Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith by David Goetsch
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life.

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Here are several new or upcoming books, in a variety of genres, that I’m looking forward to (descriptions are courtesy of Amazon):

Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds by Nick Foles

To be published June 26.

“When the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback went down with a torn ACL in week 14 of the 2017 NFL season, many fans—and commentators—assumed the Eagles’ season was over.
Instead, Nick Foles came off the bench and, against all odds, led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory in history.
How did Nick get it done—winning MVP honors, silencing the critics, and shocking the world? How did the man who was on the verge of retiring just two seasons earlier stay optimistic and rally the team to an astounding win? How did he stay ready despite numerous trades and discouraging injuries, able to step up in the moment and perform at the top of his game?
Believe It offers a behind-the-scenes look at Nick’s unlikely path to the Super Bowl, the obstacles that threatened to hold him back, his rediscovery of his love for the game, and the faith that grounded him through it all. Learn from the way Nick handled the trials and tribulations that made him into the man he is today—and discover a path to your own success.” Continue reading

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My Favorite Books on Faith and Work, Calling and Productivity

I have a passion for integrating my faith and my work and talking to others about how to do it. Over the past few years, I’ve read a number of helpful books in the faith and work, calling and productivity genres. Below are my favorites:

Five Books on Integrating Faith and Work

  • Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller with Katherine Leary. Keller helps to illuminate the transformative and revolutionary connection between the Christian faith and the workplace. He encourages believers to think about their work through the lens of a Christian worldview. He structures the book around three questions: Why do we want to work? Why is it so hard to work? How can we overcome the difficulties and find satisfaction in our work through the gospel? This book introduced me to Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Center for Faith and Work, something I would like to model in my community.
  • Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson. Nelson looks at Os Guinness’ discussion of our primary and secondary callings in his excellent book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life and focuses on our secondary calling (to do a specific work) in this book. He looks at work through a biblical lens in the first section of the book and focuses on how God shapes our lives in and through our work in the second section.  The author, who is a pastor, includes helpful “Questions for Reflection and Discussion” and a “Prayer for Our Work” at the end of each chapter. He mentions that the Center for Faith and Work at Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church (mentioned above) has been a catalyst for his church to think more intentionally about equipping their congregation in vocational mission.
  • God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith. This book is an exposition of the doctrine of vocation and an attempt to apply that doctrine in a practical way to our life in the twenty-first century. He first looks at the nature of vocation: the purpose of vocation, how to find our vocation, how God calls us to different tasks and how He is present in what we do in our lives. Then he looks at specific vocations (as a worker, in the family, as a citizen, and in the church), and specific problems common to them all.
  • Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman. This is a book about vocational stewardship that is primarily written for pastors and ministry leaders, particularly those already committed to leading missional churches (those that seek to follow King Jesus on the mission of making all things new). It would be an excellent book for these leaders to recommend to those they lead to help them integrate their faith and work.
  • Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber. The author invites the reader to “come and see” that the vision of vocation he writes about is being lived out by men and women who are committed to a faith that shapes a vocation that in turn shapes culture. He writes that there is not a more difficult task that human beings face than to know the world and still love it. A recurring question that he asks throughout the book is “Knowing what I know, what will I do?” This book is best read slowly as he weaves in stories to illustrate his points.

Two Books on Calling

  • The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness. The author writes that there is no deeper meaning than to discover and live out your calling. He states that there is no calling without a Caller, and if there is no Caller, there are no callings, only work. He states that it is never too late to discover your calling, which is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success. He discusses our primary and secondary callings and the two distortions (Catholic and Protestant) that have crippled the truth of calling. An excellent abridged version of this book is available entitled Rising to the Call.
  • The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins. This book is an excellent introduction to the subject of calling. It’s easy to read, interesting and practical. The book is organized into three major sections – Preparation, Action and Completion. In those sections he covers seven overlapping stages of calling – Awareness, Apprenticeship, Practice, Discovery, Profession, Mastery and Legacy. In each stages he uses interesting stories to illustrate the stage. In the Appendix, he includes a summary of the seven stages, seven signs you’ve found your calling and seven exercises to complete. He also includes questions for discussion that will be helpful if you’re reading and discussing the book with others.

Two Books on Productivity

  • Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies. This new book is an extremely efficient, well-organized, easy to read and practical book. The author’s aim is to help the reader do more of what matters most and do it better. He writes that our productivity depends to a good degree on identifying and using the best tools (management, scheduling and information), for the job and then growing in your proficiency with them. He also discusses concepts such as a “Weekly Review” and includes helpful “Action Steps” at the end of each section.
  • What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. The author states that the book is about getting things done and making ideas happen with less friction and frustration from a biblical perspective. He helps the reader think about productivity as Christians. He aims to help us live the life that God has called us to live and live it with maximum effectiveness and meaning. He introduces us to the concept of Gospel Driven Productivity, which looks at not only what the Bible has to say about getting things done, but also learns from the best secular thinking. He uses the DARE Model – Define, Architect, Reduce, and Execute.

These are my favorite faith and work, calling and productivity books. Do you have others to add to the list?

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4 Ways to Find Work That You Love

Marcus Buckingham QuoteHave you ever talked to someone who absolutely loves the work that they do? They actually don’t see it as “work”, and enjoy doing it each day. If so, and if you are not in that type of a situation right now – and chances are you are not – you might have been a bit envious of them. In fact, in his book The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success, Marcus Buckingham states that fewer than two out of ten of us get to play to our strengths at work most of the time.

So what can we do about this? Here’s a few ways that I have thought of to help you find the work you love:

  1. Consider Your Calling. The concept of a calling is not something you hear a lot of people talk about these days, but I can point you to a few excellent resources to get started. The best book on the subject that I’ve found is The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness, a book that I read in Dr. Philip Douglass’s excellent Spiritual and Ministry Formation class at Covenant Seminary two years ago. An abridged and more accessible version of the book is Guinness’s Rising to the Call.

a.  Guinness tells us that for Christians, our primary calling is by Him, to Him, and for Him. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

b.  Guinness states that our secondary calling, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. Our secondary callings can be our jobs or vocations. Guinness states that these and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. They are “callings” rather than the “calling.”

A new, and more secular approach to the subject of calling is The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Goins tells us that finding your calling is a path, rather than a plan. He refers to our secondary calling as the reason you were born. I wouldn’t quite go that far, believing for example that the reason I was born was to worship God and tell others about Him. However, I would apply what Goins writes as to say that our secondary calling is the work that we were born to do. He also refers to this calling as that thing you just cannot not do. It is not a destination, but a journey that doesn’t end until you die.

A third resource I would recommend is Matt Perman’s excellent book What’s Best Next, which I’m reading and discussing with some friends at work. Matt writes about calling and challenges his readers to develop a personal mission statement, core principles (those things that we would do even if it was to your disadvantage), and a life goal. Here’s a link to my article about personal mission statements.

Have you ever given much thought to your calling or callings? Or do you just see your work as something you need to do until that day you can retire?

2.  Use Assessment Tools. I’m a big proponent of assessment tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or Marcus Buckingham’s Strengthsfinder and new Stand Out 2.0 to help myself and others better understand ourselves to help find work we love. These assessments provide you reports that help you to better understand your strengths, and decide whether you are an introvert or extrovert. For example, I am an introvert. I’ve also greatly been helped in understanding being an introvert by Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. See my review here.

Have you used one of these assessments, or perhaps another one? Did it add value to you, and help you to better understand yourself, leading to helping you to find work that you love?

3.  Use the concepts from Marcus Buckingham’s strengths teaching to determine work activities that strengthen and weaken you. I’m a big proponent of Buckingham’s teaching on strengths (see a list of all of his books here). Buckingham writes that “Strengths are not activities you’re good at, they’re activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.” He states that focusing on strengths is the surest way to greater job satisfaction, team performance and organizational excellence. I was particularly helped with his work in Go Put Your Strengths to Work, where he helps you identify those activities that strengthen you, and those that weaken or drain you. I’m passionate about this, so if you would like to talk more about it, please let me know.

4.  Work with your mentors. Lastly, work with your mentors to help find work that matches your skills, experiences, personality and strengths profile. The emerging leaders that I work with – on my team and mentees – all have multiple mentors, rather than just one. That is something I advocate to get a diversity of opinions, experiences and coaching. If you are not working with mentors, start today by reading my article about the benefits.

I have seen the difference in people when they find work that they truly love. It can be powerful as the light comes on for them. They look forward to coming to work and making a difference. Is that the case with you? If not, consider these four thoughts and start your journey to finding work that you love. And let me know how your journey is going. I’d love to hear from you – just click ‘Leave a comment’ on the left side of the home page.

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3 Perspectives on Calling

Os Guinness quoteRecently, I wrote about developing a personal mission statement, based on Matt Perman’s teaching in his excellent book What’s Best Next.  In his book he follows up the discussion of a personal mission statement with that of a life goal, or calling, a subject that I am passionate about, and talk of often.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading about calling over the past few years. There are many perspectives on calling that I’ve read about. Here are three that I’ve found particularly helpful, and would like to share with you:

  • Life Goal. In What’s Best Next, Matt Perman writes that the large objectives we have are not actually mission statements, but are life goals, or visions. He tells us that while our mission is a matter of principles, a life goal is a specific aim. And while our mission will never be completed, a life goal can be completed. It has a finishing point.

Our mission is the ultimate reason for our existence, or our “Why”. Perman tells us that our life goal is our “What”. Our life goal is an objective so big that it governs all we do, and will most likely take our entire life.  It is what most people mean when they talk about finding our calling in life. It is the chief thing we are seeking to accomplish with our life.  Matt offers these helpful questions in identifying your life goal or vision:

  1. What would you do if you had all the money you needed and could do whatever you wanted?
  2. What would you do if you could do only one thing in the next three years?

What about you? Have you ever considered what your life goal is? It’s not too late to start doing that now.

  • Calling as a Path and Portfolio. In his new book The Art of Work, Jeff Goins tells us that finding our calling is a path, rather than a plan. He refers to our calling as that thing that you just cannot not He states that our calling is not a destination, but a journey that doesn’t end until we die. We must see the journey as one of building bridges, not as leaping off of bridges. It‘s a process and it takes time. Finding our calling is a series of intentional decisions.

Goins writes about seeing our callings as a portfolio. He states that our calling is more than our career. Instead, he suggests that we consider the variety of things that we do (work, home, play/hobbies, etc.) as our calling portfolio.

What about you? Where are you on your calling(s) journey? And what is in your calling portfolio?

  • Our Primary and Secondary Calls. Os Guinness’s book The Call is the best book on calling that I have read. I read the book in Dr. Philip Douglass’s excellent Spiritual and Ministry Formation course at Covenant Seminary two years ago. An abridged and more easily consumable version of the book was released as Rising to the Call.

Guinness tells us that there is no deeper meaning in life than to discover and live out your calling. He states that our calling is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success. It is never too late to discover our calling, and that at some point all of us confront the question: “How do I find and fulfill the central purpose of my life?” He tells us that answering the call is the way to find and fulfill the central purpose of our lives.

He tells us that there is no calling without a caller and down through the centuries God’s call has provided the ultimate “Why” in the human search for purpose. He writes that if there is no Caller, there are no callings – only work.

Guinness tells us that if you are a follower of Christ, your primary calling is by Him, to Him, and for Him. Christian’s secondary calling, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for Him. Our secondary callings can be our jobs or vocations, but those and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. He refers to them as “callings”, rather than the “calling”.

Another helpful thought from Guinness is not to let our jobs define us and give us our identities. We spend so much of our waking time doing our work, this can certainly happen.  Think of when you meet someone. You ask them what they “do”. We can become what we do. Guinness tells us that calling reverses such thinking, and a sense of calling should precede a choice of job and career. The main way to discover calling is along the line of what we are each created and gifted to be. So, instead of thinking that you are what you do, calling says to do what you are.

Have you found yourself falling into the trap of becoming what you do?

Many people never think of the concept of a calling, only work. They see work, or their job, as a necessary evil. It’s something they have to do to pay the bills and put food on the table. They can’t wait for the weekend and are counting down the years to retirement. But I encourage you to pursue your calling, and these books by Matt Perman, Jeff Goins and Os Guinness are a great place to start.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work
Rising to the Call by Os GuinnessRising to the Call: Discover the Ultimate Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness. Thomas Nelson. 112 pages. 2008.

Os Guinness’s The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life is the best book I’ve read on the subject of calling. I read that book in one of my last classes at seminary a little over a year ago. This small book was inspired by that book and contains much of the best material from that volume.

Guinness states that there is no deeper meaning in life than to discover and live out your calling. He tells us that our calling is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success. He states that it is never too late to discover your calling, and that at some point every one of us confronts the question: “How do I find and fulfill the central purpose of my life?” He tells us that answering the call is the way to find and fulfill the central purpose of your life.

One of the important points in the book is that there is no calling without a caller and down through the centuries God’s call has proved the ultimate “Why” in the human search for purpose. He writes that if there is no Caller, there are no callings—only work.

Guinness tells us that our primary calling as followers of Christ is by Him, to Him, and for Him. Our secondary calling, is that everyone everywhere and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. Our secondary callings can be our jobs or vocations. Guinness states that these and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. They are “callings” rather than the “calling.”

Another important teaching in the book is the two distortions that Guinness states have crippled the truth of calling – the “Catholic distortion” (The “perfect life” is spiritual, dedicated to contemplation and reserved for priests, monks, and nuns; the “permitted life” is secular, dedicated to action and open to such tasks as soldiering, governing, farming, trading, and raising families), and the “Protestant distortion” (a secular form of dualism, elevating the secular at the expense of the spiritual. This distortion severed the secular from the spiritual altogether and reduces vocation to an alternative word for work).

Guinness writes that we must avoid the two distortions by keeping the two callings together, stressing the primary calling to counter the Protestant distortion and secondary callings to counter the Catholic distortion.

Guinness writes “Work takes up so many of our waking hours that our jobs come to define us and give us our identities. We become what we do. Calling reverses such thinking. A sense of calling should precede a choice of job and career, and the main way to discover calling is along the line of what we are each created and gifted to be. Instead of, “You are what you do,” calling says: “Do what you are.”

Throughout the book, Guinness share important features of calling. He states that to follow the call of God is therefore to live before the heart of God. It is to live life Coram Deo (before the heart of God) and thus to shift our awareness of audiences to the point where only the last and highest—God—counts. I also appreciated his discussion of the concept of an Audience of One.

If you are looking for a good Christian approach to calling, I would highly recommend this short book by Guinness as well as his full-length The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life.

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

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

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

Chapter 18 – The Moral Virtues of Leadership

Leaders are involved in one of the most morally significant callings on earth, and nothing the leader touches is without moral meaning and importance. Leadership requires the possession and cultivation of certain moral virtues that allow leadership to happen. If the leader does not demonstrate these essential virtues, disaster is certain. Leaders are subject to the same laws, moral principles, and expectations as the rest of humanity, but the moral risks are far higher for them.

  •  Honesty – Truth telling is central to leadership.

One of the greatest temptations that comes to any leader is the temptation to tell something less than the truth. We must be ready to tell the truth at all times, even when it hurts.

  • Dependability – The leader shows up when it matters, every time.

The leader is where he needs to be, always. This is not so much a statement of physical presence as it is an affirmation that the leader is always there in attention—in charge and ready to lead. The leader may have a day out of the office but never a day away from dependability.

  • Loyalty – Without loyalty, human endeavors are doomed.

If we expect followers, employees, students, members, and customers to be loyal, leaders must be loyal in advance, and consistently so. Are the people who follow your leadership afraid that you are only looking for the next opportunity? If so, you can forget loyalty. Do they see you living with less commitment to the mission than you are asking them to have? Congratulations, you just undermined loyalty. Loyalty grows where it is cultivated and admired.

  • Determination – You cannot lead without tenacity and the unconditional commitment to getting the job done.

Tenacity of purpose is what defines great leadership, and the greater the purpose, the greater the tenacity required.

  • Humility – Get this straight—leaders will be humble, or they will be humbled.

Leaders have unique abilities, but they received those talents and the ability to develop them as gifts from God, given for the good and welfare of others. The gifts were given to us in order that we might serve others. The minute we forget that and begin to believe our own publicity is the minute we set ourselves up for humiliation.

  • Humor –Humor is a public admission that leaders are completely human, and that, in itself, is a virtue.

We are not called to be comedians or humorists, but the effective leader knows that generous, self-deprecating humor is a gift that leaders can give to the people they serve.

Faith and Work News:

  • Failure. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell looks at the word failure.
  • Bold Leadership. In this month’s leadership podcast, Andy Stanley explores what it takes to be a bold leader.
  • A Cultural Imagination.  I’m currently reading David Brooks’ book The Road to Character. Here’s a video of a talk he gave at Redeemer Presbyterian’s Center for Faith and Work.
  • The Most Liberal and Conservative Jobs in America. Ana Swanson writes “You can probably guess that environmentalists and yoga instructors are more likely to be Democrats — and oil workers to be Republicans. But what about flight attendants, talk show hosts, and neurosurgeons?”
  • Major Body Language Don’ts at Work. Nikelle Snader writes “The nonverbal communication you use, even if you’re not aware of it yourself, can serve as major signals to those around you if you’re invested in your work, whether you’re open to input, and if you have the confidence necessary to succeed in your office.”
  • Trend or Issue. Mark Miller writes “If you’ve never drawn the distinction between trends and issues, perhaps now would be a good time to do so.”
  • Just Stop and Think. Here’s an oldie, but a goody, Watch this 15-minute video from Francis Chan.
  • The 37 Best Business Books I’ve Ever Read. Michael Hyatt shares this helpful list broken down into different categories.
  • Two Strategies That Turn People Into Partners. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “Fortunately, people are interesting, even though they’re not always charming.  Yet the fact of the matter is — we’ve got to work with people.  And every business that has ever been successful has learned how to turn people into partners. So how can you do that?  Let me suggest two strategies from my new program, The Power of Partnership: Keys to Better Relationships and Greater Teamwork.
  • People Over Profit: Easier Said Than Done. Dorcas Cheng-Tozun writes about the new book People Over Profit: Break the System, Live with Purpose, Be More Successful by Dale Partridge.
  • Seven Thoughts on Taking Risks as a Leader. Brad Lomenick writes “So why do we risk and take courage as leaders? Seven things stood out to me on the whole issue of taking a risk.”
  • Why Everybody Needs a Mentor and How to Find One. Chuck Lawless writes “A few years ago, I wrote a study called Mentor: How Along the Way Discipleship Can Change Your Life. That study was directed to college students because I believe every young person needs a mentor. Now, at age 53, I’m convinced EVERY person needs a mentor.”
  • The 10 Characteristics of a Rockstar Executive Assistant. Michael Hyatt writes “A good executive assistant is like an air-traffic controller for your life. Not just your business—your whole life. They help manage not only the intricacies of the office, but all the treacherous intersections between work, family, social obligations, and more.”
  • Lead the Many by Focusing on a Few. Eric Geiger writes “Jesus left His role as disciple-maker knowing “the words that you gave me, I have given them.” A time is approaching when you will vacate your role. Wise leaders envision their last day and work backwards. To make the biggest impact, the few need your focus. To bless many, focus on a few.”
  • 6 Essential Principles to Guide You Toward Your Calling. Gordon Preece writes “Many of us sometimes wonder if we’re in the right place at the right time. In particular, we wonder if we’re investing our time and energy in the right job, career or work. How can we tell?  Here are a few basic principles to help guide you toward your calling.”
  • Quicksand. Mark Miller writes “With a decided heart and a disciplined approach to our work, we can win the battle over busyness – and avoid the leadership death that awaits its unsuspecting victims.”

Faith and Work Quotes:

  • Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service. Os Guinness
  • Great leaders lead by ideas. Rudy Giuliani
  • Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. Stephen Covey
  • If you are going to ask yourself life-changing questions, be sure to do something with the answers. Bo Bennett
  • Make sure you enjoy every moment and live in the present. It’s the only most important moment you have! Ken Blanchard
  • To “confront” doesn’t have to be aggressive. It literally means “to turn your face towards something or someone.” I.e. “Let’s look at this.” Dr. Henry Cloud
  • Leaders who refuse to listen will be surrounded by people who have nothing to say. Andy Stanley
  • Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong? Coach K
  • “Joy.” What creates joy for you? Your heart needs it. God designed you to feel some joy….ask yourself what brings it & what destroys it. Dr. Henry Cloud
  • If you find yourself wishing things were different, maybe it’s time to start doing something different. Michael Hyatt
  • There is no deeper meaning in life than to discover and live out your calling. Os Gunness
  • Your calling is deeper than your job, your career, and all your benchmarks of success. It is never too late to discover your calling. Os Guinness

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Coram Deo – Before the Face of God 9.15.2014


Book Reviews

To celebrate their 20th anniversary Francis and Lisa decided to serve at a village in Africa that one of their friends started. This body of believers had been building a village to feed children dying of starvation, liberate women trapped in prostitution, and give hope and opportunity to a community ravished by poverty. Moved by what God was doing there for the poor, Francis and Lisa wanted to bless the ministry to double or triple its impact.  With another book already in motion, this time written together by Francis and Lisa, they saw an opportunity to use the book as a way to support the work in places like this village in Africa. They decided to self-publish with a team of volunteers to generate as much money possible to give away.  100% of net profits from each book sold goes straight to this vision. They would love to raise 5 million dollars to feed the hungry, free women from prostitution and spread the gospel to unreached places. All net proceeds are being directed to Crazy Love Ministries, a 501(c)3 registered in the state of California, and then are dispersed from there to several previously-selected partners for the book

Part of the reason why Francis and Lisa decided to publish independently was so they could bless others with the book who couldn’t afford it. To download a free PDF, please click here: Download PDF.
Movie Reviews

  • The Drop, rated R
  • Mom’s Night Out, rated PG

Music Review

  • Songs of Innocence – U2

Doug Michael’s Cartoons

I first saw Doug Michael’s cartoons in our local newspaper several years ago. Later, I found out that he worked with me at the same corporation. For years Doug allowed us to run his cartoons in Coram Deo, our church newsletter. I’m pleased to say that Doug is now allowing us to run his cartoons in our blog! Many thanks to Doug for sharing his talents with us. Here’s the first one – enjoy!

Doug Michael 



  • Keith and Kristyn Getty in Concert at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria on October 17 ~ just a reminder that Keith and Kristyn Getty will bring their “Hymns for the Christian Life” tour to Grace Presbyterian Church on October 17. Jim Hubert from WBNH reports that nearly 600 tickets have been sold already! Get your tickets soon. For more information and to purchase tickets go to
  • Switchfoot surprised their fans last week with a seven-song EP of unreleased songs from their excellent Fading West film. The EP is titled The Edge of the Earth and you can buy it on iTunes for just $6.99. Look for a review in next week’s blog.
  • Songs of McCartneyHere’s an interesting new project – the songs of Paul McCartney sung by artists such as Billy Joel, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Steve Miller, Heart, Jeff Lynn (Electric Light Orchestra), Yusuf (Cat Stevens), Willie Nelson and others. The two CD and DVD set will be released November 18.
  • You can watch below an exclusive 29 minute behind-the-scenes jamming session filmed at Paul McCartney’s “Early Days” video shoot. The official video was launched earlier this summer and the end of it sees Paul playing with a group of blues guitarists, including Johnny Depp. This exclusive footage captures an impromptu jamming session that broke out between Paul and the musicians on the day of the shoot. Watch it here:
  • As Bruce Springsteen gets ready to turn 65, read this article on why he still matters:
  • Bob Seger has a new album coming out Ride Out, his first new album of new material in eight years, on October 14. On the album Seger covers one of my favorite John Hiatt songs “Detroit Made”. The songs seems like it was written for Seger to cover. Check out Seger performing the song in concert here:
  • Music superstar Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2012. He went on one final farewell tour. ‘Glen Campbell I’ll Be Me’ tells the story of the shows, and a great cast of contributors includes Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Sheryl Crow, Taylor Swift and Edge. Check out the trailer for the film here:

BOOKS:John Maxwell

  • What is the novel that R.C. Sproul says that every Christian should consider reading? Go to Justin Taylor’s blog to find out.
  • Gene Veith offers his contribution to Justin Taylor’s series on a work of fiction of that every Christian should consider reading. Check out his recommendation here.
  • John Maxwell’s next book will be Good Leaders Ask Great Questions. It will be released on October 7.      Michael Horton book      
  • And speaking of upcoming books of interest, Michael Horton’s new book is titled or-di-nar-y: 1. Sustainable Faith in a Radical World. It even features an orange cover, just as David Platt’s Radical book did. It will be published October 7.
  • In his article “Christian, Do You Make it Your Daily Work”?, Tim Challies summarizes chapter two of John Owen’s classic Overcoming Sin and Temptation, a book that has been precious to generations of Christians as they have battled sin and pursued holiness. He indicates that reading his article will deepen your hatred for sin and spark your love for holiness. I plan to refer to the article often. Read it here.





 Visions of Vocation Book Club – Week 3Visions 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 of Chapter 3 – The Landscape of Our Lives:

  • To understand this cusp of a new century—marked as it is both by the sociological reality of the information age and the philosophical movement we call postmodernism—we have to pay attention to the novelists, filmmakers and musicians who are culturally upstream, as it is in their stories, movies and songs where we will feel the yearnings of what human life is and ought to be.
  • Whether staged or celluloid, in print or on computer disks, they are fingers to the wind. Why? Artists get there first.
  • Take U2, for example. It is hard to imagine students of history in some future era making sense of the dawn of this millennium without studying their music. Pop icons, yes. But prophets as well, as they have set out for themselves and their audience a vision of human life under the sun that has been as enormously entertaining as it has been politically and socially attentive.
  • While there are scores of songs that offer artful windows into the human heart, in their album Zooropa, the song “Numb” captures better than almost anything else what it feels like to be alive in the information age.
  • For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, the song is a finger on the pulse of the ABC/BBC/CBS/NBC/CNN/FOX/MSNBC on-all-the-time culture. And U2 gets at it brilliantly, profoundly. Artists do get there first. I feel numb.
  • A growing chorus of critics brings their voices to bear on the meaning of the information age, wondering what it means, and will mean, for all of us.
  • Describing the contemporary world as “an info-glut culture,” he has asked with probing seriousness, “But have we become any wiser?” The words echo across the landscape of our time.
  • One of the best known voices bringing a critical eye to bear upon the information age is Neil Postman, who for twenty-five years wrote as widely and perceptively as anyone on the challenge of learning to learn and live in a technological society.
  • With an uncanny eye and ear, he picked up on the tremendous challenge of holding onto one’s humanity in an information-saturated culture.
  • Carr instead draws on brain physiologists to argue that our very brains are being rewired so that we are seeing life differently, and we are reading the world differently. Scanning our way down the computer screen, hyperlinking as we do, we are decreasingly able to read more carefully, with the kind of discernment that critical reading requires. In a word, Carr calls our contemporary practice “the shallows.”
  • Of all that has been written on this phenomenon, Colin Gunton’s Bampton Lectures at Cambridge University, The One, the Three and the Many: God, Creation and the Culture of Modernity, seem the wisest. Brilliant and far-ranging, he argued that disengagement is the essence of modern life. Looking out at the world, we want to understand it, we want to respond to it—and yet we find it so very hard to do so in any morally meaningful way. Knowing what I know, what am I to do?
  • An info-glut culture? Yes, in more ways than we know, on more levels than we can understand. I feel numb. While the artists get there first, the world at large catches up, and we all wonder, What am I going to do?
  • As probing as that question is for all, some have decided, with a shrug of the mind and heart, whatever. Sometimes playful, often more cynical, the word itself is a window into the complexity of life; we feel overwhelmed in so many different ways all at once. How else to respond than with a heartfelt “whatever”? From casual conversations in families and among friends to core curricular commitments at major universities, “whatever” seems to many the best response to the way the world is—and isn’t.
  • Thoughtful, honest human beings wonder, Knowing what I know, what am I going to do? To do nothing seems less than human, seems less than right.
  • Whether we read the philosophers or not, the belief that we have no access to certainty, particularly to moral absolutes, to the world of “basic right and wrong in the universe,” is in the cultural air we breathe.
  • In a post-Enlightenment world, there is no voice, no perspective that carries more weight than any other, because no one has access to certainty about anything. There is no Story to make sense of stories, no Truth to make sense of truths, no Metanarrative to make sense of narratives. All claims to the contrary are “totalitarian” and are not to be tolerated. The worst face of postmodernism is that nothing has metaphysical or moral weight; it is the culture of whatever, a nihilism for Everyman.
  • To get what I want when I want it. To do what I want to do when I want to do it. Baldly stated, that is the way I have described morally malformed people to my children over the years, like a driver along the interstate who bullies everyone else, a politician who with Machiavellian cynicism skillfully uses the system to advance his own ambitions. Very, very bright people do not always make very, very good people. You can get all A’s and still flunk life.
  • Human lives and history are at stake here. No wise person, therefore, will step into this analysis with a cheap critique. But Solzhenitsyn’s analysis of the notion that “it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual be granted boundless freedom with no purpose, simply for the satisfaction of his whims” was profoundly prescient. He saw where the line in the sand was, and would continue to be, in the culture of whatever.
  • Few films have captured this dilemma with as much cinematic brilliance as Run Lola Run.
  • For the foreseeable future, we will never become a completely postmodern culture. At best, we are stretched taut between times. Airplane schedules, with all the technological complexities of air traffic controllers, with the mathematical precision required in allocation of air space, with the interrelatedness of computers across continents and oceans, require modern consciousness, the ongoing commitment to certain things—“facts”—being true for everyone all the time. But the on-the-street ethos, the air we breathe, is plainly that of postmodernism, and its worst face is the culture of whatever.
  • Seeing what I see, hearing what I hear, what am I going to do?
  • From mime artists in Paris, to attorneys walking the killing fields of Rwanda, to young, eager human rights activists in Washington, to graduate students at Yale, 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? Not a cheap question, and there are no cheap answers.

Next week we’ll look at chapter 4. Won’t you join us?

Faith-and-WorkIntegrating Faith and Work

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 4:

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

The Gospel at WorkThe Gospel at Work Book Club – Session 3

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. Read the highlighted passages from CHAPTER 4 – THE KING’S PURPOSE IN OUR WORK and CHAPTER 5 HOW SHOULD I CHOOSE A JOB?

What's Best NextWhat’s Best Next Series – Part 7

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 13 Clarifying Your Roles.

Os Guinness