • Like a prism in the sun, yada is a multi-faceted word that, in its near one thousand uses in the Hebrew scripture, is translated variously as know, knows, knew, known, knowing, knowledge, acknowledge, understand, teach, realize, show, experience, care for, concern, concerned about, have sex with and learns.
  • From beginning to end it is a word for life, ranging across the spectrum of human relationships and responsibilities—and not surprisingly, its meaning includes both joy and sorrow, the way things ought to be and the way things more often than not are.
  • In Seinfield’s cynical world, the point was that there was no point, and “Yada yada yada” was the response. As silly as Seinfeld meant it to be, for those with ears to hear, it did have meaning. After the Fall, where the covenant is first broken in the Garden, everything is broken, the whole cosmos is affected—and so is yada, so is knowing. Yada, yada, yada.
  • When our older children were almost adolescents, I invited them and their friends at Rivendell School to see the film Weapons of the Spirit. With unusual seriousness, the Washington Post saw it as “a kind of spiritual quest,” and I thought it would be good grist for the mill of young minds. “The question at the heart of this modest, compelling film is this: how in the middle of great evil did a great good take place?”
  • Why do we care? It is never an easy question, and there is never an easy answer.
  • If we remember solely the horror of the Holocaust, it is we who will bear the responsibility for having created the most dangerous alibi of all: that it was beyond man’s capacity to know and care.
  • In the image of Simone Weil, true learning is learning to pay attention, seeing things as they really are.
  • Why do we care? Because we see ourselves in relationship, “obligated by the very fact of our existence.” And now knowing what we know, we are responsible, for love’s sake, for the people and places that are ours—if we have eyes that see.

Steven Garber was recently interviewed by byFaith about Visions of Vocation. You can read the interview here: http://byfaithonline.com/how-do-we-love-a-broken-world/

Next week we’ll look at chapter 5. Won’t you join us?

Quotables:

  •  I have often repented of speech but hardly ever of silence. -C.S. Lewis
  •  It is clear that lax doctrine and lax living are pretty frequently associated. -Charles Spurgeon

 Faith-and-Work

 Quotables:

  • I am hugely influenced in these things by Peter Drucker and his reminder that the effective executive maximizes his opportunities and knows himself. So we need to know whether we are more mentally active in morning or evening, and we need to maximize that. – Albert Mohler
  • If work is to find its right place in the world, it is the duty of the Church to see to it that the work serves God, and that the worker serves the work. -Dorothy Sayers

 INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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

How Then Should We WorkHow then SHOULD We Work?  Book Club ~ Chapter 3

This week we continue our book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. This week we cover the material in Chapter 3: The History of Work and Calling.

The Gospel at WorkThe Gospel at Work Book Club

We recently completed week three in the book club for The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert. We covered:

CHAPTER 6 HOW DO I BALANCE WORK, CHURCH, AND FAMILY?

CHAPTER 7 HOW DO I HANDLE DIFFICULT BOSSES AND COWORKERS?

 What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Series – Part 9

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

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from Chapter 15 Creating the Right Routines.

 

R.C. Quote


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An Anomaly of a Week

Top Albums of 2014

2014 has been a particularly strong year for music, with most of my favorite artists releasing new albums. Below are my top choices, in order, thus far:
1. Tie:
•      Songs of Innocence – U2
•      Anomaly – Lecrae
2.  Neon Steeple – Crowder
3.  Fading West and The Edge of the Earth – Switchfoot
4.  Rivers in the Wasteland – NEEDTOBREATHE
5.  20 – Jars of Clay
Two other highly anticipated releases that may crack this list are Love Ran Red by Chris Tomlin and Rise by Trip Lee, both of which will be released October 28.

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Movie Review:

  • The Maze Runner, rated PG-13

Music Reviews:

  • The Edge of the Earth: Unreleased Songs from the film “Fading West” – Switchfoot
  • Anomaly by Lecrae

Book Review:

~ THIS AND THAT ~

MUSIC:

  • Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong, the new album from For King & Country, who also guests on one song on Lecrae’s Anomaly, debuted at #2 on the iTunes top albums charts on September 16. Congratulations!
  • And the exciting new music just keeps coming. From Jars of Clay to Lecrae, U2 and Switchfoot, now comes news that Chris Tomlin has released a new single from his forthcoming album Love Ran Red. The album features the singles “Waterfall” and “Jesus Loves Me”, along with “Almighty” and “At the Cross (Love Ran Red)” which were included on the Passion: Take it All album earlier this year. Below are the lyrics to this excellent new worship anthem “Jesus Loves Me”, which I’m sure will be soon be sung in churches around the world:

I was lostChris Tomlin
I was in chains
The world had a hold of me

My heart was a stone
I was covered in shame
When He came for me

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

Jesus, He loves me, He loves me, He is for me
Jesus, how can it be, He loves me, He is for me

And it was a fire
Deep in my soul
I’ll never be the same

I stepped out of the dark
And into the light
When He called my name

I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His presence
I couldn’t run, couldn’t run from His arms

He holds the stars and He holds my heart
With healing hands that bear the scars
The rugged cross where He died for me
My only hope, my everything

  • Steve TaylorMy good friend Jeff told me that Steve Taylor is getting ready to release his first new album in 20 years. It will be called Goliath and will be released November 18. His band – The Perfect Foil – includes Peter Furler. Can’t wait!
  • Stevie Wonder, who rarely tours, will be in concert at the United Center in Chicago for the Songs in the Key of Life Performance tour on November 14. This will be a performance of his classic album of the same name. I saw him in concert at the State Farm Center (then called the Assembly Hall) back in 1974 and have long enjoyed his music.Lecrae

           ALL LECRAE ALL THE TIME…

BOOKS:

MOVIES:

  • Here is the first full-length trailer for the upcoming Hunger Games: Mockingjay film: http://entertainthis.usatoday.com/2014/09/15/the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1-first-full-trailer/
  • Kirk Cameron’s next film is Saving Christmas. The promotion for the film states: Every year at Christmas time it seems the baby in the manger takes more and more of a backseat to retail sales, Santa Claus, and political correctness.  With “Merry Christmas” being replaced by “Seasons Greetings” and court ordered removal of public nativity scenes, the fruit of Mary’s womb is falling on hard times. But this year, Kirk Cameron is taking back Christmas with his engaging new movie Saving Christmas. Opening in select theaters November 14, the newest movie from the star of Fireproof and Unstoppable is filled with laughter, warmth, and God-honoring cheer! Saving Christmas will change the way your family sees and celebrates this magical time of year. Check out the official site for the film here: http://savingchristmas.com/
  • Andrew Barber has a problem with Christian films (and so does Tammy by the way, but perhaps for different reasons). Barber writes that there are currently two primary problems with Christian films: (1) they are either inherently dishonest and/or (2) they are primarily concerned with what C. S. Lewis called “egoistic castle-building.” Read his article “The Problem with Christian Films” here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-problem-with-christian-films

INTERESTING ARTICLES, VIDEOS AND EARNEST PRAYERS:

DESIRING GOD ~

  • We don’t like to wait – I know I sure don’t. Paul Maxwell of Desiring God writes that helpful to remember that “God’s most precious gifts are often established in gradation for three reasons”. Read what those reasons are in his article titled “Do You Hate to Wait?” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/do-you-hate-to-wait
  • Jon Bloom of Desiring God writesIrritability. I give into it too often. It’s time to take this sin more seriously and lay it aside (Hebrews 12:1). Every time I’m irritable I burden myself with the detrimental weights of prideful selfishness and relational conflict. And as my irritation overflows on others, it burdens them too because my harsh words stir up anger in them (Proverbs 15:1).” I know I struggle with irritability more than I would like to admit. Read his article “Lay Aside the Weight of Irritability” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/lay-aside-the-weight-of-irritability
  • David Mathis from Desiring God writes that one of the most loving things you can do for someone is tell them when they’re wrong. Read his article “Give the Blessing of Rebuke” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/give-the-blessing-of-rebuke

TO MAKE YOU SMILE:

IN THE NEWS – ISIS:

  • Here is an interesting article from the New York Times on how ISIS works.
  • Former Petra and Head East lead singer John Schlitt has been working with Jay Sekulow of ACLJ, John Elefante and Mark Townsend. They have just recorded their first original tune, Where I Stand, which is a moving tribute to the persecuted Christians in Iraq. The song goes hand-in-hand with an original book written by Sekulow called “Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore.” The song is available when you purchase the book.
  • Scotty Smith tweeted the below picture of women being sold like slaves in Mosul, Iraq by ISIS, saying “This is what true slavery looks like, people”.ISIS selling female slaves

Quotables

  • The only thing that we have earned at the hands of perfect justice is perfect punishment. -RC Sproul
  • If you have wasted your whole life, and have five minutes left, you can live them to the glory of Christ. -John Piper

 Beyond the Ark headerCourtesy of World Magazine

Doug Michael Adam and Eve cartoonWorld Magazine Cartoon

Faith-and-Work

Quotable: Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. -Steve JobsHeaven is a Place on Earth

BOOK REVIEW – Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God by Michael E. Wittner

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

  • Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes that business success and gratefulness go hand in hand. Read his “Tuesday Tip” titled “The Wonder of Gratitude” here” http://drzimmerman.com/tuesdaytip/gratitude.php
  • Here are quotes on leadership that Dr. Alan Zimmerman is known for and people have found helpful: Download your copy by clicking here
  • On this month’s Leadership podcast titled “Keystone Habits”, Andy Stanley talks about habits that can change your organization. You can find the podcast on iTunes or here:  http://andystanley.com/free-resources/
  • Here is a one-minute video (“60 Seconds to Significance” from The High Calling) from pharmaceutical and vaccine industry consultant Boyd Clarke on how to take criticism.
  • I found this article about reflecting on our performance at work from J.B. Wood to be helpful. Read “How To Know if You are Doing a Good Job”.
  • What are the best places to work? Here is one list – from Fortune – of the top 100 best companies to work for: http://www.greatplacetowork.com/best-companies/100-best-companies-to-work-for
  • Matt Perman writes “What are the components of an effective management philosophy that is based upon the fact that humans are in the image of God and that the glory of God is the goal of all things? I am going to outline eleven”. Read his article titled “Management in Light of the Supremacy of God: How Should Christians Think about Management” here: http://whatsbestnext.com/2011/01/management-in-light-of-the-supremacy-of-god/
  • Matt Perman shares the slide deck he uses to help introduce people to the theology of productivity that he gives in What’s Best Next the book. It can serve as a good refresher for those who have read the book, and also something that you can easily share with those who haven’t read the book.
  • I receive the Lead Like Jesus e-devotional three times each week. This one from last Friday got my attention as the prayer stated “Lord, I hand over my need to be in control, my desire to look good in other people’s eyes”, a few things that are probably counterfeit idols in my life. Read the entire devotional here: http://leadlikejesus.com/blog/blog-post/seeking-answers#
  • In this twelfth installment in the series on love at work, John Kyle writes on what it means to rejoice with the truth, even when you’re at work.
  • In this article titled “Heroism in a Cubicle”, Dr. David Leonard states “To put it differently, you must resolve to be intellectually virtuous; you must resolve to be heroic, even in your cubicle. dc46cd4#sthash.y5L6UZKH.dpuf
  • Can unfulfilling work be a vocation? Read Gene Veith’s comments.
  • In his article “What is the Vocation of a Student”, Andrew Spencer offers five lessons he wishes he had learned as a younger student. Find out what those lessons are.
  • Christianaudio is offering John Maxwell’s Leadership Series audiobooks at a discount of up to 75% off through September 30. Check out the details.

 Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?How Then Should We Work

How then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work Book Club ~ Chapter 2

This week we continue our book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. Read the passages I highlighted in Chapter 2: The Gospel, The Kingdom and Our Calling: What Does the Bible Say About Work?

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Series – Part 8 What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman

  • Architect CREATE A FLEXIBLE STRUCTURE
  • CHAPTER 14 Setting Up Your Week

We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from chapter 14.

 R.C. Quote


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Lake Geneva

Lake GenevaLake Geneva, Wisconsin

Last weekend we celebrated our birthdays with a long weekend at beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin, having often vacationed in Hayward growing up and having enjoyed a few vacations in Door County more recently. We had visited Lake Geneva a few times over the past decade, with this time being the first time we had spent two nights (though one more night would have been perfect!). We stayed at the Mill Creek Hotel for the second time. It is a 33 room boutique suite hotel, which is located perfectly in the heart of the shopping (about a hundred shops) and restaurant district near the Riviera Docks.

The center of Lake Geneva is Geneva Lake, a deep (140 feet at the deepest) clear water lake which is surrounded by beautiful homes (many dating back to the early 20th century when many business leaders from Chicago built homes at the lake). A walking path is available which allows you to make the full 21 mile walk around the lake, or as much of it as you would like.

There are about a thousand piers on the lake, and on a busy summer day there will be that many boats on the lake. We experienced two days of great weather, and since it was after Labor Day, the lake was far less crowded. We would recommend you take one of the many different boat cruises that depart several times a day from the Riviera Docks. The Riviera once featured big bands and singers such as Louis Armstrong and a young Frank Sinatra, and now is a popular destination for weddings. We enjoyed meals at Popeye’s and Scuttlebutts just across Wrigley Avenue from the lake. We also had some great pizza at the Next Door Pub, watching the Cardinals beat the Milwaukee Brewers just an hour away from Lake Geneva.

If you’ve never checked out Lake Geneva, we highly recommend the three hour and fifteen minute drive. You can take in a movie at the Showboat Theatre, play golf, take long walks or eat at any number of excellent restaurants as you enjoy the beauty. You won’t regret it!

TamMy Amazing Wife

Last weekend we celebrated Tammy’s birthday. In fact we celebrated both of our birthdays with a long weekend trip to one of our favorite places – Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. As I thought about Tammy’s birthday, I was again reminded how blessed I am to be her husband. She is my Proverbs 31 woman.

Initially, the Lord used Tammy to help draw me to Him. I was raised Roman Catholic and went to church every Sunday, but it made no difference in my life. When we met she was focused on her career in Accounting, with goals of achieving her CPA (Certified Public Accountant) designation and becoming a partner in an Accounting firm. But the Lord had other plans for her. Early in our marriage she became seriously ill and her life changed into one of service. Over the past 30 years, she has served as a Hospice volunteer, at a Catholic worker house, a soup kitchen (12 years), as the treasurer at our church (18 plus years), and will soon begin her next journey of service as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer. I appreciate so many things about Tammy, but her spirit of service is amazing. Thank you Lord for Tammy!

 Coram DeoCoram Deo

What makes our blog different from all of the others out there? I see four components to what we hope to do each week. We aim to:

Look at art (music, movies, and books) from a Christian worldview.

  • Contemplate culture (news, theology) and share important articles with you.
  • Consider how to integrate faith and work.
  • Share articles, videos and cartoons that will make you smile.

~ UPDATED PAGES ON THE BLOG ~

Book Review ~

Movie Reviews ~

  • If I Stay
  • The Trip

 Quotable: My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior. -John Newton

~ THIS AND THAT ~

IN THE NEWS –

BOOKS –

PROBING QUESTIONS –

MUSIC –

  • Here are a few upcoming music releases that I’m excited about:
    • Michael W. Smith Christmas album – September 30
    • Peter Furler Christmas, featuring David Ian – October 7
    • Rise by Trip Lee – October 28
    • Love Ran Red by Chris Tomlin

ARTICLES OF INTEREST –

JOHN PIPER AND DESIRING GOD –

LIGONIER MINISTRIES –

TO MAKE YOU SMILE –

Visions of Vocation Book Club Week 2Visions of Vocation

Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May. Tammy and I are reading his newest book Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. Below are passages we highlighted from our reading for the second week of our book club:

  • The Last Butterfly is about moral imagination, about learning to see with the heart in the context of one’s calling, right in the middle of the push and shove of life, full as it is of complex responsibilities.
  • Our propensity to deceive ourselves about our place and purpose makes it so very difficult to see the truth of our lives, to understand the meaning of our moment in history and our responsibility to it.
  • The importance of The Last Butterfly is that it asks the viewer this probing question: In the context of one’s calling, how does one learn to see with the eyes of the heart, to see oneself as responsible for the way the world is and isn’t?
  • In a captivating though sobering chapter, “The Duties of Law-Abiding Citizens,” she described Eichmann as reading his world through this lens: This was the way things were, this was the new law of the land, based on the Führer’s order; whatever he did he did, as far as he could see, as a law-abiding citizen. He did his duty, as he told the police and the court over and over again; he not only obeyed orders, he also obeyed the law.
  • The distinction mattered to Eichmann. In the pharisaism of his heart, he understood his employment as a public vocation with professional responsibilities, so that it was important to not only do one’s duty but to obey the law—even if the law was one and the same with the fatally flawed Führer himself.
  • Arendt painstakingly set forth the historical details of the Nazi vision in general, and Eichmann’s role in particular, always returning to the question, “Why didn’t he see these people as neighbors? What perversion of law and order made it possible to go to work day by day, year after year, making choices with horrific consequences, and to see it all as “my duty”?
  • Also perplexed by Eichmann and the court, she tried to find language sufficient to communicate the moral meaning of his actions, and offered the word thoughtlessness—he did not think things through, he was not thoughtful about what he did and what it meant. In the narrowness of his vision of neighbor, of citizen, of employee, he failed to follow through on the moral implications of his beliefs and behavior.
  • Eichmann’s failure to see truthfully enabled him, by just doing his job, to oversee Theresienstadt, the “city of the Jews” in The Last Butterfly. The film is what we call historical fiction, but Eichmann’s role was far from fictional. Blind to the meaning of who he was and what it meant, he made sure that the trains left on time for Auschwitz, going to bed at night certain that “with the killing of Jews I had nothing to do.”
  • But the harsh truth is that the twentieth century produced other holocausts, some more terrifying than that of Nazis, and to own that history is part of our human responsibility even in the midst of our ordinary lives in ordinary places.
  • Over time Gary decided to leave the Department of Justice to find a way to address injustices small and large wherever they might be found. If in the Philippines it was child prostitution, in India it was child slavery. And so three years after the Rwandan genocide, the International Justice Mission was formed. Now, fifteen years later, IJM has developed networks of attorneys, investigators and trauma social workers in nations on every continent.
  • Two stories, one century: Eichmann and Haugen. Where one did not see a neighbor in need, the other understood that moral, political and social injustice is in fact always one more window into a neighbor’s need. The question that searches the deepest places is this: Why did Gary feel responsible? He had eyes to see that he was in fact responsible to do something, because someone had to say no. And he found a way in the context of his calling to do just that.
  • Over the years I have read and reread Percy’s work, dwelling in his vision of learning and life. He is, after all, the one who wrote that “it is possible to get all A’s and still flunk life.”
  • An observation about the human condition from his novel The Second Coming, the second of two novels about Will Barrett, his words are a warning about the temptation that lurks around the corner of everyone’s heart—to believe that competence can be separated from character, that excellence can be defined in merely academic terms without a corresponding concern for the kind of people we are. Do we have eyes to see what is really important? What really matters?
  • Along the way, principally in conversations with good friends, he was drawn to mere Christianity, to the gospel of the kingdom which was strange good news for someone like him who longed for something to believe about life and the world that could make sense of his life in the world.
  • What the literati saw in Percy’s work was his unflinching willingness to look at sorrow and anguish and not blink. Eyes that see, yes—but what do we see? He was not a romantic—that was not a possibility. Rather he was a realist to the core. What the reviewers missed was his deeply rooted commitment to seeing human beings as “pilgrims in the ruins,” that we are glories and shames at the same time.
  • “But I always want some hint of hope in my writing.” What did he mean? And why did it matter?
  • Honest readers of Percy’s work acknowledge that he was painstakingly honest about the sorrows that are ours as human beings, and his hints of hope were never more than that.
  • There is one great question in his work: “Knowing what you know about yourself and the world, what are you going to do?”
  • Attentive as he was to life, and to his life, Percy was writing about the challenge of being alive in the modern world. So much to see, so much to hear, so much to know—what will we do?
  • That is the most difficult dilemma for thoughtful, serious human beings: What will you do with what you know?
  • If most of Europe was Eichmann-like, offering “the obedience of corpses” in thousands of terribly ordinary ways, there were exceptions. In every nation there are people who choose otherwise, who have eyes to see that something is wrong and that they can do something about it.
  • Taken together they are some of the best stories in the whole of history, reminding all of us what it means to be a neighbor, what it means to have eyes that see.
  • In thousands of important and different ways, each is a story formed by the asking and answering of the question, knowing what I know, what will I do?
  • Always and everywhere, this is our challenge as human beings. Can we know and love the world at the very same time? Knowing its glories and shames, can we still choose to love what we know? Is there any task more difficult than that?
  • Knowing what I know about the way the world is, what am I going to do? A mime in Europe had to answer, as did the Nazi bureaucrats, as did the Justice Department lawyer, as do all of us. Percy’s question echoes through the heart of every human being, and it is especially poignant for those coming out of the starting blocks of early adulthood with a life of knowing and doing on the horizon. The question requires an answer if we are going be human.

Next week we’ll look at chapter 3. Won’t you join us?

Faith-and-Work

Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us? How Then Should We Work

  1. How then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work by Hugh Whelchel 
    This week we begin a new book club on Hugh Whelchel’s book How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work. Whelchel is the Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and has a passion and expertise in helping individuals integrate their faith and vocational calling. This week we cover the material in the book through the first chapter. Click here to read the passages I highlighted in CHAPTER 1.What's Best Next
  2. What’s Best Next Series – Part 6        
    We continue with our overview of this new book on productivity from a Christian perspective. I’ve highlighted a number of passages and would like to share some of them from CHAPTER 12: Finding Your Life Calling (Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page).The Gospel at Work
  3. You can also read excerpts from The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert and excerpts from our past book club – The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. 

Integrating Faith and Work

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