Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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30 Great Quotes from God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotions in the Book of Proverbs by Tim Keller with Kathy Keller

Tim and Kathy Keller followed The Songs of Jesus, their excellent devotional book on the Psalms, with a second devotional book, God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life on the Proverbs. I would recommend both of these books for your daily devotional reading. Here are 30 great quotes from God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life:

  • According to Jesus, all words—good and bad—are indicators of our heart.
  • The more our heart is fixed on the Lord and nothing else for our joy, hope, salvation, worth, and safety, the more our words will resemble wise speech.
  • Gossip is like cancer to the body of Christ.
  • While God’s door to hear contrition is never shut, our window of opportunity to produce it can be.

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BOOK REVIEW AND 15 HELPFUL QUOTES FROM ‘SURPRISED BY SUFFERING’ BY R. C. SPROUL

BOOK REVIEW:

Surprised by Suffering: The Role of Pain and Death in The Christian Life (revised and expanded) by R. C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 2010
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The author states that his purpose in writing this book is that the reader would not be surprised when suffering comes into their life. He wants us to see that suffering is not uncommon nor random. It is sent by our heavenly Father, who is both sovereign and loving and for our ultimate good. He also wants the reader to understand that suffering is a vocation, a calling from God, which may be a new concept for many readers.
I first read this book when it was published in 1988. This 2010 edition features a new chapter on God’s sovereignty in relation to suffering, as well as new Scripture and subject indexes.
Dr. Sproul says that contrary to what we often hear people say, the promise of God is not that He will never give us more weight than we want to carry. Rather, the promise of God is that He will never put more on us than we can bear. He states that to suffer without Christ is to risk being totally and completely crushed. He has often wondered (and me as well), how people cope with the trials of life without the strength found in Him.
He states that we must accept the fact that God sometimes says “no” when we pray for relief from suffering. Sometimes He calls us to suffer and die even if we want to claim the contrary.
A statement that could be surprising, or even shocking, is that for anyone who believes in the God of providence, ultimately there are no tragedies. He writes that those who understand God’s sovereignty have joy even in the midst of suffering for they see that their suffering is not without purpose.
He goes on to tell us that the chief concern of Scripture is how we will die. When Scripture speaks of the “how” of death, the focus is on the spiritual state of the person at the time of their death, and this is reduced to only two options. We either die in faith or we die in our sins. According to Christ, the worst possible thing that can befall us is to die in our sins.
The author states that the Bible teaches three states of human life. There is life as we know it on earth. There is the final state of our future resurrected bodies. And there is what happens to us between the moment of our deaths and the final resurrection. This period is known as the intermediate state. He goes on to describe the New Jerusalem from Revelation 21.  He tells us that our divine vocation is not ultimately to suffering, but to a hope that triumphs over suffering. It is the hope of our future inheritance with Christ.
The author tells us that the hope of eternal joy in the presence of Christ, a hope that sustains us in the midst of temporary suffering, is the legacy of Jesus Christ. It is the promise of God to all who put their trust in Him.
This is a practical book about our vocation of suffering and the hope of the believer to spend eternity with God in His Heaven. The book includes a helpful appendix of questions and answers related to the topic.

15 HELPFUL QUOTES:

  1. Suffering is one of the most significant challenges to any believer’s faith.
  2. What is difficult to bear without Christ is made far more bearable with Christ. What is a heavy burden to carry alone becomes a far lighter burden to carry with His help.
  3. It is when we view our suffering as meaningless-without purpose-that we are tempted to despair.
  4. No one was ever called by God to greater suffering than God’s only begotten Son.
  5. If I hope in anything or anyone less than the One who has power over suffering and, ultimately, death, I am doomed to final disappointment. Suffering will drive me to hopelessness.
  6. We say that we believe that God is sovereign, but when we wrestle with events in our lives that are troublesome, bad things that happen to us, tragedies that befall us, we begin to question either the sovereignty of God or the goodness of God.
  7. The day of death is the greatest day that a Christian can ever experience in this world because that is the day he goes home, the day he walks across the threshold, the day he enters the Father’s house. That is the day of ultimate triumph for the Christian in this world, and yet it is a day we fear and a day that we postpone as long as we possibly can because we don’t really believe that the day of our death is better than the day of our birth.
  8. The bottom-line assumption for anyone who believes in the God of providence is that ultimately there are no tragedies. God has promised that all things that happen-all pain, all suffering, all tragedies-are but for a moment, and that He works in and through these events for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).
  9. Those who understand God’s sovereignty have joy even in the midst of suffering, a joy reflected on their very faces, for they see that their suffering is not without purpose.
  10. When God issues a call to us, it is always a holy call. The vocation of dying is a sacred vocation. To understand that is one of the most important lessons a Christian can ever learn. When the summons comes, we can respond in many ways. We can become angry, bitter, or terrified. But if we see it as a call from God and not a threat from Satan, we are far more prepared to cope with its difficulties.
  11. The goal of the vocation of death is heaven itself. But there is no route to heaven except through this valley.
  12. If we love people, we will warn them of the consequences of dying in their sins.
  13. The great lie is the one that declares there is no last judgment. Yet if Jesus of Nazareth taught anything, He emphatically taught that there would be a last judgment.
  14. Paul spoke of death as gain. We tend to think of death as loss. To be sure, the death of a loved one involves a loss for those who are left behind. But for the one who passes from this world to heaven, it is a gain.
  15. Our divine vocation is not ultimately to suffering, but to a hope that triumphs over suffering. It is the hope of our future inheritance with Christ.


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Book Review and Quotes from Lead Like Jesus Revisited

Lead Like Jesus RevisitedLead Like Jesus Revisited by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges and Phyliss Hendry. Thomas Nelson. 272 pages. 2016
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In this revised and updated 10th anniversary edition of Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, Phyliss Hodges, President and CEO of the Lead Like Jesus ministry joins the original book’s authors.  They write that “Leading like Jesus is essentially a matter of the heart. It is also the highest thought of the head, it is the principal work of the hands, and it is both expressed through and replenished by the habits.” The authors teach to lead like Jesus whether you are leading at home, at church, or in an organization.

The authors state that self-promotion (pride) and self-protection (fear) dominate today’s leadership style. Many leaders act as if the sheep are there only for the benefit of the shepherd.  The Lead Like Jesus alternative approach to leadership is driven by four basic beliefs that have become central to the author’s ministry:

  1. Leadership happens anytime we influence the thinking, behavior, or development of another person.
  2. Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time.
  3. Servant leadership is the only approach to leadership that Jesus validates for His followers.
  4. Effective leadership begins on the inside, with our hearts.

The authors tells us that Leading like Jesus is a transformational journey. They discuss the role of the Heart, Head and Hands in this alternative way of leading. They also discuss Habits, both Being and Doing. They state that the greatest barrier to leading like Jesus is Edging God Out of our lives (EGO).

This new edition features helpful “Pause and Reflect” sections throughout the book, a “Next Steps to Leading Like Jesus Checklist”, resource list and a Discussion Guide, which is useful for individual study, but it is designed primarily for use in a group setting after everyone in the group has read the book.

I’m a strong believer in servant leadership. This would be an excellent book to read and discuss with others to learn how to Lead Like Jesus.

35 Quotes from Lead Like Jesus Revisited by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges and Phyllis Hendry

  1. Self-promotion (pride) and self-protection (fear) dominate today’s leadership style. Many leaders act as if the sheep are there only for the benefit of the shepherd.
  2. This alternative approach to leadership is driven by four basic beliefs that have become central to our ministry: • Leadership happens anytime we influence the thinking, behavior, or development of another person. • Jesus is the greatest leadership role model of all time. • Servant leadership is the only approach to leadership that Jesus validates for His followers. • Effective leadership begins on the inside, with our hearts.
  3. For followers of Jesus, servant leadership is not an option; servant leadership is a mandate.
  4. Leading like Jesus is a transformational journey. This transformational journey begins with the willingness to do whatever Jesus commands, with a heart surrendered to doing His will, and with the commitment to lead the way He leads.
  5. We believe that leaders who desire to lead like Jesus must first examine themselves by answering these two questions: Whose am I? and Who am I?
  6. Leading like Jesus in an organization creates a new culture that affects all relationships and every result.
  7. Wherever we live or work, whether we are influencing at home, at church, or in an organization, our paramount task as leaders is to create a culture that reflects Jesus’ core value: love. and Work, Lead Like Jesus Revisited by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges, Phyllis Hendry
  8. Leading like Jesus requires leaders to be shepherds and servants, who value each person as an integral part of the organization.
  9. HEART. Leadership is first a spiritual matter of the heart. Simply put, the heart question is this: Are you a serving leader or a self-serving leader?
  10. HEAD.  The journey to leading like Jesus starts in the heart as you consider your motivation. This intent then travels to the internal domain of the head, where you examine your beliefs and theories about leading and motivating people.
  11. HANDS.  You show what is in your heart and head in what you do with your hands: your motivations and beliefs about leadership affect your actions.
  12. HABITS. Your habits are those activities you do in order to stay on track with God and others.
  13. As a leader committed to leading like Jesus, you must make time to replenish your energy and refocus your perspective. Jesus did this through His five Being Habits: solitude, prayer, study of God’s Word, the application of Scripture to real life, and supportive relationships.
  14. Jesus expressed obedience to His Father and shared the Father’s love for His disciples through His Doing Habits of grace, forgiveness, encouragement, and community. As leaders desiring to lead like Jesus, we are encouraged to engage in both the Being Habits and the Doing Habits.
  15. To lead like Jesus, we have found that leadership improves when there is first a change on the inside: leadership is primarily a heart issue. We believe that if we don’t get our hearts right, we simply won’t ever lead like Jesus.
  16. Leading like Jesus—leading with love—is very difficult. It requires that you love those you influence so much that you help them move from who they are to who God wants them to be, and that process can be painful.
  17. Leading like Jesus means that relationships and results are intertwined. It means being committed to both developing others and achieving results in a way that honors God and reflects your core beliefs about whose you are and who you are.
  18. We continue to see that the most persistent barrier to leading like Jesus is a heart motivated by self-interest.
  19. The greatest barrier to leading like Jesus is Edging God Out of our lives (EGO). We believe you can Edge God Out in three ways: you can replace Him as the object of your worship; as the source of your security, self-worth, and wisdom; and as the audience for and authority over your daily work and life story.
  20. When leaders are filled with pride or fear, they react to things that happen to them. People who want to lead like Jesus, on the other hand, respond to things that happen to them.
  21. One of the greatest challenges in seeking to lead like Jesus is the intimacy with Him that this approach requires. The biggest barrier to intimacy is a fear of vulnerability—the fear of having to admit you don’t know all the answers, that you may need help, and that your abilities as a leader may be questioned..
  22. One of the key distortions affecting leader effectiveness is an EGO-driven fixation on short-term results at the expense of long-term integrity.
  23. Driven people think they own everything. Called people, on the other hand, believe everything they have is on loan to them from the Lord.
  24. Leading like Jesus means leading with humility. Humility requires knowing whose you are and who you are. Humility is realizing and emphasizing the importance of other people. It is not putting yourself down; it is lifting others up.
  25. God’s love will change you and, by extension, change your leadership. You will see leadership differently: it becomes less about power and control and more about the stewardship of the people you touch and of the work God has given you to do. You will see people differently, too: rather than seeing them as a means to accomplish the results you want, you realize that God has the same love for them that He has for you. Work becomes an act of worship and your workplace an outpost of God’s kingdom. You are no longer threatened by feedback; you no longer lead out of fear or cause others to be fearful of you.
  26. When we want to lead like Jesus, prayer becomes our first response, not our last resort.
  27. The two parts to the great leadership that Jesus exemplified: 1. The visionary role—setting the course and the destination—is the leadership aspect. 2. The implementation role—doing things the right way with a focus on serving—is the servant aspect.
  28. As a Jesus-like leader or manager, you still maintain your power, but your effectiveness soars because you are responding to the needs of your people.
  29. An effective Jesus-like leader acts as a performance coach. An essential duty of servant leaders is their ongoing investment in the lives of their followers.
  30. Servant leaders aren’t threatened by people around them who perform well, because their confidence is secure in the unconditional love of God. Being rooted in God’s love permits servant leaders to see and respond to the success of others in a different way: they celebrate it rather than fear it.
  31. If you seek to inspire and equip others to attain higher standards of performance and commitment, the best first step is modeling integrity in your own journey.
  32. Love is a core value of leadership, especially for a Jesus-like leader.
  33. As leaders, we are dispensers of grace in our families, churches, and organizations. We can extend the grace of believing that people are doing the best they can, given their level of awareness. It is up to us to make sure grace is extended; we lead in the way of grace.
  34. One test of whether we have the heart attitude required to lead like Jesus is how we respond when those we lead fail to perform according to our expectations.
  35. As leaders who desire to lead like Jesus, we are to be distributors of encouragement.


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50 Helpful Quotes from The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson

The Whole ChristI recently read Sinclair Ferguson’s excellent new book The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, and Gospel Assurance – Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters. Here are 50 helpful quotes from that book:

  • The first and inarguable conclusion is that legalism and antinomianism are much more than doctrinal positions.
  • The second thing I learned was that the root of both legalism and antinomianism is the same. My guess is that most readers will find this the best new insight for them, one that could even trigger a proverbial paradigm shift.
  • Therefore, the third thing I learned was that to think the main problem out there is one particular error is to virtually put one foot into the other error.
  • The Marrow Men were suspected of antinomianism. What they most deeply feared was that many of the condemners of the Marrow doctrine were themselves guilty of a subtle form of legalism. At the root of the matter lay the nature of the grace of God in the gospel and how it should be preached.
  • The Marrow Controversy raised a major question about how the gospel is to be preached. The issue was the heart of the gospel itself.
  • Boston stressed that this emphasis of the Marrow preserved two of the great keynotes of the New Testament’s message. First, that in Jesus Christ there is a fullness of grace for all who will come to him. Second, it preserved the New Testament’s emphasis not only on the fullness of the grace of Christ but also on the freeness of that grace in Christ.
  • The offer of the gospel is to be made not to the righteous or even the repentant, but to all. There are no conditions that need to be met in order for the gospel offer to be made.
  • Perhaps the most significant underlying issue was that the gospel was being preached in a way that implied a separation between Christ and the benefits of the gospel. The benefits of the gospel (justification, reconciliation, redemption, adoption) were being separated from Christ, who is himself the gospel. A major indication that such a separation has taken place is that one of the most prominent emphases in the New Testament becomes marginalized, namely, union with Christ.
  • There was no doubt about the focus of the Marrow Brethren. They wanted their preaching to be full of Christ himself.
  • For whenever we make the warrant to believe in Christ to any degree dependent upon our subjective condition, we distort it. Repentance, turning from sin, and degrees of conviction of sin do not constitute the grounds on which Christ is offered to us. They may constitute ways in which the Spirit works as the gospel makes its impact on us. But they never form the warrant for repentance and faith.
  • What conditions were met in us in order for God to send his only Son into the world to die for sinners? None. Indeed there can be none.
  • Confessional orthodoxy coupled with a view of a heavenly Father whose love is conditioned on his Son’s suffering, and further conditioned by our repentance, leads inevitably to a restriction in the preaching of the gospel.
  • What is a godly pastor, after all, but one who is like God, with a heart of grace; someone who sees God bringing prodigals home and runs to embrace them, weeps for joy that they have been brought home, and kisses them—asking no questions—no qualifications or conditions required?
  • In seeking to bring freedom from legalism, we are engaged in undoing the ancient work of Satan.
  • It bears repeating: in Eve’s case antinomianism (her opposition to and rejection of God’s law) was itself an expression of her legalism!
  • Legalism is simply separating the law of God from the person of God.
  • Thus the essence of legalism is rooted not merely in our view of law as such but in a distorted view of God as the giver of his law.
  • Legalism and antinomianism are, in fact, nonidentical twins that emerge from the same womb.
  • Legalism is, therefore, not merely a matter of the intellect. Clearly it is that, for how we think determines how we live.
  • And legalism is also related to the heart and the affections—how we feel about God.
  • But the essence of legalism, as we have seen, is a heart distortion of the graciousness of God and of the God of grace. For that reason, as now becomes clear, legalism is, necessarily, not only a distortion of the gospel, but in its fundamental character it is also a distortion of the law.
  • The gospel never overthrows God’s law for the simple reason that both the law and the gospel are expressions of God’s grace.
  • The Bible is an extended narrative of God’s grace from start to finish.
  • The proclamation of the gospel is a repudiation of doctrinal legalism.
  • Repentance does not precede faith in an individual’s coming to Christ. At the end of the day we cannot divide faith and repentance chronologically.
  • Grace highlights legalism’s bankruptcy and shows that it is not only useless; it is pointless;
  • The ongoing function of God’s law is not to serve as a standard to be met for justification but as a guide for Christian living.
  • Legalism begins to manifest itself when we view God’s law as a contract with conditions to be fulfilled and not as the implications of a covenant graciously given to us.
  • Conditions are written into a contract following negotiations; a covenant is made unconditionally. God’s covenants carry implications, but none of them is the result of divine-human negotiations.
  • If we come to think of God as one whose total focus is on exposing our sin, we will become too shortsighted to see his grace. We will be plagued by a spirit of doubting and mistrusting the Father of lights, who gives his good gifts to us. We will find that we have become incapable of responding to him (and his law) within the father-child bond of love.
  • The danger of legalism is that it builds up again what Christ has torn down. It distorts and may actually destroy the gospel.
  • What, then, is the remedy for legalism? It is grace. But it is not “grace” as commodity, grace as substance. It is grace in Christ. For God’s grace to us is Christ.
  • For our purposes the simplest way to think of antinomianism is that it denies the role of the law in the Christian life.
  • Practical antinomianism has many forms today. One of them is the secular gospel of self-acceptance masquerading as Christianity.
  • This has very concrete expressions in what are euphemistically described as “lifestyle choices”: “This is how I am, God is gracious, and [implied: unlike you, if you disagree with me] he accepts me as I am, and therefore I will remain as I am.” But it is misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather he accepts us despite the way we are. He receives us only in Christ and for Christ’s sake. Nor does he mean to leave us the way he found us, but to transform us into the likeness of his Son.
  • At root then antinomianism separates God’s law from God’s person, and grace from the union with Christ in which the law is written in the heart.
  • Antinomianism and legalism are not so much antithetical to each other as they are both antithetical to grace. This is why Scripture never prescribes one as the antidote for the other. Rather grace, God’s grace in Christ in our union with Christ, is the antidote to both.
  • There is only one genuine cure for legalism. It is the same medicine the gospel prescribes for antinomianism: understanding and tasting union with Jesus Christ himself.
  • Antinomianism then, like legalism, is not only a matter of having a wrong view of the law. It is a matter, ultimately, of a wrong view of grace, revealed in both law and gospel—and behind that, a wrong view of God himself.
  • Neither the Old Testament believer nor the Savior severed the law of God from his gracious person. It was not legalism for Jesus to do everything his Father commanded him. Nor is it for us.
  • Full assurance is therefore a complex spiritual and psychological process by which confessing, “Christ died for sinners, and I rest on him,” becomes, “I am sure that nothing in all creation can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.”
  • Assurance is nourished on a clear understanding of grace and especially of union with Christ and the justification, adoption, and regeneration that are ours freely in him.
  • There is a strong link in the New Testament between faithfulness in the Christian walk and the enjoyment of assurance. Inconsistent Christian living leads to lack of assurance. Where there is no actual obedience to Christ, there will be no evidence of present love for him as Savior. The Christian who has developed a pattern of disobedience in his or her life will lose assurance.
  • Lack of assurance can also be related to misunderstanding the role of affliction in the Christian life.
  • The fatal mistake here is to base our assurance of grace and salvation on the fact that “God is blessing my life.” When we do so, we have no anchor if life turns sour. No, God anchors us to himself in Christ.
  • But what are the implications of union with Christ? In essence this: through our union with him in his death we are set free from the penalty of our guilt, which he has paid for us; in union with him in his resurrection a complete, final, and irreversible righteousness is ours; in union with him in his death and resurrection we have been set free from the reign of sin. Yet we remain sinners in ourselves. Sin continues to indwell us; only when our regeneration comes to further flowering beyond this life will we be free from sin’s presence.
  • A melancholic disposition de facto creates obstacles to the enjoyment of assurance—partly because it creates obstacles to the enjoyment of everything. Those who are of a melancholic spirit and are prone to doubt need to have their minds steeped in the assurances of divine grace that are to be found in such a Savior fully clothed in the garments of his gospel. Such believers often feel Christ to be distant, so what Hebrews does is bring him near.
  • Attacks of the Devil are also hindrances to assurance and often have this as their specific aim. Satan knows he cannot ultimately destroy those whom Christ saves. He is therefore determined to destroy our enjoyment of our new relationship to the Lord.
  • It is one of the wiles of the Devil to discourage the doubting believer from seeking fellowship, sitting under the Word, and coming to enjoy the gifts Christ has given to reassure us of his love for us. At such a time it is vital to remember that this, inter alia, is what the ministry of the Word and of baptism and the Supper are for. We ignore them to the peril of genuine assurance.
  • Christian assurance is not self-assurance and self-confidence. It is the reverse: confidence in our Father, trust in Christ as our Savior, and joy in the Spirit as the Spirit of sonship, seal of grace, and earnest of our inheritance as sons and daughters of God.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

christmas giftEvery Square Inch’s Christmas Gift Guide 2015. Bethany Jenkins writes “This Christmas, our faith and work channel—Every Square Inch—wants to celebrate products made by companies founded by Christian entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs, they created something from nothing and, along the way, have given people jobs, contributed to the economy, engaged in ethical business practices, been generous with their neighbors, and expressed the creativity of God. Gift Guide 2015

  • Sudden Breakthroughs in Subtle Blind-Spots. Dan Rockwell writes “Truth be told, you have blind spots. The most common blind spot leaders have is believing others have them, but you don’t.”
  • More Significant than What You Do? Steve Graves writes “Who you work for is more significant than what you do or where you work.”
  • How to Be a Spiritual Influence at Work. Listen to Dr. Bill Peel on the radio talk show “Dr. Bill Maier-Live!” on how to be a spiritual influence at work.​
  • How to Witness at Work. Tom Nelson, in this article adapted from his excellent book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, writes “The excellence of our work often gives us the credibility to speak of the excellence of our Lord Jesus and to share the good news with our coworkers.”
  • 15 New Books to Check Out. Brad Lomenick recommends these new books. I plan to read Intentional Living by John Maxwell.
  • 6 Hacks for Better Work/Life Balance. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “If you’re like most people, you probably have some trouble managing your time. You may feel like you’re constantly hurrying or that you’re always short of time. You might even be the kind of person who paces in front of a microwave.”
  • We_Can_Do_It-231x3004 Ways to Better Engage Women in the Workplace. Lauren Hansen continues a series addressing specific questions related to ministry among women through the local church. This time, the question is “Do you have any suggestions about how our women’s ministry can engage professional women more effectively and encourage them as they minister in their workplaces?”
  • Seeking the Prosperity of Our Neighbors. Watch this talk from Amy Sherman, author of the excellent book Kingdom Calling, as she explains how why recognizing our vocational power is so important when seeking the good of our cities.
  • Struggling With Implementing Marketplace Ministry? 50 Ideas to Integrate Faith in the Workplace. The C12 Group asks “Are you looking for ways to transform your organization into your greatest mission field?”
  • How to Respectfully Distance Yourself from Negative People in Your Life. In this episode of his podcast, Andy Andrews answers a listener question on how parenting principles translate to respectfully dealing with the negative people in your business or personal life.
  • How I Work: An Interview with Thomas Kidd. In this edition of the series “How I Work”, Joe Carter interviews historian Thomas Kidd.
  • Benefits of a Common Language. Mark Miller writes “Leaders who create a common language can often make the difficult look effortless.”
  • Faith & Work Prayer Journey. Prayer is absolutely critical in our ability to discern our calling. This winter, the Center for Faith and Work (CFW) is offering two options to deepen your understanding of prayer and vocation with their online Faith & Work Prayer Journey, and their Faith & Work Prayer Nights.
  • Everybody Matters Podcast with Simon Sinek. Simon Sinek joins Bob Chapman on the Everybody Matters podcast.
  • Thriving Cultures Are Built With Recognition and Praise. Marty Fukuda shares five positive behaviors for leaders to immediately acknowledge.
  • 7-signs7 Signs it’s Not Really a Team. Ron Edmondson writes “In my world the word team is used almost on a daily basis. Most of us want to be in a team environment. However, in my experience working with churches – and it was true when I was in business also – more people claim to have it than actually do.”
  • Work Is Worship – Your Worklife is an act of Worship. This video from Work Life asks “Is your work a form of worship? Yes, it is! Worship and work should never become two different things. We worship when we work and we work when we worship, especially when our work is derived from God. It tells us in Genesis that in the beginning God went to work, and what he created was for his purpose and glory.
  • Success. In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks about success from the perspective of starting with today.
  • Why Work? Because Work Matters. Steve Garber was the speaker at my graduation from Covenant Seminary last May and is the author of the excellent book Visions of Vocation. He writes about Dorothy Sayers book Why Work? “I think it is as a good a statement about work as anyone has written.”
  • Helpful Models. One of the main purposes of the advisory committee of the Oikonomia Network is to provide resources and support to all our network members, to help them develop pedagogical excellence. The first task has been to review syllabi, papers, videos, and other materials produced by our network schools. The first round of the committee’s review has just been completed. The committee has identified 34 helpful models that illustrate success in integrating work and economics in theological education. This got my attention as I respect two of the people on the Advisory Committee – Donald Guthrie, who formerly taught at Covenant Seminary and Tom Nelson, author of the helpful Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work.

Faith and Work Quotes

  • Change is the only constant— tied neck-and-neck with resistance to change. Dan Cumberland
  • Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better. Coach
  • People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing. Dale Carnegie
  • Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. Augustine
  • Successful people become great leaders when they learn to shift the focus from themselves to others. Marshall Goldsmith
  • There are three actions of being a servant leader: being present, being accepting, and being creative. It’s not all about you! Ken Blanchard
  • Don’t ever get comfortable when you have the ability to achieve more. Coach K
  • Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top. John Wooden

John Wooden Quote

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

Don't Waste Your LifeDon’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Crossway. 192 pages. 2003  

Other than the Bible, this small book by John Piper has had the most influence on my life. It played a key role in my returning to seminary after ten years in 2005. I have read it almost each year since it was published in 2003. Listen to John Piper describe the book in this less than two-minute video.

This week we start by looking at the Preface of the book:

  • The Bible says, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). I have written this book to help you taste those words as sweet instead of bitter or boring.
  • If you are a Christian, you are not your own. Christ has bought you at the price of his own death. You now belong doubly to God: He made you, and he bought you. That means your life is not your own. It is God’s. Therefore, the Bible says, “Glorify God in your body.” God made you for this. He bought you for this. This is the meaning of your life.
  • If you are not yet a Christian that is what Jesus Christ offers: doubly belonging to God, and being able to do what you were made for.
  • Glorifying God may mean nothing to you. That’s why I tell my story in the first two chapters, called “Created for Joy.” It was not always plain to me that pursuing God’s glory would be virtually the same as pursing my joy. Now I see that millions of people waste their lives because they think these paths are two and not one.
  • The path of God-exalting joy will cost you your life. Jesus said, “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel’s will save it.” In other words, it is better to lose your life than to waste it.
  • If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full.
  • This is not a book about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life.
  • Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy.
  • Remember, you have one life. That’s all. You were made for God. Don’t waste it.

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

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite business authors. His books The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are among my favorites. I recently started reading and discussing The Advantage with two colleagues at work. I’m sharing key learnings from the book and this week we look at Discipline 2: Create Clarity ~

  • The second requirement for building a healthy organization—creating clarity—is all about achieving alignment.
  • For all the attention it gets, real alignment remains frustratingly rare.
  • Within the context of making an organization healthy, alignment is about creating so much clarity that there is as little room as possible for confusion, disorder, and infighting to set in.
  • The responsibility for creating that clarity lies squarely with the leadership team.
  • There cannot be alignment deeper in the organization, even when employees want to cooperate, if the leaders at the top aren’t in lockstep with one another around a few very specific things.
  • All too often—and this is critical—leaders underestimate the impact of even subtle misalignment at the top, and the damage caused to the rest of the organization by small gaps among members of the executive team.
  • Thinking they’re being mature, leaders often agree to disagree with one another around seemingly minor issues, thereby avoiding what they see as unnecessary contentiousness and conflict.
  • What they don’t understand is that by failing to eliminate even those small gaps, they are leaving employees below them to fight bloody, unwinnable battles with their peers in other departments.
  • No matter how many times executives preach about the “e” word in their speeches, there is no way that their employees can be empowered to fully execute their responsibilities if they don’t receive clear and consistent messages about what is important from their leaders across the organization.
  • There is probably no greater frustration for employees than having to constantly navigate the politics and confusion caused by leaders who are misaligned.
  • Since the 1980s, many organizations have centered their clarity and alignment efforts around a singular tool that has been a major disappointment. What I’m referring to is the mission statement.
  • It can’t be denied that most mission statements have neither inspired people to change the world nor provided them with an accurate description of what an organization actually does for a living. They certainly haven’t created alignment and clarity among employees. What they have done is make many leadership teams look foolish.
  • What leaders must do to give employees the clarity they need is agree on the answers to six simple but critical questions and thereby eliminate even small discrepancies in their thinking.
  • Failing to achieve alignment around any one of them can prevent an organization from attaining the level of clarity necessary to become healthy. These are the six questions:
    • 1. Why do we exist?
    • 2. How do we behave?
    • 3. What do we do?
    • 4. How will we succeed?
    • 5. What is most important, right now?
    • 6. Who must do what?
  • If members of a leadership team can rally around clear answers to these fundamental questions—without using jargon and shmarmy language—they will drastically increase the likelihood of creating a healthy organization. This may well be the most important step of all in achieving the advantage of organizational health.
  • Answering these questions, like everything else in this book, is as difficult as it is theoretically simple.
  • It can be difficult, however,for a variety of reasons. First, as we explored in the last chapter, it requires cohesion at the top.
  • Second—and this is a big one—it’s often tempting for leaders to slip into a marketing or sloganizing mind-set when answering these questions, trying to come up with catchy phrases or impressive-sounding statements. This is a sign that the team is missing the boat and has been distracted from its real purpose: establishing true clarity and alignment.
  • Finally, answering these questions requires time.
  • Taking time to sit with the questions and ensure that all members of the leadershipteam understand what they mean and are truly aligned around the answers is essential.
  • There are no right or wrong answers. I mean, who’s to say what is right and wrong when it comes to setting the direction of an organization?
  • Waiting for clear confirmation that a decision is exactly right is a recipe for mediocrity and almost a guarantee of eventual failure. That’s because organizations learn by making decisions, even bad ones.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

connecting faith and work

Links to Interesting Faith and Work Articles

  • Even the Dullest Work Can Be Done Unto the Lord. Bethany Jenkins interviews John Yates, Rector of Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia, about his first job.
  • The 5 Types of Work That Fill Your Day. Scott Belsky looks at the five kinds of work we do every day how we can audit our day and the types of work we engage in most.
  • John PiperHow to Serve a Bad Boss. John Piper offers some helpful advice for those who work with a difficult boss.
  • Don’t Divide Your Christian Principles from Your Practical Decision Making. Matt Perman writes “Regardless of the situation you are in, always remember to ask not only “what are the typical practices for handling this situation in my industry” but also “what does God have to say about this type of thing, and how does that apply to me as well?”
  • The Spiritual Importance of Scheduling. Michael Kelley writes “If we are proactive in time management, scheduling out time can help us leave the worries of tomorrow until tomorrow.”
  • The Only True Disability in Life is a Bad Attitude. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “You can have an attitude that will take you across the finish line in every part of your personal and professional lives.”
  • Optimistic. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks about what it means to be optimistic.
  • The Key to Greater Impact. Mark Miller writes that the key to greater impact is how we use our time.
  • John MichelEverybody Matters Podcast: John Michel. A former Air Force General, John Michel has not only used his leadership experience in service of his country, but also to help transform businesses into places that think more about people than profit. John talks about his leadership journey on this edition of the Everybody Matters podcast, from his life in the military to what he is doing today.
  • The Church is a Leadership Factory. J.D. Greear writes “If developing leaders is what Jesus got most excited about in the church, isn’t that what we should be most excited about, too? Let me suggest four important implications for how we should approach ministry.”
  • Battling the Unknown. Mark Miller shares these four steps that have served him as a leader when plagued by doubt.
  • 21 Things You’ll Never Regret as a Leader. Carey Nieuwhof writes “While I haven’t gotten every situation right in leadership (far from it), I took some time to make a list of 21 things I’ve never regretted doing as a leader. My guess is when you’ve done them, you’ve never regretted them either.”
  • Avoiding a BIG Landmine for Leaders. Brad Lomenick writes “For many leaders, the greatest threat to our influence right now is our tendency to read our own press clippings, and continually put a “wall” up around us that protects us from any kind of honest feedback.”
  • What Do Leaders Do? Mark Miller provides this list of some primary activities leaders must engage in to be successful in today’s world.
  • 5 Leadership Questions about Reading Habits and Leadership Books. In this episode of the 5 Leadership Question podcast Todd Adkins, Eric Geiger, and Barnabas Piper talk about leaders as readers. They discuss the best ways to engage books, how to create reading habits in the midst of a busy schedule, and which particular books are the most helpful.
  • Measuring the Return on Character. Fred Kiel writes “The researchers found that CEOs whose employees gave them high marks for character had an average return on assets of 9.35% over a two-year period. That’s nearly five times as much as what those with low character ratings had; their ROA averaged only 1.93%.”
  • You are Micromanaging if…. Eric Geiger writes “Micromanagers typically can’t help themselves. Beneath the surface there are at least three underlying beliefs or practices that cause the micromanagement.”
  • We are One: Team Alignment. Teams are typically focused on working together toward a common goal or solving a problem. How do you keep a team aligned when the problem is solved or the goal is reached? How do 0video, Andy Stanley suggests that it all begins by clearly answering one question: What do we want to accomplish?
  • Beyond Collaboration: Discovering the Communal Nature of Calling. This year’s Center for Faith and Work Conference will be held at ArtBeam in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood November 7-8. Registration is now open.

CFW_Conference2015_HP-01

Kingdom Calling Kingdom Calling Book Club

Kingdom Calling: Vocational Calling for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman

I first read this book in a “Calling, Vocation and Work” class with Dr. Michael Williams and Dr. Bradley Matthews at Covenant Seminary two summers ago. It’s an excellent book, so let’s read it together. This week we’ll look at the introductory material:

  • A growing number of people share an awareness that kingdom assignments typically involve venues beyond local church real estate and programming.
  • Kingdom callings play out in all of life, because that’s where life plays out!
  • Amy Sherman shares with us her conviction that “vocational stewardship”-the intentional deployment of our workplace knowledge, skills, platforms and networks-provides us a way to advance the kingdom for community transformation.
  • Lindsay’s careful research showed that the vast majority of evangelicals perched atop their career ladders in various social sectors displayed a profoundly anemic vision for what they could accomplish for the kingdom of God. And that made me cry,
  • Keller explained that the “righteous” (Hebrew tsaddiqim) are the just, the people who follow God’s heart and ways and who see everything they have as gifts from God to be stewarded for his purposes. Keller wrote, “The righteous in the book of Proverbs are by definition those who are willing to disadvantage themselves for the community while the wicked are those who put their own economic, social, and personal needs ahead of the needs of the community.”
  • By the intentional stewardship of their time, talent and treasure, the tsaddiqim bring nothing less than foretastes of the kingdom of God into reality.
  • Our King wants us realize that the kingdom of God has begun to break into our time and space. His work was about offering foretastes of kingdom realities-and this is the life and mission he calls us, his followers, into. The tsaddiqim gladly join King Jesus in that glorious mission.
  • I realized that what I’d been trying to do all those years is help churches “rejoice” their cities-whether accomplishing that “rejoicing” requires at least two big things. First, it means that many churches need to have a more robust, comprehensive view of what they should be aiming at missionally. Second, it means that churches need to take vocation much more seriously. Learning how to steward our vocational power is a major component of growing as the tsaddiqim who rejoice our cities. By vocational stewardship, I mean the intentional and strategic deployment ofour vocational power-knowledge, platform, networks, position, influence, skills and reputation-to advance foretastes of God’s kingdom.
  • For missional congregations that desire to rejoice their cities, vocational stewardship is an essential strategy. To accomplish their big vision, they need to capitalize intentionally on the vocational power of their members. I decided to try to write a book to help missional leaders do just that.
  • There are very few churches that have strong, intentional systems for deploying their people’s time and their talent.
  • Congregants in our pews need to know that they should-and can-connect their workaday world and their faith.
  • We must do a better job of inspiring our members about the role they can play in the mission of God and equipping them to live missionally through their vocation.
  • This is a book primarily for pastors and ministry leaders-particularly those already committed to leading missional churches (that is, churches that seek to follow King Jesus on his mission of making all things new). I also hope pastors will hand it out to individual congregants who are struggling to integrate their faith and work.

OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK

  • Part one, “Theological Foundations,” provides the biblical underpinning for both the “foretaste-bringing” mission of the church and the strategy of vocational stewardship.
  • Chapter two describes the tsaddiqim who try to undertake this labor.
  • Chapter three examines the obstacles that have kept many Christians from living as the tsaddigim, and chapter four discusses how churches can respond to those obstacles.
  • Part two, “Discipling for Vocational Stewardship,” provides practical how-to guidance for church leaders. It begins in chapter five with a look at the current state of evangelical thinking on faith/work integration-and the shortcomings therein.
  • Chapter six, “Inspiration,” offers a concise biblical theology of work that should undergird any vocational stewardship initiative. Chapter seven examines the task of discovery-helping congregants to identify their passions, “holy discontents”” and the dimensions of their vocational power. Chapter eight then addresses the critical task of formation-that is, the necessary shaping of congregants’ inner life that enables them to be effective, humble and wise stewards of their vocational power.
  • Part three gets into the meat of vocational stewardship. First, I offer a brief introduction to four pathways for deploying congregants in the stewardship of their vocations:
  • Chapters nine through twelve take up one pathway each.
  • American workers, on average, spend forty-five hours a week at work. Thats about 40 percent of our waking hours each week-a huge amount of time. If church leaders don’t help parishioners discern how to live missionally through that work, they miss a major-in some instances the major-avenue believers have for learning to live as foretastes.

Next week we’ll start with Chapter 1. Won’t you read along with us?

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • God normally calls us along the line of giftedness, but the purpose of giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness. Os Guinness
  • God has created us and our gifts for a place of His choosing – and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there. Os Guinness
  • When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth; an attempt to find the best possible answer. Patrick Lencioni
  • God is more concerned with your character than your career, with who you are than what you do, with how you live than where you live. Steven Lawson
  • Few things diminish the attractiveness of faith more than pettiness. Major in the majors and minor in the minors. Scott Sauls
  • Great leaders today no longer need a title, corner office, or reserved parking place to have real influence and real impact. Brad Lomenick
  • Remember, what gets recognized gets repeated. Mark Miller
  • Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong? Coach K
  • I long for nothing more earnestly than to serve God with all my might. Charles Spurgeon
  • I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude. Colin Powell
  • Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top. John Wooden